Sects and Sectarianism

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Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:20 pm

There is this reoccurring topic of "Theravada vs Mahayana" and it's usually the same thing repeated over and over. There's also quite strong sectarianism within Mahayana itself. However, there are a few Buddhist teachers who have more to say about this. Please add further more valuable sources on this subject, if you know. And if you're up for a debate, first look into at lease some of the teachings I list here.

A View from the Center by Ajahn Amaro
Sects and Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools, in depth analysis by Bhikkhu Sujato
Buddhism and Sects, video Dharma speech by Ajahn Brahm

My take on the subject in brief: Single Taste
"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: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:35 am

Astus wrote:There is this reoccurring topic of "Theravada vs Mahayana" and it's usually the same thing repeated over and over. There's also quite strong sectarianism within Mahayana itself. However, there are a few Buddhist teachers who have more to say about this. Please add further more valuable sources on this subject, if you know. And if you're up for a debate, first look into at lease some of the teachings I list here.

A View from the Center by Ajahn Amaro
Sects and Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools, in depth analysis by Bhikkhu Sujato
Buddhism and Sects, video Dharma speech by Ajahn Brahm

My take on the subject in brief: Single Taste



There is the irreconcilable difference between Arhatship and Bodhisattvahood.

Unless those Bhikku accept the latter as legit and possible, it will always be a thorny issue between the two major divisions of Buddhism.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby ground » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:08 am

Huseng wrote:There is the irreconcilable difference between Arhatship and Bodhisattvahood.


Which is - according to tenets - bodhicitta.

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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:21 am

"There is the irreconcilable difference between Arhatship and Bodhisattvahood."

I don't think there is any problem there. Theravada accepts the bodhisattva path, even if they have a bit different set of 10 paramis. You shouldn't forget either that they were the so called Hinayana schools where the whole bodhisattva concept was developed in the first place. On the other hand, I've read somewhere the idea that in those Mahayana communities where they teach "buddhahood in this life" it is in fact reaching arhatship it's just that they had to change the terminology. Anyway, I believe this is a marginal matter compared to actually looking at the very teachings and practices different schools use. It is there to find the singular nature of the path consisting of morality (harmlessness and kindness), meditation (samatha and vipasyana) and wisdom (selflessness and dependent origination).
"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: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby ground » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:15 am

The essence of bodhicitta is that the individual takes the responsibility "I will liberate all beings".

The individual him-/herself. Alone.

So there is not much sense in teaching the way of the bodhisattva to others. Why? Because if the one who teaches considers her-/himself to be practicing the way of the bodhisattva then she/he takes the responsibility on her/his shoulders alone. Why teach it to others?

Therefore the Mahayana teachings actually are a very subtle device to meet the capacities of many but it is not necessarily the intention of the Mahayana to exclusively teach the way of the bodhisattva.
What then is the intention of the Mahayana teachings? Its intention is simply to liberate all beings.


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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby muni » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:32 am

TMingyur wrote:What then is the intention of the Mahayana teachings? Its intention is simply to liberate all beings.


kind regards


Yes, how?
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby ground » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:38 am

muni wrote:
TMingyur wrote:What then is the intention of the Mahayana teachings? Its intention is simply to liberate all beings.


kind regards


Yes, how?


Ethics, meditation, wisdom.

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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Caz » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:46 am

Astus wrote:There is this reoccurring topic of "Theravada vs Mahayana" and it's usually the same thing repeated over and over. There's also quite strong sectarianism within Mahayana itself. However, there are a few Buddhist teachers who have more to say about this. Please add further more valuable sources on this subject, if you know. And if you're up for a debate, first look into at lease some of the teachings I list here.

A View from the Center by Ajahn Amaro
Sects and Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools, in depth analysis by Bhikkhu Sujato
Buddhism and Sects, video Dharma speech by Ajahn Brahm

My take on the subject in brief: Single Taste


What does sectarianism arise from ? The self view no doubt I much prefer rejoicing at others practise of Dharma then disparaging it :twothumbsup:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:30 am

TMingyur wrote:So there is not much sense in teaching the way of the bodhisattva to others. Why? Because if the one who teaches considers her-/himself to be practicing the way of the bodhisattva then she/he takes the responsibility on her/his shoulders alone. Why teach it to others?


You illustrate the problem of sectarianism well.

If we all need to use the ferry to reach the other side, the more people who row the better.

Those who are content to paddle their own canoe do not help, and neither do those who insists that only their oar is the right shape and that their navigation gives the only correct direction.

Hence we end up with a ferry surrounded by canoes and propelled by people all pulling in different directions.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:50 am

"If we all need to use the ferry to reach the other side, the more people who row the better."

Two things here. There is this common Mahayana idea (misconception) that arhats are either just selfish or simply they don't care at all. This is addressed in Amaro's essay. Second, the way to liberation has to be walked alone and there's nobody who can actually make free others, so "rowing together" sounds good for community harmony but it doesn't really make sense in terms of the path to nirvana.
"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: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Caz » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:07 pm

Astus wrote:"If we all need to use the ferry to reach the other side, the more people who row the better."

