son of dhamma wrote:
Thus, it is quite incorrect to claim that "it is a Mahayana imposition", for it most certainly is not. And in fact, by so claiming, you have further confused the issue.
Moreover, the so-called Diamond sutra merely mentions these systems, but does not "explain" them at all. It does not have to. The reason being, that those followers of such a large school of the Sarvastivada, which was perhaps the most dominant school in mainland India at the time, already very clearly had a notion of such world systems. ...
It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics. And often, these different views were not creations of the Mahayana, but rather, the Mahayana picked up these views from other mainstream Nikayan schools, views which were quite the norm in parts of mainland Indian Buddhism, but possibly not the Theravada.
Hello Son of Dhamma,
Thanks for your response.
I should have spoken more specifically, as I am aware that I'm not so knowledgeable as to which terms and concepts originate from which doctrinal formations. But when I spoke that it is a Mahayana imposition, I was thinking that they impose it now--thanks for explaining where it comes from.
"Imposition", from dictionary.com:
1. the laying on of something as a burden or obligation.
2. something imposed, as a burden or duty; an unusual or extraordinarily burdensome requirement or task.
3. the act of imposing by or as if by authority.
4. an instance of imposing upon a person: He did the favor but considered the request an imposition.
5. the act of imposing fraudulently or deceptively on others; imposture.
6. the ceremonial laying on of hands, as in confirmation or ordination.
7. Printing . the arrangement of page plates in proper order on a press for printing a Signature.
8. the act of putting, placing, or laying on.
Well, it was the Sarvastivada (and almost certainly other schools, too) that came up with the idea. As they were the dominant schools, they may (or may not) have "imposed" it upon the broader Buddhist tradition of the time.
But, does the Mahayana "impose" it? Do they go knocking on doors demanding that people accept this idea? Maybe some zealous types do, but most do not. Another reason why they do not, is that some 2000 years ago, the other non-Mahayana schools had already influenced pretty much the whole of Buddhism to accept this doctrine, including the Theravada. So, even nowadays, the Mahayana does not have to "impose" this even on the Theravada.
"It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics."
It would be nice, and I have studied every tradition of Buddhist practice and thought to a deep degree.
Then I am surprised that you didn't see, for example, the large amount of material on such cosmology which is found in the Abhidharmakosa, another major non-Mahayana source (which again stems from the Sarvastivadins). Or that the Dharmaguptakas adhered to this notion in their Buddha biographical material.
Honestly, I don't know how to step around in those areas on this forum, and so I'm inclined to avoid posting about such things here, on the "Buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada". From what I understand, "mainland Indian Buddhism" is quite ambiguous doctrinally.
I tend to disagree that it is ambiguous. If you have a statement in a given text, and you have a basic providence and school for the text, then not too much problem. The problems come when we tend to over generalize, beyond what we have evidence for. For example, even if a given doctrine is first found in a given Mahayana text, we still cannot really say "this was created by the Mahayana", rather, "the first evidence we have for this is in a Mahayana text". Once you see the doctrines, the lines of flow through schools over time, not so ambiguous. Lots of blank spaces, but that is another matter.