Standard Mahayana

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Standard Mahayana

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:32 am

As we have so many wise and educated people in this topic, I will ask a question regarding tradition development. During this process new ideas are introduces and the volume of teachings increase. What if a faulty idea is introduced, or an ideas that can be easily misinterpreted later on? Is there a way of cleaning the standard Mahayana content? Because it is inevitable that some faults will/was introduced, and later structures were build upon them.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:36 am

oushi wrote:What if a faulty idea is introduced, or an ideas that can be easily misinterpreted later on? Is there a way of cleaning the standard Mahayana content? Because it is inevitable that some faults will/was introduced, and later structures were build upon them.


Doesn't really work like that. Mahayana contains a wide range of teachings, and then specific traditions and teachers select some they prefer and emphasise those. When someone starts talking about "cleaning the standard Mahayana" (or something similar), it is just a prelude to a new idea under the cover of "restoring the original".
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:44 am

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:What if a faulty idea is introduced, or an ideas that can be easily misinterpreted later on? Is there a way of cleaning the standard Mahayana content? Because it is inevitable that some faults will/was introduced, and later structures were build upon them.


Doesn't really work like that. Mahayana contains a wide range of teachings, and then specific traditions and teachers select some they prefer and emphasise those. When someone starts talking about "cleaning the standard Mahayana" (or something similar), it is just a prelude to a new idea under the cover of "restoring the original".

Ok,
So, what standard Mahayana is?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:49 am

oushi wrote:what standard Mahayana is?


There is no such thing. It simply means the general features that most of the Mahayana schools have.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:56 am

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:what standard Mahayana is?


There is no such thing. It simply means the general features that most of the Mahayana schools have.

Are those general features "written in stone", unchanging? When where those established?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:11 am

There is no such thing. It simply means the general features that most of the Mahayana schools have.


This really is a tough one, and I am inclined to agree with Astus.

But I wonder, if we had to propose a template for standard Mahayana, how would we do that (perhaps it requires another thread).

I used the term Mahayana Paramitayana because I think that generally all Mahayana Schools would uphold the the Paramitas/Perfection of generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom.

I would also propose that all the Mahayana schools (as well as Theravada for that matter) uphold the 4 Dharma Seals:

All that is conditioned is impermanent,
All that is tainted is suffering,
Nirvana is peace,
All phenomena are empty and devoid of self.
༈ འདུ་བྱེད་ཐམས་ཅད་མི་རྟག་ཅིང༌།
ཟག་བཅས་ཐམས་ཅད་སྡུག་བསྔལ་བ།
ཆོས་རྣམས་སྟོང་ཞིང་བདག་མེད་པ།
མྱང་ངན་འདས་པ་ཞི་བའོ། །

Also, there is the idea of Bodhicitta, the mind or spirit of enlightenment, wishing to become a Buddha for the benefit of all sentient beings. The methods to achieve that aim, however, are widely variable as well as the philosophies behind those methods. The vastness of the Mahayana corpus makes this discussion a very difficult one because, as Astus mentioned, certain practice traditions within Mahayana emphasize different Sutras and Shastras.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:21 am

JKhedrup wrote:The vastness of the Mahayana corpus makes this discussion a very difficult one [..]

I would say impossible, that's why I started to ask those questions. There are many teachings inside Mahayana that contradicts each other. We can easily find masters teaching something that will contradict even those general features you mentioned.
If I bring a teaching that does not fit the big picture, how will you refute it? Statistically? This only shows that any discussion and interpretation is futile.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:28 am

Difficult, yes, but futile no.

Some of the greatest Mahayana philosophical works by great masters such as Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Shantideva arose because of these debates about different views. Having to think about a view different than our own forces us to think, research and come to our own conclusions. I think it is a valuable pursuit.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:34 am

JKhedrup wrote:Difficult, yes, but futile no.

Some of the greatest Mahayana philosophical works by great masters such as Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Shantideva arose because of these debates about different views. Having to think about a view different than our own forces us to think, research and come to our own conclusions. I think it is a valuable pursuit.

No doubt it is, I was rather referring to arguing about what is the right approach/view. If there is no revision, there are no limits. If there are no limits, everyone is right. Two people may argue about something, have opposite views, and both will be right. On what basis can you say: "No, it's not Mahayana" ?
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Re: Standard Mahayana

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:22 am

I prefer to distinguish Tibetan/Northern and East Asian/Eastern Mahayana. We may also talk about different eras of Mahayana in India. In Tibetan Buddhism what is called common Mahayana is based mainly on specific shastras and it is very structured and mostly left as it is because it has little relevance to their actual daily practice that is primarily Tantra. In East Asia there is different situation, because Chinese Buddhism gradually developed its own systems based mostly on sutras.

While Madhyamaka is the main form of Mahayana philosophy in Tibet, in East Asia it has long been forgotten. The Abhisamayalamkara is used in Tibet to interpret the Prajnaparamita works, in China it was initially the Dazhidulun (大智度論; Mahaprajnaparamita-upadesha by Nagarjuna) but that was somewhat superseded by indigenous schools. Yogacara played a somewhat stronger role in East Asia than in Tibet, but while in Tibet they have it now as "Shentong Madhyamaka", in East Asia it is still a marginal thing.

In East Asia the ruling teachings are Tiantai, Huayan, Jingtu and Chan, in Tibet it is Madhyamaka and Vajrayana. To say that at least the paramitas and bodhicitta is common probably misses the point how such terms are used in the two Mahayana groups. For instance, saying that bodhicitta is separated to conventional and ultimate, that's a Tibetan thing. In East Asian Mahayana it is a given that a bodhisattva wants to liberate all beings, the 4 vows are regularly recited, but there is no special training for that like tonglen. The paramitas are known of course, but they are not emphasised and they are considered to belong to a gradual path while teachings like Chan are the sudden path.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:38 am

JKhedrup wrote:Difficult, yes, but futile no.


Not so difficult. In fact you already did it.

A teaching is Buddhist or not if it adheres to the Three/Four Seals.

A teaching is Mahayana if its ultimate goal is to support attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, in order to bring all beings at least to liberation but Buddhahood at best (so relative and ultimate Bodhicitta).

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Standard Mahayana

Postby oushi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:43 am

It looks like a great tree with many branches. Can two leafs be compared? Can one take precedence over the other? Since there are no strict criteria, it is not possible. Tomorrow somebody may add another leaf, or just try to do it. What can succeed here? What can fail? Is it based on authority, or popularity?
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Re: Standard Mahayana

Postby muni » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:22 pm

Understanding of emptiness ego and all phenomena with universal compassion, wishing ALL to be free in that way.

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