The Yana Mix-up

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The Yana Mix-up

Postby mudra » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:05 am

Once during a teaching on Lam Rim my lama observed the following:

1. The term "Hinayana" is misleading - more appropriate would be "Pratimokshayana" (self liberation vehicle)

2. The context of of the usage "Hinayana" is mostly mistaken - e.g. saying that Theravada=Hinayana is a misperception. Theravada really refers more to a school of vinaya etc..

3. He also said that in the ranks of those who label themselves "mahayanist" there were many with Hinayana motivation/tendencies. And that among the ranks of the so-labelled Hinayanists (labelled by the so-called mahayanists of course) were many who actually had mahayana motivation/tendencies.

My conclusion is that it is very dangerous for us to make assumptions about other schools using terms which are basically 'contextual' to our own. For example, even amongst the 4 tibetan Buddhist schools the same terms can mean different things..
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby muni » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:21 am

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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby muni » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:32 am

I think an overview of the different approaches is not a luxury on internet. Very easy we can think the other is wrong when his-her expressions are not the same as the one we use to apply.

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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Aemilius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:16 am

It is not like that, there is a widespread misinterpretation of the word pratimoksha. Moksha means "liberation", and prati is "the", "the very", "linking to", or "binding to",... It is not "self".
There is also a Bodhisattva pratimoksha sutra, that is included in the Ratnakuta sutra, and it is counted as belonging to the early mahayana sutras.
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby noclue » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:59 am

Pratimoksha usually refers to the serious vows like the vinaya offenses that result in expulsion (as far as I know). You may have meant pratyeka-buddhas (self-enlightened ones) or sravakas (hearers). Not sure.
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Aemilius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:39 am

noclue wrote:Pratimoksha usually refers to the serious vows like the vinaya offenses that result in expulsion (as far as I know). You may have meant pratyeka-buddhas (self-enlightened ones) or sravakas (hearers). Not sure.


What you are saying is the normal mix-up, or rather a serious mix-up.
The idea is that liberation is liberation from obscurations and negative habits and tendencies. By behaving according to the rules and guidelines of pratimoksha you are liberated, liberation is not something else.
By reading the sutras you'll find how they are formulated, i.e. they describe how a liberated person naturally behaves.
Before it becomes natural to you, you must have recourse various sets of precepts, this is called training in ethical behaviour (shila).
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:34 pm

mudra wrote:Once during a teaching on Lam Rim my lama observed the following:

1. The term "Hinayana" is misleading - more appropriate would be "Pratimokshayana" (self liberation vehicle)


I think Sravakayana is most appropriate -- it corresponds to those seeking Arhatship.


2. The context of of the usage "Hinayana" is mostly mistaken - e.g. saying that Theravada=Hinayana is a misperception. Theravada really refers more to a school of vinaya etc..


Not really. Theravada in the modern day is as much a self-designation by a selection of Buddhists as it is a an appellation by outsiders. It goes back to ancient India where people identified themselves as such as well in contrast to other schools like Mahasamghika and Sarvastivada and so on.


3. He also said that in the ranks of those who label themselves "mahayanist" there were many with Hinayana motivation/tendencies. And that among the ranks of the so-labelled Hinayanists (labelled by the so-called mahayanists of course) were many who actually had mahayana motivation/tendencies.


The way Mahayana is taught and practised in the west isn't always oriented in the direction of Bodhisattvahood. There is a lot of discussion of "overcoming my suffering" and "escaping samsara like my hair is on fire" with little discussion of how to help others.

I'm just as guilty of that for the record.

My conclusion is that it is very dangerous for us to make assumptions about other schools using terms which are basically 'contextual' to our own. For example, even amongst the 4 tibetan Buddhist schools the same terms can mean different things..


We shouldn't use the term Hinayana unless it is qualified in academic discussions as a term utilized in the past. In the present day I prefer to call Theravada practitioners as belonging to Sravakayana unless there is reason to specify them as otherwise.
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Sönam » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:39 pm

Huseng wrote:
mudra wrote:Once during a teaching on Lam Rim my lama observed the following:

1. The term "Hinayana" is misleading - more appropriate would be "Pratimokshayana" (self liberation vehicle)


I think Sravakayana is most appropriate -- it corresponds to those seeking Arhatship.




Sravakas is the term accepted in the last council by both hinayana and mahayana entreaties ...

