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Mahayanists and the historical record - Page 4 - Dhamma Wheel

Mahayanists and the historical record

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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David N. Snyder
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:41 pm

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BlackBird
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:23 pm

Is there a 'for dummies' version of your post Zavk. I'm not sure I got the point unfortunately, most probably a fault of my own.

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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." -

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:29 pm

The following thread may be of interest to this discussion:

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:10 pm

Also relevant:

, by Graeme MacQueen
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


Nyana
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Nyana » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:55 pm

Also:

by Ronald M. Davidson.

by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

by John J. Makransky.

:candle:

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby zavk » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:45 am

Thanks for sharing these resources. These scholars, as far as I'm aware, are practitioners of various Mahayana lineages. Perhaps because of their 'in-betweenness' - i.e. neither fully within sacred or scholarly, Buddhist or academic, East or West - they have had to be critically reflexive of their commitments and professions of faith, interrogating both received Mahayana understandings and Theravadin ones, so as to become more mindful of the ideological imperatives and possible power effects of their own discourses.

This one should be of more immediate relevance:

Last edited by zavk on Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby zavk » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:47 am

With metta,
zavk

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:41 am

Hi zavk,

Thanks for the explanation.

For me and this is my opinion, the Pali Canon represents one of the oldest, if not the oldest written teachings of Buddhism, especially for the Theravada and from all likelihood was written around 100 BCE to about 1 BCE at the latest. And it has been put to the test and works.

I agree the cultural factor is important, but that there have been enough translations over the centuries from scholars and translators from around the globe across several continents and cultures that the translations do not differ to any significant degree, except for just a few suttas or teachings. The works of later scholars, commentators and Dhamma teachers probably have the cultural influence to a much higher degree than that of the Pali Canon; again in my opinion. This is why I and several other Theravada Buddhists probably choose the Suttanta approach, while not completely rejecting later teachings either and of course respecting others' understanding and take on the Dhamma / Dharma too.
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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Nyana » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:52 am


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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby zavk » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:25 am

With metta,
zavk

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:32 am

Ah, I think I see what you're saying Zavk and yeah, I guess you're right. My response would be - What's the extent of influence that these things have over the way we frame our understanding of the Nikayas.

Certainly the way I read the suttas (given my existential Nyanavarian mode bias) is at times quite different to the way a traditionalist would read them, especially when it comes to subjects such as paticcasamupada (PSP), where as a working hypothesis I do not follow the 3 life interpretation but one which suggests that X is the determinant of Y, plug in dukkha and tanha and you have the 2 & 3rd noble truth - The four noble truths end up being the primary example of PSP - this gives PSP a primacy above all doctrinal topics and reflected in the Buddhas own words that one who sees PSP sees the Dhamma and one who sees the Dhamma sees PSP, a primacy that is not as far as I understand, seen in the traditional mode. Other translations that lead to differing readings include nama rupa, which I see as name and form, which leads to a divergent understanding of the term compared with those who translate it as mentality-materiality. Sangkhara is another, which I see as determinations, or determinants, instead of the popular notion of 'mental formations'. This is all completely at odds with the commentaries and abhidhamma, which are both rejected by Nyanavira Thera.

I say all this to give a case example of what I think you're driving at. (Not to debate anyone haha)

I read the same suttas as a person with a traditional POV does, with the same words on the page, but my differing translation of key words leads to a divergent conceptual understanding of these suttas. I can't say that the stuff I've written above is necessarily the right translation, or the correct approach. What is to say that there wasn't in the past other interpretations too that could have been equally valid from my stand point as a worldling. But more importantly, are these differences so divergent that we have a fundamentally different vision of the triple gem? Do we have a different vision of the goal, or just how to get there?

As you say, we all like to see our preferred framework as the one that is more true, more factual, closer to the Buddha's teachings. But it might be healthy to recall from time to time that until we know, we simply don't know for sure. Instead of being torn apart by our differences, it might be more in line with the Buddha's teachings to consider what unites us - That we all seek the same thing - Nibbana, for starters.

metta
Jack
Last edited by BlackBird on Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
"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." -

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby zavk » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:13 am

With metta,
zavk

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby Dan74 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:20 am

_/|\_

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Re: Mahayanists and the historical record

Postby BlackBird » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:29 am

"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." -


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