Who came first?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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bhante dhamma
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Who came first?

Post by bhante dhamma » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm

I found this thread on quora recently, do you agree with the ideas? Why or why not?

"..Your question and the comment by Pannadipa Tan Bk in particular demonstrate a very weak exposure to genuine Mahāyāna literature and teaching. I will be addressing Pannadipa Tan Bk’s comments to reply your question too. He hasn’t given any concrete example of anomalies and knotty issues in Mahāyāna, but rather felt it necessary to leave a vitriol without putting forth his arguments. He has projected his inability to understand Mahāyāna as the fault of Mahāyāna, which is unfortunate.

It looks like you are both naturally connected to Srāvakayāna teachings, which by no means proves that Mahāyāna is fake, or is not the words of the Buddha. In fact, this is the reason that the Buddha taught different types of teachings so that sentient beings of different capacities and inclination could relate with his method and get liberated. Many of you seem to have missed this point.

Coming back to the contents of your question and Pannadipa’s comment – you may think that you both are going to the root of Buddha Dharma but you have unknowingly fallen into the trap of “Protestant Buddhism.” Under the influence of their own cultural background i.e. Protestant Christianity, Protestant Buddhism was constructed by some European scholars in early 20s. Just like Protestants felt it necessary to find the original teachings of Christ, these European scholars constructed the idea of Early Buddhism, by the means of linguistic or historical reconstruction. However, recent scholarships have shown that such construction of Early Buddhism is not possible and any such construction is conjectural, based on personal bias and prejudice.

Here are some of the reasons Early Buddhism is a wrong idea, and Theravada Buddhism as the original teaching of the Buddha is a fiction. First, the term Theravada is retrospectively given by an European in the modern era. Many of you may not even know that the tradition that stem from the Mahavihara in Srilanka didn’t call themselves Theravada. So, you are using a term coined by an European about 2300 years after the Buddha. I don’t know how this will help you to understand the so called “original teaching.”

Furthermore, Pali texts have been linguistically altered. The texts were transferred to several different languages before it took the present shape. We don’t know in which language the Buddha spoke during his teaching period. Further, the Tripiṭaka that Mahinda, the son of King Asoka allegedly took, was from the western region of India. Modern scholarship has fairly established that present Pali used in these texts have the influence of Suraseni or the languages of Western region, where the Buddha didn’t visit in his life time. To add further – present Pali has been heavily Sanskritized, and has been standardized into the present form. Therefore, the present Pali text is linguistically unrecognizable, at least to the effect that we could infer using different layers of the texts in terms of linguistic chronology and construct the hierarchy of early and later period. Unless we can do that, it is impossible to establish linguistically whether certain texts were earlier than others. All such constructions are considered today conjectural or personal bias. Therefore, there is no Early Buddhism from the point of view of linguistics.

Second point – there is no physical evidence of Pali text, other than what we have today. The earliest manuscript is no less than common era. In fact, when these palm leaves were found in Gandhara region, there were other Mahāyāna texts too along with some Srāvaka texts. Hence, archeologically, there is no evidence that Pali texts are earlier.

Third point – the present construction of textual hierarchy is based on two things: Pali texts itself and some para-canonical Srilankan chronicles such as Depavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa. These texts were produced by the sectarian Mahāvihāravāsin, a traditional seat of Therāvāda orthodoxy. It goes without saying that they would definitely hold their tradition as the purest among all others. Hence, other than Therāvāda’s own text and sectarian literature, there is no concrete external evidence to prove that Pali texts were the only original words of the Buddha. Since we don’t have any archeological evidence or epigraphy or any other external means to prove these texts, all such constructions are based on personal whims and biases, and conjectures. Ashokan Pillar is the only first evidence, which is about 200-300 years after the Buddha. By then, Sarvāstivāda as well as other Buddhist Srāvaka schools had already evolved. Many of these Sravaka schools used to retain Mahāyāna Sūtras in Prākrita. Therefore, there is no means to prove that Pali texts are the only earliest texts.

Fourth point – Strictly speaking, the Pali text today is no older than Buddhaghosa, who belong to 5-6th century. There is no evidence of Pali texts before him, and Therāvāda that we have today is his construction (as well as later commentators). Traditional account tells us that Buddhaghosa burned all the earlier texts and converted to Pali. Therefore, Pali texts and commentaries that we have today should be dated only after Buddhaghosa. And many of the Srāvaka sutras had already reached China as early as 2-3rd century. Since Chinese had the culture of documentation, they have meticulously kept all the records of other Buddhist schools such as Sarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka and so forth. This means the Chinese texts are much earlier evidence of Srāvaka schools than Pāli texts we have today.

