Canon and doctrines, precepts.

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Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby zamotcr » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:41 pm

Hello,

We all know that the Buddhist canons (specially Mahayana ones) are extensive. A lot of sutras, completely untranslated. There are a lot of doctrines, some sutras threat women as devil, others as essentially the same as men. Others sutras teaches about not to eat garlic's, onions, etc. Some sutras contradicts them self (maybe apparently). Others precepts not even mention it. And a lot more stories like this.

I mean, I'm a lay practitioner, maybe I will never read the complete canon nor study it.

I'm coming from Theravada, basically I thought that only the 5 precepts were necessary, but then, reading, I found Brahma Net Sutra precepts, next to it, Shurangama Sutra, threatening the garlic, onion, etc as evil food, etc. This confuses me a lot, how should I take all of these doctrines? Should I accept whatever sutra I read? Should we take all the sutras literally? Historically correct? Or sometimes the meaning than the history are more important?

I mean I don't want to be a dump Buddhist, but a good one, but sometimes, I feel that all of this is overwhelming.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:15 pm

Practice and theory must go hand in hand on the journey.

Don't worry. :smile:
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Yudron » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:08 am

Rely on a knowledgeable real life authentic teacher.

zamotcr wrote:Hello,

We all know that the Buddhist canons (specially Mahayana ones) are extensive. A lot of sutras, completely untranslated. There are a lot of doctrines, some sutras threat women as devil, others as essentially the same as men. Others sutras teaches about not to eat garlic's, onions, etc. Some sutras contradicts them self (maybe apparently). Others precepts not even mention it. And a lot more stories like this.

I mean, I'm a lay practitioner, maybe I will never read the complete canon nor study it.

I'm coming from Theravada, basically I thought that only the 5 precepts were necessary, but then, reading, I found Brahma Net Sutra precepts, next to it, Shurangama Sutra, threatening the garlic, onion, etc as evil food, etc. This confuses me a lot, how should I take all of these doctrines? Should I accept whatever sutra I read? Should we take all the sutras literally? Historically correct? Or sometimes the meaning than the history are more important?

I mean I don't want to be a dump Buddhist, but a good one, but sometimes, I feel that all of this is overwhelming.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:54 am

This is why treatises that gist the Sutras are helpful.

Like the Jewel Ornament of Liberation for the Kagyu sect or The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment for the Gelug.

Generally Mahayanists hold the 5 lay vows (also called the lay Pratimoksha vows) and the Bodhisattva vows.

Here are the Bodhisattva vows held in the Tibetan sects. The 18th vow is the most important.
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... edges.html
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:53 am

There are two things one should pay attention for: harmlessness and compassion. These two are what essentially the bodhisattva's actions are guided by. Fused with wisdom it becomes the sila-paramita.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Sara H » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:07 am

zamotcr wrote:Hello,

We all know that the Buddhist canons (specially Mahayana ones) are extensive. A lot of sutras, completely untranslated. There are a lot of doctrines, some sutras threat women as devil, others as essentially the same as men. Others sutras teaches about not to eat garlic's, onions, etc. Some sutras contradicts them self (maybe apparently). Others precepts not even mention it. And a lot more stories like this.

I mean, I'm a lay practitioner, maybe I will never read the complete canon nor study it.

I'm coming from Theravada, basically I thought that only the 5 precepts were necessary, but then, reading, I found Brahma Net Sutra precepts, next to it, Shurangama Sutra, threatening the garlic, onion, etc as evil food, etc. This confuses me a lot, how should I take all of these doctrines? Should I accept whatever sutra I read? Should we take all the sutras literally? Historically correct? Or sometimes the meaning than the history are more important?

I mean I don't want to be a dump Buddhist, but a good one, but sometimes, I feel that all of this is overwhelming.


I've read the Scripture of Brahma's Net several times.

It's kindof a good reminder of the purpose of the precepts.

In Soto we take the 16 great precepts:

The Three Refuges:

I take refuge in the Buddha,

I take refuge in the Dharma,

I take refuge in the Sangha.

