Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

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Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:31 am

I am curious if the Theravadin tradition has anything equivalent to dzogchen view/practices? Is there even a translation of the word "Dzogchen" into pali (via sanskrit)? Thx!
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:37 am

I've read that the Dzogchen view can be found in at least one Pali Sutra.

Something along the lines of mentioning the Clear Light Nature of Mind.

Don't remember where I read it though....
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:38 am

Greetings Catlady,

I'm happy to have a go at answering your question if you can give me a heads up on what "dzogchen view/practices" you refer to.

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:17 am

Retrofuturist-to answer your question in the best way I can:

I experience the "self-liberating" of objects as refreshing, and I have come to have confidence this represents the nature of mind, and the ultimate truth of the way things are. There is nothing to modify, accept or reject.

Whereas the closest thing I can find in Theravada, is mindfulness practices. But it is my understanding that the mindfulness practices were intended to develop a skill/tool for other purposes (and not necessarily a goal).

The reason I am asking is: My Tibetan teacher died about 8 years ago, and in the meantime I have developed a student-teacher friendship with a Sri Lankan Monk nearby. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to study with him and many dharma teachings in all Buddhist traditions have many similarities -- although I have not found anything remotely comparable to Dzogchen [view] in Theravadin Buddhism. It could be as simple as my getting the proper Pali translation of the word.

thx again.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby asunthatneversets » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:02 am

I'm fairly certain that dzogchen starts where Theravāda seeks to finish. In Theravāda one works towards having a genuine experiential understanding of nirvana, however that experience is usually non-abiding. So in Theravāda buddhahood is known, and the residual effects have lasting implications, but after awhile afflicted perception re-emerges (I'm sure not in all cases). So it's essentially a genuine flash of insight which establishes the true knowledge of realization but that flash more often than not is just that (a temporary glimpse).

In dzogchen the guru seeks to introduce the student to that flash of insight right away. And then from there the student cultivates that view so that it flowers into perfect and fully abiding buddhahood (affliction never re-emerges). In Theravāda the student works towards having that flash of insight and in dzogchen the master directly introduces it immediately.

Another thing being that Theravāda clearly has aspects of renunciation, in that certain qualities and aspects of experience are seen as obstacles and are avoided. Dzogchen integrates everything without establishing a duality between good/bad, right/wrong (when it comes to the essential view). Dzogchen only differentiates between ignorance (Avidyā/ma-rigpa) and wisdom (Vidyā/rigpa).

Shamatha and vipaśyanā are both shared practices for nurturing correct view.

If I'm off-base at all retrofuturist please correct me :smile:
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:22 am

asunthatneversets expressed very well what I thought might be true. I was hoping that maybe there was a door I hadn't investigated in Theravada (perhaps somewhere in the Pali Abhidharma) -- but I've not found anything obvious. My understanding is Sri Lankan Theravadist do not even recognize the heart sutra as a root text.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:56 am

Greetings,

Taking up the invitation to clarify a few points from a Theravada point of view...

asunthatneversets wrote:So in Theravāda buddhahood is known

Yes, to the one who rediscovers the Dhamma and instigates a "sasana" (tradition, dispensation etc.). We are still living in the current dispensation (and have been for 2600ish years) and not until this current dispensation has ended through the Dhamma being lost, and being later rediscovered (by Metteyya, aka Maitreya) will there be another Buddha in this world-system. Until such time, the goal is as the Buddha taught in the Sutta Pitaka, namely arahantship.

asunthatneversets wrote:In Theravāda the student works towards having that flash of insight and in dzogchen the master directly introduces it immediately.

A bit vague... there's lots of different ways of going about things in Theravāda. If you're suggesting people are shielded from Right View and are told to go and sit and do some particular technique in the hope of cultivating a "flash of insight" which the teacher can later translate... well, there are one or two meditation subcultures with Theravada that do this, but it's a recent development and certainly not the traditional way of going about it. On the flipside, there's even some subcultures that teach only Right View, and do not teach any formal meditation. As for withholding anything, the Buddha of the Sutta Pitaka did not teach with a closed fist.

asunthatneversets wrote:Another thing being that Theravāda clearly has aspects of renunciation, in that certain qualities and aspects of experience are seen as obstacles and are avoided. Dzogchen integrates everything without establishing a duality between good/bad, right/wrong (when it comes to the essential view). Dzogchen only differentiates between ignorance (Avidyā/ma-rigpa) and wisdom (Vidyā/rigpa).

