Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in attainment?

End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in attainment?

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Some people who post here and elsewhere seem to take it as fact or likely fact that Mahayana variants of Buddhism lead to a different and in some sense superior attainment than pre-Mahayana variants; or, Mahayana variants lead to a way of seeing things that demonstrates that the pre-Mahayana attainments are not really so good or so ultimate after all.

By contrast, here is an except from the Lotus Sutra (a major Mahayana sutra) which seems to indicate that different forms of Buddhist practice lead to the very same attainment, and the pre-Mahayana practice aiming at arahantship is not leading to something inferior, but leading to the very same thing, which is simply mis-described out of a concern for skillful means.

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/bdoor/0112/sources/lotus7_p1.htm

I admit to being very ill-informed concerning all of this. However, I can't help but wonder:

1) Where does the belief that Mahayana attainments (etc.) are better than non-Mahayana attainments come from?
2) How prevalent is it, in actuality, among different groups, historically and currently?

My intuition is that some of the case for this belief, on this and related message boards, comes from Kenneth Folk's past influential claim that the four paths described in MCTB and elsewhere are as far as Theravada Buddhism goes, whereas "rigpa", a superior attainment that is quite separate from the four paths, is understood only in Mahayana / Vajrayana / Advaita (etc.) circles (perhaps with a few exceptions). But, I presume that that's not nearly the whole story with respect to its origin.

I would welcome any attempt to shed light on this issue in context of the various historical forms of Buddhism.
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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I have no idea about the historical basis for any of this stuff, but there's an interesting parallel, to me anyway, between the different "vehicles" of Buddhism and the Alchemical process of repeated "purification" of the 'base metal' to produce 'gold'; put crudely, it'd be something like "rinse and repeat" until perfection/whatever is achieved. I've wondered whether or not the progression through Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana actually presents a comprehensive process of stripping perception back until no further ignorance remains?

Just an idea, apologies if it's somewhat off-topic... emoticon

Btw, I'll mail you later to sort out a chat.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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The Mahayana scriptures I've read seem incredibly tedious to me so I can't tell you much about them, but I am pretty sure you will not find a convincing argument there for why Mahayana is better. That would have to be based in personal experience. I do read the Pali scriptures, though, and find a lot of inspiration there.

My impression is that Mahayana schools tend to put a slightly greater emphasis on making all of conventional life part of practice, whereas Theravada tends to focus slightly more on practice on the mat. There are advantages to both slants, and we are very fortunate to live in a time and place when it is easy to move between them as it suits our current circumstances. I don't know whether there is any scriptural basis for this slant (even the empirical basis of my impression is hard to clarify.)

A few years ago in the livejournal Buddhists community, there was an extremely thoroughly trained and thoughtful Tibetan practitioner claiming that Tibetan practice is the most complete and any honest Theravadin practitioner who understood the difference would admit this. While I had tremendous respect for him, the apparent supremacism of this view repelled me, so I didn't pin him down on the specific differences which make it more complete. He might still be around, though. But I'm sure his answer wouldn't be based in scripture.
Cloud A Vitale, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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I would think the Tibetan practices would be more complete simply because they came later and include and are mostly aware of all the aspects of the Theravada practices whereas you cannot say the same vice versa. Theravada practices can lead to the same results as the Tibetans, but the likelihood of this happening is probably slimmer without the additional Tibetan teachings that came later. People in this day and age cannot argue otherwise unless they live under a dharma rock and are completely unaware of any conceptual frameworks outside of the pali canon and the three characteristics.
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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This is a great book comparing theravadan and dzogchen. But is dzogchen a part of mahayana?


Small Boat, Great MountainTheravādan Reflections on The Natural Great PerfectionAjahn Amaro


http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/book/138
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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Nikolai .:
This is a great book comparing theravadan and dzogchen. But is dzogchen a part of mahayana?
From one perspective, it is the 9th yana of the 9 yanas scheme, it sees itself as superior to hinayana or common mahayana or tantric transformation ways. From another perspective, Dzogchen claims itself to transcend the 9 yana scheme of Hinayana, Mahayana, Tantra, etc. It sets itself up as an independent. Some people even see Dzogchen as independent of Buddhism (they say Christians can practice it, Bon itself had Dzogchen before Buddhism came in, etc).

For myself, I do not see 'superiority/inferiority'. In fact, I find Dzogchen lacking in certain aspect (what Thusness calls 'Maha') that Soto Zen fills in, and Soto Zen may be lacking certain aspect that Dzogchen/Mahamudra may have (i.e. the empty nature self-liberates). Mentioned this before.

