Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

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Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:12 am

mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.

Interesting in that this is precisely what the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna have done.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:12 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.

Interesting in that this is precisely what the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna have done.

All the best,

Geoff


Oh really? Evidence for this wholesale attack on the whole of the Mahayana and Vajrayana, which you claim reject parts of Buddhism...............what precisely?

The Pali Canon? The Theravadan interpretation of it? Someone else's translation and interpretation? Or what?

Some people may reject some parts of scripture, for all we know, but you can hardly condemn the whole of the Mahayana and Vajrayana in one massive generalisation.

Do you think some Theravadans may also reject some of the Pali Canon - Abhidhamma etc? Why exclude them from your attack?

If you accuse Buddhists of rejecting Buddhism it is also insulting, as I'm sure you are aware.

Are you sure you are in the right forum?
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:16 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.

Interesting in that this is precisely what the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna have done.

All the best,

Geoff


Yeshe D,

You throw out these one liners with no content and then deviate from the thread topic. Besides your overall blanket statements, are there specific points you'd like to discuss?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:29 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
Yeshe D. wrote:
mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.

Interesting in that this is precisely what the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna have done.

You throw out these one liners with no content and then deviate from the thread topic. Besides your overall blanket statements, are there specific points you'd like to discuss?

You offered the above criteria for assessing what is and is not "Buddhism." Criteria which can be used to establish who is literally teaching the Dharma of the "Buddha," and who is taking what they like and discarding what they don't, and still calling it "Buddhism."

We should therefore be willing to muster the intellectual honesty to investigate the historical record to see just who has taken what they like and discarded what they don't, and still called it "Buddhism." This is completely relevant to the topic at hand.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:31 pm

Yeshe wrote:Oh really? Evidence for this wholesale attack on the whole of the Mahayana and Vajrayana, which you claim reject parts of Buddhism...............what precisely?

Well, lets take the Mahāyāna marginalization and denigration of the śrāvaka for starters. And the wholesale jettisoning of the śrāvaka noble paths and fruitions.

Then there is the Mahāyāna rejection of nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇadhātu as the final and complete culmination of the noble path, replaced by the trikāya theory.

And of course there is also the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna appropriation of non-Buddhist deities, which were then recast as tenth stage bodhisattvas and buddhas.

Yeshe wrote:If you accuse Buddhists of rejecting Buddhism it is also insulting, as I'm sure you are aware.

If by "Buddhism" we mean the teachings given by the historical śramaṇa Gautama, i.e. the "Buddha," then according to this definition mahāyānikas and tantrikas aren't practicing to attain the noble paths and fruitions resulting from cultivating the Dharma of the śramaṇa Gautama, and in this literal sense aren't "Buddhists" at all. This shouldn't come as a shock to anybody. It was and still is quite widely accepted amongst followers of the traditional mainstream Dharma that the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna discourses are all entirely apocryphal (at best) and in many cases heretical.

Yeshe wrote:Are you sure you are in the right forum?

This is the Dharma-free-for-all. So yes, I'm quite sure.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Pero » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:57 pm

Isn't that just reframing and not throwing out?
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:20 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:If by "Buddhism" we mean the teachings given by the historical śramaṇa Gautama, i.e. the "Buddha," then according to this definition mahāyānikas and tantrikas aren't practicing to attain the noble paths and fruitions resulting from cultivating the Dharma of the śramaṇa Gautama, and in this literal sense aren't "Buddhists" at all.


Hi Geoff,

That's what one might call a Protestant or literalistic (or fundamentalistic, pick your adjective) approach to Dharma: find the historical source, find the origin, and identify one's practice with that reconstructed origin. This is how the concept "Buddhism" was invented in 19th century Europe. However, Mahayana tends not to define practice this way, and has a different understanding of historical time.

Here's a summary of how we tend to do it: by the characteristics of the teaching as much as the historical pedigree.

http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2010/07/is ... ching.html

The significance of sangha and lineage in historical time as bearers of authority are a separate issue that I'll let someone else explain.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Astus » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:53 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.

Interesting in that this is precisely what the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna have done.

All the best,

Geoff


Wow. :twothumbsup:

Jikan, if we take the Mahayana arguments for the authenticity of its teachings, well, that already shows how even in India they were very well aware of the fact that the Mahayana texts were not part of the canon then.

