Why Theravada?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Jhana4
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Jhana4 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:57 pm

Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?
Thanks for your answers
Never heard of those things,
Vipassna and Theravada teachings were what was around when I became interested in meditation,
Theravada is the oldest surviving Buddhist tradition so I think the chances are better that the Pali Canon is closeER to what the historical Buddha MIGHT have actually taught.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

Samma
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Samma » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:02 pm

That form of mediation seems to have been popularized by the Chinese Zen master Ta-Hui (1089 – 1163) a member of the Lin-Chi sect of Zen. So thats around 1500 years after the Buddha. This is the best article I know on the topic:
http://www.nondualitymagazine.org/nondu ... lachs..htm

It is a fair question, has the dhamma been improved on over time or not? And well, many of us here would say not. Be especially careful of people saying they are the best and offer the fastest more direct enlightenment. Are they even offering the same thing as the early texts or something different? Keep your common sense.

kc2dpt_deactivated
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by kc2dpt_deactivated » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:21 pm

There is no shortage of people who will tell you what they have is new, improved, faster, and better. That claim on it's own seems worthless to me.

I started with Theravada because of all the teachings I had read, those from this tradition were the first to make some sort of sense to me. Of course, that on it's own doesn't mean I made the right choice. :lol:

santa100
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by santa100 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:28 pm

Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?
The Buddha taught the Four References which could be useful for such question..
Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might say: ‘In the presence of the Blessed One I heard this; in his presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline.893 If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been badly learned by this bhikkhu.’ Thus you should discard it. ~~ http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... _link-1064 ~~

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Dan74
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Dan74 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:53 pm

Myotai wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?


Thanks for your answers
Well, I didn't choose Theravada, I practice Seon (Zen). But I am not at all convinced that it's superior. Apart from a somewhat controversial difference in emphasis (concerning Bodhisattva vows) I think much hinges on the actual teacher and even more on the student. As far as teachers go, Thai Forest, for example, for me has many inspirational living teachers, whereas Seon has few English speaking teachers (apart from the Kwan Um school, which is a little different). So in a practical sense I'd say if you have a good Seon teacher nearby, go for it, and if you have a good Theravada teacher nearby, go for it, and if you have both, well, you are spoilt for choice! Explore both and see which one resonates more strongly.

Hwadu is a great practice but it is not for everyone. Like much of Zen, it is a steep path.

Thanks Dan,

Do you not think each tradition comes with a flavour of sorts though. Buddhism itself doesn't, I get that. But Zen has a definite taste of Japan/Korea/China and Theravada has a more gentle hint of Thailand etc... They seem extremely different to me. Might be wrong though but the aesthetic choice seems to be really important too.
Aesthetics enter in tangentially, I think, through things like chant styles, art, food. The core of the teachings is timeless in both cases and much closer than it may appear.

As for claims, there is always a proviso. I think there are some suttas like this too, 'if you do...., then...." The trouble of course is doing ..... Sudden, steep paths work best for people with a great deal of energy, resolve and stamina to last all the way. Such are indeed, very few. But most teachers incorporate elements from various teachings to teach a combination of sudden and gradual, I've found.

Don't get fooled by the label - the important thing, as I've said, are the student and the teacher (especially in Seon, but personally I think in Theravada, too).
_/|\_

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Anagarika
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Anagarika » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:58 pm

For me, it was important to source the school closest to the teachings of the Buddha. The scholarship in the area of the etiology of the Dhamma reflects that the Pali Canon captures to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Many of the Ajahns and teachers that teach from the Theravada and Early Buddhism perspective are highly credible. We have today teachers like Vens. Thanissaro, Bodhi, Brahm, Gunuratana, and others who are highly intelligent people (some with strong science and research backgrounds) who likely wouldn't waste their time on a fool's errand. Lifetimes have been spent on this Dhamma, and have yielded sound roadmaps for the navigation of mind/ life and release from samsara as the Buddha intended.

After starting with Korean Zen, and spending some back and forth time with other Mahayana traditions, when the time came for me to commit to a practice and a school, there was no question other than choosing Pali Canon/Theravada. There is so much positive to be said of Mahayana, but to be critical, in some respects Mahayana has taken the Buddhavacana and created a practice out of completely new cloth. The Buddha's Vinaya is rejected. The Canon is displaced by 8th century fabrications that were geared more to nationalistic concerns, than Dhamma. Buddha is said to have made statements in later sutras that no independent scholar accepts as valid or true.

