Theravada Buddhism

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Pathless, May 4, 2004.

  1. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Vapour,

    thank you for the post.

    fair enough.... let's talk about the language of the Mahayana.


    what language was the Mahayana originally written in? what is Pali? what is Sanskrit? i'm asking what type of languages are these two, specifically?

    did you read the article?

    this is the salient point:

    Who were the opponents who were labeled Hinayana? Theravada? Probably not.

    every school of the Hinyana is gone. the only school that is even remotely related in the Theravedan school... and Theravedan is the Teachings of the Elders, which is only a Hinyana school in the loosest sense.

    nevertheless, those are sanskrit and pali terms, and for most english speakers, the subtlties are simply not there and they do not view them in a derogatory manner, unless their particular teacher does.

    do you know who Robert Thurman is? in any event, he's chosen to represent the three Vehicles with the western words: orthodox, messianic and apocalyptic. which may be better terms for describing the Vehicles in the west.

    of course not. which is why we call the school, Theravedan. we call the Vehicle Hinyana. however, if one thinks that they are practicing one Vehicle at a time, they are mistaken, from our point of view.

    it's like trying to build a house without a foundation... it simply cannot be done.
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste vapour,

    thank you for the post.

    of course not. that would be like asking a particle physist to explain quantum theory.. to different disciplines and perspectives.

    as the orthodox view, the Theraveda position is clear. what's the problem? 84,000 Dharma doorways, remember?

    as Avinash asked, are you referrring to the Western Buddhist Order?

    of course they do :) why would you expect otherwise? people are people, regardless of the religious path that they practice, as such, they are all of differing capacities and respond to the Dharma as they are able.

    the Tibetan Vajrayana position is well known in these respects, however, i would like to point out that often it will depend on the lineage of the Tibetan school on how they relate to other non-Vajrayana schools.

    nevertheless, i cannot emphasize enough that the primary differences in these approaches are found in the Abidharma section of the Canon and how they are interepeted.
     
  3. samabudhi

    samabudhi Well-Known Member

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    So what's your agenda Vapour?

    Where do you stand in all of this (are you Buddhist?) and why are you so keen to see conflict where there is none?
     
  4. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    Theravadan scriptures are in Pali and Mahayanan scriptures are in Sanskrit. Both are close dialect. That is why lot of words overlap. On the other hand, Buddah spoke another dialect. Can't remember what it was called. Start with M, I think. Can you google? :)

    As of historical accuracy of connecting Theravadan school as Hinayana school, I think your argument works if there was a mix up in the identity but that is not the case. It is most apparent when reading the content of Mahayanan writing which often accuse of Arahat of being narrow minded, selfish and in certain sutras, unable to attain nirvana. Not only the current Theravadan school consider Arahat as the living embodiment of enlightment, it trace lineage to one of the school which was included in Hinayana. So yes. Hinayana refert to Theravada school as well as whole other schools which didn't survive. Most importantly, Theravadan identify their doctrine and lineage as such. Most Mahayanan school recognise Theravadan lineage to be such as well. So the response Tibetan teachers give to this issue is puzzle to anyone who know even elementary knowlege of Buddhism like myself. I mean, it is not possible for these people to be unaware of the whole issue. It is like Catholic priest not knowing the issue of "Great Schism".

    Possibly in Tibetan translation of hina, derogetory connotation is less pronounced. For example, Japanese/Chinese translation of hina, they have picked the word "small" with no other derogetory meaning. The word simply means small. However, the numerous paragraph in Mahayanan writing make it clear that small vehicle is inferior approach to buddhism. Plus, implication of small vehicle is insulting enough.

    Another hypothesis I could think is the particular nature of Tibetan buddhism. I'm quite eanger to hear your opinion on this. Unlike other Mahayanan lineage in Far East, Tibetan took approach to synthesis Theravadan, Mahayanan and Tantric tradition. Far Easter Mahayanan tradition, on the other hand, moved on from this issue. I mean the issue is nearly 2000 years old and Far Eastern Buddhism rarely came into contact with Theravadan tradition which survived in Sri Lanka, only later transmitted to South East Asia. They had other sectarian disputes during this two thousands years. It hardly make sence deal with this issue when there is no one else to dispute the issue with. This may explain why in late 19th century, many Mahayanan school start to rediscover Pali tripitaka with little problem. But within Tibetan tradition, the theological reasoning in which the dispute has been harmonised within the three wheel system is integral to Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, in this way, the issue is alive as 2000 years ago. While most other Mahayanan tradition has no trouble saying "Opps, yes, this is embarassing. Let change the name and move on.", it may not be simple in Tibetan tradition.

