Why did you choose Theravada?

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby pink_trike » Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:11 am

All the Buddhist traditions are teaching exactly the same thing - with different form. Form is emptiness...
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Reductor » Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:35 am

notself wrote:Let me reverse the question. Alan, why are you not practicing Theravada?


Hear hear!

This is a Theravada forum and you seem to have two possible motives:
a) you really wish to know,
b) you wish to look down your nose at the tradition and its practitioners.

So,

What is it, exactly, that you [agree] with about the Mahayana view?
Exactly. Specifically. In plain English. Without an emotional focus.

Thanks, I'm looking forward to your reasonable, sensible and logical response.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby pink_trike » Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:53 am

Cafael Dust wrote:The Lotus Sutra uses the forms and images associated with Buddhism e.g. lotus position, expedient means and so on, but I get the impression from what I've read of the sutra that the writer or writers doesn't actually understand what Buddha was talking about in the Pali scriptures, what lies beneath the archetypes of Buddhism. Because the sutra seems to be written in order to impress people with the vast scale and glitteriness of the imagery. But all that glitters...


I"m curious...how long did you study the Lotus Sutra, the culture milieu that it came forth from, and the culture's unique use of language, written structure, mythology, allegory, and conceptual ritual? I'm guessing you've studied the Pali scriptures quite awhile to actually understand what the Buddha was talking about, and to know what lies beneath the archetypes (?) of Buddhism, and to know that the Lotus Sutra doesn't actually understand what the Buddha is talking about.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Ben » Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:57 am

alan wrote:Why did you choose Theravada?

I've never given it much thought - perhaps it was my kamma.

The older and more mature I get in my practice the more I respect the Mahayana and venerate sincere practitioners and teachers of all traditions. Since we started Dhamma Wheel nearly a year ago I was keen to invite my Mahayana and Vajrayana friends because:
- 1. I think its healther for DW to be open to all who have a genuine interest in Theravada regardless of affiliation rather than be an exclusive enclave for Theravadins, and
- 2. I have always believed that alternative points of view, when presented appropriately in a respectful and friendly environment, informs one's own view.
To my great delight that has been the case here at DW.
metta

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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:19 am

Dan74 wrote:I guess people have already said this, but I will say it again - people tend to stick with a particular school of Buddhism because it works for them.

If you are hungry, you find a place to eat that looks OK and if when you eat there it is still OK, you return. Bad analogy, but with Dhamma/Dharma it is even more so, because "the food" gets better with time!

_/|\_


I quoted a sutta earlier have a read! I think your analogy is very apt!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:13 am

Pink Trike:

I"m curious...how long did you study the Lotus Sutra, the culture milieu that it came forth from, and the culture's unique use of language, written structure, mythology, allegory, and conceptual ritual? I'm guessing you've studied the Pali scriptures quite awhile to actually understand what the Buddha was talking about, and to know what lies beneath the archetypes (?) of Buddhism, and to know that the Lotus Sutra doesn't actually understand what the Buddha is talking about.


'I'm guessing you've '

Why do people say the opposite of what they mean? That's rhetorical; I know perfectly well. My words must have made you angry; I knew they might, but that's unintentional and always sad. Words are blunt tools. I really don't want to offend you, am not out for a fight... but I suppose saying that is a bit disingenuous of me, if I dig deeper; I find that I say these things knowing they're controversial, having thought them for years and wondered why other people aren't saying them, why people can't see.

I've built up rage at the idea that people could distort Buddha's teachings, could introduce ego into them, could twist the most beautiful thing that exists and use it for worldly ends. And now I speak and want to hurt, I project the people I want to hurt as being ignorant, needing to be taught a lesson, fundamentalists and fantasists whose feelings matter less than those of the wise, who I'm doing a favour to by attacking their traditions, their attachments, by gratifying my anger, and, though maybe you can't feel it, I strike a blow at you, which leads you to strike one at a wider target, reinforces your cynicism about ignorant pseudo-buddhists like me, there's now a little less love in your heart, less patience, and suddenly I realise that wasn't what I wanted at all, that by answering cleverly in a debate, striking a blow, I've diminished everything I'm part of, sent pulses of violence conducting through the world, and I know they will return to me. It has to end, this cycle of pain and retaliation. There's nothing behind it, no one to blame for any of it. We have to step out of it.

So I'm going to answer you in a different way to the way I at first intended to. I'm going to delete my first reply.

