Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

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Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:30 pm

Hello dharma friends

Some times i ask my self . Why theravada reject such important teaching of buddha !

All religions sects they have some difference in the teaching but not reject the important teaching of their founder .

Like pure land teaching is most important teaching of buddha . Why theravada reject such teaching !
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby smcj » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:52 pm

They only accept the texts written in the Pali Canon. They believe that the later texts and traditions are corruptions of the original. Specifically they think Vajrayana is a Buddhism contaminated by centuries of proximity to Hinduism.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby odysseus » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:00 pm

There is no discrepancy between various traditions. All traditions accept each other as valid.

That said, there are many false teachings out there and one must learn to filter by oneself. What is proper Buddhism is easier to understand if you make yourself familiar with at least the basics of traditions and scrutinize Buddhist teachers.

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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Kare » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:04 pm

smcj wrote:They only accept the texts written in the Pali Canon. They believe that the later texts and traditions are corruptions of the original. Specifically they think Vajrayana is a Buddhism contaminated by centuries of proximity to Hinduism.


I would not use words as "corruptions" or "contaminated". Let us rather say that later texts are developments. Some developments arose from internal factors as there arose different interpretations of some points in the Buddha's teachings. Other developments were the result of influences from the society where Buddhism existed - in India, China, Tibet, Japan etc.

Some of those developments can be inspiring also for Theravada practitioners. Others are less so.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:08 am

:good:
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby smcj » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:54 am

I would not use words as "corruptions" or "contaminated". Let us rather say that later texts are developments.

I personally accept the later texts as valid developments. If I didn't I wouldn't do Tibetan practice, I'd be a Theravadan.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby matthewmartin » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:17 pm

Arabic Buddhist wrote:All religions sects they have some difference in the teaching but not reject the important teaching of their founder .

If I wrote a sutra, you'd right reject it if I attributed it to the historical Buddha. Any dummy can propose that a document is the word of the Buddha. It only makes sense that someone has to make a decision about what is canonical and what isn't. It is not surprising at all that people disagree on the answers. All of the sutras in Pali and otherwise were written down long after the historical Buddha died. So it isn't surprising that there is disagreement about what is canonical. Even in the Pali cannon, there are "grey area" documents.

Arabic Buddhist wrote:Like pure land teaching is most important teaching of buddha . Why theravada reject such teaching !

Well in Japanese Shin Buddhism, you only need attend a single dharma talk to hear why-- they talk a lot about other-power and own-power. Theravada is a system where you reach enlightenment primarily on your efforts and is optimistic about that working. In the Pure Land system, people are pessimistic about the possibility of enlightenment on ones own efforts and optimistic that another power can do it for you. In modern Chinese Chan, they hedge their bets and do both.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby PorkChop » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:55 pm

matthewmartin wrote:Well in Japanese Shin Buddhism, you only need attend a single dharma talk to hear why-- they talk a lot about other-power and own-power. Theravada is a system where you reach enlightenment primarily on your efforts and is optimistic about that working. In the Pure Land system, people are pessimistic about the possibility of enlightenment on ones own efforts and optimistic that another power can do it for you. In modern Chinese Chan, they hedge their bets and do both.


Not to nitpick, but that's a pretty gross mis-characterization (misunderstanding?) of Japanese Shin Buddhism (actually u said "the Pure Land system"), which is much more subtle than that.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby dude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:07 pm

How so, Pork Chop?
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby PorkChop » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:29 pm

dude wrote:How so, Pork Chop?


Well for starters, if you asked Jodo Shin Shu (or most Pure Land) practitioners to sum up their school of thought in one word, it'd probably be "gratitude", which is hardly pessimistic. The gist of my complaint is aimed at taking the 15 second elevator pitch of a school, reading a bunch of stuff into the doctrine that's basically not there, ignoring the concept of "skillful means" ie the presentation of doctrine in such a way that has a certain response on the practitioner that ultimately leads to the goal, and judging it harshly based an interpretation grounded in the doctrines of other schools. In a nutshell, this interpretation of "self power, other power" is not only incorrect, it's biased, which means it's a waste of time trying to explain the nuance.

