The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Paññāsikhara
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Paññāsikhara » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:05 am

Brizzy wrote:
Obscure? Well yes. They do not appear in the nikayas - the most complete source of the buddhas teachings. You have provided chinese references, which is not my forte. You refer to them as sutras, again this will immediately set my spider senses tingling. As for "ten or more" this is an off the cuff remark ( I could have said 20 or 30 ) my point was the Buddhas teachings are generally reiterated again & again & again & again...............................
Moreover, to only accept those doctrinal elements which "appear again & again & again", rather than find those portions which are essentially the teachings of the "real, historical Buddha", it may be quite the opposite:

In the process of transforming those teachings into a canon to be recited, the appearance of stereotyped pericopes (standard, repeated passages) became more and more important. Moreover, it is just these very pericopes which are the most inconsistent across textual traditions. This is because, due to their stereotypical and oft-repeated nature, they could easily pop in here and there, without anybody noticing their otherwise incorrect protrusion. The texts are well known for the fact that as their compilation progressed, the addition of stylized elements, which appear "again and again" became more prevalent.

This is just one reason why texts and passages are not "counted", but are "weighed". It is not always such a sound criteria.

One criteria that actual experts in textual analysis do use, however, is "lectio difficile preferenda", "the difficult reading is to be preferred". This is because whereas during the process of oral and written transmission, it is very easy for passages to gradually tend towards the most common, the fact that an otherwise uncommon or unusual passage is retained is usually considered greater testament to its authenticity.
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Brizzy

Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Brizzy » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:41 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Brizzy wrote:
Obscure? Well yes. They do not appear in the nikayas - the most complete source of the buddhas teachings. You have provided chinese references, which is not my forte. You refer to them as sutras, again this will immediately set my spider senses tingling. As for "ten or more" this is an off the cuff remark ( I could have said 20 or 30 ) my point was the Buddhas teachings are generally reiterated again & again & again & again...............................
Moreover, to only accept those doctrinal elements which "appear again & again & again", rather than find those portions which are essentially the teachings of the "real, historical Buddha", it may be quite the opposite:

In the process of transforming those teachings into a canon to be recited, the appearance of stereotyped pericopes (standard, repeated passages) became more and more important. Moreover, it is just these very pericopes which are the most inconsistent across textual traditions. This is because, due to their stereotypical and oft-repeated nature, they could easily pop in here and there, without anybody noticing their otherwise incorrect protrusion. The texts are well known for the fact that as their compilation progressed, the addition of stylized elements, which appear "again and again" became more prevalent.

This is just one reason why texts and passages are not "counted", but are "weighed". It is not always such a sound criteria.

One criteria that actual experts in textual analysis do use, however, is "lectio difficile preferenda", "the difficult reading is to be preferred". This is because whereas during the process of oral and written transmission, it is very easy for passages to gradually tend towards the most common, the fact that an otherwise uncommon or unusual passage is retained is usually considered greater testament to its authenticity.
If the Buddha said "his Dhamma leads to peace" only once in the whole of the suttas, I would take this as his word. Why? because it has the same "taste" to me as the rest of his teachings, which he proclaimed again & again...............
It is through my own personal experiences and understanding that I perceive that "taste", how could it be otherwise? If you have a different understanding/experience/perception that is your understanding of the "taste" of the suttas. People seem reluctant to actually question what is Dhamma and what it is not, I feel that this is a shame and inhibits discussion and understanding. It is entirely up to each individual to discover their own take on the Dhamma, but I always feel sad that the Nikayas seem more of a nuisance to some peoples take on Buddhadhamma and they would much rather prefer them not to take precedence.

:smile:

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by dhamma follower » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:39 am

Dexing wrote:
dhamma follower wrote:
As long as one is satisfied with the cessation of suffering associated with attachment to a personal self, Nirvana, as in the Arhat, then Bodhicitta cannot be developed as one rests in Nirvana
This is obviously not true. Nirvana is not the personal self of anyone. Also one can not rest in Nirvana, because there's no one there. And how there can be attachment to Nirvana, since it's the ending of ignorance and attachment ? attachment to it as a concept, may be, but not as an experience of ultimate reality.
Who said Nirvana is a personal self? I mean the "cessation of suffering associated with attachment to a personal self" is an Arhat's Nirvana.

I also didn't say attachment to Nirvana, but simply seeing no necessity for continuing. An Arhat has completed the task... of an Arhat. That is what I mean by resting in Nirvana- meaning not continuing on the Bodhisattva path. Talk about "one cannot rest in Nirvana, because there's no one there" is redundant and unnecessary. Don't correct me for using "I" in this reply.
Do you mean there's a higher reality than Nirvana ? Or two different kinds of Nirvana ?
Then Nirvana (whether arahant's or boddhisatva's ) would not be the ultimate reality.
Nirvana is simply the cessation of suffering associated with attachment to a personal self. From a Mahayana perspective it is not seeing the true face of reality. It is not anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

:namaste:
Dear Dexing,

Ok, some language misunderstandings !