Fifth point – As mentioned, Mahāyāna texts were retained by some Srāvaka schools as early as Ashokan era. When Chinese travelers visited India, they found both Mahāyānists and Srāvakayānists living together under the same roof practicing their respective traditions with mutual tolerance and respect. These are the evidences that Protestant Buddhists would never mention in their writing. Further, some Srilankan sources tells us that Vaitulyavādins were already at the time of King Ashoka. These Vaitulyavādins are the Mahāyānist, as Mahāyāna texts are also called Vaitulya Sūtras because of their vastness of the content. Further, archeologically, earliest manuscripts so far found are those of Mahāyāna sutras in Gandhara. Furthermore, Pali tradition itself have materials to demonstrate that there are were different types of bodhisattvas. It is insane to think that the Buddha, who became the Buddha through certain path, didn’t teach that path to his students. Jātaka stories clearly tells us that the Buddha was building a career trajectory which was different than his Srāvaka disciples, who were meant to become only Arhat. Where is that path through which the Buddha became the Buddha? Why does Srāvaka texts itself mentioned different types of Bodhi, such as Sammasambodhi, Pratyekabodhi and Arhatbodhi, and these are not mentioned by these Protestant Buddhists? Why Buddhaghosa himself mentions these bodhi-s, who is about 1500 years earlier than these Protestant Buddhists and who had all means to verify these information (at least better than scholars today)? Furthermore, all Buddhist schools talk about three doors of liberation (vimutti-dvāra) ie. emptiness, wishlessness and signlessness. There are materials in Pali tradition itself that mentions “liberation through emptiness” but it is not elaborated in Pali tradition. Ācārya Nāgarjuna himself quotes a passage of Kaccāyana-gotta Sutta to prove that the Buddha had already taught śūnyatā in Srāvaka Piṭaka. These are the questions and issues, which are never addressed properly by Protestant Buddhists.

Within this context, to construct Therāvāda as earliest and Mahāyāna as the later is based on seer ignorance, personal bias and prejudice.

And, Pannadipa has alluded in his comment that Mahāyāna is that “beautifully adorned texts” that the Buddha cautioned not to read. There is no evidence for that, and there is no extra embellishment in the Mahāyāna texts. It is natural to praise the teacher, the leader and Buddhaghosa and Pali tradition also does that amply.

Rather, Pannadipa didn’t mention that in the same sutta the Buddha cautioned another important thing – In the Anagata-bhyani Sutta III, he cautioned that later “monks” will disregard the profound teachings based on śūnyatā (emptiness or void). He actually cautioned very clearly that monks themselves would reject the teaching of the Buddha that pertains to śūnyatā. You seem to be that person indicated by the Buddha, who seem to be under the spell of foreigners, Protestant Buddhists, who wrote articles cleverly and “beautifully” to delude the world.

Finally, you as well as Pannadipa may want to know that Mahāyāna is also based on the same four noble truth, 8 fold path, three seals, 37 limbs of bodhi, samatha/vipasyana, four jnānas and so forth. There isn’t any separate Mahāyāna without the foundation of Srāvaka Abhidharma. To construct Mahāyāna as something unrelated to Srāvaka schools is a clear sign that you haven’t properly understood Mahāyana teachings. In fact, Mahāyana teachings fill many of the lacunae that Pali tripitaka has failed to do. It shows how the Buddha practiced Pāramis and became the Buddha, having more capacity and ability than Sravakas. It demonstrates clearly how the Buddha could have 10 powers, as indicated in the Mahasihanada Sutta, which distinguished him completely from any of the Arhat disciples. Can anyone tell here how the Buddha had these 10 powers that not a single Arhat disciples had? Can Theravada explain us how this was possible by following Satta-visuddhi-magga, as explained by Buddhaghosa in the Visuddhimagga? In any case, if you have any concrete examples why so called Theravada is the original teaching, and if Pannadipa can indicate how there are ‘anomalies and knotty issues’ Mahāyana that he alluded in his comment, I would be happy to further discuss..."

Dan74
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Re: Who came first?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:55 pm

chickenegg.jpg
Sorry... :embarassed:

Scholars will no doubt continue to argue over that and we can fret over it too or practice many precious teachings that we have been given and attain liberation, or at least have a good bash at it. The suttas record many people reaching liberation with only scant instructions from the Buddha and we have access to so much. And yet, we seem to worry, like a spoilt child that his piece of cake may not be the best in the shop or had a little bit of a dent on the edge, rather than simply enjoy and feel grateful for what we've been given.

Sorry... :offtopic:
_/|\_

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Re: Who came first?

Post by DNS » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:05 pm

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

It may not have been called Theravada until after the Third Council, but it emerged from other names, with a direct line from the Buddha. This does not necessarily mean it is completely pure to the Buddha's Dhamma, but a direct line, never the less.

I don't think the Theravada term is just a couple of hundred years old, I believe that's a gross exaggeration. It came about not too long after the Third Council around 250 BCE.

It came about something like:

Buddha -----> Sthaviravāda -----> Theravada (250 BCE)

meanwhile, roughly simultaneously:

Buddha ----> Mahāsāṃghika ------> Mahayana (50 BCE)

Does this mean Theravada is older than Mahayana? Possibly, but both had precursors that date back to the Buddha, so neither can make a perfect case for being original buddhism, in my opinion, from historical analysis alone.