I like what Dogen says:

"A Buddhist should neither argue superiority or inferiority of doctrines, nor settle disputes over depth or shallowness or teachings, but only be mindful of authenticity or inauthenticity of practice."
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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Cloud A Vitale:
I would think the Tibetan practices would be more complete simply because they came later and include and are mostly aware of all the aspects of the Theravada practices whereas you cannot say the same vice versa. Theravada practices can lead to the same results as the Tibetans, but the likelihood of this happening is probably slimmer without the additional Tibetan teachings that came later. People in this day and age cannot argue otherwise unless they live under a dharma rock and are completely unaware of any conceptual frameworks outside of the pali canon and the three characteristics.


I'm not sure that conceiving of traditions in this way (in terms of what methods they are familiar with) is the most accurate way to get at the answer to the question, "what tradition is most effective?" For example, I've read that in some Tibetan traditions, you have to do 100,000 prostrations before receiving some special teachings. Is 100,000 prostrations more effective than formal meditation? What if you hurt yourself by prostration #5831 and need time to recover? Would you have been better off if you had just been sitting on a cushion?

In any case, I'd like to sidestep the question of "what is more effective?" (which I doubt can be resolved through conversation on a forum, especially in light of the fact that different practitioners have different strengths and weaknesses and inclinations) and simply stick with the issue of what the scriptural basis is (if any) for the claim that Mahayana practices lead to different things than pre-Mahayana practices.
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. Jake ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:


In any case, I'd like to sidestep the question of "what is more effective?" (which I doubt can be resolved through conversation on a forum, especially in light of the fact that different practitioners have different strengths and weaknesses and inclinations) and simply stick with the issue of what the scriptural basis is (if any) for the claim that Mahayana practices lead to different things than pre-Mahayana practices.


The tough thing here is that any 'scriptural basis' for such a claim will clearly be coming from the later scriptures, right? Well, on the other hand, there are some things in the Nikayas that clearly suggest some things that are more emphasized in later Buddhist cultural movements. But at any rate this probably makes the point I'm trying to make, which is that looking for a 'scriptural basis' seems not particularly useful.

Might there be a better way to ask the question?

Or what is the purpose of asking the question of a scriptural basis? I understand from your initial post that you think the goal of mahayana practice is the same as the goal of theravada, just articulated in a different style, right? Or wrong? Sounds like you are basically saying in the OP that there is a 'scriptural basis' for the notion that the goals of mahayana and theravada are the same. Is this correct? Or am I just too tired to follow all this stuff after a long day at work? ;)
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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. Jake .:
The tough thing here is that any 'scriptural basis' for such a claim will clearly be coming from the later scriptures, right?


If you mean "from Mahayana sutras [instead of from the Pali]", then yes...and, that's what I'm interested in seeing.

If you mean "from later Mahayana sutras [rather than earlier]", I have no idea; I'm not well informed enough.

Or what is the purpose of asking the question of a scriptural basis?


I'd just like to know whether it's an orthodox Mahayana belief or not, when it originated, which Mahayana traditions accept it and which don't, etc. I see it alluded to or taken as likely often enough around here that I became interested in figuring out what the source was; something traditional, something modern, something para-doctrinal, whatever.

I understand from your initial post that you think the goal of mahayana practice is the same as the goal of theravada, just articulated in a different style, right? Or wrong? Sounds like you are basically saying in the OP that there is a 'scriptural basis' for the notion that the goals of mahayana and theravada are the same. Is this correct? Or am I just too tired to follow all this stuff after a long day at work? ;)


In the OP I read that excerpt of the Lotus Sutra as saying that the end result is the same.

I do think the end result is likely to be the same, but merely on the basis of my own experiences and understanding, and definitely not on the basis of being an authority on Mahayana anything.

Whether or not the end result is the same, it's still an open question as to whether the belief that there is a difference in result is doctrinal or not, where it came from, etc. which is the thing I hoped would be addressed. I'm more interested in hearing something like "this belief is found in sutras X, Y, and Z and is common in schools A and B, but not C," and less interested in talking about what I think of the Lotus Sutra or what I think of different methods of practice.
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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It also seems reasonable to expand the scope of inquiry to Vajrayana forms of Buddhism too, if it doesn't make things too unwieldy.
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Jeff Grove, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:
For example, I've read that in some Tibetan traditions, you have to do 100,000 prostrations before receiving some special teachings. Is 100,000 prostrations more effective than formal meditation?.