There is so much cohesiveness, intelligence, wisdom and authenticity in the Pali Canon based schools, that to practice otherwise would suggest a rejection of Buddhism in favor of, for example, "Dogenism." Try going to a Zen sangha and learning jhana. It was the Buddha who advised his monks to practice jhana, to meditate in a certain way, and this practice was later rejected by Mahayana schools seeking to "brand" themselves in a more populist manner. All forms of meditation are beneficial, but it seems to me important to practice meditation the way that the Buddha taught it.

It's a bit like the barrel analogy. There is a beauty and simplicity to a well made oak barrel. Start creating cracks and pounding pegs into it, and soon it is no longer a barrel, and it no longer holds water. Maybe I'm a jerk for saying this, but the Dhamma can be considered medicine for a deluded society, so why not try to get the antidote as effective and pure as we possibly can?

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Myotai
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Myotai » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:20 pm

I guess its down to the interpretation of 'pure'.

Matteo1972
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Matteo1972 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:34 pm

Dan74 wrote: Hwadu is a great practice but it is not for everyone. Like much of Zen, it is a steep path.
Why should Zen be a steep path?

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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Matteo1972 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:41 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:For me, it was important to source the school closest to the teachings of the Buddha. The scholarship in the area of the etiology of the Dhamma reflects that the Pali Canon captures to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Many of the Ajahns and teachers that teach from the Theravada and Early Buddhism perspective are highly credible. We have today teachers like Vens. Thanissaro, Bodhi, Brahm, Gunuratana, and others who are highly intelligent people (some with strong science and research backgrounds) who likely wouldn't waste their time on a fool's errand. Lifetimes have been spent on this Dhamma, and have yielded sound roadmaps for the navigation of mind/ life and release from samsara as the Buddha intended.

After starting with Korean Zen, and spending some back and forth time with other Mahayana traditions, when the time came for me to commit to a practice and a school, there was no question other than choosing Pali Canon/Theravada. There is so much positive to be said of Mahayana, but to be critical, in some respects Mahayana has taken the Buddhavacana and created a practice out of completely new cloth. The Buddha's Vinaya is rejected. The Canon is displaced by 8th century fabrications that were geared more to nationalistic concerns, than Dhamma. Buddha is said to have made statements in later sutras that no independent scholar accepts as valid or true.

There is so much cohesiveness, intelligence, wisdom and authenticity in the Pali Canon based schools, that to practice otherwise would suggest a rejection of Buddhism in favor of, for example, "Dogenism." Try going to a Zen sangha and learning jhana. It was the Buddha who advised his monks to practice jhana, to meditate in a certain way, and this practice was later rejected by Mahayana schools seeking to "brand" themselves in a more populist manner. All forms of meditation are beneficial, but it seems to me important to practice meditation the way that the Buddha taught it.

It's a bit like the barrel analogy. There is a beauty and simplicity to a well made oak barrel. Start creating cracks and pounding pegs into it, and soon it is no longer a barrel, and it no longer holds water. Maybe I'm a jerk for saying this, but the Dhamma can be considered medicine for a deluded society, so why not try to get the antidote as effective and pure as we possibly can?
I am the utmost pleased of reading this post as this is what I hear from many Theravada Buddhists.
My sincere opinion is at the diametrical opposite of what is stated here.
My only concern is with enlightenment, nothing else.
If Buddha cant bring me to Englihtenment, he would be worth less than a used show (sorry for being too rude maybe heree).
His teachings should be worth nothing.

like in mathematics, it is the laws of gravitation that is important, not newton as he discovered it.
at the same way, it is the path to Enligthenment which should be important, not who taught it.

Whether the path to Nirvana is to be followed reading the Tipitaka, the Bible or X-Men, I would not care.

Same, it is none of my concern what are the "real" teachings of Buddha
My utmost concern is the validity of such teaching, whether it can bring me anywhere

rohana
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by rohana » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:33 pm

I was looking through Geoff's (Nyana) site the other day and this pretty much sums up most of my approach:
  • The ascetic samaṇa Gotama lived in approximately the 5th century BCE. He is considered to be the Buddha of this present age. The earliest, most complete and accurate record of his life and teachings is preserved in the Pāli Nikāyas.
    ...
    Accordingly, the only view which concerns a practitioner of the Buddha’s dhamma is the view which is both “right” and “integral” to the development of the path: the understanding of unsatisfactoriness, the origin of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, and the noble way of practice leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. These four noble truths set the parameters for what is necessary and useful for awakening. The entire noble eightfold path has been fabricated to specifically orient and steer the practitioner towards a deeper and more integral understanding of this “right” view, eventually culminating in direct gnosis of the four noble truths. Anything else is quite irrelevant.
If someone told you there's someone coming to kill you, do you hire the bodyguard that's the best around, or other bodyguards who may or may not provide the same level of protection? Most of us can agree that the Buddha who lived in modern-day Nepal/India was a Sammā Sambuddha. Elaborations by later teachers, regardless of the tradition, may or may not be as effective - I don't have time to try them all out and verify them (remember there's a bounty on your head!). So I take the Pāli Sūttas as authoritative and pick any later teachings that minimally deviate from the Sūttas - hence Theravāda. So that's basically my personal method of evaluation.

