Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

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Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:56 am

Dear friends,

I can remember that I read some points of Mahayana Teachers that it is very dangerous for practitioner of the great vehicle to change there praxis to the teachings of the school of the elders.
Just what I had observed by my self there is a kind of dependency to leave a subtitle practice and a lost in argumentation. My belly just tells also that compassion grows to something that could be seen as wisdom but I am not sure if there really is wisdom left.

It is in any case not useful to generalize it, but I would kindly request some profound interpretations and explanations about that possible problem.
In no word there should be seen a good or bad, right or wrong. Just with the amount of distructing that is needed.

_/\_
With loving kindness
Just that! :-)
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:28 am

Hanzze wrote:Just what I had observed by my self there is a kind of dependency to leave a subtitle practice and a lost in argumentation. My belly just tells also that compassion grows to something that could be seen as wisdom but I am not sure if there really is wisdom left.

It is in any case not useful to generalize it, but I would kindly request some profound interpretations and explanations about that possible problem.
In no word there should be seen a good or bad, right or wrong. Just with the amount of distructing that is needed.

_/\_
With loving kindness

I don't understand the meaning of your words at all.

Hanzze wrote:Dear friends,

I can remember that I read some points of Mahayana Teachers that it is very dangerous for practitioner of the great vehicle to change there praxis to the teachings of the school of the elders.

What you call "the school of the elders" is it meant to be "Theravada" or is it meant to be "Hinayana"? See I am not saying "Theravada = Hinayana". Why? Because there is a bodhisattva path in the Theravada too and because the Theravada ideal is to practice for the benefit of both oneself and others as has been shown in postings on Dhamma wheel.

Generally if one has taken the bodhisattva vows then it is very dangerous to laps from the Mahayana (motivation) and practice (with) Hinayana (motivation).
And as in all other cases of vows there are minor and major transgressions which may have or definitely have severe consequences too.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:57 am

Dear TMingyur,

so let me use "Pali Canon" as resource for practice and knowledge. A dangerous trap? And why?
Just that! :-)
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:43 pm

How can the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni possibly be a dangerous trap? Do you really need somebody to answer this question for you? Have you studied the Pali Canon? If not then study it and see for yourself if there is any dangerous trap there.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:38 pm

If there is any worry that studying the Pali Canon in some way breaks any Mahayana vows or seems like you are 'abandoning the Mahayana' then as far as I know there is no problem at all.

If you have commitments to Vajrayana practices, then you are still able to perform these and study the Pali Canon. There is no conflict.

The Pali Canon is very large, so I would seek guidance from a teacher about how to approach it. If there is no teacher available to you I recommend a good anthology such as ''In the Buddha's Words'' by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:26 pm

Dear Friends,

I just read it that it is "dangerous" and wanted to ask about the deeper reason. Some also told me it is not good to mix it. Personally I see no different but from personal experiences one needs to be careful to do not lose the "right" motivation for praxis, maybe just a different it times when one steps in.
Just that! :-)
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:43 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear Friends,

I just read it that it is "dangerous" and wanted to ask about the deeper reason. Some also told me it is not good to mix it. Personally I see no different but from personal experiences one needs to be careful to do not lose the "right" motivation for praxis, maybe just a different it times when one steps in.


Hi Hanzee,

Where did you read this. Can you tell us where this comes from so we can see the context?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:14 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear TMingyur,

so let me use "Pali Canon" as resource for practice and knowledge. A dangerous trap? And why?


The suttas of the "Pali Canon" and Mahayana can be easily integrated.
Of course one would not want to integrate the Abhidhamma (of the Theravada) since Mahayana has their own commentarial literature.
And as to vinaya ... Mahayana monastics have their Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:23 pm

What I understand is that for the Mahayana practitioner, there is the danger that if he delves too deeply into the supramundane paths of the Sravakayana, he will attain the arya stages too early and slip into the Arhat stream, thus ending his Bodhisattva path prematurely.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby plwk » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:22 am

And as to vinaya ... Mahayana monastics have their Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya.

And not forgetting the Dharmaguptaka as well...

To the OP...another reason I can think of is probably due to sectarianism...
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:30 am

I find this to be extraordinarily bad advice.

