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Superiority and sectarianism

SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

I hear Mahayana types going on about how their vehicle is bigger and better than Theravada. I hear Vajrayana types going on about how their vehicle is superior to both, the fast track. I hear Theravadans going on about how the suttas are the only reliable guide to the Buddha's teaching, and the rest is just unnecessary re-inventing of the Wheel. And so it goes on.

Is there any valid basis for these claims of superiority, or is it really just a load of tiresome sectarian rhetoric?

Earthninja
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Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    The Eightfold Path encourages "right mind," "right intention," "right meditation" and so forth. Those inclined towards Buddhism are likely to credit the Eightfold Path to one degree or another.

    But the word "right," which can initially sound as if it were pointing out something "wrong," is sometimes translated as "complete" or "whole-hearted." And it is in this sense that what may sound like a spiritual pissing contest has some usefulness. Half-hearted applications of practice simply will not cut it. Buddhism is an "all-in" business and yet which one of us is not nagged by a need for safety nets and meanings and yes-but's and other possibilities?

    What may sound like -- and sometimes in fact be -- a spiritual pissing contest (mine's kooler than yours!) has an upside in encouraging students to stop using the safety nets of intellect or belief or hope: If you're gonna do it, then do it and stop looking in the rear-view mirror! If bad-mouthing the other guy's persuasion will bring anyone closer to his or her own persuasion, well, perhaps it's worth it ... tentatively.

    Let's be honest -- there is no option other than the present. There is no "completeness" where something is already complete ... as in, right now. But the mind waffles and flutters and makes up wondrous tales. Stories are made up to rein in the intellect that moons and croons and provides a safety net. Mahayana, if you insist. Theravada, if you insist. Not-Mahayana if you insist. Not-Theravada if you insist ... and naturally it's all perfect-er than the other guy's perfection, which, be it said, really is perfect ... just like your own.

    Every route offers the potential of the one true shortcut. It also offers the potential to the one true confusion. So everyone is stuck with the farm in front of his or her nose. I'm not sure that a pissing contest will improve that scenario, but I admit it sure is fun... a great way to sidestep what is staring each of us in the face.

    All-in ... what a piss-cutter!

    Just noodling.

    lobstersilver
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I go for Theravada because it seems straight to the point with no frills. I do think it can lack humour and warmth though.
    Sometimes, it's even 'anal' in its approach to practice.
    Mahayana has too many frills whistles and bells, but does contain some extraordinary teachings which seem to hit home and cut to the core... I also like the friendlier approach by some teachers, and the user-friendly manner in which they communicate.

    I don't cherry-pick. I go for what resonates and test it accordingly. It's all Buddhism, it's just that some of it is flour and water, and some of it is suet-and-raisin dumplings...

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited January 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I hear Mahayana types going on about how their vehicle is bigger and better than Theravada. I hear Vajrayana types going on about how their vehicle is superior to both, the fast track. I hear Theravadans going on about how the suttas are the only reliable guide to the Buddha's teaching, and the rest is just unnecessary re-inventing of the Wheel. And so it goes on.

    Is there any valid basis for these claims of superiority, or is it really just a load of tiresome sectarian rhetoric?

    I'd go with the latter and tend to think any claims of a superior school would come from a rather poor reflection of said school.

    I mean, even within the sects themselves there are disagreements which cause more sects to pop up out of the woodwork and on it goes.

    I consider myself non-sectarian and if a Mahayana text expounds on or even transmits Theravada from a different view I'm all ears.

    Nagarjuna for instance expounded the Middle Way and did so in a way as to compliment Theravada nicely (in my opinion though some may disagree).

    Zen was born when Buddhism and Taoism embraced and Zen masters are still called "Roshi" out of respect for Lao-Tsu.

    To me, that is when Taoism became a part of the Sangha.

    That's just an example.

    If I have to suspend my disbelief to make it work, it isn't going to work for me no matter what branch it fell from but if it makes sense, challenges my current view, has compassion at its core and lines up with the Noble truths then I feel it is helpful.

    Then and only then can I call it dharma.

    Walker
  • It is not politically correct to say that I think my schooll of Buddhism is superior to others. But if we are honest to ourselves, of course we feel our chosen school is superior. Why else would you choose to follow that particular school?