    I have a friends who has attended a Tibetan Buddhism event in Scotland with Dalai Lama and other high ranking lamas giving seminar. There are few aspect of the seminar which did catch my attention. Firstly, Dalai Lama apparently spent great deal of first few hours establishing the Mahayanan lineage of Tibetan school. Secondly, he spend another few hours discussing apparent philosophical problem in Pali cannons and how Mahayanan tradition has sloved this problem. It caught my attention because it was odd topics (from Oriental Mahayanan perspective) to discuss.

    Lastly, yes, in English the word Hinayana doesn't sound as bad as N word because most westerners are not aware of Buddhism. May be if I use N word in Japanese, it is not too bad either. However, if you are buddhist, it would be naive to proclaim the ignonrance as a defence. Lastly, the popularity of the three wheel idea is most popular in the west because Tibettan Buddhism happen to be the most prominent buddhist school in the West. To Theravadan school, invoking the concept of vehicle/wheel itself would be same as invoking an issue which is solely matter of Mahayanan polemic against them. As I said, there is no problem to use the concept of three wheel to explain the Tibetan system. It is not at all accurate or appropriate to use such concept to describe Theravadan buddhism. I mean, one thing I can say about three wheel approach is that this totally ignore the evolution of Theravadan Buddhism since the split.
     
  5. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    Say I'm not a practicing Buddhist. :D oh, I also happen to be the treasurer of buddhist society in my university. I don't attend any of their religious event such as meditation or seminar which is popular with British. Instead I organise their social events which is popular with buddhist from buddhist country. The last curry night event I organise, we enjoy water pipe as well as bit of boozing. The chair of the society didn't like that too much. :D

    As of "new Buddhist organisation", yes, I meant FWBO. After typing that comment, I did realise that I shouldn't have. Hence my previous link. I mean, there is a good chance that we may get a FWBO member in our forum. Plus, any discussion dealing with FWBO would raise issue such as cult/legitimacy/authenticity, not something helpful to the atomosphere of this forum. I mean we even treat our new Neo nazi guy with courtesy. Compared to the issue sorruoudin Holocaust, issue sourroudning Denis Longwood is tiny in my view.
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    There's a big different between believing and doing - that's a point that is emphasised in the inclusivity of CR. Ultimately, it's not what a person believes in, but simply how they behave at CR that is the most important aspect of keeping a strong community. :)
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Vapour,

    thank you for the post.

    Pali is a pankrit of Sanskrit as are all the dialetcs of India spoken during the historical Buddhas time. the best guess is that he spoke Mugalai or some derivative thereof, however, it is a guess and we do not know for certain.



    can you cite a Sutra reference for this assertion?

    here's where you and i are having difficulties. i've quoted at least 4 Pali Tipitaka suttas that support my assertion that the Bodhisattva path is taught in the Theravedan school and, further, is considered to be a higher path. i've supported this assertion with Sutta references, not commentary.

    you've chosen to either ignore those or you do not consider them to be valid points, irrespective of the Sutta content. in either case, i would really appreciate it if you would address those points.

    the best information that we have today leads us to the conclusion that there were up to 18 different schools of the orthodoxy until the arising of the messianic branch. if you know from which, specific, school Thereaveda is derived, please share as i would like to learn.

    i don't follow you here, can you elaborate?

    what is your native language? do you speak Tibetan or Chinese? it's important to understand the cultural aspects of the use of a word before deciding upon it's meaning, if one is not a native speaker.

    hmmm.. and yet... you've gone to great lenghts in other posts to state, without equivication, that all Mahayana and Vajrayana adherents view the Thereavedan school in a derogatory manner... and now, you're saying that, perhaps the Tibetans don't mean it like that... which is what i've been telling you all this time. hopefully, this is the beginning of a good and productive dialog now that we've established the Vajrayana, at least as it is known in Tibet, does not view the Hinyana as somehow non-Buddhist or as an inferior path.