For one, it is not possible to understand the Mahayana without understanding the traditions and canonical literature which came before it.

Secondly, if one is a Mahayana follower, one takes formal refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. All of these are beautifully manifest today in the vehicle of the elders.

I don't see the premature attainment of arhatship as a particularly dangerous threat here.......

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:54 am

tobes wrote:I don't see the premature attainment of arhatship as a particularly dangerous threat here.......

:namaste:


That is relative. arhatship excludes the attainment of Buddhahood which is the goal of the Bodhisattva since he knows that he can be of benefit for others only as a Buddha.
Based on bodhicitta the corresponding attainment of the bodhisattva would be the 8th bhumi but not arhatship.
That is why bodhicitta is of extraordinary significance and should be practiced even in the context of the practice based on the suttas of the pali canon if this "sutta based practice" is to be legitimately called "practice of a bodhisattva". Othewise it would be the practice of a sravaka aiming at arhatship.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:02 am

pueraeternus wrote:What I understand is that for the Mahayana practitioner, there is the danger that if he delves too deeply into the supramundane paths of the Sravakayana, he will attain the arya stages too early and slip into the Arhat stream, thus ending his Bodhisattva path prematurely.

Exactly. What is essential here: If the practitioner neglects bodhicitta and thus necessarily aims at individual liberation (arhatship). Based on stable bodhicitta however there is no "danger".

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:14 am

TMingyur wrote:
tobes wrote:I don't see the premature attainment of arhatship as a particularly dangerous threat here.......

:namaste:


That is relative. arhatship excludes the attainment of Buddhahood which is the goal of the Bodhisattva since he knows that he can be of benefit for others only as a Buddha.
Based on bodhicitta the corresponding attainment of the bodhisattva would be the 8th bhumi but not arhatship.
That is why bodhicitta is of extraordinary significance and should be practiced even in the context of the practice based on the suttas of the pali canon if this "sutta based practice" is to be legitimately called "practice of a bodhisattva". Othewise it would be the practice of a sravaka aiming at arhatship.

Kind regards


Yes, my point is that attaining arhatship or the first bhumi are likely to be fairly remote possibilities at this point.....where gaining good overall knowledge of the dharma in all its traditions should be encouraged not discouraged.

I suppose your point is that intentions even in the early stages of the path matter; and sure, they do. But how do you know which path to follow and what intentions to cultivate without inquiring into and listening to many teachings?

The thought that someone will be spiritually harmed by encountering the Theravada is scandalous and should be immediately repudiated.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:24 am

tobes wrote:But how do you know which path to follow and what intentions to cultivate without inquiring into and listening to many teachings?

It all depends on the lineage. One of the bodhisattva lineage will necessarily be drawn towards Mahayana (motivation) which is bodhicitta.
One of the sravaka lineage will necessarily be drawn towards the sravaka motivation of individual liberation even if she/he follows Mahayana teachings.

tobes wrote:The thought that someone will be spiritually harmed by encountering the Theravada is scandalous and should be immediately repudiated.

As mentioned earlier Theravada is very ambiguous: It has a bodhisattva path and the Theravada ideal is practice for the benefit of oneself and others. However the environment of the Theravada sangha is not necessarily conducive for a bodhisattva.
The decisive point as to the Theravada ideal of "practice for the benefit of oneself and others" is whether the corresponding insight is ensued or it remains mere lip service.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:30 am

One of a bodhisattva lineage starting out with Theravada teachings will undergo the "historical development" of Mahayana in her/his own "microcosm".

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby pueraeternus » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:01 am

Well, aspiring Bodhisattvas should be well-versed in the three vehicles, since different beings are receptive to different vehicles. However, one should be especially careful not to cultivate the supramundane paths of the Sravaka and Pratyekabuddha paths too deeply, since attaining the fruition of these paths would result in irreversibility and cut off the possibility of attaining Buddhahood. So the key thing is to, yes, study these paths by all means, but not attain their final fruit. Nagarjuna states in the Bodhisambhara-sastra:

Thus it is that those bodhisattvas,
When striving for the realization of bodhi.
Should not rest in their practice of vigor,
For they have shouldered such a heavy burden.

