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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:58 am 
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Alfredo wrote:
Quite a few (perhaps even most) Buddhist Studies scholars are also Buddhists, and increasing numbers have experience as monks or nuns. Georges Dreyfuss got the geshe degree, then a Ph.D.. He acknowledges the limitations of the geshe curriculum, and the benefits of his academic turn, thanks to which he came to appreciate thinkers from outside his lineage, such as Sakya Pandita.


The good development of the last 20 years in this area don't really excuse 1000 years of lousy academic research that went before.

/magnus

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:46 am 
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heart wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
heart wrote:
It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus


No, we have the pillars of Aśoka (304–232 BCE) and there is clearly no mention of a Mahāyāna on them. Moreover, a lot of early Mahāyāna literature is clearly set in a different period and is in reaction to challenges posed by the "Hīnayāna".


Apart from the pillars of Ashoka there are no archeological proof of Hinayana being the original teaching of the Buddha.

/magnus

But quite a number of indications that the Theravada is a remnant of one ancient and partisan school.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:50 am 
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Simon E. wrote:
But quite a number of indications that the Theravada is a remnant of one ancient and partisan school.


Well that is the often repeated mantra, still don't explain why there are Mahayana texts recovered among the oldest know Buddhist texts.

/magnus

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:23 pm 
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heart wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
But quite a number of indications that the Theravada is a remnant of one ancient and partisan school.


Well that is the often repeated mantra, still don't explain why there are Mahayana texts recovered among the oldest know Buddhist texts.

/magnus

Hence the 'partisan' Magnus.... ;) My meaning would have been clearer if I had said ' one OF the ancient and partisan schools '.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:22 pm 
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smcj wrote:
How many people do you know that believe that there is no intrinsic purpose or meaning to life, and that we just have to make it enjoyable on our own terms? Or how about the opposite? How about the christian fundamentalist that sees the modern world as a threat and must be bullied into conforming to their beliefs?


Ironically, it appears to me that many Tibetan exponents of Buddhism view the modern world as a threat, in much the same way they regard science as a threat.

There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life. That is the essence of understanding samsara. We have to make it enjoyable on our own terms, that is the essence of practicing and realizing the Dharma.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:27 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life. That is the essence of understanding samsara. We have to make it enjoyable on our own terms, that is the essence of practicing and realizing the Dharma.

Hard to disagree.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:27 pm 
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heart wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Does that article provide some evidence that Mahayana might have been taught by the Buddha? I looked through it and I didn't see anything like that.


It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus


It says nothing of their authorship. What the Buddha actually spoke is not really anybody guess, since there is sufficient evidence to prove that what is taught in the Pali canon/Agamas is more or less directly based on what the Buddha may have actually spoken.

While it is certain that parts of these early teachings have certainly been renovated into sections of Mahāyāna sūtras, the real question is "Did Buddha actually, physically, as a historical reality, teach Mahāyāna sūtras." The answer must be, no he didn't, except in someone's pure vision.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:29 pm 
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Simon E. wrote:
heart wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
But quite a number of indications that the Theravada is a remnant of one ancient and partisan school.


Well that is the often repeated mantra, still don't explain why there are Mahayana texts recovered among the oldest know Buddhist texts.

/magnus

Hence the 'partisan' Magnus.... ;) My meaning would have been clearer if I had said ' one OF the ancient and partisan schools '.


Ok :smile: , can't argue with that.

/magnus

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:31 pm 
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heart wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
But quite a number of indications that the Theravada is a remnant of one ancient and partisan school.


Well that is the often repeated mantra, still don't explain why there are Mahayana texts recovered among the oldest know Buddhist texts.

/magnus



The oldest known, physically surviving Buddhist texts exist on the Ashokan pillars.