This is a form of qigong which prepares the body for the energetic pratices in the Tibetan Traditions and if done the practitioner will likely reap the benifits that they have sowed

There are practices that work on purifying the mind first then the body or the body first then the mind

In the Theravarden tradition you have walking meditation and I would bet that if you delved into the more obscure forms of Theravarden you would find similar energetic practices. Look at the Thai traditions and you will find mystical/magical influences
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. Jake ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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Jeff Grove:
End in Sight:
For example, I've read that in some Tibetan traditions, you have to do 100,000 prostrations before receiving some special teachings. Is 100,000 prostrations more effective than formal meditation?.



This is a form of qigong which prepares the body for the energetic pratices in the Tibetan Traditions and if done the practitioner will likely reap the benifits that they have sowed

There are practices that work on purifying the mind first then the body or the body first then the mind

In the Theravarden tradition you have walking meditation and I would bet that if you delved into the more obscure forms of Theravarden you would find similar energetic practices. Look at the Thai traditions and you will find mystical/magical influences


No idea if it's historically accurate but I've been told that Vajrayana had quite a heyday at one time in the region now called Thailand. So...?

Another interesting thing is the relations between disciples of the Buddha and later variants of Buddhism: Modigliana and Vajrayana, Mahakasyapa and Zen, and so on.
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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Jeff Grove:
End in Sight:
For example, I've read that in some Tibetan traditions, you have to do 100,000 prostrations before receiving some special teachings. Is 100,000 prostrations more effective than formal meditation?.



This is a form of qigong which prepares the body for the energetic pratices in the Tibetan Traditions and if done the practitioner will likely reap the benifits that they have sowed

There are practices that work on purifying the mind first then the body or the body first then the mind

In the Theravarden tradition you have walking meditation and I would bet that if you delved into the more obscure forms of Theravarden you would find similar energetic practices. Look at the Thai traditions and you will find mystical/magical influences


I didn't mean to suggest that prostrations were a bad idea, but merely that one can't evaluate a tradition based on what methods it's familiar with; one should also especially include e.g. the exact way they prescribe practice, in relation to whether that way is suitable or not suitable for a person.

If 100,000 prostrations are a requirement for certain teachings, and if a person gets hurt at prostration #5831, and so doesn't get the teachings, well...
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Jeff Grove, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:


I didn't mean to suggest that prostrations were a bad idea, but merely that one can't evaluate a tradition based on what methods it's familiar with; one should also especially include e.g. the exact way they prescribe practice, in relation to whether that way is suitable or not suitable for a person.

If 100,000 prostrations are a requirement for certain teachings, and if a person gets hurt at prostration #5831, and so doesn't get the teachings, well...


why do you think they would not get the teaching,
there are many forms of preliminaries both external and internal,
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:
Some people who post here and elsewhere seem to take it as fact or likely fact that Mahayana variants of Buddhism lead to a different and in some sense superior attainment than pre-Mahayana variants; or, Mahayana variants lead to a way of seeing things that demonstrates that the pre-Mahayana attainments are not really so good or so ultimate after all.

By contrast, here is an except from the Lotus Sutra (a major Mahayana sutra) which seems to indicate that different forms of Buddhist practice lead to the very same attainment, and the pre-Mahayana practice aiming at arahantship is not leading to something inferior, but leading to the very same thing, which is simply mis-described out of a concern for skillful means.

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/bdoor/0112/sources/lotus7_p1.htm

I admit to being very ill-informed concerning all of this. However, I can't help but wonder:

1) Where does the belief that Mahayana attainments (etc.) are better than non-Mahayana attainments come from?
2) How prevalent is it, in actuality, among different groups, historically and currently?

My intuition is that some of the case for this belief, on this and related message boards, comes from Kenneth Folk's past influential claim that the four paths described in MCTB and elsewhere are as far as Theravada Buddhism goes, whereas "rigpa", a superior attainment that is quite separate from the four paths, is understood only in Mahayana / Vajrayana / Advaita (etc.) circles (perhaps with a few exceptions). But, I presume that that's not nearly the whole story with respect to its origin.

