Is mahayana Buddism?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:43 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Ron-The-Elder wrote:You will note that your citations are cited as hypothesies, which means that it remains conjecture.
This isn't conjecture: The first schism had nothing to do with the eventual rise of the Mahāyāna.

It's erroneous to equate the Mahāsāṅghikas with the Mahāyāna.
Respectfully, Your "opinion" apparently does not agree with that of the author you personally cited. Next time choose someone, who agrees wih your views, instead of contradicting yourself. He states otherwise. :anjali: Ron
Ñāṇa is quite correct in his statement. The stuff on ATI is both sectarian and highly dated.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Dan74
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:08 am

manas wrote:Hi whynotme,

I've asked the same question in my heart a few times, also. But I feel uneasy about us discussing it here so publicly, because 1. Mahayana Buddhists will only take offense, rather than get convinced and won over (thus it would not be worth the resulting discord between our different modes of practice), and 2. Ordinary, interested non-Buddhist visitors might construe from the title "Ah, the Buddhists are just as sectarian as the Christians...and I thought they were different...oh well".

But, that's just my own opinion :anjali: .
I think constructive well-substantiated criticism can be very valuable and shouldn't be held back. The thing that can be disappointing sometimes is when people assert what is neither well-informed nor coming from any insight or understanding of the tradition. Then a question may be more appropriate than an assertion. Like "how come in Mahayana they.... when the Buddha taught....?"

From my perspective (as a Mahayana - Korean Zen tradition) I just check if the teachings are conducive to liberation, to the letting go of ignorance and delusion, to growth of wholesome qualities and see if this is exemplified in leading practitioners of the tradition. I also see if the teachings and practices are in line with what the Buddha is said to have taught in Pali scriptures and if not, I try to inquire and understand the discrepancy.
Last edited by Dan74 on Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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pilgrim
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by pilgrim » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:41 am

santa100 wrote:Of course Mahayana is a Buddhist school. They observe, study, and practice 3 characteristics, 4 NT, 5 precepts, 8 NP, 12 DO, etc. just like Theravada..
There is a lot of overlap with Theravada. But there is also quite a bit that is further out there. This is especially observable the further Mahayana Buddhism spread from India as in the various Japanese sects.

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Will
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Will » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:13 am

As the Xtian bible puts it: "Judge a tree by its fruit." Mahayana has produced hundreds of bodhi-filled folks over the centuries. So their doctrines cannot be that horrid.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by manas » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:16 am

Dan74 wrote:
manas wrote:Hi whynotme,

I've asked the same question in my heart a few times, also. But I feel uneasy about us discussing it here so publicly, because 1. Mahayana Buddhists will only take offense, rather than get convinced and won over (thus it would not be worth the resulting discord between our different modes of practice), and 2. Ordinary, interested non-Buddhist visitors might construe from the title "Ah, the Buddhists are just as sectarian as the Christians...and I thought they were different...oh well".

But, that's just my own opinion :anjali: .
I think constructive well-substantiated criticism can be very valuable and shouldn't be held back. The thing that can be disappointing sometimes is when people assert what is neither well-informed nor coming from any insight or understanding of the tradition. Then a question may be more appropriate than an assertion. Like "how come in Mahayana they.... when the Buddha taught....?"

From my perspective (as a Mahayana - Korean Zen tradition) I just check if the teachings are conducive to liberation, to the letting go of ignorance and delusion, to growth of wholesome qualities and see if this is exemplified in leading practitioners of the tradition. I also see if the teachings and practices are in line with what the Buddha is said to have taught in Pali scriptures and if not, I try to inquire and understand the discrepancy.
Hi Dan,

it's hard for me to quickly write a detailed reply as I'm very busy today, and didn't sleep too much last night...but I do agree with the sum and substance of what you say. My main concern was the title, I mean whereas Theravadans and Mahayanists have often stated that their particular way is the most pure one, asking if it is even Buddhism goes a bit further. My concern is regarding amity & mutual respect between various Buddhist schools, that's all. (When I google 'Dhamma Wheel' quite often a specific topic heading comes up underneath the main link to this site. So I try to remain aware that whatever we say here, can be viewed by anyone, and to be mindful of possible outcomes of what we, as a Buddhist Forum, say. And I know that sectarianism is a big issue in the world right now, and we could use less of it, not more. Having said that, I am not implying that the OP intended to increase it at all, rather that this could be a sort of 'unintended consequence' sometimes, if we do not choose how we phrase things with care.)

with metta! :anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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ground
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by ground » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:33 am

whynotme wrote:Hi everyone,

This is a therevada forum, so I assume most of you are Therevadists. What do you think about Mahayana? Do you consider it part of Buddism? Do you consider ordination under those traditions?

