Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:09 pm

Dan74 wrote:As for the term "hinyana", firstly in East Asia it means "smaller vehicle" and i not used to refer to Theravada (at least I've never heard it refer to Theravada) but rather to a practice that is limited to concern for oneself and used as a teaching tool. A good example in Zen is the following story:
...

Sorry, but could you explain what that was about? I don't get it. Was that monk being called selfish because he wouldn't have sex, or is is just supposed to be a funny story? :shrug:

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:17 pm

I am sorry but I dont accept your relativism at all. I am mindful of the fact that this is a Theravada forum which is open to Mahayana practitioners, and that is a fine thing. I am also mindful that good manners is a basic prerequisite in the conduct of students of the Dhamma. I am pleased for you that you benefit from whatever school of Buddhism you practice in. It would be dishonest of me however to suggest or imply that I think that all schools of Buddhism are equal, or lead to the same result. I have no quarrel with you, but having dipped into several schools of Buddhism for me the Theravada is the only needful way. I wish you well in your path. I dont see why this presents a problem. Your Mahayana practice presents no problem to me at all . Its simply not an issue..
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:31 pm

Sanghamitta, you certainly don't need to accept my "relativism"! :smile: I enjoy many of your contributions here and likewise wish you well in your practice.

Mike, my take on this story (and my initial reaction was similar to yours) is that the monk did not engage with the girl but just poetically rejected her advances. While for one of us that may sound like a fine achievement, for someone who has been cultivating intensively for a long time, it was poor. There is a Tibetan story for instance where a nun was attacked by a gang of rapists and used this opportunity to teach them dharma so by the end they had not only repented but became monks and her disciples. Similarly here, had the monk been a true master, he would have shown true loving kindness and compassion to the girl rather than simply saying that he had no sexual desire anymore. And of course to know exactly what he should've done, you need not only to have been there but to have been a master as well! :tongue:

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:40 pm

Dan74 wrote:And of course to know exactly what he should've done, you need not only to have been there but to have been a master as well! :tongue:

_/|\_

Actually, one could just consult the Vinaya which also exists in the Mahayana.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Individual » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:56 pm

Dan74 wrote:There's been a diversity of views here (as usual!). Some have said that Mahayana is irrelevant or superfluous at best. Some have posted various Mahayana materials as having been useful or inspirational.

So I am wondering if people tend to feel that posts from Mahayana practitioners are unwelcome intrusions (as was recently expressed) or simply irrelevant at best. I knows the admins intentions are to have an inclusive forum particularly in this subforum but I am asking how others feel.

I don't want to detract people from their practice by posting confusing information or even what is perceived as adhamma. :shrug: So if sharing my perspective as a Mahayana practitioner does that, I'd rather cease and desist.

:yingyang:

_/|\_

There's plenty of useful and useless stuff in both Theravada and Mahayana... and for different types of people too. I think it's better to examine specific views and teachings.

And although Mahayana and Theravada have formal, academic distinctions, in practice, they're honestly not very distinguishable.

With that said, I think there are lots of "Mahayana" practices (but in practice, Theravadins do many of these same things too) which have benefits. One thing that clearly stands out as useless, however, is tantra and traditional medicine. Superstitions are not useful.

A few other things I would also say are not useful for Theravadins: Guru veneration (in Tibetan Buddhism), proselytizing among certain Mahayana Buddhists, and of course, obviously, the "Hinayana" polemic when it is directed towards Theravadins (and there's no denying that sometimes, it is).

mikenz66 wrote:
Dan74 wrote:As for the term "hinyana", firstly in East Asia it means "smaller vehicle" and i not used to refer to Theravada (at least I've never heard it refer to Theravada) but rather to a practice that is limited to concern for oneself and used as a teaching tool. A good example in Zen is the following story:
...

Sorry, but could you explain what that was about? I don't get it. Was that monk being called selfish because he wouldn't have sex, or is is just supposed to be a funny story? :shrug:

Mike

Zen stories like what he cited are meant to be difficult to understand, because they're supposed to develop discernment, intuition, wisdom, etc.., to be able to understand something beyond superficial logical and empirical analysis, to grasp an intuitive feeling of what's being expressed. Whereas being told, "This story means X," the only thing you're exercising are the faculties of logic and memory. Often, the meaning is also whimsical or comical and multi-layered, not straightforward.

