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Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Folks

Discussion of Theravada Buddhism in the light of Zen.

Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Folks

Postby 1handclapping on Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:15 pm

In the section of his "The Broken Buddha" paper entitled "What is Theravada", S. Dhammika points out how Theravada has ignored parts of the Pali Canon that Mahayana developed into fundamental practice, or that were overlooked by both schools. The essay points to the fact that a closer examination of the canon can give us an enriched and more balanced understanding of the Buddha's teachings, as well as shed light on the history of the divergence of Southern and Northern Schools.

"The Pali Tipitika contains a truly amazing variety of material from ethics to epistemology, from psychology to practical wisdom. It would be very difficult to encompass all this material into a single school or system, and indeed, the Theravadins have certainly not done this. Rather they have emphasized some of the Buddha's doctrines and ideas and de-emphasized or even ignored others. For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philolosphy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada.

"One of the central concepts of the Buddha's teachings is dependent origination. There are two versions of this doctrine--one showing the arising of suffering, and the other showing the arising of liberation and freedom. The first of these is arguably the most well known ... of all Buddhist doctrines. The second and one would thing the most important of the two is virtually unknown. [Scholar] Carolyn Rhys Davids called this positive version of dependent origination an 'oasis' and asked, 'How might it have altered the whole face of Buddhism in the West if that sequence had been made the illustration of causal law!" Indeed, how might it have altered the development of Theravada?"

The link I provided on another thread doesn't seem to work. Those wishing to access the entire paper may search: S. Dhammika, The Broken Buddha.
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Re: Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Fo

Postby Carol on Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:39 pm

Moderator's Note:

A pdf file of the text is available here

Since this is not a Theravadan Buddhism discussion board, but a Zen Buddhism discussion board, those interested in discussing the text with Thervadans might want to read and join the discussion at Dhammawheel here where the participants are more familiar with Theravadan Buddhist practice.

Please take care in discussing controversial criticisms of another Buddhist school to observe our Terms of Service against "sect bashing," i.e., "derogatory attacks against a branch of the Buddha Sangha or another religion." The OP is not a violation of the terms of service.

Thanks.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Fo

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:23 am

1handclapping wrote:The essay points to the fact that a closer examination of the canon can give us an enriched and more balanced understanding of the Buddha's teachings, as well as shed light on the history of the divergence of Southern and Northern Schools.



Please note: in this contest the phrase "Southern and Northern Schools" refers to the Theravada (Southern Asia) and Mahayana (Nothern Asia) and not to the Zen context of the Southern School of Huineng's lineage and Northern School of Shenxui's linneage.

Many excellent Zen teachers take and have taken the study of Theravada (as well as Vajrayana and other forms fo Mahayana) seriously without any diminution of their Zen perspective. This is the One Vehicle heritage of Zen that has come to us handed down from Bodhidharma.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Fo

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:29 am

The Broken Buddha wrote:"One of the central concepts of the Buddha's teachings is dependent origination. There are two versions of this doctrine--one showing the arising of suffering, and the other showing the arising of liberation and freedom. The first of these is arguably the most well known ... of all Buddhist doctrines. The second and one would thing the most important of the two is virtually unknown. [Scholar] Carolyn Rhys Davids called this positive version of dependent origination an 'oasis' and asked, 'How might it have altered the whole face of Buddhism in the West if that sequence had been made the illustration of causal law!" Indeed, how might it have altered the development of Theravada?"



In fact there are Zen teachers who have recognized this. One example is Dahui Zonggao who presented a Zen version of both the origination of delusion and the origination of awakening based on the model of the "Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana" in his Introduction to Zen.

This "positive version" of origination of awakening is also the purport of the 10 Ox-herding Pictures of Zen.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Fo

Postby Huifeng on Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:35 am

1handclapping wrote:In the section of his "The Broken Buddha" paper entitled "What is Theravada", S. Dhammika points out how Theravada has ignored parts of the Pali Canon that Mahayana developed into fundamental practice, or that were overlooked by both schools. The essay points to the fact that a closer examination of the canon can give us an enriched and more balanced understanding of the Buddha's teachings, as well as shed light on the history of the divergence of Southern and Northern Schools.

"The Pali Tipitika contains a truly amazing variety of material from ethics to epistemology, from psychology to practical wisdom. It would be very difficult to encompass all this material into a single school or system, and indeed, the Theravadins have certainly not done this. Rather they have emphasized some of the Buddha's doctrines and ideas and de-emphasized or even ignored others. For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philolosphy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada.

"One of the central concepts of the Buddha's teachings is dependent origination. There are two versions of this doctrine--one showing the arising of suffering, and the other showing the arising of liberation and freedom. The first of these is arguably the most well known ... of all Buddhist doctrines. The second and one would thing the most important of the two is virtually unknown. [Scholar] Carolyn Rhys Davids called this positive version of dependent origination an 'oasis' and asked, 'How might it have altered the whole face of Buddhism in the West if that sequence had been made the illustration of causal law!" Indeed, how might it have altered the development of Theravada?"

The link I provided on another thread doesn't seem to work. Those wishing to access the entire paper may search: S. Dhammika, The Broken Buddha.


Regarding the two sides of dependent origination from a Theravadin perspective, I would argue that the first (the mundane, the arising of suffering) is not necessarily the most well known, and that the second (the transmundane, the cessation of suffering) is best described not as "positive" but as "cessation". Look at the two expressions of dependent origination - in forward order (anuloma) and in reverse (pratiloma). The latter is not "the arising of liberation and freedom", but the cessation (nirodha / khaya) of suffering. It seems to me that Theravada Buddhism is well aware of this, and all my Theravadin teachers have taught it in this manner. Carolyn Rhys Davids was writing quite some time ago, and now a lot of that old PTS style of Theravadin scholarship seems very dated indeed.

I do agree, however, that the Mahayana was mainly at first just a different interpretation on the basic teachings of the Buddha held by most (if not all) schools in the first few centuries after the Buddha's parinirvana. As time progressed, all the various schools of thought, Mahayana included, went more and more separate ways.

Many excellent Zen teachers take and have taken the study of Theravada (as well as Vajrayana and other forms fo Mahayana) seriously without any diminution of their Zen perspective. This is the One Vehicle heritage of Zen that has come to us handed down from Bodhidharma.


The Theravada (and Vajrayana) connection with Zen is, however, confined only to the modern period, and then mainly in Western Zen teachers. This makes it rather a small minority. While it seems that Bodhidharma had a basis in the earlier forms of Buddhism that were the norm in India at that time, an explicit connection to Theravada (as opposed to Mahasamghika, or some other school) seems difficult to establish.

~~ Huifeng
Bhikṣu & Mahāyāna bodhisattva ordination by Ven Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師) et al, Foguang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) Taiwan.
Teaching: http://buddhist.fgu.edu.tw/main.php Blog: http://prajnacara.blogspot.com/
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Re: Ven.Dhammika: Different Textual Strokes for Different Fo

Postby mikenz66 on Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:09 am

Venerable, I think it's possible that Ven Dhammica is referring to "Transcendental Dependent Origination" rather than the "cessation order" version.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

:Namaste:
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