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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby mudra » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:07 am

Aemilius - true that the word "prati" does not mean self, it really denotes more "in the direction of". However as a term "pratimoksha" or "in the direction of liberation" has come to denote the path which works towards liberation for oneself. The Pratimoksha vows denote the 8 type of vow of self liberation - upasotta/upavastha (one day vows), upasaka, upasika, samanera, samanerika, saiksamana (probationary nun), bhiksu, bhiksuni.

Huseng + Sonam - It is true that the word "shravaka" (listener) has been accepted, however it does not include the pratyekabuddhas (solitary realizers) who are not shravakas but are on the path of self liberation too.

Huseng, we are in the same boat. The Bodhisattva or Mahayana motivation is not as easy as many think. I would say at best I aspire to that motivation.

As to Theravada, I had the impression that it was a term applied to one of the early Bhiksu ordination lineages, which arrived in Sri Lanka around 2 centuries before Christ? Perhaps there is an erudite here who can clear this up? If my impression is correct then surely if there are those who follow other pratimoksha paths are not necessarily Theravada?
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:17 am

mudra wrote:Huseng, we are in the same boat. The Bodhisattva or Mahayana motivation is not as easy as many think. I would say at best I aspire to that motivation.

As to Theravada, I had the impression that it was a term applied to one of the early Bhiksu ordination lineages, which arrived in Sri Lanka around 2 centuries before Christ? Perhaps there is an erudite here who can clear this up? If my impression is correct then surely if there are those who follow other pratimoksha paths are not necessarily Theravada?


Besides Theravada, there is no other Sravaka tradition in existence anymore.

You're confusing a vinaya lineage with tradition. The other Mahayana lineages, except for in Japan, still maintain vinaya transmission.

Also, as for Pratyekabuddhas there is no record in history of a group or notable individual who actually practised this path. This is probably because it is said they live alone away from the world and achieve enlightenment for themselves.
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby mudra » Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:54 am

Huseng wrote:
mudra wrote:Huseng, we are in the same boat. The Bodhisattva or Mahayana motivation is not as easy as many think. I would say at best I aspire to that motivation.

As to Theravada, I had the impression that it was a term applied to one of the early Bhiksu ordination lineages, which arrived in Sri Lanka around 2 centuries before Christ? Perhaps there is an erudite here who can clear this up? If my impression is correct then surely if there are those who follow other pratimoksha paths are not necessarily Theravada?


Besides Theravada, there is no other Sravaka tradition in existence anymore.

You're confusing a vinaya lineage with tradition. The other Mahayana lineages, except for in Japan, still maintain vinaya transmission.

Also, as for Pratyekabuddhas there is no record in history of a group or notable individual who actually practised this path. This is probably because it is said they live alone away from the world and achieve enlightenment for themselves.


Dear Huseng, well I am still not entirely sure about the tradition vs vinaya thing. for instance there is this perepctive: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/world_today/summary_report_2007_international_c/part_3.html?query=vinaya+traditions

Regarding the usage of shravakayana to cover the entire spectrum of the path of self liberation, we will just have to agree to disagree :anjali:

As to the Pratyekabuddhas, it is accepted that there are such practitioners. In fact amongst Tibetans that particular vehicle is accepted as being part of the self-liberation vehicle as much as the sravakayana is, so they are consdired to be two subdivisions of the pratimokshayana. You have the parallel in the Mahayana (or Bodhisattvayana) where one can practice the path of perfections (parimatyana, sutrayana) or the resultant path (tantrayana/mantrayana/vajrayana)
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:23 am

mudra wrote:Regarding the usage of shravakayana to cover the entire spectrum of the path of self liberation, we will just have to agree to disagree :anjali:


Sravakayana refers to those seeking Arhatship. Arhatship is self-liberation. Parallel to this is the Bodhisattvayana which seeks Buddhahood. They are two different goals.

As to the Pratyekabuddhas, it is accepted that there are such practitioners. In fact amongst Tibetans that particular vehicle is accepted as being part of the self-liberation vehicle as much as the sravakayana is, so they are consdired to be two subdivisions of the pratimokshayana. You have the parallel in the Mahayana (or Bodhisattvayana) where one can practice the path of perfections (parimatyana, sutrayana) or the resultant path (tantrayana/mantrayana/vajrayana)


Can you point to a single example in historical records of a group or even an individual who practised as a Pratyekabuddha path?
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby mudra » Sun Jun 20, 2010 5:01 am

Huseng wrote:
mudra wrote:Regarding the usage of shravakayana to cover the entire spectrum of the path of self liberation, we will just have to agree to disagree :anjali:


Sravakayana refers to those seeking Arhatship. Arhatship is self-liberation. Parallel to this is the Bodhisattvayana which seeks Buddhahood. They are two different goals.