    why.. is there something wrong with being small? nevertheless, the point of the term, as it is understood in the Vajrayana of Tibet, means that this view of the teachings is appropos for a smaller number of beings, specifically, monastics.

    are you referring to commentaries on the Mahayana sutras or the actual Sutras themselves?

    fair enough. why do you think this? do you have any Tibetan Vajrayana sources that indicate this to be so?

    you do realize that the Mahayana Tiptaka contains the entire Pali canon, do you not?

    this ought to be interesting. which, specific, theological reason is the reason for the teaching of the three yanas (which i presume that you are meaning by the term "wheel". however, if you do not mean "yana" by that term, then i'm not sure what you mean)? and why is this reason integral to Vajaryana Buddhism?

    why would you say this?

    ok. so far so good. it's not an odd topic at all, from the Tibetan Vajrayana perspective. they tend to be a more philosophically oriented people thus, they spend a great deal of time studying the different philosophical positions of the Buddhist schools.

    we must be clear, however, that not all Tibetans adhere to the same lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism.. which means, essentially, that they don't all practice the same philosophical view of HH the Dalai Lama, which is the Madyamika-Prasangkia school. others may hold the view of the Yogacharins.


    come on.. most western folks have heard of Buddhism. where are you getting this?

    says you :)

    again.. why would you say this? do you have any type of stastical data to support this assertion?
     
  8. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I can't believe the thread about Theravadan Buddhism turned into an issue which is dead way more than 1000 years ago. I will get back to you but you know, IMO, when replies (mine and yours) start contain more than three paragraphs, it is a sign that the entire thread is going nowhere.

    Anyway, it is a poor thread for the introduction to Theravada.
     
  9. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, Mahayana's polemic against Hinayana school is found in various sutras. Most prominent one in Lotus Sutras, arguably one of the most important sutras in Mahayana.

    Secondly, I have also told you that Theravadan school recognise boddhisatva (bodhi=eniglightenement sattva=someone who strugle/aspire). However, unlike Mahayanan school which has expanded lietarature regarding the teaching of Boddhisatva, Theravadan school only accept Pali Cannons. For this reason, Theravadan Dharma come from teaching of historic Buddah recorded in Pali Cannons. For them they accept the existence of boddhisatva, but he is not used as the source of interpretation of Dharma.

    "So yes. Hinayana refert to Theravada school as well as whole other schools which didn't survive. Most importantly, Theravadan identify their doctrine and lineage as such. Most Mahayanan school recognise Theravadan lineage to be such as well." - I will explain this part later.

    As of my language, Japanese Buddhist mainly used Chinese sutras until quite recently. And japanese recognise Chinese character. Most of Far Eastern buddhist terms are in Chinese character. I often recognise English/sanskri/pali words for buddhist concept only when it is written in chinese character which is consequently japanese. When it is in extremly obscure buddhist concept, I would go :confused: but this would be no different if I'm a chinese.

    As of Tibetan not regarding Hinayanan in derogetory term, well, this goes same for the majority of *current* Mahayanan schools as well. However, writing in Mahayanan sutras do have sizable polemic against Mahayanan school. Now, I will give benefit of doubt about the possibility that Tibetan reinterpretated or rejected that part of Mahayana sutras. However, idea that they weren't aware of the existence of such polemic is just really far fetched. Plus, I would be suprise if Tibetan monks are ignorant of implication of hina in sanskrit as well as in term of sanskrit usage of hina in Mahayanan sutras.

    As of "Mahayana Tiptaka contains the entire Pali canon", this is not accurate. Far Eastern Mahayanan contain Tipitaka but not the one in Pali. Most are in Chinese translated from Sanskrit. Far Eastern Mahayana started to study Pali version of Tipiktaka only at the end of 19th century.

    Lastly, as far as I'm aware, Hinayana is pretty much universeally dropped as the usage to denote Theravadan school in public. I really can't belive that I have to debate this.

    The next comment is a based on material from Japanese. So take it for what is worth.
     
  10. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    This is more or less based on secular historical/anthorogical study based on Japanese material. So take it for what is worth.