In Theravada, sense-restraint and such is of pragmatic value as opposed to absolute, as it does not establish certain inputs as being inherently one way or another. It is from the contact of sense base and sense that fetters may arise, so sense-restraint is just a pragmatic means to strengthen one's practice - in time no input should give rise to any fetter.

Catlady wrote:My understanding is Sri Lankan Theravadist do not even recognize the heart sutra as a root text.

Correct.

You'll have to forgive me that I can't be more pro-active in giving answers, as I'm not familiar with the ways and means of Dzogchen... I can only tell you if the things you talk about have some parallel in Theravada.

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:05 am

Hi CatLady,

Ajahn Amaro's book (PDF) is probably what you are looking for.
http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/book/138
Small Boat, Great Mountain
Theravādan Reflections on The Natural Great Perfection
Ajahn Amaro

Ajahn Amaro reflects on the teachings of The Natural Great Perfection from the Dzogchen teachings and compares it with those familiar in the Pali Canon and in the Thai Forest tradition.

:anjali:
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby Paul » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:00 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi CatLady,

Ajahn Amaro's book (PDF) is probably what you are looking for.
http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/book/138
Small Boat, Great Mountain
Theravādan Reflections on The Natural Great Perfection
Ajahn Amaro

Ajahn Amaro reflects on the teachings of The Natural Great Perfection from the Dzogchen teachings and compares it with those familiar in the Pali Canon and in the Thai Forest tradition.

:anjali:
Mike


Yes. This is a great book on the subject - especially since it explains a lot from the Theravadins' side.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche has stated that vipassana practitioners can end up in the non-conceptual view of Dzogchen, but most of the time accidentally turn away from it because they are not used to a non-conceptual mindfulness that is devoid of effort so think there is something wrong with that kind of practice. This is due to a lack of information, though. I have found the Theravada tradition to be incredibly broad, and I have no doubt that amongst the 'hard core' there have been teachers/practitioners who do work with rigpa - although this might not be at all obvious from the orthodox Theravada view.
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That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:41 pm

catlady2112 wrote:I am curious if the Theravadin tradition has anything equivalent to dzogchen view/practices? Is there even a translation of the word "Dzogchen" into pali (via sanskrit)? Thx!


No and no.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
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there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby kalden yungdrung » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Tashi delek,

Monks can only attain liberation inside Theravada, when i am right informed.
Lay people aid / support with food to become monks in their next live.

- Is Dzogchen understood in Theravada. like instant liberation?
- Is the status of monk needed in Dzogchen?


The term Nirvana can have similarities......

Mutsog Marro
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THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
WHO WITH A LAMP IN THE HAND CANNOT SEE THE ROAD
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby Anders » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:42 pm

kalden yungdrung wrote:Tashi delek,

Monks can only attain liberation inside Theravada, when i am right informed.
Lay people aid / support with food to become monks in their next live.


You are misinformed.
"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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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby plwk » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:22 pm

Monks can only attain liberation inside Theravada, when i am right informed.

See below...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
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.
1 2 3

Lay people aid / support with food to become monks in their next live.

This a popular misconception and popular religion practice. See below:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html
"The eight persons extolled by virtuous men constitute four pairs.
They are the disciples of the Buddha and are worthy of offerings. Gifts given to them yield rich results.
This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
'The Sangha of the Blessed One's Disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types of noble disciples when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's Disciples:
worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the unexcelled field of merit for the world.'

The practice of dana as practiced in Theravada with above is read with these sample links: 1 2 3 4 5
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby xabir » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:28 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:I'm fairly certain that dzogchen starts where Theravāda seeks to finish. In Theravāda one works towards having a genuine experiential understanding of nirvana, however that experience is usually non-abiding. So in Theravāda buddhahood is known, and the residual effects have lasting implications, but after awhile afflicted perception re-emerges (I'm sure not in all cases). So it's essentially a genuine flash of insight which establishes the true knowledge of realization but that flash more often than not is just that (a temporary glimpse).