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robertk
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Re: Who came first?

Post by robertk » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:34 pm

Katthavathuppakarana-Atthakatha (by Buddhoghosa) (p3 of Points of controversy, PTS) :
It talks about after the second council (about 100 years after Buddha parinibbana)

"Ten thousand of the of the Vajjiputtaka bhikkhus[after splitting from the good monks] seeking adherents among themselves, formed a school called the Mahasanghika [these then split several times] Thus from the school of the Mahasanghikas, in the second century only two schools seceded from the Theravada[note that the rightful monks are called Theravada by Buddhaghosa]-Mahimsinsasakas and Vajjiputtakas... [it lists more that split later]..Thus from the Theravada arose these eleven seceding bodies making 12 in all. And these 12 together the six schools of the Mahasanghikas constitute the 18 schools which arose in the second century. Of the eighteen, 17 are to be understood as schismatics, the Theravadan only being non- schismatic[/b

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robertk
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Re: Who came first?

Post by robertk » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:38 pm

From the Mahavamsa:


yaa mahaakassapaadiihi, mahaatherehi aadito
kataa saddhamma sa.mgiiti, theriyaa'ti pavuccati
eko'va theravaado so, aadivassasate ahu
a~n~naacariyavaadaatu, tato ora.m ajaayisu.m

That rehearsal of the Saddhamma arranged at the
beginning by the great theras such as
Mahaakassapa, is called the Theravaada, for the
first hundred years it was undivided. But later
arose other aacariyavaadas.


tehi sa.mgiitikaarehi, therehi dutiyehi te
niggahitaa paapabhikkhuu, sabbe dasasahassakaa
aka.msaa'cariyavaada.m te, mahaasa.mgiitinaamakaa

The evil monks, ten thousand in all, who were
censured by the theras who held the Second
Council, established the school of doctrine named
the Mahaasa.mgiiti (Greater Recital or Assembly).

tato gokulikaa jaataa, ekabbohaarikaapi ca

From that arose the Gokulikas and the Ekabbohaarikas

gokulikehi pa.n.natti-vaadaa baahulikaapi ca
cetiyavaadaa tesveva, samataasa`nghikaa cha te

From the Gokulikas arose the Pa.n.nattivaada and
the Baahulikas; from these arose the Cetiyavaada.
Thus there are six schools designated Mahaasanghika.

punaapi theravaadehi, mahi.msaasakabhikkhavo
vajjiiputtakabhikkhuu ca, duve jaataa ime khalu

And then two more arose from among the followers
of the Theravaada: the Mahi.msaasaka and the
Vajjiputtaka bhikkhus.

jaataa'tha dhammuttariyaa, bhadrayaanikabhikkhavo
channaagaaraa sammitiyaa, vajjiiputtiyabhikkhuuti

Then arose the Dhammuttariyaas, the Bhadrayaanika
monks, the Channaagaarikas, the Sammitiyas, and
the Vajjiiputtiya monks.

mahi.msaasakabhikkhuuhi, bhikkhuu sabbattha
vaadino
dhammaguttiyabhikkhuu ca, jaataa khalu ime duve

From the Mahi.msaasaka monks arose these two: the
Sabbatthivaadins and the Dhammaguttiya monks.

jaataa sabbatthivaadiihi, kassapiyaa tato pana
jaataa sa`nkantikaa bhikkhuu, suttavaadaa tato
pana

From the Sabbatthivaadins arose the Kassapiyas,
then from these arose the Sankantika monks, and
from these the Suttavaadins.

theravaadena saha te, honti dvaadasi'mepi ca
pubbe vuttachavaadaa ca, iti a.t.thaarasaa khilaa

These make twelve, together with the Theravaada;
to these are added the six schools named before,
thus making eighteen.

sattarasaapi dutiye, jaataa vasassate iti
a~n~naacariyavaadaa tu, tato oramajaayisu.m

Thus in the second century arose seventeen
schools, and the others arose afterwards.

hemataa raajagiriyaa, tathaa siddhatthikaapi ca
pubbaseliyabhikkhuu ca, tathaa aparaseliyaa

The Hemavata and the Raajagiriyaa, and likewise
the Siddhatthaka, the Pubbaseliya monks and the
Aparaseliyas,

vaajiriyaa cha etehi, jambudiipamhi bhinnakaa
dhammaruci ca saagaliyaa, la.mkaadiipamhi
bhinnakaa

and the Vajiriyas: these six broke away in
Jambudiipa. The Dhammaruci and the Saagaliyas
broke away on the Island of Lankaa.

aacariyakulavaadakathaa ni.t.thitaa
Concluded is the the Story of the Aacariya Schools
(Mahaava.msa V. 1-12)

cookiemonster
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Re: Who came first?

Post by cookiemonster » Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:17 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
I found this thread on quora recently, do you agree with the ideas? Why or why not?

