Mahayana split

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Re: Mahayana split

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:10 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:(until Metteyya comes after the Dhamma has died out)


It's also possible the idea of previous Buddhas/upcoming Buddhas was borrowed from Jain belief, and is not native to the Dhamma. In any event, it seems a focus on cosmology and past/future is one of the trademarks of early Mahayana. Richard Gombrich remarks that it may be an early misinterpretation of the Tevijja Sutta which contributed to the Mahayana sense that metta/karuna was becoming second-best to vipassana.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby Kare » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:55 pm

daverupa wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:(until Metteyya comes after the Dhamma has died out)


It's also possible the idea of previous Buddhas/upcoming Buddhas was borrowed from Jain belief, and is not native to the Dhamma. In any event, it seems a focus on cosmology and past/future is one of the trademarks of early Mahayana. Richard Gombrich remarks that it may be an early misinterpretation of the Tevijja Sutta which contributed to the Mahayana sense that metta/karuna was becoming second-best to vipassana.


Agreed.

And we should not forget the context.

The Cakkavatti-Sihanada Sutta tells that people had a life-span of eighty thousand years, decreasing to a life-span of ten years. After that the life-span increases again to eighty thousand years, and then Metteyya will come.

So if we believe in these life-spans, we may start believing in Metteyya.

If, on the other hand, we prefer to regard the life-spans as parts of a parable or a fable, then we had better regard Metteyya the same way.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby Nyana » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:30 pm

Kare wrote:we had better regard Metteyya the same way.

While the storyline here is mythical, I'd suggest that the idea of someone in the distant future (or distant past) somewhere in the universe (re-)discovering the 4NT and noble path is within the realm of possibility.

Also FTR, all of this stuff was standard mainstream Indian Buddhism and predates any "Mahāyāna." (I'm sure you're aware of this Kare, I only add it for general context.)
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:57 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Kare wrote:we had better regard Metteyya the same way.

While the storyline here is mythical, I'd suggest that the idea of someone in the distant future (or distant past) somewhere in the universe (re-)discovering the 4NT and noble path is within the realm of possibility.

Also FTR, all of this stuff was standard mainstream Indian Buddhism and predates any "Mahāyāna." (I'm sure you're aware of this Kare, I only add it for general context.)
The point is that this discourse is a fable about the need for a king to rule in a righteous way. It has, however, been taken literally.
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: Mahayana split

Postby anjali » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:46 pm

Well, I have an opinion with no real supporting proof of why the Mahayana split: The doctrinal split was a justification of what had already taken place practically in earlier times. Here is my perspective.

We know that the Buddha and community was not only a spiritual movement--it was a social movement as well. The Sanga accepted people from all walks of life within the Indian social strata--Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra. While it is unclear, I suspect that there was an aspect of the emerging Buddhist movement--even during the Buddha's time--centering around the outreach to and upliftment of the disadvantaged and suffering within Indian society. Also, a number of the Buddha's disciples were from the warrior/administrative class (Ksyatriyas). This mindset emphasizes working for the welfare of the kingdom. There was a socially conscious aspect to the movement. My opinion is that these inclinations of members of the Sanga and laity resulted in a split of emphasis between those who were socially directed and those who were contemplatively directed.

There is such a split within both the Hindu and Christian traditions. Within the Hindu system, spiritual paths are split between Karma, Bhakti, Jhana, and Raja. I don't know the origin of this division but it acknowledges that some people prefer the path of action (helping others), some devotion, some wisdom and some integrated. Within the Christian tradition, there is a famous story of Mary and Martha. (You can look up the story if you are interested.) Mary represents the life of the contemplative/devotional approach and Martha represents the active/service (helping others) approach.

What this is pointing to is that every faith seems to have both a path of service and a path of contemplation. Not to say that they are mutually exclusive. Still, it seems to me that the Mahayana vow to help/save all sentient beings is a doctrinal elaboration of what was likely an inherent service-oriented inclination of a segment of the Sanga.