Until one develops the great compassion and the patiences,
Even though he may have gained irreversibility,
The Bodhisattva is still subject to a form of "dying"
Occuring through the arising of negligence.

The grounds of the Sravakas or the Pratyekabuddhas,
If entered, constitute "death" for him
Because he would thereby sever the roots
Of the Bodhisattva's understanding and awareness.

At the prospect of failling into the hell-realms.
The bodhisattva would not be struck with fright.
The grounds of the Sravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas
Do provoke great terror in him.

It is not the case that falling into the hell realms
Would create an ultimate obstacle to bodhi.
If one fell onto the grounds of the Sravakas or Pratyekabuddhs,
That would create an ultimate obstacle.

Just as is said of one who loves long life
That he is frightened at the prospect of being beheaded,
So too the grounds of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas
Should provoke in one this very sort of fear.


It's not an easy thing, of course, to be expected to be well-versed in all three vehicles, and yet avoid slipping into arhatship. It is like an archer keeping his arrows aloft in the air by firing each one upwards perfectly behind the other (another analogy used by Nagarjuna).

Interesting thing: in the Ratnakuta collection, Manjushri mentions that he has liberated countless beings during the dark eons (where the teachings of the previous Buddha have vanished, and the next one has not arrived yet) by assuming the forms of Pratyekabuddhas and demonstrating entry into Nirvana. But due to his vows, he did not actually enter into extinction.



tobes wrote:
Yes, my point is that attaining arhatship or the first bhumi are likely to be fairly remote possibilities at this point.....where gaining good overall knowledge of the dharma in all its traditions should be encouraged not discouraged.

I suppose your point is that intentions even in the early stages of the path matter; and sure, they do. But how do you know which path to follow and what intentions to cultivate without inquiring into and listening to many teachings?

The thought that someone will be spiritually harmed by encountering the Theravada is scandalous and should be immediately repudiated.

:namaste:
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:24 am

TMingyur wrote:
tobes wrote:
As mentioned earlier Theravada is very ambiguous: It has a bodhisattva path and the Theravada ideal is practice for the benefit of oneself and others. However the environment of the Theravada sangha is not necessarily conducive for a bodhisattva.
The decisive point as to the Theravada ideal of "practice for the benefit of oneself and others" is whether the corresponding insight is ensued or it remains mere lip service.

Kind regards


I'm not sure about this: if a bodhisattva has the upaya to practice as a layperson, if they can descend to the hells in order to liberate sentient beings, do you really think they will find great difficulties in a community of Buddhists who uphold the Vinaya? I daresay there are far more challenging environments. And probably, scarcely more conducive environments.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby ground » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:13 pm

tobes wrote:I'm not sure about this: if a bodhisattva has the upaya to practice as a layperson, if they can descend to the hells in order to liberate sentient beings, do you really think they will find great difficulties in a community of Buddhists who uphold the Vinaya? I daresay there are far more challenging environments. And probably, scarcely more conducive environments.

:namaste:


This has nothing to do with vinaya but with people a bodhisattva who has not yet attained the state of "never falling back" should not associate. A bodhisattva does not associate with Hinayanists and although the Theravada does not teach Hinayana the Hinayanists are a signifcant fraction there and dare to openly raise their voices and critizise the bodhisattva path.

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Re: Why danger of Elder teachings for Mahayana follower?

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:27 pm

TMingyur wrote:
This has nothing to do with vinaya but with people a bodhisattva who has not yet attained the state of "never falling back" should not associate. A bodhisattva does not associate with Hinayanists and although the Theravada does not teach Hinayana the Hinayanists are a signifcant fraction there and dare to openly raise their voices and critizise the bodhisattva path.

Kind regards


To drag this back to the OP (:) ) it is not a matter of associating with 'Hinayanists' but of whether there is danger for a Mahayana student in studying the Pali Cannon, and the practices it espouses ('praxis') .

Surely at some stage a Mahayana student needs to become acquainted with the 4NT and 8FP. I know several who have taken the Mahayana path and only discovered those aspects afterwards. Surely there is no danger of slipping backwards, but every opportunity of finding the foundation for their practice, which would be suitably strengthened.
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