Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sam Vara
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Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:39 pm

Bhikkhu Cintita provides the first of a four-part article concerning the relationship between Theravada and Mahayana.

https://bhikkhucintita.wordpress.com/20 ... other-1-4/

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Kim OHara
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:42 pm

:thanks:

It's hard to dispute his introductory points - and why would you want to, anyway?
One of his comments, "Mahāyāna became early on a tradition cut off from its past, and Theravāda a tradition cut off from its future," reflects something I have been saying for years, although he arrives at it from a different perspective and states it more strongly.
My view has been framed by the question of whether Buddhism is (in Western terms) a religion or a field of study, and I have said repeatedly that Theravada acts like a religion, holding up scriptures and saying, "these are authentic and authoritative and there is no need to look further for The Truth," (it's all right - I do know it's a caricature) whereas Mahayana acts more like a field of study, welcoming extensions and developments of knowledge while testing them against what is already known.
At this point, with the two schools forced into constant contact by modern communications and both of them caught up in the battle between scientific/materialist/consumerist worldviews and a religious/ethical orientation, the openness of Mahayana could well prove crucial to the survival of the dhamma. Religions which refuse to accept that science is valid on its own territory lose all intellectual credibility and, therefore, moral authority and, thence, followers.
We can laugh at the Young Earth Creationists ... but we had better not laugh too hard while DW still has threads earnestly debating the truth of early Buddhist cosmology.

:namaste:
Kim

chownah
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by chownah » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:44 am

From the article:
I have come to the view that there is much more that holds Buddhism together than that splits it apart
How many times have I heard this sentiment expressed?....dozens? hundreds?....
If this was really true people wouldn't be so anxious to express it....and they would just get on with their practice....there would be no problem and nothing to discuss.
chownah

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:59 am

Basic points unifying Theravāda and Mahāyāna

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_poi ... 1y%C4%81na



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Coëmgenu
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:38 am

I like documents like the "Basic points unifying Theravāda & Mahāyāna". But I wish that reporting on wikipedia was more honest.

It was hardly accepted unanimously. There were many abstentions. They did not formally object and start a debate over them, but none of their signatures are there.

The only reason is was "unanimously" accepted is because abstentions don't count as opposition.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

chownah
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by chownah » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:49 am

I'm wondering if the title of this thread should be "Do the theravada and mahayana heirarchies need each other".
chownah

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Kim OHara
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:00 am

chownah wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:49 am
I'm wondering if the title of this thread should be "Do the theravada and mahayana heirarchies need each other".
chownah
:smile:
Yes ... the institutions seem to have a bit of a turf war going on but the situation in the community is much more fluid and much more relaxed, e.g. this thread on the other DW https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=27429
pureland thailand thread wrote:... I recently moved to Thailand to start a new career, and ... I've discovered there actually is a rather healthy Mahayana community here (mostly from people with Chinese heritage) and I am now actively involved with a PureLand temple ... interestingly also Theravada temples here many times also have Amitabha statues as well as Guan Yin, the divide is definitely not as large as some would have you believe ...
:coffee:
Kim

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mikenz66
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:46 am

Yes, "on the ground" a lot of these issues tend to evaporate. We have a Guan Yin statue in the garden of our local Thai Monastery, and I always enjoy visiting our local Fo Guang Shan Temple, especially when the New Zealand Abbess is visiting - she's always interesting to talk to.

On a recent trip that included Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, I found some of the symbolism of the Mahayana Monasteries very inspiring. The two historic monasteries that I visited in Fuzhou were truly amazing, and we were lucky enough to visit one at a time where the monks were chanting in two separate halls...
http://www.visitourchina.com/fuzhou/pho ... ushan.html

Guan Yin listening from her lake...
https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPho ... #156997062

Image
This photo of Drum Mountain (Gu Shan) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
:heart:
Mike

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Pseudobabble » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:05 am

The problem I have with Mahayana is that it is just too fluffy a lot of the time. The texts are loaded with unnecessary adjectives and emotive phrasing. It's very pleasing and poetic to read, but when you are looking, for example, for the answer to a question like 'What exactly should one do if one is getting sleepy in meditation?', answers like 'Activate the divine Buddha power of your vajra lightening mind.' are not particularly helpful. On the other hand, the Tibetans do have some fantastically technical and excellent expositions, and they are Mahayana.

Combined with the ridiculous multiplication of Buddhas, the fact that a lot of Mahayana texts are conclusively dated to be 'late' while claiming not to be (dug up from the sea by 'Nagas', anyone?), and the fact that these are clear hallmarks of the typical embellishments of later religious traditions (much in the same way as the Orthodox and Catholic churches have saints), it just seems like Mahayana is watered down and made tasty for a non-technical, devotionally minded audience. However, if people can get enlightened that way, if it works, then it works.

A great example is Pure Land Buddhism, and mappo: humans are too corrupted to get Enlightened, so we have to rely on the grace of Amitabha who teaches us perfect Dhamma in a heaven somewhere after we die, and we go direct to Nirvana from there? Sounds like the kind of thing that is very palatable to the lazy, or those who find it too hard to stomach the idea that its our own responsibility to get where we want to go.

On the other hand, what Kim says about Theravada is absolutely true - the orthodoxy sometimes reminds me of Christian textual fundamentalism: 'It says here that this is true, so experimental proofs can f*** off!' That's certainly not the way either.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

James Tan
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by James Tan » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:24 am

I find that sometime the divisiveness is more seen online on the internet / virtual world than of reality .
So they say Buddhism is a religion of peace ?
As it seems , the way the corrivals between Theravada and Mahayana suggest that we our self buddhists not in peace . Even the Buddha accepted so many Converts from other tradition and ascetics , Why then We so called True Buddhists nowadays hard to Compromise each other ?
True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils.

