What makes one a Mahayanist?

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What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Kunga » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:54 am

I was thinking earlier, exactly what does one have to accept in order to be a Mahayanist. Does one, for example, have to accept the claim that many Mahayana sutras are, in fact, the words of the Buddha? Or can one reject some of them on historical grounds, where it is apparent that the author has merely put words into the mouth of the Buddha? (If we follow this line, where does it end?)

In short: is it sufficient merely to possess the Bodhisattva motivation, or does one have to accept the whole kit and caboodle of the Mahayana system - philosophy, legends and all?

I'm not denigrating the Mahayana, before anyone leaps in the air and lets their emotions override their reason, as I consider myself a Mahayanist. I'm just asking a question, as I'd like to see what others have to share in relation to it.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:41 am

If you really want to help all beings to become a buddha and never stop helping them, even after you "pass away" and you still continue to helo without stop, you are Mahayanist.

You can read muslim books, bible etc.

YOu even no need to read anything.

You can do anything as long as that anything can make you become a buddha and you help all beings without stop to also become a buddha - you are Mahayanist.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:20 am

Kunga wrote:I was thinking earlier, exactly what does one have to accept in order to be a Mahayanist. Does one, for example, have to accept the claim that many Mahayana sutras are, in fact, the words of the Buddha? Or can one reject some of them on historical grounds, where it is apparent that the author has merely put words into the mouth of the Buddha? (If we follow this line, where does it end?)

In short: is it sufficient merely to possess the Bodhisattva motivation, or does one have to accept the whole kit and caboodle of the Mahayana system - philosophy, legends and all?

I'm not denigrating the Mahayana, before anyone leaps in the air and lets their emotions override their reason, as I consider myself a Mahayanist. I'm just asking a question, as I'd like to see what others have to share in relation to it.

The starting point is an understanding of non-self or absence of self-identity. Then it goes from there. When you realize that others are without 'self' but suffer needlessly then this understanding is the basis for your compassion. This is all the words of the Buddha and the philosophy is all you need. The legends are illustrative and there is always the idea that compassion has to be limitless. Actually beyond time too. Bodhisattva's don't really care how long it takes. So in a sense the legends are illustrative of the conventional enormity of the task. But for bodhisattvas it's not an enormous task. That sort of thing. But I would say that with out doubt Mahayana sutras are an expression of Buddha's wisdom. Bodhisattvas embody this wisdom, the legends are conventional and illustrative.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:00 pm

Kunga wrote:I was thinking earlier, exactly what does one have to accept in order to be a Mahayanist. Does one, for example, have to accept the claim that many Mahayana sutras are, in fact, the words of the Buddha? Or can one reject some of them on historical grounds, where it is apparent that the author has merely put words into the mouth of the Buddha? (If we follow this line, where does it end?)

In short: is it sufficient merely to possess the Bodhisattva motivation, or does one have to accept the whole kit and caboodle of the Mahayana system - philosophy, legends and all?

I'm not denigrating the Mahayana, before anyone leaps in the air and lets their emotions override their reason, as I consider myself a Mahayanist. I'm just asking a question, as I'd like to see what others have to share in relation to it.


My personal view is:

1) Bodhicitta aspiration: Possess the aspiration to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi for the benefit for all sentient beings.
2) Accept at least part of the Mahayana canon to be authoritative (I consider the Prajnaparamitas to be the minimum to start with)
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Kunga » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:37 am

Interesting, thanks. I agree.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:56 am

Kunga wrote:I was thinking earlier, exactly what does one have to accept in order to be a Mahayanist. Does one, for example, have to accept the claim that many Mahayana sutras are, in fact, the words of the Buddha?


They might not be the words of the Buddha, but they could be words of a buddha.

Or can one reject some of them on historical grounds, where it is apparent that the author has merely put words into the mouth of the Buddha? (If we follow this line, where does it end?)


Buddhavacana (word of the Buddha) is nebulous at times. For example we have accounts of the Buddha's disciples speaking on his behalf, the words of which are considered Buddhavacana. There are also plenty of Mahāyāna scriptures that do not relate teachings given here on earth in ordinary circumstances. There are a number of texts attributed to Maitreya for example which were given in visions.

