Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Karunika
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Karunika »

Vajrayana is considered under the umbrella of Mahayana, as is Zen, Chan, Soto, Shingon, etc. Under the Vajrayana umbrella you have Tibetan Buddhism and Shingon (from Japan).

In the past there were numerous non-Mahayana schools, but the only one truly still in existence is Theravada. As a note, Vajrayana teachings will often refer to the Hinayana in reference to a variety of philosophies and schools of thought from the past. Personally, for the sake of mutual understanding and respect, I prefer to use "Theravada" when referring to current non-Mahayana traditions since the only one that exists is Theravada and the word Hinayana is offensive to followers of Theravada. There seems to be dispute within Vajrayana regarding the use of the term Hinayana - I know some teachers that use it who definitely do not mean disrespect, but that does not mean that disrespect is not perceived.

I think that the best path is the path that best helps you towards freedom from suffering, which is probably why Buddha taught 84,000 Dhammas.
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Cittasanto
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Cittasanto »

Kare wrote:Yes, I think you are right. The question then is: If there exist a Vinaya school in China (I've heard it said, but I have not read any documentation for this) - does it preserve the pre-mahayana teachings, or is it heavily influenced by its mahayana environments?
I don't know for certain but I don't think so.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
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Kokoro
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Kokoro »

To answer the question directly, I would say that I am not offended when I come across the word, but I understand the hurt a person may feel if one were to refer to this person as a follower of Hinayana or to refer to this person's practice as Hinayana.

I was first introduced to the word when I was a member of Soka Gakkai International Canada. Any time I witnessed an SGI member use the word, it was always used in a negative and derogatory way and used in reference to those who keep the Dhamma of the Theravada.

These days whenever I encounter the word I often think of the large vehicle carrying many vs the small vehicle carrying few or one. That further reminds me of the claim that "unlike the Mahayana which strives in the Noble Path of the Bodhisattva, seeking Enlightenment for the end of suffering for all sentient beings, the Theravada" (but often using the word Hinayana here) "strives in the isolated and lonely path of the arhat, seeking Enlightenment only for himself and content to leave all other sentient beings in the agonizing cycle of Samsara," which in turn arouses in me the question: how then can one attain Enlightment without the cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness towards others? Indeed, often we find that time spent alone practicing the purification of the mind has great benefit, yet the Sangha is intentionally set up in such a way that the Venerable Bhikkhu is dependent on the Dana of the Layperson.

Just my thoughts. May you be well and happy.

:anjali:
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Bozworth
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Bozworth »

Doesn't bother me....

It's just sort of an arrogant, condescending thing that reflects poorly on the wielder of the term.

Sort of like a Mormon telling me I'm going to hell or something.... Pfft, whatever.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Paññāsikhara »

Manapa wrote:
Kare wrote:Yes, I think you are right. The question then is: If there exist a Vinaya school in China (I've heard it said, but I have not read any documentation for this) - does it preserve the pre-mahayana teachings, or is it heavily influenced by its mahayana environments?
I don't know for certain but I don't think so.
(When somebody asks a A / not-A question, answering "I don't think so" is really ambiguous, because we don't know if you are disagreeing with the first, or the second statement.)

Wording this as a A OR B question, is somewhat misleading....

The so-called "Vinaya school" (lu-zong) in China is definitely a school of thought viz the Vinaya, but should be considered as a sect in the sense of being independent / apart from the other "schools". Rather, it is the standard Chinese representation of Vinaya, which includes the bodhisattva precepts, too. For example, when I was ordained, the classes we had included separate classes on the bhiksu vinaya, and also the bodhisattva sila. Our text of study for the bhiksu vinaya was a Chinese commentary on the dharmagupta bhiksu vinaya / pratimoksa. Our text of study for the bodhisattva sila was two commentaries on mahayana works. All of these are considered part of the Luzong.

It may be best to think of the "vinaya school" (luzong), as the Chinese tradition viz Vinaya, in all its forms.

Every bhiksu/ni in China is ordained with the system set up by the Luzong system, from the sramanera/ika, to the bhiksu/ni, to the bodhisattva precepts. The bhiksu/ni ordination is based on the Vinaya of the Dharmagupta school. In the early days of the Luzong, there was some debate about which Vinaya to use, Sarvastivada, Dharmagupta, or Mahasamghika, as before the Luzong, all three were used by different groups.

The bodhisattva ordination is based on the Mahayana systems, in particular the Mahayana Brahmajala sutra, and the Bodhisattvasila in the Yogacarabhumi sastra.

So: Yes, it does preserve the pre-Mahayana teachings - the bhiksu/ni ordination.
And, yes, it is also mahayana influenced - the bodhisattva ordination.

