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Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras? - Dhamma Wheel

Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Tex
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Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Tex » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:31 am

Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to any Buddhist or non-Buddhist.

Now, what is the Theravadin consensus on the sutras and their origin? Authentic Dhamma? Apocryphal? Perhaps a bit of both, as the Dhamma spread from one land to another and encountered other existant cultural traditions?

I really haven't read many sutras and would be curious to hear other Theravadins' takes...
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:48 am

Sutras? Do you mean Mahayana sutras? Or do you mean the Pali suttas?

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Tex
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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Tex » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:53 am

Sutras.

I.e., the authenticity of the suttas is not in question among Theravadins as far as I know, but what do most make of the sutras and their origins?...
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:35 am


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Ben
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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:19 am

Hi Tex
Further to Tilt's first comment regarding Gombrich's comment...
I recommend you read Gombrich's work: 'How Buddhism Began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings'. Considering your question, I think you would find it quite interesting.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:26 am

Greetings Tex,

I've changed the subject of your topic in the interests of clarity.

My answer is that they were required to justify the Mahayana world view.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:32 am

I find the Sutras to be Post canon, and some of the Suttas could be called that also, but not by far as many.
some of the Sutras are useful, and others are far from useful

EDIT before final posting

just went to post and retros response came up before I could finally post it, I would agree with his also


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:05 am

didnt i ask this already? or was that on the forum before we switched over?

i have a related question, and maybe if you think it needs to be split off you can split it.

but where do these bodhisattvas come from? the guys we know from the pali suttas are in the sutras, but all of a sudden theres these super dudes. are they in the agamas (anyone know?) and are they in hinduism?
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:13 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:16 am

i wasnt asking about the idea of the bodhisatta or bodhisatva, but about the bodhisattvas in the sutras those specific guys manjushri, avolektishvara, etc
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:18 am

Greetings JC,

I think that's closely related enough to the topic to stay in this thread.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

Element

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Element » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:05 am


Element

Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Element » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:10 am

I think to understand the origin of something we can look at the result. The origin will be in the result.

For example, dukkha. It is obvious the origin is ignorance given dukkha is undesirable yet it occurs. People clearly can only hurt and harm themselves from ignorance. One could not hurt and harm themselves from an origin of wisdom because not one being truely seeks to hurt & harm themselves. Even a sucidial person is seeking to escape their pain. If they could end their pain using another method, they would not try suicide.

Similary, the result of Mahayana Buddhism was a slave culture in Tibet, where human beings were supressed, enslaved and controlled by monastic masters in collusion with the ruling elite using a collection of non-Buddhist beliefs, superstitions & rituals.

Therefore, when we examine the end, we will find the origin. When we examine the result, we will find the intention.

With metta

Element

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:43 am


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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:48 am

Greetings Element,

That's a pretty stupid comment. What about the Burmese junta? What do they do to those who follow the Theravadin path.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:50 am


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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Heavenstorm » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:13 am


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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the sutras?

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:03 pm

With Metta

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:15 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Theravadins' thoughts on the origin of the Mahayana sutras?

Postby Dharmajim » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:34 pm

Good Friends:

The subject of non-Nikaya/Agama Discourses is very complex. First, I think it is a mistake to view them as a unified corpus. It seems that they were written over a long period of time, among various groups, with divergent purposes. Some of them, such as the Diamond Sutra, appear to be very old. Others appear to have been written many centuries after the Buddha's passing.

In other words, I think it is a mistake to use a broad brush in describing them.

My sense of these texts is that they resemble, in many ways, texts on Jesus that continue to appear down to the present time. I don't mean historical works, but works that claim to present the teachings of Jesus, that the author has somehow accessed them and is now presenting "new" teachings. These kinds of works appear every few years; there is really quite a large body of such works.

I think that explains why, historically, Theravada simply hasn't had much to say about non-Nikaya Discourses. Just as dedicated Christian scholars do not spend a lot of time on the above mentioned kinds of works, so also I think that the Nikaya and Agama based traditions just didn't think that they deserved a lot of focus, commentary, and time. That's why one finds so little direct comment on them.

My two cents,

Dharmajim


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