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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:47 am 
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mikenz66 wrote:
Hi TaTa,
TaTa wrote:
It wasn't my intention to say that a non sutta path is the best. Is of my understanding that there is a lot of sutta study in the kagyu linage (the one im working on). I just wanted to say that when i discuss dharma with theravada practicioners i usually get that kind of response. Sutta quoting for me is useful but more as a detail than the "main" reason for something to be right or wrong.

Is this in on-line, or in "live" interactions? There's certainly a Theravada sub-culture, especially on-line, that gives the impression that any question about Dhamma or Dhamma-practice can be best answered by analysis of the Suttas. I don't notice that nearly so much in "real life", and it's partly the nature of on-line forums. Discussing analysis on-line is a natural thing to do. Analysing experience less so...



Online ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:00 pm 
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Bringing this one back to the front as I had the same question. I've been reading about Buddhism for about a year, but only recently really started keying in on the fact that there are different schools/paths (or whatever the appropriate term is). I as drawn to Buddhism mainly because it really wasn't/isn't necessarily a "religion" (in that he was basically a normal guy who "figured it all out" and then sought to bring others into the fold). Buddha being rooted in the real world and not being an omnipotent being (or so I had thought until recently) was/is appealing to me as I generally reject mainstream deity/god based religions. With all of that said, my question is the same as the OP as I learn more about Mahayana Buddhism. I've been listening to a lecture series done by the Manchester Buddhist Center (free off of iTunes) and it's implied that Mahayana embraces the concept that Buddha was/is a god like deity (can manifest himself across the universe, etc.). Now, I actually visited a Mahayana temple this weekend and spent the better part of the afternoon there. Everyone was very welcoming and informative. They explained to me (I believe they are Pure Land) that they also adhere to the school of thought that Buddha was a great teacher and nothing more. I was very specific when I voiced my oppositions to deities and things of that nature. They assured me that they simply follow Buddha as a teacher, meditation practices, etc. and not as a god. But again, from some of what I've read today and this lecture series, there seem to be sects out there that do revere him as a godlike being. There also seems to be quite a bit of disparity (at least from what I've seen/heard) in the schools on how each one carries out their day to day practices.

Does that make sense??


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:14 pm 
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A pure land is just a bardo experience, of the wisdom variety.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:18 pm 
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Theravada does not have Madhyamaka, which is the distilled essence of Buddha's teaching.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:20 am 
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Really? So what is this?
Quote:
SN 12.15 PTS: S ii 16 CDB i 544
Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View)
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1997–2012

Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And what about this then?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And this?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:29 am 
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The way it was explained to me at the Mahayana temple this weekend was that Mahayana goes hand in hand with Theravada, that they basically exist hand in hand. But again, I'm reading stuff on here and other places saying that is not the case. For example, that lecture series that I'm listening to at the moment - the guy giving the lecture refers to Mahayana Buddhism as "transcendental science fiction" along with a few other choice descriptive terms (and the lecture series does not appear to be to debunk Buddhism, so I don't think there is any kind of anti-Buddhism motivation there).

It comes down to one of those things where you are basically asking who is right and who is wrong? Is there necessarily a right or a wrong? It's just like trying to compare different mainstream religions - many of them are pretty close to each other, but then have some major fundamental difference that sets them apart. Does this basically hold true in Buddhism? You've got a root source (which is what I thought Theravada was supposed to be) and then over thousands of years people have run off with it and tweaked it into their own versions. Again, I'm fine with that as long as the root is still the same. But I've heard enough over the last two days now to make me question that. You've got a large section very implicitly saying that Buddha is not a god and basically nothing special (regular guy who obtained enlightenment). Then I'm finding references to him being a god or some super powered deity who travels the universe, appears to people as a glowing being, etc. That is where I am having a hard time. It *seems* that the vast majority of what I am finding does NOT elevate him to the godhood role, I'm just trying to make sure that Mahayana is one of them and not a sect/faction (whatever) that deems him to be a god. Again, I think that is where this base question comes from and that's what I am trying to find out. Maybe it's a matter of figuring out which resources to listen to - I've been gobbling up a little bit of everything, but that's not to say that I've come across some bad info here and there.

