Posted by Edvard (188.8.131.52) on April 16, 2000 at 01:53:32:
In Reply to: Lost in Buddhism posted by Dannielle on April 12, 2000 at 09:37:32:
I used to have same trouble too. Sometime the more you read, the more confused you get, especially when most of the books you read are about sectarian issues, such as historical facts, differences, authencity...and so on.
My questions were answered, however, by a Theravadan teacher. I once attended a meditation class. The teachings were really eye opening for someone who had been looking at the Tibetan school only, for instances I had never realized that Theravada isn't Hinayana and in the Theravada tradition there are also teachings for the Bodhisattvas, and that Theravada teachings (Vipassana, Abhidhamma...and all that) are much more detailed and profound than what I had read about from other sources (bascially written in the Mahayana perspective)...and so on.
And then there was one student, who seemed to had learned many things from books, asked "is the Nibbana (Nirvana) taught by Theravada the same thing as the Shunyata (Emptiness) taught by other schools?" The teacher simply smiled and answered gently "whatever it is, be it Nibbana or Emptiness, if you don't actually reach there, it's the same, as remains just a concept anyway. It's always better to actually reach there to see it yourself."
I've peronally met people who, after spending many years studying Buddhism, still get confused and feel so lost in Buddhism. I can understand that as I used to have same problem before I've learned that the core of the teachings cannot quite possibly learned on the conceptual/intellectual level only. One has to go beyond concepts to reach the Actual. The Abhidhamma offers very deep and profound explanations to this: what are concepts and what are actual.
I'm not saying all Buddhist schools teach the same things, because very obviously sometime their teachings quite contradict. But I'm sure if you really follow the path and if you're really honest to yourself in your heart, there must be something you can learn from whatever souce available to you at the present moment. It's simply no point to say "I wanna practice Tibetan Buddhism, so I don't wanna learn it because it's Theravadan"...I would say that if you're really honest, and you don't just practice on the conceptual level, there shouldn't be any problem.
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