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 Malcolm » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:15 pm

Nangwa wrote: I am always baffled by Buddhists who limit their access to methods and teachings based upon arbitrary, polemical dating of texts.


Indeed.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:35 pm

I don't get that much baffled. Sadly most Buddhists don't practice that much.

Since they don't do serious practice, the only authority they have is dating of texts and so on.
People who consider tantras mumbo jumbo clearly never practiced them with dedication for a few years under qualified guidance.
It's like the frog in the well that didn't believe there could be an ocean.

The last authority on Dharma is one's experience, guided by those more advanced who practiced the teachings to their culmination.
For most, I can't conceive practice without orientation, done solely based on textual exegesis. It has too many pitfalls and one ends getting astray.
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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche

Postby adinatha » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:45 pm

Jñāna wrote:
Enochian wrote:Mahayana is as old as anything else.

There are a number of good sources on the early development of the Mahāyāna. I'm pretty sure that I mentioned some of them in this thread. Another source which will be available in coming months is Ven. Huifeng's doctoral dissertation and translation of one of the works of Yìnshùn Dǎoshī. Also, here's what Namdrol has said on this subject previously:

    Likewise, while the Mahayana sutras were inspired by the blessings of the Buddha, I don't believe he actually taught a single one of them. Nevertheless, I think the teachings in them are profound and stand on their own. I apply the same standard to gter mas. Some are more profound than others. That has to do with the realization of the gter ton, and very little to do with their imputed source of authorship....

    So for example, it is spiritually meaningful that the PP sutras are set on Vulture's Peak-- but it sure is not a historical reality. Even though Shakyamuni Buddha certainly never actually taught Mahayana, nevertheless, Mahayana stands on its own and is valid as a spiritual path and practice because the folks that wrote the Mahayana sutras down were realized persons. The source of these teachings are all realized beings-- their assumed historical settings are merely skillful means to instill faith in the teachings in those person's who need to crutch of historical literalism....

    In general, if a sutra is crucial to one's own schools exegesis, but is of questionable provenance, it cannot be used in a general discussion to bolster one's own school's position since the text upon which one is basing one's position is not accepted as a valid text by all parties....

All the best,

Geoff


I have to disagree with Namdrol. The Buddha was an omniscient being. He talked about all kinds of magical things, like beings from the six realms, like going to see Baka-Brahma, etc., He had this power of co-location. That is part of the Pali.

The Prajnaparamita, some of it, was discovered by Nagarjuna when it was given to him by a Naga. All texts say that the Naga King covered Buddha's head during his enlightenment. The Buddha had hidden, just like a terma, the prajnaparamita sutras. If you believe in buddhahood, which all buddhists would, then why wouldn't this magical possibility be real? Why couldn't he have taught the tantras in his co-located form, and those were kept hidden until much later? First hand accounts of terma reveals lend great credence to this.

When one practices profound things like Vajrayana or Ati, especially if one has had some experience with the sravaka and bodhisattva vehicles, then one can experience first hand how and why these are more direct, quick and profound paths for realization. A simple induction will make clear these methods came from an omniscient mind, because such things are not possible to discover by trial and error, if perhaps over an exceedingly long period of time.

So that leads me to conclude that the written record is not reliable. The oral account has all the contexts to explain why the methods, and culture of dharma evolved the way it did.

There is a saying in dharma, it is wrong view to hold that only hard facts proven by external sources are true, because you are locking yourself into a subject object dualism and the path is the opposite.

If you want to create a dharma constructed from archeological sources, you will be limiting yourself significantly. Like any science, the "truth" of archeology is a moving target. It's better to find the stable truth in the path itself as described in the oral tradition.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby adinatha » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:52 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Dead letter brings about dead Dharma. Living masters bring about living Dharma.


YES! :namaste:
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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:53 pm

adinatha wrote:
I have to disagree with Namdrol. The Buddha was an omniscient being. He talked about all kinds of magical things, like beings from the six realms, like going to see Baka-Brahma, etc., He had this power of co-location. That is part of the Pali.


On this we agree.



The Prajnaparamita, some of it, was discovered by Nagarjuna when it was given to him by a Naga.


Myth, legend, but not historical fact.