I would welcome any attempt to shed light on this issue in context of the various historical forms of Buddhism.
Tthe lotus sutra explanation is that all vehicles are expedient means of One Buddha Vehicle. In other words, the ultimate goal of all is Buddhahood, even arahants must eventually reach Buddhahood. Then comes the theory in many sutras of how arahants are eventually roused from their state of nirvana to continue their path to Buddhahood. Lankavatara sutra says an arhant requires 60,000 years more to attain buddhahood. (Also: Standard mahayana says it takes 3 aeons for a person to reach buddhahood, vajrayana says its possible in one life) There are lots of texts denigrating Hinayana as an inferior vehicle, they often belittle or make fun of arahats like shariputra (e.g. Vimalakirti etc)

I am more of a nonsectarian so I do not necessarily follow these arguments.

As for "attainment", lots of models - a standard Mahayana bhumi map is different from Mahamudra four yogas map. Almost all Mahayana Buddhists seem to agree that while arhats realize the emptiness of a subjective self, person or atman, and therefore eliminates afflictive/affective obscurations, the bodhisattva also realizes twofold emptiness including the emptiness of dharma and thereby overcoming the knowledge obscuration preventing omniscience.

All these are Mahayana teachings, have no mentions in Pali sutta, but the emptiness thing can be traced to Hinayana schools' abhidhamma. These abhidhamma teachings of the hinayana schools supposedly composed by arhats (some may think they are from buddha but all scholars agree this is not true), only expresses the firstfold emptiness but then substanstializes dharma or aggregates or phenomena to have atomistic elemental existence. Therefore while they reduce "self" to aggregates, the aggregates may be seen as inherently existing.

Therefore as a reaction to this, the first Mahayana sutras appeared (were composed by multiple unknown authors and showed textual development over a length of time) under the prajnaparamita class scriptures, along with famous teachers like Nagarjuna, in order to negate abhidhamma substantialism and teach the emptiness of dharma. Of course these teachingfs were also based in pali suttas like kaccayana sutta, kalaka sutta, phena sutta etc

Later developments of Mahayana included yogacara, tathagatagarbha, then even later appeared the tantras which became the foundation for vajrayana, etc
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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To add on: Mahayana is a very varied teaching unlike pali suttas. Mahayana has many classes of teaching: prajnaparamita related to madhyamika, then yogacara, then tathagatagarbha, then pure land, then tantras etc. Each will claim of itself as the ultimate non-provisional teaching. Tantras will say that all previous mahayana teachings are ineffective. Dzogchen will later come in to say that all tantras and mahayana and hinayana are not as effective. So on and so forth. Each teaching will have a different path, different teaching, and even different idea of their goal even if there may be overlaps. Even though all agree on buddhahood as goal, dzogchen talks about rainbow body, vajrayana even has different stages of buddhahood, etc. Some people think the three kayas must be developed so that one can have a perfect body with 32 marks and all the qualities of Shakyamuni Buddha, others (like mahamudra and dzogchen) may say that all the kayas are spontaneously perfected, full realization of buddhahood can be attained in this very body.


Ven hui feng wrote a nice piece on the textual developments of Mahayana which I posted on my thread on the origin of mahayana sutras http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/378306
Cloud A Vitale, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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dzogchen talks about rainbow body


What is the reasoning/purpose for obtaining rainbow body?
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

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Cloud A Vitale:
dzogchen talks about rainbow body


What is the reasoning/purpose for obtaining rainbow body?
They kind of see it as a natural result of complete realization.

Kirtu:


It's a natural result after the winds and channels have been totally purified. Even the elements of one's body have been transformed into wisdom (the five elements transformed into the five wisdoms as well as the five ignorances having been transformed into the five wisdoms). As a result complete wisdom is manifested. This then begs the question why didn't Shakyamuni demonstrate it? Because his whole purpose was to demonstrate the common, long path. There are apparently levels of the rainbow body as well. It's one of the many ways of practitioners entering enlightenment.

From the Bon tradition, the Ligmincha Institute says in their glossary:

rainbow body - (tib: 'ja lus) The sign of full realization in dzogchen is the attainment of the rainbow body. The realized dzogchen practitioner, no longer deluded by apparent substantiality or dualisms such as mind and matter, releases the energy of the elements that compose the physical body at the time of death. The body itself is dissolved, leaving only hair and nails, and the practitioner consciously enters death.



This seems to be what my Nyingma teachers have said as well. I'm not sure my Sakya teachers went into detail about the rainbow body aside from mentioning it as the demonstration of Buddhahood (but one can attain Buddhahood without demonstrating rainbow body) as well).

For example, a high Sakya lama apparently confirmed a partial rainbow body manifestation of a practitioner in 2007 or 2008 whose body shrank after death to the size of a child. This practitioner's body did not however disappear into light.

