Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
steve19800
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Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by steve19800 »

Hello,

What is the Theravada view on other traditions i.e. Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism? Thank you! :D

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DNS
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by DNS »

There is no official "Theravada view" since Theravada was well in place and around before Tibetan Buddhism and other forms of Buddhism.

For example, I think that in Tibetan Buddhism there is the view that there were 3 turns of the Dharma Wheel, with Theravada being the first one and the later turns when the time was right or necessary or something like that.

Among individuals Theravadins, views will vary. My own personal opinion is that all forms of Buddhism are vehicles on the Path of enlightenment. The different schools of Buddhism can be a skillful means so that individuals can choose a tradition that meets their temperament.

Once enlightened, practitioners from various traditions no longer need to carry the "raft" with them, i.e., the label, but the practice will mostly mimic the tradition that 'got it right.'

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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Jhana4 »

steve19800 wrote:Hello,

What is the Theravada view on other traditions i.e. Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism? Thank you! :D
Experts believe there is archeological evidence to support the idea that there actually was a man named Siddhartha Gautama who became known as the Buddha. His teachings were not written down and Theravada was not formed for several hundred years after his death. So, you will not find any views about other Buddhist sects attributed to the Buddha.

Theravada, I *think*, has no central organization. No "Theravada Pope" or "Theravada Vatican" so I don't think you find an official viewpoint for Theravada Buddhists.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Steve,
steve19800 wrote:What is the Theravada view on other traditions i.e. Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism? Thank you! :D
(Assuming you're talking about now, as opposed to 2000+ years ago... and taking into account that there's no definitive Theravada position on such things)

Theravada regards itself as the most conservative of all the surviving Buddhist traditions.

I guess that would make other traditions, by definition, more liberal in their doctrine.

Those other traditions would regard this liberality as an adaptation and advancement, whereas Theravada would regard such liberality as a deviation away from the essential.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings »

retrofuturist wrote: Theravada regards itself as the most conservative of all the surviving Buddhist traditions.

I guess that would make other traditions, by definition, more liberal in their doctrine.

Those other traditions would regard this liberality as an adaptation and advancement, whereas Theravada would regard such liberality as a deviation away from the essential.
The problem is that conservative and liberal are highly loaded terms, and these terms are not a neat fit for the Therevada and the Mahayana/Vajrayana divide, given that one will find within the Mahayana/Vajrayana a remarkable doctrinal rigidity (with old debate still being fought among each other) that one does not find in the Theravada. One also needs to keep in mind that the Mahayana's supposed liberality is grounded in doctrines of opposition. Conservative and liberal can only be used in a highly qualified, limited sense.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Dan74
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

I guess the only thing one can say with any certainty is that other traditions don't put as much emphasis on the Pali Canon (or the parallel Chinese Agama texts) because they have other texts that are considered in some sense to have superseded the Pali Tipitaka/ Agamas.

As to what this means in practice, the variation out there even within the same tradition is too wide to say something of general validity, I think.

Some prominent Theravada teachers have studied Mahayana texts (like Ajahn Chah and the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch (Zen)) and have paid respect to them. Others (like our own Bhikkhu Pesala) have said that they are a perversion of the Buddha's teachings. As usual opinions differ and it is best to find out for yourself.

Tilt has often said that Theravada does not need Mahayana and this may well be true. "Needing" is a rather strong term and someone as highly cultivated as Ajahn Sumedho still thought it worthwhile to study the teachings of Chan Master Ven Hsu Yun. Not before he was steeped in Theravada and Thai Forest practice though and this is important. One's got to commit to a practice first and give it 100% to understand it a bit, I think.

Good luck!
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tiltbillings
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings »

Dan74 wrote:Tilt has often said that Theravada does not need Mahayana and this may well be true. "Needing" is a rather strong term and someone as highly cultivated as Ajahn Sumedho still thought it worthwhile to study the teachings of Chan Master Ven Hsu Yun. Not before he was steeped in Theravada and Thai Forest practice though and this is important. One's got to commit to a practice first and give it 100% to understand it a bit, I think.
Context is everything. Often one find's Mahayanists who feel, that because they believe the Mahayana is the truly true truth that the pooor benighted Theravadins (who are really hinayanists, but don't know any better) need the Mahayana to really know the truly true truth od the trult true Buddha (who really was really a mahayanist). In that context, with a good argument supporting what I say, I would say that the Theravada does not need the Mahayana. I would never say to a Theravadin, do not study the Mahayana. To the contrary, I'd be happy to suggest a reading list.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Dan74
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

Thank you for providing the context. It is indeed everything and the lack of is the root cause of many disagreements here, I think.
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Ben »

Some of my friends are practitioners and ordained members of the Mahayana sangha. I think they're pretty cool people and I have a great deal of respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
For me, personally, the other traditions of Buddhism aren't relevant to me in my practice. I acknowledge that within the Mahayana and Vajrayana lies great wisdom but...life is short and I'm focused on something in which I have a great deal of confidence.
kind regards

Ben
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Dan74
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

If you are dying of hunger and then stumble upon a good meal, it is foolish to start looking around and compare flavours.

Indeed!
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Goofaholix
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Goofaholix »

steve19800 wrote:Hello,

What is the Theravada view on other traditions i.e. Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism? Thank you! :D
It's not uncommon for religions to define themselves in terms of what they are not, or in terms of the religions or practises they seek to replace.

I think probably Theravada evolving in Sri Lanka and being more isolated from other schools didn't need to define itself in this way, the way Mahayana did.

Of course individual Theravadins will have their own opinions.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

chownah
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by chownah »

I think that the Buddha taught (my memory on this is not clear...perhaps someone could provide a reference) that any tradition (or "religion" or system of thought) which rightly teaches the four noble truths can lead to enlightenment. I think that this is the way Theravada "views" other traditions.
chownah

alan
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by alan »

One of the problems I've noticed is that many Mahayanists take a rather soft-minded approach to their understanding. All too often I see an acceptance of ideas or concepts that do not correspond in any way to the original teachings.

Dan74
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

alan wrote:One of the problems I've noticed is that many Mahayanists take a rather soft-minded approach to their understanding. All too often I see an acceptance of ideas or concepts that do not correspond in any way to the original teachings.
Yep, we are just like a bunch of sheep:
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_/|\_

alan
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Re: Theravada views on other tradition of Buddhism

Post by alan »

Pretty much correct.

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