essential texts

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essential texts

Postby featherhead » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:25 pm

as stated in a previous post, i am new to the mahayana side of the buddhist coin, having spent the last several months investigating the theravada school of thought. i am wondering what the essential texts are. for example, the theravada folks stress the "pali cannon" as the "must read" discourses of the buddah.
what would be considered the most important discorses / suttas over here?
i seem to be leaning towards zen, if that's any help. thank you very much for your help.
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Re: essential texts

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:42 pm

Mahayana texts are huge. HOwever, you can start from the essence of those huge teachings, which have been summarized by the Mahayana masters, which is Lamrim or Lamdre.

The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment: The Lamrim Chenmo, vol 1 to 3

Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, vol 1 to 5, but currently only until vol 3.

Words of My Perfect Teacher

The Jewel Ornament of Liberation

They are still some other books within this genre.

The foundation of Zen is also Mahayana, so to me it is no different.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: essential texts

Postby kirtu » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:51 pm

featherhead wrote:as stated in a previous post, i am new to the mahayana side of the buddhist coin, having spent the last several months investigating the theravada school of thought. i am wondering what the essential texts are. for example, the theravada folks stress the "pali cannon" as the "must read" discourses of the buddah.
what would be considered the most important discorses / suttas over here?
i seem to be leaning towards zen, if that's any help. thank you very much for your help.


Essential texts change as people develop and as people are educated according to various lineages (so what one lineages regards as essential becomes what a person may regard as essential) and as people have access to sutras.

I personally think that the Pali suttas are essential reading across lineages.

The life story of the Buddha (this is spread across several texts but one good lifestory is Thich Naht Hanh's "Old Path, White Clouds"), the Lankaavatara Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Amitabha/Amitayus Sutras, the Heart Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Life and the Mahayana Brahma Net Sutra.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: essential texts

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:40 pm

"Mahayana Buddhism The Doctrinal Foundations" by Paul Williams

as far as sutras go: the prajnaparamita sutra translations by Conze. Samdhinirmochana sutra translated by Powers.
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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Re: essential texts

Postby Astus » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:53 pm

Generally for Zen you can read classical Zen works (Bodhidharma, Huineng, Mazu, Huangbo, Zongmi, etc.) and basic Mahayana sutras of the tradition like the Vimalakirti, Diamond, Perfect Enlightenment, Shurangama, any of the Prajnaparamita, etc.
"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: essential texts

Postby featherhead » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:06 pm

thank you for the suggestions.
it's just hard to figure out where to start, as one thing i have learned is that buddhism is not at all like most "religions" in the sence that buddhism seems to have nothing like the christian's "bible" or islam's "koran"; one book that kinda says it all.
there seems to be a million different things to read depending on exactly which path you choose to follow, which is where i am having trouble. i don't know what path is right for me, and with so many different paths, and so many different translations of so many different texts, i find myself just "throwing darts at a map" trying to decide what direction to go in.
any further help any of you can offer up would be greatly appriciated.
thanx again.
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Re: essential texts

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:45 pm

featherhead wrote:thank you for the suggestions.
it's just hard to figure out where to start, as one thing i have learned is that buddhism is not at all like most "religions" in the sence that buddhism seems to have nothing like the christian's "bible" or islam's "koran"; one book that kinda says it all.
there seems to be a million different things to read depending on exactly which path you choose to follow, which is where i am having trouble. i don't know what path is right for me, and with so many different paths, and so many different translations of so many different texts, i find myself just "throwing darts at a map" trying to decide what direction to go in.
any further help any of you can offer up would be greatly appriciated.
thanx again.


It's good you're taking your time to investigate different paths and vehicles in the dharma. If its any consolation they all mirror each other in one way or another so any insight you gain is going to be applicable across the board for the most part. And even if it isn't knowledge applicable yana to yana it's still good to be multi-cultured between the schools and vehicles, because after all it is about your own personal experience. As for finding what's right for you, when something intuitively resonates with you on a level where a teaching is found to be especially compelling, that is probably the place to start. And once you choose a certain direction that doesn't mean you can't delve into the other schools of thought, it's good to stay open to anything that can be beneficial to you and others.
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Re: essential texts

Postby featherhead » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:47 pm

thank you, "asunthatneversets", that is perhaps the best advice i have recieved.
much appreciated !
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Re: essential texts

Postby maybay » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:16 pm

featherhead wrote:thank you for the suggestions.
it's just hard to figure out where to start, as one thing i have learned is that buddhism is not at all like most "religions" in the sence that buddhism seems to have nothing like the christian's "bible" or islam's "koran"; one book that kinda says it all.
there seems to be a million different things to read depending on exactly which path you choose to follow, which is where i am having trouble. i don't know what path is right for me, and with so many different paths, and so many different translations of so many different texts, i find myself just "throwing darts at a map" trying to decide what direction to go in.
any further help any of you can offer up would be greatly appriciated.
thanx again.


Start with the Heart, Sutra.
Last edited by maybay on Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
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Re: essential texts

Postby plwk » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:53 pm

what would be considered the most important discorses / suttas over here?
i seem to be leaning towards zen, if that's any help. thank you very much for your help.

If you visit some Zen places, get ready to hear or be told 'no required reading' or 'toss the books out'...
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Re: essential texts

Postby featherhead » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:47 pm

plwk wrote:
what would be considered the most important discorses / suttas over here?
i seem to be leaning towards zen, if that's any help. thank you very much for your help.

If you visit some Zen places, get ready to hear or be told 'no required reading' or 'toss the books out'...


i have heard that, and that is why i am still searching. bear in mind, i am not educated enough in buddhism to know that my impressions are correct, but the impression i have of zen is it's "too easy", as in "don't read, sit and meditate". and what drove me away from the theravada was my impression that there was too much emphasis on reading and studying. i have read & understood the basics - 4 noble truths & the 8 fold path, but i want to dig deeper and find the right path for me. so i thank you all again. your replies have been very helpful. please keep the suggestions coming.
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Re: essential texts

Postby Ekayano » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:06 am

The essential texts of Buddhism are the Pali texts of the Sutta Pitaka. And the essential text there is Digha Nikaya 22, The Great Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The translation I have been able to find that is closest to the Pali Text, is the Pali Text Society translation. A good practice of Mindfulness "is everywhere useful",
and a good foundation for all Buddhist practices. Of course, most schools of Buddhism practice some form of Mindfulness, but I have found Shakyamuni Buddhas teachings to be the clearest and most useful.
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Re: essential texts

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:57 am

Greetings,

featherhead wrote:i have heard that, and that is why i am still searching. bear in mind, i am not educated enough in buddhism to know that my impressions are correct, but the impression i have of zen is it's "too easy", as in "don't read, sit and meditate". and what drove me away from the theravada was my impression that there was too much emphasis on reading and studying. i have read & understood the basics - 4 noble truths & the 8 fold path, but i want to dig deeper and find the right path for me. so i thank you all again. your replies have been very helpful. please keep the suggestions coming.

Within all traditions there's opportunities for both "practice" and "study"... preferably the two should be complementary rather than opposing forces, regardless of which path or tradition you finally land with. In many ways, I'd argue that the two are not as clearly separable as some people tend to make out. Both are about understanding and overcoming samsaric existence.

:meditate: :reading: :meditate: :reading: :meditate: :reading: :meditate:

Maitri,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

Dhamma Wheel (Theravada forum) * Here Comes Trouble
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