Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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dhammafriend
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Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Tue May 31, 2016 5:22 pm

I'd like to use this post to share some academic information about tradition of dhammakaya meditation that I've found online over a few months. It turns out that it goes all the way back to re-reform era Buddhism in Thailand. Reading all the crazy posts about Wat Phra Dhammakaya, I needed to find out for myself (ehi passiko) how they justify their practices and what their theoretical foundations are. Why am I doing this? My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links.

As far as I can tell, Vijja Dhammakai tradition have 3 main centres of practice: (they split over disagreements on lineage etc but are still cordial)

Wat Phra Dhammakaya http://en.dhammakaya.net/
Wat Paknam http://www.meditation101.org/
Wat Luang Phor Sodh Dhammakayaram http://dhammacenter.org/

Wat Paknam & Wat Luang Phor Sodh Dhammakayaram have loads of fantastic English resources, better in fact, than Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Check out the ebooks and mp3 sections.

To get the basics on their cosmology, check out this document:
http://www.meditation101.org/attachment ... h_id=68341

This is an academic paper collating all the esoteric mediation knowledge. This is particularly fascinating stuff:)
http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstrea ... Thesis.pdf

Also check out this blog. Gives a nice honest perspective of someone who was actually there for a few years.
http://www.joshuajayintoh.com/controver ... ences.html

An interesting lecture:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUVL2lF3Q2Q

As for the recent controversies, check this out:
http://www.dhammakayauncovered.com/
This is from Wat Phra Dhammakaya's point of view though.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

dhammarelax
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammarelax » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:52 am

dhammafriend wrote:I'd like to use this post to share some academic information about tradition of dhammakaya meditation that I've found online over a few months. It turns out that it goes all the way back to re-reform era Buddhism in Thailand. Reading all the crazy posts about Wat Phra Dhammakaya, I needed to find out for myself (ehi passiko) how they justify their practices and what their theoretical foundations are. Why am I doing this? My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links.

As far as I can tell, Vijja Dhammakai tradition have 3 main centres of practice: (they split over disagreements on lineage etc but are still cordial)

Wat Phra Dhammakaya http://en.dhammakaya.net/
Wat Paknam http://www.meditation101.org/
Wat Luang Phor Sodh Dhammakayaram http://dhammacenter.org/

Wat Paknam & Wat Luang Phor Sodh Dhammakayaram have loads of fantastic English resources, better in fact, than Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Check out the ebooks and mp3 sections.

To get the basics on their cosmology, check out this document:
http://www.meditation101.org/attachment ... h_id=68341

This is an academic paper collating all the esoteric mediation knowledge. This is particularly fascinating stuff:)
http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstrea ... Thesis.pdf

Also check out this blog. Gives a nice honest perspective of someone who was actually there for a few years.
http://www.joshuajayintoh.com/controver ... ences.html

An interesting lecture:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUVL2lF3Q2Q

As for the recent controversies, check this out:
http://www.dhammakayauncovered.com/
This is from Wat Phra Dhammakaya's point of view though.
Is there any document matching the Suttas with this practices?
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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dhammafriend
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:55 am

Is there any document matching the Suttas with this practices?
Hi Dhammarelax

Check out this list of scriptural references that mention dhamma-kaya in Canon & commentaries:

http://dhammacenter.org/meditation/dham ... editation/

As with all Theravada schools in SEA, they take the Satipatthana Sutta, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta etc as foundational. However, they have an esoteric interpretation of certain phrases in these texts. Explore their wiki articles as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammakaya_meditation
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

TRobinson465
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by TRobinson465 » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:49 am

dhammafriend wrote:I'd like to use this post to share some academic information about tradition of dhammakaya meditation that I've found online over a few months. It turns out that it goes all the way back to re-reform era Buddhism in Thailand. Reading all the crazy posts about Wat Phra Dhammakaya, I needed to find out for myself (ehi passiko) how they justify their practices and what their theoretical foundations are. Why am I doing this? My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links.