Two things here. There is this common Mahayana idea (misconception) that arhats are either just selfish or simply they don't care at all. This is addressed in Amaro's essay. Second, the way to liberation has to be walked alone and there's nobody who can actually make free others, so "rowing together" sounds good for community harmony but it doesn't really make sense in terms of the path to nirvana.


If one isnt inspired by Bodhichitta but by a preliminary mind of love for all it doesnt have the same effect...So what is it Arhants do to benifit others ? :popcorn:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby muni » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:10 pm

Looking through the teachings of dependent origination, causes and conditions; how can there be sectarian?
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:11 pm

Astus wrote:"If we all need to use the ferry to reach the other side, the more people who row the better."

Two things here. There is this common Mahayana idea (misconception) that arhats are either just selfish or simply they don't care at all. This is addressed in Amaro's essay. Second, the way to liberation has to be walked alone and there's nobody who can actually make free others, so "rowing together" sounds good for community harmony but it doesn't really make sense in terms of the path to nirvana.


I may stretch this analogy too far. ;)

One bodhisattva can 'row' a a small boatful of others.

Many bodhisattvas can row many more.

I agree that Arhats may be altruistic and may also have the motivation to help all sentient beings, but the avowed aspiration of the Bodhisattva is different and formalised as inherently altruistic, as opposed to Arhats who as far as I know don't formally take a vow in such a manner.

My experience of several teachers is that almost all have exhibited a prejudice during their teachings, from Mahayana teachers using the word 'Hinayana' when talking of Theravadans, to Theravadan Bhikkhus who tell disciples that the Mahayana is worthless and not to bother with it at all. I place sectarianism partially at the door of such teachers.

It is also true within the Vajrayana (I don't know about the Theravadans) where those who vow sincerely never to insult other gurus bandy about words like 'Taliban' when talking about each other. Such actions not only promote a sectarian attitude but turn potential disciples away from the path.

The core teaching of Buddhism for me is Compassion. The lack of it seems to me to be the root of sectarianism.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby meindzai » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:51 pm

Caz wrote:.So what is it Arhants do to benifit others ? :popcorn:


How about teach for 45 or so years, leaving behind a vast canon of teachings that would serve as the basis for practice for millions (billions?) of people for at least 2600 years afterward?

-M
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Caz » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:57 pm

meindzai wrote:
Caz wrote:.So what is it Arhants do to benifit others ? :popcorn:


How about teach for 45 or so years, leaving behind a vast canon of teachings that would serve as the basis for practice for millions (billions?) of people for at least 2600 years afterward?

-M


And how many have done that I can only count one and he was a Buddha as well... :shrug:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:08 pm

Astus wrote:
I don't think there is any problem there. Theravada accepts the bodhisattva path, even if they have a bit different set of 10 paramis. You shouldn't forget either that they were the so called Hinayana schools where the whole bodhisattva concept was developed in the first place.


The early Śrāvakayāna schools had to figure out the origins of their founder the Buddha. However, at least initially it does not seem a significant number of people decided that they too could emulate him and become Buddhas themselves. Moreover, the definition of "Buddha" was not universal. The Sarvāstivāda school, closely related to Theravāda, did not see the Buddha in a transcendental light, while the Mahāsāṃghika did. For the latter school the Bodhisattva path would have seemed far more realistic.

Even in modern Theravāda their definition and vision of a Buddha is quite different from the Mahāyāna. For them the Buddha was an Arhat who restarted the Dharma Wheel in a world where the dharma / dhamma had been lost. They do not accept the transcendental vision of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as legitimate, let alone canonical. However, the Śrāvakayāna Mahāsāṃghika did at least see the Buddha as something other than a flesh and blood Arhat who restarted the Dharma Wheel in a world where it had been lost.

Basically, there is a irreconcilable difference in the goals of Theravāda and all extant Mahāyāna schools. It is not a problem if we accept that difference, but not everyone does. The Mahāyāna generally accepts the Arhat path as legitimate, but Theravāda will generally reject the Mahāyāna vision of Buddhahood.

In reality the issue of sectarianism is not the fault of the Mahāyāna.


On the other hand, I've read somewhere the idea that in those Mahayana communities where they teach "buddhahood in this life" it is in fact reaching arhatship it's just that they had to change the terminology.


If you actually believe in rebirth, then the difference between a Bodhisattva and Arhat is quite simple: the former voluntarily takes rebirth for the benefit of others while the other seeks cessation of all existence. The Arhat can have compassion and teach the dharma while he or she is alive, but at death they are not of much direct benefit to sentient beings.


Anyway, I believe this is a marginal matter compared to actually looking at the very teachings and practices different schools use. It is there to find the singular nature of the path consisting of morality (harmlessness and kindness), meditation (samatha and vipasyana) and wisdom (selflessness and dependent origination).


