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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:47 am 
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I'm in the process of reading Faxian's travel journal that he compiled while travelling through India in the early fifth century. The text itself is a valuable historical resource as it is a firsthand account of India in the fifth century. Such works I think are extremely rare and as a result our understanding of Indian history is often somewhat vague and uncertain.

Anyway, what I find interesting is his reports that in some regions both the Mahayana and Hinayana were training together.

《高僧法顯傳》卷1:「從此東行三日復渡新頭河。兩岸皆平地。過河有國名毘荼。佛法興盛兼大小乘學。見秦道人往乃大憐愍。作是言。如何邊地人能知出家為道遠求佛法。悉供給所須。」(CBETA, T51, no. 2085, p. 859, a18-22)

"From here we travelled east three days and again crossed the Xintou River. On both sides of the shore it is all flat land. When you cross the river there is a country called Pitu [Dravida?]. The Buddhadharma is thriving and flourishing. Both Mahayana and Hinayana train together. Upon seeing Chinese bhiksu the people came with great sympathy and remarked, 'How is it that someone from a borderland could know of renunciation? For the road is distant in seeking the Buddhadharma.' They completed provided everything we needed."



I also understand from reading Jan Nattier's translation and study of the Ugrapariprccha-sutra, that in the early Mahayana at least there was no stigma against Arhats and those seeking Arhatship as opposed to the few good men who would risk much toil and suffering to achieve Buddhahood and start the sangha in some distant future.

Then somewhere along the line there was a split in the sangha.

One thing Nattier notes is that one probably reason for the split in the sangha was the difference between the position of the Arhat and the Buddha. She imagines in a sangha there would probably have been some bhiksu already named an Arhat while some young member had taken on the vocation of the Bodhisattva. This would have inevitably lead to some conflict as the Bodhisattva had already taken on a superior path and was therefore above the Arhat. As time went on the divide grew larger and larger, and before long Sravaka became a pejorative in Mahayana circles.

Nowadays more than ever before in history we have numerous schools of Buddhist thought being easily accessible and a lot of interaction never before possible. For example Zen Buddhists read the Pali Canon, Shingon priests study Tibetan Vajrayana, scholars read Pali, Sanskrit and Classical Chinese to reconstruct early Buddhism, etc... At the basic ground level too in a lot of major cities you are within walking distance of numerous temples. People can and do travel around and come into contact with a lot of different traditions.

So, is it possible that Arhats and Bodhisattvas can live together again? I suppose in a sense we're already back to that to some degree. At my university here in Japan, which is Soto Zen, we have Theravada Bhikku studying Japanese and researching Japanese Buddhism. I also know one Tibetan Bhiksuni who spent some time on retreat in Thailand at a Theravada temple. I'm aware that some intolerance on both sides might still exist, but it seems to me that Bodhisattvas and Arhats are good friends again.

The proof might be here at Soji-ji in Yokohama (Soto-shu's second HQ):

Image

This was a gift of a monastery in Thailand to Soto-shu in Japan.

So, I guess one might say Bodhisattvas and Arhats are, at least to some degree, living together again. :buddha1:

:anjali:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:54 pm 
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When mind's projection is going in competitiveness with "the projector" ( or opposite) then dust of attachment is the trap.


All happiness comes from the wish may others be happy. :anjali:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:20 pm 
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muni wrote:
When mind's projection is going in competitiveness with "the projector" ( or opposite) then dust of attachment is the trap.


All happiness comes from the wish may others be happy. :anjali:



Be happy, Muni. :applause:

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:27 am 
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It's time we get over the "Mahayana is a social critique of Hinayana" mentality.

Most scholars on the subject of early Mahayana nowadays believe that Mahayanikas lived together with Nikayaka Buddhists for the first 5 centuries of the Mahayana teachings. Sometimes they may have had a bit of distance, for the Mahayana encouraged aranyaka practices, not the village practice. Though doubtless many Nikayaka Buddhists would have done the same.

Nattier's A Few Good Men / The Bodhisattva Path is a great example of this early situation.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:37 am 
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Greetings,

I think the renowned Bhikkhu Bodhi spent some time at a Mahayana temple recently?

(Not that he's an Arahant, but he is a Theravada practitioner).