"..Your question and the comment by Pannadipa Tan Bk in particular demonstrate a very weak exposure to genuine Mahāyāna literature and teaching. I will be addressing Pannadipa Tan Bk’s comments to reply your question too. He hasn’t given any concrete example of anomalies and knotty issues in Mahāyāna, but rather felt it necessary to leave a vitriol without putting forth his arguments. He has projected his inability to understand Mahāyāna as the fault of Mahāyāna, which is unfortunate.

It looks like you are both naturally connected to Srāvakayāna teachings, which by no means proves that Mahāyāna is fake, or is not the words of the Buddha. In fact, this is the reason that the Buddha taught different types of teachings so that sentient beings of different capacities and inclination could relate with his method and get liberated. Many of you seem to have missed this point.

Coming back to the contents of your question and Pannadipa’s comment – you may think that you both are going to the root of Buddha Dharma but you have unknowingly fallen into the trap of “Protestant Buddhism.” Under the influence of their own cultural background i.e. Protestant Christianity, Protestant Buddhism was constructed by some European scholars in early 20s. Just like Protestants felt it necessary to find the original teachings of Christ, these European scholars constructed the idea of Early Buddhism, by the means of linguistic or historical reconstruction. However, recent scholarships have shown that such construction of Early Buddhism is not possible and any such construction is conjectural, based on personal bias and prejudice.

Here are some of the reasons Early Buddhism is a wrong idea, and Theravada Buddhism as the original teaching of the Buddha is a fiction. First, the term Theravada is retrospectively given by an European in the modern era. Many of you may not even know that the tradition that stem from the Mahavihara in Srilanka didn’t call themselves Theravada. So, you are using a term coined by an European about 2300 years after the Buddha. I don’t know how this will help you to understand the so called “original teaching.”

Furthermore, Pali texts have been linguistically altered. The texts were transferred to several different languages before it took the present shape. We don’t know in which language the Buddha spoke during his teaching period. Further, the Tripiṭaka that Mahinda, the son of King Asoka allegedly took, was from the western region of India. Modern scholarship has fairly established that present Pali used in these texts have the influence of Suraseni or the languages of Western region, where the Buddha didn’t visit in his life time. To add further – present Pali has been heavily Sanskritized, and has been standardized into the present form. Therefore, the present Pali text is linguistically unrecognizable, at least to the effect that we could infer using different layers of the texts in terms of linguistic chronology and construct the hierarchy of early and later period. Unless we can do that, it is impossible to establish linguistically whether certain texts were earlier than others. All such constructions are considered today conjectural or personal bias. Therefore, there is no Early Buddhism from the point of view of linguistics.

Second point – there is no physical evidence of Pali text, other than what we have today. The earliest manuscript is no less than common era. In fact, when these palm leaves were found in Gandhara region, there were other Mahāyāna texts too along with some Srāvaka texts. Hence, archeologically, there is no evidence that Pali texts are earlier.

Third point – the present construction of textual hierarchy is based on two things: Pali texts itself and some para-canonical Srilankan chronicles such as Depavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa. These texts were produced by the sectarian Mahāvihāravāsin, a traditional seat of Therāvāda orthodoxy. It goes without saying that they would definitely hold their tradition as the purest among all others. Hence, other than Therāvāda’s own text and sectarian literature, there is no concrete external evidence to prove that Pali texts were the only original words of the Buddha. Since we don’t have any archeological evidence or epigraphy or any other external means to prove these texts, all such constructions are based on personal whims and biases, and conjectures. Ashokan Pillar is the only first evidence, which is about 200-300 years after the Buddha. By then, Sarvāstivāda as well as other Buddhist Srāvaka schools had already evolved. Many of these Sravaka schools used to retain Mahāyāna Sūtras in Prākrita. Therefore, there is no means to prove that Pali texts are the only earliest texts.

Fourth point – Strictly speaking, the Pali text today is no older than Buddhaghosa, who belong to 5-6th century. There is no evidence of Pali texts before him, and Therāvāda that we have today is his construction (as well as later commentators). Traditional account tells us that Buddhaghosa burned all the earlier texts and converted to Pali. Therefore, Pali texts and commentaries that we have today should be dated only after Buddhaghosa. And many of the Srāvaka sutras had already reached China as early as 2-3rd century. Since Chinese had the culture of documentation, they have meticulously kept all the records of other Buddhist schools such as Sarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka and so forth. This means the Chinese texts are much earlier evidence of Srāvaka schools than Pāli texts we have today.

