Mahayana and Traditions

General forum on Mahayana.

Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:00 pm

I see people struggling with what lineage or tradition to choose from in Buddhism. There are debates about the superiority and appropriateness of different methods and teachings. I believe that the Mahayana is truly the Great Vehicle, the path of the bodhisattva, not limited by geographical, cultural or historic factors.

One of the Four Great Vows is: Dharma-gates are measureless, I vow to learn them. Or: I vow to learn all the teachings. A bodhisattva masters any and all methods. The specific teachings are always skilful means, that is, they are valid only within a specific context and appropriate for a limited number of people. The wisdom of the bodhisattvas, however, is universal.

So, if you want to liberate all beings and attain the supreme enlightenment there can be no teaching that is unworthy of your attention. There is no fixed method you should attach to besides bodhicitta itself.

"The Lord speaks of the 'great vehicle'. Surpassing the world with its Gods, beings and Asuras, such a vehicle goes forth. It is the same as space, and exceedingly great. As in space, so in this vehicle is room for immeasurable and incalculable beings. Such is this great vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, these great beings. One neither sees its coming, nor going, and its abiding as such, does not exist. Thus one cannot get at any beginning of this great vehicle, nor at any end, nor at any middle. Yet, such is self-identical everywhere. Thus, hereof one speaks of a 'great vehicle'." (PP8000, ch. 1)

"A man or woman setting out on the Great Vehicle imbued with ten indefatigable determinations will enter the stage of realization of Thusness, to say nothing of the stage of enlightening beings. What are the ten? The indefatigable resolution to see, attend, and serve all buddhas; to build up all roots of goodness without retreating; to seek all truths; to practice all the transcendent ways of enlightening beings; to fully accomplish all concentrations of enlightening beings; to enter successively into all ages; to thoroughly purify all oceans of buddha-lands in the ten directions; to lead all realms of sentient beings to perfect development; to carry out the practices of enlightening beings in all lands and ages; to fully attain each power of buddhas by maturing all beings through the process of practicing as many transcendent ways as atoms in all buddha-lands to mature each being. Men or women with faith who are imbued with these ten indefatigable determinations grow in all roots of goodness, leave all compulsive, routine mundane tendencies, drop out of all social castes, go beyond all stages of individual emancipation, are born in the family of all buddhas, fulfill the vows of enlightening beings, become pure with the attainment of all qualities of the enlightened, become clarified in all the practices of enlightening beings, develop all the powers of buddhas, overcome all demons and challengers, progress through all the stages of enlightening beings, and reach buddhahood." (Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39, p. 1171)
"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: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:32 pm

A very thoughtful and timely posting, Astus. Which tradition to follow? It seems so much a question of one's own temperament, experience, as well as a desire to find the kalyana mitta that will provide reciprocal support and mutual guidance in the Bodhisattva Way.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby dude » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:41 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:A very thoughtful and timely posting, Astus. Which tradition to follow? It seems so much a question of one's own temperament, experience, as well as a desire to find the kalyana mitta that will provide reciprocal support and mutual guidance in the Bodhisattva Way.


I don't agree. If you follow a bad teacher you will be lead into greater suffering than if you had never heard the Law.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby BuddhaSoup » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:53 am

dude wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:A very thoughtful and timely posting, Astus. Which tradition to follow? It seems so much a question of one's own temperament, experience, as well as a desire to find the kalyana mitta that will provide reciprocal support and mutual guidance in the Bodhisattva Way.


I don't agree. If you follow a bad teacher you will be lead into greater suffering than if you had never heard the Law.


Where was it suggested that anyone follow a bad teacher? On the contrary, finding a learned and ethical teacher is of great importance. One of the great difficulties in this journey can be finding the most appropriate teacher and sangha.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby dude » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:28 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:
dude wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:A very thoughtful and timely posting, Astus. Which tradition to follow? It seems so much a question of one's own temperament, experience, as well as a desire to find the kalyana mitta that will provide reciprocal support and mutual guidance in the Bodhisattva Way.


I don't agree. If you follow a bad teacher you will be lead into greater suffering than if you had never heard the Law.


Where was it suggested that anyone follow a bad teacher? On the contrary, finding a learned and ethical teacher is of great importance. One of the great difficulties in this journey can be finding the most appropriate teacher and sangha.