Does that make sense?


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:41 am 
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What kind of Mahayana temple is this?

Whats the overarching organization?

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:42 am 
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I am a beginner, but I am leaning towards Mahayana Buddhism as opposed to Theravada Buddhism simply because of the Bodhisattva role that exists in Mahayana Buddhism. Personally, I do not see how one can truly try to follow the intent of the Buddha's teachings and NOT try to eliminate suffering of all sentient beings. But that's just the thoughts of someone who is just starting on this path.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:48 am 
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tattoogunman wrote:
It *seems* that the vast majority of what I am finding does NOT elevate him to the godhood role, I'm just trying to make sure that Mahayana is one of them and not a sect/faction (whatever) that deems him to be a god. Again, I think that is where this base question comes from and that's what I am trying to find out. Maybe it's a matter of figuring out which resources to listen to - I've been gobbling up a little bit of everything, but that's not to say that I've come across some bad info here and there.


Mahāyāna is not "one" or a sect. Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) is one of three general classifications of methods useful in seeking enlightenment. While Buddha is not considered a "god" in any, Buddha does obtain god-like powers in some traditions. Thus, you should investigate each tradition in terms of your own "view".

Hope this helps.

:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:02 am 
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viniketa wrote:
tattoogunman wrote:
It *seems* that the vast majority of what I am finding does NOT elevate him to the godhood role, I'm just trying to make sure that Mahayana is one of them and not a sect/faction (whatever) that deems him to be a god. Again, I think that is where this base question comes from and that's what I am trying to find out. Maybe it's a matter of figuring out which resources to listen to - I've been gobbling up a little bit of everything, but that's not to say that I've come across some bad info here and there.


Mahāyāna is not "one" or a sect. Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) is one of three general classifications of methods useful in seeking enlightenment. While Buddha is not considered a "god" in any, Buddha does obtain god-like powers in some traditions. Thus, you should investigate each tradition in terms of your own "view".

Hope this helps.

:namaste:


It does - so the question then becomes which ones do *not* place him into the god like realm? The Mahayana temple (I believe them to be a Pure Land tradition if it matters) that I visited this weekend were very clear with me that they did not consider him a god, but I'm finding stuff to the contrary. I plan on going back this weekend to ask more questions.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:09 am 
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Dudjom Lingpa and modern day Dudjom Rinpoche, Namkhai Norbu and many others have Buddha encounters.

In a lucid dream, where clarity is seven times higher, one's own wisdom can take the form of Buddhas and Pure Lands.

Pure Land Buddhism is a form of phowa, which shapes a nice bardo experience of the wisdom variety.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:24 am 
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Or if you don't like this mystical stuff, study Madhyamaka's 'vajra sliver' reasoning which is most powerful atheism on the planet.

"Center of the Sunlit Sky" is the best book on that.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:36 am 
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JohnRammy wrote:
Or if you don't like this mystical stuff, study Madhyamaka's 'vajra sliver' reasoning which is most powerful atheism on the planet.

"Center of the Sunlit Sky" is the best book on that.



You've been promoting that book in response to several different threads recently, and I use the word promoting specifically because it seems to me that's what this has become. Why are you so fascinated with that book? :shrug: :spy:


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:47 am 
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SittingSilent wrote:
JohnRammy wrote:
Or if you don't like this mystical stuff, study Madhyamaka's 'vajra sliver' reasoning which is most powerful atheism on the planet.

"Center of the Sunlit Sky" is the best book on that.



You've been promoting that book in response to several different threads recently, and I use the word promoting specifically because it seems to me that's what this has become. Why are you so fascinated with that book? :shrug: :spy:



I get paid everytime I mention it.

The ironic thing is that a pirated PDF was floating around for the longest time.

By the way, its a known issue that almost all Madhyamaka books have a Gelug bias. If there is another comprehensive Madhyamaka book without that bias, let me know. I'm calling you out.

