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What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada - Dhamma Wheel

What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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Dugu
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What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby Dugu » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:09 am

Can anyone give me a run down on the significant difference between the two?

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:51 pm

I have outlined the major differences here at Dhamma Wiki:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Theravada Theravada

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _Theravada Classical Theravada

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _Theravada Modern Theravada

Admittedly, you will see my bias toward Modern Theravada, but I also acknowledge that Classical Theravada is probably best at preserving the Theravada position.
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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:27 pm

I think that It's reasonably easy to define Classical or "Standard" Theravada:
Priority is given to:
1. Tipitika (including Abhidhamma);
2. Canonical Commentary;
3. Later teachings.
As I understand it, a Mahayana (or any other) teaching that doesn't contradict 1 or 2 is fine. It would be tested against the Canon just the same as a teaching from a present-day Theravada teacher would be.

Modern is whatever one wants to define, but, as David's links say, it would generally imply disagreeing with some of the above, i.e. downplaying the Abhidhamma and Commentary.

It's a bit too much of a black-white definition in my view. I think that there are a number of up-to-date Classical Theravada teachers. In particular, the Burmese teachers (Ledi Sayadaw, Mahasi Sayadaw, etc) whose teachings form the basis of much modern "vipassana" or "insight" meditation, teach methods heavily based on the Classical Commentary.

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby cooran » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:04 pm

Thanks Mike.

Classical Theravada = Standard Theravda. Modern Theravada = whatever on wants to define.

There seems to have been a move by those favouring Mahayana and "Modern" Theravada to make a definition of Classical Theravada mean"frozen, out-moded" or "not what I'd like Theravada to be". Fortunately, this hasn't taken off.

metta
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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:34 pm

[quote="Chris"]Thanks Mike.

Classical Theravada = Standard Theravda. [quote]

Whose standard Theravada? Ven Mahaboowa's? Sujin's? Ajahn Chah? Mahasi Saydaw? Etc, etc, etc?

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:06 pm


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:13 pm


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:18 pm


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:23 pm


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:25 pm

The other question: Is "classical Theravada" a living or a dead tradition?

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:27 pm

(This is not aimed at the above posters, particularly not Tilt!)

Regarding the "modern" approaches, perhaps I could add that, while I think it is healthy to carefully examine the commentarial work (and the pronouncements of modern teachers) against the Tipitika, I find the attitude in some circles that the Commentaries are not relevant somewhat curious, since they are presumably, at least in some cases, transmissions of explanations by highly realised beings. They at least deserve to be read carefully and compared against modern interpretations of the Suttas. In many cases they seem to be the same sort of practical advice you'd expect from a modern teacher. Of course, this is not surprising if the ancient and modern teachers understand the Dhamma correctly...

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:30 pm


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:11 am


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:26 am

Hi Tilt
My take on it is that there maybe a divergence of interpretation and focus claiming the Classical territory. Regardless of this seeming discrepancy, Classical Theravada seems to be those teachings which are in accord with the Tipitaka (inc. the Abhidhamma), the ancient commentaries and the works of later scholars who are also in keeping with the Tipitaka and ancient commentarial literature. Those teachers or teachings which criticise and/or abandon the abhidhamma and the commentaries I would consider 'modern'.
The fact that you have adherents of Sujin and practitioners of Mahasi Sayadaw, U Ba Khin et al, occupying the same territory, to me, seems to me that Classical Theravada is a spectrum of teachings where one or other teacher gives importance of one aspect over another.
Is the Classical a dead tradition? I don't think so.
Is the Classical informed by modern research and analysis? I think so.
Is the point of view outlined in the commentary the final word? First of all, I think the Buddha encouraged us all to discover the reality of nama and rupa for ourselves. Dhamma, seems to me, a path of self exploration. The commentaries are important because the help to explain and guide. But the final word should always be our own nana, knowledge. Secondly, I want to also point out that the origin of the 'commentarial tradition' began with the Buddha himself when he directed questions from younger monks to Mahakassapa 'the expositor' who would unpack the meaning of terse suttas the Buddha gave, and he often gave these explanations in the company of the Buddha. Forgive me if I don't provide a reference right now.
metta

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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:03 am

Hi Ben,

Perhaps you mean Mahākaccāna, as in:
MN18 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
and
MN 133: Venerable Mahākaccāna's Explation of the Single Auspicious Attachment
http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... tta-e.html

[A rather odd (not to mention mis-spelled) translation of the title, Thanissaro translates "Single Auspicious Attachment " as "An Auspicious Day" in his translation of MN131 ]


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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:39 am

Greetings,

Whilst not specifically the question asked, in the context of the forums here at Dhamma Wheel, the Mahavihara Classical section is to be representative of Theravada as explained by the ancient Theravada commentarial tradition.

The Modern Theravada forums include that Classical perspective but also include the full breadth of Theravada perspectives that exist in modern times.

Any alternative perspectives that contradict the commentarial positions, are excluded from these Classical Theravada forums.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:44 am

Thank you Mike for your kind correction.
metta

Ben
“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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David N. Snyder
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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:19 am

In my opinion, a very important current event, the bhikkhuni ordination issue seen here in this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2545&start=20

provides some examples of some of the differences between the so-called Classical and Modern. The Modern view point includes Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Sujato, and Bhikkhu Bodhi and use what some might call a "modern" interpretation to allow full bhikkhuni ordinations to occur once again (as they did during the time of Buddha), while the vast majority (nearly all?) of those holding the Classical view feel that the Vinaya is the final say and the monks could not agree what are minor rules at the First Council, end of story.
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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby BlackBird » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:46 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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Re: What's the difference between Classical and Modern Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:57 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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