Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:08 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
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


I think you may need a reminder of what you threw at mr. gordo earlier. Here is a selection:

''We know how successful this attitude of "[W]hy practice Buddhism if one doesn't believe in rebirth?," conjoined with similar sentiments and actions, proved to be for E-sangha.''


''As a mod here on DW it might be time to reflect upon upping your game.''

''And in my opinion the Dharma is far too precious and rare in this world for the E-sangha fiasco to ever be repeated in any arena or amongst any people attempting to learn and integrate all of the aspects of the eightfold path. I don't believe in dumbing down the Dharma. I also don't see any skillfulness in looking down upon others or engendering a smug attitude, pretending to know all the answers.''


That reads like someone seeking to kick at this forum, its moderation and its ToS, which implicitly accept rebirth in creating rules about practices involving beings in other realms. Yes, they restrict certain discussions, but people know that when they join and read them, but this is not eSangha and your comments were unwarranted and destructive. Your invitation by Retro to help find Mods makes insulting a Mod on an open forum even more remarkable, especially as you owned up that you did so to be combative, by making several ad homs (personal remarks and insults).

You have also not provided historical evidence to substantiate the comment on the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna 'appropriation of non-Buddhist deities, which were then recast as tenth stage bodhisattvas and buddhas.' This would of course only be possible if there were to be evidence of their existence prior to Buddhism.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:21 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


However, both Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna alike never rejected the fundamental ideas taught by the Buddha like rebirth and karma. Across all traditions in history they all universally accepted rebirth and karma, among other ideas, as fundamental.

The Mahāyāna generally might have rejected the path leading to Arhatship (though many lines of thought in Mahāyāna allow for it and even assert that the majority of beings can only ever achieve Arhatship while Bodhisattvahood is reserved for a select few good men), but given that Shakyamuni himself had somehow become a Buddha, there was some reason at least to consider the causes which allowed for this and if possible recreate them. If such a superior path was available then that was to be followed instead of Śrāvakayāna.

For such purposes new methods and goals were to be employed and the older ones, while noble and indeed taught by the Buddha, had to be set aside.

I think of it more as revision and updating as a means to an end. Personally I see it in a positive light.

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


New methods to suit new goals. The methods of the śrāvaka are not suitable for attaining Buddhahood.

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


The goal of the Mahāyāna is different. You are unable to be of much aid to sentient beings if you achieve cessation and are never reborn again. If one wants to be of aid to sentient beings one cannot seek cessation of all existence and hence the trikāya theory.

On that point even śrāvaka schools like the Mahāsāṃghika had a transcendental vision of the Buddha. It was only a matter of time before some people asked, "Can we achieve the same state?"

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.


How do you define "traditional mainstream Dharma"?

Is it not possible for others beside the Buddha on his behalf to teach Saddharma? Even in the Pali Canon we see instances of this happening.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:23 pm

Yeshe wrote:I think you may need a reminder of what you threw at mr. gordo earlier. Here is a selection

I'm quite well aware of the discussion I had with Mr. Gordo. And now, this thread has been split off from that discussion by the DW moderators without my consent. In so doing this thread has also been given a misleading title by the moderators. The end result is that this thread stands in limbo completely isolated from the context of the discussion which it was intended to contribute.

Yeshe wrote:You have also not provided historical evidence to substantiate the comment on the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna 'appropriation of non-Buddhist deities, which were then recast as tenth stage bodhisattvas and buddhas.' This would of course only be possible if there were to be evidence of their existence prior to Buddhism.

Well, this is a secondary issue. It was added merely for the sake of completeness. It is only tangentially related to the main issue of the Mahāyāna denigration of the Dharma as taught by śramaṇa Gautama. I would like to comment on it in more detail. One thing at a time.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:53 pm

Huseng wrote:For such purposes new methods and goals were to be employed and the older ones, while noble and indeed taught by the Buddha, had to be set aside.

Not just set aside -- in time explicitly denigrated and rejected as inferior.

Huseng wrote:How do you define "traditional mainstream Dharma"?

The Indian Nikāya schools who only accepted the Āgamas (and corresponding Nikāyas) as the Buddha word. These schools were mainstream until at least the 5th or 6th century CE. The "Mahāyāna" was comprised of some marginal groups which existed on the fringes of the mainstream institutions until at least this time. In Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahāyāna, Daniel Boucher comments:

    The study of early Mainstream Buddhism has historically proceeded on the basis of the Pāli canon, the only complete Buddhist canon we possess in an Indian language. But this collection is the textual record of but a single Mainstream school, the Theravādins—in fact, a single sublineage of the Theravādins—whose scriptures were preserved in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia after the demise of Buddhism in India.