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Last edited by JohnRammy on Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:58 am 
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JohnRammy wrote:
Or if you don't like this mystical stuff, study Madhyamaka's 'vajra sliver' reasoning which is most powerful atheism on the planet.

"Center of the Sunlit Sky" is the best book on that.


I haven't gotten around to getting into Madhyamaka yet, but I did check out that book (sounds interesting, but I'm broke and can't afford the $40-$50 to get it anyway).

But what you said is basically what I'm trying to find and is what drew me to Buddhism to begin with. I'm an atheist and have been my whole life. I'm at a point in my life (long story) where something like Buddhism is appealing to me on a few different levels. But where I'm beginning to find some barriers are the mystical elements you spoke of. I can get behind the fact that the Buddha was a regular guy, with all of the trappings of a human, who became enlightened and tried to spread the word. Now when I start reading about a Buddha who is soaring through the universe, manifesting himself billions of times on billions of different planets, manifests himself with glowing aura, eleven heads, thousands of arms, etc. - I get turned off and I'm being honest when I say that. But again, my initial understanding of Buddhism is that he was not a god, is not revered as a god, worshiped as a god, and was not supernatural.

Does that make sense? It just seems like there should be a fairly clear cut answer to these basic questions. It's like if someone wanted to get into Christianity - you've got a few different ones to pick from, more or less the same at their root, but with a few differences here and there. So if someone asked which one they should get into, you could say go Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. It seems with Buddhism this choice/decisions/options really aren't that easy???


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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:09 am 
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tattoogunman wrote:
I haven't gotten around to getting into Madhyamaka yet, but I did check out that book (sounds interesting, but I'm broke and can't afford the $40-$50 to get it anyway).


I get most of my Dharma books through interlibrary loan.


tattoogunman wrote:
I haven't gotten around to getting into Madhyamaka yet, but I did check out that book (sounds interesting, but I'm broke and can't afford the $40-$50 to get it anyway).

But what you said is basically what I'm trying to find and is what drew me to Buddhism to begin with. I'm an atheist and have been my whole life. I'm at a point in my life (long story) where something like Buddhism is appealing to me on a few different levels. But where I'm beginning to find some barriers are the mystical elements you spoke of. I can get behind the fact that the Buddha was a regular guy, with all of the trappings of a human, who became enlightened and tried to spread the word. Now when I start reading about a Buddha who is soaring through the universe, manifesting himself billions of times on billions of different planets, manifests himself with glowing aura, eleven heads, thousands of arms, etc. - I get turned off and I'm being honest when I say that. But again, my initial understanding of Buddhism is that he was not a god, is not revered as a god, worshiped as a god, and was not supernatural.

Does that make sense? It just seems like there should be a fairly clear cut answer to these basic questions. It's like if someone wanted to get into Christianity - you've got a few different ones to pick from, more or less the same at their root, but with a few differences here and there. So if someone asked which one they should get into, you could say go Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. It seems with Buddhism this choice/decisions/options really aren't that easy???


I'm telling you, Madhyamaka is going to be your thing. This fits your inclinations.

"Nagarjuna's Reason Sixty" is another good read, although you gotta skip the translator's commentary and just read the translations.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:18 am 
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tattoogunman wrote:
You've got a large section very implicitly saying that Buddha is not a god and basically nothing special (regular guy who obtained enlightenment).


I dunno, pretty much by definition, someone who achieves enlightenment is not "nothing special".

I don't think you will find any kind of Buddhism that is fully in line with naive realism..which is really what you are talking about more than atheism. There are some Western thinkers who go in this direction, but it is cutting a big chunk off your experience to try practicing Buddhism from this perspective - in my own humble, uninformed opinion of course. For sure even in the Pali Canon, the Buddha himself was neither a naive realist or a nihilist, and himself made reference to a few "mystical" concepts such as The Tathagata even in the earliest writings - clearly not thinking of someone who has transcended human suffering as "just a guy".

