Re: mantras for real?--Three Yanas

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Posted by Zolla ( on October 22, 2000 at 02:54:14:

In Reply to: Re: mantras for real? posted by Mister Hebat on October 21, 2000 at 16:32:23:

I would just like to add one thing.

I believe there is a common misconceptions about Theravada. Since I have studied Tibetan Buddhism for some years, I haven't really looked at Theravada until last year I chanced to meet a very famous Theravada master from Burma who taught a very systematic and detailed meditation approach based on the Pali classics Vissudhimagga and the Theravada Abhidhamma, and which interested me a lot. So I began to look at some Theravada literatures including the Abhdihamma and have realized that:

i) When the Buddha taught, there was no such thing as Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Even Theravada didn't exist at that time. So all his teachings can really be just named Buddhadharma, or as some teachers call it, Buddhayana. That's all.

ii) Theravada is a school that developed later. But by the time the split between Mahayana and Hinayana took place in India, Theravada had transplanted safely in Ceylon for centuries. So in Theravada, there is no record of the words Mahayana and Hinayana. And so it is a common misconception to equal Theravada to Hinayana.

iii) Theravada also taught the Bodhisatta (Bodhisattva) ideal. But the only difference, well as far as my very limited knowledge goes, is that while Mahayana tend to think that Arhatship is not the ultimate liberation and everyone has to attain Buddhahood in the end, Theravada states that it's only a matter of choice. To attain Buddhahood it means one becomes a doctor or a teacher who do not only reach personal liberation but have all the compassion and wisdom to help others, while to to reach liberation as an Arahat (Arhat) simply means one finally liberate from suffering as a patient or a student, he might only know very few things regarding different methods, he might or might not possess any psychic powers, but that's enough, because in terms of liberation, it's all the same, there's no difference between a teacher and a student, Nibanna (Nirvana) is THE final cessation of the five aggregates that cause suffering. That's it.

Theravada also have a very detailed/systematic approach to practise the Bodhisattva way to reach Buddhahood. Of course it's more adviceable that we stick with the tradition that we've been following and don't look around, however, only for those who are interested, on the Buddhanet website, there are some downloadable books, in the Theravada section there are two very informative meditation guide books written by the contemporary Theravada master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw: "Knowing and Seeing", and "The Practice Which Leads to Nibbana", which might help those who are interested in knowing more about those classical methods which are believed to be practised by the Buddha himself.

Of course I am not posting this trying to raise any questions regarding sects. I am convinced the basic principles of the methods taught by the Tibetan school, the Mahayana schools and the Tibetan are pretty much the same. The only purpose I am posting it here is because I always feel that many of us have many misconceptions about Theravada, I think it's no harm just to be aware of it.

That's what I know.

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