Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby Son » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:00 am

conebeckham wrote:"Means and practices" are very much part of "traditions." For example, we can speak of the Vajrayana Tradition(s), in their totality, having different "means and practices" than the "Theravada Tradition(s)." A teacher in a Theravada tradition will likely not be able to guide someone on the Vajrayana Path, and vice versa. This is not a judgement as to which is better or worse, just a statement that strikes me as fairly obvious, and demonstrates that means, practices, and teachers are all "of" a tradition, or a path.

Well, I completely agree. That is what I said.

Son wrote:When Lord Gautama revealed Dharma to the world, he did not set people in differing traditions. He pointed the way to the top of the mountain, and he encouraged every single step toward the top, regardless of what trail those steps may fall upon. Now, if one tradition leads you mostly up the east side of the mountain, and another leads you mostly up the west, you will not be able to follow both traditions. However, following your own way and your own trails up the mountain, it can be very useful to listen to several traditions. This has always been my experience. This is the Ekayana.


Ignoring historical development, and the quasi-mythological creation stories of Vajrayana, or even Mahayana (Nagarjuna and the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, for example), I am sure that Gautama gave a variety of instructions to a variety of disciples. In a very general sense, I think he is known to have given various responses and instructions to householders, and to monks, and to kings/rulers/officials, etc. These are not "differing traditions," as much as expedient means to suit a variety of circumstances and beings.

That's exactly what I have said.

I see the various traditions in much the same way, but in a wider, and more historical, sense.

Yes, I can see that in a way. The word tradition has wide and historical connotations to its meaning.

As you've noted, if one tradition leads up the East side, and one up the West side, you won't be able to follow both. This would apply to paths, and to guides as well, wouldn't it?

...

Trails are by their very nature made by others, by those that have come before you. If you are going to create your own trail, you are by definition creating one that wasn't there before. You are "blazing a new trail," as they say, eh? "Listening to" several traditions, is fine--in my allegory, I referred to looking at the map of the whole mountain while one was already half way up a trail. Appreciating the myriad of ways is wonderful and nourishing, I think. But actually climbing the mountain, well.... if one were blazing their own trail, one would make a decision, based on reviewing the map, that a different trail may in fact be better at a certain point. At that point, you would need to get from Point A/Path A/Tradition A to Point B/Path B/Tradition B. If you've ever blazed a trail up a mountain, I think you can understand that it takes more effort, and likely more time, than following the trails that already exist. Sometimes the effort is worth it, don't get me wrong...sometimes one needs to reconnect, and each person is different. But as you have noted, one can't be in two places at once.


Perhaps I've been misleading. I do not think that someone who has excluded themselves--or chosen, if one prefers--a specific tradition, can be persuaded out of it. I've certainly never tried to accomplish that persuasion to anyone. I've already conceptualized Ekayana and I never meant to imply that traditionalists should follow Ekayana. I simply wanted to express my view of the topic, by saying that, "one should not." Not to say it's wrong.

You seem to be responding as though I'm against tradition. No, I simply don't agree with following limited tradition. If others agree with it, I am not against them following it. Perhaps this clarifies my standpoint and concludes my two cents.
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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:42 pm

son wrote:Perhaps I've been misleading. I do not think that someone who has excluded themselves--or chosen, if one prefers--a specific tradition, can be persuaded out of it. I've certainly never tried to accomplish that persuasion to anyone. I've already conceptualized Ekayana and I never meant to imply that traditionalists should follow Ekayana. I simply wanted to express my view of the topic, by saying that, "one should not." Not to say it's wrong.

You seem to be responding as though I'm against tradition. No, I simply don't agree with following limited tradition. If others agree with it, I am not against them following it. Perhaps this clarifies my standpoint and concludes my two cents.


All valid vehicles are rafts to the other shore. You don't need any raft, once you've crossed the river. But while you're fording the river, it's easier to take one raft, than to try to ride a seperate raft with each foot!

For beginners, I think it's a really good idea to investigate and learn about a variety of approaches, and to maybe even try them out for size. And again, there's a lot of commonality between all Buddhist approaches, shared methods, etc. I also think it's great to study and appreciate different paths, even when one is actively engaged in one's chosen path, at times. Dharma is vast. No one can practice everything all at once, or perhaps not even in one lifetime.

I don't think you're "against tradition," per se, Son. The idea of Ekayana is an interesting one, but....I appreciate diversity. If the "Ekayana Idea" provides people with an appreciation of the Dharma as a diverse set, and discourages blinkers and sectarian thinking, I think that's wonderful. Recognizing and appreciating commonalites, as well as distinguishing differences, are both important. But the Ekayana is not a tradition. It's the conglomeration of all traditions. Some are trying to create a New Tradition, I understand. There are various motivations I can see for embracing such a thing--lack of commitment, a desire to purge "cultural elements," dissatisfaction with aspects of a given tradition, or a variety of conceptual reconciliations between Dharma and Politics, Economic Theories, Science.....some of these motivations may even be positive, though I think reform comes from within a tradition, and not by creating anew. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm just small-minded, or of limited capacity, but I'm satisfied and confident in my path, and in my guides.