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:21 am 
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Some quotes from "Nagarjuna's Reason Sixty"

Nagarjuna's says:
I bow to the Lord of Sages, who proclaimed relativity, the way by which he abandoned creation and destruction!
You who have eliminated nihilism, the source of all ills, should attend to the reasons why absolutism must be rejected as well.
You cannot be liberated through absolutism, nor escape this existence from nihilism. Great souls are liberated by fully understanding being and nothing.
Imagining any sort of creation, in anything, however subtle, such an unwise individual does not see the meaning of "conditioned arisal."
Those who develop understanding of relativity, abandoning creation and destruction, cross the ocean of existence with its views.
Whatever originates having a cause, does not endure without conditions, and, without conditions is destroyed. How can you understand such things as "existent"?
Those who insist on a non-relative “Self” or “world”-Alas! They are deprived by views such as absolutism and nihilism.
Claiming that dependent things are established in reality, how could they not develop flawed views, such as absolutism, about those things?

Candrakīrti's says:
For one does not become Lord of Sages simply by proclaiming relativity, but rather by articulating the pattern of the mutually dependent establishment of things and hence negating things' creation and destruction.
The naive are bound because the addictions such as desire, which develop through their imaginative construction of signs of "being" and "nothingness"….
Just so, he stated, "by knowing creation, you know destruction," since creation is the root of destruction…
Nagarjuna taught , "bereft of beginning, middle, and end," meaning that the world is free from creation, duration, and destruction.
Once one asserts things, one will succumb to the view of seeing such by imagining their beginning, middle and end; hence that grasping at things is the cause of all views.
In order for disciples, hermit buddhas, and altruistic bodhisattvas to abandon such total addiction, those who understand correctly-the perfectly enlightened buddhas-proclaimed, "What is dependently created is uncreated."
Likewise, here as well, the Lord Buddha’s pronouncement that "What is dependently created is objectively uncreated," is to counteract insistence on the objectivity of things.
Since relativity is not objectively created, those who, through this reasoning, accept dependent things as resembling the moon in water and reflections in a mirror, understand them as neither objectively true nor false. Therefore, those who think thus regarding dependent things realize that what is dependently arisen cannot be substantially existent, since what is like a reflection is not real. If it were real, that would entail the absurdity that its transformation would be impossible. Yet neither is it unreal, since it manifests as real within the world.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:44 am 
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Basically dependently originated phenomena never arise in the first place. All we are left with is illusion. Things only seem real because of imputed identities.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not Theravada
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:46 pm 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
tattoogunman wrote:
You've got a large section very implicitly saying that Buddha is not a god and basically nothing special (regular guy who obtained enlightenment).


I dunno, pretty much by definition, someone who achieves enlightenment is not "nothing special".

I don't think you will find any kind of Buddhism that is fully in line with naive realism..which is really what you are talking about more than atheism. There are some Western thinkers who go in this direction, but it is cutting a big chunk off your experience to try practicing Buddhism from this perspective - in my own humble, uninformed opinion of course. For sure even in the Pali Canon, the Buddha himself was neither a naive realist or a nihilist, and himself made reference to a few "mystical" concepts such as The Tathagata even in the earliest writings - clearly not thinking of someone who has transcended human suffering as "just a guy".


I guess my major problem may be my original sources for trying out this path. I'll admit, the very first thing that really turned me on to Buddhism was a PBS special (I think it was PBS) called "The Buddha". The story really touched me and made me think that was something that I could become interested in. The next thing I did was pick up a couple of "what is Buddhism" type of books from my local used bookstore. Then I started hitting the internet and that's really where I began to pick up on the different types of Buddhism and where my confusion came in.

My terminology of "nothing special" mainly means that, from what I had gathered in the beginning, Buddha was a normal guy who, after leaving his palace, took it upon himself to solve these problems. Of course at the end of that, he became the Buddha, but he was still very much a mortal man. There is nothing that I have seen to imply anything to the contrary until I started reading up on Mahayana Buddhism. I'll look into Madhyamaka.


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