Kind regards .
Last edited by James Tan on Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Zom
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Zom » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:37 am

the Sāsana is robust, tolerant of diversity, yet remarkably able to retain its core teachings, which it has – for the most part – on both sides of this divide.
Disagree. Mahayana lost too much, up to the level of having Wrong Views as a 1st path factor.
Theravāda a tradition cut off from its future.
What is the meaning of that? If "future" is degradation and disappearance of true Dhamma, then, this is a good, not a bad thing 8-)
Theravāda and Mahāyāna need each other.
Of course not. Both proved to live for quite a long time without each other.
However, it is a common belief that the Theravāda and Mahāyāna saṅghas can nevermore be in communion. This erroneous belief has had unfortunate consequences.
This is not an erroneous belief, but a reality. Monks of very different views and teachings just can't hold Uposatha together or any other Sangha affairs.
separate sects became recognizable, each of which preserved, orally in the early centuries, its own version of the early scriptures, generally in a distinct language, but at the same time the various sects were still largely in communion.
"were still largely in communion" - what is the basis for this statement?
It was Mahāsāṃghika that would later be identified with Mahāyāna. The Sthavira, for its part, would give rise to Theravāda, Sarvāstivādin, Dharmagelupka, and most other sects.
It was much more complex than that. No one can say for sure from where Mahayana came from (just like Abhidharma as well, btw -- no no, not from Naga realm or Tavatimsa heavens -). Actually, there was a period of "pre-mahayanic" ideas which stemmed from different schools and locations, or, at least, easily transfered from one school to another - be it of sthaviravadin or mahasanghikhan origin. This affected even Theravada itself - this can be seen in such books as Buddhavamsa, for example, and commentaries about bodhisattva path, parami, etc. Pure mahayanic ideas.
there was no historical schism that rent Theravāda and its sister sects on the one side, and Mahāyāna on the other asunder. Technically, both saṅghas should still be properly in communion.
Technically, these movements can't be in communion simply because of very different doctrinal ideas. If you drop this argument, then you can say - "Technically, orthodox christian and theravadin monks can be properly in communion, because there is no recorded conflict among these".
Clearly alleged sectarian or schismatic divisions were not an issue in fifth century China; Vinaya was Vinaya, ordination was ordination, and potential doctrinal differences that might exist between the Sri Lankan and Chinese saṅghas were besides the point.
If they were "besides the point" the ordination was invalid. It is as simple as that.
In recent decades the Theravāda nuns’ order is, in fact, being restored in exactly this way: with the help of their Chinese, generally Taiwanese, Mahāyāna sisters who have kindly provided the necessary quorum of nuns to ordain new Theravāda nuns.
In fact, it was not. Again, ordination is invalid.

chownah
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by chownah » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:23 pm

We don't need no stinking validations.
Just replace "badges" with "validations".


chownah

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:35 pm

While I disagree with most of what you wrote above, I also found "in communion" a little strange.

Ecumenism is a Christian import into Theravāda Buddhism afaik. It is an import to most of the ancient schools, who seems to have been more interested in fighting over the retrogradability of arhats and the persistence of dharmāḥ through the three times.

The preservation of the term "in communion" seems to attest to this Christian influence. It's not really a bad thing per se, ecumenism comes from a Greek phrase related to housekeeping and keeping one's house tidy.

It ultimately good that Mahāyānists & Theravādins are engaging in this dialogue. It is only in that way that Mahāyānists will come to realize that their inherited critiques against "śrāvakayāna" simply do not apply to the Pāli tradition, especially at it is attested to in its suttāni.

The Mahāyāna has a "kind" of ecumenicism, but only sometimes, namely, the ekayāna or "one vehicle". But depending on your sect, the ekayāna will either be an ecumenical statement about how śrāvakāḥ attain full enlightenment too, or, the ekayāna is simply equated with bodhisattvayāna, śrāvakāḥ being forgotten to remain in saṃsāra forever, in cessation of perception and feeling (this is the reality of the ancient and harsh sectarian polemics preserved in the literatures of the received tradition).

This "sometimes ekayāna means this, sometimes it means that" is Mahāyāna's biggest flaw compared to other Buddhisms IMO: the sheer staggering diversity. The Mahāyāna, IMO, isn't even really singularly identifiable as any particular religious movement within Buddhism. There is simply so much diversity that it seems sects often have to be taken completely on their own grounds. This can be good, or bad. It can be good, because this encourages critical examinations of the teachings. This can be bad, because many take a "all Mahāyāna is authentic" approach to these contradicting teachings. This can encourage one to be so open-minded that the contents simply fall out of one's head. To steal a turn of phrase from Binocular.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:37 pm

Zom wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:37 am
In fact, it was not. Again, ordination is invalid.
Dharmaguptaka ordinations are most certainly valid for bhikṣuṇyaḥ/nuns. Their lineage is a hell of a lot more substantiated and historically traceable than anything that was going on in Sri Lanka.

We know who the Dharmaguptaka were. Its unambiguous. We have extraordinarily little of that in relation to the question of where Sri Lankan proto-Theravāda comes from. We aren't even sure which sect they correspond to.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Theravada and Mahayana need each other

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:48 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:37 pm
We know who the Dharmaguptaka were. Its unambiguous. We have extraordinarily little of that in relation to the question of where Sri Lankan proto-Theravāda comes from. We aren't even sure which sect they correspond to.
And this is very relevant as to why Mahāyāna's critiques of "other" vehicles generally do not apply to Theravāda.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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