  • Unless you claim that you follow all 3 schools, then you are not Buddhist But that is not buddhism , it is Confusionism。

  • howhow Veteran

    @SpinyNorman

    Worldly tribalism with a spiritual makeover.
    Just another attachment in need of being addressed.

    WalkerShoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @hermitwin said:
    It is not politically correct to say that I think my schooll of Buddhism is superior to others. But if we are honest to ourselves, of course we feel our chosen school is superior. Why else would you choose to follow that particular school?

    Because we feel a connection.
    I refuse to state my school is superior to anyone else's. it's just my preference.

    Do YOU feel you school is superior to that of those who don't follow yours?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It has never been taught to me by any teacher, in person or just reading, that one is better than the other, and that no one on any path is a lesser person than someone on a different path. I know there are those who do believe that, but i have never once had it explained to me that way. They are just different paths with different focuses (focii? lol), a different way to learn and experience the same information.

    Just because something is the best match for me does not make it so for everyone. Plus a lot of people simply don't have every option available where they live. So if they choose to have a teacher and/or "real" sangha, they have to go with what is available. My teacher is vajrayana, but I am more of a mahayana person and the tenets of that practice were part of my life long before I knew what Buddhism even was. Our sangha practices all 3 paths together, and support each other no matter where we are on each path.

    Walker
  • @hermitwin said:
    Unless you claim that you follow all 3 schools, then you are not Buddhist But that is not buddhism , it is Confusionism。

    Why? Please explain further.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 2016

    They haz schools?

    Can't I just be enlightened please? o:)

    As a wannabe follower of the YinYana sect, which refuses to allow anyone in, I have to make do with all the inferior types. If I can find good colander headwear I may join the pastafarians :pleased:

    Long live the Hinayana! Kill the heretics! Free the infidels! :3

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:

    @hermitwin said:
    It is not politically correct to say that I think my schooll of Buddhism is superior to others. But if we are honest to ourselves, of course we feel our chosen school is superior. Why else would you choose to follow that particular school?

    Because we feel a connection.
    I refuse to state my school is superior to anyone else's. it's just my preference.

    Do YOU feel you school is superior to that of those who don't follow yours?

    Absolutely spot on!

    I don't feel my school (Tibetan Gelug tradition) is superior to others. It just is better for me. I explored both Theravadan and Zen and they didn't click with me.

    I am lucky to live somewhere where I have the choose.

    lobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @hermitwin said:
    Unless you claim that you follow all 3 schools, then you are not Buddhist But that is not buddhism , it is Confusionism。

    I take it you mean confucianism. Confusionism is just - confusing.....

  • I wants to be confusionist pleeze! o:)

  • If lesser vehicle means lesser people riding in the vehicle with me then yes I prefer that :)

    lobsterEarthninjaWalkerNirvana
  • any vada, any yana, any ism, Buddha's Teaching is the best

    without FNT, NEP there is no Liberat

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2016

    I view all teachings as sign posts. I see all language as symbolic. These things point us in the right direction, and that's it. If one doesn't mistake the finger for the moon, I think most spiritual traditions are superior in that they lead to a higher truth and happiness.

    Bunkslobsterupekka
  • Exactly so @Jason

    Language in the esoteric traditions of some, has several potential levels of meaning including:

    • The populist, used for example in pictorial language for non literate transmission eg tarot, cathedral/temple/stupa decoration
    • The superficial or surface
    • The poetic or artistic
    • The hidden, mystic or esoteric
    • The changing key or different meanings, applied more in rasayana and languages such as hebrew and arabic
    • The heart or inner meaning for the enlightened transmission
    • The covering or veil in cases of persecution, protected knowledge etc

    ... who would have thought it ... and now back to the unconfused ... B)

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Hinayana, they walk around wearing orange robes which isn't my colour. They shave their heads so they all look the same. They don't eat and sleep, and their meditation consists of watching their breath for 10 hours a day.
    Fun time is spent reading the same book forever.
    Sounds like the hell realms on earth. They don't know what enlightenment is either so they mask it by saying... "Enlightened beings don't talk about their enlightenment... "Yeah right on.
    There monks have 500 rules that has nothing to do with what the Buddha said, mainly so the monks are too busy worrying about rules rather than real liberation.