    The two Indian Buddhist groups, therefore, that have received the most scholarly attention, the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna, have received this attention precisely because their scriptures were available outside of India, in places where Buddhism continued to flourish. There is a certain irony here, however, in that these two groups were by all appearances among the least influential for most of the history of Indian Buddhism. On the basis of inscriptional records of donations to particular monastic orders as well as the accounts of Chinese pilgrims to India, we know that a number of other groups figured much more prominently. These would include the Sarvāstivādins, particularly in the north, the Kāsyapîyas, the Mahāsāmghikas, together with their sublineages in the south, and the Sammatîyas, to name only a few. The Sthaviravādins (Pāli: Theravādins) are little known on the subcontinent outside of Bodh-gayā, a site they seem to have largely monopolized, and the Mahāyāna does not appear on the ground until the fourth or fifth century, with one notable exception. The fact that the texts—particularly the āgama and vinaya—of several of these other Mainstream lineages are preserved only in Chinese makes the study of these translations all the more important for correcting the current imbalance in our histories.

Huseng wrote:Is it not possible for others beside the Buddha on his behalf to teach Saddharma? Even in the Pali Canon we see instances of this happening.

The mainstream Indian schools never accepted the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna as orthodox Saddharma. The supposed "Saddharma" of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra is to this day commonly considered as nothing more than insulting by the few remaining adherents of mainstream Indian Dharma.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby nirmal » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:23 pm

Aiya, on one hand in the Mahayana scriptures, Buddha always blames the Theravada as selfish minded people who only strive for their own liberation and don't care about the others. On the other hand ,he corrects some of the mistakes of the Theravada. In Theravada doctrine, when someone has done evil he falls into Hell and even the Buddhas cannot save him.They have such incorrect ideas. They think that after Buddha's Parinirvana, he became nothing at all and cannot either help you to get rebirth or to atone for your sins. They always say that everything is due to yourself."By self you ascend and by self you fall."Nobody can help you.But in Mahayana there are many good methods of confession.Some taught confessions before Avalokitesvara, some before thirty five Buddhas.

The real condition of the Buddha's Nirvana is unknown to the Theravada.They only know the foundation of Nirvana, only part of Nirvana. So they say such things as "Buddha has died.How can he give inspiration to anybody?" Now Yeshe D, if this is so, then why do the Theravada also take refuge in the Buddha? Buddha has already died. Do you just take refuge in his coffin? And why then do you repeat his Dharmapada? He would not hear you if he was nothing at all. This makes Buddha only like a dead person.Even nowadays in Ceylon,they still keep such unreasonable ideas

When he was preaching the Dharma Flower Sutra, Buddha wanted to explain how in evil things the Sunyata nature can also be found.Five hundred Arhats foreknew this and left their seats saying "Now Buddha is going to talk about evil things. Actually Buddha wanted to talk about the Mahayana.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:21 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
Huseng wrote:For such purposes new methods and goals were to be employed and the older ones, while noble and indeed taught by the Buddha, had to be set aside.

Not just set aside -- in time explicitly denigrated and rejected as inferior.


Not everyone rejected them in entirety. In the Chinese literature that I've read at least I see plenty of references to and citations of the Āgama texts. The writers were all Mahāyāna.

However, as I am sure you're aware, the methods differ. If one follows the Āgama methods to their end one will become an Arhat which is undesirable if one seeks to become a Bodhisattva and help liberate others from suffering.

Yes, many saw the Āgama-based methods to be inferior, but if you're striving to become a Bodhisattva and not an Arhat, what do you expect?


The Indian Nikāya schools who only accepted the Āgamas (and corresponding Nikāyas) as the Buddha word. These schools were mainstream until at least the 5th or 6th century CE.


Well that's your definition of mainstream dharma, however millions of others devout Buddhists who practise Mahāyāna would disagree. There are also plenty of living masters who can testify to the validity of the Mahāyāna. The idea of "Buddha word" was also an issue in ancient times. The Mahāyāna advocates asserted that others can speak on behalf of the Buddha and such words if truly wise constitute Saddharma. Not everyone agrees with this, but for the millions of Mahāyāna practitioners it is sufficient.

The "Mahāyāna" was comprised of some marginal groups which existed on the fringes of the mainstream institutions until at least this time.


