The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:40 pm

Theravada:
  • Southeast Asian Buddhism (Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc.), less predominant
  • Fairly tight orthodoxy, less variation of views
  • Less terminology
  • Pali text, strictly adhered to by traditionalists
  • Emptiness is not emphasized much
  • Primary emphasis is on one's own enlightenment (some suttas emphasize compassion, but stuff like the Rhinoceros sutta stands out as distinct)
  • Goal is to enter into the four stages of enlightenment. Bodhisattva is just a technical term for a pre-Buddha.
  • Buddha and Arahant are treated as equal.
  • Gautama Buddha did die, or at least his death is not worth conjecture; Buddha is more like an intelligent human who showed us how to move beyond suffering through practical (non-esoteric) means.
  • Vegetarianism is optional, seen as an unnecessary form of ascetism

Mahayana:
  • Buddhism throughout Asia (China, Korea, Tibet, Japan, etc.), more predominant
  • Looser orthodoxy, greater variation of views
  • More terminology
  • Various Sanskrit texts (and other languages?) translated to Chinese, Korean, and Tibetan, while individual sects emphasize certain suttas more than others
  • Emptiness is a fundamentally important teaching, referenced frequently
  • Primary emphasis is on enlightening all beings, the bodhisattva vow.
  • Goal is to be a bodhisattva, to become a Buddha. Bodhisattva path is superior to Hinayana path (selfish enlightenment).
  • Arahant is inferior to Buddha
  • Gautama Buddha didn't really die; it was just an illusion to teach us a lesson and the Buddha is more like an eternal cosmic spirit that comes and goes from time-to-time for our benefit, teaching us practices which are both exoteric and esoteric.
  • Vegetarianism is mandatory or at least strongly encouraged, in order to practice compassion and non-violence
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby KonstantKarma » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:49 pm

I've been looking all over the web for the difference between a buddha and an arahant. I noticed there was some terminology difference since the 'sending to hell' teaching says you can go for wounding a buddha, or killing an arahant. What is the distinction?
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:00 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:I've been looking all over the web for the difference between a buddha and an arahant. I noticed there was some terminology difference since the 'sending to hell' teaching says you can go for wounding a buddha, or killing an arahant. What is the distinction?

Theravada view: Buddha and Arahant are generally the same, except Buddhas are self-taught and may have greater knowledge of the cosmos and other supramundane things, while their knowledge relating to liberation from suffering is essentially equal.

Mahayana view: Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are generally superior to Arahants, from having more attainments of virtue and a more compassionate focus.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby KonstantKarma » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:08 pm

Ah, thanks. I was having the hardest time finding the difference from one to the other.
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Virgo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:23 pm

Individual wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:I've been looking all over the web for the difference between a buddha and an arahant. I noticed there was some terminology difference since the 'sending to hell' teaching says you can go for wounding a buddha, or killing an arahant. What is the distinction?

Theravada view: Buddha and Arahant are generally the same, except Buddhas are self-taught and may have greater knowledge of the cosmos and other supramundane things, while their knowledge relating to liberation from suffering is essentially equal.

Mahayana view: Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are generally superior to Arahants, from having more attainments of virtue and a more compassionate focus.

Mahayana view on that point that I heard from a Tibetan teacher with the title of Acharya: even someone who has just "entered the path" and taking the bodhisattva vow with no previous training is superior than an Arahant because the Arahant has not yet entered that path.

Mahayanists believe that Arahants go to a pure land after they die and continue to make merit until they become Buddhas, or that their consciousness is lost in jhana for aeons until they are woken up out of it by a Buddha and get a chance to make merit towards enlightenment.

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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby KonstantKarma » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:52 pm

Virgo wrote:
Individual wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:I've been looking all over the web for the difference between a buddha and an arahant. I noticed there was some terminology difference since the 'sending to hell' teaching says you can go for wounding a buddha, or killing an arahant. What is the distinction?

Theravada view: Buddha and Arahant are generally the same, except Buddhas are self-taught and may have greater knowledge of the cosmos and other supramundane things, while their knowledge relating to liberation from suffering is essentially equal.

Mahayana view: Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are generally superior to Arahants, from having more attainments of virtue and a more compassionate focus.

Mahayana view on that point that I heard from a Tibetan teacher with the title of Acharya: even someone who has just "entered the path" and taking the bodhisattva vow with no previous training is superior than an Arahant because the Arahant has not yet entered that path.

Mahayanists believe that Arahants go to a pure land after they die and continue to make merit until they become Buddhas, or that their consciousness is lost in jhana for aeons until they are woken up out of it by a Buddha and get a chance to make merit towards enlightenment.

