Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

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Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby catlady2112 » Mon May 13, 2013 3:55 pm

My understanding of one difference between Mahayana and Theravada is that Mahayana uses the path of becoming a Boddhisattva on the way to being Englightened, whereas the Theravadin view is that you must be enlighted before you can help others (and that you should work for your arhatship first).

Does anyone have any reliable reference for this? Either in articles, texts or the Pali canon? I only hear people "discuss it" but I'm looking for more information rather than just online discussions .

Kate
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby piotr » Mon May 13, 2013 4:40 pm

Hi,

You can find passages like these in the Pāli Canon:

    16. "Cunda, it is impossible that one who is himself sunk in the mire[23] should pull out another who is sunk in the mire. But it is possible, Cunda, that one not sunk in the mire himself should pull out another who is sunk in the mire.

    "It is not possible, Cunda, that one who is himself not restrained, not disciplined and not quenched [as to his passions],[24] should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions].[25] But it is possible, Cunda, that one who is himself restrained, disciplined and fully quenched [as to his passions] should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions].

    — Sallekha Sutta (MN 8)
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby catlady2112 » Mon May 13, 2013 5:38 pm

Plotr, Thank you very much for the great passage. Do you know if that passage refers to a Bodhisattva? My understanding is the word Bodhisattva is not mentioned much in the canon.

I'm trying to track down references that distinguish differences between Mahayana from Theravada in terms of Bodhicitta motivation. I have come to understand that a major difference between them is that Mahayana's path to liberation is based on the Bodhicitta movitation (that they will stay until all beings are freed) and that the Theravadin is that you should not do that. Instead you should become enlightened, and then help beings.

I'm trying to track down reliable resources that say this. I've heard this a lot, yet I can't seem to track down the sources. I did a search on the web but it's hard to really search this specific question from reliable sources or texts...not to mention each school sees the other school differently.

Thanks for anything else you might have to offer. I'm doing this research for a monk.
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby Rasko » Mon May 13, 2013 11:04 pm

Bhikkhu Anālayo's freely available book "The Genesis of the Bodhisattva Ideal" has something, for example p. 27:
Several discourses indicate that teaching others is of such importance for a monastic that neglecting to do so will obstruct progress on the path. In fact, one out of several possible occasions for attaining liberation, according to the early discourses, is precisely while teaching others.

and:
In sum, in early Buddhist thought the compassionate impulse to become active for the sake of others was associated with the Buddha as well as with arhats and those who aspire to become arhats, but was not seen as a quality that motivated the bodhisattva’s quest for awakening.


and there's this in Itivuttaka, For the Welfare of Many:
The teacher, the great sage,
Is the first in the world;
Following him is the disciple
Whose composure is perfected;
And then the learner training on the path,
One who has learned much and is virtuous.

These three are chief amongst devas and humans:
Illuminators, preaching Dhamma,
Opening the door to the Deathless,
They free many people from bondage.

Those who follow the path
Well taught by the unsurpassed
Caravan-leader, who are diligent
In the Sublime One's dispensation,
Make an end of suffering
Within this very life itself
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby Nyana » Mon May 13, 2013 11:40 pm

catlady2112 wrote:My understanding of one difference between Mahayana and Theravada is that Mahayana uses the path of becoming a Boddhisattva on the way to being Englightened, whereas the Theravadin view is that you must be enlighted before you can help others (and that you should work for your arhatship first).

The Theravāda also has teachings pertaining to the bodhisattva vehicle, which includes the development of the perfections as 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.
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby Rasko » Tue May 14, 2013 1:19 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
catlady2112 wrote:My understanding of one difference between Mahayana and Theravada is that Mahayana uses the path of becoming a Boddhisattva on the way to being Englightened, whereas the Theravadin view is that you must be enlighted before you can help others (and that you should work for your arhatship first).

The Theravāda also has teachings pertaining to the bodhisattva vehicle, which includes the development of the perfections as is explained in A Treatise on the Pāramīs by the Theravāda commentator Ācariya Dhammapāla:

According to that same treatise, the great aspiration doesn't seem to have a chance to succeed if it is made nowadays:
The eight qualifications through which the aspiration succeeds are: the human state, the male sex, the cause, the sight of the Master, the going forth, the achievement of noble qualities, extreme dedication, and strong desire (Bv. IIA,v.59).
...
(4) The sight of the Master (satthāradassana): the personal presence of the Master. The aspiration only succeeds when made by one aspiring in the presence of a living Buddha. When made after the Exalted One has passed into parinibbāna—before a shrine, at the foot of the Bodhi-tree, in front of an image, or in the presence of paccekabuddhas or the Buddha’s disciples—the aspiration does not succeed. Why? Because the recipient lacks the power (necessary to confirm the aspiration). The aspiration only succeeds when made in the presence of the Buddhas, for they alone possess spiritual power adequate to the loftiness of the aspiration.

Is it possible to know if one has made the aspiration during the time of a Buddha?
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Re: Need references on Theravada view of self liberation

Postby Nyana » Tue May 14, 2013 2:35 am

Rasko wrote:According to that same treatise, the great aspiration doesn't seem to have a chance to succeed if it is made nowadays:
The eight qualifications through which the aspiration succeeds are: the human state, the male sex, the cause, the sight of the Master, the going forth, the achievement of noble qualities, extreme dedication, and strong desire (Bv. IIA,v.59).


It's possible to make an aspiration now to meet the Buddha Metteyya after his awakening, then make the great aspiration in his presence at that time and receive a prediction from him. For example, an aspiration given in the Dasabodhisattuppattikathā:

    May I, through this meritorious deed, be born in my next life in the city of Tusita, the beautiful dwelling-place of the gods. May I listen to the preaching of Lord Metteyya and enjoy great glory with him for a long time. When this Great Being is born in the charming city of Ketumatī as the Buddha, may I be reborn with the three noble root-conditions in a Brahman family. May I make offerings to that Great Sage of invaluable robes of the finest sort, alms, dwelling-places and medicines in abundance. May I undertake the life of a bhikkhu in the dispensation and illumine that noble (institution), being the possessor of potency, mindful and well-versed in the Tipiṭaka. May he predict (of me), “This one will be a Buddha in the future.” And may I offer gifts to the Buddhas who will come one after the other and (receive sure prediction) from them too. May I fare on in repeated births, give food and other things that are desired like a wish-conferring tree. May I fulfil all the perfections of morality, renunciation, wisdom, and so forth, and having attained the summit of the perfections, become an incomparable Buddha. May I preach the sweet Doctrine which brings bliss to all beings, liberating the whole world with its Devas from the bondage of repeated births. May I guide them to the most excellent, tranquil Nibbāna.

Rasko wrote:Is it possible to know if one has made the aspiration during the time of a Buddha?

If one has previously made such an aspiration it should be possible.
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