The Buddha had hidden, just like a terma, the prajnaparamita sutras. If you believe in buddhahood, which all buddhists would, then why wouldn't this magical possibility be real? Why couldn't he have taught the tantras in his co-located form, and those were kept hidden until much later?


He could have, but it is unlikely. In any case, the definitive Buddha is Samantabhadra, not Shakyamuni.



So that leads me to conclude that the written record is not reliable.


The why assume that part of the written record is reliable (i.e. traditions around the Nāgārjuna, nāgās, etc.)?

The oral account has all the contexts to explain why the methods, and culture of dharma evolved the way it did.


The so called oral accounts you have received are all based on Texts translated by Tibetans. I have researched this area extensively.


There is a saying in dharma, it is wrong view to hold that only hard facts proven by external sources are true, because you are locking yourself into a subject object dualism and the path is the opposite.


IMO, the tantras do not depend on any version of the historical record for their validity. My argument is that they are valid because their source is awakened, but I do not need that source to be Shakyamuni -- Virupa, Garab Dorje, Padmsambhava, Sachen, Jigme Lingpa, Namkhai Norbu, Khenpo Jigphun, etc, are good enough for me.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby adinatha » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:10 pm

The written account comes from an oral account, not the other way around. LOL.

I don't think in Buddhism or Indian history generally, there is anything like a "historical fact." You Westerners are very fond of and proud of your historians, but India did not have a practice of keeping track of details. It was always about an inner journey, and therefore a mythological history which corresponded to define signs of the path, channels, chakras, etc.. The Hindu sadhus are masters of this.

You Westerners won't believe something is true unless there's a historical fact to back it up, as if there were such a thing as a "historical fact." Stories about history have only general and rough factual evidence. The real fact is that the past is just like a dream, and over time it decays until gone.

The Tibetans are funny creatures, the way they tried to make a perfect written record 1000 years post. Fixating on translations and perfect words and all that. I'm all for relying on "undeniables," i.e., the base of awareness (Samantabhadra), sound, light, elements, forms, just working with our condition, using the texts for general reference and outline.

But there were two points Jnana/Geoff was making 1) Buddha didn't teach tantra; 2) tantra is bondage. We'll if 2 is wrong, because those who practice it know better; then 1) is wrong too.

Just like Padmasambhava hid so many teachings and manifested so many things, Shakyamuni did too. Shakyamuni is sort of unmatched. Look at how huge his influence has been.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:17 pm

adinatha wrote:The written account comes from an oral account, not the other way around. LOL.


That's what you think.

I don't think in Buddhism or Indian history generally, there is anything like a "historical fact."


Then why pretend there is?


You Westerners are very fond of and proud of your historians, but India did not have a practice of keeping track of details.


You are a westerner.

It was always about an inner journey, and therefore a mythological history which corresponded to define signs of the path, channels, chakras, etc.. The Hindu sadhus are masters of this.


Then why object when I say that things like Buddha teaching the tantras are myths and legends?



Just like Padmasambhava hid so many teachings and manifested so many things, Shakyamuni did too.


Oh, perhaps the Shakyamuni of someone's vision, but not the guy who died of dysentery around 407 BCE.

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http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:27 pm

I really never cared much about who wrote this or that as long as it works.
I doubt Gautama ever taught the tantras or even mahayana.
I'm glad later sages, bodhisattvas, emanations, you name it wrote and taught them though, by their own experience or revelation from sambogakaya.
If all there was to Buddhism were the Nikayas and the Theravadin interpretation of them, it's not totally unlikely that many Maha/Vajrayana practitioners of today wouldn't have become Buddhists at all.
In the end you need a teacher with enough qualities for you to learn and emulate. If you rely solely on a text, there's a big chance you're being duped. It's like the recipe of a cake. It may seem great in the paper, but you'll only know for sure when you see the cake baked and taste it.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby adinatha » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:56 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Adi Natha wrote:I don't think in Buddhism or Indian history generally, there is anything like a "historical fact."


Then why pretend there is?


According to the standard Western definition, I'm not.


Namdrol wrote:
You Westerners are very fond of and proud of your historians, but India did not have a practice of keeping track of details.


You are a westerner.


Only my Western half.

