Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Post Reply
User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8504
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by cooran » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:35 am

A Medic said: So is Hinayana a negative or even insulting term to use? Is there a proper us of it? Should I not use it at all? What is the meaning of Hinayana to followers of Theravada?
As the OP posted this in the Discovering Theravada forum, oughtn't it only to refer to that Tradition's understanding of the Term Hinayana?

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 ---

Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:14 am

Chris wrote:
A Medic said: So is Hinayana a negative or even insulting term to use? Is there a proper us of it? Should I not use it at all? What is the meaning of Hinayana to followers of Theravada?
As the OP posted this in the Discovering Theravada forum, oughtn't it only to refer to that Tradition's understanding of the Term Hinayana?

metta
Chris
That makes complete sense to me.
Just as, I assume on Zen Forum International the default position is Zen, and on Dharma Wheel Forum the default position is the Mahayana , even if those forums are accomodating to other views. I would find it odd to be told by a non Theravdin what Theravadins should or should not be offended by, even if in the absolute sense being offended is not in accord with the Dhamma. It would be like telling my Pakistani friends that they should be above being offended when called " Paki". In the absolute sense many of them do just rise above it, That does not give carte blanche to their abusers however.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23045
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:27 am

Sanghamitta wrote: That makes complete sense to me.
Just as, I assume on Zen Forum International the default position is Zen, and on Dharma Wheel Forum the default position is the Mahayana , even if those forums are accomodating to other views. I would find it odd to be told by a non Theravdin what Theravadins should or should not be offended by, even if in the absolute sense being offended is not in accord with the Dhamma.
You and Chris do have a point, but on the other hand PinkTrike's posting have help draw some of the issues around the vexed and complicated notion of hinayana. The way he wants the term hinayna understood represents a later evolution of the term, and it important to understand that the term is used that way.

There is, however, the reality that this polemically laden term does get applied to the Theravada by Mahayanists, and I would hope that in the back and forth in this thread that some useful information as to why that is an inappropriate epithet has been drawn out.
>> 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

Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:38 am

And its not as though the polemically laden term in its perjorative sense is obsolete, I never posted on the " grey forum " but I remember a number of threads in which the "h" word was used in just that way, as describing a lesser or inferior vehicle by people who had authority within that forum. And they meant it, it was clear from context.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23045
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:14 am

Sanghamitta wrote:And its not as though the polemically laden term in its perjorative sense is obsolete, I never posted on the " grey forum " but I remember a number of threads in which the "h" word was used in just that way, as describing a lesser or inferior vehicle by people who had authority within that forum. And they meant it, it was clear from context.
I was there, at times in the middle of it. I know, and often some on the Mahayana side presented it as if the Mahayana were the arbiter of all things Buddhist, which, is of course, sectarian nonsense. The Mahayana does not get to define the Theravada for Theravadins any more than the Theravada gets to define the Mahayana for Mahayanists. The is not to say that there cannot be criticisms of by the other, but there is no basis for either claiming some sort of objective independent truth by which the other is rightfully critiqued.

The sort of stuff the Theravadins had to continually contend with is that Mahayanists insisted on using their understandings of nibbana, bodhi, the Buddha, dhammas, etc as being the basis of the critique of the Theravada, and never mind how the Theravada understood and used those terms. It was an uphill climb to get them to see that their limited hinayana was not at all appropriate to the Theravada. The notion of chosen ignorance comes to mind for some the participants who would not see that the Mahayana does not get to define the Theravada for Theravadins.

Using Nagarjuna and Co., for example, as a basis for critiquing the Theravada carries no weight, simply given that Nagarjuna and Co. are not recognized as having any authority within the Theravada, and it was not unusual for some of the Mahayanist to get a bit testy when showing that Nagarjuna's positions did not accurately characterize the Theravada.

While I engaged in these debates, my concern was not to convince or beat up the true believers of the Mahayana; rather, it was to give information to those who were open to listening what was being said.