The Gandhari texts do not shown an overwhelming concern with Mahāyāna -- they reveal a few fragments of Mahāyāna texts dating to the 1st century CE, but we already know that Mahāyāna was in existence at this time due to the presence of 2nd century translations into Chinese. In order for me to be convinced that Mahāyāna was taught by anyone, let alone the Buddha, prior to the first century BCE, I would need to see some hard physical facts. Luckily for me, my soteriology does not depend on archaeology. Also my estimation of the capacity of Tibetans (or anyone else) to understand nonduality as presented in Buddhist texts does not depend on whether Buddha actually taught "nonduality".

M

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:37 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
heart wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Does that article provide some evidence that Mahayana might have been taught by the Buddha? I looked through it and I didn't see anything like that.


It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus


It says nothing of their authorship. What the Buddha actually spoke is not really anybody guess, since there is sufficient evidence to prove that what is taught in the Pali canon/Agamas is more or less directly based on what the Buddha may have actually spoken.

While it is certain that parts of these early teachings have certainly been renovated into sections of Mahāyāna sūtras, the real question is "Did Buddha actually, physically, as a historical reality, teach Mahāyāna sūtras." The answer must be, no he didn't, except in someone's pure vision.


The problem with that reasoning is that there is actually no archeological evidence for it. The idea of the evolution of Buddhist spiritual practices isn't based in anything solid, and in fact the Dzogchen teachings for example completely negate this idea. Anyway, we are far away from DKR and Tsongkapa, probably my fault.

:focus:

/magnus

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:40 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Many people with entrenched biases are not stupid.

Yes, and DJKR is not one of them.


We will agree to disagree.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:44 pm 
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heart wrote:

The problem with that reasoning is that there is actually no archeological evidence for it. The idea of the evolution of Buddhist spiritual practices isn't based in anything solid, and in fact the Dzogchen teachings for example completely negate this idea. Anyway, we are far away from DKR and Tsongkapa, probably my fault.

/magnus


Of course there is archeological evidence for it -- the evidence is in the texts themselves, all kinds of evidence -- from the naming of plants and trees, to locations, etc.

The idea of the evolution of Buddhist spiritual practice in Indian history is based on very solid evidence, inscriptions, statues, etc. There is lot of plastic evidence that tracks to evolution of Mahāyāna into Vajrayāna for example aside from texts.

Irrespective of its historical origins: Mahāyāna is valid on its own terms or it is not. I accept that it is. Bodhicitta is a unique contribution of Mahāyāna to world spiritual traditions. I fully identify as a practitioner of Mahāyāna Dharma. I understand the desire and wish to trace this sūtra or that sūtra back to Shakyamuni Buddha, but I think it is futile.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:01 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
heart wrote:

The problem with that reasoning is that there is actually no archeological evidence for it. The idea of the evolution of Buddhist spiritual practices isn't based in anything solid, and in fact the Dzogchen teachings for example completely negate this idea. Anyway, we are far away from DKR and Tsongkapa, probably my fault.

/magnus


Of course there is archeological evidence for it -- the evidence is in the texts themselves, all kinds of evidence -- from the naming of plants and trees, to locations, etc.

The idea of the evolution of Buddhist spiritual practice in Indian history is based on very solid evidence, inscriptions, statues, etc. There is lot of plastic evidence that tracks to evolution of Mahāyāna into Vajrayāna for example aside from texts.


Feel free to point me to your sources Malcolm. After almost 30 years listening to Buddhist teachings I find it very probable the Buddha taught in different ways to different disciples. The fact that they find it difficult to find proof that Hinayana is older than Mahayana is an interesting indication of that.

/magnus

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:13 pm 
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heart wrote:
Feel free to point me to your sources Malcolm. After almost 30 years listening to Buddhist teachings I find it very probable the Buddha taught in different ways to different disciples. The fact that they find it difficult to find proof that Hinayana is older than Mahayana is an interesting indication of that.


You are confusing two different factors: Physical texts with age of a given tradition.

The early Canon was largely oral. We know that by the time of Ashoka texts were starting to be written down.

