Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

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Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby ananda » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:56 pm

What is your opinion ?
Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Do you think the term is derogatory ?
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:23 pm

ananda wrote:What is your opinion ?
Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Do you think the term is derogatory ?


Hinayana and Theravada are two different things. But the term Hinayana is not derogatory.

Hinayana denotes the attitude a person who wishes to attain the peace of Nirvana and whose goal is Arhatship for themselves alone (i.e. - the heat and suffering of samsara is too intense for them and they personally want to escape NOW).

In the Theravada school the Arhat is presented as the ideal but actually reading the lives of these great masters over the past 100 years or so I don't see any who aren't Bodhisattvas - they all seem to have Bodhisattva motivation to relieve the sufferings of all beings and place all beings in Nirvana (of course the Mahayana understanding of Bodhisattva motivation is a little different but still the great Theravadin masters are clearly not seeking enlightenment for themselves alone) even if they haven't taken the Bodhisattva approach that is preserved in the Theravada.

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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby ronnewmexico » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:21 pm

Excellent answer. I could look for my own words on the subject but probably they would not be as well said.
So my opinion is I agree with him, above.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby justsit » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:43 am

ananda wrote:Do you think the term is derogatory ?


Personally, I do not, and that seems to be the prevailing opinion here.

However, if you ask the same question at our sister site, dhammawheel.com, you will likely get a different response.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Gharchaina » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:07 am

ananda wrote:What is your opinion ?
Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Do you think the term is derogatory ?


Don't forget that the Theravada is the only surviving school of the original 18. Is there any other convenient short hand to use to describe the non-Mahayana schools?
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:11 am

I always wondered why nobody ever came up with "Therayana".
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:38 am

The term Hīnayāna, inferior vehicle, is derogatory, and in terms of the way it is used in Mahāyāna sütras, intentionally so.

Since all Tibetan Buddhists are Mahāyānis, they don't feel slighted by the term and even go to some lengths to try and give "hīnayāna" props.

However, Tibetan Buddhists are notoriously ignorant of the actual content and context of many of doctrines to which they adhere. Why? Because they rely on abstracted commentaries on India sutra material, such as Sutra-alaṃkara etc., rather than actual sutras.

A quick read of the Sutra-alaṃkara will quickly demonstrate to any clear thinking person that the author of that text had a definitely low opinion of non-Mahāyāna schools.

The question is, is the Mahāyāna use of the term justifiable?

Well, if you turn away from intending to achieve full buddhahood [as defined by Mahāyānists], then you are turning to an inferior yāna, from a Mahāyāna perspective. There are a number of other reason why the doctrine the Buddha taught in the Agamas/Nikayas are regarded as inferior as well. Not in the sense that any of the Buddha's teachings are inferior, but in terms of the intended audience. Mahāyānists use the term to describe an inferior motivation, cessation, arhatship, etc., in an effort to dissuade those who might abandon the heroic eons long mission of attaining full awakening.

On the other hand, it is also important to bear in mind that Vajrayāna texts are similarly critical of those who avoid or do not have faith in Vajrayāna -- for example, the Hevajra Tantra refers to those Buddhists who follow lower tantra and ordinary Mahāyāna as "tirthikas", a term usually meant for non-Buddhists.

So when these terms are used, they are not meant to be categories for ranking teachings overall (and this is the great Tibetan Buddhist hermeneutical error). Instead, the term hīnayāna should only be used with Mahāyāna audiences when the teacher in question is describing the inferiority of the desiring to attain the result of an arhat or a pratyekabuddha as opposed to full buddhahood.

In terms of the whole of Buddhism, however, we are only the fourth largest religion of the planet. In ecumenical Buddhist gatherings it is skillful to avoid using the term "hīnayāna" because it is intentionally derogatory and because there are those who find it offensive, understandably so. We also run the risk of insulting aryas by using the term carelessly.

It does not mean however that when we are discussing with other Mahāyānists where Theravāda would be placed in the Mahāyan̄a scheme of things, that we should pretend that Theravāda is something other than a Hīnayāna school.

This being said, just because someone has ordained in Theravāda does not mean that they are necessarily a hīnayāna practitioner. Just as there were Mahāyānis in other Hīnayāna schools, likewise there have been and are Mahāyanis in Theravada.

But Theravāda itself, like Mulasarvastivada, etc. is a hīnayāna school when considered from the perspective of Mahāyāna.

N
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby plwk » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:54 am

Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Avoided.