Or so present day theories go. The development and origins of the Mahāyāna movements are not very well understood. In any case, the roots of Mahāyāna ideas are easily found in the Āgama literature. Without ever looking at a Mahāyāna text, one could see the spark of the Mahāyāna simply by asking, "How did Shakyamuni become a Buddha and how can I likewise achieve such a thing?" By Shakyamuni's own admission he was not the first Buddha nor would he be the last.



The mainstream Indian schools never accepted the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna as orthodox Saddharma. The supposed "Saddharma" of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra is to this day commonly considered as nothing more than insulting by the few remaining adherents of mainstream Indian Dharma.


Oh well.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby kirtu » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:39 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
Huseng wrote:For such purposes new methods and goals were to be employed and the older ones, while noble and indeed taught by the Buddha, had to be set aside.

Not just set aside -- in time explicitly denigrated and rejected as inferior.


This is a claim often made by some people but I would argue that the Sravaka schools (now School) has not been denigrated and rejected as inferior.

Huseng wrote:How do you define "traditional mainstream Dharma"?

The Indian Nikāya schools who only accepted the Āgamas (and corresponding Nikāyas) as the Buddha word. These schools were mainstream until at least the 5th or 6th century CE. The "Mahāyāna" was comprised of some marginal groups which existed on the fringes of the mainstream institutions until at least this time.


That's one interpretation of course. Another is that the Mahayana arose both on the fringe by laypeople (mostly yogis) and by monks in monasteries who had received teaching about Mahayana from their teachers. Mahayana was an orally transmitted tradition at this time. It seems to have been a minority as you say but was extant from the time of Shakyamuni. Then the Vajrayana arose at about the 5th or 6th century which was even more of a minority, and arose primarily amongst yogis.

The problem is that Indian Buddhist history was basically not written until later and was not comprehensive in any sense.

Fa Hsien's "Record of Buddhist Kingdoms" 394-414 CE is the earliest we have now (to my knowledge - are there earlier records?) and it reflects predominantly Sravakayana monasteries in most places, some predominantly Bodhisattvayana places but mixed Sravaka/Bodhisattvayana monasteries in other places . Looking through it again my impression is mostly of mixed and harmonious Sravaka/Bodhisattvayana places.

So it would seem that by 400 CE there is a significant Bodhisattvayana presence.

Here is the map of Fa Hsien's travels that Legge sketched:

sktech-map-fa-hsien3.JPG
sktech-map-fa-hsien3.JPG (116.63 KiB) Viewed 863 times


As expected (because at least in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism this is taught) the Bodhisattvayana is concentrated in the north (Khotan, Skardo (Lhadak?), Lo-e (identified as a part of present day Afghanistan), Punjab, Mathura, Sankasya (the place Shakyamuni descended from a heaven after teaching his mother the Dharma), and Central India). I'm not sure if he records the Bodhisattvayana as represented during this time in Indonesia (at some point before 1100 CE it had spread there).

In the translation the Sravakayana is termed hinayana and the Bodhisattvayana is termed mahayana (both lower case) as one would expect for a product of the 19th century.

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:21 am

Huseng wrote:However, both Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna alike never rejected the fundamental ideas taught by the Buddha like rebirth and karma.

There are numerous examples in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna literature where, by blurring of distinctions between ethical and unethical conduct, karma and its consequences for low rebirth are diluted to the point of being meaningless. For example, the Mañjuśrīparivartāparaparyāyā Saptaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra:

    The Lord: "Enlightenment," of what is that a synonym?

    Mañjuśrī: Of the five deadly sins. Because as nonexistent those five deadly sins have just the essential original nature of enlightenment, and therefore this enlightenment has the essential original nature of the deadly sins.

The Bodhisatvacaryānirdeśa Sūtra:

    One should speak like this – do not give up your passion, do not fight your aversion, do not clear away your bewilderment, do not liberate yourself from your body , practise the bad things , do not hold back your views, do not be conscious of the bonds [to the worldly things], grasp for the parts of the personality (skandha), amass the spheres of sense-perception, move about among the fields of sense-perception (āyatana), do not leave the stage of fools, frequent the bad (akuśala), give up the good (kuśala), do not think of the Buddha, do not reflect on religious teachings (dharma), do not give offerings to the congregation of monks, do not take the training (śikṣā) upon yourself, do not seek the peacefulness of existence, do not cross over the river [of existence]. This kind of instructions one should teach and give to the bodhisattva in the beginning of his development. Why? Because this state of the moments of existence (dharma) and nothing else is their [true] state. Foolish people explain things in accordance with moments of existence of arising (utpādadharma) and moments of existence of disappearance (nirodhadharma).