But anyway, about the story: no, it's not about the sex, but about the monk's whole attitude.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:18 pm

Dan74 wrote:S
Mike, my take on this story (and my initial reaction was similar to yours) is that the monk did not engage with the girl but just poetically rejected her advances. While for one of us that may sound like a fine achievement, for someone who has been cultivating intensively for a long time, it was poor. ...

Well, OK, perhaps he could have said something different, but you seemed to be bringing it up as some sort of thing that would be revelatory news to a Theravada monk. Which is, frankly, absurd and insulting.

Have you spent time with Theravada monks? I've personally witnessed them dealing with women at least as annoying than the one in the story, with stunning calm and compassion.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Individual » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:28 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Well, OK, perhaps he could have said something different, but you seemed to be bringing it up as some sort of thing that would be revelatory news to a Theravada monk. Which is, frankly, absurd and insulting.

Have you spent time with Theravada monks? I've personally witnessed them dealing with women at least as annoying than the one in the story, with stunning calm and compassion.

When he cited that story, he used it as an example of Hinayana and said that Hinayana doesn't refer to Theravada, so your taking offense is unnecessary.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:30 pm

Individual wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:When he cited that story, he used it as an example of Hinayana and said that Hinayana doesn't refer to Theravada, so your taking offense is unnecessary.

I'm not necessarily taking offence, but the title of the thread is:
"Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?"

OK, so it's about Mahayana monks with a hinayana attitude then... Fine... I'll make sure I avoid those ones... :popcorn:

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Individual » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:05 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Individual wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:When he cited that story, he used it as an example of Hinayana and said that Hinayana doesn't refer to Theravada, so your taking offense is unnecessary.

I'm not necessarily taking offence, but the title of the thread is:
"Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?"

OK, so it's about Mahayana monks with a hinayana attitude then... Fine... I'll make sure I avoid those ones... :popcorn:

I can get annoyed when people seem to totally lose track of the train of thought in a reasonably short conversation. That is, it's as if they're intentionally faking stupidity simply to win a debate by belittling their opponent. Because there's no way a person's short-term memory could be so bad that what was said only a few moments ago (or one page ago) could somehow be forgotten so quickly. Or, in the case of online discussions, even if you have a long thread of multiple pages, you can always go back and look to see what the train of thought was. Faking forgetfulness of the train of thought of an opponent's words and then acting as if the other party is just strangely pulling out a wacky, unrelated idea, derailing the conversation, is insulting, unnecessary, and troublesome. Even assuming it was completely irrelevant, are you not merely fueling it by acknowledging it?

With that said: I remember the train of thought here and I think Dan's remarks were both insightful and relevant. The term Hinayana was brought up, he stated Hinayana doesn't apply to Theravada, and brought up a nice example. It's not difficult to see how that sort of statement might relate to a discussion such as this, although yes, a lengthy discussion on it would be a distraction from the topic at hand.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:05 am

I think of Hinayana as a stage in practice.

Most of us start on this path seeking to better our lives. But eventually it shifts to something deeper and more worthwhile, hopefully. If not, then it is a Hinayana attitude. Not bad at all, just still anchored in concern for oneself.

This is where I still am, mostly.

On the other hand, my teacher once said that Ajahn Brahm is probably the greatest Bodhisattva monastic in the country. So it's not about Theravada vs Mahayana at all.

It seems that we fall into this us versus them mentality very easily. Perhaps it is because on the web it can be tricky to judge one another's motives. I try to approach these exchanges as a privilege to hear from fellow practitioners and share some thoughts. I've said it before and I will say it again - I have no interest in beating the mahayana drum or promote some sense of superiority (which I don't even believe in). I am hear to learn and to share what may be useful to others.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:24 am

Dan74 wrote:On the other hand, my teacher once said that Ajahn Brahm is probably the greatest Bodhisattva monastic in the country. So it's not about Theravada vs Mahayana at all.

Unless, of course, you hold the view that someone who feels that the Bodhissattva idea is unnecessary to the development of compassion is stuck in "hinayana" practise. :group:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-084
"Bhikkhus, these three persons appearing in the world appear for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. What three?