As to the Pratyekabuddhas, it is accepted that there are such practitioners. In fact amongst Tibetans that particular vehicle is accepted as being part of the self-liberation vehicle as much as the sravakayana is, so they are consdired to be two subdivisions of the pratimokshayana. You have the parallel in the Mahayana (or Bodhisattvayana) where one can practice the path of perfections (parimatyana, sutrayana) or the resultant path (tantrayana/mantrayana/vajrayana)


Can you point to a single example in historical records of a group or even an individual who practised as a Pratyekabuddha path?


So you are saying there is no such thing as Pratyekabuddhas who practice during the eras where Buddhadharma is not available?

Historical as in outside of Buddhist texts? How about "historical accounts" of the Buddha transmitting Mahayana sutras?
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jun 20, 2010 8:36 am

mudra wrote:So you are saying there is no such thing as Pratyekabuddhas who practice during the eras where Buddhadharma is not available?


I said no such thing. Reread what I wrote.

I'm asking if you know of any record stating that such and such a person practised the Pratyekabuddha path and attained Pratyekabuddhahood?

You'll find a lot of reference to the Pratyekabuddhas in Mahayana literature as something inferior to the Bodhisattvayana and quite often something to be avoided. One "falls into" it and the path to Buddhahood is cut short.

However, that being said, I've never heard of anyone in history actually practising that path.

You stated the following:
As to the Pratyekabuddhas, it is accepted that there are such practitioners.


Your use of the present tense implies that at present there are Pratyekabuddha practitioners. So, where are they?


Historical as in outside of Buddhist texts? How about "historical accounts" of the Buddha transmitting Mahayana sutras?


There is no evidence that the flesh and blood Shakyamuni taught the Mahayana while he walked the earth.

However, that doesn't mean the Buddha did not teach the Mahayana. Some Indian authors like Vasubandhu, point out that while the Sravaka did not hear the Mahayana sermons from Shakyamuni, they were not part of the Bodhisattva assembly which did. Moreover, some Mahayana sutras are clearly not taught in the world we ordinarily perceive, but in higher realms or heavens by the Sambhogakaya or even the Dharmakaya in some cases. Only high level Bodhisattvas can perceive the Dharmakaya, so any scripture we have that was taught by the Dharmakaya has to make use of imagery and so on to convey a very deep and subtle truth.

This all suggests to me that many such sutras were heard or seen in visions by various adepts throughout the ages.

However, the question still stands: where are the Pratyekabuddhas and do we have any historical record for their existence?
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby mudra » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:59 pm

Hi Huseng,


I said no such thing. Reread what I wrote.

I'm asking if you know of any record stating that such and such a person practised the Pratyekabuddha path and attained Pratyekabuddhahood?


Ok, my bad. No I don't know of such, but it seems they arise during times when Buddha Dharma is just about non existent, and they don't teach. So it's unlikely that there are such records. I guess we have to leave it at that.

My point was really more that they should be included in the category of Pratimokshayana.

You'll find a lot of reference to the Pratyekabuddhas in Mahayana literature as something inferior to the Bodhisattvayana and quite often something to be avoided. One "falls into" it and the path to Buddhahood is cut short.

One finds a similar thing in Tibetan Mahayana literature. But in the Lam Rim (graded stages of the path) teachings in the Gelug tradition there is a "warning" regarding this "inferior" label: the Buddha taught many paths in many different ways. And if one were to categorize sincere and actual realizations of the path common to those of the Pratimoksha as not valid (often the connotation that goes with "Hina") then one is making a grave mistake. It is, according to the Lam Rim, impossible to realize bodhicitta without first realizing that one's own situation is dire etc.

Your use of the present tense implies that at present there are Pratyekabuddha practitioners. So, where are they?
[/quote]
Evidently they would be in realms where the Buddhadharma is not being practised extensively (no teachings available, no sangha, etc). So, all I could suggest is 'somewhere out there'. :)
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Re: The Yana Mix-up

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:22 pm

[quote="mudra"]Aemilius - true that the word "prati" does not mean self, it really denotes more "in the direction of". However as a term "pratimoksha" or "in the direction of liberation" has come to denote the path which works towards liberation for oneself. The Pratimoksha vows denote the 8 type of vow of self liberation - upasotta/upavastha (one day vows), upasaka, upasika, samanera, samanerika, saiksamana (probationary nun), bhiksu, bhiksuni.]

Why not emphasize other ? Most of the the vows denote deeds that are done to others, they constitute a liberation concerning others more than anything else,...
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