In short: is it sufficient merely to possess the Bodhisattva motivation, or does one have to accept the whole kit and caboodle of the Mahayana system - philosophy, legends and all?


I think we need to take it one step at a time. The more you learn and read the more you can make informed opinions on all the legends and ideas.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby yan kong » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:28 pm

Huseng wrote:
Kunga wrote:
Or can one reject some of them on historical grounds, where it is apparent that the author has merely put words into the mouth of the Buddha? (If we follow this line, where does it end?)


Buddhavacana (word of the Buddha) is nebulous at times. For example we have accounts of the Buddha's disciples speaking on his behalf, the words of which are considered Buddhavacana. There are also plenty of Mahāyāna scriptures that do not relate teachings given here on earth in ordinary circumstances. There are a number of texts attributed to Maitreya for example which were given in visions.


Is this idea unique to the Mahayana or universal in buddhism?
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:43 pm

freakpower70 wrote:Is this idea unique to the Mahayana or universal in buddhism?



In the Śrāvakayāna canon you see disciples speaking on behalf of the Buddha.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby seeker242 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:10 pm

I think the main difference is that a Mahayanist practices for the benefit of all beings instead of just for themselves. Which of course means it's possible to be a Mahayanist without actually being a Mahayanist! However, do you need to literally believe that the Buddha's body rose up in the air on a bed of lotus flowers and split into 32 forms and flew across the sky in all directions? I don't think so. :smile:
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby yan kong » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:11 pm

Huseng wrote:
freakpower70 wrote:Is this idea unique to the Mahayana or universal in buddhism?



In the Śrāvakayāna canon you see disciples speaking on behalf of the Buddha.


And in the modern Theravada?
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:49 pm

freakpower70 wrote:And in the modern Theravada?


Of course.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:12 pm

Kunga wrote:I was thinking earlier, exactly what does one have to accept in order to be a Mahayanist.


One has to generate supreme bodhicitta.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby yan kong » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:17 pm

Huseng wrote:
freakpower70 wrote:And in the modern Theravada?


Of course.


thanks
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby waimengwan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:30 pm

If have the wish of benefitting others and ourselves and though we are not enlightened we want to still help others.

I like this saying
'While I am crossing the river, I can also help your cross the river as well'.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby ram peswani » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:02 pm

[*]
Andrew108 wrote:The starting point is an understanding of non-self or absence of self-identity. Then it goes from there. When you realize that others are without 'self' but suffer needlessly then this understanding is the basis for your compassion. This is all the words of the Buddha and the philosophy is all you need. The legends are illustrative and there is always the idea that compassion has to be limitless. Actually beyond time too. Bodhisattva's don't really care how long it takes. So in a sense the legends are illustrative of the conventional enormity of the task. But for bodhisattvas it's not an enormous task. That sort of thing. But I would say that with out doubt Mahayana sutras are an expression of Buddha's wisdom. Bodhisattvas embody this wisdom, the legends are conventional and illustrative.



Agreed, I would like to go one step further. Understanding of self or non-self is not sufficient. There has to be an EXPERIENCE of non-self. This "experience" of non-self has to be strengthened every day by sitting in meditation for some time. Only then one becomes a Mahayanist and does the work of helping others. That can be called truely walking the path of Bhoddisattva.

Any other help without experiencing non-self is a positive karma and is beneficial for all.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby ngodrup » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:59 pm

It is very simple. According to the classical commentaries, the definition
of a mahayanist, one who has Bodhicitta, is one who has the intention
to become a Buddha for the benefit of infinite beings.

The Hinayana paths and texts do not posit a goal of Buddhahood, only
a goal of Nibbana.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby Sherab » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:57 am

ngodrup wrote:The Hinayana paths and texts do not posit a goal of Buddhahood, only
a goal of Nibbana.

