Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Kim OHara
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:39 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:34 pm
Kim OHara wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:58 pm

Every religious tradition does this sort of thing, i.e., claiming more miraculous origins, more direct authority and greater antiquity (or all three) than its competitors. The only reasonable response to all origin stories, in view of this habit, is to treat them as unreliable myths - and that includes the origin stories of one's own tradition.

:coffee:
Kim
Hmm, well I am not so sure it is true in every religion, nor is it harmless embellishment.
I wonder if you can find me a religion whose origin story hasn't been cleaned up or embellished?
And I didn't say the process was harmless, although I think it usually is - from the viewpoint of believers, at least. Outsiders, reasonably enough, will want to call out inconsistencies.
:thinking:
In the case of the Buddha, saying that the Buddha taught secret techniques that were better after teaching subpar stuff (i.e. the Pali Canon)--makes him look like a disingenuous and duplicitous teacher, not to mention a hypocrite. Especially when you consider the Pali Canon contains numerous places where the Buddha himself criticizes those who teach in such a way.
I agree, but I will point out that the Mahayana version of the story amounts to exactly the habit I described.

:coffee:
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greenjuice
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:05 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:40 pm
What you're suggesting works pretty well on an individual level, IMO. (In fact it is close to my own approach, which keeps me happy and doing good things.)
But I don't think it's ever been formulated as a cohesive doctrine, which is what a "school" needs, although individual authors and teachers do tend in that direction at times and you're likely to find them if you read about "Engaged Buddhism."

:reading:
Kim
We should start our own school (not to quote Bender from Futurama here, but who knows the reference will know what I mean lol). Although I don't know how would we call it, tantravada maybe, although that wouldn't be correct bc there would be no Tantra scriptures, only Suttas, and also Tantric Theravada already exists; maybe vajirayana using pali vajira instead of sanskrit vajra, although most people (and Google's algorithm) would think its a typo of vajrayana. Maybe sukhayana or sukhavada, idk, i'm out of ideas :D
DooDoot wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:20 am
In other words, my impression is the Mahayana Bodhisattva doctrine evolved out of the later Theravada doctrines; particularly the Theravada Jataka Tales, Buddhavamsa & Apadana.
Yes, I probably made a mistake by saying Suttas, it's maybe Jatakas, I do vaguely remember that somewhere in the Pali Canon it's mentioned which (mental /virtuous /moral) characteristics Buddha developed in previous lives which contributed to him becoming a Buddha in that life, although i don't really remember where.
jabalí wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:36 pm
... and a enlightened teacher can drink alcohol and have sex with his students because of that...
Accoding to the vajrayana approach people can drink alcohol and have sex and in general do whatever they want as long as they don't do the 10 akusala kammas or fail to act compassionately.
Dhammanando wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:42 am
This sounds a bit like my Thai dentist. ...
LOL.. Although, it does just sound a bit like it, it's not really that, because they still do want to attain nibbana at some future time :D
SarathW wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:59 am
I want to ask if there ever was any school, or author, that had this position - of accepting only the Pali Canon, but having a mahayana or Vajrayana attitude?
Not quite the Mahayana or Vajrayana way.
But gradual training is major teaching in Theravada.
You find a comfortable place for yourself and work towards Nibbana.
I am trying at least to become a Sotapanna (whatever it is) as it guarantees the Nibbana in seven lives.
When I become Sotapanna I may try to attain the next level.
Sotapana can still enjoy life pleasures but do not break the five precepts.
Perhaps they may help others towards enlightenment as well.
Yeah, that's not it. The thing about the mahayana approach is to not aim at nibbana, but at becoming a Buddha, (or a bodhisatta), and the thing about the vajrayana approach is to not aim at either, but at staying in samsara while avoiding (or minimizing) dukkha in spite of that.
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:46 pm