While we're at it, I think the presentation of Theravada as somehow "less pessimistic" is pretty laughable. Which Theravada are we talking about? Modern rationalist Theravada or traditional Theravada? Didn't Buddhagosa himself wish that he could be born in a heaven after death so that in the future he would be able to study under Metteyya Buddha? How is that any different from the Pure Land practice of desiring to study under Amitabha? What about householders practicing buddhanussati and hoping to become sotapanna, sakadagami, or anagami?
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby plwk » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:47 am

Some times i ask my self . Why theravada reject such important teaching of buddha !
In the very first place, Theravada does neither rejection nor acceptance. Theravadins, the followers, however does what you're lamenting about.

Secondly, being a specific surviving ancient school with their own specific texts in teaching & discipline, they're not obliged to accept anything from anyone else what they do not regard as 'Buddha vacana', be it from their previous other ancient rivals back then or contemporary ones of today. So what is 'important' to you may not be important to them. And they're not obliged to keep fitting into what others fancy about them... The same is true for the vice versa

Thirdly, the closest that some Theravadins will accommodate as Buddha vacana from others may be in the spirit of this passage...
And the Blessed One spoke, saying:
"In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness. But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.

Now in this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true ascetics of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness. Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers.

But if, Subhadda, the bhikkhus live righteously, the world will not be destitute of Arahants."

So, that's why we can see today contemporary comparative studies and discussions in Vinaya & Abhidharma issues & studies and great interest in the Agama Sutras compared with the Pali Canon. Then we have another group of Theravadins who are willing to engage beyond these like the late Ven Dr K Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera coming up with his version of the Trikaya in his seminal work of 'What Buddhists Believe' and the late Ven Dr Walpola Rahula who has an opinion on the subject on the alaya vijnana & both having musings on the Bodhisattva Path. But even so, that does not mean that all Theravadins agree with these two either nor are they obliged to...
All religions sects they have some difference in the teaching but not reject the important teaching of their founder .
Again, what is 'important' to you may not be 'important' to others. There are similarities that both sides share and can agree on as commonly held ones which have been repeated to the point of ad nauseum on this forum which I will not regurgitate again.
Like pure land teaching is most important teaching of buddha . Why theravada reject such teaching !
Again & again, what is 'important' to you may not be 'important' to others. They have the teaching and practice on buddhanusati but it's not the same format and extent that the Mahayana have developed. The sooner I accept this the better I can move on not insisting that the Theravada and Theravadins should or must accept the same thing as my own Buddhist teaching & practice or tradition. This is like insisting that all others must look or think the same as I do just because I think so...
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby PorkChop » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:02 am

:good:
That was awesome, and the angle I probably should've approached it with, thanks plwk.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby dude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:10 am

PorkChop wrote:
dude wrote:How so, Pork Chop?


Well for starters, if you asked Jodo Shin Shu (or most Pure Land) practitioners to sum up their school of thought in one word, it'd probably be "gratitude", which is hardly pessimistic. The gist of my complaint is aimed at taking the 15 second elevator pitch of a school, reading a bunch of stuff into the doctrine that's basically not there, ignoring the concept of "skillful means" ie the presentation of doctrine in such a way that has a certain response on the practitioner that ultimately leads to the goal, and judging it harshly based an interpretation grounded in the doctrines of other schools. In a nutshell, this interpretation of "self power, other power" is not only incorrect, it's biased, which means it's a waste of time trying to explain the nuance.

While we're at it, I think the presentation of Theravada as somehow "less pessimistic" is pretty laughable. Which Theravada are we talking about? Modern rationalist Theravada or traditional Theravada? Didn't Buddhagosa himself wish that he could be born in a heaven after death so that in the future he would be able to study under Metteyya Buddha? How is that any different from the Pure Land practice of desiring to study under Amitabha? What about householders practicing buddhanussati and hoping to become sotapanna, sakadagami, or anagami?



