across the lines - wrong understanding

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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Anders » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:... I see no reason to think that Buddhist traditions are any more "the same religion" than Abrahamic traditions are "the same religion". Whilst there may be certain common historical themes there are also radical differences in their beliefs. If you compare the Theravada and Mahayana belief structures they're radically different. No less so than that which separates Abrahamic religions.


Well, lets look at the salient differences - do the various followers of the abrahamic religions believe the other abrahamic religions are still favoured enough to go to heaven? AFAIK, that answer is mostly no.

In Mahayana it is considered that people in early buddhists schools still very much can get enlightened and thus are objects of refuge. I'd say that's a pretty foundational point of unity, alongside of course all the teachings in common like the 4NT, 3 marks of existence, triple gem, dependent origination, 37 factors of awakening, etc.

A lot of mahayana is really just elobarations upon elaborations of the early teachings. Most haven't studied them enough to trace back that development so don't recognise that. But for 'undirected awareness' teaching you can find in Zen and vajryayana , read the gateway of wishlessness, for emptiness in mahayana terms, read the gateways of selflessness and signlessness, etc.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:32 am

Anders,

In Mahayana it is considered that people in early buddhists schools still very much can get enlightened and thus are objects of refuge.


Sure, as long as they eventually do the Mahayana thing, which means that they are not on equal ground according to the Mahayana.

A lot of mahayana is really just elobarations upon elaborations of the early teachings.


And a lot of the Mahayana - the bodhisattva path, bodhisattvas, the intellectual elaborations - is naught more than fancy do-dads to lure childern out of a burning house, to turn the Lotus Sutra's little story in the proper direction. The real work has already been laid out in the suttas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Anders » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:Sure, as long as they eventually do the Mahayana thing, which means that they are not on equal ground according to the Mahayana.


No, that is irrespective of whatever view various mahayana schools may have on this.

A lot of mahayana is really just elobarations upon elaborations of the early teachings.


And a lot of the Mahayana - the bodhisattva path, bodhisattvas, the intellectual elaborations - is naught more than fancy do-dads to lure childern out of a burning house, to turn the Lotus Sutra's little story in the proper direction. The real work has already been laid out in the suttas.


For someone who just disqualified a large part of the mahayana on account of not being polite and inspiring, you sure put a quick close to that 'across the lines' angle.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:00 am

Anders Honore wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Sure, as long as they eventually do the Mahayana thing, which means that they are not on equal ground according to the Mahayana.


No, that is irrespective of whatever view various mahayana schools may have on this.


I do not follow you here.

Thee: A lot of mahayana is really just elobarations upon elaborations of the early teachings.


Me: And a lot of the Mahayana - the bodhisattva path, bodhisattvas, the intellectual elaborations - is naught more than fancy do-dads to lure childern out of a burning house, to turn the Lotus Sutra's little story in the proper direction. The real work has already been laid out in the suttas.


For someone who just disqualified a large part of the mahayana on account of not being polite and inspiring, you sure put a quick close to that 'across the lines' angle.


This is a problem that the Mahayana has made for itself once it started down the road of defining itself in terms of opposition.

I have not disqualified anything. If we look at the statement of the OP: if you can't relate in a polite and even somewhat inspiring way with other Buddhist traditions, there is something lacking in your understanding of your own tradition., the Mahayana falls significantly short. I didn't do it. It was the "church fathers" whose vision of the Dhamma was one that defined itself in terms of opposition, triumphalism, and supersessionism. The problem is that the genuine insights of the Mahayana are encrusted with this oppositional characteristic of the Mahayana, and it is stuff that needs to be put aside, or not taken literally if we are to have any sort of meaningful dialogue. As we have seen repeatedly on the Grey Forum, it is virtually impossible for that to happen, given that there were those who saw this oppositional stuff as being integral to the Mahayana and who saw the Mahayana, in whatever guise (mostly the Madhayamakin), as being the arbiter of all things Buddhist.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:46 pm

Anders Honore wrote:In Mahayana it is considered that people in early buddhists schools still very much can get enlightened

Not quite. The different schools define "enlightened" differently.
Theravada says they can attain X.
Mayhayana says only they can attain X while Theravada thinks they are attaining X but really it's Y.

This sort of statement by Anders Honore is precisely why friction occurs. Someone says "We all practice for enlightenment so we're the same." Then when the discussion gets into the nature of enlightenment there is disagreement. But since it was already established that everyone's the same there is argument over which definition of enlightenment is correct. See?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:41 pm

Well observed Peter.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Dan74 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:27 pm

Then it seems to me there are two ways to go - either discuss the differences with an open-minded constructive attitude aiming to learn rather than to prove oneself right, or share in the practice and our common concerns.

