types of Buddhism?

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Elizabeth May, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May New Member

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    I've read a lot of posts that there are different types of Buddhism. But what differences and types are actually around? And what is Zen? What's the difference between Buddhism from Nepal and other coutries like India and Malaysia? And is Biddha really worshipped as a God?
    Thanks, I've just got to ask because I'm very curious.
    :)
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Elizabeth May,

    thanks for the post.

    i shall have to be general when aswering your questions at this point... we can discuss particulars afterwards, if you'd like.

    there are three main Vehicles in Buddhism (vehicle is a way of saying "school") Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

    Hinyana, of which the Theravedan sect is extant, is known as the "lesser" vehicle. this is mainly due to it's concern with the monastic rather than the laiety.

    Mahayana, of which Zen is a sect of, is known as the "greater" vehicle. this is mainly due to it's concern with both the monastic and the laiety.

    Vajrayana, is known as the "diamond or adamentine" vehicle. this is maninly due to it's concerns with actualizing the full potential of buddha-hood in this life time.

    these three main schools of Buddhism hold sway in different areas.. Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, Sikkum and other Himalayan countries practice the Vajrayana school.

    Malaysia and the other S.E. Asian countries typically practice the Hinyana school, though that's not strictly the case.

    In India, Buddhism is virtually non-existent.. though since the Tibetan diaspora, that is changing.

    China, Japan, Korea and others practice the Mahayana school.

    Zen, is usally found in two flavors... Soto and Rinzai. Zen is the same sect as Ch'an... Zen is the Japanese name :) Zen is a Mahayana sect and as such, they practice according to the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma.

    the Buddha is not worshipped as a god, though that is sometimes difficult to tell since there are statues and so forth of him all over the temples and whatnot.

    the Buddha was a man, a normal human being, like you and i. and what he did, we can do as well. so... all the schools hold him in very high regard and, it should be noted, some people do worship Buddha.. though that is really more of a cultural thing than a teaching of Buddhism.

    i hope that this helps answer some of your questions.. if you have about the information presented here, or otherwise, please ask and i'll do my best to give you a reasonably intelligent answer.
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    This is interesting - I wouldn't mind seeing more about these two flavours of Zen in further posts. Do you think this is something that you could possibly cover - either here, or in a new thread?

    Btw - thanks for the post - very interesting reading for myself as well. :)
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste brian,

    i think that i could provide some generalized information about the two main sects and the little known sects as well.

    it's not a "problem" however, the posts on this site generally require more thought and depth... so... it will take me a few days to get this squared away :)
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    No problem - I appreciate any such efforts you make.
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    The two main Japanese branches are Rinzai and Soto. Rinzai involves contemplation of koans, while Soto is exclusively zazen i.e. 'just sitting'. Zazen is not meditation as it is commonly practiced. There is no 'trance-like state' or visualisation or absorbtion into anything in particular - it is a matter of sitting in correct posture while remaining fally alert, but not thinking or focussed on any particualar thing.

    Philosophical and metaphisical discussions are discouraged, as Zen is mainly practice oriented rather than intellectually oriented. Though discussion does abound on the Zen message boards.

    As means of Buddhist practice, Zen aims to rid people of categorical thoughts and illusions of self in order that enlightenment be 'experienced'. 'Small self' (the normal thinking, discursive intellect) is shed in order to abide in 'Buddha mind'. Paradoxically perhaps, while sitting there must be no thought or desire of gaining anything.

    Of course there is a hidden philosophy of Zen coming from Buddhism, which might be articulated (inaccurately) as including the following principles:
    reality is 'empty' (formless)
    the self is an illusion
    form is emptiness, emptiness is form

    By and large, all Zen monastaries chant the Heart Sutra on a daily basis. The Heart Sutra is a Sutra from the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The Heart Sutra forms the basis for the praxis.
     
  7. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    Chan

    ZEN FLOWER OF FIVE PETALS

    Hui Neng
    |
    Nan Yueh Qing Yuan
    | |
    Ma Zu Shi Tou
    | |
    Bai Zhang | |
    | | Yao Shan Tian Huang
    Wei Shan Huang Bo | | MY LINEAGE TREE GOT MESSED UP
    | | Yun Yan Long Tan DAMNIT!! sorry for the confusion
    Yang Shan Lin Ji | |
    (Wei Yang (Lin Ji-) Dong Shan Te Shan
    School) School) | |
    Cao Shan Xue Feng
    (Cao Dong | |
    School) Yun Men Yuan Sa
    (Yun Men |
    School) Luo Han
    |
    Qing Liang
    (Fa Yen School)


    "It is only a deluded mind that limits itself to a bodily prison. The aim of buddhism is to liberate the mind from this self-imposed prison which is the result of ignorance."