History was not invented by Europeans. Both in China and Tibet scholars tried to get the original texts, the correct translations and the real teachings while at the same time attacked texts that seemed dubious and forged. It is not "Buddhist Protestantism" to say that in any Buddhist canon there are layers of texts from different eras but an easily understandable fact. All the attempts in Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings to prove their authenticity superiority above the other shows very well how they came later and fought for becoming accepted. But you don't find in the agamas/nikayas a debate whether the seven factors of enlightenment or the four rddhis are better as it would have been quite ridiculous if the Buddha had argued with his own teachings.
"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: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:03 pm

Hi Astus,

I didn't say that history was invented by Europeans, merely that the concept of Buddhism was invented by Europeans: particular Europeans in a particular place at a specific time and for particular reasons, and with specific conditions and limitations.

[I would say that particular forms of historical discourse develop and prevail in different cultures for different reasons, and consequently that the history of Herodotus or Thucydides differs in form and kind from that of the authors of the Mahabhrata, or The Order of Things, or whatever. But luckily this isn't a historiography forum... :offtopic: ]

even in India they were very well aware of the fact that the Mahayana texts were not part of the canon then


Yes, that's correct: these texts were regarded as authentic and canonical even as they were known to be artifacts of a culture much later than the moment of Shakyamuni Buddha. Hence, the Romantic notion of returning to the source doesn't hold up in Mahayana.

It's a debatable point, but I'd say that it is a product of European practices in the first instance. Traditional Buddhists of any stripe are generally uncomfortable with the idea of throwing lineage (inclusive of one's teacher) under the train for the sake of an ideal historical origin, untainted by contingency.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Astus » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:11 pm

I'm not talking about returning to any original Buddhism but only the perceptible historical evolution of texts and traditions within Buddhism. What is tradition today was heresy a thousand years ago. So in a sense it is possible to approximately outline the teachings that are most probably taught by the Buddha and the early community.

As for the returning to the original teachings of Buddha, that's been used a couple of times as an argument, just think of the Sautrantikas, or when Mahayana followers say that Nagarjuna showed the truth against the false ideas of "abhidharmikas".
"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: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:40 pm

FTR: This thread has been split off from the discussion regarding Dr. Reginald Ray by the DW moderators without my consent. In so doing this thread has also been given a completely misleading title by the moderators.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:45 pm

Pero wrote:Isn't that just reframing and not throwing out?


Precisely. :namaste:
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Re: Dr. Reginald Ray

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:50 pm

Jikan wrote:That's what one might call a Protestant or literalistic (or fundamentalistic, pick your adjective) approach to Dharma

No it isn't. The mainstream Indian Buddhist schools (of which the Theravāda is only one) never recognized the authority of the Mahāyāna sūtras and tantras. Moreover, they never accepted the Mahāyāna Dharma as orthodox.

Jikan wrote:Here's a summary of how we tend to do it

Thanks. I'm quite well aware of how mahāyānikas tend to do it.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:55 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:FTR: This thread has been split off from the discussion regarding Dr. Reginald Ray by the DW moderators without my consent. In so doing this thread has also been given a completely misleading title by the moderators.

All the best,

Geoff



I could think of one which was more accurate, but instead will address the root of your problem, as I see it:


In very simple terms I do not recall any Mahayana teachers I have come across rejecting the Pali Canon; we should also note that Mahayana scripture was only composed a few years later. I do recall them interpreting it, adding further teachings which have been revealed and creating systems for us to use which some of us find useful.

As for the accusation about the adoption of 'non-Buddhist' deities, I would love to see the historical evidence for this, as I am aware of the growth of Tantra in both Buddhist and 'Hindu' practices, but have seen no firm evidence that the traffic was one-way, nor in which direction.

Do you have such firm evidence of the creation of these beings as opposed to them being revealed, and of it happening in Hindu Tantric practice and scripture before Buddhist Tantra? I was told that the portrayal of Kali in a pose remarkably similar to that of Vajrayogini was simply that Hinduism copied Buddhism in that instance - a Hindu monk in India told me that but as I'm in the Vajrayana I should apparently not take any notice of Indian gurus. ;)

Your main thrust here about rebirth started with a poke at the site, in so (innocently ?) rejecting some of the basis of the ToS (Terms of Service). ToS ask us to follow the views of HHDL with regard to Protectors etc. - beings which can only exist if there is acceptance of the realms. You mentioned your dislike of eSangha and rejection of aspects which make this site similar. Logically, therefore, your comment that you are on the right forum may need revisiting. ;)
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:55 pm

Yeshe wrote:
Pero wrote:Isn't that just reframing and not throwing out?


Precisely.

No, the Mahāyāna marginalization and denigration of the śrāvaka and the wholesale jettisoning of the śrāvaka noble paths and fruitions really is throwing out the Dharma of śramaṇa Gautama. And the Mahāyāna rejection of nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇadhātu as the final and complete culmination of the noble path, replaced by the trikāya theory, really is throwing out the Dharma of śramaṇa Gautama.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:11 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
Yeshe wrote:
Pero wrote:Isn't that just reframing and not throwing out?


