Traditions and ideology

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:42 am

Greetings,

Wikipedia wrote:An ideology is a set of ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. It is how society sees things.

Are differences in ideology an appropriate means by which to conceive of the differentiated Buddhist traditions within, and outside the scope of Theravada Buddhism?

Are the differences ideological or something else?

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:02 am

I get the sense many of the difference arose for practical reasons. However, I think this is a lot like the nature/nurture debate, and in the end there is a complex mix of idealogical differences as well as simple practical matters that cause shifts in practice.

For instance, Buddhism in America: there are idealogical differences such as many people rejecting rebirth, as well as practical differences such as it is very difficult to become a wandering monk within our society. Almsround gets no respect here unless it is tied to a well-known monastery (Abhayagiri has an almsround, but I don't think it's quite the same as the almsrounds in Asia.)

That being said, Buddhism has been incredibly resilient for 2600 years.
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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:50 am

The differentiation between Mahayana and Theravada appears to be in terms of ideaology when Mahayana define it, from a Theravadin point of view I'm not sure it is, there is less difference on a practical level.

I don't think the differences within Theravada are a matter of ideaology, more cultural or practical.
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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby ground » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:40 am

Ideology is a system of thought or a conceptual belief system or - expressing it dhamma like - systems of identifying with and appropriating consciousness in particular (the khandhas in general). All "buddhisms" are like this since they advocate validity (or truth) of the written and spoken word. "System" here stands for "exclusivity" because thought/belief is either "within" or "outside of" the conventionally defined system.

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby cooran » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:39 am

Hello all,

Why not look at similarities rather than differences?

Basic points unifying the Theravada and Mahayana (1967):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Poin ... 1y%C4%81na

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:50 pm

I took the OP as an attempt not to stir up a discussion of the differences between schools of thought, but to discuss the importance of ideology vs pragmatic forces in creating those variations. Am I correct?
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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:55 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Why not look at similarities rather than differences?

Basic points unifying the Theravada and Mahayana (1967):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Poin ... 1y%C4%81na

with metta
Chris


I think this is worth quoting:

Wikipedia wrote:Text of the Original Document

1. The Buddha is our only Master (teacher and guide)

2. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Saṅgha (the Three Jewels)

3. We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God.
4. We consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom (prajñā) leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth

5. We accept the Four Noble Truths, namely duḥkha, the arising of duḥkha, the cessation of duḥkha, and the path leading to the cessation of duḥkha; and the law of cause and effect (pratītyasamutpāda)

6. All conditioned things (saṃskāra) are impermanent (anitya) and duḥkha, and that all conditioned and unconditioned things (dharma) are without self (anātma) (see trilaksana).

7. We accept the thirty-seven qualities conducive to enlightenment (bodhipakṣadharma) as different aspects of the Path taught by the Buddha leading to Enlightenment.

8. There are three ways of attaining bodhi or Enlightenment: namely as a disciple (śrāvaka), as a pratyekabuddha and as a samyaksambuddha (perfectly and fully enlightened Buddha). We accept it as the highest, noblest, and most heroic to follow the career of a Bodhisattva and to become a samyaksambuddha in order to save others.

9. We admit that in different countries there are differences regarding Buddhist beliefs and practices. These external forms and expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the Buddha.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Zom » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:06 pm

Why not look at similarities rather than differences?

Basic points unifying the Theravada and Mahayana (1967):


Because things mentioned here is not the similarities between Mahayana and Theravada. These are similarities between Theravada and Hinayana.
Mahayana methods and views are different from all that. Early (4-5 centuries) mahayana schools differed from other schools only in views - but not in methods. Later mahayana schools differed from Hinayana schools both in views and methods.

Nowadays Mahayana is a later Mahayana. No early Mahayana schools exist today. That is why you won't find any similarities between, for example, Thai Buddhism and traditional Chinese or Vietnamese Buddhism (well, except some general things as "not killing living beings" and so on ,). Practice is very different, views are different. That's why we see an interest from Mayahana monks to Theravada practice (for example, many such Mahayana monks come to Myanmar from Taiwan and Vietnam to learn how to practise meditation according to Dhamma, and not according to Dharma). Also many traditional Vietnamese buddhists seek for Khmer and Thai Theravada Practice today - because it is different from Mahayana methods and teaching).

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:49 pm

Zom, According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Budd ... ha_Council, the above quoted document was written by The World Buddhist Sangha Council, which
Wikipedia wrote:has representatives from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism and from the following regions: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby daverupa » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:58 pm

Buckwheat wrote:Zom, According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Budd ... ha_Council, the above quoted document was written by The World Buddhist Sangha Council, which
Wikipedia wrote:has representatives from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism and from the following regions: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.


I fail to see how "We accept it as the highest, noblest, and most heroic to follow the career of a Bodhisattva and to become a samyaksambuddha in order to save others" is acceptable to Theravada. This component of Mahayana ideology is quite problematic.
    "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: Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:37 pm

Greetings,

Buckwheat wrote:I took the OP as an attempt not to stir up a discussion of the differences between schools of thought, but to discuss the importance of ideology vs pragmatic forces in creating those variations. Am I correct?