Also, the Wikipedia entry, apparently written by a knowledgeable person, indicates that rainbow body is the manifestation of a kind of Dharmakaya phowa (so phowa into the five wisdom lights). This of course needs to be checked.

Kirt
Cloud A Vitale, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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It says in the wikipedia article:

Some exceptional practitioners such as Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra are held to have realized a higher type of rainbow body without dying. Having completed the four visions before death, the individual focuses on the lights that surround the fingers. His or her physical body self-liberates into a nonmaterial body of light (a Sambhogakāya) with the ability to exist and abide wherever and whenever as pointed by one's compassion


This would indicate what Jeff was saying.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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This is my own interpretation, I've never talked to a teacher about it, but I see the rainbow body as representing the capacity to hold in attention a mental state which has been causing suffering. E.g., when you're wandering in thought then return attention to the breath, the world you were wandering in usually disappears entirely, roughly speaking. Through dzogchen-like practices, I have developed the capacity to make that world of thought the object of attention. It ceases to operate, but components of its associated karma is still present and under observation. This is useful for disidentifying from the karma.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:
Some people who post here and elsewhere seem to take it as fact or likely fact that Mahayana variants of Buddhism lead to a different and in some sense superior attainment than pre-Mahayana variants; or, Mahayana variants lead to a way of seeing things that demonstrates that the pre-Mahayana attainments are not really so good or so ultimate after all.

By contrast, here is an except from the Lotus Sutra (a major Mahayana sutra) which seems to indicate that different forms of Buddhist practice lead to the very same attainment, and the pre-Mahayana practice aiming at arahantship is not leading to something inferior, but leading to the very same thing, which is simply mis-described out of a concern for skillful means.

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/bdoor/0112/sources/lotus7_p1.htm

I admit to being very ill-informed concerning all of this. However, I can't help but wonder:

1) Where does the belief that Mahayana attainments (etc.) are better than non-Mahayana attainments come from?
2) How prevalent is it, in actuality, among different groups, historically and currently?

My intuition is that some of the case for this belief, on this and related message boards, comes from Kenneth Folk's past influential claim that the four paths described in MCTB and elsewhere are as far as Theravada Buddhism goes, whereas "rigpa", a superior attainment that is quite separate from the four paths, is understood only in Mahayana / Vajrayana / Advaita (etc.) circles (perhaps with a few exceptions). But, I presume that that's not nearly the whole story with respect to its origin.

I would welcome any attempt to shed light on this issue in context of the various historical forms of Buddhism.
There are more than two ways to relate the attainment of arahantship with Buddhahood in Mahayana.

One school of thought is that the arhat equates with the sixth bhumi of the mahayana model, this teaching is taught by Lankavatara Sutra and an opinion held by a group of teachers.

Then there is another school of thought, based on other scriptures, that the arhat cannot be equated at all with the bhumi system since the bhumi system eradicates both affective and knowledge obscuration in contrast to merely the affective obscuration of arhat path.

Each scripture may present different understanding.

However no Mahayana teaching as far as I know, actually equate "hinayana arhat" with buddhahood, including the lotus sutra.
Adam . ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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AEN I've read that Mahayana people disparage Theravada for unnecessarily getting rid of the distorting emotions when it is wiser to see them simply as empty etc. just like sensate input.

Know anything about that?
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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Adam . .:
AEN I've read that Mahayana people disparage Theravada for unnecessarily getting rid of the distorting emotions when it is wiser to see them simply as empty etc. just like sensate input.

Know anything about that?
If by getting rid you mean suppressing, then as all traditions agree, it is something insufficient for liberation. Suppression is never the way to get rid of afflictions, the way is by insight, or insight and tranquility in tandem. If you merely suppress them, you are not removing the underlying cause of affliction, you are merely suppressing the symptoms, like trimming the weed instead of uprooting it. As suttas state, "With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints."

Of course, there will be Mahayana teachers, as there will be Theravada teachers, who - despite the clear statements in scriptures - believe it is not possible to overcome the underlying tendencies to afflictive emotions, as would Daniel Ingram too in the past.

But traditionally, both Mahayana and Theravada agrees that a practitioner will eventually not just achieve a temporary emotionless state, but the uprooting of the underlying tendencies towards those afflictive emotions so that they are as Buddha would say "made like a stump", never to have a condition for arising again. In the bhumi system, the attenuation of the three poisons is attained in the 2nd bhumi, and completely overcome in the 8th.

