Hear, hear!Anders wrote:As a Mahayanika with a lot of love for Theravada, maybe I can offer some reasons on why I have always felt very attracted and connected to Theravada:
Coherent presentation - The Pali Canon is just a beautiful presentation of teachings with an internal consistency and coherency that is to me unparalleled. Coming from Zen to the Pali suttas was a revelation in terms of how pedagogical the historical Buddha can be.
Clearer - Mahayana is a kitchen sink religion, with a dozen exceptions to every rule and at least one good contradiction of same. In Theravada, you have a simpler set of practices and views to pick up before digging in.
A beautiful society - I am full of awe and admiration for Kammatthana monks and those of similar habits who follow the vinaya to a tee and show that it is in fact both feasible and worthwhile to do so in modern society - the standard of dana-conomics is to me far too quickly disregarded in modern society. These exist in Mahayana too, but I personally find them harder to come by (a product no doubt of my own karma).
Good western teachers - Theravada has been fortunate to have a solid transition to the west with a good selection of outstanding western teachers with profound cultivation and standards.
I personally feel my own cultivation would be lacking without my exposure to these jewels of the Theravada tradition.
My two baht: It's not so much that one should reject Mahayana in favor of Theravada. I'm fully in the Theravada camp for a number of reasons, many of which have been stated above. The Pali Canon based approaches best reflect and approximate the original teachings of the Buddha; Mahayana rejected what it calls "Hinayana" in favor of new ideas and practices that are not consistent with what the Buddha taught, as defined in the Canon. Mahayana in the west has introduced some important ideas, including a more pronounced sense of the Bodhisattva ideal, and many Mahayana practitioners are doing excellent work as engaged Buddhists, with environmental issues, end of life issues, etc. So, i give a tip of the hat to Mahayana for taking the lead on some of these engaged practices, and illustrating for the west what engaged Buddhist practice might look like.
However, Theravada scholars like Bhikkhu Bodhi are taking the Bodhisatta ideal and going a step further. Maintaining focus on the Canon Buddhavacana, adhering to Vinaya principles, and then taking that Dhamma-based renunciate sensibility and translating it as action for the benefit for others is a terrific approach, IMO. The Pali Canon's teachings are like pure spring water, unadulterated with artificial sweeteners or colorants. In our thirst for release from dukkha, why drink anything but pure spring water?