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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:35 pm

Well observed, Dan. :tongue:

I agree completely... the best discussions I've had with members of other traditions have taken place on that basis. In fact, if they're not of that ilk, I just walk away because they have nothing to interest me.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Dan74 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:45 pm

:namaste:
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:32 am

Dan74 wrote:
I am one individual practicing in my limited way some of the sublime teachings and practices that come under the umbrella of Mahayana Buddhism and more specifically Zen. But really I am just one man trying to make sense of life, accept it, to be with it fully, to bring compassion rather than suffering to it, to help others do likewise and ultimately perhaps awaken to Reality as it is. Where does "my path is superior to yours" fit in here? I fail to see.

Likewise I fail to see how anyone who is sincerely concerned with similar goals would bother with this kind of one-man-upmanship and the various types of party politics - "this is my party line and it is different to yours. Ours is correct!" Better put in more effort, more commitment into my practice and leave all squabbles and sceptical doubts aside!



Right on the money, Dan.

I think there is a rivalry going on between modern Western Therevadin, Zen and Tibetan Buddhists, about who's past is "best." You don't see us bashing Soka Gakkai or Pureland. We could be, and I know that historically here in Japan there used to be such rivalries and bickering.

The present situation may stem from the fact that very few of us were born into our schools of practice. Instead we looked at all the different vehicles and made a very conscious choice, just like you might when buying a car. And at some level that's what is happening when we put our tradition up on a pedestal or criticize another. I think this is cause our 3 traditions are most similar, actually-- as all three focus on meditation practices as core method-- and so people are trying to assure themselves that they made the right choice.

Problem is, as soon as we fall into such discussions we lose focus. We are no longer talking about our practice- about driving, the journey, the challenges of being on the road. Instead we are objectifying and identifying with our paths, and it becomes pissing matches about who has the best car, and what the faults may be of other cars.

Seems no different to me then ego-centric ramblings where we brag about our beautiful wife, mansion and pool in the back yard. It's a form of indentification with your chosen path, which can become a trap when conceptualized this way. We become like drivers who are no longer driving, who have pulled over to the side of the road, kicking one another's tires and arguing, instead of driving.

Anyway, that's why I'm with Dan and Retro. When I talk with a Tibetan Buddhist or Therevadin I am not looking to raise up or put down, to discuss what might be superior or inferior. That very thought process is a trap. What i want to know is which Tibetan or Therevadin teachers spoke most wisely about the dharma, about the path, about daily life, meeting challenges, cultivating bodhichitta, working thru bad habits, abandoning clinging, meditation methods, etc...

I want to support fellow Buddhists on their journey and gain any information and tips (from any school) that will help me learn how to be a better driver, aka dharma practitioner...

In line with that, some excerpts from a Chan/Zen Buddhism text that I know Retro likes, and really gets to the heart of this matter, imo...

:group:


HSIN HSIN MING: Verses on the Faith Mind

by The 3rd Zen/Chan Patriarch, Seng T'san

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance. Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions. Do not remain in the dualistic state -- avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when such a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way. When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute; the faster they hurry, the slower they go, and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited; even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.

Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going. Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed.


:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:25 am

mudra wrote:In view of a number of on-line spats between members of different traditions, I am developing a theory that:
if you can't relate in a polite and even somewhat inspiring way with other Buddhist traditions, there is something lacking in your understanding of your own tradition.

I'll bend it in this direction, to address experiences I've had:

"If we can't relate civilly with people who practice in a different tradition, or in more than one tradition, then there is something lacking in our understanding of the single tradition we practice in."
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Aloka » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:13 am

I am a long-term practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and I feel very heartened by some of the thoughtful posts in this thread. I I bow deeply to my Theravada brothers and sisters in this forum.
I am planning later this year to visit the Amaravati monastery of Ajahn Sumedho and am at present reading his book 'Sound of Silence'. I am very interested in the possibility of being able to speak briefly to Ajahn Sumedho(with chaperone) or at least hear him giving a teaching.
In general It is my wish to have greater understanding and frienship between practitioners of our traditions. The arguing and disrespect in some forums becomes wearisome - and since these are often not my own views that I see displayed, practice is a more useful alternative I find.

With kind wishes,

Dazzle
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Anders » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:19 am

Peter wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:In Mahayana it is considered that people in early buddhists schools still very much can get enlightened

Not quite. The different schools define "enlightened" differently.
Theravada says they can attain X.
Mayhayana says only they can attain X while Theravada thinks they are attaining X but really it's Y.