Hope that clears things up, somewhat.
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SamKR
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by SamKR »

Do you find Hinayana offensive?
Being a native speaker of Nepali language I find the word "hina" extremely offensive.
Preet
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Preet »

As an Indian, and therefore knowing and using Hindi as my language, yes I do find Hinayana offensive. My two bits: it doesn't seem to be a name that would be chosen by any group to refer to themselves, its a name that would be accorded to a group by another group - trying hard to appear better, superior.

It unfortunately stuck, and came into common parlance, used very commonly in India by people who should know better. When I started out on this journey, it was highly irritating, now I can shrug it off. A rose by any other name and all that.

with metta
5heaps
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by 5heaps »

The lesser/higher vehicle distinction comes straight from the mahayana sutras. From that point of view mahayana is higher in every way (ie. motivation, final goal, qualities of the path, etc) and non-mahayana is lesser in every way.

When talking about various vehicles there can be no element of being vile, despicable, inept, etc implied in the meaning of 'lesser' because they teach virtue, rely on the 4 seals, and assert the 3 characteristics.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Cittasanto
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Cittasanto »

hi 5heeps
hina doesn't just mean lesser
hīna : [pp. of hāyati] diminished; dwindled; wasted away. (adj.), low; inferior; base; despicable.

although I would be interested on what hina means in Nepali & modern Indian if it is different?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
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tiltbillings
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by tiltbillings »

5heaps wrote:The lesser/higher vehicle distinction comes straight from the mahayana sutras. From that point of view mahayana is higher in every way (ie. motivation, final goal, qualities of the path, etc) and non-mahayana is lesser in every way.

When talking about various vehicles there can be no element of being vile, despicable, inept, etc implied in the meaning of 'lesser' because they teach virtue, rely on the 4 seals, and assert the 3 characteristics.
In the Asokadattavyakarana Sutra, Asokadatta, a 12 year old princess who refused to stand and make obeisance to (“Hinayana”) monks when they entered the palace, said to her father: ”Your Majesty, why should one who follows the path leading to supreme enlightenment, who is like the lion, king of beasts, salute those who follow the Hinayana, who are like jackals?

Your Majesty, if one is already engaged in a virtuous effort to seek the great, pure path, should he associate with S'raavakas of small and few good roots?

Your Majesty, if a person wishes to go to sea of great wisdom to seek thorough knowledge of the great Dharma in its entirety, does he bother to turn to S'raavakas, whose knowledge, based upon the Buddha's oral teachings, is as limited as the water in a cow's hoof print?

Your Majesty, if one wishes top reach Buddhahood, [the spiritual] Mount Sumeru, and acquire the infinite body of a Tathaagata, should he pay homage to S'raavakas, who seek only as much samaadhi power as could be confined to the space of a tiny mustard seed?” [And on and on and on]
-- A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Garma Chang page 116.
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This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by 5heaps »

tiltbillings wrote:-- A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Garma Chang page 116.
So? Assuming that the translation good, it's something you have to take up with the little princess. You could ask her about the sutras which lay out the bodhisattva vows, including the one where you break your vows if you denigrate or give up the lower vehicle.

The part where one shouldn't honor Shravakas seems extreme, because some of may be aryas, and because they are all taking refuge in the path (and are therefore holy objects). The other parts though seem correct, because as I said, according to the mahayana sutras the qualities of a realized mahayana person are infinitely more precious. For example in the same way that a Pratyekabuddha arhat greatly outshines a Shravaka arhat, a person who realizes bodhichitta alone (ie. a non-arya) outshines non-bodhisattva ARHATS.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings 5heaps,

Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.

:rules:

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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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by 5heaps »

retrofuturist wrote:Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.
How so, and where are the guidelines (I can't see them anywhere)?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Paññāsikhara »

Manapa wrote:hi 5heeps
hina doesn't just mean lesser
hīna : [pp. of hāyati] diminished; dwindled; wasted away. (adj.), low; inferior; base; despicable.

although I would be interested on what hina means in Nepali & modern Indian if it is different?
True.

I think it is interesting to note, though, that most people in the English language context who use the word "Hinayana" do so in this way:
They come from East Asian Buddhist traditions.
These traditions use the word "小乘" as a translation for the original Sanskrit "Hinayana".
But "小乘" literally translates as "small vehicle".
But when they translate the Chinese into English, they use the Sanskrit word "Hinayana", but think that it means "small vehicle".
This is what 5heaps seems to be doing.

So, even though the word may "Hinayana" may mean "inferior vehicle" or the like, a lot of the people who use this word in English use it to mean "small vehicle".
"Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

This is one of the problems of using all these foreign languages by people who don't really know the meaning and original context of the words.
I don't mean the above as an apologetic for anyone, but as an explanation for what is going on.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings 5heaps,
5heaps wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.
How so, and where are the guidelines (I can't see them anywhere)?
This subforum is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)", not about how great (or otherwise) Mahayana Buddhism is.

As for the Terms Of Service, you'll find them here - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of particular relevance is the following...
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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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