Allowances of differences within the Theravada

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tiltbillings
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Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:27 pm

I taking this comment as a basis for discussion that would off-topic in the thread in which it is found:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 40#p163733" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; While ostensibly I am addressing Ñāṇa here, this is actually meant to be a general discussion for whomever is interested.

This is also being placed in the General Theravada discussion. It is not meant to be a debate; but rather, I would hope that this will be a collegial discussion.

Given the variety of differing points of view here on this forum and the conflicts that so often arises as they bump up against each other, this is probably a discussion we should have here.

I am posting this not as a moderator, but a participant of this forum. The moderation of this thread will be done by others.


Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I find your position(s) in regard to Burmerse vipassana are a bit confusing
My concerns pertain to view, specifically (i) privileging the writings of Buddhaghosa, et al, over all earlier Pāli sources to such an extent that the latter can only be understood through the former;
I am not saying you cannot or should not voice your disagreements with those things with which you disagree. It is an interesting question of balance, of how to approach another's religious beliefs, and in that I am asking myself these questions as well. This is so obviously not merely a question dueling philosophical ideas.

There are a number of differing points of view to be found under the rubric of Theravada. How do we approach them? Is there a touchstone of commonality among them that will allow us to coexist without prolonged scorched earth arguments that lack any skillful nuance, allowing for some degree of common ground and allowing for some differences?

I simply feel that we need to do better, and I know I need to do better, than we have done here so far. I would hate to think we are slipping into separate camps, eyeing each other with suspicion and disdain.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

chownah
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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by chownah » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:26 pm

MN 136 PTS: M iii 207
Maha-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Great Exposition of Kamma
translated from the Pali by
Ñanamoli Thera

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

An excerpt:
"So, Ananda, there is kamma that is incapable (of good result) and appears incapable (of good result); there is kamma that is incapable (of good result) and appears capable (of good result); there is kamma that is capable (of good result) and appears capable (of good result); there is kamma that is capable (of good result) and appears incapable (of good result)."

I guess this applies to the topic but I don't know for sure......
chownah

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by DNS » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:22 pm

Even during the time of the Buddha there may have been some differences in views:

There are Dhamma-experts who praise only monks who are also Dhamma-experts but not
those who are meditators. And there are meditators who praise only those monks who are also
meditators but not those who are Dhamma-experts. Thereby neither of them will be pleased, and
they will not be practicing for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, for the good of the
multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans.

Anguttara Nikaya 4.46

It is possible that there may have been a divide between those who focus on study and those who focus on meditation practice. The Buddha praises both.

:group:

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:47 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:There are a number of differing points of view to be found under the rubric of Theravada. How do we approach them?
Personally I approach this situation nowadays by sharing my perspectives only when I think the person I'm speaking to has a genuine interest in listening to that perspective.

The logic being that if people want to hear it, they are unlikely to be offended by it... or alternatively, through the very act of asking, they have implicitly accepted the risk that they may not like what they hear.

However, if I think they're either:

- Debating for debating's sake
- Entrenched in their views and are just looking to pick fault

... I will opt out, or respond only minimally/factually.

If I sense they don't want to hear it - I won't bother saying it.

Thankfully, I've been here a while so I've usually got a pretty good sense of why people are asking certain questions.

As for "allowing" or "tolerating" what others say, as long as people are sincere I don't mind what they say. Nor will I whinge about what they say as if people having confidence in their views is somehow the end of the world.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:39 am

In a few months, once the final is completely finished, keep an eye out for the PhD thesis of Bhante Chandaratana from HKU.
It's on the divergent doctrinal positions within the Theravada, or more specifically, within the Theravada in Sri Lanka.
Bhante and I had a lot of interesting discussion on how he was to actually define "Theravada",
and while I can't recall his final position, that itself is a major question worth looking into.
He got a lot of input from Prof Karunadasa during his study, but definitely has his own take in a number of places.

~~ Huifeng
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:49 am

Thanks Venerable, It's great to see you back here... :anjali:

Concentrating on the good side, I thought Ven Gavesako's thread on Tantric Theravada http://www.dhammawheel.com/posting.php? ... 3&p=157002" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; was a nice example of a good thread on an interesting and possibly controversial topic that has remained a positive dialog. It gives some interesting insight into the origins of some of the ideas expressed by the various Forest meditation masters...

