Re: buddhist paths (and a hopeful clarification of my intention)

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Posted by David on December 10, 1998 at 05:56:24:

In Reply to: buddhist paths posted by JAYED on December 09, 1998 at 04:09:44:

Dear Jayed (and all others reading the posts questioning whether one teaching is better than another),

Although it is not shown as a reply to anything I have written, what you have said appears to be so. I am concerned that my "Open Discussion" was not very well written and that I have not been able to convey what kind of discussion I was hoping to get started.

I do not feel that Theravada or Mahayana are better than the other. I feel as you do that which ever way works for you is the way you must follow. However, I do know people who feel very strongly that one tradition or one school is better than another (because, as you say, that one way is better for them). I have been present in classes where people sermonizing these views have causes beginning students a lot of confusion and doubt.

This concerns me for two reasons. One is that for those who are not prone to investigate for themselves when they first begin to look into Buddhism, such confusion and doubt (esp. from people of more than one school concerning more than one school) may cause these people to give up and possibly never find that path which is best for them, if indeed it is in Buddhism.

The second concern is that (and I am seeing this happen within my own practice group now) some people get benefit from the tradition they are in, but often find sticking points in their practice. Because they feel another approach is inferior, they may not even look into that as an option to help them through their current obstruction(s). Thus, this view of better or less than can have unbeneficial consequences.

Although I am formally associated with a Mahayana school, I rely heavily on Theravada teachings and methods to supplement my own practice and have found that the Theravada approach has opened up areas in my practice that I was not able to open with the Mahayana teachings I personally have received. This Theravada study was not only unsuporrted by some people, but was even occasionally discouraged. Of course, there were others who also supported and/or encouraged it.

My purpose (although perhaps very unclear due to my own lack of skill) was to stimulate a discussion of the approaches, the teachings, and how they compare and contrast between traditions or schools. And to stimulate an investigational look into whether the teachings and approaches offer the same or different outcomes. I think though that I was too involved when I wrote that post and in opening the discussion I focused too much on the emotional aspect. I see that I have caused a problem and perhaps even caused the confusion in some that I was hoping to clarify or prevent. For this I am sorry.


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