In dzogchen the guru seeks to introduce the student to that flash of insight right away. And then from there the student cultivates that view so that it flowers into perfect and fully abiding buddhahood (affliction never re-emerges). In Theravāda the student works towards having that flash of insight and in dzogchen the master directly introduces it immediately.

No, what you described as the goal of Theravada is not in fact the goal of Theravada, but stream entry, the first stage (out of four) along the path to liberation. A first stager has had a direct realization into the dharma nature also known as the dawning of the dharma eye, which permanently ends the wrong view of self (but not necessarily eradicates all remaining latent tendencies and conceit of 'I am', which only gets eradicated at arahatship).

A stream enterer, first stage awakener, is said in the scriptures to comprehend, realize, or had a glimpse of nirvana yet is unable to "dwell touching nirvana with his body".

When a person achieves the stage of arhat, nirvana becomes "permanent" where the practitioner "dwell touching nirvana with his body" without falling away.

In the Pali scriptures, Buddha describes liberation of an arahat as "unshakeable", not a state that can fall away, that "it is not possible that the bhikhu should fall from the timeless release of mind".

Therefore based on the suttas, an arahat does not experience the re-emerging of afflictions. (Dzogchen may have another theory about enlightened beings being recycled at the end of the universe etc - whether that is to be taken literally idk - but that's another matter)

I think most or all of Mahayana agree with Theravada that the arhat has permanently eradicated afflictions, never to arise again. Where Mahayana differs from Theravada is that the arhat has not removed all "knowledge obscurations" preventing the omniscience of Buddhahood. Therefore only when the two obscurations: the afflictive obscuration (removed through the emptiness of self) and knowledge obscuration (removed through twofold emptiness) is the omniscience of Buddhahood attained. This is however a Mahayana teaching, Pali suttas said nothing about this.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby xabir » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:50 pm

kalden yungdrung wrote:Tashi delek,

Monks can only attain liberation inside Theravada, when i am right informed.
Lay people aid / support with food to become monks in their next live.

- Is Dzogchen understood in Theravada. like instant liberation?
- Is the status of monk needed in Dzogchen?


The term Nirvana can have similarities......

Mutsog Marro
KY
you were misinformed. in the Pali suttas, Buddha announced the numbers of awakened *lay* stream enterers, once returners and non returners were in the thousands.

Also, many cases of laymen attaining liberation were recorded in the scriptures. It so happened however that these laymen arhat then decided to become monks right after their liberation. Does make sense: if one does not have any more attachments to sensual enjoyment and material possessions, it does seem that monastic life might be more attractive, idk. Nonetheless, no, being a monk is not seen as a requirement for liberation in pali suttas or theravada. Monastic life is still highly recommended by Buddha nonetheless, obviously.

Many of these laypersons who became liberated on the spot (including Bahiya and a few others recorded in suttas) attained liberation with no prior training in that lifetime (commentary states they were practitioners in past lives though), were not even Buddhists and only met the Buddha for the first time. It so happened that the Buddha pointed out the dharma to them, they "got it" and were released on the spot. See Bahiya Sutta for example.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby anjali » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:59 pm

When I spent some time at Abhayagiri monastery in northern California, I came across a nice book called, The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana, by Ajahns Passanno and Amaro. Here is a PDF of the book: http://abhayagiri.ehclients.com/pdf/books/The_Island_Web_Final.pdf. From chapter 8, Supported and Unsupported Consciousness, pp 137-138:
Although spiritual parallels can sometimes be deceptive, it is tempting, at this point, to make a comparison between two different spiritual traditions. This is due both to the significance and usefulness of the phrase “viññanam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham,” as a tool for Dhamma practice, as well as the potency and popularity of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of dzogchen (‘natural great
perfection’) in the West these days.

