Mahayanists and the historical record

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Nyana » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:07 pm

waimengwan wrote:I would use inferential logic, if the practice of Theravada just stops at becoming a Arhat, then surely there are methods to become a Bodhisattva and Samyak Sambuddha like Shakyamuni.

The Theravāda commentators acknowledge that there are different vehicles for different levels of awakening. The path of a bodhisatta includes the development of the perfections over a very long period of time. This is explained in A Treatise on the Pāramīs by the Theravāda commentator Ācariya Dhammapāla:

    We now undertake a detailed explanation of the pāramīs for clansmen following the suttas who are zealously engaged in the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment (mahābodhiyāna), in order to improve their skilfulness in accumulating the requisites for enlightenment....

    In detail, to those whose minds are disposed towards the enlightenment of disciples, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them (in progress towards their goal) by elaborating upon the noble qualities of whichever among the following topics is appropriate.... So too, for beings whose minds are disposed towards the enlightenment of paccekabuddhas and of perfectly enlightened Buddhas, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them in the two vehicles (leading to these two types of enlightenment) by elaborating upon the greatness of the spiritual power of those Buddhas, and by explaining the specific nature, characteristic, function, etc., of the ten pāramīs in their three stages.

And Dhammapāla adds:

    Since it [i.e. the great aspiration to realize mahābodhi] has as its object the inconceivable plane of the Buddhas and the welfare of the whole immeasurable world of beings, it should be seen as the loftiest, most sublime and exalted distinction of merit, endowed with immeasurable potency, the root-cause of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood. Simultaneous with its arising, the Great Man enters upon the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment (mahābodhiyānapaṭipatti). He becomes fixed in his destiny, irreversible, and therefore properly gains the designation “bodhisattva.” His mind becomes fully devoted to the supreme enlightenment in its completeness, and his capacity to fulfill the training in the requisites of enlightenment becomes established. For when their aspiration succeeds, the Great Men correctly investigate all the pāramīs with their self-evolved knowledge which prefigures their future attainment of omniscience. Then they undertake their practice, and fulfill them in due order, as was done by the wise Sumedha when he made his great aspiration.

The development of the perfections and the bodhisatta's aspiration are explained in A Manual of the Excellent Man by Ven. Ledi Sayādaw:

    I shall now outline the ten ordinary perfections, the ten higher perfections, and the ten supreme perfections....

    One who can fulfil only the first ten attains the enlightenment of a Noble Disciple. One who can fulfil only the first ten and the second ten attains the enlightenment of a Solitary Buddha. One who can fulfil all thirty attains Supreme Self-Enlightenment...

    What is meant by “the Noblest Aspiration”? It is the verbal and mental undertaking that the bodhisatta had made at some point of time aeons before taking up the perfections. It was made in these terms:

    “As a man who knows his own strength, what use is there to get to ‘the yonder shore’ (nibbāna) alone? I will attain to Supreme Knowledge and then convey men and devas to the yonder shore.”

    That was the pledge that sent the ten thousand universes reeling and echoing in applause. That was the bodhisatta’s earnest wish. For he intensely aspired to Supreme Self-Enlightenment thus:

    “Knowing the Truth, I will let others know it. Freeing myself from the world, I will free others. Having crossed over, I will enable others to cross.”

    This fervent and most daring aspiration is called “the Noblest Aspiration.”
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Nyana » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:46 pm

BlackBird wrote:I am truly interested (without polemical or nasty intent) to understand how Mahayanists establish faith when posed with the same question of historical attribution. Is the literal word of the Buddha just not that important in Mahayana? Do they reckon that those who wrote the later sutras were enlightened as well, and so justify their attribution to being the Buddha's word as being forgivable and not a detraction from the supposed dharma within the sutra?

According to the Mahāyāna Adhyāśayasaṃcodana Sūtra as quoted by Śāntideva in his Compendium of Training (Śikṣāsamuccaya), four principles indicate that an utterance (or statement, teaching, etc.) is compatible with the speech of the Buddha:

(i) it is connected with truth, not with what is untrue;
(ii) it is connected with dharma, not with what is not dharma;
(iii) it leads to giving up defilement, not to increasing defilement;
(iv) it points out the praiseworthy qualities of nirvāṇa, not those of saṃsāra.