As far as I can tell, Vijja Dhammakai tradition have 3 main centres of practice: (they split over disagreements on lineage etc but are still cordial)

Wat Phra Dhammakaya http://en.dhammakaya.net/
Wat Paknam http://www.meditation101.org/
Wat Luang Phor Sodh Dhammakayaram http://dhammacenter.org/

Hello Dhammafriend, I forgot to do this yesterday so I am popping in again to thank you for this. Thanks for posting this and collecting all these sources! :anjali:

This is a fantastic collection for those interested in learning about the Dhammakaya Tradition.

I would also like to add a few things if you dont mind. about the different centers.

Wat Paknam is where the tradition was founded, after the founder of the Dhammkaya tradition, our great master Luang Pu Sodh of Wat Paknam passed away his chosen successor Khun Yay Chand continued his work at Wat Paknam. eventually it became so popular the temple was too small to accomodate all the interested people. Because of this, the founder's successor and her best student, now Ven. Dhammajayo, seeked to establish a new larger temple to accomodate the growing following. This became Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

according to a scholarly article i was reading Wat LP Sodh Dhammakayaram was established as another large temple by monks at Wat Paknam as a counterpart to WPD in order to preserve the Dhammakaya Tradition in case something were to happen to WPD. In fact most of the controversies surrounding dhammakaya are WPD specific, rather than to the tradition itself so this was a good idea.

from what ive been told Wat LP Sodh Dhammakayaram was established by a student of Khun Yay, he didnt really agree with some of her methods so he decided to be one of the people who remained at wat paknam rather than move to the larger Wat Phra Dhammakaya. He was still an accomplished and respected meditation teacher so he founded Wat LP Sodh Dhammakayaram.

Mano Laohavanich/Mettanando Bhikkhu accuses WPD of thinking Wat LP Sodh Dhammakayaram is evil. He also made this up lol. we have the same master and follow the same tradition but thier abbot simply didnt agree with some of WPD's methods under Khun Yay and Luang Por Dhammajayo is all, nobody at WPD thinks they are evil. If any1 here is interested in learning about Dhammakaya but doesnt like Wat Phra Dhammakaya, you are free to visit Wat Paknam or Wat LP Sodh Dhammakayaram, they still follow the same tradition and they dont have the same criticisms as WPD. The Dhammakaya tradition wasnt really controversial back in the wat paknam years i believe so i think a lot of it is WPD specific.

This is a few of the things heard/read about so i just wanted to add this. Thank you again for this thread!! :anjali:
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

paultraf
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by paultraf » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:40 am

Hello dhammafriend,
dhammafriend wrote:My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links. ...
On the theme of Buddhist lives, I would like to add a link to Thursday's Lotus: the Life and Work of Fuengsin Trafford, a biography my mother, who practised Dhammakaya meditation for about 35 years, until her passing in 1995. She received her training mainly at Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen.
http://fuengsin.org/lotus/
(I self-published the book through CreateSpace, then Kindle, and just this week added a free PDF; the contents are almost identical.)

I deliberately wrote extensively on domestic matters to show my mother's practice in daily life - it might be called 'lived Buddhism in the UK, Thai-style'. :smile: I hope you find the biography helpful in your research.

Best wishes,

Paul.

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dhammafriend
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:23 pm

paultraf wrote:Hello dhammafriend,
dhammafriend wrote:My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links. ...
On the theme of Buddhist lives, I would like to add a link to Thursday's Lotus: the Life and Work of Fuengsin Trafford, a biography my mother, who practised Dhammakaya meditation for about 35 years, until her passing in 1995. She received her training mainly at Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen.
http://fuengsin.org/lotus/
(I self-published the book through CreateSpace, then Kindle, and just this week added a free PDF; the contents are almost identical.)

I deliberately wrote extensively on domestic matters to show my mother's practice in daily life - it might be called 'lived Buddhism in the UK, Thai-style'. :smile: I hope you find the biography helpful in your research.