The "foolish people" mentioned here would include the śramaṇa Gautama.

The Hevajra Tantra:

    Beings are bound by passion and are released by utilizing passion. Such a conception of counteraction is not known to the followers of other Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools.

Here Kṛṣṇācārya's commentary adds that the mention of other Buddhist schools "Refers to the Śrāvakas and others. They are called heretics because they are in conflict with the essence of the Vajrayāna teachings of the Enlightened One."

Huseng wrote:
Yeshe D. wrote:The Indian Nikāya schools who only accepted the Āgamas (and corresponding Nikāyas) as the Buddha word. These schools were mainstream until at least the 5th or 6th century CE.

Well that's your definition of mainstream dharma, however millions of others devout Buddhists who practise Mahāyāna would disagree.

You're merely offering the fallacy of appeal to large numbers.

Huseng wrote:
The "Mahāyāna" was comprised of some marginal groups which existed on the fringes of the mainstream institutions until at least this time.

Or so present day theories go.

Quite well established research actually. Gregory Schopen, The Inscription on the Kuṣān Image of Amitābha and the Character of the Early Mahāyāna in India (JIABS 10, 2 pgs 124-5):

    [E]ven after its initial appearance in the public domain in the 2nd century [the Mahāyāna] appears to have remained an extremely limited minority movement -- if it remained at all -- that attracted absolutely no documented public or popular support for at least two more centuries. It is again a demonstrable fact that anything even approaching popular support for the Mahāyāna cannot be documented until 4th/5th century AD, and ... although there was -- as we know from Chinese translations -- a large and early Mahāyāna literature there was no early, organized, independent, publicly supported movement that it could have belonged to.

Huseng wrote:In any case, the roots of Mahāyāna ideas are easily found in the Āgama literature. Without ever looking at a Mahāyāna text, one could see the spark of the Mahāyāna simply by asking, "How did Shakyamuni become a Buddha and how can I likewise achieve such a thing?"

The śramaṇa Gautama didn't become a buddha by practicing the above teachings from the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:25 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
Yeshe wrote:I think you may need a reminder of what you threw at mr. gordo earlier. Here is a selection

I'm quite well aware of the discussion I had with Mr. Gordo. And now, this thread has been split off from that discussion by the DW moderators without my consent.


Your consent is not needed to split off this thread as you are not a mod or an admin. Your hubris is amusing though.

In so doing this thread has also been given a misleading title by the moderators. The end result is that this thread stands in limbo completely isolated from the context of the discussion which it was intended to contribute.


Uh, no. The original thread was about Reginald Ray's position on rebirth. When you start writing things like this:

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.


Well, not only are you going on a tangent, but now you've extended the thread to encompass a wider range of views that include the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions that weren't just isolated to Ray's views on rebirth. You went off topic, hence the thread has been split.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby conebeckham » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:58 am

The śramaṇa Gautama didn't become a buddha by practicing the above teachings from the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.


According to some. Not according to others, for whom he became Buddha precisely due to practicing the Mahayana Sutras and Tantras.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:00 am

kirtu wrote:Mahayana was an orally transmitted tradition at this time. It seems to have been a minority as you say but was extant from the time of Shakyamuni.

The śramaṇa Gautama didn't teach a bodhisattvayāna, and the very notion of a bodhisattvayāna arose from the early mythologized hagiographies of the life and previous lives of the "Buddha," which themselves were developed well after śramaṇa Gautama's parinirvāṇa.

kirtu wrote:Fa Hsien's "Record of Buddhist Kingdoms" 394-414 CE is the earliest we have now (to my knowledge - are there earlier records?)

Yes, Faxian (Fa Hsien) is an important source documenting the Indian scene during his travels there.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:06 am

conebeckham wrote:
The śramaṇa Gautama didn't become a buddha by practicing the above teachings from the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.


According to some. Not according to others, for whom he became Buddha precisely due to practicing the Mahayana Sutras and Tantras.

These "others" simply aren't well informed with regard to Buddhist history and the development of Buddhist doctrines. The śramaṇa Gautama had no connection whatsoever with the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:17 am

mr. gordo wrote:
Yeshe D. wrote:I'm quite well aware of the discussion I had with Mr. Gordo. And now, this thread has been split off from that discussion by the DW moderators without my consent.

Your consent is not needed to split off this thread as you are not a mod or an admin.