Kevin


Sounds complicated, Kevin.
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:05 pm

Individual wrote:If Theravada is not Hinayana (which I would not regard it as), it is either Mahayana or something outside the Buddha-dhamma entirely.
Utter nonsense. That assumes that the Mahayana is the arbiter of what is what about all of Buddhism, that Mahayana definitions prevail, but there is no objective basis for sucvh a claim. They do not. Theravada is not hinayana; it does not define itself as hinayana.

but good Theravadins avoid extremes, and the result is that great Theravadins like Ajahn Chah and Buddhadasa do not seem to differ significantly from great Mahayana teachers. The words may be different, but the essence is the same. And in any case, the terminology within Mahayana varies just as widely.
Utter nonsense. "Good Theravadins?" Because they fit the Mahayana view of things? Really?
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:08 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:Ah, thanks. I was having the hardest time finding the difference from one to the other.
And in the Mahayana, you say sometying bad about some sutras, you get bad breath and go to hell.
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Taco » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote:This should answer you question:

Tiltbillings, thanks for the Bodhisattva text. So there are no clear instructions given by the Buddha in the Pali suttas, but there's the story of Sumedha in a later text, the Khuddaka Nikaya's Buddhavamsa, and some Theravada teachers/commentators/scholars teach that making the vow must happen like that, i.e. in the presence of a living Buddha?

I guess I remembered the preparing the road part wrongly, but Sumedha did lay down on the road. :)
Just then Sumedha noticed that the Buddha was about to walk through a patch of wet mud. Spontaneously, out of great devotion, he threw his body down in the mud and invited the Buddha and his Sangha to walk over him rather than dirty their feet. As the great teacher passed, Dipankara Buddha read Sumedha's mind, understood his aspiration, and predicted that the ascetic Sumedha would fulfill his vow to become a Buddha at a time four incalculables and a hundred thousand eons in the future.

http://media.audiodharma.org/documents/ ... round.html
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:13 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:I wonder if this back-and-forth school comparison thing ...


Actually it is not a comparison of schools.


Kind regards


No its more in the line of sectarian squabbling. One shudders to think what kind of karma this stuff creates
And what kind of kamma does presenting the Theravadin point of accurately create?
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:15 pm

And there is no bias in this list?

Individual wrote:Theravada:
  • Southeast Asian Buddhism (Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc.), less predominant
  • Fairly tight orthodoxy, less variation of views
  • Less terminology
  • Pali text, strictly adhered to by traditionalists
  • Emptiness is not emphasized much
  • Primary emphasis is on one's own enlightenment (some suttas emphasize compassion, but stuff like the Rhinoceros sutta stands out as distinct)
  • Goal is to enter into the four stages of enlightenment. Bodhisattva is just a technical term for a pre-Buddha.
  • Buddha and Arahant are treated as equal.
  • Gautama Buddha did die, or at least his death is not worth conjecture; Buddha is more like an intelligent human who showed us how to move beyond suffering through practical (non-esoteric) means.
  • Vegetarianism is optional, seen as an unnecessary form of ascetism

Mahayana:
  • Buddhism throughout Asia (China, Korea, Tibet, Japan, etc.), more predominant
  • Looser orthodoxy, greater variation of views
  • More terminology
  • Various Sanskrit texts (and other languages?) translated to Chinese, Korean, and Tibetan, while individual sects emphasize certain suttas more than others
  • Emptiness is a fundamentally important teaching, referenced frequently
  • Primary emphasis is on enlightening all beings, the bodhisattva vow.
  • Goal is to be a bodhisattva, to become a Buddha. Bodhisattva path is superior to Hinayana path (selfish enlightenment).
  • Arahant is inferior to Buddha
  • Gautama Buddha didn't really die; it was just an illusion to teach us a lesson and the Buddha is more like an eternal cosmic spirit that comes and goes from time-to-time for our benefit, teaching us practices which are both exoteric and esoteric.
  • Vegetarianism is mandatory or at least strongly encouraged, in order to practice compassion and non-violence
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:19 pm

Taco wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:This should answer you question:

Tiltbillings, thanks for the Bodhisattva text. So there are no clear instructions given by the Buddha in the Pali suttas, but there's the story of Sumedha in a later text, the Khuddaka Nikaya's Buddhavamsa, and some Theravada teachers/commentators/scholars teach that making the vow must happen like that, i.e. in the presence of a living Buddha?
Not just Theravada. It was pretty much a pan-Buddhist thing, that is reflected in the earliest Mahayana/Bodhisattva sutras texts before they introduced the divisive concept of hinayana into the mix. Once that happened the bodhisattva doctrine became something else.

