Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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retrofuturist
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu May 07, 2009 3:59 am

Greetings,

FYI... a related thread at Dharma Wheel.

How has Theravada benefited your practice?
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=130" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Mexicali » Thu May 07, 2009 4:53 am

Really?
Yes.
Where?
Many and various places.
Are you a Western Zen practitioner?
Was.
I'm not
Your skeptical tone seems ill-advised to me, then.
I lived around the corner from the San Francisco Zen Center for many years, sat there regularly, attended ceremonies, and socialized extensively with the sangha.
That's cool.
A drier, more serious bunch of practitioners would be very difficult to find anywhere.
Which logically means it's like that everywhere else, of course.
I'd be very interested in hearing from you examples of where this crazy wisdom is manifesting, and what your definition of "crazy wisdom" is in the context of this Western Zen "crazy wisdom clearinghouse" that you apparently have personal experience of.
Not that I have anything to prove to you, but one of the things that turned me off to Zen was that groups I sat with, in several American cities, Scotland, and Norway it was incredibly common for people to develop an obnoxious "zen" persona that was all about speaking cryptically, justifying the unjustifiable as the actions of awakened beings, using the example of people like Ikkyu rather than any kind of actual Buddhist teaching as a template for their practice, etc. Sorry that doesn't accord with your own experience, but I hope I met the standards of evidence you required.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:41 am

Fede wrote:I first encountered Buddhism via the Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism route.
Much of the preliminary literature I read, was presented from a Mahayana Tibetan/Zen perspective.
had it not been for these, my travels would not have been so fruitful.
It took me a long time for me to decide where to pitch my tent and hoist my pennant.
In the end, after much deliberation and confusion (as many here will attest to) I swerved towards Theravada.
Why? Simply because there were some notions and ideologies in Mahayana I could not easily digest or accept.
This is not to say I considered them wrong, or bad, or even inaccurate.
It is merely to say that they did not sit well with me specifically.
Me too, very similar. FWBO initially ( 30 years ago - :rolleye: ) then NKT, then Rigpa, then Tich Naht Han, Therevadin in recent years. All very useful experience, particularly in terms of comparing similarities and differences and getting the big picture, like looking at something from a number of different directions. Actually I wouldn't describe myself as a Therevadin Buddhist, just as a Buddhist who is currently practising in the Therevadin tradition. But to answer the question, yes, a Mahayana perspective is very useful for Therevadins, almost "required reading" in my opinion.

Rick

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by jcsuperstar » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:07 pm

Mexicali wrote:
Not that I have anything to prove to you, but one of the things that turned me off to Zen was that groups I sat with, in several American cities, Scotland, and Norway it was incredibly common for people to develop an obnoxious "zen" persona that was all about speaking cryptically, justifying the unjustifiable as the actions of awakened beings, using the example of people like Ikkyu rather than any kind of actual Buddhist teaching as a template for their practice, etc. Sorry that doesn't accord with your own experience, but I hope I met the standards of evidence you required.
i never saw this in real life only on the internets
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:06 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
Mexicali wrote:
Not that I have anything to prove to you, but one of the things that turned me off to Zen was that groups I sat with, in several American cities, Scotland, and Norway it was incredibly common for people to develop an obnoxious "zen" persona that was all about speaking cryptically, justifying the unjustifiable as the actions of awakened beings, using the example of people like Ikkyu rather than any kind of actual Buddhist teaching as a template for their practice, etc. Sorry that doesn't accord with your own experience, but I hope I met the standards of evidence you required.
i never saw this in real life only on the internets
And it really is annoying.
>> 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: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:27 pm

Rick O'Shez wrote: But to answer the question, yes, a Mahayana perspective is very useful for Therevadins, almost "required reading" in my opinion.
I just wanted to add that IMO the reverse is also true, in other words Mahayanist Buddhists would benefit greatly from an understanding of the Therevadin approach. In my experience over the years some Mahayanists are very vague about the "basic" teachings, eg the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eight Fold Path.

