Re: Some questions

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Posted by David (I better start using my last initial!) S. ( on October 04, 2000 at 11:43:03:

In Reply to: Some questions posted by David on October 03, 2000 at 04:52:32:

Hi David, sorry I used your handle above, I didn't notice until now. I'll add my last initial from now on.

Anyway, at the most fundamental level there is no difference between Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. However, on the level of teaching and method, they are based on different sutras and have adapted to different cultures. When Buddhism spread out of India, roughly it went to southeast asia, China, and Tibet. The Theravada canon was used in southeast asia, while a certain set of both Theravadan and Mahayana sutras were taken to China, and another partially overlapping set went to Tibet. Of course, it wasn't all in one leap, but over time. Whether a master was taking them there, or bringing them to there, which sutra went depended on which the master (and country) had an affinity for and/or which they could get translated. So just as each sutra has it's flavor, it's teachings and it's methods, so now do the schools of Buddhism also differ based on the different sets of sutras they were founded on. Both Tibetan and Zen, however, are Mahayana Buddhism; that is, they were founded on Mahayana Buddhist sutras to a large degree. But Mahayana Buddhism IS based on and includes the teachings and practices of Theravada (Hinayana).

Life is so important because it's the field in which we CAN meditate on nothingness. However, meditation on nothingness is only A key to liberation. Just nothingness is nihilism, which is not Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism does not believe in total emptiness because they believe Nirvana is real. Mahayana Buddhism finds even Nirvana to be empty, but in Mahayana Buddhism "emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness; emptiness is precisely form; form is precisely emptiness." This is definitely not nihilistic.

Furthermore, the human existence is the most ammenable to practicing toward and obtaining liberation. Whatever realm one is in, though, form is required for practice, since without at least very subtle form, there can be no mind to practice (take a look at the later post on the five skandhas if you want a bit of explantation on this statement).

And as for actions, they shape the mind. Your mind makes your actions which make your mind. If you don't "worry" about your actions, then you, like the rest of, will perform actions of body, speech, and mind that will effect your mind in a way that will obstruct your path to liberation. Even if we do "worry" about it, we still do these things to some degree.

They are good questions, and common one's too. Buddhism, especially as translated into English has many terms that appear negative before one has studied and practiced enough to find out otherwise. Keep at it!

Best wishes,
David S.

: I'm new to all this, but I was wondering if you all could help. Here are some questions I have.

: What are the fundamental differences between Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and Zen?

: If the key to enlightenment is meditation on nothingness, why then is this life so important? Why worry so much about actions here?

: I have some more, but this is a start. Thanks.

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