    Mahayana, they invented the name Hinayana to make themselves feel better about failing at meditation and discipline. They wrote their own book and claimed it as Buddhas words, the dictator was a guy called Nargarjuna. They have this thing called the Bodhisatva, pretty much the angel of the buddhist world, they believe they exist but no ones ever met one... Yeah right on.
    They have no idea what enlightenment is so they try one up the Hinayana by saying they will liberate others first. They dont even know what liberation is though.
    These guys are the hippies of the buddhist world. Save others before ourselves! Though we are not sure how to! Why? Because they can't meditate for more than 10 minutes. !

    Vajrayana, now these guys are truly crazy. They have invented a whole new religion and claim it as the fastest way to enlightenment. They even spin the Buddhists texts automatically to get merit. Whatever the hell that is. Sounds like an arcade game. Trying to obtain credit, I mean merit.
    Maybe when you reach level 100000000 you become enlightened.
    Oh, and they have "holy"days where you get triple credits, so save your lollies and be compassionate on these days!! Woohoo.
    They do weird Tantra whereby you imagine you are a four armed deity of compassion or I'm sure sex practices also.
    And don't forget that book of the dead, they claim the "spirit" hovers over the body for days so they just leave the body where it is! And pray for a good rebirth!
    Good luck in a hospital.
    Fastest way to enlightenment... In the next life. Seems legit. Yeah right on.
    They even do wacky dream walking bs to try and control rebirth. Sounds like astral projection.
    They have no idea what enlightens is, so they practice every other taboo thing they can find. Watch out for these guys.

    Pureland Buddhism now these guys imagine if they say Amitaba Buddha enough they will die and go to the Pureland and be reborn at Buddhas feet. In a lotus flower... What is possibly irrational about this? Seems legit right.
    Can you imagine been stuck next to one of these on a ten hour flight...
    Once I heard this I ran away so I don't know much else about these guys except I'm never going to a dinner party filled with these guys.

    Zen Buddhism, Buddhism was way too indian for the Chinese and Japanese so they made their own Buddhism by mixing it with Daoism and Confucism.
    Now they deliver sermons by way of listening to a bird. Or clapping one hand.
    They give their students impossible riddles to work on. Kind of like the Pureland guys but not quiet as weird.
    The hopes that this riddle drives you bonkers and you wake up by giving up on life.
    Or the other approach is you stare at a wall for years. You don't do anything. Just sit. Sounds like fun.
    Atleast the Hinayana get awesome jhana experiences whereby you watch this light turn you into oblivion of bliss!
    Atleast the zen guys and girls eat when hungry and sleep when tired!
    Sign me up! That's what I do already! I'm a master at this!
    I can even tell the difference between my finger and the moon!
    I've listened to a Hinayana monk give a sermon... Give me the bird any day. Atleast the bird sounds happy about what whatever it is talking about.
    I like water colours and eating Japanese food so I reckon I'm a zen buddhist!

    zenforthewin

    hatersgonhate

    WalkerlobsterBunkspossibilities
  • @SpinyNorman said:
    Is there any valid basis for these claims of superiority, or is it really just a load of tiresome sectarian rhetoric?

    ^^^ It is all true. :p

    Truth is a lie [bit of paradox, to stimulate the neurons and get the bladder working]

    As we say in the inferior Yinyana sect:
    'Do not only think only with your mind' - tsk tsk, they iz naughty!

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited January 2016

    My teacher talks about having a teacher or perhaps sect is like having a tap of water that you are drinking from. If the water you are getting is good then all is well. I don't think that's to brain wash anyone but just to reassure for people who are worried about making 'the perfect choice' to a point of neurosis. If you like your teacher or website or whatever then pursue it!

