Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Dan74
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:35 am

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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:13 pm

Spaking strictly for myself;

I didn't switch from Mahayana practice because I thought it was useless; Zuochan and to a lesser extent Pure Land practice were helpful to me, as were the ethics I learned which were essentially the same. But I came to the conclusion that the method that the Buddha layed out was clear and precise enough and did not need things added or subtracted, and Mahayana adds and subtracts rather haphazardly. It's hard to deny, say, Shinran's compassion when he says that he wants to be reborn in hell to help the suffering, but it doesn't change that many of Shinran's "reforms" were directly contrary to the Buddha's teachings. It's hard for me to deny the legitimate insights of many Chan teachers, but that doesn't change that it comes with a lot of shift in emphasis that often dismisses the very foundations of the dharma and the sangha. So I would never call Mahayana useless, but I think the Buddhadhamma as preserved by the Theravada is where real practice and insight await.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Avery
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Avery » Fri May 01, 2009 6:39 am


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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Fri May 01, 2009 6:15 pm

Well, Shin Buddhism is a very extreme case, in that they've jettisoned most of the identifying characteristics of Buddhism entirely. Most Mahayana schools haven't gone as far out there. I personally think that Japanese Buddhism in general has historically speaking become the least recognizable, largely because of historical and political factors unique to Japan.

I guess what I was trying to say earlier; I think what the Buddha taught is profoundly and fundamentally different from what everyone before had taught, though of course there are areas of overlap that will allow well-meaning perennialists and new agers to claim that the Buddha and Jesus and Muhammad were teaching the exact same thing from now til doomsday. I honestly think that to some extent even a misunderstood, watered down version of that teaching is better than the rest of what's out there in terms of giving us a method to gain awareness and end suffering. I view vajrayana as mostly unnecessary and potentially dangerous, but most vajrayana Buddhism still has at root the noble truths, noble path, dependent arising, anatta, and self-effort.

If we're just talking comparative religion and the role it serves in society, Theravada isn't especially distinguished; the Theravada portion of Southeast Asia doesn't seem especially moral or contented these days as compared to the rest. But I don't really care that much about that.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Dan74
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Fri May 01, 2009 9:46 pm

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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Sat May 02, 2009 3:43 am

Hmm, I really seriously doubt that you're one of those people who never find any reason to criticize any method, and since I'm pretty sure you're not a Buddha either, maybe you should avoid passive-aggressive rhetorical questions as to why I don't hypocritically pretend that I think every method is of equal value in my eyes. Thanks!

:focus:
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby floating_abu » Sat May 02, 2009 4:18 am

That's a harsh answer to a fair question. I find it odd how people not subsumed or genuinely versed in the methods and teachings of another tradition, can be so certain about their judgements. There is nothing that is not dangerous, and there is nothing that is not capable of immense boon. Religion for example comes to mind for both facets. Perhaps more dangerous when the edge of certainty becomes more and more ingrained in those whom believe. I don't think Buddha's intention was just to create another group of "Buddhists".

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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Sat May 02, 2009 4:35 am

It's a "fair question" to ask rhetorically if I'm an Arahant? Are you serious?

So I guess those comments about the NKT in another thread were out of line, yes? Oh no, silly me, that's a group it's okay to say you find suspect.

The Buddha was pretty clear that he wasn't big on a lot of practices. Was the Buddha a sectarian? Should he have been more tolerant and said 'it's cool, Hinduism is just as good as what I'm teaching'? Hey, I guess all the mainstream Vajrayana teachers who have said that one can only reach enlightenment through Vajrayana are equally subject to criticism, right?

In my experience, tantric Buddhism seems to screw a lot of people up. Mainstream Tibetan Buddhism often has cult like aspects including severe guru-worship, crazy lineage politics, and threats of hell to people who break complex ritual vows. Agree or disagree, fine. Telling me that I have no right to an opinion because I haven't reached enlightenment? Different story entirely.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby floating_abu » Sat May 02, 2009 8:05 am

Being an Arahant is no big deal, but do heed Luang Por Chah's advice on the matter. :) Best wishes in all.

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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Sat May 02, 2009 5:07 pm

"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat May 02, 2009 5:34 pm

A vajrayana practitioner is in the position of a snake in a bamboo tube. It's a quick path up or down and it's easier to fall into the lower realms. Take that as you will. Perhaps it's dangerous, but students are normally guided through a fair amount of preparation for it.

As for the rest of these comments about vajrayana, I don't know what to say :shrug:
Certainly it sounds like it's not Mexicali's personal path.


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Dan74
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Sun May 03, 2009 1:06 pm

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun May 03, 2009 3:52 pm

I know what you're saying Dan :smile:


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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun May 03, 2009 5:31 pm

As I understand it, passive aggressive means showing aggression via lack of activity. Like procrastination.

:anjali:


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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Sun May 03, 2009 5:39 pm

That's technically correct, but in its day to day, commonly understood meaning, it can also refer to sublimating one's aggression to smarminess. It's reallllllly common on Buddhist message boards, where someone clearly wants to engage you, but needs to hide it behind a veneer of phony wisdom and/or compassion so nobody thinks they're subject to such simple human frailties as, say, disagreement.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun May 03, 2009 6:36 pm

:offtopic: :oops:
Last edited by Ngawang Drolma. on Mon May 04, 2009 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun May 03, 2009 6:42 pm

Content, it might have been a violation of TOS although it wasn't my intent.

:oops:
Last edited by Ngawang Drolma. on Mon May 04, 2009 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Mexicali
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Mexicali » Sun May 03, 2009 7:28 pm

Zen has many of the same problems that Tibetan Buddhism does, in terms of encouraging unethical behavior and promoting teachings the Buddha specifically spoke against, in the name of an esoteric doctrine. Seung Sahn's "beyond lust" excuse for his behavior sits comfortably with the excuses for keeping sacred concubines in Tibet. Zen's support for Japanese nationalism and warfare finds an analogue in Tibet's support of the landed gentry's right to keep slaves. The 'crazy wisdom' commonly found in both has encouraged a lot of people to reject ubaya in favor of seeking some kind of "higher wisdom". People like Osel Tendzin and Richard Baker aren't representative of some kind of fringe cult, they were very mainstream figures working from very orthodox teachings.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 03, 2009 11:06 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 04, 2009 10:29 am

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