In listening to dzogchen teachings it is clear that the aim of the practice is to establish the mind in ‘innate, self-arising rigpa’; this latter word – for which the Skt. is vidya and the Pali vijja (transcendent knowing) – is variously translated as ‘non-dual awareness,’ ‘innate wisdom,’ ‘pure presence,’ ‘primordial being.’ Again and again its principal qualities are ennumerated: empty of essence, cognizant in
nature, unconfined in capacity. Or, using a different translation of these terms: emptiness, knowing, and lucidity or clarity. Again, the translations into English vary but, on consideration, the resemblance to the adjectives describing the mind “where long and short etc. can find no footing” is striking. To spell it out: viññanam = cognizant in nature; anidassanam = empty; anantam = unconfined in capacity; sabbato pabham = lucid in quality. Whether or not this is a valid alignment of principles is for the individual to discover. However, as both of these teachings ostensibly point to the nature of the heart liberated from ignorance, it is illuminating that these two traditions, now so widely separated geographically, should hold such similar teachings as key distillations of their wisdom.
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:28 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Taking up the invitation to clarify a few points from a Theravada point of view...


xabir wrote:No, what you described as the goal of Theravada is not in fact the goal of Theravada, but stream entry, the first stage (out of four) along the path to liberation....


Thanks for clarifying! Much appreciated
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby kalden yungdrung » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:42 am

xabir wrote:
kalden yungdrung wrote:Tashi delek,

Monks can only attain liberation inside Theravada, when i am right informed.
Lay people aid / support with food to become monks in their next live.

- Is Dzogchen understood in Theravada. like instant liberation?
- Is the status of monk needed in Dzogchen?


The term Nirvana can have similarities......

Mutsog Marro

KY
you were misinformed. in the Pali suttas, Buddha announced the numbers of awakened *lay* stream enterers, once returners and non returners were in the thousands.

Also, many cases of laymen attaining liberation were recorded in the scriptures. It so happened however that these laymen arhat then decided to become monks right after their liberation. Does make sense: if one does not have any more attachments to sensual enjoyment and material possessions, it does seem that monastic life might be more attractive, idk. Nonetheless, no, being a monk is not seen as a requirement for liberation in pali suttas or theravada. Monastic life is still highly recommended by Buddha nonetheless, obviously.

Many of these laypersons who became liberated on the spot (including Bahiya and a few others recorded in suttas) attained liberation with no prior training in that lifetime (commentary states they were practitioners in past lives though), were not even Buddhists and only met the Buddha for the first time. It so happened that the Buddha pointed out the dharma to them, they "got it" and were released on the spot. See Bahiya Sutta for example.



Tashi delek,

Am glad that i was misinformed and that everybody can attain Buddhahood in Theravada Buddhism, that means lay persons and monks.

I came to that wrong understood conclusion when i did met a Thai woman, whose only activity was to support the monks and a temple, by wich she thought to get a better reincarnation. Sure the 10 commands were for her also very important. I got so here the feeling that her intention was to get a better reincarnation by the support of the monks and the tempel and she was not consciousness to attain liberation within this live.

That doesn't mean that her Dharma did not contain the path to Liberation within this live, like you did explained, i guess that she and i did not understood the Theravada point of view, about the possibility that one can get liberation within this very live.

Mutosg Marro
KY
THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
WHO WITH A LAMP IN THE HAND CANNOT SEE THE ROAD
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby kalden yungdrung » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:53 am

catlady2112 wrote:I am curious if the Theravadin tradition has anything equivalent to dzogchen view/practices? Is there even a translation of the word "Dzogchen" into pali (via sanskrit)? Thx!



Tashi delek,

Sutra and Tantra do belong to the sequential path in certain Dzogchen Traditions.

Sutra is important to understand the Buddha's conduct and practice of meditation and the knowledge about the karmic mind which has no "self".
The first cause (of suffering) is not knowing this unborn mind and so suffering is there in an illusionary form in one of the 6 destinies.

In Sutra we have to correct our behaviour and are motivated to do good karma more than bad karma.
That is working on something which seems to be "bad".

Well in Dzogchen we have another experience about karma if we abide in the Natural State where there is no dualism possible. So there is no good and bad and no ego in the Natural State.