    Rinzai Zen

    Eisai Nyoan (Ming An Rong Xi in chinese, 1141-1215) first practised other forms of buddhism on Mount Hiei. He was determined to visit China to further his Buddhist studies. After studying with Xu An Huai Min of the Chinese Lin Ji School, Eisai returned to Japan in 1191 as an enlightened Zen master, and founded the Japanese Rinzai Zen. He first taught Zen at Kamakura, where he was supported by the ruling Shoguns, and where Zen became popular among the samurais. Later he also taught Zen at Kyoto, where he built the Kenninji Monastery.

    Two other great Rinzai masters were Takuan and Hakuin. Takuan (1573-1645) stressed that samsara is the same as nirvana, defilement the same as purity, and delusion the same as enlightenment. Their apparent difference is due to man's ignorance in mistaking phenomena for ultimate reality. His student, Yagyu Tajima no Kami, one of the greatest swordsmen Japan has produced, announced that the secret of his skill was his Zen training under Takuan.

    Hakuin (1686-1769) is sometimes called the father of modern Rinzai Zen, because most Rinzai masters today trace their genealogical line back to him. He rejected formalistic and intellectual Zen, and advised practitioners not to discriminate between active and quiescent Zen practice. Active practice refers to the spirit of Zen in the arts and daily living, and in the solving of Koans; quiescent practice is sitting meditation. Hakuin was not in favour of any syncretism between Zen and the practice of Amitabha-recitation (Nembutsu) of the Pure Land sect, although this was encouraged by many Lin Ji masters in China at this time.

    In his autobiographical writings Hakuin cites numerous cases when he thought he was enlightened, only to be shown otherwise by his teacher Shoju Etan(1642-1721). On one occasion he presented a verse to his teacher to show the insight he thought he had gained from his enlightenment. Holding the verse in his left hand and extending his right hand to Hakuin, the teacher said 'This is your intellectual insight; show me your intuitive insight!'
    Hakuin's favorite technique was meditating on Zhao Zhou's Mu. Zhao Zhou(Joshu in Japanese) was asked whether a dog had buddha nature. 'Wu,' the Chinese master replied. 'Wu' (meaning 'no') is 'mu' in Japanese. The problem was that in Zen philosophy, every being, including a dog, has Buddha nature. Why, then, did the master answer 'no'? This became a popular koan in Rinzai Zen.
    Hakuin's way to solve the problem of Zhao Zhou's Mu did not involve thinking about the koan in order to find a logical or illogical answer. His method was to enter into sitting meditation and visualize that from his abdomen down to his soles he was Zhao Zhou's Mu. In time his whole body was nothing but Mu. Then, in a flash of illumination, even Mu disappeared, and he experienced the cosmic void.

    Soto Zen

    Dogen Eihei (Rong Ping Dao Yuan in Chinese, 1200-53). In many ways Dogen was a complete contrast to Eisai, the founder of Rinzai Zen. Born to a noble family with an emperor as an ancestor on his father's side and a prime minister on his mother's, Dogen was highly educated with a deep knowledge of Chinese studies. He declined the chance to be groomed for high office and instead devoted himself to a life of spiritual development.
    In 1223 he went to China in search of Zen masters, but was deeply dissapointed not to find any. In 1225, just before he was thinking of returning home, he met the great master Ru Jing of the Cao Dong(tsao Tsung) School. During a meditation session, a classmate meditating beside Dogen dozed off. Their teacher Ru Jing reproached the dozing monk, exclaiming 'in Zen, body and mind are one. Why do you fall asleep?' Hearing this, Dogen suddenly attained awakening. Later on his enlightenemnt was confirmed by his teacher.

    The most significant difference between Dogen's and Eisai's teaching of Zen is in their approach to enlightenment. The latter's teaching, characteristic of Rinzai Zen, emphasized the use of koans while Dogen's teaching, characteristic of Soto Zen, paid great importance to zazen or sitting meditation.
    These two approaches are the principal ways of spiritual cultivation in Zen, and are known respectively in Chinese as gong-an-chan, or 'public-case-zen', and mo-zhao-chan, or 'silent-illuminating-Zen'.