Regards
Being neither Theravadin nor Mahayanist I am in a position to compare neutrally. Since buddhism is about overcoming stress through overcoming the consciousness of self I can confirm that Mahayana is on the same track. It is just that the Mahayana teachings mostly do not tell explictely about this track but apply skillful means instead.

Kind regards

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by DarwidHalim » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:57 am

Assuming Mahayana is not buddhism, how can it survive for so long and so wide?

Why in the history of buddhism in the past up to now, there are monks or scholars who are initially Theravada adopt Mahayana's view?

Although there are people who said Prajnaparamita Sutta is not possible to be stored in Naga's realm, they themselves contradict their own scripture that said Naga has protected Buddha during his meditation in Bodghaya.

The question is: If Naga can protect Buddha's body, why he cannot protect Buddha's teaching?

Up to now, I never see any scholars from any buddhist schools able to successfully challenge the content of Sunyata as explained in the Prajnaparamitta sutta.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Ron-The-Elder
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:16 am

tiltbillings wrote:Ñāṇa is quite correct in his statement. The stuff on ATI is both sectarian and highly dated.
I will bow to your scholarship anytime, Tilt. Can you cite a more reputable source re. this topic? :anjali: Ron
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:25 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Ñāṇa is quite correct in his statement. The stuff on ATI is both sectarian and highly dated.
. . . Can you cite a more reputable source re. this topic? :anjali: Ron
Let me point you to Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition by Paul Williams for a discussion of the origins of the Mahayana that takes into account the more recent threads of scholarship on the subject. Also, Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Studies in the Buddhist Traditions) by Jan Nattier, who reasonably argues that the Mahayana arose as a back to the basics movement among forest monks belonging to various pre-Mahayana schools.

See for very concise and partial synopsis of these two authors works can be found in this section of the longer article on the Mahayana: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana#O ... 1y.C4.81na" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


The Mahayana did not arise out of Vinaya issues with the Mahasanghikas, nor did it arise as a doctrinal split with any one school where the "Mahayanists" said "Poop on you guys, we are leaving."

One of the cardinal features that helped give rise to the Mahayana was a redefining of the Buddha, elevating him and in the process devaluing the arahant, which resulted in making Buddhahood the goal. In the very early Mahayana movements the arahant was also seen seen a legitimate goal of practice, unlike how it became later perceived by later, more polemical Mahayanists. This separation of the Buddha from the arahant, which is not something one finds in the Pali suttas, was, in good part, a result of the Buddha-ology that arose after the death of the Buddha, where the Buddha's story was fleshed out via hagiography, where the Buddha's status was elevated, giving rise to the idea of the bodhisatta/bodhisatva quite beyond what one finds in the suttas, which gave rise to the idea that that one could also become a bodhisatta/bodhisatva with the idea of becoming a Buddha. Some monks within the sangha of the various schools took this as being a sole goal of their practice.

The Mahayana followers in India followed the Vinayas of the Mainstream Schools in which they ordained -- that is to say, often within the same monastery one could find followers of a Mainstream School and followers of the Mahayana, both keeping the same Vinaya, and this phenomenon was not confined to any one Mainstream School. The Mahayana in India was pretty much a minority movement. Also, keep in mind there is no "the Mahayana." "The Mahayana" was and is a collection of lines of thought and practices that share some general common features, but the various Mahayana schools have also had significant doctrinal variances and they argued among each other over probably everything, which seems to be a Buddhist trait that still plays itself out (but never here on this forum).
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:38 am

And for a chatty discussion of some of the issues, you can listen to a talk by Ven Huifeng
(who occasionally posts here as Paññāsikhara), hosted by Ven Sujato, here:
http://www.dhammanet.org/download.php?view.435" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

[It's always nice to hear Dharma delivered in New Zealand English, at least that's my opinion...]