"Here, bhikkhus, a Tathagata appears in the world, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One, possessing perfect knowledge and conduct, a sublime one, a world-knower, an unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, a teacher of devas and humans, an enlightened one, a Lord. He teaches Dhamma that is good at the outset, good in the middle, and good at the end, with its correct meaning and wording, and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the first person appearing in the world who appears for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.

"Next, bhikkhus, there is a disciple of that teacher, an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely released through final knowledge. He teaches Dhamma... and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the second person appearing in the world... for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.

"And next, bhikkhus, there is a disciple of that teacher, a learner who is following the path, who has learned much and is of virtuous conduct. He teaches Dhamma... and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the third person appearing in the world... for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.
...


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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:50 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Dan74 wrote:On the other hand, my teacher once said that Ajahn Brahm is probably the greatest Bodhisattva monastic in the country. So it's not about Theravada vs Mahayana at all.

Unless, of course, you hold the view that someone who feels that the Bodhissattva idea is unnecessary to the development of compassion is stuck in "hinayana" practise. :group:


No, I don't feel that at all, Mike. I suspect one can develop compassion in many different ways. :heart:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-084
"Bhikkhus, these three persons appearing in the world appear for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. What three?

"Here, bhikkhus, a Tathagata appears in the world, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One, possessing perfect knowledge and conduct, a sublime one, a world-knower, an unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, a teacher of devas and humans, an enlightened one, a Lord. He teaches Dhamma that is good at the outset, good in the middle, and good at the end, with its correct meaning and wording, and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the first person appearing in the world who appears for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.

"Next, bhikkhus, there is a disciple of that teacher, an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely released through final knowledge. He teaches Dhamma... and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the second person appearing in the world... for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.

"And next, bhikkhus, there is a disciple of that teacher, a learner who is following the path, who has learned much and is of virtuous conduct. He teaches Dhamma... and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfillment and complete purity. This, bhikkhus, is the third person appearing in the world... for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans.
...


Metta
Mike


And to you...

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:03 am

Dan74 wrote:No, I don't feel that at all, Mike. I suspect one can develop compassion in many different ways. :heart:

Good answer... :group:

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:33 am

Dan74 wrote:I think of Hinayana as a stage in practice.

Most of us start on this path seeking to better our lives. But eventually it shifts to something deeper and more worthwhile, hopefully. If not, then it is a Hinayana attitude. Not bad at all, just still anchored in concern for oneself.

This is where I still am, mostly.

On the other hand, my teacher once said that Ajahn Brahm is probably the greatest Bodhisattva monastic in the country. So it's not about Theravada vs Mahayana at all.

It seems that we fall into this us versus them mentality very easily. Perhaps it is because on the web it can be tricky to judge one another's motives. I try to approach these exchanges as a privilege to hear from fellow practitioners and share some thoughts. I've said it before and I will say it again - I have no interest in beating the mahayana drum or promote some sense of superiority (which I don't even believe in). I am hear to learn and to share what may be useful to others.

_/|\_

Can I suggest that you communicate to Ajahn Brahm the fact that you or your teacher see him as a " Bodhisattava monastic " ? Seriously. But dont be surprised if his reply is short and terse and funny.... :smile: A little like congratulating the Archbishop of Canterbury for being a good Catholic..
In all honesty Dan 74, I have nothing but good will to you, but I dont understand this apparant need to see us all as a melange, instead of valueing our differences. Lets all just get on with our own practice, instead of creating a world in our own image.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:23 am

Since they know each other very well, I suspect he already knows! :smile:

And I also strongly suspect that he has far less problem with all these supposed differences than any one of us here. Using your example, I think the Archbishop of Canterbury would take it as a compliment, just as Ajahn Brahm would.

As for any perceived "need to see the world as a melange" that's an interesting metaphor, but that I harbour no such need. I was simply responding to Mike's inquiry whether I see Mahayana as offering something exclusive. I don't. Maybe others do. Others may know more - I am just a beginner.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:52 am

Dan74 wrote:There's been a diversity of views here (as usual!). Some have said that Mahayana is irrelevant or superfluous at best. Some have posted various Mahayana materials as having been useful or inspirational.