This is for Sutra not understandable because there is here spoken of no object during meditation. In meditations like Vipassana and Samatha there is the object / subject of meditations, like also in some Tantras. Here are memory and thoughts involved, which does result in karma /deeds.

Non-thoughts that can be sometimes nihilism in the sense of one of the 4 Dyanis / heavens of Brahma meditations, where there does not exist nearly nothing. That is emptiness wrong understood.

Then in the Dzogchen Natural State there are no thoughts possible, because this Natural State does not think at all.
A Dzogchenpa has a non-thought meditation where he/she is aware about the empitiness of the Visions as well of his person / self which is not there at that moment. Non-thought is here also not a blank state of Mind like it is easy wrongly understood, because one thinks there must be consciousness there which does the experience. Well in Dzogchen is this conciousness not there because there is no mental grasping to the thoughts. The Natural State is a state which goes beyond dualisms like thoughts, karma etc.

So to be in this State does mean to practice the Awareness of the Buddha. The Buddha does not "see" impurities, that is equal to this Natural State.
This State is then experienced as pure and the other actual state with the mind of karma seen as illusion.
Here we have i guess that effortless obtaining of something which is as practice not known inside Theravada.

So it is not easy to understand the Dzogchen point of view for Sutra and the conclusion would be that there is not much similarity regarding / between the Dzogchen Vision and the Sutra Vision.

Don't also not know if the Tri-kaya system is known in Sutra. But the Buddha Shakyamuni seems to have answered to the question:
How many bodies has the Buddha ? Shakyamuni Buddha replied:" The Buddha has 3 Bodies" .


But that does not mean that a Dzogchenpa is not behaving ethical well and doesn't honour the Sutras of his/her Buddha.

Saying of a Bon Dzogchen Master:

My behaviour is like Sutra (outer) (Nirmanakaya)
My meditation is that of the Yidam (Tantra) (Sambhogakaya)
My vision is that of Dzogchen (Dharmakaya)


Mutsog Marro
KY
THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
WHO WITH A LAMP IN THE HAND CANNOT SEE THE ROAD
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Re: Do Theravadins have anything similar to Dzogchen?

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:49 pm

kalden yungdrung wrote:Tashi delek,

Am glad that i was misinformed and that everybody can attain Buddhahood in Theravada Buddhism, that means lay persons and monks.

I came to that wrong understood conclusion when i did met a Thai woman, whose only activity was to support the monks and a temple, by wich she thought to get a better reincarnation. Sure the 10 commands were for her also very important. I got so here the feeling that her intention was to get a better reincarnation by the support of the monks and the tempel and she was not consciousness to attain liberation within this live.

That doesn't mean that her Dharma did not contain the path to Liberation within this live, like you did explained, i guess that she and i did not understood the Theravada point of view, about the possibility that one can get liberation within this very live.

Mutosg Marro
KY[/color]


Arhatship is the stated goal of Theravada, not Buddhahood. There are some quibbles about whether you can fully attain arhatship without being a monk, but the records are pretty clear anyway that there were many lay stream-entrants, once-returners and non-returners in the Buddha's time, so that much certainly is possible. Whether you'd need another lifetime to iron out the final chinks doesn't seem like such a big deal.

But bear in mind, there is a difference between what Theravada actually teaches and the cultural Buddhism in Theravada countries. Most lay Buddhists who have grown up in Buddhist countries support the monks to gain merit for future lifetimes and aren't really taught vipassana or meditation. The forest tradition in Thailand for example, was a bit revolutionary in that the masters in that tradition gave more or less the same teachings to laypeople as they did monastics.

The woman you met probably has an idea that it is possible to end rebirth but doesn't consider herself capable or want that. Which imo is to be expected. There were lots of laypeople in the Buddha's time as well with no interest in liberation. But they recognised the good the sangha was doing and wished to support it, which the Buddha encouraged. I don't think we should expect all Buddhists to want to practise towards liberation or that simply aiming for a good rebirth is a product of wrong teaching. The logic of the teachings alone don't mean much if they are not coupled with the desire to actually become liberated. Which is generally a rare thing.
"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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