There is no record of an early reaction to Mahāyāna, as you would suppose there would be, since Ashoka purged the monastic sangha at the encouragement of the Vibhajyavadins. You see reactions towards proto Mahayāna ideas such as multiplicity of Buddhas and so on. But the first solid historical evidence we have of Mahāyāna texts is their translation into Chinese, and now a few fragments from Gandhara which support the idea that Mahāyāna was current in the Gandhara region during the first century.

We have Buddhist texts written on Ashoka pillars that can be pinpointed and have been. We know that the Pali canon was written down in Shri Lanka during at the beginning of the first century BCE. We know that there were muliple canons. We also know that in Mahāyāna sūtras books are mentioned a lot. In the Pali sūtras, books are never mentioned even once. Clearly, the primary difference between the Nikāyas and the Mahāyāna canon is the difference between collection of texts that were recalled orally for centuries prior to being committed to writing to a collection of texts that are a product of a self-concious literary process of authorship.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:53 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Tom wrote:
So who are you thinking of that was not also traditionally trained?


AFIK the famous Dr. Jan Nattier was not traditionally trained though she's done translations and produced remarkable scholarly works


I am not saying that there are not great exclusively academically trained scholars - just that they have a different skill set. For example, if you are interested in when Mahāyāna was first taught, then it's best to ask an academic. However, I know a few of the top academics and I don't think many of them could give as detailed an answer to the OP"s original question as my traditional teachers might.

Granted "Western" scholars are perfect if you are interested in intellectual history and in some cases the history of philosophy in a Buddhist context. However, I can't imagine seeking their advice on different meditation states or for the practical development of insights described in the Buddhist tradition - for now this is the domain of the traditionally trained teacher.

(edit: "OP" above refers to the question about Tsonkhapa's unique views. I just realized although the same video was used the question is in a different thread)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:10 pm 
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heart wrote:
Feel free to point me to your sources Malcolm. After almost 30 years listening to Buddhist teachings I find it very probable the Buddha taught in different ways to different disciples. The fact that they find it difficult to find proof that Hinayana is older than Mahayana is an interesting indication of that.


What's the point though, Magnus? We are all just as happy and perhaps even happier to receive teachings like Longsal that track to visionary experience in the last 30 years than Mahayana sutras of unknown provenance. I think the modern reconstruction of some sort of Ur-Buddhism is not terribly interesting compared to the actual living practice we have from our contemporary masters.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:13 pm 
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Alfredo wrote:
Quite a few (perhaps even most) Buddhist Studies scholars are also Buddhists, and increasing numbers have experience as monks or nuns.


Yes, there is quite a well worn path for Western academics to spend some time as a monk as a shortcut to respect and to burnish their credentials prior to getting a tenure track position and sitting at the local university bar saying "Oh yeah, I used to be a monk. It's a tough racket."

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:35 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life. That is the essence of understanding samsara. We have to make it enjoyable on our own terms, that is the essence of practicing and realizing the Dharma.


The intrinsic meaning and purpose of life is to yield ourselves to the service of others.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:01 pm 
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Karma Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life. That is the essence of understanding samsara. We have to make it enjoyable on our own terms, that is the essence of practicing and realizing the Dharma.


The intrinsic meaning and purpose of life is to yield ourselves to the service of others.


That also serves no purpose at all unless you subscribe to some abstract ideological which imputes such values.

But life has no purpose at all, unless you consider biological self-perpetuation a "purpose".

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life. That is the essence of understanding samsara. We have to make it enjoyable on our own terms, that is the essence of practicing and realizing the Dharma.


The intrinsic meaning and purpose of life is to yield ourselves to the service of others.


That also serves no purpose at all unless you subscribe to some abstract ideological which imputes such values.

But life has no purpose at all, unless you consider biological self-perpetuation a "purpose".


There's nothing abstract about genuine love. It's immediate and obvious. Biological self-perpetuation on the other hand, that's a huge ideological abstraction.

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