    Basically, after the dispute arose in regard to monastic rules, Buddhism split between Sthaviravādin and Mahāsanghika schools and soon more division is to follow. It is said that Sthaviravādin division is split into 11 school and Mahāsanghika division is split into 9 school. The current Theravadan tradition is said to trace it's origin to Sthaviranvadin school due to it's strict adherence to monastic rules. Which Sthaviranvadin school Theravadan trace lineage to, can't be said because number of several of Sthaviranvadin school and doctrine were transmitted to South. Anyway, the main point is that most dispute is mainly about the practice of monastic rules not the type of doctrinal/philosophical dispute which is characteristic of Mahayana and Hinayana dispute.

    The thing is that Mahayana school arise separate from this movement. Basically, due to the popularisation of Buddhism, many lays people start to develope their own practice, the most important one being paying respect to shrine of Buddah which contain his bonnes. In there, there emerge monks who explain the story of Buddah based on drawing on the wall of these shrine. The current understanding is that from the lays practice of buddhism emerge the idea that even lays people could attain englightment if they live the life as in Buddah (i.e. Boddhisatva). It is also speculated that this is the point where many indain mythological hero has been added as the previous reincarnation of Buddah. At the same time there is a change in sangah side. Because the different cannons has been passed on to different school, it become necceasily to compare and consolidate different cannons. At this point, due to the need to perform editoral activity to compile cannons under different theme, the taboo of preservaing the cannonical accuracy was broked. This will open the way to compile completey new cannons under Mahayanan Tradition, the first cannons to survive this being Prajnaparamita sutras complied by Nāgārjuna.

    To cut the story short, mahayanan schools is said to origniate from the lays practice and those monks who taught these lays. Obviously, their claim that even lays could attain englitenment are regarded with disdain by with previous schools, in which current surviving Theravadan school trace it's lineage. When Mahayanan raise polemic against Hinayanan, it is basically railing against all those schools who objected to their view. So yes, Mahayanan polemic agains hinayanan school is directed against current Theravadan school because it still claim that you have to be monks to attain enlightment.
     
  11. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Vapour,


    thank you for the post.

    please present Sutta or Sutra references for your assertions. as it stands, you've offered your considered opinion on these issues, however, you have not established these as actual teachings.

    quite obviously, the Pali canon is translated into the languages that the Mahayana schools speak.:confused: the entire Pali canon is translated into Tibetan and Chinese to form the basis of the Mahayana canons that are extant. Mahayana Buddhism changes the Sutras to the language of the people whom are being addressed, it does not insist on reading them in Pali.

    nevertheles, a good introduction to the Theravedan Buddhist tradition can be found at www.buddhanet.net

    they also have a decent area explaining the Mahayana and Vajrayana.
     
  12. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    http://www.gileht.com/Vimalakirti/vimlkrti.htm

    Go to Edit section of your browser menu and use "Find in this Page" with "Hina"

    Plus as I keep repeating this point, using the term "hina" is insulting enough. Calling someone N***** doesn't mean you are only making reference to someone being of African decent. As I have shown, hina doesn't just mean small. I have already given you the lingustic as well as scriptural refernces for the meaning of hina.
     
  13. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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  14. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    As of

    "quite obviously, the Pali canon is translated into the languages that the Mahayana schools speak."

    On this, I could be quite wrong. However, for what I know, there are Sanskrit version of Tripitaka and Pali version which is Tipitaka. And they are not the same. Tripitaka is merely a name to categorise Buddhist sutra into three basket, in Japanese we say Ritu, Kei Ron. I don't know English translation. May be Dicipline, Doctrine, Discourse?

    As far as Far Eastern Mahayanan goes, they relied on Norther Tradition. Consequently, the sutras which were transmitted were written in Sanskrit. Oriental Mahayana sort of *discover* Pali Cannons in late 19th century especially in Japan partially aided by the establishment of Indian Philosophy study in all 7 Imperial Universities. The Japanese translation of Pali cannon start to emerge somewhere in 1930 to 1940.

    I have no idea what was happening in place like Mahayanan Vietnam which has border with theravadan Thailand.