It is not a marginal matter.

If you wish to aid in the liberation of all sentient beings, even if it means you have to take rebirth for immeasurable kalpas, you adopt the Bodhisattva path. If you want freedom from your suffering and cessation of rebirth, you take the Arhat path.

If you don't believe in rebirth, then the goals of Arhatship and Bodhisattvahood are entirely void of meaning, in which case Buddhism is of little use to you.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:16 pm

"If one isnt inspired by Bodhichitta but by a preliminary mind of love for all it doesnt have the same effect."

What distinguishes kindness on the part of a bodhisattva and a sravaka in your understanding? What makes all the bodhisattva practices special is the realisation of prajnaparamita which is the awakening to emptiness, Arya sravakas have awakened to emptiness, so they practice "unattached love" as well as the bodhisattvas. Bodhicitta is aspiring for buddhahood and in that sravakas and bodhisattvas are different.

"the avowed aspiration of the Bodhisattva is different and formalised as inherently altruistic, as opposed to Arhats who as far as I know don't formally take a vow in such a manner."

Sure, there is no such formal vow for sravakas. But such a vow doesn't create altruism neither it is a condition for it. Arhats are per definition free from all self-attachment, so I don't know how it could not be perfect altruism.

"I place sectarianism partially at the door of such teachers."

Good point. The other half are the disciples of said teachers.

"And how many have done that I can only count one and he was a Buddha as well."

The canon was set up and preserved by the disciples, also there are teachings in it from the disciples. So it was not a one man job.
"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: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:33 pm

Huseng,

"The Mahāyāna generally accepts the Arhat path as legitimate, but Theravāda will generally reject the Mahāyāna vision of Buddhahood."

True, it is a very apparent difference. But I also see a matching point. When it comes to identifying what a buddha is Mahayana agrees with Theravada that it is not something graspable, it is beyond identification and concepts. Thus it could be said that the "transcendental buddhas" are upaya - this view is in line with the Pratyutpannasamadhi-sutra (which is important because it is one of the main sources of meditation on Amitabha) and others.

"he difference between a Bodhisattva and Arhat is quite simple"

I said "buddhahood in this life" and not bodhisattvahood. In fact, those who teach buddhahood in this life categorise the long term bodhisattva carrier as something inferior.

"If you wish to aid in the liberation of all sentient beings, even if it means you have to take rebirth for immeasurable kalpas, you adopt the Bodhisattva path. If you want freedom from your suffering and cessation of rebirth, you take the Arhat path."

This much is taught by Theravada too, no difference on this point.
"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: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Caz » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:34 pm

Astus wrote:"If one isnt inspired by Bodhichitta but by a preliminary mind of love for all it doesnt have the same effect."

What distinguishes kindness on the part of a bodhisattva and a sravaka in your understanding? What makes all the bodhisattva practices special is the realisation of prajnaparamita which is the awakening to emptiness, Arya sravakas have awakened to emptiness, so they practice "unattached love" as well as the bodhisattvas. Bodhicitta is aspiring for buddhahood and in that sravakas and bodhisattvas are different.


It is the Intention which is always the divider, It is incorrect to say that the realisation of the Prajnaparamita makes the Bodhisattva path special because even in the Srvaka path they awake to emptiness and eliminate their delusions through cognising dependent origination and so forth, While the Prajnaparamita sutras are unique to Mahayana Buddhism in general it is not the soul defining point that creates the difference between a Bodhisattva aspirant and a Arhant aspirant. If a Bodhisattva acts out of kindness and offers help to another it is done with the motivation of wishing all sentient beings freedom from suffering and that they my accomplish enlightenment, This is Bodhichitta and if one does not seek to cultivate this mind or has not the instructions to then how can such a mind arise if it had not been even thought of for the benifit of ones self as I said a mind Inspired by Bodhichitta much more powerful then its preliminary of love, So it is the cultivation of Bodhichitta that is the defining point.

Bodhisattvas and arhants both practise Unattached love as you call it but the difference is that if there is no object of cognition before someone who is practising this mind then actions to benifit others will not follow suit, A Bodhisattva would seek out others to help them because of the intention can the same be said of a Srvakayanist ?
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: Sects and Sectarianism

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:11 pm

Caz,

I said, "Bodhicitta is aspiring for buddhahood and in that sravakas and bodhisattvas are different."
You said, "So it is the cultivation of Bodhichitta that is the defining point."
There's little disagreement here in defining bodhisattvas. But, to say they have a more special kindness?

"A Bodhisattva would seek out others to help them because of the intention can the same be said of a Srvakayanist ?"

Yes, the same can be said of a sravaka. Also, just a reminder, that from a Theravada POV a buddha is a "perfect arhat", thus spreading the Dharma and liberating beings are things sravakas do as well. If that were not the case the whole Theravada should have died out long ago as there was nobody who wanted to teach it.
"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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