Very much so, as understanding the qualitative nature of the distinctions can help us better understand the respects in which they actually differ.

Do they believe different things? Do they do things differently? What relationship is there between "believe different things" and "do things differently"? Do the way traditions do things reinforce their own beliefs? etc.

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: Traditions and ideology

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:14 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Buckwheat wrote:I took the OP as an attempt not to stir up a discussion of the differences between schools of thought, but to discuss the importance of ideology vs pragmatic forces in creating those variations. Am I correct?

Very much so, as understanding the qualitative nature of the distinctions can help us better understand the respects in which they actually differ.

Do they believe different things? Do they do things differently? What relationship is there between "believe different things" and "do things differently"? Do the way traditions do things reinforce their own beliefs? etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)

That's what I thought you meant, Retro, though other replies took the discussion elsewhere.
IMO, framing the difference between schools in terms of 'ideologies' just adds another layer of (to use one of your favourite terms) papanca to a discussion which is already burdened with far too much of it.
In particular, 'ideology' introduces a notion of purposeful creation which seems quite foreign to the way the schools diverged. You might as well credit geese and ducks with evolving away from each other because of their different ideologies.
:thinking:

:namaste:
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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:30 pm

Greetings Kim,

Kim O'Hara wrote:You might as well credit geese and ducks with evolving away from each other because of their different ideologies.

Sure, but now that they are different, how to understand the differentiation?

In the case of ducks and geese, it would be their physical features, their evolutionary lineage (sorry I've forgotten the technical term at the moment), their geneological (is that the right word?) relationship to their avian cousins, the sounds they make, their mode of communication, their habitat, migratory patterns and so on.

Kim O'Hara wrote:IMO, framing the difference between schools in terms of 'ideologies' just adds another layer of (to use one of your favourite terms) papanca to a discussion which is already burdened with far too much of it.

Well, anything can become papanca is you allow it... papanca is an internal process.

I do think it is relevant though for anyone who is in the process of finding a tradition to understand what the differences in traditions actually constitute, for they are certainly not the same. If you were sat at a spinning wheel (think of the old Wheel of Fortune set-up on TV 8-) ) and told to spin the wheel and join to the tradition that came up, I'm sure you'd not be overly thrilled at the prospect as the name of every tradition within the scope of Buddhism (both the legit and the totally bogus bankrupt ones) spun past, slowly to settle upon one which was arbitrarily selected for you in the absence of any understanding of the qualitative nature of the differences. What would you be losing by moving to that tradition, and if you were a noob, what would you be missing by not going where you deliberately chose after considered investigation?

Whilst it's true they "evolved" in different directions, what was it that drove that evolution? Was it something disconnected from view, such a pragmatic preference for anapanasati focus on the nose vs the abdomen, or a reverence for Sariputta vs Mahamoggalana? Was it a case of wandering over a different hill in a different direction? Or... was it a case that they held different views on the Dhamma, and that the very practices themselves which evolved were different ways of experientially cultivating and actualizing that particular view? To what extent are traditions about legitimising themselves and their views and practices, and to what extent do they lead to the goal of the Dhamma? I don't want to call out any specific traditions, as I'm not asking for the purposes of stirring the pot, but I hope that gives some more clarity on the intended scope of the topic and the reasons why I think it's important to understand whether the differences are ideological, pragmatic, geographical, or whatever else they may be.

:stirthepot:

Wikipedia wrote:An ideology is a set of ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. It is how society sees things.

Is that an apt means by which to explain and regard the evolved differences?

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: Traditions and ideology

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:59 pm

Whilst it's true they "evolved" in different directions, what was it that drove that evolution? Was it something disconnected from view, such a pragmatic preference for anapanasati focus on the nose vs the abdomen, or a reverence for Sariputta vs Mahamoggalana? Was it a case of wandering over a different hill in a different direction? Or... was it a case that they held different views on the Dhamma, and that the very practices themselves which evolved were different ways of experientially cultivating and actualizing that particular view? To what extent are traditions about legitimising themselves and their views and practices, and to what extent do they lead to the goal of the Dhamma? I don't want to call out any specific traditions, as I'm not asking for the purposes of stirring the pot, but I hope that gives some more clarity on the intended scope of the topic and the reasons why I think it's important to understand whether the differences are ideological, pragmatic, geographical, or whatever else they may be.


I guess this is a scholarly question and perhaps picking up Lamotte's Hostory of Indian Buddhism would be a start?

My impression broadly speaking is that there was a tension early on about which teachings are authentic Buddhavacana, which are legitimate pointers to liberation, which form the core and which are incidental and this tension has played a part in shaping traditions.

There was also a tension about which way is best to fulfill the Buddha's testament and that too shaped the various traditions.

Another force was later adaptation of Buddhism to existing customs, beliefs and mindsets which could perhaps be polluting as in the case of spirit worship and propitiation but could also be enriching in fleshing out some teachings and elaborating and integrating them further. The notion of evolution of Buddhist thought or of progressive "revelations" as per Tiantai school, is of course controversial.