Metta,
Retro. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:38 pm 
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What are aranyaka practices?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:43 am 
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kirtu wrote:
What are aranyaka practices?

Kirt


"aranya" = "forest / wilderness", also "hermitage" for meditation. Derived from a term meaning alone, solitude, etc.

"aranya+ka" is the adj. form.

In other words, forest meditation, and possibly the 12/13 dhutangas, like only begging for food, three robes, never sitting down, etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:00 am 
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Quote:
"aranya" = "forest / wilderness", also "hermitage" for meditation. Derived from a term meaning alone, solitude, etc.

"aranya+ka" is the adj. form.


Is this Sanskrit or Pali? Looks like Pali but they are often so morphologically similar.

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In other words, forest meditation, and possibly the 12/13 dhutangas, like only begging for food, three robes, never sitting down, etc.


But both Mahayana and Theravadin practitioners do this. So what is the distinction?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:03 am 
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Most of the early Mahayana complaints are not about "Hinayana", but about bhiksu/nis or sravakas who spend too much time in associating with worldly things. The old distinction between the forest and village dwellers.

Much of monastic buddhism pre-Mahayana was just that, monastic. So, there was a bit of distance living in the forests. And, of course, you are correct, some other non-Mahayanist practitioners did this forest dwelling too.

So the distinction is one of a main monastery where bhiksu/nis belong to Nikayan school X. Associated with them are forest meditators, who are not Mahayanists. And also other forest meditators who are Mahayanist. The latter two groups are a definite minority. The latter Mahayanist forest meditators, while on one hand being associated with Nikayan school X through ordination, may often have some problems with the "institutionalized" aspects of the "monastery". eg. use and abuse of stupa and other relics as authority symbols; lack of spiritual practice; worldly activities such as money lending, farming, etc. But, during the first few centuries, seldom to the extent that they wish to leave Nikayan school X and set up on their own. They thus criticize those "sravakas" and "bhiksu/nis" as "fake", "false", etc.

That's my present, rather generalized take, at present.

(Pāli: arañña; Skt: araṇya. But there are other related words, too, eg. "non-dispute", and several different spellings either way.)

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:33 pm 
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Huifeng wrote:
Much of monastic buddhism pre-Mahayana was just that, monastic. So, there was a bit of distance living in the forests. And, of course, you are correct, some other non-Mahayanist practitioners did this forest dwelling too.


I'll add that even in later Mahayana in India the monasteries were still far away enough from the cities for solitude but close enough for alms and pilgrims.

Faxian in the early 5th century describes monasteries always being such and such a distance from a city gate. This is probably also due to the culture at the time where Brahmins and their traditions were well connected to the thrones.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:23 am 
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Let us remember that the attainment of full enlightenment is the same for both an Arahant and a Bodhisattva. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that a Theravadin Arahant live by the Bodhisattva ideal for the liberation of all other sentient beings. I've even known some who belong to the Theravada school to believe in literal rebirth rather than merely metaphorical.

In the end it is the individual and their intent that matters. The schools, indeed all of the teachings, are only guides.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:01 am 
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Stephen wrote:
Let us remember that the attainment of full enlightenment is the same for both an Arahant and a Bodhisattva.


Not for most Mahayana traditions, it isn't. Parts are the same, but parts are different. If the proto-Mahayanists thought they were the same, then there wouldn't be a Mahayana path at all.

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It is entirely within the realm of possibility that a Theravadin Arahant live by the Bodhisattva ideal for the liberation of all other sentient beings.


Sure, that's possible. This is because Theravada is a vada, and Mahayana is a yana. The two are not necessarily incompatible at all. The Theravada has it's own Mahayana path, called the "mahabodhiyana". But, by Mahayana standards, the only arahants would would have such a result, would be the buddha as arahant type.

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I've even known some who belong to the Theravada school to believe in literal rebirth rather than merely metaphorical.


Most Theravadins would take it as "literal", and not "merely metaphorical".

Quote:
In the end it is the individual and their intent that matters. The schools, indeed all of the teachings, are only guides.


Fair enough. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:06 pm 
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Huifeng, I'm probably not alone when I say that sometimes, I wish i could just download your brain onto a CD-rom or something.

Until then I guess I will just keep studying! :reading:

-M

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