Mike

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by Nyana » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:There are a number of differing points of view to be found under the rubric of Theravada. How do we approach them?
Carefully.
tiltbillings wrote:Is there a touchstone of commonality among them that will allow us to coexist without prolonged scorched earth arguments that lack any skillful nuance, allowing for some degree of common ground and allowing for some differences?
People are free to believe what they choose to believe. Consensus is not necessary, nor is it something to be desired.
tiltbillings wrote:I would hate to think we are slipping into separate camps, eyeing each other with suspicion and disdain.
If we don't set up camps in the first place then there's no need to eyeball each other from across an imagined no-man's-land.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:56 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:There are a number of differing points of view to be found under the rubric of Theravada. How do we approach them?
Carefully.
Ideally, that is what we would wish for, but I think not always the case.
tiltbillings wrote:Is there a touchstone of commonality among them that will allow us to coexist without prolonged scorched earth arguments that lack any skillful nuance, allowing for some degree of common ground and allowing for some differences?
People are free to believe what they choose to believe. Consensus is not necessary, nor is it something to be desired.
Of course people are free to believe what they want. There is certainly no demand here for conformity of thought, but all too often over the last while here it has not been unusual to see written something along that "It is not spelled out in the suttas." "That is just commentary stuff." That issue here gets address in response to the next point.
tiltbillings wrote:I would hate to think we are slipping into separate camps, eyeing each other with suspicion and disdain.
If we don't set up camps in the first place then there's no need to eyeball each other from across an imagined no-man's-land.
But seems that camps have already been set up, the trenches dug, and the barbed-wire strung. Outside of a variety of minor disputes centering around how to define jhana, is rebirth literal, and such, there is a far more fundamental division that has infected this forum which could be characterized by those who claim “suttas only,” who do not take seriously, or outright reject, the commentaries, the Abhidhamma, and Buddhaghosa, and those who to varying degrees take the commentaries, etc as having an important role to play.

It is not at all uncommon for those who reject the CAB (commentaries, the Abhidhamma and Buddhaghosa) to say: "It is not in the suttas," as if that then simply ends any claim the more traditionalists might make about a point, such as the three life interpretation of the 12 links. There is no dialogue in that, though it may elicit an argumentative response to try to point out there is some value what the CAB has to say and then an argumentative response from the sutta-only advocate and so on.

One of the things that gets caught up in this division, is Burmese vipassana. Write in some thread “bare attention” or “noting” in a positive manner and there is often a negatively critical response that gets posted, which is all too easy to illustrate.

Now, the issue here is not that these things cannot be criticized, but all too often what the defenders of these notions has to do, is -- repeatedly -- to show that they are not contrary to the suttas, in addition to correcting the distorted views of what bare attention and noting are. And, of course, whatever it is, it must be spelled out exactly in the suttas to count in favor of it being in line with the suttas. And one can add to that mix the various individual interpretations of the suttas by the sutta-only folks.

Because I do not see a lot of it here, I am wondering if it is possible to voice differences without engaging in a scorched earth, salt the fields, drive them into the sea responses, or at least without lobbing a grenade.

I find myself defending the commentaries and Buddhaghosa, even though I do not consider myself a follower of either. I simply find a lot of the criticisms of the commentaries and Buddhaghosa arguments from ignorance, given that so very little of the commentaries are available to be read in English, or any other language other than a difficult version of Pali. I defend these things, as well as Burmese vipassana, because they do have something of value to offer and they should not be shouted down with: “It is not in the suttas.”

I am not asking that others share my opinions of the CAB or Burmese vipassana, nor am I saying they cannot be criticized, but all to often the criticisms come across as a wanting to simply shut them up.

But the problem is that while the CAB and Burmese vipassana may not speak to some people, they do speak to others who find within them expressions of the Dhamma that help illuminate the Buddha’s teachings.

So, is it possible to disagree without it becoming trench warfare? It is not a matter of consensus, but it may be a matter of recognizing that the Dhamma is a bit more flexible than our opinions and beliefs.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by Nyana » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:39 pm

tiltbillings wrote:But the problem is that while the CAB and Burmese vipassana may not speak to some people, they do speak to others who find within them expressions of the Dhamma that help illuminate the Buddha’s teachings.
Sure. I don't consider the diversity we see in contemporary Theravāda to be a bad thing.
tiltbillings wrote:So, is it possible to disagree without it becoming trench warfare? It is not a matter of consensus, but it may be a matter of recognizing that the Dhamma is a bit more flexible than our opinions and beliefs.
Sure. People can disagree without being petty or mean. Criticism isn't a bad thing either. Of course, it should be informed and substantive.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Allowances of differences within the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:52 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But the problem is that while the CAB and Burmese vipassana may not speak to some people, they do speak to others who find within them expressions of the Dhamma that help illuminate the Buddha’s teachings.
Sure. I don't consider the diversity we see in contemporary Theravāda to be a bad thing.
It should not be a bad thing at all; however, it is not as inviting for those here for those who find value in Buddhaghosa, the commentaries, and, heaven forbid, the Abhidhamma.
tiltbillings wrote:So, is it possible to disagree without it becoming trench warfare? It is not a matter of consensus, but it may be a matter of recognizing that the Dhamma is a bit more flexible than our opinions and beliefs.
Sure. People can disagree without being petty or mean. Criticism isn't a bad thing either. Of course, it should be informed and substantive.
The issue is not about being mean, but even informed, substantive criticism can be remarkably unskillful.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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