Do you think the term is derogatory ?
Yes.
My own Preceptor & Refuge Master, the kind Chief Abbess back then, have taught me that the term 'hinayana' is used within the context of denoting one's state of self cherishing mind and way of practice. And respecting the commonly agreed Buddhist conventions, see my posting in this thread

Is there any other convenient short hand to use to describe the non-Mahayana schools?
Yes. Nikaya. Southern School. Sravaka. By their proper & original names.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby mudra » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:25 am

And as far as view or motivation is concerned you could also use the term 'pratimokshayana' or vehicle of self liberation.

The word 'hina' is a bit troublesome as in Sanskrit http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?script=HK&beginning=0+&tinput=hina&trans=Translate&direction=AU it has quite a few definitions ranging from "small" to inferior, mean etc. It is not always interpreted contextually and is more often interpreted as 'lowly'.

I also don't like the using the word in this context, even though I personally aspire to the Mahayana, because it suggests that some of the Buddha's teachings are lowly, which is really wrong view.

Although, as has been pointed out in another thread, loan words don't always carry the same definition in the borrower's language, it is interesting to note that in Indonesian the adjective Hina has come to mean ' really lowly', and as a verb it means 'insult'. Indonesian, a lingua franca, has borrowed heavily from Sanskrit, amongst others, and many of the meanings in Indonesian are not far off the original Sanskrit - in fact probably much more so than any other language Indonesian has borrowed from.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Dexing » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:38 am

ananda wrote:What is your opinion ?
Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Do you think the term is derogatory ?


I learned the terms Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna as "Small" and "Large" Vehicles due to the scope of their doctrines on Śūnyatā.

Whereas Hīnayāna is focused on emptiness of "personal selfhood", the scope of Mahāyāna emptiness is expanded to include the emptiness of both "personal selfhood" as well as "phenomenal selfhood".

In that sense they are Small and Large Vehicles respectively, and the term Small Vehicle (Hīnayāna) is not derogatory, but descriptive.

Gharchaina wrote:Don't forget that the Theravada is the only surviving school of the original 18. Is there any other convenient short hand to use to describe the non-Mahayana schools?


Śrāvakayāna - "Hearers Vehicle".

:namaste:
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:22 pm

As had already been pointed out the term should be avoided. However, in some contexts, particularly when discussing how dharma was taught and understood in past ages, use of the term is unavoidable.

In general I use the term Śrāvakayāna when referring to Theravada.

I have never met someone striving to become a pratyekabuddha, so no need to use the term pratyekabuddhayāna.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:30 pm

Dexing wrote:
ananda wrote:What is your opinion ?
Should Hīnayāna continue to be used to refer to the Theravāda teachings or should it be avoided ?
Do you think the term is derogatory ?


I learned the terms Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna as "Small" and "Large" Vehicles due to the scope of their doctrines on Śūnyatā.



This is not how the term is applied in Mahāyāna sūtras and treatises themselves. This is gloss used in the term in countries where is no pure Nikāya school Sangha.

In that sense they are Small and Large Vehicles respectively, and the term Small Vehicle (Hīnayāna) is not derogatory, but descriptive.


It is still derogatory.

N
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:32 pm

Hinayana is an illusory teaching attributed to deluded ascetics who pretend to be the true Buddhists. In reality such Hinayana has never existed but served well to conceive a Mahayana and build arrogance in those who felt insecure. Based on a certain Madhyamaka teaching if we agree that arhats realise the same emptiness as bodhisattvas and buddhas and that emptiness is inseparable from compassion, the self-absorbed lowly sravaka is clearly a fantasy monster only.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:36 pm

Dexing wrote:I learned the terms Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna as "Small" and "Large" Vehicles due to the scope of their doctrines on Śūnyatā.


:namaste:



Hīnayāna as translated as "Small Vehicle" is somewhat inaccurate. In Chinese it was translated as such (xiao cheng 小乘, literally "Small Vehicle") by Kumārajīva, perhaps because he did not wish to upset anyone. The term is best understood as meaning "base" or "deficient" vehicle. See the following definition for "hīna" as given in the Monier-Williams dictionary:

