Mahayana influences?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Mahayana influences?

Post by greggorious » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:27 pm

Just wandering if any of you like to read Mahayana texts or listen to talks by Mahayana teachers as well as your Theravada practice? I'm not talking about practicing two different traditions, but just having things that you like to read from time to time. I've practiced Zen for a few years so I find it impossible to leave my Zen influences behind, and I find it can also help keep me open minded. I still like reading Suzuki Roshi, Thich Nhat Hahn and also like Pema Chodron from the Tibetan tradition. Since discovering Ajahn Brahm i've wanted to practice Theravadan, plus I prefer vipassana to Zazen, it brings me a stillness that I can never seem to get from zazen.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by perkele » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:15 pm

Although I always considered Theravada to be the most "pure", "the real thing" or as close as one can get to that, from the first time I discovered Buddhism and tried to get my head around all the different varieties, all my understanding of Buddhism was theoretical in the beginning for many years, and I did not even have any confidence that anyone anywhere in the world today could be practicing "the real thing". I thought today they must be certainly all into embellished nonsense everywhere in the world. There's no way to escape that. The world is so full of nonsense, our heads are full of nonsense. No one can possibly really understand what the Buddha taught anymore. Having read all the stories from the good old times in the suttas, I was so pessimistic. :P
But the first monk who really inspired me was Matthieu Ricard, a French monk ordained in the Tibetan tradition, who has been mentioned in some thread here recently. He wrote fabulous books which are really inspiring, written from the heart but with so much intelligence and intellectual tactfulness, it's amazing. You can really feel his way of life and inner development in his writing. (If you'd want to check him out I would most recommend his book "The monk and the philosopher", great stuff). So yeah, I really like this monk. But I have given away all of his books that I had, because I wouldn't read them again. Just because I've already read them.
Pema Chödrön I also found quite nice for some time when I was (trying to) getting into meditation. But now I can't get much out of that anymore. But she was inspiring.
There was also this other Tibetan-ordained nun who gave some nice talks which I liked but whose name I forgot.
My first meditation retreat was under the tutelage of a Tibetan-inspired laywoman.
These Tibetan-ordained western monastics or Tibetan-inspired laypeople often seem to have a particularly skilled way to approach things from the emotional side, although sometimes then I find that a bit over the top, a bit too much. Don't know if I make sense. Anyhow, a lot of good stuff I've seen there.
My second meditation retreat was under the guidance of a Tibetan-ordained Italian monk. But it was Vipassana as he had learnt it from some Theravada teachers, don't know which. So that was a really nice thing and he was a really great guide in that. The monk was really inspiring and encouraging, a great teacher.
Thich Nhat Hanh is also quite nice I think from what I've read and heard, and from the people I've seen who are inspired by that. But I don't have too much experience with that.
Zen is something I don't understand.
So Buddhism is not so divided, or should not be seen that way as it is often made out, I think.
There are sincere practitioners in all traditions for sure. But on the theoretical level Theravada is the only thing that I can really make sense of. As for specifically Mahayana texts, I mostly could not make any sense of them at all. And on a practical level I have since also learnt to put things into use from the Theravada framework, and so my interest has converged to that quite exclusively after all.
But in terms of practice, Theravada is also very varied, as is Mahayana. Different people, different traditions, different approaches.
So I'm happy that I found what's right for me but still appreciate that there are other ways. And I'm glad that I found a nice meditation center close to me which is mostly Theravada but also hosts many other groups from different traditions. Although people (including me) still stick to their groups there, there's some general openness and possibility for exchange there which is nice, and I hope that will be preserved for a long time. The people who have established and manage that place have really done great work.

Okay. Sorry for so much rambling. Sometimes I don't know how to be concise. The answers to your specific questions are somewhere in that. I hope you find them. ;-)

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by Aloka » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:29 pm

Just wandering if any of you like to read Mahayana texts or listen to talks by Mahayana teachers as well as your Theravada practice
No, not at all, to be honest. I was involved with Tibetan Buddhism for many years before suddenly discovering Ajahn Chah and the Forest tradition and the Pali Canon suttas.

I've got lots to read and listen to already, so at the moment I've no inclination to look back from where I came from.


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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by daverupa » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:50 pm

In all honesty, I don't even accept some Theravada, to say nothing of Mahayana.

  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by James the Giant » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:29 pm

There's too much good stuff to read and learn from Theravadan teachers, I don't have time for other schools.
No time, no time!
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:25 am

daverupa wrote:In all honesty, I don't even accept some Theravada, to say nothing of Mahayana.

Ditto... I'm more interested in suttas than I am in schools and their respective outputs.

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)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:34 am

i like dogen and certain soto texts. they are like magic spells that change the way you view things over time e.g. genjokoan, harmony of difference and equality, song of the jewel mirror samadhi, heart sutra, platform sutra ... pageid=441
Last edited by convivium on Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it.

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by SamKR » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:44 am

daverupa wrote:In all honesty, I don't even accept some Theravada, to say nothing of Mahayana.


But I want to read what Mahayana has to say if I have time.

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by Mojo » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:38 am

I'm pretty much into the basics - The Four noble truths and The Eight Fold Path. I'm going to take a stab at Anapanasati for awhile, but ifI don't find it fruitful, I'll probably go back to Silent Illumination. I'm into the whole concept of helping others with their suffering but gotta be mindful of my own as well.
Last edited by Mojo on Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by barcsimalsi » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:06 am

One of Mahayana sutta which i find it interesting is the Ullambana Sutra. It explain more about how we can help beings for ghost realm. However it would be annoying if i was compelled to follow those rituals which can't be further verified of its benefits.

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Re: Mahayana influences?

Post by nem » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:40 am

I first encountered Bhuddhism through Thich Nhat Hanh and find his teachings very profound. I later studied teachers from Sri Lankan and Thai traditions, and they are all teaching the same thing as Thich Nhat Hanh. There is that core there, in the Pali Canon. I read Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Nikayas which are the canonical Bhudda, what it is reported that the Bhudda said, but of course it is not literal, it was recorded long after he died. So we look at the core of it, and take it for what we can learn from it. I read a ton of Thai forest tradition teachings, which are sort of, kick you into harsh reality, kick you into the body with the dhamma versus the Thich Nhat Hanh approach of loving kindness and non-dualism.

It seems, if you can grasp the difference between nama and rupa, to focus on anatta, that is the key. They are all speaking about these things. So maybe Ajahn Chah wants to speak about how you don't realize the dhamma, that people do this or that wrong, and people don't follow the vinaya. He is trying to show the practical teachings for monastics to have realization. Then Thich Nhat Hanh speaks about, the object and the observer not being two different things. These people are all speaking the dhamma, they just have different approaches to it. The dhamma is really broad, true, the dhamma encompasses all things. So, if you ask what is the difference between Mahayana and Therevada..then follow that...what is the difference between Islam and the Bhudda's dhamma. Are, for example, Christianity or Yoruba, not also explicable within the dhamma, as a concept of different aspects or possibilities within the dhamma? The Bhudda never held us to any concept except that which we know directly. I think Mahayana or Therevada or Yoruba and Christianity, are perfectly in accordance with the core of the dhamma, and explicable, they do not fall outside, but just point to partial truths. Whereas the Bhudda came here, and he gave a realistic practical path to realizations, independent of blind faith, and formulated the way to realize the entire truth directly through personal experience. The dhamma, encompasses all things.This is why, two and a half thousand years after the Bhudda died, people are still here talking about what he taught, because there are no gaps in it because, it's truth.

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