Is mahayana Buddism?

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

Post by daverupa » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:13 pm

suttametta wrote:Experience is the arbiter here.
Well, I wonder about this, given that the Brahmajala Sutta teaches us that experience, in and of itself, can be quite misleading. The majority of views discussed there are a result of meditative attainment of one sort or another, experiences which are not rejected in and of themselves.

No, it is that such clingable conclusions as are based on these experiences are problematic, sustained as they are by craving and conceiving. Ultimately, we are taught that these views are all conditioned by contact. They are, altogether, "the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving."

Experience is a problem when it is laden with ignorance in this way. Yoniso manasikara is required; without it, the experience of a putthujana can mislead just as easily as it can inform. Seeing correctly with wisdom takes effort, as experiences can be interpreted in innumerable ways, many of which are unwholesome.

Just by way of example, one can examine ones experiences for the presence of the asavas, which is kusala. Or, one can examine ones experiences for details on a/the self, which is akusala. The experience of the six senses is a given in each case, but the route of inquiry makes all the difference, which is the value of the Teaching.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

suttametta
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by suttametta » Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:31 pm

daverupa wrote:
suttametta wrote:Experience is the arbiter here.
Well, I wonder about this, given that the Brahmajala Sutta teaches us that experience, in and of itself, can be quite misleading. The majority of views discussed there are a result of meditative attainment of one sort or another, experiences which are not rejected in and of themselves.

No, it is that such clingable conclusions as are based on these experiences are problematic, sustained as they are by craving and conceiving. Ultimately, we are taught that these views are all conditioned by contact. They are, altogether, "the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving."

Experience is a problem when it is laden with ignorance in this way. Yoniso manasikara is required; without it, the experience of a putthujana can mislead just as easily as it can inform. Seeing correctly with wisdom takes effort, as experiences can be interpreted in innumerable ways, many of which are unwholesome.

Just by way of example, one can examine ones experiences for the presence of the asavas, which is kusala. Or, one can examine ones experiences for details on a/the self, which is akusala. The experience of the six senses is a given in each case, but the route of inquiry makes all the difference, which is the value of the Teaching.
I understand, but there's really no way for someone to recognize "consciousness without surface or feature," without some manner of experiential faculty. Nibbana is to be experienced and seen first hand.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Nyana » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:29 pm

suttametta wrote:You know, arguments ultimately don't penetrate the issue. It comes down to the method and result. That's why in my humble opinion, these commentators are irrelevant.
Right view accords with reason. Which is why, when you to claim:
suttametta wrote:Experience is the arbiter here.
This assertion is a rather pointless appeal when the person(s) you are in discussion with don't acknowledge the existence of the reality that you claim to have experienced.
suttametta wrote:That's why in my humble opinion, these commentators are irrelevant.
And this statement illustrates that your opinions are not in accord with the teachings of the Indian Mahāyāna commentarial traditions.
suttametta wrote:Let me ask you something. Does an Arahat have the cognitive obscuration?
Irrelevant question, but at any rate, all extant commentarial traditions including the Theravāda maintain that an arahant disciple does not have omniscient knowledge.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by suttametta » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:01 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Right view accords with reason.
Not just reason, wisdom. That is discovered within.
Ñāṇa wrote:This assertion is a rather pointless appeal when the person(s) you are in discussion with don't acknowledge the existence of the reality that you claim to have experienced.
What existence is that?
Ñāṇa wrote:And this statement illustrates that your opinions are not in accord with the teachings of the Indian Mahāyāna commentarial traditions.
When Vasubhandu came out, he was not in accord with any commentarial traditions either, or Nagarjuna. When Buddha came out, he certainly wasn't either. Commentarial traditions are only for reference. They are not authoritative. In the legal profession, relying on commentarial literature, when it contradicts the authoritative literature, is malpractice. As a practitioner it is one's duty to ensure that one has not run afoul the authority. The situation with regard to Suttas is the same, as it mentions in the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta.
Ñāṇa wrote:Irrelevant question, but at any rate, all extant commentarial traditions including the Theravāda maintain that an arahant disciple does not have omniscient knowledge.
The commentarial literature has run afoul the authoritative literature. It is most definitely not an irrelevant question if we are to judge correctly the value of the Sutta methodology. If you believe the Suttas, then you get the picture of an Arahant-Sammasambuddha. Then one can look at the claims coming from the commentarial side including the Mahayana with a much more critical eye.