Best wishes,

Paul.
Congratulations Paul! Thank you for sharing this fascinating and personal story. I've started reading this and it's interesting to note the large community of lay and mae chii masters in the history and current culture of this tradition. Cool stuff. :anjali:
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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dhammafriend
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:27 pm

TRobinson465 wrote:
dhammafriend wrote:...Thank you again for this thread!! :anjali:
Thank YOU for sharing with us here on Dhammawheel more about the tradition as continued at Wat Phra Dhammakai. Please add any other resources you feel may add to this resource thread. :anjali:
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

Caodemarte
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:50 pm

There apparently are old Tantric (dating from pre-Theravada Tantric Hindu and/or Tantric Buddhist periods) meditation styles that survived to the modern era of the reinvention of Theravada meditation. Some say that Dharmakaya techniques are more a continuation of that, rather than innovation. (This is not a criticism of anyone by the way.)

paultraf
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by paultraf » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:28 pm

dhammafriend wrote:
paultraf wrote:
dhammafriend wrote:My hope is that any Buddhists here who have an interest in lived Buddhism in Thailand can make good use of these links. ...
On the theme of Buddhist lives, I would like to add a link to Thursday's Lotus: the Life and Work of Fuengsin Trafford, a biography my mother, who practised Dhammakaya meditation for about 35 years, until her passing in 1995. She received her training mainly at Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen.
http://fuengsin.org/lotus/
(I self-published the book through CreateSpace, then Kindle, and just this week added a free PDF; the contents are almost identical.)

I deliberately wrote extensively on domestic matters to show my mother's practice in daily life - it might be called 'lived Buddhism in the UK, Thai-style'. :smile: I hope you find the biography helpful in your research.
Congratulations Paul! Thank you for sharing this fascinating and personal story. I've started reading this and it's interesting to note the large community of lay and mae chii masters in the history and current culture of this tradition. Cool stuff. :anjali:
Sadhu. :anjali: Wat Paknam is a large monastery occupying a compact area - a few years ago I joined a couple of friends to pay respects to a senior nun and she related that there were many teachers going back as far as when she became a maechi (whilst Luang Phor Sodh was Abbot).

In the biography I mention that before Fuengsin practised in the dhammakaya tradition she trained under Phra Luang Phichit Chalor at Wat Santidhammaram, Tambol Samre. I understand this is one of the wats in Thonburi where kammaṭṭhāna meditation practices had been preserved (Thonburi is where King Taksin established the capital of Siam in the late 18th century after fleeing Ayutthaya). In recent years some scholars have been exploring manuscripts there to investigate records of earlier meditation practices.

It's often the case that people who come to practise vijja dhammakai have already trained in other traditions and they may retain affinities. Fuengsin certainly appreciated other teachers and traditions - again, in the bio, you can read how in 1972 she travelled with Jane Browne to Wat Pah Baan Taad to pay respects to Luang Ta Maha Boowa; apparently Fuengsin and Luang Ta got on well.

- Paul

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dhammafriend
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:22 pm

Caodemarte wrote:There apparently are old Tantric (dating from pre-Theravada Tantric Hindu and/or Tantric Buddhist periods) meditation styles that survived to the modern era of the reinvention of Theravada meditation. Some say that Dharmakaya techniques are more a continuation of that, rather than innovation. (This is not a criticism of anyone by the way.)
Yes, this is all fascinating stuff. Theravada is far more complex than we previously believed. We've allowed the traditions self-description, post colonial contact, to colour our assumptions about it.(sloppy scholarship!) Many now question how useful the term Theravada actually is when referring to the particular bodies of (Buddhist) practices found in SEA. Sometimes I feel like Alice going dow the rabbit hole. :tongue:
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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SDC
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by SDC » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:41 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Yes, this is all fascinating stuff. Theravada is far more complex than we previously believed. We've allowed the traditions self-description, post colonial contact, to colour our assumptions about it.(sloppy scholarship!) Many now question how useful the term Theravada actually is when referring to the particular bodies of (Buddhist) practices found in SEA. Sometimes I feel like Alice going dow the rabbit hole. :tongue:
Every interpretation should be taken with a grain of salt until verified through direct experience. It's interesting how you continue to remark as though the interpretations you share should not be subject to the same criteria. I am truly sorry for always being the one who objects to it, but the above post comes across as equal and opposite the very sort of adherence to fixed views you repeatedly denounce.