SteRo wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:21 am
Since you mentioned three 'attitudes' I think 'both attitudes' should be replaced by 'all these attitudes' ...?
I say both referring to the mahayana and vajrayana attitutes, assuming that the 'hinayana' attitude is the one which is explicitly given in the Pali Canon.
I think that Mahayana doctrines are too diverse to be characterized by only the attitude you mention.
Of course, but i do think this is a basic thing in Mahayana, on the basis of which it is differentiated from 'hinayana' - the 'lesser vehicle' is 'lesser' because one just aims to liberate oneself from samsara, and the 'larger vehicle' is 'larger' because one wants to become a Buddha /bodhisatta and liberate not just oneself, but also many others (or even everyone) from samsara.
Also, I don't know whether the defining characteristic should - instead of 'attitude' - better be called 'resolve' considering the goal of practice. In that regard Vajrayana belongs to Mahayana.
Well, the goals are different. Whereas the goals of a mahayanist is to liberate oneself and many others from samsara, the goal of the vajrayanist is to remain in samsara and find happiness there. They might say nibbana is possible withing samsara, or that nibbana and samsara are one, etc, as i mentioned; but that is secondary to the attitude, as one vajrayana author says "even if you could escape samsara, you shouldn't want to". In that sense vajrayana is clearly distinct from mahayana as much as it is from 'hinayana'. Vajrayana might says they aim to 'escape samsara while remaining in samsara' and thus use the words 'escape samsara' (like they also use 'nirvana') but they will mean what i explained here.
Last but no least there are Mahayana doctrines that teach that ultimately there is only ekayana and from that perspective every individual simply practices the path of her/his current lineage, regardless whether for one's own sake, for the sake of others or both, because all paths will finally flow in the same ultimate path.
Yes, there is that. In Vajrayana and Mahayana even though 'hinayana' is considered 'lesser' it is not considered a false way or a misrepresentation of what Buddha thought, they think that Buddha gave different teachings for different people according to the inclinations of those people. The three vehicles are all given by Buddha according to this view (which is afaik generally held by Mahayana and Vajrayana).
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm

Will wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:41 pm
greenjuice, see this old thread on the Manual of the Excellent Man:

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=40
Will look at it.
Your notion of vajrayana as 'not wanting to escape' samsara is wrong.
Call it whatever one wants, that is an attitude which exists and is promoted by some (at least Nyingma) Vajrayana Buddhists. Here even a neat table with point-by-point comparison by a (Nyingma) Vajrayana Buddhist: https://vividness.live/2013/10/23/sutra-vs-tantra/
A voluntary return to birth on this planet is not samsara, nor is this planet or realm samsara.
Nor did i say that.
Vajrayana is simply a faster path to full buddhahood, yet the bodhisattva attitude is identical with Mahayana.
Vajrayana uses the language of 'achieving nirvana' and 'achieving buddhahood' but by that they mean realizing emptyness of everything in the sense i explained when talking about the 'vajrayana attitude'. They will say that samsara and nirvana as one in the sense that nirvana is not somewhere outside samsara, but is a state of a person nside it, when that person realizes the emptyness of everything, including pain and pleasure, and when they realize that, they will then be able to feel and see pain in the samsara without suffering and will be able to indulge in pleasure (including sex, alcohol, etc) without getting attached to it in a way that will make them suffer when it stops.
binocular wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:13 pm
Holding such attitudes would require a massively selective reading of the Pali Canon. Ignoring most, and interpreting the rest willfully to one's own biases.
Sure, possibly some, maybe even many people do that. But it can hardly be called "adhering to the Pali Canon" or "holding the Pali Canon as relevant scripture".
...
There are individuals (some even at this forum) who _say_ they accept the Pali Canon, but otherwise have a mahayana or vajrayana attitude. But the emphasis is on "say". Discuss with them a bit, and it turns out they don't care about the Pali Canon, and, at most, have a poor knowledge of it.
I disagree. It is obvious that the Pali Canon assumes the 'hinayana' attitude, and most of it's material is advice on how to practice that attitude, but it is not exclusively that - there are various Suttas where Buddha simply gives advice to laypeople how to pursue happiness in this life, without mentioning or implying anything about nibbana or moving towards it (eg striving to become sotapanna). And even if there weren't such parts, one could still easily take eg the vajrayana attitude. How? Well, Buddha's teaching is framed as - to achieve this goas - do these things. But what if i don't want to achieve that goal? One could accept Buddha as a teacher who was correct about the world (rebirth, akusala kamma, anicca, etc) and who had good advice about how to be happy in this life - while not accepting the goal about which he explained how to get to.

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by binocular » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:40 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
I disagree. It is obvious that the Pali Canon assumes the 'hinayana' attitude, and most of it's material is advice on how to practice that attitude, but it is not exclusively that - there are various Suttas where Buddha simply gives advice to laypeople how to pursue happiness in this life, without mentioning or implying anything about nibbana or moving towards it (eg striving to become sotapanna). And even if there weren't such parts, one could still easily take eg the vajrayana attitude. How? Well, Buddha's teaching is framed as - to achieve this goas - do these things. But what if i don't want to achieve that goal? One could accept Buddha as a teacher who was correct about the world (rebirth, akusala kamma, anicca, etc) and who had good advice about how to be happy in this life - while not accepting the goal about which he explained how to get to.
Then why bother with the Buddha and the Pali Canon in the first place?
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:04 pm

It's like you missed what I said. I disagree with you that this approach would not constitute adherence to the Pali Canon. There are a lot of lay Buddhists who accept the Pali Canon as a source of teaching, and who don't want to become anagarikas or monks, etc, a lot of the Pali Canon simply doesn't apply to them, because a lot of that advice is for monk, who want to renounce the world. This would be just slightly different in framing that lay lifestyle as world-view, and thinking that Buddha's ethical and psychological advice which is applicable to lay life is enough if a person thinks chooses that path. Monks who renounce the world work towards nibbana, lay people don't. Buddha gave advice how to pursue nibbana, and also how to pursue happiness within the samsara. From the perspective of the former pursuit, the latter pursuit is lowly and 'bad', but that is *from the perspective of one accepting that pursuit*. This attitude i talk about would just be an expression of not accepting that pursuit and it's perspective.