Fifth point – As mentioned, Mahāyāna texts were retained by some Srāvaka schools as early as Ashokan era. When Chinese travelers visited India, they found both Mahāyānists and Srāvakayānists living together under the same roof practicing their respective traditions with mutual tolerance and respect. These are the evidences that Protestant Buddhists would never mention in their writing. Further, some Srilankan sources tells us that Vaitulyavādins were already at the time of King Ashoka. These Vaitulyavādins are the Mahāyānist, as Mahāyāna texts are also called Vaitulya Sūtras because of their vastness of the content. Further, archeologically, earliest manuscripts so far found are those of Mahāyāna sutras in Gandhara. Furthermore, Pali tradition itself have materials to demonstrate that there are were different types of bodhisattvas. It is insane to think that the Buddha, who became the Buddha through certain path, didn’t teach that path to his students. Jātaka stories clearly tells us that the Buddha was building a career trajectory which was different than his Srāvaka disciples, who were meant to become only Arhat. Where is that path through which the Buddha became the Buddha? Why does Srāvaka texts itself mentioned different types of Bodhi, such as Sammasambodhi, Pratyekabodhi and Arhatbodhi, and these are not mentioned by these Protestant Buddhists? Why Buddhaghosa himself mentions these bodhi-s, who is about 1500 years earlier than these Protestant Buddhists and who had all means to verify these information (at least better than scholars today)? Furthermore, all Buddhist schools talk about three doors of liberation (vimutti-dvāra) ie. emptiness, wishlessness and signlessness. There are materials in Pali tradition itself that mentions “liberation through emptiness” but it is not elaborated in Pali tradition. Ācārya Nāgarjuna himself quotes a passage of Kaccāyana-gotta Sutta to prove that the Buddha had already taught śūnyatā in Srāvaka Piṭaka. These are the questions and issues, which are never addressed properly by Protestant Buddhists.

Within this context, to construct Therāvāda as earliest and Mahāyāna as the later is based on seer ignorance, personal bias and prejudice.

And, Pannadipa has alluded in his comment that Mahāyāna is that “beautifully adorned texts” that the Buddha cautioned not to read. There is no evidence for that, and there is no extra embellishment in the Mahāyāna texts. It is natural to praise the teacher, the leader and Buddhaghosa and Pali tradition also does that amply.

Rather, Pannadipa didn’t mention that in the same sutta the Buddha cautioned another important thing – In the Anagata-bhyani Sutta III, he cautioned that later “monks” will disregard the profound teachings based on śūnyatā (emptiness or void). He actually cautioned very clearly that monks themselves would reject the teaching of the Buddha that pertains to śūnyatā. You seem to be that person indicated by the Buddha, who seem to be under the spell of foreigners, Protestant Buddhists, who wrote articles cleverly and “beautifully” to delude the world.

Finally, you as well as Pannadipa may want to know that Mahāyāna is also based on the same four noble truth, 8 fold path, three seals, 37 limbs of bodhi, samatha/vipasyana, four jnānas and so forth. There isn’t any separate Mahāyāna without the foundation of Srāvaka Abhidharma. To construct Mahāyāna as something unrelated to Srāvaka schools is a clear sign that you haven’t properly understood Mahāyana teachings. In fact, Mahāyana teachings fill many of the lacunae that Pali tripitaka has failed to do. It shows how the Buddha practiced Pāramis and became the Buddha, having more capacity and ability than Sravakas. It demonstrates clearly how the Buddha could have 10 powers, as indicated in the Mahasihanada Sutta, which distinguished him completely from any of the Arhat disciples. Can anyone tell here how the Buddha had these 10 powers that not a single Arhat disciples had? Can Theravada explain us how this was possible by following Satta-visuddhi-magga, as explained by Buddhaghosa in the Visuddhimagga? In any case, if you have any concrete examples why so called Theravada is the original teaching, and if Pannadipa can indicate how there are ‘anomalies and knotty issues’ Mahāyana that he alluded in his comment, I would be happy to further discuss..."
I disagree with the post.

For myself at least, there is no issue regarding historical verification. I fully acknowledge that it is impossible for me to historically verify which are or aren't the "true" teachings of the Buddha (short of achieving supernormal powers that would enable me to do so). What matters to me are not (external) archaeological verification of these texts, but (internal) personal verification through practice. For me, the real questions are "do these teachings work in my own life?", and "are they relevant to the ultimate goal?" This is essentially the standard I hold for myself while testing the various religious & philosophical teachings, and what is currently & generally considered "early Buddhism" or "Theravada" is what I know works for me to a far greater extent than many of the mainly faith-based ideas of Mahayana or any of the other faith-based religious paths.

As for the bodhisatta path, I believe that the so-called "early" texts do speak about it - if we take the early texts on their own, the term appears to refer to "those who are not fully awakened yet but are working towards full awakening", and does not refer to "those who made a resolution towards samma-sam-Buddhahood". Therefore, all those who are working towards arahatta are bodhisattas. IMO the 10 powers of the Buddha allowed him to fully explore all aspects of samsara, but he learned that they are ultimately irrelevant to full awakening, so the way towards achieving them were not taught in much detail in the early texts. (In other words, the Buddha explored all the various detours; he then taught the most straightforward path to his disciples). It seems the author of the post may be retroactively imposing the Mahayanist definition of "bodhisattva" on the early texts, then erroneously declaring that the early texts are deficient for not expounding on it.

binocular
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Re: Who came first?

