Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ferox
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Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Ferox » Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:55 am

one thing that sort of bothers me and just doesn't feel quite right is the emphasis on specific traditions that many Buddhists seem to propagate. For example a big one is the Thai Forest Tradition and that seems to be very popular and people flock to it, I assume because it is assumed Ajahn Chah was an arahant(a man who himself told us to let go of all titles and attainments) and there are famous and popular monks like Ajahn Brahm, Sujato, Sumedho etc.

I have to credit Ajahn Brahm and by extension Ajahn Chah for helping my practice immensely, but I'm not sure I would want to limit myself just to that teaching or even put that tradition over just trying to see the Dhamma through a lens of less conventional layers then " buddhism-theravada-thai-forest-chah". While I consider myself a Theravada disciple I have gone to Mahayana retreats and learned much, of course a lot if it didn't fit into my "Theravadin" world view but other things I adopted and saw much insight in. I think it is a benefit , to myself at least, to be fully open to Dhamma regardless of it's form.

I suppose it is just human nature to separate and classify and find Dhamma that works for them, and I suppose it is also our nature to feel a pride and attachment to a specific teacher or tradition and grow feelings of it being superior.

anyways this is just my musings and putting it out there to see what others think of this. I don't mean this to be a post that is judgmental of those who follow a specific tradition or not, but I'd appreciate any feedback from those who would like to give it.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-

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Ben
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:59 am

Hi Ferox,

I can't speak for anyone else. My experience has been that as I have become more serious I have wanted to concentrate my efforts on one approach. Not so much attachment as it is confidence.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Ferox
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Ferox » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:01 am

-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-

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retrofuturist
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:07 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:47 am

Unless you are ordaining into a particular lineage, or are working for a particular organisation, I really don't see the point in claiming to follow a particular tradition.

Sure some styles of practise or teachers might resonate with you more than others but that doesn't stop you learning from the others and doesn't mean you have to make some kind of commitment. It's good to commit to one approach if you are inclined but I think a mistake to limit yourself to only one way of doing things.

I've practised in most of the major Theravada originated styles and often it's a matter of whatever is available at the time and place that I'm looking for a retreat.

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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:52 am

Good posts above. I'm with retro on this.

To me, all of the different forms and traditions of Buddhism, be they Theravada or something else all have different teachings and techniques that they have added to the foundation teachings of The Four Noble Truths and The 8-fold path. I see them all as skillful means; doing what works best for them. For me, keeping it simple and 'back-to-the-basics' of what is in the Suttas is enough. And probably what the original Buddhism -- Dhamma-Vinaya of the Buddha looked like anyway.
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Ytrog
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Ytrog » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:53 am

I first came into contact with the books of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana in the library of a Thai Forest Monastery, so even there it is mixed :anjali:

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pilgrim
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby pilgrim » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:32 am

The three different schools of Buddhism are historical developments and have clear differences between them. But within Theravada, the traditions are not formal distinctions but are just conventions we use so that we know what we are talking about.. Different traditions also have different emphasis on meditation, Vinaya, styles of teaching etc. Foe example if someone refers to the Mahasi tradition, people generally have an idea of what it is about.

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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby dhamma_newb » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:41 am

When I recently became interested in Buddhism I decided to pick one tradition and stick with it for one year. I did some research and was drawn to Theravāda's down-to-earth approach, particularly Burmese Theravāda. If after the year is up I feel that I haven't found what I'm looking for I have the option of looking elsewhere in other traditions or schools, but I don't think mixing and matching would be helpful for a beginner like me. Buddhism has so many different traditions, methods, and techniques that it would be too confusing for me to try learn from all of them (I'm having a hard enough time learning all of the different Pali words and what they mean without trying to learn Sanskrit too) Image. A few words of advice I like to remind myself of regarding my practice is the Indian proverb, "Better to dig one deep well than 10 shallow ones." To me devoting myself to one tradition is like digging one deep well.

This is just my beginner's perspective. Maybe one day I will become interested in the Mahayana, but I don't feel like I'm limiting myself by choosing to focus on one tradition when that one tradition contains everything one needs to reach Nibbāna.

A book I thought brought up many good questions for spiritual seekers is . Here's a to the radio interview that Tami Simon from Sounds True did with the author Mariana Caplan. :anjali:

Metta,
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

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pilgrim
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby pilgrim » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:47 am

In Theravada, because there are no rigid distinctions between traditions, more often than not, you'll find monks and laymen moving across various traditions or learning from several at the same time.

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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby David2 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:26 am

In my opinion, the most important thing is to not change your meditation technique too often.

If one practices the piano for 3 months, then quits and practices the violin for 3 months, then quits and practices the guitar for 3 months, and so on... he will never play any instrument well.
The same thing applies to meditation techniques. :smile:

But I don't see too much of a hindrance in reading books from different traditions or listening to talks from different traditions as long as one does not change the meditation technique.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:03 am

There is a vast range of abilities among human beings — most of us are expert in some areas, but not in others. Some exceptional individuals are expert in many areas.

Take language as one example: Some people cannot even speak and write their own mother tongue very well, but they know enough to get by only. Others are expert in their own language, but know only a few words in other languages. Some are fluent in two or three languages. A few exceptional individuals can master twenty languages or more.

The Buddha taught many meditation methods and gave different objects for contemplation to different individuals to suit their particular abilities or limitations. Nowadays, we should focus on what we can do best, while appreciating the value of other methods for other people.

The narrow-minded will cling to their own tradition, and be fearful of trying other methods. The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta is the Buddha's central teaching on meditation, and it includes several different meditation objects, though only one method (ekāyano maggo). There is no other way to attain the right path other than by being mindful. The unmindful person cannot possibly attain the right path by accident.

However, the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta is not the Buddha's only teaching on meditation — there are many other discourses, and many other routes to nibbāna. All of them require morality, concentration, and insight. Outside of the Noble Eightfold Path there are no saints.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Cittasanto
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:46 am

I too am with retro on this.
any emphasis on tradition for me is more to do with familiarity with the approach or confidence that it is drawing from the practical teachings of the Buddha.

certain teachers resonate with people and they naturally follow their teachings due to faith/confidence there.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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daverupa
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:07 pm


chownah
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby chownah » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:56 pm


hermitwin
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby hermitwin » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:31 pm

As someone who was exposed to mahayana buddhism first.
I now realise there is something seriously wrong
with mahayana schools such as pure land.
All you have to do is chant 'amitabha' and you will be born
in the western paradise where nibbana is virtually guaranteed.
Can we call that Buddhism?
At the same time, there are personalities in mahayana tradition
that inspires me.
In the end, I think its best to rely on the pali canon.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:32 pm


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ground
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby ground » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:48 am

If I would put emphasis on this or that tradition it would be caused by grasping, taking thought as reliable.

Kind regards

dhamma_newb
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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby dhamma_newb » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:32 am

Thank you Ferox for posting a good topic and thank you Bhikkhu Pesala for reminding me to keep an open mind. :bow:
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

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Re: Tell me.. why so much emphasis on this or that tradition..

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:56 am



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