I guess I remembered the preparing the road part wrongly, but Sumedha did lay down on the road.
That is part of the Sumedha story.
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Virgo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:26 pm

First Major Rift in Buddhism by Brian Ruhe
When the Lord Buddha died, the monks codified 84,000 lines of his dharma teachings - which were much later made into the “sutras” -- at the First Council, which was held soon after the Buddha’s death around 480 BC. Some 130 years later the sangha (i.e., monks, sometimes spelled samgha) convened the Second Council to stamp out heresies within the religion. Again they agreed upon the same 84,000 lines from the Buddha and nothing of importance has been lost to the present day. It was at this Second Council that we have evidence of the first rift known within Buddhism, the first ever major split in views. This probably occurred in southeast India below the mouth of the Ganges River.

The rift was led by Mahadeva. Mahadeva was a charismatic leader and he resonated with a cord deep in Buddhist society because many lay people objected to the god-like power and respect that enlightened arahants had within temple life. “When the cat’s away the mice will play.” The Buddha wasn’t around anymore to defend the elite position of the arahants - which they rightly deserved. Mahadeva turned against the saints, the women and men who were enlightened, by putting forth his views that the arahants were not yet fully evolved because of five shortcomings. In A Short History of Buddhism the eminent British Buddhist scholar, professor Edward Conze, listed these five as:

1. allegedly some arahants were prone to seminal emissions in their sleep
2. had nightmares
3. were still subject to doubts
4. ignorant of many things
5. and owed their salvation to the guidance of others (Conze, 1980, 28).

Also at issue was the belief that the sutras were the ultimate authority in Buddhism. Mahadeva held that it was possible for the Buddha’s revelation to come anywhere at anytime, so people shouldn’t have to cling to the sutras. This remains the big issue today.

Mahadeva won the popular debate and thousands of people followed his lead but the established Theravadins renounced their views as a heresy. Mahadeva’s sangha called themselves the Mahasanghikas -- “the great community” -- and more than 60% of all the Buddhists in recorded history can trace back their lineage to this one man.

Two or three centuries after Mahadeva, beginning gradually around 50 B.C., the thriving Mahasanghikas more clearly formulated their new doctrine. They initiated one of the greatest marketing schemes known to human history. They underwent a corporate name change and they called themselves the “Mahayana.” They called the dominant Theravada Buddhist religion of the day, the “Hinayana.” The other Mahasanghikas who didn’t agree to go along with the change were also put down as Hinayanists. The ‘Hinayana’ translates as ‘lesser wheel’ but it also translates as ‘crummy wheel’ or ‘lousy wheel,’ ‘stingy’ or ‘narrow minded’. Using the word ‘Hinayana’ is like using the word ‘nigger’. In this way the Mahayanists attempted to assert their superiority over the Theravadins. This didn’t happen overnight. It began in several of the seven schools of the Mahasanghikas - all now extinct, and even in some of the eleven quasi Theravada schools. By 400 AD the full blown idea of the Mahayana was consummated in the teachings of Asanga.” <end quote Brian Ruhe>

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/early-schisms.html

So essentially, all you proponents of Mahayana and their doctrines are really followers of Mahadeva, Asanga, Nagajurna, and many, many other later people, all building more delusion on the others previous delusions. You are not proponents of what the Buddha taught.

People, like jellyfish with small brains, do not always realize the difference.

Kevin
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:00 pm

Not a very good history.

Virgo wrote:First Major Rift in Buddhism by Brian Ruhe
When the Lord Buddha died, the monks codified 84,000 lines of his dharma teachings - which were much later made into the “sutras” -- at the First Council, which was held soon after the Buddha’s death around 480 BC. Some 130 years later the sangha (i.e., monks, sometimes spelled samgha) convened the Second Council to stamp out heresies within the religion. Again they agreed upon the same 84,000 lines from the Buddha and nothing of importance has been lost to the present day. It was at this Second Council that we have evidence of the first rift known within Buddhism, the first ever major split in views. This probably occurred in southeast India below the mouth of the Ganges River.

The rift was led by Mahadeva. Mahadeva was a charismatic leader and he resonated with a cord deep in Buddhist society because many lay people objected to the god-like power and respect that enlightened arahants had within temple life. “When the cat’s away the mice will play.” The Buddha wasn’t around anymore to defend the elite position of the arahants - which they rightly deserved. Mahadeva turned against the saints, the women and men who were enlightened, by putting forth his views that the arahants were not yet fully evolved because of five shortcomings. In A Short History of Buddhism the eminent British Buddhist scholar, professor Edward Conze, listed these five as:

1. allegedly some arahants were prone to seminal emissions in their sleep
2. had nightmares
3. were still subject to doubts
4. ignorant of many things
5. and owed their salvation to the guidance of others (Conze, 1980, 28).