Post by binocular » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:32 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
I found this thread on quora recently, do you agree with the ideas? Why or why not?
Disagree, because things discussed there are relevant if
1. one aims to make arguments of appealing to authority (as if appeals to authority would be the only relevant arguments in religion/spirituality),
2. one is interested in religious/spiritual one-upmanship/sectarianism/religious/spiritual supremacism;
and I'm not interested in either.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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DooDoot
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Who came first?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:36 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
I found this thread on quora recently, do you agree with the ideas? Why or why not?
Can a link be provided to this post? Thanks
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
In fact, this is the reason that the Buddha taught different types of teachings so that sentient beings of different capacities and inclination could relate with his method and get liberated. Many of you seem to have missed this point.
There are many diverse teachings in the Pali suttas yet Mahayana is not included there. Obviously, the Buddha did not teach Mahayana. It seems easy to trace the development of Mahayana from Theravada.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Furthermore, Pali texts have been linguistically altered. The texts were transferred to several different languages before it took the present shape. We don’t know in which language the Buddha spoke during his teaching period. Further, the Tripiṭaka that Mahinda, the son of King Asoka allegedly took, was from the western region of India. Modern scholarship has fairly established that present Pali used in these texts have the influence of Suraseni or the languages of Western region, where the Buddha didn’t visit in his life time. To add further – present Pali has been heavily Sanskritized, and has been standardized into the present form. Therefore, the present Pali text is linguistically unrecognizable, at least to the effect that we could infer using different layers of the texts in terms of linguistic chronology and construct the hierarchy of early and later period. Unless we can do that, it is impossible to establish linguistically whether certain texts were earlier than others. All such constructions are considered today conjectural or personal bias. Therefore, there is no Early Buddhism from the point of view of linguistics.
The above in interesting. Some evidence for the above would be good to read.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Fourth point – Strictly speaking, the Pali text today is no older than Buddhaghosa, who belong to 5-6th century. There is no evidence of Pali texts before him, and Therāvāda that we have today is his construction (as well as later commentators). Traditional account tells us that Buddhaghosa burned all the earlier texts and converted to Pali. Therefore, Pali texts and commentaries that we have today should be dated only after Buddhaghosa. And many of the Srāvaka sutras had already reached China as early as 2-3rd century. Since Chinese had the culture of documentation, they have meticulously kept all the records of other Buddhist schools such as Sarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka and so forth. This means the Chinese texts are much earlier evidence of Srāvaka schools than Pāli texts we have today.
Again, more info on the above would be interesting.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Furthermore, Pali tradition itself have materials to demonstrate that there are were different types of bodhisattvas. It is insane to think that the Buddha, who became the Buddha through certain path, didn’t teach that path to his students. Jātaka stories clearly tells us that the Buddha was building a career trajectory which was different than his Srāvaka disciples, who were meant to become only Arhat.
The above affirms what I previously said, namely, Mahayana most likely evolved out of later-day Theravada. If Jataka Stories were actually true, they would exist abundantly in the suttas. But there are no Jataka tales in the suttas, apart from about six (questionable) suttas (such as AN 3.15 & also MN 81, which I recall the characters are contradicted by another similar sutta) that share the same language as the later day Apadana & Buddhavamsa; which don't ever extremely say the Buddha was previously a bull or a parrot, such as the Jataka do. Jataka stories appear to be mass-market (puthujjana) religion, which later became Mahayana mass-market religion. Similar, the genre of teaching, mostly in the DN, about "past Buddhas", might also be later additions. It has often been noted that the stories about "literal past lives" and "past Buddhas", even though thousands of years prior, share the same social & technological features of Northern India during the Buddha's time. For example, in AN 3.15 the Buddha was previously a chariot-maker. In MN 81, the Buddha was previously a potter. The DN tells us how many years ago the other Buddhas lived yet many of the past life stories are in the time of the other Buddhas yet the technology of the society is the same as Northern India in 600BC. In summary, the author has made the claim the Mahayana is real based on the Jataka, which may not be real but mere morality tales for children, similar to Aesop's Fables.
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Re: Who came first?

Post by bhante dhamma » Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:31 am

Some good comments most of which I would concur with, sorry I can't get the link as it seems to have been deleted, A.Sujato had a reply worth posting here, the 'you' is to the author...

“…With due respect for the fact that such discussion is not necessarily very productive, if I may very briefly respond to the purely factual and logical claims made in the piece, leaving aside the many sweeping assertions.

You:
recent scholarships have shown that such construction of Early Buddhism is not possible and any such construction is conjectural, based on personal bias and prejudice.

This is incorrect, and is based on an ad hominem and reductive argument. The fact that people have a certain perspective does not invalidate what they say. As a rule, you find that it is the people who are themselves blinded by ideology who assume that everyone else must be just as blind. They cannot understand how it is possible to set aside one’s beliefs, or make allowances for them, in order to understand the facts.

It is also erases the contributions to the ideas of early Buddhism made by Asian scholars in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, India, and elsewhere, who have been a part of this conversation since the beginning.

You:
Theravada is retrospectively given by an European in the modern era

Confused, irrelevant, and incorrect.

