Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
LXNDR
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by LXNDR »

Maha-viyuha Sutta (Sn 4.13) wrote:
Those who, dwelling on views,
dispute, saying, 'Only this is true':
do they all incur blame,
or also earn praise there?"

"[The praise:] It's such a little thing,
not at all appeasing.
I speak of two fruits of dispute;
and seeing this, you shouldn't dispute —
seeing the state
where there's no dispute
as secure.
One who knows
doesn't get involved
in whatever are
commonplace
conventional
views.
One who is uninvolved:
when he's forming no preference
for what's seen, for what's heard,
why would he get
involved?

plwk
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by plwk »


Spiny Norman
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Spiny Norman »

Digity wrote: I really want to have an open discussion and maybe people can help me see these schools in a different light, because at the moment I just find them unnecessary.
I think the enormous diversity of approach across the Buddhist schools is a good thing. There is something for everyone! ;)
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Dan74
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

"Buddhisms" came as different cultures and times interacted with, digested and absorbed the Dhamma they received it, into their own culture. Later various masters arose and more teachings were compiled. Some of which were very useful and illuminating.

Pali Canon is one such Buddhism, which lays a claim to being an earlier Buddhism than Mahayana schools, but the evidence is not iron-clad.

If you spend some serious time studying, practicing and meeting teachers, you might find that there are more overlaps and convergences than might at first appear. Indeed, prominent teachers sometimes spend time studying with teachers from other traditions, or quote scriptures, etc. It's not a monopoly.

Kinda like with food - different diets suit different bodies. Different people prefer different cuisines. Not always the same thing and all nourish us and keep us alive.
_/|\_

Spiny Norman
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Spiny Norman »

Dan74 wrote: If you spend some serious time studying, practicing and meeting teachers, you might find that there are more overlaps and convergences than might at first appear. Indeed, prominent teachers sometimes spend time studying with teachers from other traditions, or quote scriptures, etc. It's not a monopoly.
:goodpost:
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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bodom
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by bodom »

HISTORICALLY THERE HAVE BEEN DIFFERENCES of opinion about the relative merits of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and, if you read much of the literature, they would seem to be quite divergent in their approaches toward Buddhist practice - yet there also seem to be some tremendous affinities. When I arrived at the International Forest Monastery in Thailand, in 1978, I had never read any Buddhist books and I wasn't actually in search of becoming a Buddhist monk. I was a wanderer, a freelance spiritual seeker, and I just happened to turn up at this forest monastery that Ajahn Sumedho had established a couple of years before, basically as a place for a free meal and a roof over my head for a few nights. Little did I expect, some twelve or thirteen years later, that I would be doing what I am doing now. But when I went there and asked the monks about Buddhism, to explain things a little bit for me so that I could get a feel for what their life was about, the first thing one of them did was to give me a copy of a book of talks by a Zen Master, and he said, "Don't bother trying to read the Theravada literature; it's terribly boring, very dry. Read this, it is pretty much the same thing that we're doing, and it will give you a sense of what our practice is about." And I thought, "Well, obviously these guys are not too hung up on their tradition." The book was 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.' So, one could see right from the beginning that, even though there is a strength to the particular form within any Buddhist country, one is not necessarily constricted or limited by that. I was there for months before I even heard of 'Theravada' and 'Mahayana', let alone the differences of opinion between them. It seemed that when you actually lived the life, there really wasn't any great disparity, but if you thought about it a lot, and if you were the kind of person who wrote histories and books and had got into the political side of religious life, then that was where the divergences occurred. I have heard Ajahn Sumedho recount a few times over the years that, for the first year of his monastic life, he had been practising using the instructions from a Ch'an meditation retreat given by the Ven. Master Hsű Yűn, and that he had used the Dharma talks from that retreat given in China as his basic meditation instruction. When he went to Wat Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah asked him what kind of meditation he had been doing; at first he thought, "Oh no, he's going to get me to give this up and do his method." But, when Ajahn Sumedho described what he had been doing and mentioned that it had had excellent results, Ajahn Chah said, "Oh, very good, just carry on doing that." So, one sees that there is a very strong unity of purpose; even though there might be historical differences between the two traditions, they are very much in accordance with each other. And one begins to see what the different Buddhist traditions are talking about. They get sectioned out into Hinayana or Mahayana or Vajrayana, as different types of Buddhist practice, but they are basically just different labels which are talking about attitudes of mind and, when the traditions are used wisely, then they will address all aspects of our mind, from the most selfish and mundane to the most exalted. They address all the different levels of our life, and it's only when they are not understood, when people take them as fixed positions, that there is any conflict amongst them.
From a talk by Ajahn Amaro entitled The Lesser, The Greater, The Diamond and The Way

http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha082.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

Digity
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Digity »

The first time I learned about Buddhism was when I read "Buddhism: Plain and Simple" by Steve Hagen and he's a Zen teacher. I was obsessed with the book and it's what got me started on the path. After that, I started looking into Zen Buddhism, but I wasn't happy with it. Something just didn't feel right to me about it. I didn't like the use of koans and the notion of sudden enlightenment bothered me. Also, practices such as staying up meditating and being hit by sticks seemed a bit off to me. It seemed like the meditation practice was being ego driven to see how much you could sit and for how long. I then read "The Three Pillars of Zen" and I didn't even finish it. Once they got into stories about students getting enlightened and teachers confirming it, etc. I just thought it was odd. How can you trust this teacher to verify your awakening and why would you need a teacher? Shouldn't you know when you're awakened. I just felt like there was a lot of potential for delusion there. I could see students/teachers deluding themselves into thinking they were awakened.