    And incidentally depending on your school the presentation of the four noble truths or eightfold path might be different. In my lineage the 8FP is a very advanced teaching that was given to yogis in deer park during the first sermon of the Buddha. Those yogis had practiced single mindedly for years. Nonetheless many kinds of practice advice might be categorized in the 8FP such as how to raise energy to practice could be right effort. So anyone who meditates encounters that even if they hear no word of Buddhism. But it is not the NOBLE 8FP until a certain point which I gather is quite subtle. And then 8FP is a teaching in the 1st vehicle. The sutras teaching the mahayana and vajrayana don't refer explicitly to the eight fold path as far as I know. And that's just sutras yet alone skillful means or pointing out instructions of a teacher. My teacher's husband is a tantra practitioner but at the same time he wrote a book about the 4NT. But it is not presented the same as 4NT traditionally presented. If you didn't read it carefully (where it indeed mentions it is about 4NT) most likely you wouldn't realize that. Just mentioned this so people are aware that there is different emphasis in different traditions. There's such an immense amount of material and different teachers express different teachings in the course of their lifetimes. Lineages.

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    My Buddha's a whole lot better than your Buddha and ....

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @how said: Worldly tribalism with a spiritual makeover.
    Just another attachment in need of being addressed.

    I agree and I just can't take the claims of superiority seriously. When I was involved in Dzogchen for example they were always going on about how superior it was, the fast track, blah blah. But it soon became clear this was just rhetoric, the people involved seemed quite dispirited, low morale, rather confused, they'd done this practice and that practice but nothing had happened, and so on. Meh.

    The other thing I've noticed is that the people who shout the loudest about the superiority of their own school are often the ones who haven't experienced other schools, so really they have nothing to compare with, they are talking out of their bottoms.

    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @karasti said:Plus a lot of people simply don't have every option available where they live. So if they choose to have a teacher and/or "real" sangha, they have to go with what is available.

    I think this is quite significant. A lot of the Buddhists I've met over the years "ended up" in their current school more by circumstance than informed choice. Maybe it was the local group, maybe it was recommended by a friend, that kind of thing.

    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @hermitwin said: But if we are honest to ourselves, of course we feel our chosen school is superior. Why else would you choose to follow that particular school?

    There is an important distinction between "This school is best" and "This school is best for me."

    federicaVastmindBunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    ( I daresay @hermitwin will disappear for another few months.... So I'm not sure any of us will receive responses to our questions regarding his post....)

    Nirvana
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @namarupa said: If lesser vehicle means lesser people riding in the vehicle with me then yes I prefer that :)

    Size isn't everything. ;)

    Walker
  • @namarupa said:
    If lesser vehicle means lesser people riding in the vehicle with me then yes I prefer that :)

    Yes, and smaller tents tend to attract fewer clowns. ;)

    Earthninja
  • @SpinyNorman he quoteth:

    @how he say: Worldly tribalism with a spiritual makeover.
    Just another attachment in need of being addressed.

    @SpinyNorman he continues:
    I agree and I just can't take the claims of superiority seriously.

    Well said guys. B)

    In the lowly Islamic hadith (I think it is - maybe in the Quran) it says:

    'God (=dharmakaya) has hidden the peeps of greatest wisdom'

    What this means is that the presence of 'the school/teacher' might not be in the ostensible, outer form of the school.

    The Buddha PBUH never provided 'superior', 'hidden', 'esoteric', 'secret' or even dumber dharma.

    It is all golden and surprisingly obvious. Suits me.

  • cazcaz Veteran
    edited January 2016

    Dharma is levelled in 3 ways from the POV of Vajrayana.

    1. The teachings of the Hinayana or lesser vehicle- Which emphasis focus on renunciation and moral discipline and higher concentration to achieve nivarna or individual liberation also known as arhatship.

    2. The teachings of Mahayana or greater vehicle- This primarily builds on the foundation of the Hinayana, it emphasis moral discipline, renunciation, bodhichitta and the practice of higher concentration on emptiness.

    These primary difference between the Hinayana and mahayana is that of intention, Bodhichitta is the strong wish motivated by compassion to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

    The teachings of emptiness in mahayana are also more elaborated on and more profound than the teachings found within the Hinayana vehicle.

    The mahayana teaches that there is a big difference between an arhat and a Buddha this is mainly the level of accomplishment, arhats have removed their delusions but they have not removed their imprints.