It's important to understand that the Mahāyāna is not a single school or tradition, and that Mahāyāna ideas likely developed over a considerable period of time. Historically, going back to the texts of Indian authors we can surmise that the Mahāyāna movements were not universally accepted by all Buddhists, even as late as the 6th - 8th centuries CE. Mahāyāna authors during this time period still felt compelled to engage in Mahāyāna apologetics in order to defend the Mahāyāna teachings. One of the most thorough defenses of the Mahāyāna is found in the fourth chapter of Bhāviveka's Tarkajvālā (6th century CE). He states Śrāvaka objections to the Mahāyāna and offers various replies giving reasons in defence of the Mahāyāna. It's an informative read for anyone interested in this aspect of Buddhist history.

Of course, long before Bhāviveka there are defences of the Mahāyāna in numerous Mahāyāna texts -- some of which include impassioned, defensive posturing and rather indignant name-calling. It's been suggested that this defensive rhetoric is a characteristic of small, embattled groups existing on the margins of more established, mainstream groups. For more see Rhetoric of a Marginalized Yāna.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:15 pm

Hi Jack,

Yes, it is interesting how different your perception is from mine.

Your reply to my comment that I take faith from Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and hence historicity is not so important to me as to you is interesting. I think that this is relevant to the topic, in that, as I understand it, the various Mahayana schools put a lot of emphasis on awakened disciples from hundreds or thousands of years after the Buddha's time. Whereas it seems to me that some "Theravadins" here (presumably including you) have doubts that the Theravadin commentators (and therefore many modern-day teachers) understood what they were talking about, let alone that some of them were awakened (a strange conundrum).

You seem to be comparing, therefore, a "modernist historic" (as in zavk's post: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16769&start=20#p239573)form of Buddhism to Mahayana, not Theravada itself.
BlackBird wrote:I have at times thought the same way Mike.

But applying a skeptical rigour, it became more important to cut right to the heart of the matter. That is, if I were existing during the Buddha's time, and I came across a teacher who claimed that enlightenment was possible but was not themselves enlightened, my fundamental question would be: Well where's your proof? Wheres your proof that your path leads where it says it does?

The Buddha claimed to be the enlightened one, many of his followers claimed to have attained arahantship, and the Dhamma encourages one to come and see for oneself. But if there was no Buddha, no arahants, no ariyans. The skeptic in me would ultimately come to think: "Well, where's the proof that this path leads where it says it does?"

That is why I ended up following Nanavira Thera's teachings. Because fundamentally here was a guy whom made the claim (to his preceptor and was later published following his suicide) that he had attained sotapatti. He said ya know, this is what's wrong with the traditional method, I've got a good reason to think so (sotapatti) they're quite mistaken, follow my method and you'll get there yourself, proof is in the pudding.

So, as you say, you've rejected the general Theravada, so your question is not about Theravada vs Mahayana at all.

For me Ven. Nanavira is just another monk with some interesting ideas. I don't see any reason to take him (or various other modern interpreters) more seriously than some of the teachers I have read, know, or have known, most of whom have been/were monks considerably longer than Ven Nanavira. I simply don't buy into the "one or two people have it right, the rest don't" idea.

Sorry to be blunt. I have found it interesting to read, and/or meet, a variety of iconoclastic monks, so it's not that I think that such views are not worth considering. At the very least as a means of sharpening up one's analysis.

But if your faith is based on one very specific interpretation, then it seems to me that it may be somewhat fragile:
BlackBird wrote:So I'm willing to try it out. Maybe if it doesn't work I'll return to a traditional interpretation at some point and I don't discount other people's methods or teachings like I once did, I say this to show you there are correlations between my faith in the Buddha and my faith in Nanavira Thera. Hopefully it clarifies my method of thinking on this subject: That my faith is predicated on truth and factuality (not to suppose yours or others are otherwise :))


:anjali:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby manas » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:01 pm

BlackBird wrote:One of the primary foundations of my faith in Theravada and Early Buddhism is the historical record, and the likelyhood that the Early teachings represent the true word of the Buddha, and that later writings were written by others who were probably not enlightened or at least of a status unknown, and thus not to be taken as Buddhavacana.

I am truly interested (without polemical or nasty intent) to understand how Mahayanists establish faith when posed with the same question of historical attribution. Is the literal word of the Buddha just not that important in Mahayana? Do they reckon that those who wrote the later sutras were enlightened as well, and so justify their attribution to being the Buddha's word as being forgivable and not a detraction from the supposed dharma within the sutra?

