Which is the biggest teaching?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Nosta
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Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nosta » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:16 pm

I know that some of the issues raised by my question were discussed on other topics, but i still dont get certaing things.

First, let me put the question: is there a better teaching and/or sutra than all the others? If you read Lotus Sutra for example (i toke this info from wikipedia): Chapter ten ".. Medicine King, now I say to you, I have preached various sutras, and among those sutras the Lotus is foremost!"

Chapter fourteen states:

"Among the sutras, it holds the highest place."


Now, reading the sutras regarding Amitabha/Sukkhavati, one may find thats the most important thing that Buddha taught. Seeking inside other sutras, probably you may find similar things, etc.

I know that there are 84000 Dharmas, etc, etc and that Buddha taught thousands of dharmas so everybody can choose the best practice to him/herself, etc, but if thats true, why the need to say "That sutra is the best, sutra xyz is the foremost, etc"? That will make people like me get confused? Wasnt better to say "All the sutras are good, choose the one that fits best on your life"?

Thanks

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Nosta
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nosta » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:50 pm

No comments? :)

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Mr. G
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Mr. G » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:05 pm

You may find this related thread helpful Nosta:

viewtopic.php?f=41&t=6356
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu

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Nosta
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nosta » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:15 pm

I will give a look to that thread.

Thank you Mr. G, you always ready to answer to every question and help everybody here in the forum :)

Thats in the spirit of a Boddhisatva. :)

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Mr. G
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Mr. G » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:37 pm

Nosta wrote:I will give a look to that thread.

Thank you Mr. G, you always ready to answer to every question and help everybody here in the forum :)

Thats in the spirit of a Boddhisatva. :)


No prob! And if the thread doesn't help, perhaps more members here will give their input and clarify further.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu

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Vipassualty
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Vipassualty » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:55 pm

I believe is the Maha-satipatthana Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.22.0.than.html

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Anders
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Anders » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:11 pm

In the case of the Lotus Sutra, I read its self-referential narrative as referring to an expression of Buddhahood itself. So when it says the lotus sutra is the highest sutra, it isn't necessarily speaking about the exclusively specific assembly of words called 'the lotus sutra' but of the expression of Buddhahood, of which the lotus sutra sees itself as being one, as the highest. Which is also why the hyperbole of several sutras can be true, if they are indeed so.

But in reply to the topic title, the highest teaching is simply the teaching that is most effective for any given being at this point in time. If someone is enlightened by the lotus sutra then that is the highest teaching for him/her. If someone is enlightened by nianfo, then that is the highest for that person at that time.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Nosta
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nosta » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:11 am

Anders Honore wrote:In the case of the Lotus Sutra, I read its self-referential narrative as referring to an expression of Buddhahood itself. So when it says the lotus sutra is the highest sutra, it isn't necessarily speaking about the exclusively specific assembly of words called 'the lotus sutra' but of the expression of Buddhahood, of which the lotus sutra sees itself as being one, as the highest. Which is also why the hyperbole of several sutras can be true, if they are indeed so.

But in reply to the topic title, the highest teaching is simply the teaching that is most effective for any given being at this point in time. If someone is enlightened by the lotus sutra then that is the highest teaching for him/her. If someone is enlightened by nianfo, then that is the highest for that person at that time.



Thank you for clarifying that about Lotus Sutra.

About your second part of the post, my question is not really "wich is the best teaching" but to discuss how can the sutras say "this sutra is the best", because that is, in a certain point, a contradiction.

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Mr. G
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Mr. G » Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:08 pm

Nosta wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:In the case of the Lotus Sutra, I read its self-referential narrative as referring to an expression of Buddhahood itself. So when it says the lotus sutra is the highest sutra, it isn't necessarily speaking about the exclusively specific assembly of words called 'the lotus sutra' but of the expression of Buddhahood, of which the lotus sutra sees itself as being one, as the highest. Which is also why the hyperbole of several sutras can be true, if they are indeed so.

But in reply to the topic title, the highest teaching is simply the teaching that is most effective for any given being at this point in time. If someone is enlightened by the lotus sutra then that is the highest teaching for him/her. If someone is enlightened by nianfo, then that is the highest for that person at that time.



Thank you for clarifying that about Lotus Sutra.

About your second part of the post, my question is not really "wich is the best teaching" but to discuss how can the sutras say "this sutra is the best", because that is, in a certain point, a contradiction.


Anders post also clarifies the question of "how can all the sutras say they are the best":

    So when it says the lotus sutra is the highest sutra, it isn't necessarily speaking about the exclusively specific assembly of words called 'the lotus sutra' but of the expression of Buddhahood, of which the lotus sutra sees itself as being one, as the highest. Which is also why the hyperbole of several sutras can be true, if they are indeed so
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:52 pm

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

The First Sermon of the Buddha on the turning of the Dharma Wheel. It is on the Four Noble Truths. Without that, you can't have any of the rest of the teachings / sutras.