hīna
(H2) hīná [p= 1296,2] [L=262540] mfn. left , abandoned , forsaken RV.
[p= 1296,3] [L=262541] left behind , excluded or shut out from , lower or weaker than , inferior to (abl.) Mn. MBh. &c
[L=262542] left out , wanting , omitted MBh.
[L=262543] defeated or worsted (in a lawsuit) Ya1jn5.
[L=262544] deficient , defective , faulty , insufficient , short , incomplete , poor , little , low , vile , bad , base , mean S3Br. &c
[L=262545] bereft or deprived of , free from , devoid or destitute of , without (instr. abl. loc. acc. , or comp. ; prā*ṇair hīnaḥ , " bereft of breath or life " ; mantrād or mantrato h° , " devoid of sacred knowledge ") Mun2d2Up. Ka1tyS3r. Mn. MBh. &c
[L=262546] lost or strayed from (a caravan) Pa1n2. i , 4 , 23 Ka1s3.
[L=262547] brought low , broken down in circumstances S3rS.
(H2B) hīná [L=262548] m. a faulty or defective witness (of five kinds , viz. anya-vādin , kriyā-dveṣin , no*pasthāyin , nir-uttara , āhūsa-prapalā*yin) Ya1jn5. Sch.
(H2B) hīná [L=262549] m. subtraction (= = vyavakalana) MW.
(H2B) hīná [L=262550] m. Mesua Ferrea L.
(H2B) hīná [L=262552] n. deficiency , want , absence (velā-hīne " before the right time " , " unseasonably ") VarBr2S. Ya1jn5.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:46 pm

Astus wrote: Based on a certain Madhyamaka teaching if we agree that arhats realise the same emptiness as bodhisattvas and buddhas


We don't agree that a certain Madhyamaka teaching teaches this.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:58 pm

Namdrol wrote:We don't agree that a certain Madhyamaka teaching teaches this.


Didn't Tsongkhapa argue that even sravakas realise the emptiness of both personality and phenomena?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:10 pm

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:We don't agree that a certain Madhyamaka teaching teaches this.


Didn't Tsongkhapa argue that even sravakas realise the emptiness of both personality and phenomena?


He did, but he was corrected on this point by Gorampa.

Tsongkhpa is not Candrakirti.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Kyosan » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:17 pm

Huseng wrote:

Hīnayāna as translated as "Small Vehicle" is somewhat inaccurate. In Chinese it was translated as such (xiao cheng 小乘, literally "Small Vehicle") by Kumārajīva, perhaps because he did not wish to upset anyone. The term is best understood as meaning "base" or "deficient" vehicle. See the following definition for "hīna" as given in the Monier-Williams dictionary:

hīna
(H2) hīná [p= 1296,2] [L=262540] mfn. left , abandoned , forsaken RV.
[p= 1296,3] [L=262541] left behind , excluded or shut out from , lower or weaker than , inferior to (abl.) Mn. MBh. &c
[L=262542] left out , wanting , omitted MBh.
[L=262543] defeated or worsted (in a lawsuit) Ya1jn5.
[L=262544] deficient , defective , faulty , insufficient , short , incomplete , poor , little , low , vile , bad , base , mean S3Br. &c
[L=262545] bereft or deprived of , free from , devoid or destitute of , without (instr. abl. loc. acc. , or comp. ; prā*ṇair hīnaḥ , " bereft of breath or life " ; mantrād or mantrato h° , " devoid of sacred knowledge ") Mun2d2Up. Ka1tyS3r. Mn. MBh. &c
[L=262546] lost or strayed from (a caravan) Pa1n2. i , 4 , 23 Ka1s3.
[L=262547] brought low , broken down in circumstances S3rS.
(H2B) hīná [L=262548] m. a faulty or defective witness (of five kinds , viz. anya-vādin , kriyā-dveṣin , no*pasthāyin , nir-uttara , āhūsa-prapalā*yin) Ya1jn5. Sch.
(H2B) hīná [L=262549] m. subtraction (= = vyavakalana) MW.
(H2B) hīná [L=262550] m. Mesua Ferrea L.
(H2B) hīná [L=262552] n. deficiency , want , absence (velā-hīne " before the right time " , " unseasonably ") VarBr2S. Ya1jn5.

The word is derogatory and the fact that Theravadins don't like that word should tell us something. Theravada, which I think means "Way of the Elders", is a more respectful name. I think it's best to respect the Theravadins wishes and call them that.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Josef » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:33 pm

Kyosan wrote:The word is derogatory and the fact that Theravadins don't like that word should tell us something. Theravada, which I think means "Way of the Elders", is a more respectful name. I think it's best to respect the Theravadins wishes and call them that.
:namaste:

Hinayana in my opinion does not refer to modern Theravada.
Hinayana in the modern context that is relevant to us, refers to the point of view of individual practitioners.
Modern Theravada (at least in the US) is basically a non-committal Mahayana at this point anyways.
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Re: Use of the term 'Hīnayāna'

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:14 pm

Namdrol wrote:He did, but he was corrected on this point by Gorampa.

Tsongkhpa is not Candrakirti.


OK, so it is not that there isn't such form of Madhyamaka but rather that you take a view that doesn't accept it just like many others don't agree with the Gelug interpretation (not to mention those who have never even heard of it). No big deal really, there are many views in Buddhism.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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