Theravada is not the same as Early Buddhism
What the school is called does not matter.

The Sri Lankan Buddhists did indeed call themselves Theravadin, among other names.
For example in a commentary to the Visuddhimagga, in the “refutation of the Vetullavada”, we find the following, with a very rough summary/paraphrase:

Vohārakatissarañño kāle (758-780-bu-va) abhayagirivāsino dhammarucinikāyikā pubbe vuttappakārena sāsanavināsanatthāya bhikkhuvesadhārīhi vetullavādibrāhmaṇehi racitaṃ vetullapiṭakaṃ sampaṭiggahetvā ‘‘idaṃ buddhabhāsita’’nti dassenti. Taṃ mahāvihāravāsino theravādikā dhammavinayena saṃsandetvā adhammavādoti paṭikkhipiṃsu

In the time of king Vohārakatissa those of the Abhayagiri, the Dhammaruci Nikaya, seeking to destroy the dispensation taught in earlier texts, got hold of the brahmanical Vetullavada Pitaka and promoted it as the word of the Buddha. The Mahaviharins, the Theravadins, rejected that as being against the Dhamma.


You:
Pali texts have been linguistically altered

Misleading: no scholar argues that linguistic variation among Indic dialects creates serious problems of meaning, except in certain specific and largely well-understood cases.


You:
There is no physical evidence of Pali text, other than what we have today

Irrelevant. The age of a manuscript tells us nothing about the age of the text, except that it must predate the manuscript. Arguments for the primacy of Early Buddhist texts have never been based on the primacy of the manuscripts.

You:
The present construction of textual hierarchy is based on two things: Pali texts itself and some para-canonical Srilankan chronicles such as Depavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa

False: this ignores the role of comparative study, among other things.


You:
No concrete external evidence to prove that Pali texts were the only original words of the Buddha

Straw man: students of Early Buddhism do not believe this (although Theravadins might.)


You:
Ashokan Pillar is the only first evidence, which is about 200-300 years after the Buddha. By then, Sarvāstivāda as well as other Buddhist Srāvaka schools had already evolved

False: the balance of evidence argues against the existence of sects in the time of Ashoka. (See my Sects and Sectarianism)


You:
Many of these Sravaka schools used to retain Mahāyāna Sūtras in Prākrita

Misleading. As Mahayana was emerging it was not explicitly recognized as a distinct school, so many texts developed that had characteristics that were later attributed to the Mahayana school (such as the Bodhisattva doctrine.) But the chief texts regarded as core to Mahayana teachings are quite distinct.


You:
The Pali text today is no older than Buddhaghosa, who belong to 5-6th century

He just, what, made it up? Of course the texts on which a commentary are based are older than the commentary.


You:
Since Chinese had the culture of documentation, they have meticulously kept all the records of other Buddhist schools

Exaggeration. The Chinese have indeed kept alive many texts of early Buddhism, but only a small fraction of what was.


You:
The Chinese texts are much earlier evidence of Srāvaka schools than Pāli texts we have today.

I don’t know where to start. Just, no.


You:
Mahāyāna texts were retained by some Srāvaka schools as early as Ashokan era

Absolutely false and baseless.


You
When Chinese travelers visited India

Many centuries after Ashoka.


You:
Mahāyānists and Srāvakayānists living together under the same roof practicing their respective traditions with mutual tolerance and respect. These are the evidences that Protestant Buddhists would never mention in their writing

False, this is well known in studies of Early Buddhism, it is one of the basic facts of the field.


You:
Archeologically, earliest manuscripts so far found are those of Mahāyāna sutras in Gandhara

False, the manuscripts that exist date from around 500 years after the Buddha, and they include a range of the kinds of texts you would expect from that era, including early suttas and Mahayana texts.


You:
Pali tradition itself have materials to demonstrate that there are were different types of bodhisattvas. It is insane to think that the Buddha, who became the Buddha through certain path, didn’t teach that path to his students

Well, that settles it: I must be insane.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Hopefully we can avoid such disinformation. If anyone is interested to see a perspective of how a modern Mahayanist reconciles their beliefs with the reality of Buddhist history, I would recommend the writings of Master Yin Shun…”

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Re: Who came first?

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:18 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:31 am
sorry I can't get the link as it seems to have been deleted,
The thread's still there but Bibek Sharma's post got hidden after being down-voted too many times. You have to click to make it appear.

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Re: Who came first?

Post by DNS » Sun Dec 01, 2019 4:30 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:18 pm
bhante dhamma wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:31 am
sorry I can't get the link as it seems to have been deleted,
The thread's still there but Bibek Sharma's post got hidden after being down-voted too many times. You have to click to make it appear.

https://www.quora.com/Why-should-anyone ... ama-Buddha
I think he meant over at Sutta Central. It's still there:
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... t/14437/22

I don't like the 'like' system, but since they have that over there I 'liked' Bhante Sujato's post. :thumbsup:

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Re: Who came first?

Post by cappuccino » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:01 pm

perhaps this is another imponderable

or should be treated as such

just have faith & practice

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Re: Who came first?