I never said it was. Just informing members that I did not create this thread and had no intentions of doing so.

mr. gordo wrote:Well, not only are you going on a tangent

The point is this: Anyone who's faith is based on the Mahāyāna -- a tradition which has no connection to the śramaṇa Gautama, i.e. the "Buddha," would be prudent to show extreme restraint from casting dispersions upon others for teaching, as you put it, a "false Dharma." What is quite laughable here, is how heterodoxy is turned into orthodoxy and then used as a weapon against others.

All the best,

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby kirtu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:22 am

Yeshe D. wrote:There are numerous examples in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna literature where, by blurring of distinctions between ethical and unethical conduct, karma and its consequences for low rebirth are diluted to the point of being meaningless.


That's not true. If one misunderstands the teachings that you proposed as examples and followed them in a careless way (i.e literally interpreting them) then one would become a hell demon. The relative truth of karma is never abrogated until one attains full enlightenment whereupon all karma is eliminated.

For example, the Mañjuśrīparivartāparaparyāyā Saptaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra:

    The Lord: "Enlightenment," of what is that a synonym?

    Mañjuśrī: Of the five deadly sins. Because as nonexistent those five deadly sins have just the essential original nature of enlightenment, and therefore this enlightenment has the essential original nature of the deadly sins.


This is saying that the ultimate nature of the five heinous acts the nature of enlightenment. However people who actually perform the five heinous sins act from a relative point of view not knowing that the mind is ultimately enlightened. It's like a person committing murder - from the ultimate point of view no one is killed and there is no killing and ultimately there is no suffering or hatred. But from the relative point of view people are suffering and dying and karma is accumulated.

Another example would be that people have a tendency to judge others and believe that those judgments are sound, correct and valid. But actually judgments about people are usually arbitrary and capricious and are just the activity of a person's limited perceptions. They don't have ultimate validity.

The Bodhisatvacaryānirdeśa Sūtra:

    One should speak like this – do not give up your passion, do not fight your aversion, do not clear away your bewilderment, do not liberate yourself from your body , practise the bad things , do not hold back your views, do not be conscious of the bonds [to the worldly things], grasp for the parts of the personality (skandha), amass the spheres of sense-perception, move about among the fields of sense-perception (āyatana), do not leave the stage of fools, frequent the bad (akuśala), give up the good (kuśala), do not think of the Buddha, do not reflect on religious teachings (dharma), do not give offerings to the congregation of monks, do not take the training (śikṣā) upon yourself, do not seek the peacefulness of existence, do not cross over the river [of existence]. This kind of instructions one should teach and give to the bodhisattva in the beginning of his development. Why? Because this state of the moments of existence (dharma) and nothing else is their [true] state. Foolish people explain things in accordance with moments of existence of arising (utpādadharma) and moments of existence of disappearance (nirodhadharma).


We discussed this last week in another thread and the suggestion is that this is not in fact for beginning bodhisattvas but for Arya Bodhisattvas well on the path. At any rate it is not meant to be taken literally. Note that it could be used by an advanced bodhisattva not yet an Arya Bodhisattva perhaps to identify areas of their life where they still had identifiable moral obscuration with the point being not to engage them physically but to examine them mentally (this is of course a supposition on my part - I'd like to see a traditional commentary on this text).


The Hevajra Tantra:

    Beings are bound by passion and are released by utilizing passion. Such a conception of counteraction is not known to the followers of other Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools.

Here Kṛṣṇācārya's commentary adds that the mention of other Buddhist schools "Refers to the Śrāvakas and others. They are called heretics because they are in conflict with the essence of the Vajrayāna teachings of the Enlightened One."


Tantra in general is quite a complex subject. The Hevajra tantra is a tantra with a very high view (tantras are organized by their view, activity and result) that can result in enlightenment within 1 lifetime (in the best cases within this very body). This verse is very profound and has multiple meanings but one of them is that we use conceptuality to cut through the conceptual obscurations blinding us to our ultimate pure Buddhanature and our ultimately accessible Buddhawisdom. Another aspect is the use of the body to quickly attain Buddhahood. I personally don't know if Krsnacharya refers to the Sravaka paths as heretical or not but here again he would not likely mean that literally. If he did refer to the Sravaka paths as heretical he would also have referred to what are now seen as the lower tantras as heretical and esp. to the Kriya Tantra as heretical because they lack the understanding expressed in that verse.