Precisely.

No, the Mahāyāna marginalization and denigration of the śrāvaka and the wholesale jettisoning of the śrāvaka noble paths and fruitions really is throwing out the Dharma of śramaṇa Gautama. And the Mahāyāna rejection of nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇadhātu as the final and complete culmination of the noble path, replaced by the trikāya theory, really is throwing out the Dharma of śramaṇa Gautama.

All the best,

Geoff


Attaining the summit of the mountain requires climbing skills. It does not mean that we reject the need to walk to the base camp. That would be foolish.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:26 pm

Yeshe wrote:I could think of one which was more accurate, but instead will address the root of your problem

I don't have a problem Yeshe. Nor am I trying to create a problem for you or anyone else. I'm interested in exploring the implications of the reply by Mr. Godro:

mr. gordo wrote:I mean, "the Buddha" has a religion named and after him called "Buddhism" where we have statements of his defining what his positions are. But hey, forget that, let's just take what we like, and discard what we don't, but still have the arrogance to call it Buddhism.


Yeshe wrote:In very simple terms I do not recall any Mahayana teachers I have come across rejecting the Pali Canon

The Mahāyāna explicitly denigrates and rejects the path and goal of the Dharma taught by śramaṇa Gautama as an "inferior" Dharma. Hīnayāna quite literally means a "deficient vehicle" or a "defective vehicle." One only has to read the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra to find this repudiation of the Dharma (as taught by śramaṇa Gautama) being put into the mouth of the "Buddha" himself.

Yeshe wrote:As for the accusation about the adoption of 'non-Buddhist' deities, I would love to see the historical evidence for this, as I am aware of the growth of Tantra in both Buddhist and 'Hindu' practices, but have seen no firm evidence that the traffic was one-way, nor in which direction.

The Mahāyāna appropriation of non-Buddhist deities began long before the appearance of the Vajrayāna. Mañjuśrī and Avalokiteśvara are two early examples.

Yeshe wrote:Your main thrust here about rebirth started with a poke at the site

No it didn't. It started in a discussion with Mr. Gordo regarding the literal teachings of the Buddha.

Yeshe wrote:in so (innocently ?) rejecting some of the basis of the ToS (Terms of Service).

I'm in no way rejecting the ToS. Surely, discussion of the historical developments of the Dharma are not taboo on a Dharma discussion forum?

Yeshe wrote:You mentioned your dislike of eSangha and rejection of aspects which make this site similar. Logically, therefore, your comment that you are on the right forum may need revisiting.

Again, an inaccurate characterization. I liked E-sangha very much. I don't approve of some of the actions of some of the moderators there over the last year or so of its existence. But FTR, none of those actions were ever leveled against myself, and I was never involved in any of the controversial events with regard to the Zen forum or the Theravāda forum which eventually led to much animosity and the banning of Zen teachers and the mass resignation of a number of Theravāda forum mods.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:29 pm

Yeshe wrote:Attaining the summit of the mountain requires climbing skills. It does not mean that we reject the need to walk to the base camp. That would be foolish.

I'll refer you to the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra to read a classical repudiation of the Dharma as taught by śramaṇa Gautama being put into the mouth of the "Buddha" himself by the authors of this Sūtra.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Pero » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:48 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:The Mahāyāna explicitly denigrates and rejects the path and goal of the Dharma taught by śramaṇa Gautama as an "inferior" Dharma. Hīnayāna quite literally means a "deficient vehicle" or a "defective vehicle." One only has to read the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra to find this repudiation of the Dharma (as taught by śramaṇa Gautama) being put into the mouth of the "Buddha" himself.


I'm not sure that considering something infferior is the same as throwing it out (which I'm also not sure that in this case is also the same as rejecting it).
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:53 pm

Yeshe wrote:Your main thrust here about rebirth started with a poke at the site, in so (innocently ?) rejecting some of the basis of the ToS (Terms of Service).... Logically, therefore, your comment that you are on the right forum may need revisiting.

FTR: I knew some of the members of Dharma Wheel prior to its inception. I was also asked to contribute to the development of Dharma Wheel. Here is an e-mail from Paul (retrofuturist), from April 7, 2009:

    Greetings Geoff,

    We're currently in the process of looking for a couple of administrators (pref. 1 Mahayana, 1 Vajrayana) for the new forum...

    Dharma Wheel - http://www.dharmawheel.net/

    Do you have any thoughts on suitable candidates? Tilt thought you might have some ideas...

    Metta,
    Retro. :)

I hope this helps clarify that I'm not here to take "a poke at the site," nor am I interested in "rejecting some of the basis of the ToS."

All the best,

Geoff
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