The three Pure Precepts:

Cease from evil (or do as little harm as possible)

Do only good

Do good for others

And the Ten Great Precepts, in the spirit of how they were originally taken in that "I vow to undergo the rule of training so that I may teach myself to refrain from...:

Do not Kill

Do not Steal

Do not Covet (for monks taken as Do not indulge sexuality)

Do not say that which is not true (for monks taken as Do not lie)

Do not sell the wine of delusion (for monks taken as Do not drink the wine of delusion)

Do not speak against others (for monks taken as Do not talk about others)

Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others (for monks taken as Do not be proud of yourself and blame others)

Do not be mean in giving either Dharma or wealth. (for monks taken as Do not be mean in giving the wealth of the Dharma)

Do not be angry

Do not defame the Three Treasures (for monks: Do not blame the Three Treasures)


The stuff about the Five pungent roots (garlic, onions, scallions, leeks and ginger) and things of that nature are usually meant for monastics.

They were practical rules back in the day and currently, because not only do say such roots act as a stimulant and mild aphrodisiac (which monks would wish to avoid) but also because in the days before piped hot water (and even today with it) the smell of such things like garlic or strong wild onions coming out of somebody's breath when you've got a meditation hall full of smelly boys sitting around in the tropical heat...

Well you get the idea. Those sortof things cause problems when lots of people are living in close quarters and sitting next to each other.

At Shasta, the monastery I am familiar with, they don't eat garlic and ginger and leeks and scalions, unless it's for a medicinal reason like cold or something, but they will eat well cooked onions, because it's such a part of our western diet, and modern large commercial onions are a lot less potent than wild onions that would have been used back in the day.

They usually boil them down into french onion soup.

But a lot of those rules, again are more of a practical purpose to issues that came up in monastic life.

Although the Scripture of Brahma's Net contains a wonderful amount of good advice for laypeople.

Especially regarding business dealings, etc.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:46 pm

zamotcr wrote:
I'm coming from Theravada, basically I thought that only the 5 precepts were necessary, but then, reading, I found Brahma Net Sutra precepts, next to it, Shurangama Sutra, threatening the garlic, onion, etc as evil food, etc. This confuses me a lot, how should I take all of these doctrines?


I would say they are taken the same as Theravada vows. Theravada laypersons take 5 sometimes 10 vows. Theravada monks always take many more. Mahayana laypersons take 5 vows, sometime 10, sometimes 16, sometimes more. Mahayana monks always take many more. Brahma Net Sutra precepts for example, it is usually only monks who vow to follow each one of them. So in Theravada there are many more vows than just 5. Same for Mahayana. They are just a different set of vows. Some are for laypersons, the rest are for monks. A Theravada layperson is not expected to follow all of the Theravada vows in order to be a "good buddhist", same with Mahayana.

:anjali:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby zamotcr » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:19 am

Should lay people avoid sex? Reading through posts in this forum, a lot of members thinks it should be avoided.
How is the sexual misconduct interpreted? Avoiding using wrong orifices? :tongue:

There are a lot of views, every master said different things, I don't know who to believe.
Some expects you to take the 48 precepts from brahmanet, to refrain from listening music, or practicing martial arts, or to play games, but, this is the way laity should follow?
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:31 am

zamotcr wrote:I'm coming from Theravada, basically I thought that only the 5 precepts were necessary, but then, reading, I found Brahma Net Sutra precepts, next to it, Shurangama Sutra, threatening the garlic, onion, etc as evil food, etc.


The Vinaya literature for monks also proscribes the consumption of garlic.

In fact, the issue of garlic consumption was a very serious matter in ancient Buddhism. I wrote an article about it here:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.tw/2012/07/g ... -dung.html

One example is in the Four Part Vinaya of the Dharmagupta school forbids the consumption of garlic as follows:

“If a bhikṣuṇī (nun) eats raw garlic, old garlic or mixed garlic, it is a pāyattika offense when swallowed. For a bhikṣu (monk) it is a duṣkṛta (misdemeanor) offense. For a śikṣamāṇā, śrāmaṇera (male novice) or śrāmaṇerī (female novice) it is a duṣkṛta offense. This is considered a violation. A non-violation would be if someone had an illness as such and the garlic was eaten in a biscuit. If one cannot be cured with other medicines and only with treatment with garlic will one recover, then the treatment is permitted. If smeared on a skin sore there is no violation.”