I don't really see ideology as being a driving force except if you want to say that the underlying ideology of Buddhism is liberation from delusion through virtue, mental cultivation and insight.

Now I just hope that Ven Huifeng will come and say something authoritative on the subject but I guess he may (justifiably) feel exasperated that people tend to proliferate their pet theories without bothering to check what the scholars (like Lamotte) have done.

So back to suggestion # 1.
_/|\_

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:08 am

Greetings Dan,

Dan74 wrote:I guess this is a scholarly question and perhaps picking up Lamotte's Hostory of Indian Buddhism would be a start?

That would be certainly relevant in understanding the forces that drove the evolution to where it is today and I have read comparable books to Lamotte's in the past, but in the context of this particular topic I'm moreso interested in exploring whether, in the current day, those historical evolutionary forces themselves are (remain?) the best way to describe the current differences in the modern day, or whether there are clearer ways to explain the differences in the set of Buddhist traditions (inside and outside Theravada) that we encounter in the modern world.

Is there a way to explain the differences as they present themselves in a very real and tangible fashion today, without having to trace back through the evolutionary path of Buddhist history without recourse to Buddhist Councils, schisms and such?

Are the received differences, as they present themselves today, differences in ideology?

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: Traditions and ideology

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:24 am

I see (I think...)

Maybe. 84000 teachings for 84000 diseases, eh?

There are many different takes on samsara, different personality types. It is only natural that different approaches and flavours would crystallise to deal with this diversity. What's good for the goose, maybe good for the gander but the chickens and turkeys will be none the wiser, not to mention the pigs.

So this notion of one pure Buddhism to rule them all which I've seen in the past, is neither feasible nor desirable, in my view.

Even in maths, we have different texts often with quite different approaches to the same subject and some prefer to work with one while others prefer another. How much more so with the Dhamma which draws on all of us, rather than just the logic and the intellect.

So to me, it is about the diversity of human condition that explains the continuation of the diversity of Dhamma.
_/|\_

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:29 am

Greetings Dan,

Are then the differences in the present day to be accounted for by 84,000 different personality types gravitating towards 84,000 different outward manifestations of those personality types, each possessing its own evolutionary derived mode through which it best connects to the Dhamma?

:?:

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: Traditions and ideology

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:39 am

retrofuturist wrote:Is there a way to explain the differences as they present themselves in a very real and tangible fashion today, without having to trace back through the evolutionary path of Buddhist history without recourse to Buddhist Councils, schisms and such?

Are the received differences, as they present themselves today, differences in ideology?

Hi, Retro,
As I tried to say before, I don't think you add anything to the discussion by framing it in terms of ideology.
You can say that today we have ducks and geese. You can, if you like, trace the forces which led to their divergence - but if you don't feel like doing that (and it seems that you don't) then we simply have ducks and geese. 'Ideology' implies a coherence and purposiveness ("The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.") that was never present in the evolutionary drift of any of schools away from the Buddha's direct teachings or away from each other, and 'ideology' is not how any of the schools sees its worldview now. Why drag it in?
:shrug:

Kim

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dan,

Are then the differences in the present day to be accounted for by 84,000 different personality types gravitating towards 84,000 different outward manifestations of those personality types, each possessing its own evolutionary derived mode through which it best connects to the Dhamma?

:?:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Yes, but I am sure history has played a part too - as always it is the interaction of historical, social and psychological forces, isn't it? And you can't separate the three.

84000 is not to be taken literally, right?

Also "evolutionary derived" or kammic or through nature-nurture inteaction...

My belief as I guess you know is that great masters of different times and places have discerned the core of the Buddha's teaching through insight and realisation and having absorbed and assimilated the teachings have made them their own. And so rather than repeating "dead words" they spoke using their own words with the force of their living energy and experience and of course the insight of liberation. So we have Suttas and Sutras, shastras, commentaries, koans, termas, etc etc Some seem more insightful, some seem less when filtered through our own particular slant and predilection.
_/|\_

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Re: Traditions and ideology

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:50 am

Greetings Kim,

Kim O'Hara wrote:'ideology' is not how any of the schools sees its worldview now.

So it's different "worldviews" they have then?

Kim O'Hara wrote:Why drag it in? :shrug:

For the same reason you dragged "world-views" in... i.e. in an attempt to clearly articulate what the actual differences are.

I'm not wedded to the word "ideology"... it just seemed from the Wikipedia definition to be a reasonably sensible way to explain the differences to me, but if others saw it differently, I was keen to see what those different means of representation were. I'm happy to jettison "ideology" as a grounds for differentiation if something else is better. Let's consider worldview then...

Wikipedia entry on wordview wrote:A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung [ˈvɛlt.ʔanˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ] ( listen), composed of Welt ('world') and Anschauung ('view' or 'outlook').[2] It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it.

A worldview is a network of presuppositions which is not verified by the procedures of natural science but in terms of which every aspect of man’s knowledge and experience is interpreted and interrelated

World-view seems a worthy subtitute to ideology to 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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