This is the reason I never became a Mahayanist. I think if the historical record was in doubt or at least foggy enough to warrant that the Mahayana sutras could have been the Buddha's word I probably would have become one.

metta
Jack


Maybe not everyone puts the same priority on what is regarded by most scholars as historically accurate. Some individuals might have different priorities in faith as in life, for the choices they make. I'm like yourself, when I first got interested in Buddhism I quickly investigated for myself, "ok which school is the most original and authentic one?" That was a big priority for me. But it might not be for everyone. Some might (just for example) tend to make life choices guided more by faith, intuition, or even the personality of the teacher. On that note, I do observe that despite not sharing some of their scriptures or beliefs, that some of the Tibetan / Mahayana masters are really kind, calm, wise human beings who inspire me. Consider Thich Nhat Hanh for example. His teaching style isn't my cup of tea, but goodness what an amazing human being! What an inspiring example of kindness, compassion and peace! Same goes for some Tibetan monks I've heard or encountered too. For some people, that could be what matters most to them, their topmost 'selection criterion'.

metta :anjali:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:23 pm

Mike

I have faith in the Sangha too, I don't think it's fair to assume I don't. Neither do I really think it's fair to make the judgement on what this discussion is and isn't about, when our meta discussion is quite separate from the OP.

The original discussion is not about Theravada vs Mahayana, and was never intended to be, it was me asking how Mahayana deal with the intellectual problem of justifying the ascription of the Sutras to the Buddha, when the evidence shows that they are probably not the word of the historical Buddha and furthermore and perhaps more important since it is more general: How the Mahayana generate their saddha when their texts and thus their doctrine was probably not spoken by the historical Buddha.

Finally I don't really know if it's a fair judgement to call into question the strength of my faith based on a single post you've read on a forum. In the depths of my ignorance and foolishness - my fall from grace - I never once gave up the idea that the Buddha as supremely enlightened, that the Dhamma was the path to enlightenment and that the Ariyan sangha was a living embodiment of both, and that the non-ariyan Sangha was a refuge unto itself for it's protectorship of Dhamma and the yogic way of life.

I didn't really ask you for you to reiterate how you feel about Nanavira and to express whether you feel he is what he says he is, to do so was in my opinion fairly gratuitous, when I brought it up simply to give you a parallel example of my thought process. Just as the original discussion was not Theravada VERSUS Mahayana, but simply one man's curiosity with how his Buddhist cousins deal with a conundrum, so too our meta discussion is not Nanavira Thera vs. Theravada. The willingness (in your previous post) to reduce everything to a polemic is quite at odds with my specific statement in my OP that I had no intention of this thread being such a thing.

Please do not mistake the severity of my words for me being upset, you haven't offended me - For offending me is a rather difficult thing to do these days. Nor is there any ill will, I still very much consider you with good will. I just suggest you should be more cautious in your judgements, I don't presuppose to judge the foundations of your practice or it's veracity. You could be spot on the mark and a sotapatti for all I know. But I don't know.

with metta
Jack
Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby SarathW » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:28 pm

Hi Black Bird
For me the most important thing is what I am experience here and now not what I heard or read in a book. :)
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:41 pm

Hi Jack,
BlackBird wrote:Mike I have faith in the Sangha too, I don't think it's fair to assume I don't.

Sorry if I assumed too much. I was working from your statements, now and previously, that you think that Ven Nanavira has it right. And many of your statements seemed to imply that you thought that the ancient practitioners, teachers, and commentators, and also much of the current Theravada Sangha had it wrong.

Let me put it in a positive way. I have faith in the Sangha in the sense that, based in my interactions with a selection of them, I think that most serious modern Theravada teachers are generally teaching in a way that leads towards liberation. [I can't speak for Mahayana teachers, though encounters with people such as Ven Huifeng, and (briefly, from a distance) Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama have left me with very positive impressions]. Certain teachers will suit certain students better, of course.

:anjali:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:55 pm

Hi Mike.

I have retracted my previous positions (of a year or two ago) where I specifically and polemically declared that Nanavira Thera was probably right, and by virtue of such, most other Theravadin teachings were probably wrong. My position now (and I do not recall stating otherwise recently) is one of a working hypothesis. I follow his teachings as a précis. I do not rule anything out, nor do I now make assumptions of other methods or teachings and I regret my previous assuredness and apologise to any whom I may have caused offence.

I do still however think feel that people (especially of the lay variety) tend to over ascribe attainments to their teachers, or to famous monks and teachers when a degree of skepticism might be healthier.