I may well be ignorant in my opinions about the Lotus Sutra. I'll read the whole thing in detail, study the history and interpretations and give it some more thought. I'll try to read it with beginner's mind. But if it's as I say in my previous post, I do think that's an important point to make, and I think sometimes people are afraid of making such points, possibly because of warnings in the text itself. I'm not afraid of anything anymore except being out of love.

As I mention above, I've been a bit angry for years about the original message of the Buddha being distorted through the Mahayana, because the original message is so beautiful and it moves me to tears that people could discard it or deny it to others. That's where I'm coming from emotionally. It's that important to me because I understand what's being denied.

I have been reading the Pali Sutras for years, yes, and because of my practice it's plain to me where they're coming from. I hope you don't see that as a boast, there's no other way I can word it.
Last edited by Cafael Dust on Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:22 am

Cafael Dust wrote:
As I mention above, I've been a bit angry for years about the original message of the Buddha being distorted through the Mahayana, because the original message is so beautiful and it moves me to tears that people could discard it or deny it to others. That's where I'm coming from emotionally. It's that important to me because I understand what's being denied.
Have you read TEXT AS FATHER ?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:40 am

Looks like an interesting book. I haven't read it, but it's on GoogleBooks.

Looking at the contents, it is even more interesting that the first two chapters are on the Lotus Sutra. Why interesting? Because for a long time now, scholars have been telling us that the Lotus Sutra is not really that typical for Mahayana, despite it becoming very popular in Japan, which is the place where Western scholars and practitioners first made contact with the Mahayana.

So, I am wondering if he does a lot of "Well, the Lotus Sutra says XXX", and "because XXX is dubious, false, or whatever", that "therefore the Mahayana is also dubious, false or whatever, too". I see a lot of arguments like that around, not just in books but anywhere where such conversation may come up, which assume that all the Mahayana is summarized in the Lotus (simply because it says so). The Vimalakirti is also quite an exception, too.

So, although certain arguments can be leveled against groups that follow these sutras as foremost and paramount within the Mahayana, I don't know how much this can be generalized into the Mahayana as a whole. First though, one would have to show that the Mahayana was a "whole". And most evidence suggests otherwise. Over extension of conclusions from limited evidence and sources can be a big problem in academic studies, or, in fact, even in regular day to day discourse.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:47 am

Titbillings: the first review of the text seems to echo my concerns about the Lotus Sutra. The book could be a good read, but as I said earlier, the battle itself can distract one from the goal.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:50 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Looks like an interesting book.

Here is a review that might help get at what the book is about: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=14431
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:52 am

Cafael Dust wrote:Titbillings: the first review of the text seems to echo my concerns about the Lotus Sutra. The book could be a good read, but as I said earlier, the battle itself can distract one from the goal.
(Three "l"s in the name, though i am amused.)

I have read the Lotus three times in various translation. Each time liking it less. I do understand your point.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 11:34 am

:tongue: :jumping:

You know, I've been reading your posts for some time at E-Sangha and I always mentally went 'Titbillings', because I thought it was funny. Busted.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 25, 2009 11:44 am

Cafael Dust wrote::tongue: :jumping:

You know, I've been reading your posts for some time at E-Sangha and I always mentally went 'Titbillings', because I thought it was funny. Busted.

Ah, so you though I was just a big boob.
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This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 12:04 pm

Just read the review. Yes, what he says is pretty much exactly what I thought during my first five minutes of reading the sutra. What has always struck me as odd is that it isn't obvious to others.

Ok, I'm going to copy a post I wrote for another forum, answering a question about difficulties reading sutras:

I don't find the Pali Canon difficult.

Some of the others I classify in one of two ways; there are Buddhists texts, I won't name names, that are very metaphysical and difficult to understand, sometimes that's because the writers were being precise about something very specific and useful but difficult to define, and sometimes it's because their ideas are balanced in an ontological framework that no longer exists in the collective consciousness (I don't use that term in any psychic way) or was created to be obscure because the writer wanted recognition but didn't possess insight or depth of understanding. That's a polite way of putting it. Sorry, but I've been a critical reader all my life, and that's my interpretation of why some texts 'don't work' for me and many others.

