Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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krish5
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Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by krish5 »

If i read books say from a Sri Lankan lineage, Thervadin from there, compared to a Thai Forest emphasis, lineage, is there a big difference, or are they both going to be saying and teaching the same things? I know there is differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, but also wanted to know if there is differences in these different Theravadin lineages? Any advice or recommendations how to navigate this issue.

p.s. - I have a few books by Sri Lankans and also a few by Thai Forest tradition.
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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Lucas Oliveira »

I think not..

maybe some teachings with more attention to some meditation technique ..

but the Canon in Pali remains the main source.

at most when Theravada Buddhism arrives somewhere, it adapts to the culture of that place ..

Some evangelical churches often speak. "What unites us is greater than what separates us"

:namaste:
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krish5
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by krish5 »

Thank you. I especially like that attachment, it is helpful to see all those branches, how it branches out.

I did see in another thread, someone who wanted to ordain and become a monk, but was not interested in Sri Lanka and preferred a Thai Forest tradition.

But i agree, overall, the Canon in Pali remains the main source for Theravadins.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Ceisiwr »

krish5 wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:26 pm Thank you. I especially like that attachment, it is helpful to see all those branches, how it branches out.

I did see in another thread, someone who wanted to ordain and become a monk, but was not interested in Sri Lanka and preferred a Thai Forest tradition.

But i agree, overall, the Canon in Pali remains the main source for Theravadins.
The Thai Forest Tradition is a good example. That lineage focuses less on the Abhidhamma and the commentaries, usually to the point where they are essentially ignored. By comparison the Burmese tradition relies heavily upon the Abhidhamma and the commentaries.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Caodemarte »

  • y
Lucas Oliveira wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:15 pm I think not..

maybe some teachings with more attention to some meditation technique ..

but the Canon in Pali remains the main source.

at most when Theravada Buddhism arrives somewhere, it adapts to the culture of that place ..

Some evangelical churches often speak. "What unites us is greater than what separates us"

:namaste:
I would fully agree with that for almost all branches of Buddhism. Usually splits occur along lineage lines and monastic discipline lines (it is hard to kee a group together if they follow different rules, like having 3 meals instead of 2) and almost never on doctrinal issues. Doctrinal differences, if any, usually come later as groups form a separate identity. Usually even that is simply different emphasis on different meditation styles or different emphasis on different doctrinal issues, not a major doctrinal split.

I appreciate the effort to make sense of the confusing number of Buddhist sects, but I am puzzled by the chart. Vajrayana is a set of techniques mostly, but not exclusively, used in certain Mahayana schools. Tibetan Buddhism, for example, is basically Mahayana Buddhist sects which use Vajrayana. Tientai or Tendai uses some Vajrayana methods as it uses zen style sitting and Pure Land. Cheontae is a reinvention of Tientai by a charismatic Korean Buddhist, but is on a completely different branch from Tientai on the chart. Madhyamaka and Yogacara are not different sects of Buddhism at all, but schools of thought accepted by most still existing Northern Buddhism. And so on.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:58 am, edited 7 times in total.
SarathW
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by SarathW »

I think there is a big difference in some lineages.
For instance, Dhammayutta (Ven. Thannisaro) linage is very different when it comes to Anatta and Nibbana. The most important teaching of Buddhism.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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confusedlayman
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by confusedlayman »

Lucas Oliveira wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:15 pm I think not..

maybe some teachings with more attention to some meditation technique ..

but the Canon in Pali remains the main source.

at most when Theravada Buddhism arrives somewhere, it adapts to the culture of that place ..

Some evangelical churches often speak. "What unites us is greater than what separates us"

:namaste:
funny to see there is no indian tradition.. they all went to china or tibet... madhamaka, theravada should have atleast one branch in india but lost...
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by DNS »

confusedlayman wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:25 pm funny to see there is no indian tradition.. they all went to china or tibet... madhamaka, theravada should have atleast one branch in india but lost...
They still exist, sort of, in that they evolved into other schools.

