Transitioning

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Transitioning

Postby M83 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:29 am

I'm not sure if this will come off as a strange question or not, so please forgive me if it is.

I have been studying Tibetan buddhism for some time now and have realized that it's not my cup of tea. I am interested in learning more about the Theravadan tradition since I keep feeling as if I'm being drawn to it.

My question is, what are the major differences between the two sects? What am I in for in terms of transitioning? Is it full of heavy rituals and the sort like Vajrayana? Lots of statues and mantras and dieities and the sort? Maybe there's a quaint comparative chart out there somewhere that can best sum up what to expect?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Transitioning

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:56 am

Greetings M83,

Theravada Buddhism is primarily based around the Tipitaka - the three baskets of the Sutta Pitaka (i.e. the teachings), Vinaya Pitaka (i.e. the monastic discipline) and Abhidhamma Pitaka (i.e. a theory of mind, synthesized from the teachings).

Some of the things that occur in Vajrayana are actively discouraged in those texts, but it is understandable that there is divergence because Vajrayana is founded on different root texts and introduces the notion of a guru, which is much different to the Theravadin roles of a teacher, or a preceptor.

However as with anything, people will "take the ball and run with it"... so you will still find practices within the Theravada tradition that have no clear connection to the scriptures.

My recommendation would be to focus on the teachings for the time being, because it seems you find no benefit in the traditional/cultural aspects of Buddhism at this point in time.

Perhaps in time you may see the traditional and cultural practices as active manifestations of the teachings - or perhaps not. Either way, with a solid grounding in the Buddha's teaching you'll be able to make that determination for yourself.

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


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Re: Transitioning

Postby Aloka » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:28 am

Hi M83,

I used to be a Vajrayana practitioner and then realised I needed to move on. Over a period of time I began reading suttas in the Pali Canon and also investigating the western teachers/teachings of the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition (no deity practices, empowerment ritual ceremonies, guru yoga etc) and It all felt like a breath of fresh air to me - so I wouldn't worry too much.

With kind wishes,


Aloka
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Re: Transitioning

Postby M83 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:54 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Some of the things that occur in Vajrayana are actively discouraged in those texts, but it is understandable that there is divergence because Vajrayana is founded on different root texts and introduces the notion of a guru, which is much different to the Theravadin roles of a teacher, or a preceptor.


What 'things' may they be? I'm assuming guru devotion is one of them?

retrofuturist wrote:My recommendation would be to focus on the teachings for the time being, because it seems you find no benefit in the traditional/cultural aspects of Buddhism at this point in time.


I wouldn't say I find no benefit in the traditional/cultural aspects of Buddhism. I love the cultural aspects of Buddhism, really. It's what has drawn me to Tibetan Buddhism in the first place. What I don't benefit from is the constant drama and politics. It's hard to rid one's practice of that when you incorporate guru devotion. At least that's what I have personally come to realize. I've decided that I will probably progress further without that aspect of the religion in my life.


Aloka wrote:I used to be a Vajrayana practitioner and then realised I needed to move on. Over a period of time I began reading suttas in the Pali Canon and also investigating the western teachers/teachings of the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition (no deity practices, empowerment ritual ceremonies, guru yoga etc) and It all felt like a breath of fresh air to me - so I wouldn't worry too much.


Sounds like we are in the same boat then, Aloka. Would you mind either posting here or private messaging me more about your transition? I guess I feel like a fish out of water since I've had a guru to guide me and now I am kind of looking around not knowing where to begin.

Thank you both for your help!
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Re: Transitioning

Postby santa100 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:37 pm

M83 wrote:My question is, what are the major differences between the two sects? What am I in for in terms of transitioning?..


Should be no problem with transitioning since they both share the same foundations of BuddhaDhamma: Four Noble Truths, Five Moral Precepts, Eightfold Noble Path, Dependent Origination, etc. There'll be fewer heavy rituals, fewer statues and deities for sure.. :smile:
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Re: Transitioning

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:57 am

M83 wrote:
Sounds like we are in the same boat then, Aloka. Would you mind either posting here or private messaging me more about your transition? I guess I feel like a fish out of water since I've had a guru to guide me and now I am kind of looking around not knowing where to begin.



Hi M83,

I think rather than becoming completely dependent on a "guru" and everything that involves, its good not be afraid to start thinking for oneself.

Wishing you all the very best for your study and practice.

With metta,

Aloka
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Re: Transitioning

Postby Anagarika » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:26 pm

M83:

You might find Theravada welcoming as it is the "old school" form of practice. No guru devotion, no deity worship or practices. In it's most foundational form, it is largely centered on the Pali Canon, considered by most scholars as the best recordation of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. So, if your bent is toward getting as close to the stuff that the Buddha actually taught, and investing energy into figuring out how his actual prescription for the remedying of the sufferings of life works, Theravada is the place to be for a lot of thoughtful people.

It may also be true that in Theravada, while may of us look for and find teachers that we respect and trust, there's a real premium on availing oneself of different teachers, and honing one's mind by taking in and distilling the Dhamma talks from many different respected teachers. Even in the old Thai traditions, the monks were encouraged to travel around a bit and sample the teachings of a variety of teachers. So, quite the opposite of the guru-centric approach, Theravada can be like a university with numerous professors, all with great ideas and teachings to contribute. Of course, if you can find a sangha in your area with a respected Abbot and good monks, that is a good thing too, bu there will never be a call that you attach yourself to any Abbot or Bhikkhu.
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Re: Transitioning

Postby davemiller » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:39 pm

Aloka wrote:there's a real premium on availing oneself of different teachers, and honing one's mind by taking in and distilling the Dhamma talks from many different respected teachers. Even in the old Thai traditions, the monks were encouraged to travel around a bit and sample the teachings of a variety of teachers. So, quite the opposite of the guru-centric approach, Theravada can be like a university with numerous professors, all with great ideas and teachings to contribute.

:thumbsup: :clap:
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Re: Transitioning

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:56 pm

The above quote isn't from me, its from BuddhaSoup's post.


:anjali:
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