The widespread disdain for garlic was characteristic of ancient Indian civilization. In the Manusmṛti (Laws of Manu) we see the following:

5. Garlic, leeks and onions, mushrooms and (all plants), springing from impure (substances), are unfit to be eaten by twice-born men.

...

19. A twice-born man who knowingly eats mushrooms, a village-pig, garlic, a village-cock, onions, or leeks, will become an outcast.


Now, while such conventions did not strictly apply to Buddhists, the greater society often found such substances offensive, much like smoking in our present day. There are furthermore health concerns related to garlic and onions which is dealt with in Āyurveda (classical Indian medicine).



This confuses me a lot, how should I take all of these doctrines? Should I accept whatever sutra I read? Should we take all the sutras literally? Historically correct? Or sometimes the meaning than the history are more important?



We need to examine them in their historical context and development. The essence of the teachings is what we are seeking.

Buddhism has a long history of interpretation. It is actually a kind of profession.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:35 am

zamotcr wrote:Should lay people avoid sex? Reading through posts in this forum, a lot of members thinks it should be avoided.
How is the sexual misconduct interpreted? Avoiding using wrong orifices? :tongue:


That depends on the text.

In some cases it is generally just defined as having sex with the wrong person (your relatives and someone's spouse). Elsewhere the unsuitable orifice is stated.

It really comes down to intent. Don't use sexuality in a harmful way.

Laypeople who want to seriously achieve liberation often see the value in abstaining from all sexual activities. This is after all what the Buddha taught. Desire is a mental poison. However, if someone isn't ready for such things they shouldn't be encouraged in that direction.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby kevdogg » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:05 pm

i was once a member of a vaisnva sect where "offences" and consumption of certain foods were huge taboos. I found many seekers caught up and fixated on these things, so much so that they were taking this to be sadhana. I grew very frustrated cuz it seemed that noone had any insight as to why they were "offensive" or detrimental to the practioner. Furthermore I find the practice of aryurveda to be very usefull in creating and maintaining good health for practice and one of the prohibited roots ginger is very good for me to consume to maintain proper digestion and respitory health. There has to be some balance in regard to these things. We are looking to create proper conditions for samadhi right? To build merit and use all we have to help others no?
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:46 am

kevdogg wrote:i was once a member of a vaisnva sect where "offences" and consumption of certain foods were huge taboos.


There's a basis in the Vedic literature for that. In India today as well a lot of people feel it wise to avoid certain foods.

In some Buddhist traditions as well there are huge taboos surrounding certain substances. In Chinese Buddhism for example garlic and onions are out of the question. Every vegetarian restaurant (even those not outwardly Buddhist) I've been to in Taiwan does not cook with them. Buddhists here are quite certain that eating garlic and onions will make you angry and/or lustful.

In ancient Indian Buddhism some Buddhists were positively horrified by garlic to the point of establishing rules that if you did eat it you had to be quarantined from the sangha for a week and then smear cow dung all over your quarters to cleanse any possible odor of garlic that might be lingering.


I found many seekers caught up and fixated on these things, so much so that they were taking this to be sadhana.


I think if your dietary concerns are causing neurosis, you need to reconsider your decision.


We are looking to create proper conditions for samadhi right? To build merit and use all we have to help others no?



I believe so. But diet is and should be up to the individual. We shouldn't impose our will on others.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby zamotcr » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:21 pm

Well, making conclusions and reading here and there, I think that avoiding garlic or onions is just personal and cultural. In my latin american kitchen, its almost impossible :tongue:
Anyway, buddhism, specially Mahayana, is very influenced by the culture. Chinese Buddhism is very different from Japanese or Korean or from India.

And about sex and lay people, I will stick with 5 precepts (ignoring the bad hole teaching lol), and I know I can progress only with 5 precepts.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:50 am

zamotcr wrote:And about sex and lay people, I will stick with 5 precepts (ignoring the bad hole teaching lol), and I know I can progress only with 5 precepts.


It really boils down to this: don't harm anyone.

Alcohol can and does cause people to harm others both directly and indirectly, which is why it is best to abstain from it.

Some people believe garlic and onions have the same effect on the body, but then it wouldn't affect everyone in the same way.
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Re: Canon and doctrines, precepts.

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:17 pm

It is also good to differentiate between natural misdeeds and proscribed misdeeds.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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