    I assumed that Tibet which also belong to Northern Tradition has only Sanskrit version of Tripitaka. If that is not the case, let me know.
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Vapour,

    thank you for the post.

    what you've shown is that the root sanskrit term, hina, has a variety of meanings. you've not shown that the perfered meaning is derogatory, in my view.

    though, of course, some people will view it as such. for instance, you seem to be one of those folks, for some reason. other people, like myself, for instance, do not view the term in this fashion.

    so.. what we really have is a word with differing meanings that is dependent on the context of it's usage and the varying levels of understanding that the reader has.

    you can choose to hold the view that all who use the term mean it in a derogatory manner, that is up to you. however, you should be aware that this view is not shared by all Buddhists.
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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  17. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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  18. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    As of hinayana, this word cannot simply mean small or lesser vehicle. I have never came across any academic writing in sanskrit or pali linguistic which says otherwise. For non derogetory usage of small, there is a word "Cuula" which means just "small". The use of N word can be non offensive if used as a reference, however, this cannot alter the fact that N word is a derogetory word.

    This is a view accepted by all buddhist except, it appear, Tibetan. What kind of doctrinal issue which cause this, I don't know. I could only guess that Tibetan eqivelant of hinayana, T'eg sMad is not derogetory and simply mean small or lesser. This would be the case with Chinese and consequently Japanese or Korean as well. "小" can only mean "small" as chinese did not have a charcacter which can express small and inferior simulataneously, which the correct translation would have required. However, the context in which the word "小乗" was used in number of sutras made it clear that it was meant to be inferior.

    Now, I don't expect every Tibetan teachers to be fuluent in sanskrit however, I expect sizable proportion of them have basic comprehension of written sanskrit. And I'm quite sure that every one of them have read Lotus Sutra and Vimalakirti Sutra at least in Tibettan translation as both are such a fundamental part of Northern transmission. Possibly, it was declared in the latter revealed/inspired Tibetan sutras that one cannot associate T'eg sMad as inferior. However, to impose Tibetan word T'eg sMad into Sanskirit term would be bit silly in my opinion.

    Anyway, if you ever come across any academic paper in pali/sanskrit study which state that hinayana isn't a derogetory word, let me know. Also, I would hope that you refrain from careless usage of this word as this is not a forum exclusively for Tibetan buddhism and certain etiquet for other faith is obligatory.
     
  19. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Vapour,

    thank you for the post.

    LOL.. in Pali.. :)

    the academic works in this regard are in Tibetan and Chinese, which you admit do not use the term Hinyana in a derogatory manner.

    a good english text that you may find to be of value is called "Meeting the Buddha" by Vessantara.

    if it makes you happy, i'll refer to the Theravedan school as Orthodox. :)

    though... again... since you aren't a Buddhist of any sort... i'm unclear on your insistence that we agree to your views regarding this issue.
     
  20. Vapour

    Vapour Well-Known Member

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    hinayana is not Tibetan or Chinese but sanskrit. :D If you prefer to avoid offence but still wish to maintain whatever the doctrine of Tibetan buddhism, you might want to use "T'eg sMad" from now on.

    As of Oriental Buddhism where Chinese is the standard language, I understand Chinese character so I can at least legitimately comment on the meaning of "小". I'm also aware of general polemic against hinayana in Mahayanan sutras. And for this reason, the Chinese translation of "Hinayana" has been droped to describe the current Theravadan tradition.

    On the other hand, I don't know what is your level of comprehension of Tibetan. I merely hypothesised that "T'eg sMad" at least in linguistic term is similar to Chinese. I didn't say it is not derogetory. I merely alluded to that possiblity. On top of that I certainly have no idea how Tibetan got around the problems of polemic against hinayanan path in Mahayanan sutras.

    I certainly don't expect Tibetan teachers to blatantly lie on this matter, so I expect that they have somewhat got around to this problem by either reinterpretating Mahayana sutras, or possibly Tibetan's own revealed sutras has overwritten that particular section of Mahayana sutra as invalid. Either way, at least some form of commentaries must be left in Tibettan buddhist literature. Without it, I don't see how they can claim tibetan translation of "hinayana" to be non derogetory never mind sanskrit hinayana.

    If you can read Tibettan commentry or have access to English translation of it, I would appreciate if you can post it here.
     

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