    Dogen's greatest work is the Shobogenzo (Treasury of the Correct Dharma-Eye), the first comprehensive Buddhist philosophical work written in Japanese.

    exert from Shobogenzo- " The truth is that the benefits of one's own sustained exertion are shared by all beings in the ten quarters of the world. Others may not be aware of this, and we may not realize it, but it is so. It is through sustained exertions of the Buddhas and Patriarchs that our own exertions are made possible, that we are able to reach the high road of Truth. In exactly the same way it is through our own exertions that the exertions of the Buddhas are made possible, that the Buddhas attain the high road of Truth. Thus it is through our exertions that these benefits circulate in circles to others, and it is due only to this that the Buddhas and Patriarchs come and go, affirming Buddhas and negating Buddhas, attaining the Buddhamind and achieving Buddhahood, ceaselessly and without end. This exertion too sustains the sun, the moon, and the stars; it sustains the earth and sky, body and mind, object and subject, the four elements, and five compounds.

    just a little history i thought i might add to this thread for whomever wanted to read about it, exerts were chosen by me from "The complete book of Zen" by Wong Kiew Kit

    Amitabha
     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Excellent post, zazen - it's always nice to see the historical development of ideas in a contextual timeline. :)
     
  9. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Two types of Buddhism

    My own observation is that there are overwhelmingly two types of Buddhism, that of the elites and that of the masses.

    The Buddhists I have met in this website are the elites. What I have seen in real life are the masses.

    What’s their difference?

    Elites talk about the doctrines of Buddhism and engage in meditation and in working to arrive at Nirvana.

    Masses, they pray to Buddha and Buddhist deities or saints for all their needs, wants, and wishes. And they hope that in death they will get to the Buddhist heaven which is equivalent to the Christian heaven.

    Now, I have been to Buddhist temples/monasteries and have seen monks and nuns. These monks and nuns are I suppose elites, but they are not like your Westerner Buddhist elites as you read about like in this website. No, I have not so far met in person Westerner Buddhist enthusiasts like Vaj and Mong or Emong here. The Oriental ones they rather look very earthly and very carnal, not unlike your typical Roman Catholic friars.

    I guess they, the Oriental ones, do study their Buddhist texts and speculate and meditate and long for deliverance from suffering, and busy themselves with suppression of desires. But they just the same look so carnal and gross. But what is their real private persona?

    Make a visit to a temple/monastery of Buddhist monks. In one monastery I have seen monks and nuns living together. Maybe not really living together. What I have seen in the quarters where outsiders have access to are some monks and some nuns. They still look carnal and gross, every earthly and this-worldy. I will never forget the Buddhist nun with trimmed eye-brows.

    They engage in long funereal chanting for the dead, interrupted with breaks for meals, when you can help yourself to the veggie menu, made to look and taste like genuine fish, and pork, and beef. Then there are processions within the monastery compound, everyone reciting the name of Buddha: Amitabha, Amitabha, Amitabha, Amitabha . . . endlessly.

    No, no, no, I don't censure at all their lifestyle and their philosophy/religion. It’s just that I expected more from them in terms of looking like guys exuding a spiritual or detached demeanor from the world of flesh and blood.

    The Buddhism that is talked about here in this website and in most accounts is text-bound. If you want to know the Buddhism that is lived by elites and masses in real life, I suspect if you succeed in signing up to join the entourage of Dalai Lama, you might see the real McCoy of Buddhism in situ.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  10. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    Satori

    allow me to give my humble oppinion here..

    "Masses, they pray to Buddha and Buddhist deities or saints for all their needs, wants, and wishes. And they hope that in death they will get to the Buddhist heaven which is equivalent to the Christian heaven."

    this imho is incorrect, in that the "christian heaven" is no different then nirvana

    returning to gods kingdom is how christians commonly reffer to the "ultimate goal" of their faith respectively, but just because there is a lack of understanding of this term doesnt mean we should just interpret it however we like..as you see here..

    to a buddhist, or a taoist, or a hindui, or a muslim "returning to gods kingdom" is the same as saying, entering parinirvana, merging with the tao or great void, merging with krishnaconciousness or returning to gods kingdom once again, they are all just words that are used to express a meaning which all great religions usually expound in different ways

    the buddha realised this, he realised people are different and therefore they will need different vehicles to attain nirvana, or as the japanese say satori..i hope you see what i mean, and im not trying to force anything on you its just my oppinion


    and on a seperate note...i dunno what temples your visiting but id steer clear of the ones you described below, you obviously had a bad impression of them anyway

    as for your classification of buddhishts, well there actually is a classification for buddhists set forth by the buddha, there are those who practice whats called "patriarch buddhism" and the other isnt coming to mind right now, but they are like for different types of buddhists, different mindsets of people really..ill fill in the blank later, or someone else might..

    amitabha
     
  11. sjr

    sjr New Member

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    I always thought that the masses(ones who practice meditative diciplines)are experiencing the same thing, and the elites are the ones arguing doctrine.I have been to the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center many times,and have never observed an Elite/Masses conspiracy.Jakusho Kwong enlightened smile is as awe inspiring as Mathew Foxes.
     