.A very thoughtful and timely posting, Astus. Which tradition to follow? It seems so much a question of one's own temperament, experience
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby seeker242 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:35 am

This is "Ekayana"?
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: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:28 am

I am definitely drawn to Mahayana, that is what attracts me to this forum. I practice according to Soto Zen guidelines, albeit generally alone. I am very drawn to specific Zen texts and sutras. But I find the excerpts above are rather culturally alien to me at this point. In other words, I can't even begin to imagine what they really mean. This is not to say they don't mean anything but that they are meaningful within a community of discourse, and outside that community (which is hardly part of modern Western society) it is very hard to interpret such exalted concepts. But sayings such as this:

There is no fixed method you should attach to besides bodhicitta itself.


make perfect sense to me.

I think the basic teaching I am drawn to is the 'gateless gate' and way of negation/emptiness. Plus being motivated enough to get up before dawn. Then studying the sutras.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:49 am

seeker242 wrote:This is "Ekayana"?


It depends on how you interpret Ekayana. It is generally understood to mean that sravakas eventually enter the bodhisattva path, thus negating the validity of sravaka realisation (arhat) as ultimate on its own right. Outside of the Faxiang/Hosso school this is usually accepted as the orthodox view. My point here, however, is that while there are many Mahayana schools, the bodhisattva path is not restricted to any of them.
"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: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:57 pm

I don't disagree with the idea that all paths are good but when it comes to 'choosing' you're all forgetting one very basic consideration: we can only choose a centre which is close enough for us to attend regularly.
In my case, the choice is very limited. Within half an hour's travel from home I have a centre teaching meditation in the Sakya tradition, led by trained lay teachers and visited a couple of times a year by the Lama who is 'spiritual director'; and I have a new-agey meditation centre with a very vaguely mahayana orientation and occasional ordained visiting teachers. Within an hour's travel, add a Thai centre serving the immigrant community, with a visiting Thai monk, and another centre led by lay people and hosting any ordained teachers - mahayana or theravada - who visit the region and are willing to speak. My next-nearest centre is four hours away by car ...
:coffee:
:reading:
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Simon E. » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:35 pm

Not so.
People can and do travel long distances to practice with a Sangha that resonates for them.
I personally became the student of a teacher in my non-driving, poverty stricken, University days that involved a considerable journey by coach on a regular basis.
Four hours by car would have been a luxury.
And my story is not at all unusual.
Many people do not restrict their involvement with Dharma to engaging with websites.
In may ways I am grateful that in my early days exploring Buddhadharma there was little choice but actual contact.
This is probably the only time I will quote this because its usually ersatz ,but the fact is when the pupil is ready the teacher appears..and the pupil will then overcome whatever obstacles to get the teaching.
Thats the test.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Jikan » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:19 pm

in practical terms, what does it mean to attend a center regularly? I think this may be very context-dependent depending on the relationship one may have with one's teacher & fellow-students
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby Simon E. » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:02 pm

indeed.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby dude » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:04 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:This is "Ekayana"?


It depends on how you interpret Ekayana. It is generally understood to mean that sravakas eventually enter the bodhisattva path, thus negating the validity of sravaka realisation (arhat) as ultimate on its own right. Outside of the Faxiang/Hosso school this is usually accepted as the orthodox view. My point here, however, is that while there are many Mahayana schools, the bodhisattva path is not restricted to any of them.


I do agree with that. I would add, however, that we should constantly refine our practice, abandoning what is shallow and approaching that which is more profound.
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Re: Mahayana and Traditions

Postby cdpatton » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:43 am

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:This is "Ekayana"?


It depends on how you interpret Ekayana. It is generally understood to mean that sravakas eventually enter the bodhisattva path, thus negating the validity of sravaka realisation (arhat) as ultimate on its own right. Outside of the Faxiang/Hosso school this is usually accepted as the orthodox view. My point here, however, is that while there are many Mahayana schools, the bodhisattva path is not restricted to any of them.


Strictly speaking, the bodhisattva path supersedes all sectarianism. The Mahayanist likes to carry on about bodhisattvas quite a bit, but I wouldn't say that a bodhisattva was a Mahayanist.
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