Rick

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:39 am

floating_abu wrote:Being an Arahant is no big deal, but do heed Luang Por Chah's advice on the matter. :) Best wishes in all.
I dont see how anyone could rightly judge that who was not an Arahant, unless you are saying......?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:38 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
floating_abu wrote:Being an Arahant is no big deal, but do heed Luang Por Chah's advice on the matter. :) Best wishes in all.
I dont see how anyone could rightly judge that who was not an Arahant, unless you are saying......?
I think FA is referring to one of Ajahn Chah's many iconoclastic statements from "No Ajahn Chah":
"Do not be a bodhisattva, do not be an arahant, do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisattva, you will suffer, if you are an arahant, you will suffer, if you are anything at all, you will suffer."
Which, in my view, is not really a statement about arahants in particular. It is saying that trying to be anything will cause suffering...

Metta
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:37 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:
floating_abu wrote:Being an Arahant is no big deal, but do heed Luang Por Chah's advice on the matter. :) Best wishes in all.
I dont see how anyone could rightly judge that who was not an Arahant, unless you are saying......?
I think FA is referring to one of Ajahn Chah's many iconoclastic statements from "No Ajahn Chah":
"Do not be a bodhisattva, do not be an arahant, do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisattva, you will suffer, if you are an arahant, you will suffer, if you are anything at all, you will suffer."
Which, in my view, is not really a statement about arahants in particular. It is saying that trying to be anything will cause suffering...

Metta
Mike
Which is , may I suggest, an example of the Internet curse of selective quoting, and still does not address the " no big deal " issue. Its ok for Ajahn Chah to take a view from his position. I think the rest of us need to be cautious.
:smile:
:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:15 am

To answer the question of the thread starter: For myself, being "locked" into Theravada by living in Thailand, the Mahayana perspective has certainly been useful. I can say it has enhanced my understanding. My favourites are the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra and the Platform Sutra. I also found several books quite helpful, such as the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:37 am

Many things may be useful, anything can be useful if approached correctly. However the Way Of The Elders is complete in itself. As a very experienced Forest Tradition monk once said to me after reading Sogyal Rinpoche's BOTD. " Its very good, but as far as I am concerned all of the mahayana is gilding the lily. "

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:57 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Many things may be useful, anything can be useful if approached correctly. However the Way Of The Elders is complete in itself. As a very experienced Forest Tradition monk once said to me after reading Sogyal Rinpoche's BOTD. " Its very good, but as far as I am concerned all of the mahayana is gilding the lily. "

:anjali:
Well, he may have been an excellent Forest Monk, but he had precious little understanding of Mahayana, I think.

Mahayana is not an unnecessary growth on the Pali Canon, it is a system in itself, with its methods, tenets, iconography, literature, etc. This system has a great deal in common with Theravada at its core (it is Buddhism!) but in other respects it can be very different (depending on the school). That's why 'gilding the lilly' does not fit. You can criticise it in other ways of course.

_/|\_
_/|\_

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:09 am

The forest monk in question is one of the most famous and known to be an excellent forest monk. I will not name him because the conversation was private and off the record. Western forest monks and increasingly Asian ones too are almost always aquainted with whole gamut of Buddhist views before committing to the Theravada Sangha. They do not make that commitment because they prefer the colour of the robes. Many of them, and this can be easily verified, like the one I have quoted make that choice precisely because of the absence of concepts like " Buddha Nature" and the " Bodhisattva vow ". I dont think that is a controversial statement, particularly in the context of a Theravada website.
:smile:

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:16 am

To some degree there are things within the Mahayana that are of interest and value to Theravadins, but being a complete and full path to the same awakening acheived by the Buddha, there is nothing that the Theravada needs from the Mahayana.
>> 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: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Post by Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:31 am

tiltbillings wrote:To some degree there are things within the Mahayana that are of interest and value to Theravadins, but being a complete and full path to the same awakening acheived by the Buddha, there is nothing that the Theravada needs from the Mahayana.
Very well put. For anyone not aquanted with the expression " gilding the lily " it means taking something already perfect and then elaborating on it so that its perfection is obscured. Like taking a beautiful white lily and spraying it with gold paint.

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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