Again, this is just a theory...
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby Nyana » Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:08 am

The OP of this thread is based on a false premise. The Mahāyāna isn't an ordination lineage and has never "split" from any ordination lineage. There are three existing ordination lineages: Mūlasarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka, and Theravāda. All three are descended from the ancient Sthaviravāda. And of the three, the Mūlasarvāstivāda and Dharmaguptaka lineages are comprised of monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who are also mahāyānikas.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:15 am

Ñāṇa wrote:The OP of this thread is based on a false premise. The Mahāyāna isn't an ordination lineage and has never "split" from any ordination lineage. There are three existing ordination lineages: Mūlasarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka, and Theravāda. All three are descended from the ancient Sthaviravāda. And of the three, the Mūlasarvāstivāda and Dharmaguptaka lineages are comprised of monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who are also mahāyānikas.
I do believe that it is only the Dharmaguptas that have an existing ordination lineage of nuns.
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: Mahayana split

Postby Nyana » Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:33 am

tiltbillings wrote:I do believe that it is only the Dharmaguptas that have an existing ordination lineage of nuns.

Yes. The bhikṣuṇīs who I know within the Tibetan tradition have all ordained in the Dharmagupta lineage. I'm not up to date on the vinaya technicalities of the modern Theravāda bhikkhunis.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:03 am

anjali wrote:Well, I have an opinion with no real supporting proof of why the Mahayana split: The doctrinal split was a justification of what had already taken place practically in earlier times. Here is my perspective.

We know that the Buddha and community was not only a spiritual movement--it was a social movement as well. The Sanga accepted people from all walks of life within the Indian social strata--Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra. While it is unclear, I suspect that there was an aspect of the emerging Buddhist movement--even during the Buddha's time--centering around the outreach to and upliftment of the disadvantaged and suffering within Indian society. Also, a number of the Buddha's disciples were from the warrior/administrative class (Ksyatriyas). This mindset emphasizes working for the welfare of the kingdom. There was a socially conscious aspect to the movement. My opinion is that these inclinations of members of the Sanga and laity resulted in a split of emphasis between those who were socially directed and those who were contemplatively directed.

There is such a split within both the Hindu and Christian traditions. Within the Hindu system, spiritual paths are split between Karma, Bhakti, Jhana, and Raja. I don't know the origin of this division but it acknowledges that some people prefer the path of action (helping others), some devotion, some wisdom and some integrated. Within the Christian tradition, there is a famous story of Mary and Martha. (You can look up the story if you are interested.) Mary represents the life of the contemplative/devotional approach and Martha represents the active/service (helping others) approach.

What this is pointing to is that every faith seems to have both a path of service and a path of contemplation. Not to say that they are mutually exclusive. Still, it seems to me that the Mahayana vow to help/save all sentient beings is a doctrinal elaboration of what was likely an inherent service-oriented inclination of a segment of the Sanga.

Again, this is just a theory...


Interesting theory, but it assumes that the brahmanic dharmasrama system was the norm for the entirety of (Buddhist) India at that time. While this was often thought to be the case, more recent scholarship shows quite clearly and convincingly that it was not. Rather, the eastern and southern areas were quite a different culture and religious climate. And it is usually in these areas that the Mahayana is considered to have first formed. So, making distinctions on brahmanic social ideals does not seem to be very convincing.

Moreover, while the later Mahayana put a fair emphasis on social work, it appears that the ideal of the early Mahayana was largely on emulating the forest meditation of (Sakyamuni) Bodhisattva; quite an ascetic lifestyle, far from any sort of social work or service. So again, that doesn't seem to explain it very well.

However, the point that people are of different tendencies is quite adpt, and has often been considered in this question.

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My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby Nyana » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:05 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:it appears that the ideal of the early Mahayana was largely on emulating the forest meditation of (Sakyamuni) Bodhisattva; quite an ascetic lifestyle, far from any sort of social work or service.