Now some texts I do understand only too well, but not on their own terms. Some texts use various devices known to advertisers, other religions, propaganda machines etc etc. They employ loaded questions, poisonings of the well and other ad-hominem logical fallacies to attack their opponents - confusing since often their opponents have vanished into history, leaving us with unbalanced writing. They employ tautologies, what I will call 'appeals to grandiosity of imagery', Emperor's New Clothes arguments (only wise/brave/high quality people can understand this...), chain letter type threats e.g. 'spread this sutra and you will be enlightened very soon, disparage it and you will die!'... (...idiots. I hate chain letters), and, oddly for Buddhism, homunculus arguments, to support their own poorly defined ideas, or actually, usually not their ideas but their desire to increase support for their sectarian missions.

As I say, I'm not naming names; some of these texts are modern, some are archaic. The Pali Canon, on the other hand, while not perfect and containing occasionally dubious passages that seem off message (some of the comments on women, for instance), is clearly based on a highly intelligent and focussed person's attempt to create a foolproof and methodically explained guide to enlightenment, the text using techniques of repetition both as an oral tradition's mnemonic device and also a learning aid for the reader, who I think Buddha realised would find many ideas counter-intuitive and would require said ideas to be effectively reinforced.

Buddha tried to exhaustively detail the possibilities and questions arising from his ideas, while humbly recognising that he wasn't able to do this completely and asking us to investigate for ourselves, at the same time advising us not to get too attached to the myriad spurious trains of thought that may arise from them. He uses imagery as analogy, not for shock and awe effect, he dismantles the logical fallacies of others, of the mind, rather than introducing those of his own in support of his assertions. When reading the Pali Canon, I, who have never been particularly star struck or respectful of 'world honoured ones', find myself seeing Buddha as a person; not someone 'special' in any magical sense, but someone I both like and respect and am prepared to listen to.

That's what I read between the lines here.


...

I suppose what I mean is that Siddhartha comes through as a person, a very approachable one at that, warm and witty and quite beautiful in his affection for others, certainly not some horrible idealised razor's edge of perfection.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 12:23 pm

Lol, no, it was nothing personal about your posting style, just the name itself. Actually, the only thing I ever disagreed with about your arguments on the equality of Arhats and Buddhas was a. that you didn't go far enough (to me a Buddha is a Buddha is a Buddha. My experiences with practice suggest that categorising enlightened beings at all is missing the point of anatta), and b. that you seemed, as I can be, at times emotionally attached to the argument itself.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby alan » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:12 pm

Hi All.
I must apologize for my final post last night. I was tired and testy.
Sorry!
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby alan » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:22 pm

I was also not clear when I said "convert me, if you like that idea".
It was meant to create some momentum. I'm already converted; no Mahayana troll am I.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Reductor » Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:30 pm

alan wrote:I was also not clear when I said "convert me, if you like that idea".
It was meant to create some momentum. I'm already converted; no Mahayana troll am I.


Wheh! That's a relief.

I gather though that you remain unsatisfied with the posted answers?

Problem being is that it takes a lot of time and energy to become well acquainted
with a tradition, let alone multiple ones. So you do see people settling on
one or another long before they understand either of them really well.

But is that really necessary in order for such a choice to be 'non-emotional'?

People seem to go for one tradition over another because it has or doesn't have
a particular feature. Some people like the Bodhisatta vow, others don't. Some
like the empowerments and so forth, some don't. I considered them superfluous,
unnecessary, a pain in the ass.

Hence my following Theravada.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:32 pm

I wouldn't worry about it. IMHO too many people on Buddhist forums second guess people instead of answering or not answering, as they see fit. But it's an internet thing, not a Buddhist thing - so many trolls and hidden agendas floating around in the world where talk is so very cheap. People get itchy trigger fingers. It's like the wild west out here :guns: .
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby pink_trike » Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:37 pm

Cafael Dust wrote:Pink Trike:

I"m curious...how long did you study the Lotus Sutra, the culture milieu that it came forth from, and the culture's unique use of language, written structure, mythology, allegory, and conceptual ritual? I'm guessing you've studied the Pali scriptures quite awhile to actually understand what the Buddha was talking about, and to know what lies beneath the archetypes (?) of Buddhism, and to know that the Lotus Sutra doesn't actually understand what the Buddha is talking about.


My words must have made you angry


No. :smile:

I was just pointing out that without a very thorough understanding of how the Sutra was constructed, the specific use of metaphor and allegory, and more importantly, the cultural milieu within which it was constructed, it would be impossible to even consider the possibility of the grand conclusions you put forth.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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