After this, I would just read random Buddhist books for a long time. Over the years I wanted to get more serious with my practice and started visiting temples in my city. The majority of them are Mahayana and I slowly started learning about it. Eventually I was put off by Mahayana too, especially when one of the teachers said awakening was no longer possible and I had to pray to be born into Pure Land, etc, etc. After I heard that I was done with Mahayana. I didn't buy it and I felt they'd turned Buddhism into something like Christianity where you pray to go to heaven.

I've always felt that those following the Thai Forest Tradition follow the closest representation of the Buddha's original teachings. Also, I've gotten the most clarity from just reading what the Buddha said in the suttas. Looking back, I felt that the Zen and Mahayana didn't give the full picture. They added all this other stuff or place too much emphasis in one area (i.e. Zen and meditation) that it wasn't as helpful for me. It makes me wonder if others following those traditions are being lead astray.

My opinion is just read the suttas. Look at what the Buddha said in them. Follow that and be done with it.

manas
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by manas »

Hi Digity,

I used to think as you do, truly and I mean no condescension. But I overcame it in this way. What helps one person to live a more peaceful, compassionate and wise life, might not be what helps another person to live as more peaceful, compassionate and wise life, simply due to differences in culture, society, personality type, etc. There are so many variables. So while the Pali Canon might *work* for you and I, it might not be suitable for everyone. For some personality types, a more devotional approach as in Pureland, might help them lead a better life as I outlined above. For some, the Zen approach might help. For some folks, following Jesus might help. For some, moderate Islam might help. Really none of us who are not fully enlightened can really claim to know for sure what the Truth is. But human beings can generally agree on some of the fundamentals of living 'a good human life': to live wisely, showing kindness and compassion to others, to be generous, harmless, etc etc. Even religions other than Buddhism can help folks with this, what to speak of sects of Buddhism that don't fully agree with our own. In fact, one can live 'a good human life' even without any kind of religion at all. 'Horses for courses'...

manas :anjali:
“It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what’s called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another." - SN 12:61 (excerpt)

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Kim OHara
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Kim OHara »

manas wrote:Hi Digity,

I used to think as you do, truly and I mean no condescension. But I overcame it in this way. What helps one person to live a more peaceful, compassionate and wise life, might not be what helps another person to live as more peaceful, compassionate and wise life, simply due to differences in culture, society, personality type, etc. There are so many variables. So while the Pali Canon might *work* for you and I, it might not be suitable for everyone. For some personality types, a more devotional approach as in Pureland, might help them lead a better life as I outlined above. For some, the Zen approach might help. For some folks, following Jesus might help. For some, moderate Islam might help. Really none of us who are not fully enlightened can really claim to know for sure what the Truth is. But human beings can generally agree on some of the fundamentals of living 'a good human life': to live wisely, showing kindness and compassion to others, to be generous, harmless, etc etc. Even religions other than Buddhism can help folks with this, what to speak of sects of Buddhism that don't fully agree with our own. In fact, one can live 'a good human life' even without any kind of religion at all. 'Horses for courses'...

manas :anjali:
:goodpost:
... but can I just note that you're advocating paths which will help us live "a good human life", rather than aiming for nibbana (or heaven :tongue: ). I think that's fine but others may wish to aim higher.

:meditate:
Kim

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christopher:::
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by christopher::: »

The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Kusala
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Kusala »

Digity wrote:I hate to say it, but I'm not comfortable with other schools of Buddhism. I feel like people should study the Pali Canon and what the Buddha taught and leave it at that. All these other schools that came later, to me, seem to be muddying the water. The Buddha laid it all out there. There was no need to create more schools, etc. Why have Zen, Mahayana, etc? I'm not trying to be controversial or start a fight here. I really want to have an open discussion and maybe people can help me see these schools in a different light, because at the moment I just find them unnecessary.

From my own experience, most of my understanding and knowledge of Buddhism came from just reading the suttas. When you have other schools like Zen and they have all these methods, etc. I wonder why do this stuff? Why not just do what the Buddha said? I have more faith in the Buddha's words than in someone else who came later and formed a new school based on the Buddha.
We're all blind to a certain degree. Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant?

Image
"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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cooran
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by cooran »

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

Tittha Sutta
The Blind men and the Elephant

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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tiltbillings
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings »

Digity wrote: I then read "The Three Pillars of Zen" and I didn't even finish it. Once they got into stories about students getting enlightened and teachers confirming it, etc. I just thought it was odd. How can you trust this teacher to verify your awakening and why would you need a teacher? Shouldn't you know when you're awakened. I just felt like there was a lot of potential for delusion there. I could see students/teachers deluding themselves into thinking they were awakened.
Not that Zen teacher always get it right, but I find your underlined statements here seemingly contradictory.

Just because you are reading the suttas, does not mean that you are safe from fooling yourself into thinking that whatever it is that you may have experienced is far more than it is.
>> 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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seeker242
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by seeker242 »

Digity wrote:I hate to say it, but I'm not comfortable with other schools of Buddhism.
Dhammapada 50: "Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone."

If you are just doing what the Buddha said, then wouldn't one be doing the above too? The Dhammapada is authentic Pali Canon. I don't think just studying it is enough.

:namaste:

Samma
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Re: Issue with other schools of Buddhism

Post by Samma »

Really its best to ask other people about their beliefs. And the answers will vary.

To be blunt, sure we can say things like we study what seems to be the earliest most authentic teachings. How illegitimately can others say that...so they will come up with other reasons. It seems to me religion is primarily about community to most. So they pick what their family does, or a center nearby, or to be around the people they like. But you will run into people that say oh koan practice is the best way to enlightenment, or chanting the lotus sutra, or whatever...So question them if you like and perhaps you both learn something.

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