Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Individual » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:35 pm

I mostly agree with the above posters, but I would add that those who wrote some of the Mahayana sutras weren't necessarily heretics, fools, or liars. That is, you shouldn't treat the authors of the Mahayana sutras as a homogenous group, a monolith. As I've said elsewhere, for instance, the Mahayana "sutras" are clearly distinguished from the "tantras" (some of which are in the Mahayana canon, but most of which are in the Tibetan canon).
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:48 pm

I like to keep in mind these words from author Red Pine in his commentary to the Heart sutra:

"The question of authorship (of the Heart sutra) was an important one for early Buddhists concerned with authenticity. But over the centuries it has become less so. Nowadays Buddhists resolve this issue by considering the teaching contained in the texts on its own merit. Accordingly, the principle of the Four Reliances (catuh-pratisarana) has developed to deal with this issue: We are urged to rely on the teaching and not the author, the meaning and not the letter, the truth and not the convention, the knowledge and not the information. Thus, if a teaching accords with the Dharma, then the teacher must have been a Buddha or someone empowered by a Buddha to speak on his or her behalf. For our part, all we can safely claim is that the author of this sutra was someone with an understanding of the major Buddhist traditions of two thousand years ago, the ability to summarize there salient points in the briefest fashion possible, and the knowledge of where buddhas come from."

I believe this can be applied to all of the "controversial" Mahayana sutras.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Individual » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:50 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:I like to keep in mind these words from author Red Pine in his commentary to the Heart sutra:

"The question of authorship (of the Heart sutra) was an important one for early Buddhists concerned with authenticity. But over the centuries it has become less so. Nowadays Buddhists resolve this issue by considering the teaching contained in the texts on its own merit. Accordingly, the principle of the Four Reliances (catuh-pratisarana) has developed to deal with this issue: We are urged to rely on the teaching and not the author, the meaning and not the letter, the truth and not the convention, the knowledge and not the information. Thus, if a teaching accords with the Dharma, then the teacher must have been a Buddha or someone empowered by a Buddha to speak on his or her behalf. For our part, all we can safely claim is that the author of this sutra was someone with an understanding of the major Buddhist traditions of two thousand years ago, the ability to summarize there salient points in the briefest fashion possible, and the knowledge of where buddhas come from."

I believe this can be applied to all of the "controversial" Mahayana sutras.

:namaste:

And it's an important methodology to keep in mind, given the possibility that the Pali canon may contain its own fictitious suttas and those who made the canon may have excluded some legitimate discourses of the Buddha that may be present in other Buddhist canons. Now, this is only speculation, but some of the early Buddhist schools claimed that's what the Sthaviravadin's did and we don't have a complete enough or independent record of the early schools, and of the Buddha's sayings, to either substantiate it or reject it.

What we can say is that the Sutta Pitaka (and the Agamas of the Mahayana canon) represent the most reliable account of the Buddha's original teaching. You can't extend that same reliability, though, based on the evidence, to the Pali Vinaya, Abhidhamma, commentaries, the other Mahayana sutras, or the Tibetan canon.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:53 pm

Greetings Individual,

Why not the Pali Vinaya?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Element » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Chinese Communists would like to say this sort of thing, but I suspect it is not quite stark as that. But is it any more fair to blame Theravada Buddhism for the ugly and large sex trade and the ongoing illegal child sex slavery in Thailand? And let us not forget that Thailand had been a slave culture in to at least the 19th century.

I would question your logic Tilt. Thailand was never a theocracy. The sex trade is not carried on by monks.

So, following your "logic," the intention of the Mahayana was slavery.

Sadhu! Well spoken. May we save all sentient beings from themselves, like we must save women by making them wear burkas.

:coffee:
Element
 

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:59 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

Why not the Pali Vinaya?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Modern scholarship strongly suggests that the mahasamghikan vinaya represent the earliest stratum of Vinaya we know of today.

That said, that differences are apparently fairly trivial, so I think it's fair to say the Theravadin Vinaya represent a fairly reliable account of the hallowed 'ur-dhamma-vinaya' regardless.
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:52 pm

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:02 pm

I dont think the mahayana sutras were designed with any kind of menevolence in mind. I think it just comes from different interpretations of the dhamma and mode of practice. Some seem to stick to the core message, some seem to vere off a bit.