However, you have not yet shown the relationship between this "higher" wisdom and bodhicitta. How does it happen exactly ?

And also, how this higher wisdom come about ? From intellectual analysis ? From insight ? How ? Is Nirvana a prequisite for this to happen ? If one has not attained Nirvana before having this insight, how can one know for sure that this is higher reality than Nirvana ?

D.F

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by beeblebrox » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:14 pm

Dexing wrote:That being Theravada holds the 3 marks of existence of impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. While Mahayana holds that such things marked as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self by schools such as Theravada are not even real from the start.
You don't think that this kind of statement is redundant? :tongue:

Why should someone worry about whether a phenomena is actually an illusion or not (based on what you said in here)... when this phenomena already can be observed to be something that is always changing; never perfectly established; and not in the least, lacking any kind of identity (real or otherwise)?

That would be the correct Theravadin's viewpoint... and I think probably ought to be Mahayanist's also. (If his own teachings were understood, I suspect.)

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:38 pm

beeblebrox wrote:You don't think that this kind of statement is redundant? :tongue:

Why should someone worry about whether a phenomena is actually an illusion or not (based on what you said in here)... when this phenomena already can be observed to be something that is always changing; never perfectly established; and not in the least, lacking any kind of identity (real or otherwise)?
I agree.

In a world where reality is (considered to be) an illusion, then illusion is reality. Either way you have a reality.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:42 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Dexing wrote:That being Theravada holds the 3 marks of existence of impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. While Mahayana holds that such things marked as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self by schools such as Theravada are not even real from the start.
You don't think that this kind of statement is redundant? :tongue:

Why should someone worry about whether a phenomena is actually an illusion or not (based on what you said in here)... when this phenomena already can be observed to be something that is always changing; never perfectly established; and not in the least, lacking any kind of identity (real or otherwise)?

That would be the correct Theravadin's viewpoint... and I think probably ought to be Mahayanist's also. (If his own teachings were understood, I suspect.)
Our Mahayana evangelist uses word the words real and exists and illusion as clubs against the Theravada without defining them, which rhetorical trick; that way he he can keep shifting the meaning as Theravadin respond to him. He needs to defines these terms very carefully, which has yet to do.
>> 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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Dexing » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:58 am

I don't have as much time on here as some of you do throughout the week. But I will reply quickly to this question, which should answer most previous questions.
beeblebrox wrote:
Dexing wrote:That being Theravada holds the 3 marks of existence of impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. While Mahayana holds that such things marked as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self by schools such as Theravada are not even real from the start.
You don't think that this kind of statement is redundant? :tongue:

Why should someone worry about whether a phenomena is actually an illusion or not (based on what you said in here)... when this phenomena already can be observed to be something that is always changing; never perfectly established; and not in the least, lacking any kind of identity (real or otherwise)?

That would be the correct Theravadin's viewpoint... and I think probably ought to be Mahayanist's also. (If his own teachings were understood, I suspect.)
When the Five Aggregates for example are observed by their three marks, as in Theravada doctrine, this type of practice will lead to disenchantment and detachment, which will in turn lead to liberation from suffering. That is the goal of the practice- to end suffering, attain Nibbana, Arahantship. (That's of course super simplified, but you get my point.)

However, as long as one does not break through the illusion of the Five Aggregates altogether, one cannot see the true face of reality. One is still under the impression that there are such aggregates albeit impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. Although one no longer identifies with the Five Aggregates one cannot perceive their true nature while the Aggregates are taken for granted.

So the point of breaking through the illusion of the Five Aggregates and all phenomenal existence becomes extremely pivotal in the practice of the Bodhisattva path as taught in Mahayana traditions. It is the point of every Mahayana Sutra. It is the wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas which allows them to continually enter Samsara to save all beings. Only one who has seen reality can do that effectively.

So you see how Bodhicitta, the Bodhisattva path, and the attainment of Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, full Buddhahood is directly related to seeing through the illusion of phenomenal existence, to unveil reality, the true nature, in order to most effectively fulfill the vows of a Bodhisattva to liberate all sentient beings.

:namaste:

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Dexing » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:05 am

tiltbillings wrote:Our Mahayana evangelist uses word the words real and exists and illusion as clubs against the Theravada without defining them, which rhetorical trick; that way he he can keep shifting the meaning as Theravadin respond to him. He needs to defines these terms very carefully, which has yet to do.
I'm only discussing the Mahayana Bodhisattva position for what it is. Taking it offensively against Theravada is your personal decision. Remember you started that when you put the word Hinayana in my mouth and began yelling at me for how nasty of a word it is, when I never even used it.

But regardless, my use of the terms are literal. Real and exists mean just what they say. Illusion means unreal and non-existent, although seeming so.