:anjali:
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43

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Myotai
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Myotai » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:41 pm

..interesting stuff this :coffee:

I personally can't see anything wrong in the Historical Buddhas teachings being embelished. Though I can also see the attraction in feeling a fidelity to the Pāli Nikāyas.

Though the writings of Honghzhi Zhengue, Dogen etc do have a beautiful ring that for many takes them closer to the Buddhas intention I am sure.

What do others think?

M...

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Anagarika
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Anagarika » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:12 pm

Myotai, my own bias is that so long as one is mindful of the Pali Buddhavacana, there is indeed a treasure of wisdom in the Mahayana. The Heart Sutra, for example is a beautiful expression. So long as one understands that the statements attributed to the Buddha in many Mahayana sutras are not Buddhavacana, then these teachings and poems certainly have benefit for practitioners. The Bodhisattva ideal is valuable, absolutely. My own sense is that Japanese Zen got into deep waters when various 8-13th century CE schools were competing with each other for the attention and patronage of the Emperors' and the laity's dana. Dogen for example, spent some time ridiculing other contemporary teachers, while promoting his own view of the world/dharma. All of this energy might have been better spent understanding the foundational Agamas (as Dogen undoubtedly did) along with the Chinese Tiantai Dhyanas, and teaching them as they were taught when Dhamma came to China. That's my two (unscholarly) cents. The need to create new "brands" in Japan seems to me to have lead to confusion and some corruption of the dharma. This dharma then made its way to the west, where it flourishes, albeit in contradiction to a lot of what is offered in the Dhamma of the Pali Canon.

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Kusala
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Kusala » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:24 am

Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?


Thanks for your answers
Listen to Ven. Dhammavuddho...

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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Dan74
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:07 am

This Venerable is spreading his delusion. I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Amaro or Ajahn Sundara:

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=8901
MR: Why do you think there is such a division between the Theravada and the Mahayana schools?

Ajahn Sundara: I think the divide came up very early after the death of the Buddha. Some scholars have explained that there was a school that was very strongly attached to the idea of the arahat model. Maybe the Mahayana, bodhisattva school, came in reaction to those earlier positions that were taken after the Buddha’s passing away. Maybe it was not such a big divide; maybe it was just a reaction to monks who studied a lot and just didn’t care about the world and didn’t have anything to offer the rest of their society.

MR: What about now? Do you think that there is a big divide now?

Ajahn Sundara: I think the divide between the two schools is more in the text than in reality. I know people have made a big thing about it but it’s a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of bad feelings about the Theravada, “Hinayana” schools. As if the Mahayana bodhisattva is out there busy and not really getting enlightened and the arahat doesn’t care about the world…. Maybe I’m kind of cynical about it. The thing is, if you practice you don’t dwell on such differences at the conceptual level.

MR: Do you think there are any differences in the two schools?

Ajahn Sundara: Each school brings different skillful means to deal with the mind and body. The Buddha’s teaching is basically a long series of skillful means to liberate the heart from suffering. I see the bodhisattva vow as another means, another way to explain how to liberate the mind from suffering. When I hear you chanting that you are dedicating your life to the benefit of all sentient beings, it’s like a means of training the mind to move away from that self-centered tendency which happens very dramatically. We do this in our meditation. In America this is called Insight Practice. We are learning about the mind and its very selfish patterns and self-centered activity, and just listening to the mind as it is. Then we discover we can let it go, let go of that “non-bodhisattva mind,” let it go and so the divide becomes smaller and smaller.

When I was listening to the teaching of the Dalai Lama several years ago, myself and another nun who took the Bodhisattva vows checked all my vows. I checked the bodhisattva vows in great detail and there was nothing that would make me transgress, anything that would keep me from following those vows properly. I see them as training; the Bodhisattva Vow is training the mind just like the precepts are training the mind.
http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/22-2/arti ... world.html
Last edited by Dan74 on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_

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Ben
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Re: Why Theravada?

Post by Ben » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:28 am

Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion. I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Amaro.
Yes, I agree. I have seen that video before and it does Ven Dhammavuddho no favours.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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