mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

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mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by jcsuperstar » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:02 pm

what are some mahayana books or teachings that have informed your theravada practice? are there any? comming to theravada from mahayana i would say there are a lot of teachings that put certain lenses on my eyes to how i would view theravada but thats not what i'm trying to get out of this thread, i'm interested in seeing or using mahayana teachings as a theravada buddhist (does that make sense?).. for me i really havent got much out of any mahayana teachings since conversion, there is a very zen slant to my views but again this is just what i brought to the table.
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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:24 pm

Eight Verses for Training the Mind

by Langri Thangpa

With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart.

In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others
Will firmly face and avert it.

I will learn to cherish beings of bad nature
And those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
As if I had found a precious
Treasure very difficult to find.

When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take on all loss,
And offer victory to them.

When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And respectfully take upon myself
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

I will learn to keep all these practices
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
Be released from the bondage of attachment.


Geshe Thangpa was known as the "Dark Faced," since he rarely smiled due to his contemplation of the suffering of sentient beings.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen


Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by clw_uk » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:36 pm


Good topic, i dont really get much out of Mahayana works so my list is small, its mostly just works connected with describing Voidness

Nagarjuna's Mulamadhhyamakakarika (felt like typing full name lol),

Apart from that just the odd one line quotes i hear from some Zen masters and the odd Koan

Last edited by clw_uk on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by DNS » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:57 pm

I agree with Nagarjuna and from the modern teachers:

Roshi Phillip Kapleau's books, including

Three Pillars of Zen
Merging of East and West

edit: I forgot the 'R' in Nagarjuna, typical Theravadin :tongue:

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by Jechbi » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:57 pm

I think there are important connecting points between Mahayana and Theravada that often get overlooked or downplayed, so when I read from Mahayana sources, I try not to make differences in vocabulary (including terms like "boddhisattva) a focal point. Instead, I look for the underlying currents that can be very inspiring.

Just about everything I've read by Thich Nhat Hanh has been extremely helpful. I'd particularly recommend "Old Path White Clouds."

I really like the Lojong slogans, summaries of which can be found here. They're very helpful.

Also, I think it's really fascinating to take a spin through books like "Journey Without Goal" by Chogyam Trungpa. It's like the polar opposite of Theravada, but if you have a solid basic understanding of Theravada, it's easier to understand what the heck he's talking about. There are bits and pieces that can be inspiring.

One thing I've found is that by familiarizing myself with Mahayana traditions and teachings, I'm more open to the underlying wisdom being offered by friends with whom ostensibly I might disagree. Because after all, regardless of what anyone says, we have more in common than not.

Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by puthujjana » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:03 pm

Thich Nhat Hanh's "Old Path White Clouds" was the first buddhist book I've read.
After reading it I bought a book about the anapanasati sutta - written by Thich Nhat Hanh :smile:

These two books brought me to Theravada Buddhism, because Thich Nhat Hanh - although a Vietnamese Zen master - used the pali suttas for reference.

Furthermore I loved reading Dogen's "Shobogenzo Zuimonki" and books by Kodo Sawaki.

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"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by sukhamanveti » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:33 am

"I should dispel the suffering of others because it is suffering like my own suffering. I should help others too because of their nature as beings, which is like my own being.

"When happiness is liked by me and others equally, what is so special about me that I strive after happiness only for myself?

"When fear and suffering are disliked by me and others equally, what is so special about me that I protect myself and not the other?"

Santideva, Bodhicaryavatara 8.94-96

Chapter 6 of the Bodhicaryavatara has several helpful reflections dealing with overcoming anger and hatred and cultivating patience" onclick=";return false; . (Some of these reflections are also in chapter 9 of Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga, a Theravada text.) His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written a commentary on this chapter, titled Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective.

The Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism has a lot of helpful advice, as I see pink_trike has noticed as well.
Last edited by sukhamanveti on Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.

Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614

Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.

Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by pink_trike » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:38 am

Machig Labdron's Chod teachings." onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;öd

As long as there is an ego, there are demons.
When there is no more ego, there are no more demons either! --Machig Labdrön

"Although they are referred to as demons, it is clear from Machg Labdron's writings that the entities being dealt with in Chod practices are formulations of the human mind, rather than supernatural beings." [ from the Wikipedia god. ]
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen


Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by Kare » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:54 am

Several Zen-stories and koans.

Suzuki, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind".

Vasubandhu, "Madhyantavibhaga".

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by Ben » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:25 am

My introduction to the Dhamma was via Zen.
When i was a teenager i had a lightbulb moment while reading Alan Watts then later moved on to Roshi DT Suzuki. Much later on was Philip Kapleau Roshi's Three Pillars of Zen. Also amongst there were some of the writings of the Beat Gen but I don't really consider them in the same league as far as expressing or expounding the Dhamma - however interesting, brilliant and revolutionary for their time. Those early readings were instrumental in fuelling my interest which eventually led to taking refuge some years later.
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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by Fede » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:43 pm

I hate to bring this into the 'chewing-gum for the mind' realm, but The Trilogy of Lama Surya Das did much to help me along the way... I began with The spectacularly good Tibetan book of Living & Dying, and read a great deal of TNH's work too.
The Dalai Lama's 'Policy of Kindness' and 'The Art of Happiness' were storming.....
More recently, 'The places that scare you', and 'Meditation on a Mountain Lake' have been superb guides.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by bodom » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:13 pm

I like the Platform Sutra by Hui Neng. Red Pines translation.

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by tquid » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:17 pm

Heart Sutra & Diamond Sutra can be a very pithy summation of ideas of emptiness.

I also really liked Trungpa's Cutting through Spiritual Materialism--I'd say it got me my start in being serious about Buddhism.

Definitely agree about Thich Nhat Hanh, Friends on the Path is a superb book for anyone wanting to form lay sangha for mutual support.

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by robertk » Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:50 am

Any books by Toni Packer
Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by Trungpa

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Re: mahayana books/teachings that have helped your practice

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:42 am


Verses on the Faith Mind by Seng-T'san ... h_zen.html" onclick=";return false;
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.

To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence ewill be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.

And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited:

Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming not going.

Obey the nature of things (your own nature)
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden
for everything is murky and unclear.
And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.

There is one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment
there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air -
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
such thoughts must
finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are,
of single essence.

To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.

When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.

With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.

Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.

In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises "not two".

In this "not two" nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.

So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.

To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.


The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

Translated from the Chinese by Richard B. Clarke

Featured in Jack Kornfield, Teachings of the Buddha
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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