Namdrol wrote:
It was always about an inner journey, and therefore a mythological history which corresponded to define signs of the path, channels, chakras, etc.. The Hindu sadhus are masters of this.


Then why object when I say that things like Buddha teaching the tantras are myths and legends?


I guess it's a context thing. The way you guys say it sounds disrespectful like it's just a fantasy. And then Geoff's knee jerks, he hiccups and says, "it's silly."

Namdrol wrote:
Just like Padmasambhava hid so many teachings and manifested so many things, Shakyamuni did too.


Oh, perhaps the Shakyamuni of someone's vision, but not the guy who died of dysentery around 407 BCE.


See? Disrespect flows from the Western rational attitude, "the guy." Geez. You guys are hopeless. That "guy" taught us liberation. No other "guy" did that. If you think the "guy" who taught Samantabhadra's realization didn't depend on "the guy" who came before, you are missing a key fact. It's in the Abhidharma. Buddhas don't appear in one place at the same time. Shakyamuni had a special connection to this world. All the activities, revelations and realizations of all beings and buddhas that came later depends directly on that special connection. None of the realizations of any sort would have been possible, without Shakayamuni having taken pity on us. His eye fell on us so other buddhas' eyes did too. The development of tantras and other things like this is totally a creative tour de force. Like a genius's masterpiece makes a movement. It's like a movement of Buddha masterstrokes rained down one after another after the Buddha Shakyamuni arrived. This Dharma is something marvelous, expansive, intricate, exquisite, sophisticated, vast, amazing, like a universe of jeweled mansions. All of which was complete to a tee in that sramanera in the forest.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:22 pm

adinatha wrote:
See? Disrespect flows from the Western rational attitude, "the guy." Geez. You guys are hopeless. That "guy" taught us liberation. No other "guy" did that.



He taught the Hinayāna path.



If you think the "guy" who taught Samantabhadra's realization didn't depend on "the guy" who came before, you are missing a key fact.


I think they both depend on the Sambhogakāya, Vajradhara, and he in turns depends on Samantabhadra.


It's in the Abhidharma. Buddhas don't appear in one place at the same time.


According to Hinayāna. Not according to Mahāyāna, etc.

All of which was complete to a tee in that sramanera in the forest.


What he knew and what he actually taught with his own mouth are two entirely different things.



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http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche

Postby muni » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:39 pm

adinatha wrote:[

There is a saying in dharma, it is wrong view to hold that only hard facts proven by external sources are true,


Knowing a thousands text while mind is wandering around in phenomena wanting to undo them one by one. Very exhausting job. As so said: the lion we throw only ones a bone while the dog hops behind all bones what move. Rivalry, comparisions, seems some have plenty of time in samsaras preferences.
Last edited by muni on Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:45 pm

Nangwa wrote:I am always baffled by Buddhists who limit their access to methods and teachings based upon arbitrary, polemical dating of texts.

I'm not suggesting that anyone should "limit their access to methods and teachings based upon arbitrary, polemical dating of texts." I haven't proposed such an idea. I've been a student of living teachers for the past 25 years.

A longstanding trend amongst Western Buddhists is the rationalization of everything which doesn't fit the rationalist worldview. This is one extreme. The other extreme is to attempt to toss one's intellect out the window and unquestioningly replace it with a mythic worldview, and then assert that this mythic worldview is in fact the only "truth." Both of these extremes lack integration. What is necessary is to clearly see the visionary domain and the rational domain as equally valid in their own terms. They are not in conflict in any way. They are each valuable and each pertain to different fields of prajñā. There is only a perception of conflict between the two if these domains are mistakenly conflated in some fashion.

In short, one's Mahāyāna faith need not be contingent upon believing that the Mahāyāna sūtras were spoken by the śramaṇa Gautama. The academic historical narrative pertaining to the development of Buddhist ideas and the visionary narrative pertaining to the bodhisattvayāna are not in conflict in any way. It is quite absurd to suggest otherwise.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Enochian » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:57 pm

Enochian wrote:
P.S. Do you really think the Buddha taught more than 10% of the Pali canon???



Why not respond to this?
Last edited by Enochian on Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:07 pm

adinatha wrote:If you want to create a dharma constructed from archeological sources, you will be limiting yourself significantly.