Just to add: From what we actually know of the Indian Mahāyāna based on the archaeological and epigraphical evidence of donative inscriptions discovered at ancient Indian cave temples and so on, the Mahāyāna was largely connected to the lineages of Indian monastic Buddhism. Gregory Schopen states in Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks, p. 32:

    [T]he Mahāyāna figures [pertaining to the quantitative numbers of donative inscriptions] are particularly significant. We know on the basis of these figures that, from its first appearance in inscriptions, the Mahāyāna was a monk-dominated movement, and that it continued to be so until the thirteenth century, the date of our last known Mahāyāna inscription.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:36 pm



For those who do not have a Tricycle account:

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Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:46 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:


For those who do not have a Tricycle account:

Whose Buddhism is Truest – Linda Heuman
Sadly; however, this is not a very good article. Its author is rather selective of the most recent scholarship and in turn the article becomes something of an apologetic for the authenticity of the Mahayana.

The article is probably worth looking at in some detail.
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: Mahayana split

Postby Sherab » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:


For those who do not have a Tricycle account:

Whose Buddhism is Truest – Linda Heuman
Sadly; however, this is not a very good article. Its author is rather selective of the most recent scholarship and in turn the article becomes something of an apologetic for the authenticity of the Mahayana.

The article is probably worth looking at in some detail.

Could you provide one or two recent articles that are more balanced in its presentation? I'm interested to see what they have to say.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:37 pm

Sherab wrote:Could you provide one or two recent articles that are more balanced in its presentation? I'm interested to see what they have to say.
A good part of the article is the question of the origin of the Mahayana. For that I'd point you to Paul Wiilliams book, BUDDHIST THOUGHT, chapter three.

You think this a balanced article?
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: Mahayana split

Postby alexbunardzic » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alexbunardzic wrote:Ah, gotcha! My source is some Gypsy woman (at least she looked like she could be Gypsy, but my sources on that are shaky, so let's just leave it at that for now). I ran into her many moons ago at a country fair and she ended up reading my palm (for a nominal fee, of course).
It was a serious question I asked, and your response and your 2 part claim seems to reflect a serious lack of understanding of early Buddhist history. So, it is seriousness all around.


Lighten up:)
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:24 am

alexbunardzic wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
alexbunardzic wrote:Ah, gotcha! My source is some Gypsy woman (at least she looked like she could be Gypsy, but my sources on that are shaky, so let's just leave it at that for now). I ran into her many moons ago at a country fair and she ended up reading my palm (for a nominal fee, of course).
It was a serious question I asked, and your response and your 2 part claim seems to reflect a serious lack of understanding of early Buddhist history. So, it is seriousness all around.


Lighten up:)
In other words, you are just blowing hot air.
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: Mahayana split

Postby alexbunardzic » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:In other words, you are just blowing hot air.


No, not in other words, in the self same words.
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:58 am

alexbunardzic wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:In other words, you are just blowing hot air.


No, not in other words, in the self same words.
You are unwilling tp discuss anything in your "book" when politely asked. You are blowing hot air.
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: Mahayana split

Postby Sherab » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:16 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sherab wrote:Could you provide one or two recent articles that are more balanced in its presentation? I'm interested to see what they have to say.
A good part of the article is the question of the origin of the Mahayana. For that I'd point you to Paul Wiilliams book, BUDDHIST THOUGHT, chapter three.

You think this a balanced article?

Huh? A book published in 2000 and reprinted in 2002 and 2003 is recent? Perhaps you are referring to a 2011 revision of the book?
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Re: Mahayana split

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 22, 2011 3:11 am

Sherab wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Sherab wrote:Could you provide one or two recent articles that are more balanced in its presentation? I'm interested to see what they have to say.
A good part of the article is the question of the origin of the Mahayana. For that I'd point you to Paul Wiilliams book, BUDDHIST THOUGHT, chapter three.

You think this a balanced article?

Huh? A book published in 2000 and reprinted in 2002 and 2003 is recent?
Actually, in terms of historical studies, yes.

But you did not answer the question:You think this a balanced article?
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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