Well, if it's a waste of time, so be it.
Nevertheless, the practice of calling on the name of Amitabha and abandoning all other practice and discipline is relying on "other power," is it not?
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Sherab » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:34 am

dude wrote:..the practice of calling on the name of Amitabha and abandoning all other practice and discipline is relying on "other power," is it not?

The calling on the name of Amitabha Buddha is relying on other power as far as going to Amitabha's pureland is concerned, but liberation from samsara is still needs individual practice.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Simon E. » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:43 am

odysseus wrote:There is no discrepancy between various traditions. All traditions accept each other as valid.

That said, there are many false teachings out there and one must learn to filter by oneself. What is proper Buddhism is easier to understand if you make yourself familiar with at least the basics of traditions and scrutinize Buddhist teachers.

:namaste:

Whilst admiring your breadth of vision, it just aint so.
If you doubt that try posting a pro- Mahayana sentiment on Dhamma Wheel.
You will get various responses but many of them will indicate a lot of perceived discrepancy.
And the members of Dhamma Wheel are fairly typical of Theravadins in general.

The fact is Buddhism is a broad church. Broad enough for some sectors to not recognise other sectors at all. That's the way it is. Now what ?
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby PorkChop » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:47 pm

dude wrote:Well, if it's a waste of time, so be it.
Nevertheless, the practice of calling on the name of Amitabha and abandoning all other practice and discipline is relying on "other power," is it not?


Again, your definition is not quite correct, though a little better than saying "another power", which is 100% incorrect. There's a lot of nuance there that you're not picking up that would require explaining a ton of Mahayana thought and unpacking a lot of "loaded" language. If everybody in Japanese Pure Land truly did what's implied in your post, then what would be the need of temples? of daily services? of weekly services? of Dharma talks? of minister training? There's a huge difference between "absolute bare minimum" and what is "generally recommended." Asserting things about the doctrine of another school without having studied & understood it in depth, while basing your opinions on your own school's bias is just as irresponsible as dropping the "H" word imho.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby odysseus » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:46 pm

Simon E. wrote:
odysseus wrote:There is no discrepancy between various traditions. All traditions accept each other as valid.

That said, there are many false teachings out there and one must learn to filter by oneself. What is proper Buddhism is easier to understand if you make yourself familiar with at least the basics of traditions and scrutinize Buddhist teachers.

:namaste:

Whilst admiring your breadth of vision, it just aint so.
If you doubt that try posting a pro- Mahayana sentiment on Dhamma Wheel.
You will get various responses but many of them will indicate a lot of perceived discrepancy.
And the members of Dhamma Wheel are fairly typical of Theravadins in general.

The fact is Buddhism is a broad church. Broad enough for some sectors to not recognise other sectors at all. That's the way it is. Now what ?


Hm, thanks for the compliment but I´m still a basic learner. In my understanding, "true Buddhists" don´t have this separation between traditions (never been on Dhamma Wheel).
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby Simon E. » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:45 pm

You will learn... :namaste:

And its not actually a negative thing..its horses for courses.
If there were just one model many would be excluded.
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby odysseus » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:24 pm

Simon E. wrote:You will learn... :namaste:

And its not actually a negative thing..its horses for courses.
If there were just one model many would be excluded.


What about the Dalai Lama? He teaches all traditions. I cannot agree, even if some Buddhists don´t like other traditions. Like Ajahn Brahmavamso said, call it "Hahayana" if you like! :smile:
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Re: Why theravada reject mahayana sutra

Postby smcj » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:27 pm

Hm, thanks for the compliment but I´m still a basic learner. In my understanding, "true Buddhists" don´t have this separation between traditions (never been on Dhamma Wheel).

Dharma Wheel and Dhamma Wheel are owned by the same guy. He gave us two different sandboxes to play in so the children wouldn't fight with each other. That way we can respect each other at a distance without having to actively irritate each other. It's working out well.
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