The way to overcome fetters is not just about 'stop making emotions arise', but by overcoming the root cause, the latent tendencies, in which afflictive emotions can arise. And that includes seeing them as empty, etc.

This teaching on seeing everything including emotions as 'empty' is also to be found in Pali suttas:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.095.than.html

"Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. Through dispassion, he's released. With release there's the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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An Eternal Now:
One school of thought is that the arhat equates with the sixth bhumi of the mahayana model, this teaching is taught by Lankavatara Sutra and an opinion held by a group of teachers.


What other sutras make this claim, if you know?

Then there is another school of thought, based on other scriptures, that the arhat cannot be equated at all with the bhumi system since the bhumi system eradicates both affective and knowledge obscuration in contrast to merely the affective obscuration of arhat path.


References?

However no Mahayana teaching as far as I know, actually equate "hinayana arhat" with buddhahood, including the lotus sutra.


Yes, the excerpt of the Lotus Sutra I provided seems to imply that there is no such thing as an arahant (as described in the "Hinayana" tradition) in the first place.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

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End in Sight:
An Eternal Now:
One school of thought is that the arhat equates with the sixth bhumi of the mahayana model, this teaching is taught by Lankavatara Sutra and an opinion held by a group of teachers.


What other sutras make this claim, if you know?

Then there is another school of thought, based on other scriptures, that the arhat cannot be equated at all with the bhumi system since the bhumi system eradicates both affective and knowledge obscuration in contrast to merely the affective obscuration of arhat path.


References?

However no Mahayana teaching as far as I know, actually equate "hinayana arhat" with buddhahood, including the lotus sutra.


Yes, the excerpt of the Lotus Sutra I provided seems to imply that there is no such thing as an arahant (as described in the "Hinayana" tradition) in the first place.
Hi, I do not think the Lotus Sutra denied the existence of arhat. It just says all yanas are expedient means for Buddhahood. So ultimately there is only one buddha vehicle as it was buddha's intention for all to attain buddhahood and other yanas were merely stepping stones. This does not make hinayana arhat equivalent to buddha. Eventually according to Mahayana, all arhats must convert from hinayana to mahayana ("hui xiao xiang da" in chinese) even if it means rousing from a state or nirvana.

I don't have sutra reference for now but found this:

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level4_deepening_understanding_path/path/five_pathway_minds_five_paths/5_pathway_minds.html

"If, as resultant abider shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats, we were to develop unlabored bodhichitta and become bodhisattvas, then in order to achieve enlightenment:

According to Svatantrika, we would need to develop first a Mahayana seeing pathway mind. This is because bodhisattvas begin to rid themselves of the cognitive obscurations with a seeing pathway mind.
According to Prasangika, we would start the Mahayana path with a liberated eighth level bhumi mind. This is because it is only with a purified bhumi mind that bodhisattvas begin to rid themselves of the cognitive obscurations."
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Anne Cripps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/12/13 Recent Posts
:-) Hi AEN!

You wrote:
One school of thought is that the arhat equates with the sixth bhumi of the mahayana model, this teaching is taught by Lankavatara Sutra and an opinion held by a group of teachers.

Do you know which teachers have held this view? Have they all been Westerners?

One online translation of the Lankavatara Sutra is from an anthology called A Buddhist Bible. Though based on Daisetz T Suzuki’s English translation of the Sanskrit, the sutra’s editors seem to have done an unintended ‘hatchet job’ (I guess they did not really understand what they were editing:-). It includes such passages as…
The Once-returning are the Arhats, and the Never-returning are the Bodhisattvas who have reached the seventh stage …

The class known as Arhats are those earnest masters who belong to the once-returning class. By their spiritual insight they have reached the sixth and seventh stages ...

Disciples and masters and Arhats may ascend the stages up to the sixth …

[A]t the sixth stage all discrimination ceases as they become engrossed in the bliss of the Samadhis wherein they cherish the thought of Nirvana and, as Nirvana is possible at the sixth stage, they pass into their Nirvana, but it is not the Nirvana of the Buddhas.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bb/bb17.htm

…and…

In the spirit of these vows the Bodhisattva gradually ascends the stages to the sixth. All earnest disciples, masters and Arhats have ascended thus far, but being enchanted by the bliss of the Samadhis and not being supported by the powers of the Buddhas, they pass to their Nirvana.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bb/bb18.htm

With this unfortunate English rendering, understandably readers would take the 6th bhumi as true arhat stage (though the actual description of that bhumi has anagami features). On the other hand, Daisetz T Suzuki’s full English translation of these parts of the Lanka reads like a different book! As it is a bit long to reproduce here, a link is: http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm, see chapters XLIX and LXXX. This version makes it fairly clear that arhat fruition is entry to the 8th bhumi.