I take it, then, you hold that the Arahant has a cognitive obscuration. If Arahants are obscured, then, in my view, the suttas do not tell a path to awakening. Because they say they do, then they would be lies. The Mahayana specifically refutes that Arahants have dispelled ignorance. The Suttas claim they have. Both cannot be right. I would urge that, for good reason, the Pali Sutta Buddha did not make a distinction that Arahants have the cognitive obscuration or only understand the emptiness of persons and not the emptiness of things. He was specifically assuring everyone that he held nothing back, and they have what he has.

When viewed from this lens, the practices of Mahayana and Vajrayana in particular come into focus as being syncretic modes, attempts to use Vedism as a path to bodhi. They use a monistic or pan-theistic trend in that line of practice, which the practice of Guru Yoga is the best exemplar, as expressed to me by Garchen Rinpoche.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Nyana » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:45 pm

suttametta wrote:When viewed from this lens, the practices of Mahayana and Vajrayana in particular come into focus as being syncretic modes, attempts to use Vedism as a path to bodhi. They use a monistic or pan-theistic trend in that line of practice, which the practice of Guru Yoga is the best exemplar, as expressed to me by Garchen Rinpoche.
Monism, pantheism, Vedānta, Mimāṃsā, etc., are all quite incompatible with right view. And without right view there can be no path to bodhi. Again, this has been explained at length by numerous Mahāyāna commentators. Your idiosyncratic opinions are not representative of the Mahāyāna teachings, period.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by suttametta » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:01 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Monism, pantheism, Vedānta, Mimāṃsā, etc., are all quite incompatible with right view. And without right view there can be no path to bodhi. Again, this has been explained at length by numerous Mahāyāna commentators. Your idiosyncratic opinions are not representative of the Mahāyāna teachings, period.
You cannot explain Guru Yoga without recourse to pantheism. As you mentioned, Vajrayana is part of Mahayana. Mahayana is speaking with a forked tongue.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Nyana » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:34 pm

suttametta wrote:You cannot explain Guru Yoga without recourse to pantheism.
Well, again, this is at best a tangential point. I don't need to explain guru yoga, but I do think it can be well accounted for without recourse to a pantheistic view. But at any rate, I'd be interested to see the replies if you were to post this assertion on the Dharma Wheel Tibetan Buddhism Forum.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by suttametta » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:40 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
suttametta wrote:You cannot explain Guru Yoga without recourse to pantheism.
Well, again, this is at best a tangential point. I don't need to explain guru yoga, but I do think it can be well accounted for without recourse to a pantheistic view. But at any rate, I'd be interested to see the replies if you were to post this assertion on the Dharma Wheel Tibetan Buddhism Forum.
It's hardly tangential if this is one of the major ways Mahayana is practiced today. Garchen Rinpoche told me the nature of mind is omnipresent and permeates all beings which is why one can unite with the mind of the guru. I asked him if this was similar to Brahman or eternalism? He said the Buddha only meant to refute a Creator God, but the notion of Brahman is basically fine with buddha-dharma. That was surprising. I'll repost this.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:58 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
suttametta wrote:You cannot explain Guru Yoga without recourse to pantheism.
Well, again, this is at best a tangential point. I don't need to explain guru yoga, but I do think it can be well accounted for without recourse to a pantheistic view. But at any rate, I'd be interested to see the replies if you were to post this assertion on the Dharma Wheel Tibetan Buddhism Forum.
See here:
Is Guru Yoga Based on Pantheism?
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=9709" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

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Dan74
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Dan74 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:29 am

I apprecate your posts, Paul, I am not here to disagree or debate. Your experience is your experience and I do not doubt it.

My feeling is that what you describe is a pretty fundamental problem in practice. Reification and attachment to sort of a self, a sense of existence, a vibration, of primordial sound, hell, most of us are attached to far grosser things than that!