If as a Hinayanist, I not only strive for nibbana, but will do my utmost to help others to achieve nibbana as well, what does that make me? A Madhyayanist? :stirthepot: :mrgreen:
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby BuddhaSoup » Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:31 pm

I'm still uncomfortable with folk's use of the word "hinayana." Many Theravadans (and non-Theravadans) consider this word a perjorative, as expressing the dismissal of Theravada as a "lesser vehicle." What I understand from the historical scholarship is that the sects that were truly considered to be "hinayana" faded away over time (BCE into the CE). Theravada was not considered to be part of the "hinayana"

I have practiced with both traditions, in my case Thai Theravada and Soto Zen. For me, the suttas and the sutras need to be careflly evaluated as to the their historicity and authenticity. If a sutta or sutra is found not to be not likely Buddhavacana, then I feel we need to accept the sutta or sutra on its own terms and appreciate its meaning and beauty as it is. I think it's fairly clear that there's a lot of Buddhavacana crossover in the Pali Canon and the Chinese Canon, and there's clearly some post=Buddha fictional accounts in both the Tipitaka and the Tripitaka (Abhidhamma, for example).

If you put an arrow to my head and forced me to choose between Theravada practice and Zen, I couldn't choose. I'd let the arrow fly, and then start to ask questions about what kind of arrow, who is the archer.... :)

I've listened to debates about the expansiveness of American Zen, the "selfishness" of Theravada and the arahant ideal, the deity fictions in some Mahayana. I just wish that sincere practitioners would see the beauty in each of these practices and focus less on the differences. The best scholars seem to feel that there's far more connecting Zen and Theravada than what separates the two. I personally know some Thai Bhikkhus who are amazing Bodhisattvas, and some Soto Zen teachers who are excellent teachers of meditation and the development of the Way, who would function quite well in a Thai Forest environment.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby ngodrup » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:34 pm

Sherab wrote:
ngodrup wrote:The Hinayana paths and texts do not posit a goal of Buddhahood, only
a goal of Nibbana.

If as a Hinayanist, I not only strive for nibbana, but will do my utmost to help others to achieve nibbana as well, what does that make me? A Madhyayanist? :stirthepot: :mrgreen:


But the definition is seeking to become a Buddha, not the kindness of helping others find Nibbana.
Such a person may have altruistic intent, but to qualify as Mahayana, you must believe any being
can become a Buddha.
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Re: What makes one a Mahayanist?

Postby ngodrup » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:42 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:I'm still uncomfortable with folk's use of the word "hinayana." Many Theravadans (and non-Theravadans) consider this word a perjorative, as expressing the dismissal of Theravada as a "lesser vehicle." What I understand from the historical scholarship is that the sects that were truly considered to be "hinayana" faded away over time (BCE into the CE). Theravada was not considered to be part of the "hinayana"

I have practiced with both traditions, in my case Thai Theravada and Soto Zen. For me, the suttas and the sutras need to be careflly evaluated as to the their historicity and authenticity. If a sutta or sutra is found not to be not likely Buddhavacana, then I feel we need to accept the sutta or sutra on its own terms and appreciate its meaning and beauty as it is. I think it's fairly clear that there's a lot of Buddhavacana crossover in the Pali Canon and the Chinese Canon, and there's clearly some post=Buddha fictional accounts in both the Tipitaka and the Tripitaka (Abhidhamma, for example).

If you put an arrow to my head and forced me to choose between Theravada practice and Zen, I couldn't choose. I'd let the arrow fly, and then start to ask questions about what kind of arrow, who is the archer.... :)

I've listened to debates about the expansiveness of American Zen, the "selfishness" of Theravada and the arahant ideal, the deity fictions in some Mahayana. I just wish that sincere practitioners would see the beauty in each of these practices and focus less on the differences. The best scholars seem to feel that there's far more connecting Zen and Theravada than what separates the two. I personally know some Thai Bhikkhus who are amazing Bodhisattvas, and some Soto Zen teachers who are excellent teachers of meditation and the development of the Way, who would function quite well in a Thai Forest environment.


Followers of the Pali Canon, Theravadins, represent the last remaining stream of Hinayana thought. Modern Thai Mahapras may well know
about occasional Pali references to Bodhisattvas, but they will not typically understand or accept either Chitamatra or Madhyamaka views of
emptiness. And ordinary Thai lay-practitioners won't eve go there, they know there's no chance...
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