You have clearly made a decision to believe in what you have researched, but have you directly verified it through your own experience? If not then you're just like the rest of us trying to make your way.

But perhaps this is just me not fitting into the Theravadin mold which is not really a goal of mine anyway. It is also likely we are looking for completely different things in our pursuit of Dhamma. So if I am being overly critical, my sincerest apologies.

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dhammafriend
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by dhammafriend » Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:23 pm

SDC wrote:
dhammafriend wrote:Yes, this is all fascinating stuff. Theravada is far more complex than we previously believed. We've allowed the traditions self-description, post colonial contact, to colour our assumptions about it.(sloppy scholarship!) Many now question how useful the term Theravada actually is when referring to the particular bodies of (Buddhist) practices found in SEA. Sometimes I feel like Alice going dow the rabbit hole. :tongue:
Every interpretation should be taken with a grain of salt until verified through direct experience. It's interesting how you continue to remark as though the interpretations you share should not be subject to the same criteria. I am truly sorry for always being the one who objects to it, but the above post comes across as equal and opposite the very sort of adherence to fixed views you repeatedly denounce.

You have clearly made a decision to believe in what you have researched, but have you directly verified it through your own experience? If not then you're just like the rest of us trying to make your way.

But perhaps this is just me not fitting into the Theravadin mold which is not really a goal of mine anyway. It is also likely we are looking for completely different things in our pursuit of Dhamma. So if I am being overly critical, my sincerest apologies.
Hi SDC, nowhere did I state that I believed what I had researched without question. My appreciation and respect for the effectiveness of the variety of practices preserved in SE Asian Buddhism has grown though.

The standard presentations of meditation that we have today, from the colonial period up (burmese vipassana, certain forest traditions etc), are actually the most recent historical re-constructions of meditation praxis.

When we take an a-historical approach, we end up believing that the Theravada Pali Canon constitutes the entirety of Buddhist knowledge systems that were preserved in India and SEA. What's actually been the case, is that theories and practices were preserved outside of, and, in parallel, to the growing textual and experiential corpus that Theravadins continued to accumulate.

Add to that, the willingness to absorb, and learn from, the various deity cults and cosmologies that this tradition encountered, we have a very complex picture that cannot be dismissed as simply folk / animist / village Buddhism. That's condescending and lazy.(Not directed at you) There is no 'pure' Buddhism that can be extracted from the 2500 year of experiential and theoretical accumulations.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:43 pm

dhammafriend wrote:
SDC wrote:
dhammafriend wrote:Yes, this is all fascinating stuff. Theravada is far more complex than we previously believed. We've allowed the traditions self-description, post colonial contact, to colour our assumptions about it.(sloppy scholarship!) Many now question how useful the term Theravada actually is when referring to the particular bodies of (Buddhist) practices found in SEA. Sometimes I feel like Alice going dow the rabbit hole. :tongue:
Every interpretation should be taken with a grain of salt until verified through direct experience. It's interesting how you continue to remark as though the interpretations you share should not be subject to the same criteria. I am truly sorry for always being the one who objects to it, but the above post comes across as equal and opposite the very sort of adherence to fixed views you repeatedly denounce.

You have clearly made a decision to believe in what you have researched, but have you directly verified it through your own experience? If not then you're just like the rest of us trying to make your way.