So I am wondering if people tend to feel that posts from Mahayana practitioners are unwelcome intrusions (as was recently expressed) or simply irrelevant at best. I knows the admins intentions are to have an inclusive forum particularly in this subforum but I am asking how others feel.

I don't want to detract people from their practice by posting confusing information or even what is perceived as adhamma. :shrug: So if sharing my perspective as a Mahayana practitioner does that, I'd rather cease and desist.

:yingyang:

This was your original Dan74. My own posts have been in response to it. I am a Theravada practitioner who joined a Theravada forum to further explore my own Theravada practice. I have indeed become sidetracked. But that is my responsibility not yours. However to echo earlier points made, there really are not enough hours in the day. If dropping into a Theravada forum is beneficial to a Mahayana student , then good. If looking at certain Mahayana theories is beneficial to a Theravada student then good again. It does not benefit me. But thats me. So I will stay out of the discussion having made my point,and wish you well.

with metta.
Valerie.


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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby PeterB » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:11 am

A personal take. My own introduction to Buddhism was via the Theravada. To be precise the old Wat Buddhapadipa in Sheen before it moved to Wimbledon. I then spent many years in the Vajrayana. Following a major illness I found that, with no intellectual struggle or intent, that the Vajrayana had no more meaning for me, that it did not " speak to my condition " any more . I stress that this was personal, and is not a reflection on the beliefs and practice of anyone who finds the Mahayana suited to their needs. But for me it felt like a return to clearer streams to immerse myself again in the Theravada.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:29 pm

PeterB wrote:A personal take. My own introduction to Buddhism was via the Theravada. To be precise the old Wat Buddhapadipa in Sheen before it moved to Wimbledon. I then spent many years in the Vajrayana. Following a major illness I found that, with no intellectual struggle or intent, that the Vajrayana had no more meaning for me, that it did not " speak to my condition " any more . I stress that this was personal, and is not a reflection on the beliefs and practice of anyone who finds the Mahayana suited to their needs. But for me it felt like a return to clearer streams to immerse myself again in the Theravada.


Hi Peter,

I recall going to the opening of the Thai temple in Wimbledon many years ago !

My introduction to Buddhism was straight into Vajrayana when I was very young and I have stayed with it for many years. However, in the last 2 years I have been increasingly interested in the Theravada Thai Forest tradition and feel quite comfortable with both traditions. I really don't see this as being much of a problem at the moment.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Vardali » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:38 pm

I have thought about this question - and the discussion within this thread - for a couple of days now. And while it is beyond me to respond to it in learned or philosophical manner, I have decided to add my view in a simple manner of how I have experienced either perspective.

The first time I got introduced to Buddhism was in my teens (quite a while ago ;) ). In my area, the Tibetan/Mahayana school has been most prevalent so this was my first connection. The philosophy appealed to me, the related practice and especially the prominent and very emphatic focus on a guru-/veneration-based approach was not at all attractive to me (I guess I have some issues with "authority figures"). I wasn't aware of any "other" Buddhist approach by then and frankly, I was totally put off.

20 years later, I found back to engaging the "Buddhist attraction" when my ex-boyfriend unexpectedly died and I got into dealing with his death by reading Sogyal Rinpoche's Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Again, there was a lot of stuff which I simply cannot accept; but also there was a lot of stuff which I felt was worth exploring in more detail.

This was in 2006 and my journey of understanding more about Buddhism has actually brought me here. Because in starting with the Tibetan style and Mahayana approach (without realizing then or even now the whole scale of Mahayana approaches) , I found the Thai forest tradition. And while my reaction the Tibetan teachings remained ambivalent, the teachings of Ajahn Chah and his disciples spoke to me in a way I could unhesitantly relate to: the teaching elements are there, also the compassion and wisdom, but without the rituals and heavy reliance of guru-/lineage transmission which I personally found so off-putting in the Tibetan texts I read.

I guess you could argue that by following the teachings of Ajahn Chah's disciples "lineage", I am not acting overly differently to the Tibetan lineage selection. But to me, this choice is based on what I am able to understand and work with.

So, to summarise from my perspective of a beginner of Theravada practice, a Mahayana perspective brought me here, in the end. So, either perspective can be useful to guide you to "your" practice, in one way or the other. That's sufficiently useful in my books :)

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