:namaste:

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:14 am

Dexing wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Our Mahayana evangelist uses word the words real and exists and illusion as clubs against the Theravada without defining them, which rhetorical trick; that way he he can keep shifting the meaning as Theravadin respond to him. He needs to defines these terms very carefully, which has yet to do.
I'm only discussing the Mahayana Bodhisattva position for what it is. Taking it offensively against Theravada is your personal decision. Remember you started that when you put the word Hinayana in my mouth and began yelling at me for how nasty of a word it is, when I never even used it.
You are the one continually referring to the Theravada as "Small Vehicle" which is nothing more than a Chinese euphemism for hinayana. Does not matter what kimono you put on it, its lineage is clear. Your claim is a bit disingenuous.
But regardless, my use of the terms are literal. Real and exists mean just what they say. Illusion means unreal and non-existent, although seeming so.
Not at all clear what you mean here.

And here, Dexing, is another one you have avoided:
tiltbillings wrote:
Dexing wrote:Now my point here is that the Bodhisattva path is not found within Theravada because it teaches a completely different view of phenomenal existence altogether- that of; "Three Realms Only Mind".

Perhaps if agreeable we can move forward from there.
And what about the Mahayanists who do not agree with your interpretation, such as, oh, say someone such as the Dalai Lama? By your argument, the bodhisattva path is not found in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, or any of the Indian lineage of Madhyamikas, it would seem.
>> 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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Shonin » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:00 am

I don't think I've come across a Mahayana who took the common beginner's misunderstanding of Sunyata as literal nothingness and ran with it for so far, with so much apparent articulateness and in spite of so much counter-argument.

Apart from anything else, it's a self-defeating argument. If we say 'everything is an illusion' then presumably that 'truth' is itself an illusion and all your ideas about the non-existence of everything, even any experiences that you believe verifies this - thus 'everything is an illusion/non-existent' is false.

And if that truth isn't isn't an illusion then it is already an exception to it's own rule, and again, therefore false.

So, you may want to say, everything is an illusion/nonexistent except that everything is an illusion/nonexistent, which is reality. That is positing an essence, self or fixed nature (of nothingness) to reality which contradicts both Sunyata and Anatta.

There is nothing that could ever verify such beliefs. It is ontological/metaphysical speculation that goes nowhere.

Rather than thinking about some imagined reality behind phenomena it is more relevant surely to investigate the actual nature of phenomena as they appear to us.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:33 am

Shonin wrote:I don't think I've come across a Mahayana who took the common beginner's misunderstanding of Sunyata as literal nothingness and ran with it for so far, with so much apparent articulateness and in spite of so much counter-argument. . . .
It is so unclear what he means by "illision" and "exists" that is difficult to respond. What it is looking like, if we are to take dexing literally is that we have, not any standard school of Buddhism, rather, we are getting something that looks like Hinduism
>> 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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:53 am

Scholars must take extreme care never to transfer the conceptions of one “lineage” to another “lineage”, and never to explain Mādhyamika terms by anything else except Mādhyamika definitions, Yogācāra terms by anything else except Yogācāra definitions, and so for the Sarvāstivādins, Theravādins, Mahīśāsakas and all other sects. (Conze 1975: 204)

Conze, E. (1975). Further Buddhist studies : selected essays. Oxford [Eng.]; London: B. Cassirer ; Distributed by Luzac.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:55 am

Hear Hear !!!
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:56 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Scholars must take extreme care never to transfer the conceptions of one “lineage” to another “lineage”, and never to explain Mādhyamika terms by anything else except Mādhyamika definitions, Yogācāra terms by anything else except Yogācāra definitions, and so for the Sarvāstivādins, Theravādins, Mahīśāsakas and all other sects. (Conze 1975: 204)

Conze, E. (1975). Further Buddhist studies : selected essays. Oxford [Eng.]; London: B. Cassirer ; Distributed by Luzac.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Post by Dexing » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:You are the one continually referring to the Theravada as "Small Vehicle" which is nothing more than a Chinese euphemism for hinayana.
I have explained what Small vs Large Vehicle refers to from this tradition. Small because it only deals with the non-existence of personal selfhood within the Five Aggregates. Large because it also deals with the non-existence of the Five Aggregates and phenomena themselves. And looking into Theravada doctrine I find that it is fitting.

So far, neither you nor anyone else, has been able to provide Sutta reference to prove this wrong.
But regardless, my use of the terms are literal. Real and exists mean just what they say. Illusion means unreal and non-existent, although seeming so.
Not at all clear what you mean here.
Try dictionary.com then. No hidden meaning.
And here, Dexing, is another one you have avoided:
tiltbillings wrote:
Dexing wrote:Now my point here is that the Bodhisattva path is not found within Theravada because it teaches a completely different view of phenomenal existence altogether- that of; "Three Realms Only Mind".

Perhaps if agreeable we can move forward from there.
And what about the Mahayanists who do not agree with your interpretation, such as, oh, say someone such as the Dalai Lama? By your argument, the bodhisattva path is not found in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, or any of the Indian lineage of Madhyamikas, it would seem.
I haven't avoid this. My last post addresses it as well. I'm not afraid to share my understanding here, because what I have said is found explicitly across many many Mahayana Sutras. I have already provided references. It is just not accepted in Western culture yet.

:namaste:

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