Of the Theravadin four stages from stream-entry to arhat, Bhante Gunaratana comments in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English
In the Abhidhamma texts, there is some suggestion that the path and the fruition periods can arise very rapidly, almost simultaneously. I feel that each phase may take a moment, a lifetime, or anywhere in between. The texts say that reflection on what is being accomplished at each stage of the process is very important, and there must be time for this reflection to take place. In addition, some texts talk about the comparative amount of merit in offering gifts to someone who is in one or other of these stages. To me this means that people remain in each stage long enough to be distinguished from one another.

Other suttas imply that the path phase arises first. Then the meditator associates with the path phase, develops it, and cultivates it before attaining the fruition state. This means that the person has time to associate, cultivate, and develop the path before attaining the fruition state. Even if somebody’s attainment seems instant, he still must attain the path first and afterward attain fruition. Attaining path and fruition at once is impossible. It is never mentioned in any sutta.

I find this passage very interesting, as this expansion of each of the four stages of the Theravadin Supramundane Path into path and fruition periods appears to me to correspond to the first eight bodhisattava bhumis of the Mahayana. In the Five Paths model, the path stage of stream-winning falls in the Path of Seeing (Path 3), and the fruition stage in the Path of Cultivation (Path 4). (Please excuse me if the above has been mentioned elsewhere in the DhO.)

Thank you for your scholarship, AEN! (-:
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Jeff Grove, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
Some people who post here and elsewhere seem to take it as fact or likely fact that Mahayana variants of Buddhism lead to a different and in some sense superior attainment than pre-Mahayana variants; or, Mahayana variants lead to a way of seeing things that demonstrates that the pre-Mahayana attainments are not really so good or so ultimate after all.

1) Where does the belief that Mahayana attainments (etc.) are better than non-Mahayana attainments come from?


EIS,

These attainments are indeed different as the goals are more then enlightenment, or waking up. Mahayana, Dzogchen, are aiming for more then enlightenment there goal is a type of immortality, a continuation of consciousness after death. I have not seen this in theverdan. These practices/knowledge is being lost to mankind but the knowledge is complete and preserved in Tibet. It is also preserved in Taoist practices in China but are secret and strictly guarded. In the west Christianity has the revelation of the resurrection, Dzogchen, Bon, and Nyingpa have the rainbow body, Taoism has the yingshen and yangshen.

(basic explanation - take this with a grain of salt)
There is no self but typically after death there is an type of emotional energy (yin) that exists temporarily unable to form new memories which eventually fades and disappears these are what we call ghosts and spirits. But if in this mortal life you gather enough (yang) energy at death consciousness can be transferred, different realizations - the 3 kayas. In the west we accept the finality of death but some (a very few) continue.


In the three kayas Nirmankaya is the highest form of realization achieved by saints (transfiguration of the mind and body i.e personality into Nirmankaya) and this accounts for the stories that they can continue there bodily existence till the end of time. There are similarities in the Jesus story. the teachings are very similar across cultures and there is enough factual evidence for the achievement of rainbow bodies.

Unfortunately in the Tibetan tradition they provide the foundational information but do not let you know why and what the end result of these practices are. If you stick around you start to realize what the practices are aiming for whereas in the west we like to know the end goal first. Its like you want to know if you do this course you will have a medical degree in the end. This may be because Buddhism is new in the west and our understanding is limited whereas in the tibet the culture has grown out of Buddhism.

Access to these teachings are limited in China and the expectation is you don't ask the teacher questions you just do as your told and learn what is taught with no real idea until it becomes experience.
There are few teachers in China that will pass on complete or higher level teachings to foreigners but this is changing,

tibetan teachings are more accessible but the higher level teachings restricted and often only given to monastics.

In books in the west the key info is missing (tao practices) and western teachers are passing on incomplete practices with no chance of real progress or the books are restricted (as in tibetan tradition). There is no reason why if this info was out there in books you could not progress.