Post by daveblack » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:10 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
It looks like you are both naturally connected to Srāvakayāna teachings, which by no means proves that Mahāyāna is fake, or is not the words of the Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra plainly states that for 40 years Buddha taught nothing by "Hinayana" and then only on the day of his death taught Mahayana, to the shock of everyone, especially of Sariputra who had been called back from Nibbana (by laser beams that Buddha shot out of his head) just so he could be told something he had never heard before, i.e. that the Nibbana he went to was a fake Nibbana and not the real one. This to me is an admission by the founders of Mahayana that Mahayana was invented after Buddha's death.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
In fact, this is the reason that the Buddha taught different types of teachings so that sentient beings of different capacities and inclination could relate with his method and get liberated. Many of you seem to have missed this point.
This nonsense is only taught from the Lotus Sutra onwards. The idea of "expedient means" is first taught in the Lotus Sutra. Any Theravadan who talks of "expedient means" or "relative truth" is a Mahayana-Theravada hybrid, not a true Theravadan, because they've accepted a doctrine from the Lotus Sutra, that is taught in the form of "For 40 years I did not teach the truth, Sariputra, but now I will teach the truth: there is a distinction between absolute truth and relative truth. For 40 years I taught only relative truth. Now I will teach absolute truth." On the day of his death! What founder of a religion does that? Anyone who has bought into this distinction between relative truth and absolute truth is a blasphemer who blasphemes Buddha by accepting the premise that he lied for 40 years; that he lied to Sariputra for his entire lifetime, and only after death (calling him back from Nibbana to tell him his Nibbana was a fake Nibbana!) did he tell him "the truth"!!! I mean, come on!
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Within this context, to construct Therāvāda as earliest and Mahāyāna as the later is based on seer ignorance, personal bias and prejudice.
The main Mahayana sutra is clear that for 40 years Buddha taught only "Hinayana." Now, Theravada is not "Hinayana" I know, but its closer than Mahayana. Theravada is not "Hinayana" because "Hinayana" (as the Lotus Sutra defines it) includes the Pacceka-Buddha path as valid during Gotama's dispensation and Theravada rejects that path as impossible during Gotama's dispensation. Theravada is not "Hinayana" because Theravada includes the proto-Mahayana element of looking forward to the coming of the Messianic Buddha Maitreya (even if its only in one sutta), and Hinayana obviously didn't (there's no need for a coming Messianic Buddha when the Pacceka-Buddha path is possible). There are lots of differences. But it is similar in that its about Individual Liberation rather than Corporate Liberation like Mahayana; i.e. in that its about Arhants, not everyone trying to become a Sambuddha and vowing not to enter Nirvana until everyone else does (which creates a bottle-neck paradox: if everybody is waiting for everybody else to enter, then nobody ever enters...which eventually creates the false doctrine in Later Mahayana that Nirvana and Samsara are the same, in order to avoid the embarrassment created by their bottle-neck paradox).

bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Finally, you as well as Pannadipa may want to know that Mahāyāna is also based on the same four noble truth,
No it isn't; ultimately its a denial of the 3rd noble truth. The 3rd noble truth is that liberation is possible. Mahayana denies this as follows: Because, if Individual Liberation is not possible, and therefore we must aim at Corporate Liberation (this is the foundation of Mahayana's attack on "Hinayana") then ultimately unless everyone is liberated, nobody is liberated; Mahayana believes that either all beings are liberated together, or none are; and as its impossible for all to find liberation at the same time, nobody is really liberated ever, which leads to their doctrine that Nirvana and Samsara are one and the same. Which, in turn, is a denial that liberation is possible! That is a denial of the 3rd noble truth.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Finally, you as well as Pannadipa may want to know that Mahāyāna is also based on the same four noble truth, 8 fold path, three seals, 37 limbs of bodhi, samatha/vipasyana, four jnānas and so forth.
No, because Mahayana introduces the concept of "expedient means," i.e. the distinction between "relative truth" and "absolute truth," and the claim that for 40 years Buddha only taught "expedient means" or "relative truths," and so it relegates all these teachings to the status of "relative truth." In fact, this is the poverty, this is the weakness of Mahayana, in that by introducing the concept of "expedient means" or "relative truth" it introduced endless arguments over which teachings are only "expedient means" or "relative truth" which causes endless conflict and prevents any ability to have faith in anything in Mahayana Buddhism or in any version of Western Theravada that is Hybridized with Mahayana's "expedient means" doctrine: Every time you find a teaching that seems solid to you, someone will say "That's only a relative truth" or "That's only an expedient means" shaking your faith (if you buy into "expedient means" or "relative truth" as real things).

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Re: Who came first?

Post by sentinel » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:19 am

All the Buddha disciples were ascetics from other path , Buddha managed to convert probably almost all of them . So , it might be better off to educate all the lay people with the dhamma instead of criticizing them and create own enemy at the end . Who first or later does not help in flourishing Buddha teachings .
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