Slightly off tangent, but somehow relevant, are these words by a Facebook Friend, and I think we'd all agree on these:

There's been a lot of talk about Americanizing Buddhism, just as there's been talk over the centuries of Sinizing, Japanizing and Koreanizing it. There's even an ugly current of reverse prejudice today that decries the "whitening" of Buddhism.

All of these miss the point. The central point of Buddhism is not about nationalizing it but personalizing it. You can make it as Western or Asian as you like, but unless and until it becomes internalized as an internal system of practice and successive realizations, it is nothing more than another empty cultural artifact.
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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby viniketa » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:51 pm

:good:

Of course, some might see Ekayāna as a 'return to tradition'... ;)

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:54 pm

Once again thank you all for your posts. :namaste:

This has become a great discussion with a lot of good information.
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby Son » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:10 am

conebeckham wrote:
son wrote:Perhaps I've been misleading. I do not think that someone who has excluded themselves--or chosen, if one prefers--a specific tradition, can be persuaded out of it. I've certainly never tried to accomplish that persuasion to anyone. I've already conceptualized Ekayana and I never meant to imply that traditionalists should follow Ekayana. I simply wanted to express my view of the topic, by saying that, "one should not." Not to say it's wrong.

You seem to be responding as though I'm against tradition. No, I simply don't agree with following limited tradition. If others agree with it, I am not against them following it. Perhaps this clarifies my standpoint and concludes my two cents.


All valid vehicles are rafts to the other shore. You don't need any raft, once you've crossed the river. But while you're fording the river, it's easier to take one raft, than to try to ride a seperate raft with each foot!

For beginners, I think it's a really good idea to investigate and learn about a variety of approaches, and to maybe even try them out for size. And again, there's a lot of commonality between all Buddhist approaches, shared methods, etc. I also think it's great to study and appreciate different paths, even when one is actively engaged in one's chosen path, at times. Dharma is vast. No one can practice everything all at once, or perhaps not even in one lifetime.

I don't think you're "against tradition," per se, Son. The idea of Ekayana is an interesting one, but....I appreciate diversity. If the "Ekayana Idea" provides people with an appreciation of the Dharma as a diverse set, and discourages blinkers and sectarian thinking, I think that's wonderful. Recognizing and appreciating commonalites, as well as distinguishing differences, are both important. But the Ekayana is not a tradition. It's the conglomeration of all traditions. Some are trying to create a New Tradition, I understand. There are various motivations I can see for embracing such a thing--lack of commitment, a desire to purge "cultural elements," dissatisfaction with aspects of a given tradition, or a variety of conceptual reconciliations between Dharma and Politics, Economic Theories, Science.....some of these motivations may even be positive, though I think reform comes from within a tradition, and not by creating anew. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm just small-minded, or of limited capacity, but I'm satisfied and confident in my path, and in my guides.

That would be foolish because a truly new tradition would have to be separate from the general tradition that has been founded by the Buddha. In essence, they want to make up their own Buddha and follow a new tradition based on that.

]Slightly off tangent, but somehow relevant, are these words by a Facebook Friend, and I think we'd all agree on these:

There's been a lot of talk about Americanizing Buddhism, just as there's been talk over the centuries of Sinizing, Japanizing and Koreanizing it. There's even an ugly current of reverse prejudice today that decries the "whitening" of Buddhism.

All of these miss the point. The central point of Buddhism is not about nationalizing it but personalizing it. You can make it as Western or Asian as you like, but unless and until it becomes internalized as an internal system of practice and successive realizations, it is nothing more than another empty cultural artifact.


Well, the real Buddhism is what is personal and what is practiced by the followers of Dharma. So this has prevented me from putting importance in adapting Buddhism to nationalities or anything like that. The Master taught the Dharma for everyone as it is, and every tradition that is founded on his teachings and supports his dharma, is his tradition. Buddhist tradition.

No matter what no amount of people will be able to create their own new tradition of Buddhism. Whatever part of tradition someone follows, that is their tradition. If it is mostly Gelug tradition, or mostly Pure Land tradition, or mostly Thai Forest--than it is simply mostly that.
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Re: Why follow one tradition of Buddhism?

Postby Jyoti » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:35 pm

Son wrote:Perhaps I've been misleading. I do not think that someone who has excluded themselves--or chosen, if one prefers--a specific tradition, can be persuaded out of it. I've certainly never tried to accomplish that persuasion to anyone. I've already conceptualized Ekayana and I never meant to imply that traditionalists should follow Ekayana. I simply wanted to express my view of the topic, by saying that, "one should not." Not to say it's wrong.


Ekayana is concerning the teaching of definitive meaning, the teaching of provisional means is the cause of the division of the buddha teaching into the three yanas. Thus, as long as these provisional means are taught in a tradition, then the tradition cannot be included as the ekayana. The tradition of ch'an, yogacara, and Madhyamaka are considered the ekayana, and the schools that teach these are also of ekayana, as long as their teaching exclude element of provisional means.

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