Huseng wrote:In any case, the roots of Mahāyāna ideas are easily found in the Āgama literature. Without ever looking at a Mahāyāna text, one could see the spark of the Mahāyāna simply by asking, "How did Shakyamuni become a Buddha and how can I likewise achieve such a thing?"

The śramaṇa Gautama didn't become a buddha by practicing the above teachings from the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.


Well actually in the Mahayana sutras it is written that one can't attain full enlightenment without empowerments from the Buddhas. In the Vajrayana it is taught that Shakyamuni remembered Vajrayana teachings from previous lives and practiced them under the Bodhi Tree and then attained full enlightenment.

So there are differences between the schools on some of these points for sure.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Individual » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:25 am

True Buddhism cannot be defined

Because whatever can be defined is conditioned
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:31 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
mr. gordo wrote:Well, not only are you going on a tangent

The point is this: Anyone who's faith is based on the Mahāyāna -- a tradition which has no connection to the śramaṇa Gautama, i.e. the "Buddha," would be prudent to show extreme restraint from casting dispersions upon others for teaching, as you put it, a "false Dharma." What is quite laughable here, is how heterodoxy is turned into orthodoxy and then used as a weapon against others.


No need to completely stretch and distort the discussion Yeshe D, as Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana ALL accept literal rebirth. The divisive thread you started here by mocking Mahayana and Vajrayana (as you say "Mahāyāna -- a tradition which has no connection to the śramaṇa Gautama"), is just another one of the reasons e-sangha just didn't work out. A forum you so quickly ridicule, and yet are duplicating the same behavior from over there into here.

I have received teachings from Bhantes in Mahasi style vipassana, and they have my deepest respect. When I have discussions on Theravada forums, I am respectful. I have no deceptive agenda because my respect in sincere and genuine. I don't go to a friend or mentor's house and defecate in their dining room.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby kirtu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:31 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
kirtu wrote:Mahayana was an orally transmitted tradition at this time. It seems to have been a minority as you say but was extant from the time of Shakyamuni.

The śramaṇa Gautama didn't teach a bodhisattvayāna, and the very notion of a bodhisattvayāna arose from the early mythologized hagiographies of the life and previous lives of the "Buddha," which themselves were developed well after śramaṇa Gautama's parinirvāṇa.


Yeshe D. wrote:The śramaṇa Gautama had no connection whatsoever with the Mahāyāna Sūtras and Tantras.


There is no point in continuing because we have no basis for a discussion. The best we can do is agree to disagree. While I agree with Huseng that the Mahayana teachings can be seen in the Agamas and the Pali Suttas, ultimately acceptance of the Mahayana path has to come from an accession to the truth of the Mahayana teachings wither intuitively or via analysis. But this is something that each person who follows our teacher Shakyamuni Buddha has to do for themselves. If they lack faith in the Mahayana then that's fine. Please follow the Sravaka path. But don't malign the Bodhisattva path.

BTW the Theravada does indeed teach a Bodhisattva path but it's not their emphasis and they steer people toward Arhantship.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
kirtu
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby kirtu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:34 am

Individual wrote:True Buddhism cannot be defined

Because whatever can be defined is conditioned


It's taught using concepts because that's how we understand things. We have to use concepts to ultimately become free of conceptuality.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
kirtu
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:43 am

kirtu wrote:That's not true. If one misunderstands the teachings that you proposed as examples and followed them in a careless way (i.e literally interpreting them) then one would become a hell demon. The relative truth of karma is never abrogated until one attains full enlightenment whereupon all karma is eliminated.

Yeah, I know the "two truths" trip.

kirtu wrote:This is saying that the ultimate nature of the five heinous acts the nature of enlightenment. However people who actually perform the five heinous sins act from a relative point of view not knowing that the mind is ultimately enlightened.

The śramaṇa Gautama and his disciples didn't use this kind of convoluted language. Nor did they have any need to.

kirtu wrote:Tantra in general is quite a complex subject.

The śramaṇa Gautama never advocated employing passion in any way whatsoever. There are explicit rejections of the very notion of using passion as a path component in his teachings.

kirtu wrote:Well actually in the Mahayana sutras it is written that one can't attain full enlightenment without empowerments from the Buddhas. In the Vajrayana it is taught that Shakyamuni remembered Vajrayana teachings from previous lives and practiced them under the Bodhi Tree and then attained full enlightenment.

And none of these Sūtras and Tantras have any connection with the śramaṇa Gautama.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Pero » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:54 am

I suppose this is why Tantra was supposed to be secret. But I'm surprised to learn there are things like that Sutra too.
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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