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:50 am

BlackBird wrote:Hi Zavk, thank you for your informative post. Incidentally perhaps, I tend to build my conception of the Buddha based on what appears in the Nikayas and I tend to treat anything written by a scholar be they Occidental or Oriental, with the same level of critical thought an analysis. You make an important point and it's worth bearing in mind :)


I agree with Jack. While I appreciate the scholarship and information by zavk, I also get my information about the life of the Buddha primarily from the Nikayas, not any scholar, Western or Eastern. In the Pali Canon there are numerous references to a man who became a Buddha, a mortal man who was born, got sick (dysentery), got old and died.

See: http://buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=163
for some Tipitaka references.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby alan... » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:31 am

BlackBird wrote:Let me put this another way.

If I found out tomorrow that the Buddha wasn't real. I would probably lose most faith in the teachings, and no longer consider myself a Buddhist. I would probably still practice meditation and seek some sort of gnosis, but it would shake my beliefs to the core. It all rests upon the historicity of the Buddha being the legitimate embodiment of all that he preached and my faith in this is quite strong.

When I say avoid thinking about it, to me it is a problem that cannot be put aside. That is because the factuality of the Buddha is of utmost importance, I am starting to see that that is not so for everybody.

metta
Jack



here is another way to see it: let's say you find out the man who invented the technology for the phone didn't exist and it was actually invented by another man or a group of men. would you never use a phone again???

obviously, no. because regardless of who invented them, phones work!

and buddhism works! countless people have used it with varying degrees of success from general positive psychological results, all the way up to zen masters and arahants and everything in between!

keep practicing, eventually you will have experiences that will make you have complete faith in the practices and dhamma itself that are totally independent on any belief in any specific person's historicity.

it happened to me. now even if someone proved beyond a doubt that the buddha never lived and the dhamma was created by a group of people over the course of a couple hundred years i would still practice just the same. this might make me more open to different ideas from other schools, but it would not hinder me from practicing, not even a little bit.

for now i believe he existed and the theravada dhamma is the closest we will ever get to his exact words and teachings, so i generally do not use mahayana ideas because as far as i can tell they are a development and combination of different ideas over time, whereas the theravada is the older version of all of it and is therefore the closest bet you can get to what the man actually taught. but if i saw it as just a development of techniques to free the mind with no specific founder having any authority i would just go with whichever one seemed the most reasonable and produced the best results in me and it's followers and leaders.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:58 am

Do you know that the world oldest surviving printed book is Diamond Sutra (Mahayana Sutra).
I have read the translation of this book many times with tears in my eyes (Sorry folks, sometimes I am very emotional) :)


http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_su ... ation.html
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Nyorai » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:05 am

Basically, all theravada and Mahayana scripture were recorded by Ananda acknowledged by at least 500 Arahat then from the first sentence "Thus I Have Heard". If without record of scripture for people of the modern world, no one would enlighten unless extremely good karmic of the past lives such as Zen Patriarch Hui Neng :sage:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:22 am

Hi Jack,
BlackBird wrote:I have retracted my previous positions (of a year or two ago) where I specifically and polemically declared that Nanavira Thera was probably right, and by virtue of such, most other Theravadin teachings were probably wrong. My position now (and I do not recall stating otherwise recently) is one of a working hypothesis. I follow his teachings as a précis. I do not rule anything out, nor do I now make assumptions of other methods or teachings and I regret my previous assuredness and apologise to any whom I may have caused offence.

That's good to know. So you think he's simply the most helpful voice for you at this point?
BlackBird wrote:I do still however think feel that people (especially of the lay variety) tend to over ascribe attainments to their teachers, or to famous monks and teachers when a degree of skepticism might be healthier.

Perhaps (but isn't attainments why you read Ven Nanaviria in the first place?). Personally, I don't spend time worrying about attainments of either my teachers or of famous monks. I've little interest in seeking out "the perfect teacher". For me, I think that the main obstacles come from within myself, not from a lack of good information/teaching. All I really care about is having a supportive community and access to competent teachers who measure up to suttas such as the Canki Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:23 am

Hi Alan,

Be careful not to condescend to determine that you know my practice and what I have (or in your opinion have not) accomplished. You claim to have achieved a lot in your meditation and that is commendable, but you mistake my critical thought with doubt about the veracity of the Dhamma, and that is quite unwarrented by what I have said. I too have had experiences that have inspired great saddha in the Dhamma.