This all sounds very fantastic but if you search you may be surprised

cheers
Jeff

edit: just noticed the previous question about rainbow body the above explanation is a simplified explanation (more a description then accuracy) upon death the yogi liberates into the rainbow body Sambhogakāya the fruition of togel practices, the great leap
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Brian K., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Posts: 142 Join Date: 4/18/12 Recent Posts
I would like to see someone who claimed to be an arahat in hinyana tradition undergo training from mahayana sects that are different than what he/she had experienced in the past and see how it affected them. I dont suppose a record of this exists anywhere though
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Posts: 2 Join Date: 11/18/13 Recent Posts
There is no consistency or coherency within the Mahayana canon, it is only Buddhism inasmuch it has some of the same vocabulary. But other than that, Mahayana Buddhism is largely just a collection of incoherent (in the sense that they do not come together to form a larger framework) scriptures.

So pragmatically speaking, there is nothing particularly useful about delving into the Mahayana sutras. If you really wish to do hardcore spiritual practice I would suggest Theravada Buddhism.

But even then Theravada Buddhism hasn't had a really good track record for actually producing awakened beings, nor has it really had that much of a beneficial effect on the world as a whole. The other issue is that there is no common thread that runs through the Buddhist teachings.

In other words Buddhists deny the existence of absolute truth, thus the only things that were necessarily true, within the canon, were things spoken by the Buddha.

But there really was no criteria for determining exactly what was Buddhism and what it wasn't. Which is why Buddhism has mutated so much.

This is the opposite for theistic religions.

Peace.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
James Yen:


This is the opposite for theistic religions.

Peace.


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

1 Catholicism
1.1 Catholic Church
1.1.1 The Latin Church
1.1.2 Eastern Catholic Churches
1.2 Other churches
1.2.1 Independent (self-identified as Catholic)
2 Eastern Orthodox
2.1 Eastern Orthodox Church
2.2 Other churches
3 Oriental Orthodoxy
3.1 Other Churches
4 Church of the East
5 Other early Christians
6 Protestantism
6.1 Pre-Lutheran Protestants
6.2 Lutheranism
6.3 Anglicanism
6.3.1 Anglican Communion
6.3.2 Other Anglican Churches
6.4 Calvinism
6.4.1 Continental Reformed churches
6.4.2 Presbyterianism
6.4.3 Congregationalist Churches
6.5 Anabaptists
6.6 Brethren
6.7 Methodists
6.8 Pietists and Holiness Churches
6.9 Baptists
6.9.1 Spiritual Baptists
6.10 Apostolic Churches – Irvingites
6.11 Pentecostalism
6.12 Charismatics
6.12.1 Neo-Charismatic Churches
6.13 African Initiated Churches
6.14 Messianic Judaism / Jewish Christians
6.15 United and uniting churches
6.16 Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
6.17 Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement
6.18 Southcottites
6.19 Millerites and comparable groups
6.19.1 Adventist (Sunday observing)
6.19.2 Adventist (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)
6.19.3 Church of God movements (Sunday observing)
6.19.4 Church of God movements (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)
6.19.5 Sabbath-Keeping Movements, Separated from Adventists
6.19.6 Sacred Name groups
6.19.7 Movements not related to the Millerites but comparable to them
6.19.7.1 Sabbath-Keeping movements, predating the Millerites
6.19.7.2 Sabbath-Keeping movements, Mormon
6.20 British-Israelism
6.21 Christian Identity
6.22 Miscellaneous/Other
7 Nontrinitarian groups
7.1 Latter Day Saints
7.2 Oneness Pentecostalism
7.3 Unitarianism and Universalism
7.4 Bible Student groups
7.5 Swedenborgianism
7.6 Christian Science
7.7 Other non-Trinitarians
8 New Thought
9 Esoteric Christianity
10 Syncretistic religions incorporating elements of Christianity
11 See also
12 References
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Mahayana vs non-Mahayana: scriptural basis for differences in atta

Post: 1 Join Date: 11/19/13 Recent Posts
Meh, the differences are minor at best. All theistic religions assert the existence of an absolute truth: there is one God. The different sects of Christianity itself, do not differ in any great way, besides maybe when the Sabbath day falls on, or whether the Bible is most important etc. etc.

There were though, heretical schools that came up with very... well... heretical ideas. They were short-lived and quickly ousted.

(BTW, if you're going to point out that I should have used the word "monotheistic" in the first paragraph, then we shouldn't really bother arguing, as you probably knew what I meant.)

The point is that theism in general, provides a basis for absolute truth, with which to distinguish what is true and not true.

Buddhism does not have this, the schools of thought within Buddhism (a lot of which are heretical by Theravada standards) differ GREATLY.

The DhO is an example of this, so is the notion that chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo can get you WHATEVER you want, and so on and so forth.

Peace.

P.S.

I'm an atheist.

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