:anjali:
Mike

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reflection
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by reflection » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:53 am

Opinions and views vary even within Therevada and even more so within Mahayana. Some 'Mahayana' schools may be closer to what the Buddha actually taught than certain 'Therevada' schools, and the other way around. So these labels are more artificial than anything else. It's not very useful to put entire groups of practitioners under one banner, in my opinion. What matters is that we look into our heart to find out what is the truth. It doesn't need a name and it doesn't belong to one particular school.

:anjali:

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Dan74
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:02 am

tiltbillings wrote: Also, keep in mind there is no "the Mahayana." "The Mahayana" was and is a collection of lines of thought and practices that share some general common features, but the various Mahayana schools have also had significant doctrinal variances and they argued among each other over probably everything, which seems to be a Buddhist trait that still plays itself out (but never here on this forum).
I beg to differ!

:lol:

Over the various iterations of this theme, I have kind of developed an itch that flares up in reaction to a confusion of the academic and the practical that may or may not be there.

I mean none of us here are practicing Theravada and even fewer are practicing Mahayana. Instead we are (hopefully) taking to heart some instructions and stories on and off the cushion in the light of our aspiration to awaken (whatever that means to all of us). This may all be painfully obvious to most and if so I apologize but in these discussions which invariably turn academic I am left wondering what real differences can be extracted between those who practice according to different traditions and indeed what similarities can be found between those who practice in the same tradition. And of what relevance are the supposed differences in the traditions discussed by the scholar to the practice of individual practitioners like you and me?

64000 different dispositions and 64000 different dharmic gates, goes the saying...
_/|\_

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tiltbillings
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:04 am

Dan74 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Also, keep in mind there is no "the Mahayana." "The Mahayana" was and is a collection of lines of thought and practices that share some general common features, but the various Mahayana schools have also had significant doctrinal variances and they argued among each other over probably everything, which seems to be a Buddhist trait that still plays itself out (but never here on this forum).
I beg to differ!...
You may beg to differ, but you really did not address what I said.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Cittasanto » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:05 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Ron-The-Elder wrote:You will note that your citations are cited as hypothesies, which means that it remains conjecture.
This isn't conjecture: The first schism had nothing to do with the eventual rise of the Mahāyāna.

It's erroneous to equate the Mahāsāṅghikas with the Mahāyāna.
Respectfully, Your "opinion" apparently does not agree with that of the author you personally cited. Next time choose someone, who agrees wih your views, instead of contradicting yourself. He states otherwise. :anjali: Ron
yet the Mahayana rose in a different point in time which the first paper by Lance Cousins clearly agrees with, as is there agreement to it being different development. No Conjecture there!
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Nyana » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:27 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:Respectfully, Your "opinion" apparently does not agree with that of the author you personally cited. Next time choose someone, who agrees wih your views, instead of contradicting yourself. He states otherwise.
Since the Prebish paper is silent on the issue, you're probably referring to the Cousins paper. But Cousins doesn't contradict anything I've said. Regarding the historical associations he says (emphasis added):
  • The later literature on the schools reflects a later situation when the Mahāsāṅghikas had largely adopted the Mahāyāna. Sarvāstivādin writers may attribute Mahāyānist notions to the Mahāsāṅghikas in order to discredit one or both. Mahāyānist writers of a later date (e.g. Paramārtha) associate the two in order to show the antiquity of the Mahāyāna. Probably most later Mahāsāṅghikas believed that their particular tradition had always been Mahāyānist. It is however clear that the Mahāyāna cannot be this early.
Thus, he suggests some motives for later positions taken from various quarters. But he does not say that first schism gave rise to the Mahāyāna. Nor does he say that the Mahāsāṅghikas of this period are to be equated with the Mahāyāna.

Now, to go further into the issue, there is no doubt that certain later Mahāsāṅghika notions were prominent in the historical development of Mahāyāna ideas. But so were trends occurring in other sectarian quarters, most notably Sarvāstivāda sources. For example, Schrnithausen has shown that early Mahāyāna Yogācāra texts rely heavily upon the Sarvāstivāda Āgamas. And based on a number of Chanjing texts now only extant in Chinese translation, Deleanu, Yamabe, and Seton have each shown that there were a spectrum of proto-Mahāyāna & Mahāyāna ideas being articulated and developed amongst authors in the first centuries CE who otherwise indicate Sarvāstivāda doctrinal affiliations. Therefore, the historical development of Mahāyāna ideas is quite dynamic, and occurred in various diverse Indian Buddhist communities.

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