Why Theravada?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dagon
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by dagon » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:02 am

MattB wrote:Hello All,
This is my first real post on here aside from a short introduction a couple months ago. In my little knowledge of the Buddhist world(and various schools), I find the Theravada to be the most straight forward, applicable, teaching of Buddhist ideas. To be fair, I don't know much of what the other schools offer aside from some basic articles. Lacking any sort of mysticism, fanatical ideas, strange beliefs(or beliefs at all), Theravada to me is a clear path to getting piece of mind in a crazy world. Just the basic 5 precepts alone have improved my sense of well-being and home life. Some other beautiful aspects of the teachings to me are that one doesn't need to study under someone else and how you don't need to "convert" to anything from anything! I enjoy testing the teachings in my everyday situations and allowing them to prove themselves to me.
Anyway just some observations from a novice. I wish all find there own path to happiness and peace with ease.
Metta,
Matt
:goodpost:

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:17 am

It seems to me if you had a whole lot of faith and belief in one's own tradition, you wouldn't feel half the need to criticize other peoples traditions. It seems hyper criticalness of other traditions can stem from weakness in ones own beliefs.

What a lot of people don't realize is until now these traditions were largely country dependent, there was no mahayana in Thailand and there was no therevada in Tibet, for instance, so were not only criticizing approaches to buddhism, but whole countries and regions history. Better to talk good about one's own tradition than bad about someone else's tradition, that's my opinion....
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:47 am

lyndon taylor wrote:
What a lot of people don't realize is until now these traditions were largely country dependent, there was no mahayana in Thailand
Actually, there was Mahayana in Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia.
>> 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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lyndon taylor
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:56 am

As in what percent??? probably mostly Chinese immigrants, Vietnam is more Mahayana due to Chinese influence
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:14 am

lyndon taylor wrote:As in what percent??? probably mostly Chinese immigrants, Vietnam is more Mahayana due to Chinese influence
Notice I used the word "was," past tense. I am not talking about the present Chinese in those countries.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el085.html
>> 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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appicchato
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by appicchato » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:44 am

temples.png
temples.png (332.78 KiB) Viewed 2307 times
...there was no mahayana in Thailand.
The temple I reside in shares the same wall (and a riverside) with a Mahayana temple...

:focus:

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:54 am

Where there Mahayana temples in any numbers 100 years ago, because that's the time I was thinking of, before a big western influence, the point I was making for almost the last 1000 years in either Thailand or Tibet, i wouldn't have though there was any clear choice between Therevada/ Mahayana-Vajrayana to the people, they pretty much had their countries traditional religions to choose from, and even if there were immigrant communities that followed different traditions, it would be quite unusual for someone to follow them that was not part of that immigrant community, perhaps I'm wrong, my point is that in 1500AD thailand, switching from Therevada to Mahayana, wasn't as easy as switching from http://www.dhammawheel.com to http://www.dharmawheel.net
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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mikenz66
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:42 am

My understanding is that Mahayana predated Theravada Thailand. Theravada was firmly established in the Sukhothai era (13th C). There is a bit about this in the Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_i ... _centuries. As it says there, you'll find Guan Yin in the grounds of many Thai Wats (we have one here). The historical influences that are at play in Thai Buddhism are quite rich and varied. See the topic Tantric Theravada? http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 03&start=0

Arguably it was a 19th C reaction to colonialism that purged some of these aspects from the Theravada mainstream in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, etc. See, for example: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2853 particularly zavk's contributions.

:anjali:
Mike

skandha
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by skandha » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:43 am

Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?


Thanks for your answers
I prefer the Theravada because it is more precise, methodical and clear. When it comes to the Satipatthana method, which the Buddha calls the 'direct path to liberation', there is no need for a lot of talk on philosophy either, just a some very practical steps for training the mind.

The Hwadu method, to me, is part of the Satipatthana method. However I find that in Seon, the hwadu method may be a bit confusing and not very clear and methodical. Though that may be part of the strategy to induce sudden enlightenment. I find that this may or may not work. The Theravada's Satipatthana method have the capacity for gradual enlightenment for those that prefers it this way. But it can also be sudden for the rare individuals that have this talent, as in the case of Bahiya.

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Myotai
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Myotai » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:58 am

kc2dpt wrote:This thread started out as asking "why Theravada". People have been giving their honest answers. This last day or so of posts, however, seems to include some people getting defensive about some of those answers and arguing the efficacy of non-Theravada schools. This would seem to me a] off-topic and b] taking this thread down a contentious path I have seen far too often.

If I ask you why you prefer chocolate to vanilla and you answer honestly, I think it would then be a bit rude of me to then lecture you about why you should like vanilla as well.


