Sonrisa wrote:I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path. So I did some research and I found that some scholars said that the Mahayana sutras are a complete invention and not really Buddhism. This Theravada practitioner said that only his sect of Buddhism is true.
I think I watched the same videos.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that while some Theravadans will insist their canon is the perfect unadulterated records of Shakyamuni's teachings, any honest scholars, including bhikku scholars, will reject such statements.
This is because firstly the Pali canon is the collected and sanctioned texts of a sect which initially tells you something about the quality of it.
While not extant anymore, we also have the canons of other Sravakayana schools (the pejorative is Hinayana which I don't care to use) schools including the Sarvastivada and more importantly the Mahasamghika. This is important because we can compare sutras between the various early sects of Indian Buddhism. There are many differences to be found, particularly in the vision of Shakyamuni (for example was he merely a flesh and blood human with awakening, or transcendental?).
Oh, please tell me this isnt true
The Mahayana path has been so precious to me and I find it very beneficial. Even if a Deva came down from heaven and told me that Mahayana wasnt true, I would kick his butt back to the heavenly realms
The Mahayana path is valid.
However, as it stands now there is no historical or epigraphical evidence that Shakyamuni taught the Mahayana teachings at least to his disciples (however as Vasubandhu points out the disciples were not privy to the teachings given to the Bodhisattvas present). But that doesn't mean they were not taught by the Buddha
. If you look at the contents of much of them they're obviously not from the perspective of a basic human walking around North India in the 5th century BCE.
For example look at the Avatamsaka-sutra (Flower Ornament or Huayan Sutra). Much of the contents are written with such inconceivable elements. It is written from the perspective of a Buddha.
Moreover, as Theravadans will affirm, a dharma teaching need not necessarily come from the Buddha in order to be valid dharma. In the Pali canon we see plenty of cases where a disciple gives a teaching and Shakyamuni affirms it as true and good dharma.
In the case of the Mahayana there are true and good dharma teachings taught in the name of the Buddha, if not by enlightened individuals. I would also speculate that many Mahayana teachings were given to Buddhist yogis in visions. In fact we know that Asanga had received lengthy discourses from Maitreya.
Does that make it invalid and not really Buddhism? I would say no. The early Mahayana looked at the origins of their founder, Shakyamuni, and wondered if they could reconstruct the same model for themselves. Could they become Buddhas themselves? By Shakyamuni's own admission he was neither the first nor the last Buddha to arise in the world. People looked at the accounts of Shakyamuni's past lives and coupled with their own understanding of the Buddhadharma initiated Mahayana movements (it was never a single school).
Like a disciple giving a valid teaching in place of Shakyamuni, so too do the Mahayana scriptures give valid teachings in the name of the Buddha.
But it just seems that the scholarly approach to Buddhism is soooo much different from the actual practitioner approach to Buddhism. I mean, the people that have attained what they sought in the Mahayana sutras, the teachings of the venerable masters, and my own experiences as well.
Unfortunately both sides don't dialogue enough. Many scholars look down on practitioners as ignorant of their own tradition's history. On the reverse practitioners look down on scholars for not having the experience that comes with practice alongside reading of texts.
Ideally you combine both, but I don't see many who do. I've even been told I have to be one or the other (nevermind the Bodhisattva pledge that one will study all dharma teachings no matter how innumerable they be).