  12. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Mental hairsplitting?

    All that is very good, about Nirvana not being heaven of the Christians, and other doctrinaires' subtleties of the mind, among themselves.

    As with Roman Catholics, their theologians are endlessly arguing about Trinity and divinity and unity of the Son in Jesus Christ. But for the 99% of Roman Catholics it's all about Mama Maria and Infant Jesus and Novennas.

    So also with the 99% who are labeled Buddhists. Go live in a Buddhist community, and see for yourself.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  13. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    89% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

    :D
     
  14. LittleLotus

    LittleLotus New Member

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    u made that up too didnt u? lol
     
  15. LittleLotus

    LittleLotus New Member

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    so let me get this right mahayana is more for those who are buddhist but dont want to or cant become monks/nuns? is mahayana more about others and a sense of community then a personal journey towards enlightenment? and is mahayana considered to be less spiritual and less socially significant because of the direct cultural connection that theravarden buddhism has to buddha himself? Pali?
     
  16. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Knowledge from reading and from acquaintance

    My apprehension is that a lot of our knowledge of Buddhism is founded upon texts. Do we have people who have lived among Buddhist men and women, children and grown-ups, housewives and fishmongers, businessmen and politicians, learned and ignorant practitioners, professionals and common laborers, in a Buddhist community with hundreds of years of Buddhist tradition?

    These are the ones who can give us authentic intimation of Buddhism, this school and that school, from their prolonged acquaintance in real life situations living among Buddhists.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Susma,

    yes, we do have those things. Generally speaking, the West doesn't have that sort of thing since Buddhism is fairly new here... however, in countries like Benegal, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Tibet, Mongolia et al, there are Buddhist communities that have been in existence since before the time of Christ and continue to this day.

    in the West, a lot of information is being transmitted and the most reliable way is to commit it to writing. Western minds think differently and thus Buddhism is undergoing a change as it moves into Western society.

    some of the traditional teachers from the Eastern countries are rather confounded about how to incorporate traditional praxis into modern society. it's proving to be a challenge thus far. here in the west, we just don't seem to have the time or the luxury to not work for any extended period of time.
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste littlelotus,

    thanks for the post.

    generally speaking, yes, that is correct. The Hinyana path is an individual path of liberation with the end goal, ostensibly, being that of an Arhat or Foe Destroyer.

    the Mahayana path, by contrast, is a path that emphasizes the path of liberation by working towards helping other sentient beings. Basically, they reason that it is the generation of Bodichitta or the "heart of compassion" is what is required to deliver one into the final Nirvana.

    by the by.. alot of this is quite technical and of little bearing on actual practice as the Arhats perception of emptiness is as equally profound as the Bodhisattvas. again, technically speaking, the Arhat realizations correspond with the first 6 levels of the Bodhisattva realizations. Bodhisattvas, however, have 10 progressively subtle levels of realization.

    there are some adherents that disparage either lineage, depending on their school. this is lamentable but seemingly inline with human nature. the typical polemics would revolve around the Mahayana's Sutras and Abidharma whereas the polemics that target the Hinyana main focus on the individual nature of their practice.

    personally, these are the main reasons that kept me from accepting Buddhism much earlier in my life. fortunately for me, i explored the tradition further and found the Vajrayana.

    we can sum up the differences betwixt all three schools with an exploration of one subject, shunyata or "emptiness." the three schools correspond with a progressively more subtle understanding of shunyata. the Hinyana assert an "emptiness" of persons but not phenomena. the Mahayana assert an "emptiness" of persons and phenomena and the Vajrayana supports this Mahayana veiw but expands on it to include the entire nature of perceptions, thought formations, feelings et al.

    if i have the opportunity to do so, i'm planning to post a brief exposition of the 4 schools of Buddhist philosophy, which is where the main differences arise. that may shed more light upon the issue.
     
  19. LittleLotus

    LittleLotus New Member

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    thanks man.
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    no worries :)
     

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