Straw man argument.

adinatha wrote:But there were two points Jnana/Geoff was making 1) Buddha didn't teach tantra; 2) tantra is bondage. We'll if 2 is wrong, because those who practice it know better; then 1) is wrong too.

Incorrect. Tantra is not "bondage." I practice vajrayāna every day of my life and have done so for many years.

adinatha wrote:The way you guys say it sounds disrespectful like it's just a fantasy. And then Geoff's knee jerks, he hiccups and says, "it's silly."

The only thing that's silly is trying to justify one's beliefs by attempting to put the vajrayāna teachings in the mouth of Gautama. It's a completely unnecessary, limiting strategy. It requires dismissing the historical record and results in marginalizing what everyone agrees Gautama did teach.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Enochian » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:13 pm

Jñāna wrote:The only thing that's silly is trying to justify one's beliefs by attempting to put the vajrayāna teachings in the mouth of Gautama. It's a completely unnecessary, limiting strategy. It requires dismissing the historical record and results in marginalizing what everyone agrees Gautama did teach.

All the best,

Geoff



Who is trying to put Vajrayana in the voice of Gautama?

Vajrayana is directly from divine Mahasiddhas (humans who achieved omniscient Buddhahood)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasiddha

Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa, Vimalamitra etc. taught higher stuff than "Gautama"
Last edited by Enochian on Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:30 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:18 pm

Enochian wrote:Do you really think the Buddha taught more than 10% of the Pali canon???

I never suggested that he did. Most of the Pāli Khuddakanikāya and the Abhidhammapiṭaka are quite late. But there's no need to limit analysis to the Pāli canon. This has nothing to do with "us vs. them" or "Theravāda vs. Mahāyāna" polemics. As I've already said, all of the early records of discourses and fragments of discourses preserved in various languages are consistent in the teachings they present. It's all 100% Śrāvakayāna.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:22 pm

Enochian wrote:Who is trying to put Vajrayana in the voice of Gautama?

Vajrayana is directly from divine Mahasiddhas (humans who achieved omniscient Buddhahood)

Good. Glad we can agree on that. It's also unnecessary to attempt to put the Mahāyāna teachings in the mouth of Gautama.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Enochian » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:25 pm

Jñāna wrote:Good. Glad we can agree on that. It's also unnecessary to attempt to put the Mahāyāna teachings in the mouth of Gautama.


LOL

Who claimed Mahayana sutras were in Gautama's mouth in the first place? Aren't they mostly in the voice of Avalokiteshvara etc.?


Jñāna wrote:I never suggested that he did. Most of the Pāli Khuddakanikāya and the Abhidhammapiṭaka are quite late. But there's no need to limit analysis to the Pāli canon. This has nothing to do with "us vs. them" or "Theravāda vs. Mahāyāna" polemics. As I've already said, all of the early records of discourses and fragments of discourses preserved in various languages are consistent in the teachings they present. It's all 100% Śrāvakayāna.



Now you are changing arguments completely. If it is all about merely "consistency", Mādhyamaka is the ultimate teaching. Nagarjuna had access to more texts than you. And he lived around year 200. You live in 2011 and are using junk english translations LOL
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby adinatha » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:43 pm

Namdrol wrote:He taught the Hinayāna path.


That's what you think.


It's in the Abhidharma. Buddhas don't appear in one place at the same time.


According to Hinayāna. Not according to Mahāyāna, etc.


Vasubhandu's Abhidharmakosha is according also to Mahayana, no?

What he knew and what he actually taught with his own mouth are two entirely different things.


You have no idea what actually came out of his own mouth, except by way of speculation.
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Re: Defining Buddhism - Theravada/Mahayana/Varayana

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:46 pm

Enochian wrote:Who claimed Mahayana sutras were in Gautama's mouth in the first place?

For starters, a number of participants in this thread.

Enochian wrote:Now you are changing arguments completely.

Not so. You're just unwilling or unable to understand what I've been saying.

Enochian wrote:If it is all about merely "consistency", Mādhyamaka is the ultimate teaching.

I never said otherwise. In point of fact, I've gone to considerable lengths to demonstrate that the early discourses are entirely compatible with mādhyamaka.
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