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by Dan74 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:20 pm

I think there are various misunderstandings as to what is taught in Mahayana and Vajrayana here. Perhaps an intro book to all the traditions like Peter de la Santina The Tree of Enlightenment can help?

Also, the Buddha as recorded in the Pali Canon taught that the best is the one who practices for his own sake and for the others. This can surely be construed as a seed of Bodhosattva's aspiration. And as for the actual method, well there are many, and some of what is found in the Pali Canon is also taught by Mahayana and Vajrayana teachers, in addition to methods of their schools that the Buddha also purportedly taught.
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:40 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
Vajrayana... they will then be able to feel and see pain in the samsara without suffering and will be able to indulge in pleasure (including sex, alcohol, etc) without getting attached to it in a way that will make them suffer when it stops.
The above invalid ideas demonstrate the obsession with the "pleasure seeker" in the Pali suttas. It was already mentioned the Pali suttas teach any "delight in feelings is attachment" (MN 38). Therefore, it is not possible to have sex for pleasure without attachment. I would take care with Vajrayana, given the current sensitivities about the on-going sexual misconduct scandals in Vajrayana.
greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
I disagree. It is obvious that the Pali Canon assumes the 'hinayana' attitude...
The word "hina" means "inferior, low; poor, miserable; vile, base, abject, contemptible, despicable".
greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
and most of it's material is advice on how to practice that attitude, but it is not exclusively that - there are various Suttas where Buddha simply gives advice to laypeople how to pursue happiness in this life, without mentioning or implying anything about nibbana or moving towards it
The Buddha generally taught the Path to Nibbana to those capable of attaining it.
greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
(eg striving to become sotapanna).
There appear to be enough watered-down teachings in the suttas about sotapanna for the lay devotee to aspire to. Regardless, you seem to not believe in the saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears". Your posts appear to have a Messianic quality, where it is believed the teacher has the power to change the uninterested unseeking person. Have you ever heard the riddle about: "How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb?" :shrug:
greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
And even if there weren't such parts, one could still easily take eg the vajrayana attitude.
The Vajrayana appear too busy saving face over sexual misconduct scandals and the Dalai Lama's on-going unBuddhist comments, such as his views on homosexuality, to be saving all sentient beings. Have you heard the phrase: "Psychotherapist, heal thyself"? All religions, including Theravada & Vajrayana, appear to promote lots of hype they and their adherents don't live up to. A doctrine of "saving all sentient beings" does not mean it is actually possible to save all sentient beings. Most, if not all, religions have their superstitious elements.
greenjuice wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:00 pm
How? Well, Buddha's teaching is framed as - to achieve this goals - do these things. But what if i don't want to achieve that goal? One could accept Buddha as a teacher who was correct about the world (rebirth, akusala kamma, anicca, etc) and who had good advice about how to be happy in this life - while not accepting the goal about which he explained how to get to.
It is an established principle in Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of Dhamma: (i) dhamma for laypeople; and (ii) dhamma for monks. Some of your posts on this forum appear to indicate very serious or grave wrong views, such as indulgence in sensuality is not an obtacle to Nibbana. This grave wrong view was addressed in MN 22. Such distorted views can be an obstacle to discerning what the Buddha actually taught because there is the belief Nibbana can be attained with sensuality. This leads to not discerning seeking Nibbana is not suitable for all people because most people must engage in sexual/family relationships due to their inherent disposition. Also, not all people are capable of dissolving the "self" survival instinct. Thus, the suttas report the Buddha remained silent when asked would he lead all people to liberation. The suttas are clear the Buddha only would teach his Higher Dhamma to those with little dust in their eyes. :smile:
Out of compassion for beings, I surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As I did so, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace & danger in the other world.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the world be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
The bottom line is it appears a Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude is not compatible with the Pali Canon because the view does not appear to exist in the Pali Canon that "all sentient beings can be saved". :smile:
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by santa100 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:25 pm

DooDoot wrote:The bottom line is it appears a Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude is not compatible with the Pali Canon because the view does not appear to exist in the Pali Canon that "all sentient beings can be saved".
Mahayana/Vajrayana are composed of a huge number of schools/sects, some are compatible with the Pali Canon, and some are not. Even some masters in the Zen/Chan lineages interpret "all sentient beings" as all unwholesome thoughts and defilements in one's mind (not living human and non-human beings), which indeed will need to be "saved" in order to attain enlightenment. If that's the case, then it sounds pretty legit. and has no conflict with the Pali teaching.