Image

Map of the major geographical centers of major Buddhist schools in South Asia, at around the time of Xuanzang's visit in the seventh century. * Red: non-Pudgalavāda Sarvāstivāda school * Orange: non-Dharmaguptaka Vibhajyavāda schools * Yellow: Mahāsāṃghika * Green: Pudgalavāda (Green) * Gray: Dharmaguptaka Note the red and grey schools already gave some original ideas of Mahayana Buddhism and the Sri Lankan section (see Tamrashatiya) of the orange school is the origin of modern Theravada Buddhism.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Coëmgenu »

The only thing missing in that map is the Dharmaguptaka & Sarvāstivāda stretching into Gandhāra and Central Asia. Good map of Buddhism in India though. I suppose maybe Ven Xuánzàng just never heard talk of that far northwest in his travels.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
polaris
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by polaris »

Lately I read a book called "How Theravada is Theravada?" This book is mainly about lineages of Buddhism.
What I remember is that the King of Thailand, King Rama the IV (I think is the IV if my memory has not deserted me), was very concerned about the purity of Buddhist Teaching. He really went all out to preserve the traditional Buddhist teaching. He invited the Sri Lanka Buddhist monks to Thailand to teach the authentic Theravada branch of Buddhism.
He didn't want the lineage to die out. Of course he also invited the Burmese Buddhist monks to Thailand to teach too. Burma being a very strong Theravada Buddhist country.
Sometime in 1929 I think there was a big World Buddhist Convention in Sri Lanka where many Buddhist countries sent their representatives to the convention to decide on many matters concerning Buddhism, one being the name Theravada and Hinayana. And also differences of Mahayana and Theravada. Mahayana spearhead by T.S. Suzuki , a writer and a die hard Mahayanist claimed the Japanese Branch of Mahayana is the only true and real Buddhism handed down by Buddha himself. ( which is of course quite amusing to say the least).
At the meeting they also decided to drop the use of Hinayana and replaced it with Theravada. That's why today reference is made to Theravada instead of Hinayana.
Of course there are big differences between different lineages, especially in the early days each claimed to be the authentic teaching of Buddha.
And of course Mahayana went on to practice a lot of unheard of rituals and prayers.
Whereas Theravada, like Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand kept very much to the traditional teaching with minimum changes where possible.
King Rama IV went as far as possible to ensure the ordination of monks were done in proper traditional Buddhist ways, he built rafts which were floated in the river and had the ordination of monks performed on the raft. This was done to prevent land dispute which may happened later and could then made the ordination null and void. This is the part that kind of puzzle me. I was told in an earlier discussion when I asked this question of performing ordination of monks on a raft. I was told it was to prevent the ordination becoming null and void when the land on which it was performed came into dispute (i.e. ownership of land concerned)
China and Tibet each had evolved in its own ways. China emphasis on vegetarian diet for Buddhism is one of them.
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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Lucas Oliveira wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:15 pm ...
"What unites us is greater than what separates us"
...

What a great quote!

The same opinion occurs to me, generally, thesedays.

It may be even applied to some non theravadic traditions, imo, to some extent.

imo, as long as there exist theravada teachings to right one up near the very the top, it would continue to be Ok in their own ways, despite differences between traditions/lineages.

:heart:


================
ps:
btw, in the pic by jameskennedybejing, the mind-map branch for Myanmar is extremely rudimentary and quite inaccurate.
.


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Sobhana
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by Sobhana »

It really depends on the author you are reading. If they are fairly orthodox, most will be the same.

On the other hand, if you read Sri Lankan monks that rewrite the meaning of Pali terms, of course also previously done by Buddhadasa, or Thai forest monks with a penchant for eternal consciousness, they will not only be world's apart from each other but also from Theravadin orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
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rightviewftw
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by rightviewftw »

It looks to me like there were many splits during the first 500 years after Buddha's parinibbans because it was the period of the true Dhamma and the schools were assumed be legitimate.

After the 500 year period establishing new schools became a very bad idea because it would be incredibly difficult to maintain a new school because if one can't say; 'See our school is from the true Dhamma period.' then it's hard to be taken seriously in general.

Also Theravada was a smaller group than Mahayana and i guess at some point those with right view were came to be a minority.

So it looks like they just stopped splitting up and expelling heretic monks from the Theravada. As a result Theravada now is for the most part just a name they keep for legitimacy and claims to lineage.

I would imagine most of the todays Theravadins would've been expelled from the early Theravada. Many sects nowadays even reject the Theravadin Abhidhamma and read little to no canonical texts as they rather focus on teachings of this or that contemporary teacher or commentarial tradition which is a gift that keeps on giving.

Just look at the diversity on this supposedly "theravadin" forum here you have people that go as far as claiming that Digha Nikaya is for the most part fake and they have a home here.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by DooDoot »

rightviewftw wrote: Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:21 am It looks to me like there were many splits during the first 500 years after Buddha's parinibbans because it was the period of the true Dhamma and the schools were assumed be legitimate.
The above appears unlikely to me. I doubt the true Dhamma was in all schools for 500 years after the Buddha.
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confusedlayman
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Re: Is there a big difference between different lineages?

Post by confusedlayman »

whats the different from buddha lineage vs patrcya buddha lineage or arhant lineage?

what parami one does in present life as well as did in past?
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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