Your example of the cellphone is quite in line with my mode of thought, for as I previously stated (perhaps even in the post you quoted) in the hypothetical situation that I found out the Buddha was not real, I would continue meditation and sila. The difference is that I would not apply myself with the label of Buddhist (which I do at present tenuously at best) and I would have to re examine many of my conclusions about the path and the Dhamma.

I do not personally believe that meditative achievements in the realms of jhana and such like should be a basis for not continually critically examining ones views and thought processes, for until we reach stream entry, we are all still possessed of mistaken views. But I do not presume to know how far your achievements extend, so please take the above in full knowledge that I am setting up something of a straw man, an assumption of sorts.

I am as time abides, more open to teachings of the Mahayana, although it can only extend so far, for as I have discussed at length, my saddha in so far as the possibility of nibbana, is in large part attributed to the Buddha's historical thusness.

Hope you are well
metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby alan... » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:37 am

BlackBird wrote:Hi Alan,

Be careful not to condescend to determine that you know my practice and what I have (or in your opinion have not) accomplished. You claim to have achieved a lot in your meditation and that is commendable, but you mistake my critical thought with doubt about the veracity of the Dhamma, and that is quite unwarrented by what I have said. I too have had experiences that have inspired great saddha in the Dhamma.

Your example of the cellphone is quite in line with my mode of thought, for as I previously stated (perhaps even in the post you quoted) in the hypothetical situation that I found out the Buddha was not real, I would continue meditation and sila. The difference is that I would not apply myself with the label of Buddhist (which I do at present tenuously at best) and I would have to re examine many of my conclusions about the path and the Dhamma.

I do not personally believe that meditative achievements in the realms of jhana and such like should be a basis for not continually critically examining ones views and thought processes, for until we reach stream entry, we are all still possessed of mistaken views. But I do not presume to know how far your achievements extend, so please take the above in full knowledge that I am setting up something of a straw man, an assumption of sorts.

I am as time abides, more open to teachings of the Mahayana, although it can only extend so far, for as I have discussed at length, my saddha in so far as the possibility of nibbana, is in large part attributed to the Buddha's historical thusness.

Hope you are well
metta
Jack


oh hey man i'm sorry! not my intention to condescend. :embarassed:

my thinking was that you were saying that non historicity of the buddha would be the end of your practice and so i was trying to give you another way to see it to ensure that you wouldn't give up if something like this happened in some way or another. but after reading your reply, clearly this was not necessary. although the post i quoted certainly did seem like that's what you were saying in pretty black and white terms, it's always best not to assume like i did!

i've achieved nothing special. just gotten past the point where i have any lasting or seriously derailing doubts about the practice.
Last edited by alan... on Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:53 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:38 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Jack,
BlackBird wrote:I have retracted my previous positions (of a year or two ago) where I specifically and polemically declared that Nanavira Thera was probably right, and by virtue of such, most other Theravadin teachings were probably wrong. My position now (and I do not recall stating otherwise recently) is one of a working hypothesis. I follow his teachings as a précis. I do not rule anything out, nor do I now make assumptions of other methods or teachings and I regret my previous assuredness and apologise to any whom I may have caused offence.

That's good to know. So you think he's simply the most helpful voice for you at this point?


Yeah, more or less. I owe it to myself to see this particular sub-path out to it's furthest extent. Then I will know for myself whether it's true.

mikenz66 wrote:
BlackBird wrote:I do still however think feel that people (especially of the lay variety) tend to over ascribe attainments to their teachers, or to famous monks and teachers when a degree of skepticism might be healthier.

Perhaps (but isn't attainments why you read Ven Nanaviria in the first place?). Personally, I don't spend time worrying about attainments of either my teachers or of famous monks.


You make a good point. The difference is, I would never have ascribed anything to Ven. Nyanavira if I had not read his own statement (to his preceptor). Those of whom I am critical, in comparison tend to ascribe ariyan status to their teacher or a famous monk simply on the basis that they really want that teacher to be that way, they see what they want to see. I have a statement with which to work with, they have faith and assumption.

Maybe Nanavira Thera was over estimating himself for all I know, but my working hypothesis is that he was a sotapanna, and hence his teachings are worth attempting to understand. His method allows me to see the suttas through a prism that gives them a flavour that I find altogether quite agreeable, one of an existential crisis.

So I'll see how it goes. My mindfulness practice is based on my readings of Mahasi method, and my metta is right out of the Visuddhimagga, my anapana is likewise. My iconoclastic fervour has all but disappeared in recent times and I seek to be inclusive, wherever possible. A big part of that was a recent insight through my metta practice where I have literally come to see all beings are brothers and sisters of myself. No matter what we disagree on, we're all still in this together, and that is a bond that unites us, even if we do not realise it at times.