This sort of statement by Anders Honore is precisely why friction occurs. Someone says "We all practice for enlightenment so we're the same." Then when the discussion gets into the nature of enlightenment there is disagreement. But since it was already established that everyone's the same there is argument over which definition of enlightenment is correct. See?


Sure, but this has much to do with which viewpoints in the various schools you come up against which imo doesn't qualify the 'they might as well be different religions' stance.

The madhyamika stance on arhats for example is pretty much the same as the Theravada one - arhats are fully liberated and have ended rebirth, therefore bodhisattvas most hold off that liberation until the provisions are accumulated. It is more the ekayana stance, that arhats have not actually fully ended rebirth, that might be controversial in such a light.

But no, I don't think that kind of statement is why friction occurs. I don't think there is any reason why Buddhists of different schools shouldn't discuss their points of commonality, or even where they differ. The friction occurs when people fail to recognise the differerences or presume that there ought to be common ground where there isn't.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Anders » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Sure, as long as they eventually do the Mahayana thing, which means that they are not on equal ground according to the Mahayana.


No, that is irrespective of whatever view various mahayana schools may have on this.


I do not follow you here.


Whether one adheres to the ekayana view of arhats inevitably doing the mahayana thing sooner or later, or the madhymika view of arhats entering cessation without qualifications, they are still part of the triple gem and objects of refuge.

This is a problem that the Mahayana has made for itself once it started down the road of defining itself in terms of opposition.


My point was that for someone whose primary gripe with the Mahayana is its polemical and derogatory attitude towards early Buddhism, it is a bit ironic that you then proceed with your own "real men's buddhism'/kiddie's buddhism" account of how they stand:

Me: And a lot of the Mahayana - the bodhisattva path, bodhisattvas, the intellectual elaborations - is naught more than fancy do-dads to lure childern out of a burning house, to turn the Lotus Sutra's little story in the proper direction. The real work has already been laid out in the suttas.


I'm not replying to e-sangha gripes.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby PeterB » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:46 am

If I understand the Op it is not saying that all Buddhists traditions can be boiled down to the same thing, ( as a matter of fact I think that if we boil for long enough and sieve off cultural accretions they may be essentially remarkably similar ). However what I got from the Op was that expression tends to be consisitant with insight.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Dan74 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:41 pm

PeterB wrote: However what I got from the Op was that expression tends to be consisitant with insight.


:jawdrop:

That's pretty radical, Peter.

And before I make my vow of silence (a year or so should do it), let me just declare once and for all that Zen is clearly superior to Theravada because ZFI has far more smilies. You simply can't argue with that. :lol: But I will make do with what I have.

Now then :computerproblem: retreat time! :toilet:

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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:45 pm

I think one problem (not the problem) is that people's listening skills are often not as developed as their speaking skills. There's this one poster here who shall remain nameless. He and I are of different faiths basically, but the way he discusses details of rebirth is very close to the way my Tibetan master does. Had I not been listening really carefully and paying attention, I might have missed that subtlety. But opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, and sometimes they stink.

It's a little odd to me that some people are encouraged by this discussion. I think it's kind of a sad one.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby mudra » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:56 am

PeterB wrote:If I understand the Op it is not saying that all Buddhists traditions can be boiled down to the same thing, ( as a matter of fact I think that if we boil for long enough and sieve off cultural accretions they may be essentially remarkably similar ). However what I got from the Op was that expression tends to be consisitant with insight.


Pretty much.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby mudra » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:03 am

Drolma wrote:I think one problem (not the problem) is that people's listening skills are often not as developed as their speaking skills. There's this one poster here who shall remain nameless. He and I are of different faiths basically, but the way he discusses details of rebirth is very close to the way my Tibetan master does. Had I not been listening really carefully and paying attention, I might have missed that subtlety. But opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, and sometimes they stink.

It's a little odd to me that some people are encouraged by this discussion. I think it's kind of a sad one.


Agreed about the not listening well thing, and sometimes I am sure I am guilty too.

But curious why you think it is a sad discussion? I don't necessarily agree with some of the opinions but still it is dialogue which I feel is needed. And there are some interesting points being made too.
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Re: across the lines - wrong understanding

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:16 am

mudra wrote:
Drolma wrote:
It's a little odd to me that some people are encouraged by this discussion. I think it's kind of a sad one.


Agreed about the not listening well thing, and sometimes I am sure I am guilty too.

But curious why you think it is a sad discussion? I don't necessarily agree with some of the opinions but still it is dialogue which I feel is needed. And there are some interesting points being made too.


I agree. This is something really important that we are talking about, imo. Thanks for planting these seeds, mudra. All good lotus flowers have to rise up and out thru the muck before they're ready to open...


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"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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