Looking back at the initial post, I'm starting to wonder at the motivation of this thread. I do hope the intent was not simply to tell us Theravadins how deluded and close-minded we are. That would be rude indeed.
Hi,

My initial intention was to help me clarify the constant inner narrative I have about these difference. "Two men say they're Jesus, one of them has to be wrong".

Dress it how you like, the differences are too vast to imply that its ALL Buddhism. Anapanasati, Jhana, Vipassana are all practices that I see as the bread and butter of the Theravada. I see the Mahayana as having adopted these but only as a stepping stone to what they see as more profound practices, not as the foundation of their practice. Then the Mahayana (IMHO) seem to launch off into a completely different religion with Deities, mantra, yantra, bells, rituals, etc etc...

Now this doesn't meant to say that its wrong. I just don't think its the same. I make a point not to mention specific practices that I do, however.....I practice Silent Illumination as taught by Chan Master Sheng Yen. Frankly I am not too concerned as to whether its directly linked to the Buddhas teachings or not. It seems to work for me and its a practice that is surrounded by interpretations of the Buddhas teachings. So I guess it justifies in being called a Buddhist practice.

I think the problem is that if it can be categorically proven that the Theravada is the closest to the original teachings of the historical Buddha then the Mahayana Schools will have to concede that they are an elboration that take on board His teachings, nothing more.

But has the authenticity of the Theravadin claim been proven?

M...

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Kim OHara
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:18 pm

Myotai wrote:I think the problem is that if it can be categorically proven that the Theravada is the closest to the original teachings of the historical Buddha then the Mahayana Schools will have to concede that they are an elboration that take on board His teachings, nothing more.
Hi, Myotai,
Not necessarily - see my earlier post, http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p263511
Myotai wrote:But has the authenticity of the Theravadin claim been proven?
Yes, within any reasonable definition of 'proven'. Textual studies confirm an earliest level of teachings which is 90% (or more) common to all schools and comprises most of the Pali Canon. It seems to have been transmitted as accurately as anyone could expect in an oral culture (and some argue that is has been transmitted more accurately orally than it would have been in writing, anyway).
I'm no expert - I just read what they say :smile: - so it might be worth asking as a separate question in the Early Buddhism forum http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewforum.php?f=29 if you want more detailed info.

:namaste:
Kim

[edited for clarity]

chownah
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by chownah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:22 pm

Myopia,
If someone wanted to prove the Theravada claim to you then what sort of thing would you accept as proof? I ask this because it seems to me that sometimes people ask for proof of something and then after a bunch of people suggesting ideas it becomes clear at least to me that there is no acceptable critreria for proof......so I'm asking straight away for what you think would be the kind of thing that could establish the proof.
chownah
P.S. I see that Kim O has already recognized that a proof must be relative to some criteria (way to go Kim O!) but I think I'll leave my post here anyway.
chownah

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Myotai
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Myotai » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:26 pm

kc2dpt wrote:Here's my summary of this thread, how it looks to me:

OP: "Korean Seon practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. Hwadu practices are a direct path to Enlightenment. Given this, why would you choose Theravada?"

This kind of question is I think inherently rude, but it's also understandable that people would ask it. People gave a good shot at replying.
If you're going to quote me....please do me the courtesy of making sire you're accurate? As you will see, the un edited version of my OP is not at all rude. Editing a post to match your reply, is, I contend.....rude!

I actually said:

I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?

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Myotai
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Myotai » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:37 pm

chownah wrote:Myopia,
If someone wanted to prove the Theravada claim to you then what sort of thing would you accept as proof?
Just proof...really :thinking:

Errm... :shrug: proof.

I am being facetious :tongue:

Just a proof that the closest we have to what the Historical Buddha taught is contained within Theravada and that other schools are based around these teachings but not rooted in them.

For instance, I heard recently the The Buddha never used the phrase 'Buddha Nature'....if this is correct its MASSIVE!!! Given that nearly all Mahayana schools are based on the existence of an inherent Buddha nature.

M....

ps I think it ws Thanissaro in a talk on dependent Origination who said that.

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kc2dpt
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:46 pm

Myotai wrote:If it can be categorically proven that the Theravada is [X} then the Mahayana Schools will have to concede that they are [Y].
I think your (and my) spiritual life would be simpler if there was only one teacher to follow and all other teachers closed up shop and went home. Somehow I don't think that's ever going to happen. ;)

I think it's normal for most people in the world to suffer doubts and confusions about which path to follow. Not just in spiritual matters either, but in many decision points in life.
My initial intention was to help me clarify the constant inner narrative I have about these difference.
This is what's it's about, I think, not about one school conceding to another. I hope at some point your mind will pick a narrative and settle down to one practice. Until then, do your best to read and listen and learn and practice whatever inspires you at that moment. :)

May we all be inspired to end suffering. May we all find peace.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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