In essence, I have retreated to a point of view more in line with Canki Sutta you posted, specifically:

"If a person likes something... holds an unbroken tradition... has something reasoned through analogy... has something he agrees to, having pondered views, his statement, 'This is what I agree to, having pondered views,' safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.' To this extent, Bharadvaja, there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one safeguards the truth. I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth. But it is not yet an awakening to the truth.


I wish to safeguard the truth, but I cannot make the claim that 'only this is true, anything else is worthless' for I have not awakened to the truth.

mikenz66 wrote: For me, I think that the main obstacles come from within myself, not from a lack of good information/teaching. All I really care about is having a supportive community and access to competent teachers who measure up to suttas such as the Canki Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
Mike


You know, that's admirable Mike, Sadhu.

metta
Jack
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"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby ground » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:51 am

BlackBird wrote:Is the literal word of the Buddha just not that important in Mahayana?

What appears as "word of the Buddha" or not arises depending on belief, i.e. consciousness affirming itself. In that there is no difference between Mahayana conditioned consciousness and Theravada conditioned consciousness. :sage:
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby zavk » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:54 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
BlackBird wrote:Hi Zavk, thank you for your informative post. Incidentally perhaps, I tend to build my conception of the Buddha based on what appears in the Nikayas and I tend to treat anything written by a scholar be they Occidental or Oriental, with the same level of critical thought an analysis. You make an important point and it's worth bearing in mind :)


I agree with Jack. While I appreciate the scholarship and information by zavk, I also get my information about the life of the Buddha primarily from the Nikayas, not any scholar, Western or Eastern. In the Pali Canon there are numerous references to a man who became a Buddha, a mortal man who was born, got sick (dysentery), got old and died.

See: http://buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=163
for some Tipitaka references.


I don't want to derail this thread. But I wish to a quick point as it pertains to the general practice of engaging in Dhamma discussion online and offline.

The distinction made here between non-Buddhist scholarship and Buddhist knowledge is an entirely false one. As if knowledge about the Pali language, as if the criteria for translation and transplantation, as if the general sense of historicity of where the human estate and the different cultures of the world are today and how we have come to be so - as if all these are not part of a broader network of understanding and habits (including academic knowledge production) within which the Dhamma circulates; as if these can be cleanly separated from how we engage with the Dhamma, regardless of whether one favours the Nikayas or Mahayana corpus.

To pretend that one's engagement with the Dhamma can be 'untainted' by such broader cultural, social, political and intellectual forces is totally disingenuous and totally anachronistic. Imagine a turtle meeting a fish in the ocean, and because the turtle has been on land, it claims, 'Oh, I really only rely on the sun and air. The water and salt has no influence on me, I do not pay them attention.' What if the reason they appear to be of no influence is precisely because one does not pay attention?

This is of course merely an analogy and would not fit the present circumstances perfectly. Nevertheless, the main point is:

The distinction between 'mere scholarship' and 'proper Dhamma knowledge' is always and already false to begin with. Such a distinction would allow one to raise the charge of 'mere study' or 'over-intellectualisation' at others, especially when confronted with ideas that do not immediately conform with one's own opinions. But this not only turns a blind eye to how academic scholars could be committed Buddhist practitioners (and of course they are those who are, if one cares to pay attention), it also perpetuates an unhelpful, discriminatory and hypocritical attitude, a way of disguising in sheepskin what one is in fact performing, even as one claims otherwise.

If we simply takes a casual look around at what is taking place here on DW: how often to we find participants quoting passages, demanding that others back up their views by citing sources, checking and referring to those sources, evaluating them against one another for accuracy or inconsistency? Are these activities structurally different to the activities performed by professional scholars? Are the ideas articulated not inter-involved on some level or another? Who here hasn't engaged in these activities? Let's not pretend otherwise and accuse others, even if implicitly, of engaging in practices that are supposedly of less relevance.

Please excuse my rant, moderators. It does not relate to the thread directly, but I believe the issue pertains to how we engage Dhamma discussion in general, including the question of how we ought to evaluate the historicity of the Dhamma. But if you think this is inappropriate, then please exercise your responsibility as a moderator.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:45 am

Thank you, Ed!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:47 am

Ben wrote:Thank you, Ed!
Agreed. As always, insightful and sharply to the point.
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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