You can kinda see how they developed by this very website, different beings all practising the dhamma but having great divergence in reguards to some topics. This is what happened centuries ago leading to the schism.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3353
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:05 pm

Individual wrote:What we can say is that the Sutta Pitaka (and the Agamas of the Mahayana canon) represent the most reliable account of the Buddha's original teaching. You can't extend that same reliability, though, based on the evidence, to the Pali Vinaya, Abhidhamma, commentaries, the other Mahayana sutras, or the Tibetan canon.


The Pali pitaka probably has a slightly better claim to 'complete' body here, as the Madhyama-gama and Samyukta-gama (mahjima & samyutta nikayas in the pali canon) are from the Sarvastivadins and the Dirgha-gama and Ekottara-gama (digha and anguttara nikayas) came from the mahasanghikans, so its not a full representative of any early school's collection of scriptures the same way the Theravada is.
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:52 pm

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:28 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

Why not the Pali Vinaya?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Modern scholarship strongly suggests that the mahasamghikan vinaya represent the earliest stratum of Vinaya we know of today.

That said, that differences are apparently fairly trivial, so I think it's fair to say the Theravadin Vinaya represent a fairly reliable account of the hallowed 'ur-dhamma-vinaya' regardless.



In HISTORY OF RELIGIONS Aug. 76 Vol. 16 Nattier and Prebish point out that
the Mahasamghika Vinaya is the oldest version (pp.267-9). It is only in the
Pali, Dharmagupta, Sarvistivada, etc. vinayas that we find the three
allowances.

Nattier and Prebish argue that Mahasanghika vinaya is the oldest on the
basis of the Pratimoksa rules, the Mahasanghikas having fewer rules. They
argue since the Pratimoksa is important for maintaining the identity of the
sangha, it is not likely to be easily changed, and the assumption seems to be
the fewer the rules, the least changes and therefore the older it is. Maybe.
We don't think one can generalize from the specific patimokkha rules -- if
they are older or not -- to the whole of the vinaya. None of the different
schools rules mention the three allowances, but none of the patimokkha rules
of any school prohibit meat eating. The discussion of meat eating in the Pali
texts can be found in at least three places in the Pali vinaya, and these
three allowances are found in the vinaya texts of all except the
Mahasanghikas. Again, it may be that the Mahasanghikas have the oldest
pratimoksa, but that is not necessarily to say that their vinaya texts as a
whole are older.

Nakamura in his INDIAN BUDDHISM states that comparative
study of the vinayas is "a favorite subject of Japanese scholars." He is of
the opinion based upon recent and exhaustive Japanese studies, that the Pali
vinaya is the oldest, followed by the Dharmaguptas, and then we have the
Mahasanghikas.

In a footnote in John C. Holt's DISCIPLINE: The Canonical Buddhism of the
Vinayapitaka, Holt states: "Hirakawa argues that the Suttavibhanga of the
Pali Vinaya represents the oldest version of the first part of the
Vinayapitaka that has survived. He bases his assertion on the fact that the
Pali recension contains the least amount of apadana material when
compared to other texts. Hirakawa considers apadanas to be a genre of
literature from a later period. See Hirakawa, A STUDY OF THE VINAYA (Tokyo:
Sakibo-Busshoron, 1960), pp.12-15."
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19211
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Individual » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:47 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

Why not the Pali Vinaya?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Good point. There isn't much of a variation between Theravada and Mahayana Vinaya. Sorry about that. What Anders said is true, though, too. :)
Last edited by Individual on Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:47 pm

Greetings Anders & Tilt,

Thanks for sharing those perspectives.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:39 am

Hi Anders,

Anders Honore wrote:Modern scholarship strongly suggests that the mahasamghikan vinaya represent the earliest stratum of Vinaya we know of today.


I think you've misunderstood what modern scholars are saying. As there's nothing in the supposedly oldest stratum of the Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya that isn't matched in other Vinaya recensions it's nonsensical to say that scholars regard this Vinaya (rather than the others) as representing the earliest stratum.

In fact the question that modern scholars are chiefly concerned with is which recension of the Vinaya was closed (i.e. stopped adding new material) the earliest. And in this matter the only point on which there is any consensus is that the Mūlasarvastivāda Vinaya was closed the latest. But as to which was closed the earliest, the Theravāda, Dharmagupta and Mahāsaṃghika Vinayas are each treated as the likeliest candidate by one scholar or another.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1265
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Previous

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: clw_uk and 10 guests