Quite frankly, in my opinion the concept of hinayana as a sectarian way of classification is one of the most singularly problematic things to come out all of Buddhism in general, and it needs to be looked at within a context of the history of Buddhist ideas in order to correctly understand it. As much as one might try, there are still going to be those who are going to insist that Mahayana/hinayana is the truth and that the Theravada IS hinayana because it is not Mahayana.
>> 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

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23045
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:21 am

Let me add to the above. Not all Mahayanists on E-Sangha were hardline sectarians, not by a long shot.
>> 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

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6630
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:54 am

is it safe to say that

A - using hinayana as a term for theravada is not appropriate for a variety of reasons already detailed.
B - looking at the term (hinayana) can be done without it being inappropriate.
C - misrepresenting groups or individuals words in a way which can be devisive on this forum is not appropriate.
D - sometimes (as in this case) outside (non-theravadin) views can be discussed in the discovering theravada sub-forum.
E[dit] - maybe this thread (or atleast part of it) could be pinned somewhere, as I am sure others will ask this same question in the future.
these are just the main points I have from ths thread! any others?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
catmoon
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:59 am

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by catmoon » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:08 am

maybe

F. The sects that were originally referred to as Hinayana are all extinct?

Paññāsikhara
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am
Contact:

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:23 am

catmoon wrote:maybe

F. The sects that were originally referred to as Hinayana are all extinct?
May we ask, O Catmoon, what schools they were in the first place? :)
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.

User avatar
LauraJ
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:38 pm

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by LauraJ » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:27 pm

Manapa wrote:is it safe to say that

A - using hinayana as a term for theravada is not appropriate for a variety of reasons already detailed.
B - looking at the term (hinayana) can be done without it being inappropriate.
C - misrepresenting groups or individuals words in a way which can be devisive on this forum is not appropriate.
D - sometimes (as in this case) outside (non-theravadin) views can be discussed in the discovering theravada sub-forum.
E[dit] - maybe this thread (or atleast part of it) could be pinned somewhere, as I am sure others will ask this same question in the future.
these are just the main points I have from ths thread! any others?
That seems like a good summary Manapa.
It is a bit of a curiosity to me, that very nice teachers I've met who don't have English as a first language have used the term Hinayana when talking about motivation for practice or motivation for enlightenment. And these people wouldn't ever put other Buddhists down, I feel sure about that. They seem like darn nice, really happy people. So it has been a little bit curious to me even though I just choose to avoid the word myself.

Personally I learned a little bit here. Thanks to all :)
Dharma Wheel
Buddha Blog

Conquer the angry man by love. Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness. Conquer the miser with generosity. Conquer the liar with truth. -The Dhammapada

User avatar
Karma Dondrup Tashi
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:41 pm

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:33 pm

If an extremely large group of people are hurt by the use of the term does it matter what it "really" means? What do you gain by using it? Don't use it.

User avatar
Karma Dondrup Tashi
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:41 pm

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:36 pm

pink_trike wrote: Drive all Blame into One (Lojang slogan)
Lojong isn't practicing being a doormat either.

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1130
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Contact:

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by pink_trike » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:54 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings pink_trike,
pink_trike wrote:Unfortunately the modern tendency is to banish words rather than educate as to their correct context, meaning, and usage. So much easier to throw words in jail. Bad words, Bad!! :rofl: Perhaps we should start burning the books that used that term, or any other term that we imagine has the power to offend the frightened and hyper-vigilant "I" that rejects ownership of its feelings of diminishment and projects the generation of these feelings of diminishment onto the word and those who use it so that the "I" can do battle with what it generated and then frightened itself with.

That's all I have to say. If I continue I'll just be repeating.
I can't help feeling you're arguing against straw men here. It's hard to tell whether you've actually listened to what people have been trying to tell you... people who, by and large by the look of their responses, do not get all freaked out if someone else uses the term "hinayana" despite your implications that they do.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Hi Retro,

I'm not arguing.

Let me clarify once again. I don't support the use of the word as a sectarian slam. I am questioning why the word shouldn't be used in its narrow, benign and correct form. And I'm questioning why some people insist that it shouldn't even be used in its correct, narrow and benign form - in a tradition that they know very little about. If someone insists the word shouldn't even be used correctly and benignly within a different tradition and won't accept that this usage isn't a slam at them and the tradition they adhere to, then I think its reasonable to suspect there are personal issues lurking in the shadow.

This is why I point out that the mind loves to assign blame for its defensiveness to something "out there" and then fight it.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1130
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Contact:

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by pink_trike » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:00 pm

BlackBird wrote:I'm not trying to be patronizing here, so I hope this will not be taken in that manner, also it's very big so I'm sorry if it's not to your liking but it gets the point across rather well :)

Image
:anjali:
Hi Blackbird,

Its a good message that always applies, but I'm curious...do you think that the temperature is high in this thread? I'm not seeing that. Are you uncomfortable with extended dialog that fleshes out and clarifies detail and attempts to iron out kinks of misunderstanding between people? In other traditions extended debate of even minute points is considered to be a necessary and healthy way of grinding the mill of knowledge to extract refined understanding.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6630
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:48 pm

:offtopic: I think this thread has gone as far as it is going to go! :focus:
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Johnwin and 61 guests