But perhaps this is just me not fitting into the Theravadin mold which is not really a goal of mine anyway. It is also likely we are looking for completely different things in our pursuit of Dhamma. So if I am being overly critical, my sincerest apologies.
Hi SDC, nowhere did I state that I believed what I had researched without question. My appreciation and respect for the effectiveness of the variety of practices preserved in SE Asian Buddhism has grown though.

The standard presentations of meditation that we have today, from the colonial period up (burmese vipassana, certain forest traditions etc), are actually the most recent historical re-constructions of meditation praxis.

When we take an a-historical approach, we end up believing that the Theravada Pali Canon constitutes the entirety of Buddhist knowledge systems that were preserved in India and SEA. What's actually been the case, is that theories and practices were preserved outside of, and, in parallel, to the growing textual and experiential corpus that Theravadins continued to accumulate.

Add to that, the willingness to absorb, and learn from, the various deity cults and cosmologies that this tradition encountered, we have a very complex picture that cannot be dismissed as simply folk / animist / village Buddhism. That's condescending and lazy.(Not directed at you) There is no 'pure' Buddhism that can be extracted from the 2500 year of experiential and theoretical accumulations.
:goodpost:
That being said, the comparatively recent reforms in Theravada Buddhism were not necessarily without merit. And oftentimes, although neocolonial contrivance can certainly be validly read into certain reforming efforts, many of these reformers were not Westerners, but came from the same 2500-year-old tradition you outlined.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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SDC
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by SDC » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:39 pm

dhammafriend wrote:The standard presentations of meditation that we have today, from the colonial period up (burmese vipassana, certain forest traditions etc), are actually the most recent historical re-constructions of meditation praxis.
Agreed.
dhammafriend wrote:When we take an a-historical approach, we end up believing that the Theravada Pali Canon constitutes the entirety of Buddhist knowledge systems that were preserved in India and SEA. What's actually been the case, is that theories and practices were preserved outside of, and, in parallel, to the growing textual and experiential corpus that Theravadins continued to accumulate.

Add to that, the willingness to absorb, and learn from, the various deity cults and cosmologies that this tradition encountered, we have a very complex picture that cannot be dismissed as simply folk / animist / village Buddhism. That's condescending and lazy.(Not directed at you) There is no 'pure' Buddhism that can be extracted from the 2500 year of experiential and theoretical accumulations.
I guess the question is: are we obligated to accept it all in order to practice? Or in another sense: when dealing with the scope of what can be called Theravada, who is to say what should or should not be included? I do not think anyone has the right to dismiss something as not being pure Theravada Buddhism just because it does not have a direct relation to the Pali Canon. Indeed, as you say, the scope has yet to be understood and appreciated.

My primary concern, however, is what is required for practice in order to be successful. Interestingly enough we find that various attainments were reached with differing degrees of instruction and occurred over varying amounts of time. In some cases it only required one line from the Buddha in order for such realizations to take place. So it can be inferred that knowledge of every instruction and/or description found throughout the canon is not a requirement for progress. This always led me to believe that progress was solely based on how poised one is for direct understanding, and not on the completeness of one's knowledge of 1) the history of a particular school, 2) the picture painted by the consensus of the scholars or (dare I say), 3) knowledge of the suttas. No doubt there is invaluable knowledge to found in all three (there can be no progress without another's utterance), but I question the necessity of a complete account of any.

Please let me know if I am not making sense.

Caodemarte
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Re: Vijja Dhammakai - Luang Por Sodh

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:15 pm

Cogenmu wrote:
That being said, the comparatively recent reforms in Theravada Buddhism were not necessarily without merit. And oftentimes, although neocolonial contrivance can certainly be validly read into certain reforming efforts, many of these reformers were not Westerners, but came from the same 2500-year-old tradition you outlined.
The changes were not neocolonial interference, but rather more a nationalist reaction against colonialism and imperialism by SE Asians, monk and lay. The odd Westerner had a very minor role, if any with the exception of COL. Olcott in Sri Lanka. His aid was very useful, but not in the area of the re-invention of meditation.
:buddha1:

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