Ive also heard similar reports from other former Vajrayana practitioners, one being a former member here, PeterB. Some Zen teachers have told me that in Vajrayana there is a lot of emphasis on energy and power.

Perhaps there are good reasons for this sort of practice though. Perhaps without habituating oneself to a swirling warm pool, it is virually impossible to let it go in a still cool one?

I do not know whether Vajrayana has forgotten about relinquishing each and every abiding and fetter, but they certainly have a lot of teachings to this effect and they hold Nagarajuna in very high regard. As for Zen, which is surely a major tradition within Mahayana.there are many clear instructions to this effect like here

http://www.spiritual-learning.com/case-27.html

So I am not sure if what you have related here describes the limits of Vajaraya practice, the limits of your lineage, the limits of specifically what you were taught, or indeed your understanding of it. But I do not think this desribes the limits of Mahayana and when you said that it is a hindrance, I think you overstated your case.
_/|\_

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Ben
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Ben » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:53 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
suttametta wrote:When viewed from this lens, the practices of Mahayana and Vajrayana in particular come into focus as being syncretic modes, attempts to use Vedism as a path to bodhi. They use a monistic or pan-theistic trend in that line of practice, which the practice of Guru Yoga is the best exemplar, as expressed to me by Garchen Rinpoche.
Monism, pantheism, Vedānta, Mimāṃsā, etc., are all quite incompatible with right view. And without right view there can be no path to bodhi. Again, this has been explained at length by numerous Mahāyāna commentators. Your idiosyncratic opinions are not representative of the Mahāyāna teachings, period.
Well said, Geoff!
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suttametta
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by suttametta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:55 am

Dan74 wrote:But I do not think this desribes the limits of Mahayana and when you said that it is a hindrance, I think you overstated your case.
Mahayana says Sravakayana is a hindrance, that Arahats are frozen in a one-sided samadhi. It is this claim from Mahayana that I am saying is false. It creates doubt in the sravakayana practitioner. This is what I'm calling a hindrance.

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daverupa
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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by daverupa » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:37 am

suttametta wrote:It creates doubt in the sravakayana practitioner.
This claim is certainly something to doubt.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by Nyana » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:45 am

suttametta wrote:
Dan74 wrote:But I do not think this desribes the limits of Mahayana and when you said that it is a hindrance, I think you overstated your case.
Mahayana says Sravakayana is a hindrance, that Arahats are frozen in a one-sided samadhi. It is this claim from Mahayana that I am saying is false. It creates doubt in the sravakayana practitioner. This is what I'm calling a hindrance.
This is an over-generalization. The Mahāyāna includes a number of different currents encompassing many historical developments occurring over a thousand year period in India. There are numerous early Mahāyāna texts that don't make this claim at all. Moreover, there are Tibetan & Western authors who interpret Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti as maintaining that a noble disciple has the same discernment of emptiness as an advanced noble bodhisattva.

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Re: Is mahayana Buddism?

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:52 am

nagarjuna:
  • "The teaching of the Mahayana of non-production
    And of extinction in the Hinayana are the same
    Emptiness [since they show that inherent existence] is extinguished,
    And that nothing [inherently existent] is produced;
    Then let the Mahayana be accepted [as the Buddha’s word]"
  • "If emptiness and the great nature of a Buddha are viewed with reason,
    how could what is taught in the two vehicles be of unequal value for the wise?"
    verse 387; Hopkins translations, THE PRECIOUS GARLAND AND THE SONG OF FOUR MINDFULLNESSES, page 75

tsongkapa:
  • "Hinayana and Mahayana are not differentiated through their view (of emptiness); the Superior Nagarjuna and his sons assert that the vehicles are discriminated by the way of acts of skillful method." sNgags rim chen mo in TANTRA IN TIBET, trans by J. Hopkins, p 99
  • "There is no contradiction in the fact that for a Mahayanist, Hinayana is an obstacle to full enlightenment, but for one in the Hinayana lineage, it is a method for full enlightenment." sNgags rim chen mo in TANTRA IN TIBET, trans by J. Hopkins p 103.
>> 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.

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