Also at issue was the belief that the sutras were the ultimate authority in Buddhism. Mahadeva held that it was possible for the Buddha’s revelation to come anywhere at anytime, so people shouldn’t have to cling to the sutras. This remains the big issue today.

Mahadeva won the popular debate and thousands of people followed his lead but the established Theravadins renounced their views as a heresy. Mahadeva’s sangha called themselves the Mahasanghikas -- “the great community” -- and more than 60% of all the Buddhists in recorded history can trace back their lineage to this one man.

Two or three centuries after Mahadeva, beginning gradually around 50 B.C., the thriving Mahasanghikas more clearly formulated their new doctrine. They initiated one of the greatest marketing schemes known to human history. They underwent a corporate name change and they called themselves the “Mahayana.” They called the dominant Theravada Buddhist religion of the day, the “Hinayana.” The other Mahasanghikas who didn’t agree to go along with the change were also put down as Hinayanists. The ‘Hinayana’ translates as ‘lesser wheel’ but it also translates as ‘crummy wheel’ or ‘lousy wheel,’ ‘stingy’ or ‘narrow minded’. Using the word ‘Hinayana’ is like using the word ‘nigger’. In this way the Mahayanists attempted to assert their superiority over the Theravadins. This didn’t happen overnight. It began in several of the seven schools of the Mahasanghikas - all now extinct, and even in some of the eleven quasi Theravada schools. By 400 AD the full blown idea of the Mahayana was consummated in the teachings of Asanga.” <end quote Brian Ruhe>

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/early-schisms.html

So essentially, all you proponents of Mahayana and their doctrines are really followers of Mahadeva, Asanga, Nagajurna, and many, many other later people, all building more delusion on the others previous delusions. You are not proponents of what the Buddha taught.

People, like jellyfish with small brains, do not always realize the difference.

Kevin
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Virgo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Not a very good history.

Well as I understand it you are a Buddhologist, Tilt. Maybe you would be kind enough to go through it and correct any points that need correction.

We are all here to learn.

Gratefully,

Kevin
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:14 pm

Virgo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Not a very good history.

Well as I understand it you are a Buddhologist, Tilt. Maybe you would be kind enough to go through it and correct any points that need correction.

We are all here to learn.

Gratefully,

Kevin
I can give you a reading list, but life is too short to try to correct that horrible bit you quoted.
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:17 pm

Sectarians of all flavors can all at least agree on three things:

  • We are different
  • We don't like eachother, or at least don't like eachothers' views
  • We are better off being separate

It is a form of conceit (mana).

For the non-sectarian:
  • He sees everyone as if it were himself
  • Expresses boundless compassion
  • Delights in harmonious unity

...and there is nothing to dispute because one's own body is the Dhamma.
Last edited by Individual on Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:20 pm

Individual wrote:Sectarians of all flavors can all at least agree on three things:

  • We are different
  • We don't like eachother, or at least don't like eachothers' views
  • We are better off being separate

For the non-sectarian, there is nothing to dispute because one's own body is the Dhamma.
Body? Mind/body.
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: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:30 pm

Tilt, I edited my post. Maybe my edit had some improvements? Maybe not. In any case, it was certainly better than the multi-paragraph monstrosity I deleted before clicking submit. :)

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:For the non-sectarian, there is nothing to dispute because one's own body is the Dhamma.
Body? Mind/body.

:thanks:
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The specific differences between Mahayana and Theravada?

Postby Aloka » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:37 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:No its more in the line of sectarian squabbling. One shudders to think what kind of karma this stuff creates


I think most people would agree that "Hinayana" is a pejorative term when used today.

Today there is no Hinayana sect in existence anywhere in the world. Therefore, in 1950 the World Fellowship of Buddhists inaugurated in Colombo unanimously decided that the term Hinayana should be dropped when referring to Buddhism existing today in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, etc

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/theramaya.html


Yet still this term is used in Tibetan Buddhism to describe Theravada

Hinayana (Skt) tek pa chung wa [theg pa chung ba] (Tib) One of the three "vehicles" of Buddhism - the "lesser" vehicle, or way of the Arhat. In Tibetan usage, the name identifies an imperfect or incomplete quest for a purely personal liberation from samasara.

(Glossary of 'The Dharma' by Kalu Rinpoche)



HINAYANA (tekpa chungwa) - Literally, "the lesser vehicle." The term refers to the first teaching of the Buddha, which emphasised the careful examination of mind and its confusion; also called the Theravada path.

(glossary of 'The Practice of Tranquility and Insight' by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche )
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