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby kirtu » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:42 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

The First Sermon of the Buddha on the turning of the Dharma Wheel. It is on the Four Noble Truths. Without that, you can't have any of the rest of the teachings / sutras.


You could. The First Turning of the Wheel doesn't supercede the Second Turing of the Wheel (and some would say that neither supercede the Third Turning of the Wheel). It's just that we all agree that the First Turning of the Wheel really did occur before either of the other two turnings.

From a sutric perspective it depends on how the individual reacts at the moment. As with all things it's a dependant arising where the appropriate teaching of the Buddha meets with the needs of an individual mind.

As far as the "biggest teaching" itself we could say impermanence and death or compassion or Buddhanature or even morality addressing suffering, path, ultimate basis or karma in respective nutshells.

The Dharma is always sweet but for me the single greatest sutra is the Mahayana Uttaratantra.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Sönam » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:29 am

"The Three Statements that Strike the Essential Points"

"One is directly introduced to one's own real nature"
"One directly decided upon this single unique state"
"One then directly continues with confidence in liberation"
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby plwk » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:00 am

I know that there are 84000 Dharmas, etc, etc and that Buddha taught thousands of dharmas so everybody can choose the best practice to him/herself, etc, but if thats true, why the need to say "That sutra is the best, sutra xyz is the foremost, etc"? That will make people like me get confused? Wasnt better to say "All the sutras are good, choose the one that fits best on your life"?
This...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
Better than a thousand useless words is one useful word, hearing which one attains peace.
Better than a thousand useless verses is one useful verse, hearing which one attains peace.
Better than reciting a hundred meaningless verses is the reciting of one verse of Dhamma, hearing which one attains peace.

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Dechen Norbu
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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:46 pm

My opinion is that it depends of your necessities. At a certain point of your life and practice, a particular teaching may be the biggest for you. That can change when your individual needs change.
In a sort of humorous way, you may look at this as if it were a treatment for the primordial ignorance syndrome. First you may need a sort of medication, then you may need to change, then you may change again, going through different phases of treatment and adjusting the medication accordingly.
If your question is related to a sort of absolute comparison among the different teachings you'll likely find different answers, according to whom you ask.
But the teachings on dependent origination and emptiness are usually seen as the most deep and definitive in terms of meaning.

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby SpinyNorman » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:10 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:My opinion is that it depends of your necessities. At a certain point of your life and practice, a particular teaching may be the biggest for you. That can change when your individual needs change.


Yes, I agree. This is probably a good argument for becoming familiar with as many teachings as is practicable.

Spiny

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Astus » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:56 pm

You'll find the statement that "this is the best/highest/foremost sutra" in many Mahayana sutras. We could say that there is a strong inferiority complex within these texts. We can also say that different sutras were written/collected by different factions who tried to propagate their own teachings. We can do what later theorists did in Buddhism, categorise the sutras according to our taste and thus create a taxonomy, that way decide what sutras are to be taken symbolically and what literally. We can also say that all the sutras ultimately talk about the same thing - of course, we decide what that same thing is - and handle them accordingly. It is also an option to say what has been said before here, that people choose different sutras according to their own inclinations. These, and possibly even more, are existing and working ways of looking at the large variety of Mahayana sutras.

"Outside the mind there is no Lotus Sutra and outside the Lotus Sutra there is no mind." (Hakuin Ekaku: Letter in Answer to an Old Nun of the Hokke [Nichiren] Sect)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nicholas Weeks » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:05 pm

Since most sutras have that refrain, near the end, about sutra x being the best, even though sutras y & z say the same thing; it could puzzle one. My solution is taken from the stages or steps method of Buddha's teaching. That is - every teaching is targeted for a certain type of mind, where the teaching would, in truth, be the 'best' for that person at that time. So 'best' means relative to a type of mind at a certain stage on the path, it does not mean 'best' in an absolute sense.
Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Astus » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:25 pm

There is one major problem with the idea that "the teaching fits the mind" is that then one has to conclude that only stupid people believe in low level teachings while the smart ones follow the highest teachings. So, if you believe that X sutra/teaching is the best, you are stupid, because it is Z sutra/teaching that is the best and that's what I follow.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Nicholas Weeks » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:33 pm

Astus wrote:There is one major problem with the idea that "the teaching fits the mind" is that then one has to conclude that only stupid people believe in low level teachings while the smart ones follow the highest teachings. So, if you believe that X sutra/teaching is the best, you are stupid, because it is Z sutra/teaching that is the best and that's what I follow.


Unless you are stupid enough to know that X sutra is best for me and those like me at this stage on my path. Tragically many smart people go for the best and highest and cannot practice it well or at all. Then they toss the buddhadharma aside or go nuts.

I prefer 'stupid'.
Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

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Re: Which is the biggest teaching?

Postby Astus » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:36 pm

Will, what I meant is that matching the teachings to the recipients' minds it becomes not just claiming that X doctrine is the best, but it adds a personal insult to it.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"


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