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what is "esoteric buddhism"? - Dhamma Wheel

what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
vinasp
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what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby vinasp » Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:47 pm

Hi everyone,
What is "esoteric buddhism"? I believe the word esoteric is latin and means something like private in contrast to public.
So a buddhist teaching which was given only to selected individuals and never in public would be an esoteric teaching ?
Is this correct ? Are there other ways in which a teaching can be considered to be esoteric ? Are all buddhist teachings esoteric ?
Regards, Vincent.

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retrofuturist
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:00 am

Greetings Vinasp,

In Theravada Buddhism, no teachings are esoteric

From DN16... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html

"What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back."

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:07 am

I guess this term best applied to Tibetan Buddhism and Vajrayana in general, where there are certain practices that are meant to be given by the master with specific instructions. They are believed to be potentially very harmful if not carried out properly and are therefore kept secret.

In some other schools there are esoteric elements but they are found at a later stage in the path.

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Macavity
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Macavity » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:42 am


vinasp
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby vinasp » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:44 am

Hi retrofuturist,
Thanks for your reply. I actually started this thread in order to reveal ( in due course ) that Theravada teachings are in fact an esoteric system. Not of course in the simple sense of my first example but in a more subtle sense. If this claim should turn out to be true we could differ on whether "esoteric" is the correct term to use. That is why I was asking for other examples of such systems. Do you think that because the teachings have the "Bhuddha" denying that his teachings are esoteric this provides a definate and final answer to the question ? Would not every esoteric system deny that it was one ? Is everything the Buddha says true ?
We are in a minefield here and I am treading very carefully , kind regards , Vincent.

dustyzafu
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby dustyzafu » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:10 am


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Macavity
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Macavity » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:05 am


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Ben
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:26 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Dan74
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:03 am

While the question of "truthfulness" of the Buddha is completely beyond our reach (since we can never check it), the question of the authenticity of the Suttas is another matter, and scholars have been exploring it for quite a while.

Which suttas are the "original" suttas? Which versions are "correct"? What did the Buddha actually say? Practitioners don't often directly address these questions perhaps because they are not equipped as scholars and perhaps because they prefer to trust the Tipitaka as authentic and believe that their practice is on a firm footing.

But this is off-topic and the Original Poster is after something else, though I am not quite sure what...

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Jechbi
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:12 am


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Dan74
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:21 am

_/|\_

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:30 am


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Dan74
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:41 am

_/|\_

vinasp
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby vinasp » Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:20 am

Hi dustyzafu,
Please do not apologise for joining in the debate you are most welcome. You make a number of good points , which I hope I can respond to in due course. But first I have to admit that I made a mistake , I think you were the first to point it out.
I should not have said : "Would not every esoteric system deny that it was one ?" That "every" must have slipped in by mistake.
What I should have said is : Might not some esoteric systems deny that they are such ?

Thanks also to everyone else who has replied , all excellent posts. Kind regards , Vincent.

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Dan74
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:10 am

_/|\_

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tiltbillings
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:28 am


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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby appicchato » Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:54 am


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Jechbi
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:05 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:18 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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tiltbillings
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:26 am



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