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by binocular » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:27 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:04 pm
It's like you missed what I said. I disagree with you that this approach would not constitute adherence to the Pali Canon. There are a lot of lay Buddhists who accept the Pali Canon as a source of teaching, and who don't want to become anagarikas or monks, etc, a lot of the Pali Canon simply doesn't apply to them, because a lot of that advice is for monk, who want to renounce the world. This would be just slightly different in framing that lay lifestyle as world-view, and thinking that Buddha's ethical and psychological advice which is applicable to lay life is enough if a person thinks chooses that path. Monks who renounce the world work towards nibbana, lay people don't. Buddha gave advice how to pursue nibbana, and also how to pursue happiness within the samsara. From the perspective of the former pursuit, the latter pursuit is lowly and 'bad', but that is *from the perspective of one accepting that pursuit*. This attitude i talk about would just be an expression of not accepting that pursuit and it's perspective.
Sure. Still, it's not clear why one would do that. It's like buying oneself a fancy race car, but use it only on Saturdays to go grocery shopping; or to make oneself a nice pizza, but then wait for it to get all cold and clotted before eating it.

It seems that such a lay practitioner as you describe above is primarily looking for validation/justification of his worldly views, rather than actual advice on how to live happily.

The idea that one can be happy in samsara with no intention to leave it does not sound compatible with Theravada.
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:37 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:27 pm
Sure. Still, it's not clear why one would do that.
Because almost all people find wordly life as a better option than renunciation, that's why virtually no one does renunciation as Buddha taught it. Moreover, most modern people would take a harsher position and see such renunciation (which eg suggests that their loved ones and their loving relations are a lowly fetter) as reprehensible, and secondly, would not see nibbana a desirable goal, especially as explained by most Theravadins.
It's like buying oneself a fancy race car, but use it only on Saturdays to go grocery shopping; or to make oneself a nice pizza, but then wait for it to get all cold and clotted before eating it.
That's from the perspective of one accepting that view. Most people would see it the other way around. That's simply the case.
It seems that such a lay practitioner as you describe above is primarily looking for validation/justification of his worldly views, rather than actual advice on how to live happily.
You are implying that those are separated, which is, again, just an expression of your perspective, and the who point i'm making is that is not the only perspective to take.
The idea that one can be happy in samsara with no intention to leave it does not sound compatible with Theravada.
Buddha (who gave advice to lay people about how to be happy in the worldly sense, like he literally advised them to eg pursue wealth and enjoy it) seems to have disagreed. Of course it cannot be absolute, as Buddha said, the only way to absolutely avoid all suffering is to never be born again in any plane of existence (which is precisely the thing most people don't want to achieve).

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by SteRo » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:53 am

Leading a layman's life and following the advice of the Buddha as to a happy layman's life is still following the Dharma because one is following the Buddha's advice. Maturation needs time and maybe in one of the following lives there will be arising the resolve to practice the Noble Eightfold Path to attain its goal.

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by binocular » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:09 pm

I just think it's strange to turn to the Buddha for advice on how to live a happy lay life with no higher aspiration, given that the Buddha did not exactly speak of lay people positively. Sounds like wanting to marry a person who flat out told you they don't love you.
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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by greenjuice » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:39 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:09 pm
I just think it's strange to turn to the Buddha for advice on how to live a happy lay life with no higher aspiration, given that the Buddha did not exactly speak of lay people positively. Sounds like wanting to marry a person who flat out told you they don't love you.
Again, the point is that needn't be interpreted like that. Buddha didn't have every interaction with lay people be a criticism of them being lay people, on the contrary, he would give them advice about how to be happy as lay people, and even criticized lay people who didn't enjoy in what they have.

As i said above: Monks who renounce the world work towards nibbana, lay people don't. From the perspective of the former position, the latter position is lowly and 'bad', but that is *from the perspective of one accepting that pursuit*.

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Re: Mahayana /Vajrayana attitude with Pali Canon?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 8:17 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:09 pm
I just think it's strange to turn to the Buddha for advice on how to live a happy lay life with no higher aspiration, given that the Buddha did not exactly speak of lay people positively. Sounds like wanting to marry a person who flat out told you they don't love you.
It can be argued that the Buddha didn't speak positively of lay life to monks in order to encourage them to stay in the robes. While when addressing lay people he spoke very positively. I think considering the target audience is important in interpreting the Dhamma.
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