    1. The teachings of Vajrayana- The teachings of Vajrayana build upon that of Mahayana..tantra can only be entered through initiation, these teachings focus on changing the basis of imputation of I from an impure deluded I to a pure one, these teaching also emphasis a special meditation on emptiness using the subtle mind, this very quickly eliminates delusion and can result in enlightenment in one lifetime.
  • @caz said:

    these teachings focus on changing the basis of imputation of I from an impure deluded I to a pure one, these teaching also emphasis a special meditation on emptiness using the subtle mind, this very quickly eliminates delusion and can result in enlightenment in one lifetime.

    Sounds like a plan!
    I see great merit in what zeniths sometimes represent as 'the impossibility of rock polishing to make a mirror'.
    http://dogenandtheshobogenzo.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/zazen-polishing-tile-to-make-mirror.html

    Long live the extinct dharmas! Hail Buddha! o:)

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @caz said: The teachings of emptiness in mahayana are also more elaborated on and more profound than the teachings found within the Hinayana vehicle.

    Really? More elaborate doesn't necessarily mean more profound.

    For example the Phena Sutta looks remarkably similar to the Heart Sutra:

    "Form is like a glob of foam; feeling, a bubble; perception, a mirage; fabrications, a banana tree; consciousness, a magic trick —
    This has been taught by the Kinsman of the Sun.
    However you observe them,
    appropriately examine them,
    they're empty, void to whoever sees them appropriately."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.095.than.html

    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 2016

    @caz said: Dharma is levelled in 3 ways from the POV of Vajrayana. 1. The teachings of the Hinayana or lesser vehicle-

    But only from this particular POV. "Hinyana" is a meaningless term outside this, and I've never met a Buddhist who described themselves as being a "Hinayanist".

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2016

    I understand the term to be considered extremely derogatory.
    I'd be reassured, @caz, that you in no way meant it to be....

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 2016

    "Smaller vehicle" doesn't bother me, but "lesser vehicle" does because it implies inferiority. And it seems strange that one Buddhist vehicle would define itself by referring to another as inferior, it points to an underlying arrogance.

    In any case, saying which Buddhist vehicle or school is "best" is like saying which painting in an art gallery is "best". It comes down to personal preference and inclination.

    EarthninjalobsterBunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 2016

    ^^^ Exactly so. Smaller as in tighter, more focussed. :+1:

    Long live the Hinayana! Ego death and enlightenment to the Mahayana infidels! :3

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Bleedin' Hinophobes. ;)

    lobster
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Nicely put, I don't know why the word Hinayana still gets thrown around.
    Even the Theravada don't call themselves this,
    Not to mention every Theravada I've ever listened to have every intention of helping others.
    They just believe that to truly liberate others, you need to first liberate yourself so as to be a lamp to point the way.

    There is no one way or one path, so when a school mentions they are the greater path or the fastest way to enlightenment...

    It's always a competition isn't it :/ my car is faster than yours, I have more social status. My buddhist school is better than yours. I'm more compassionate than you are, sigh

    Plus we all know zen is the best. So there's no point arguing or comparing.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Zen is just a version of Theravada, so it would make sense for it to be the best. ;)

    lobsterEarthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Anyway I don't care because I'm a pan-Buddhist with an interest in stir-fries. I like a bit of Pagan seasoning, a dash of mysticism and a teaspoon of Advaita. Lovely!

    lobsterEarthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Delightful, I like Zen for a mains with a side order of Advaita. Crack some philosophy over the top of it all and I'll have some martial arts for dessert.

    I've tasted Theravada and I do like the taste but it's like a fine whiskey, can't drink too much of it but I appreciate the effort put in.

    I've tasted a bit of Tibetan Buddhism and it was fantastic but a bit exotic for me.

    Everybody has their own taste m.

  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran

    SN 45.4 is a beautiful and inspiring sutta.

    https://suttacentral.net/en/sn45.4

  • ^^^ thanks @bookworm can we burn it and come up with something superior?

    Maybe a substandard Mahayana teaching? If not I may have to quote things the dharmakaya told me ...

    For example, 'Only quote what I never said.' o:)

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited January 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Zen is just a version of Theravada, so it would make sense for it to be the best. ;)

    I was told by a moderator on a different site that any "version" of Theravada is Mahayana and also that I can't be non-sectarian because that's just more Mahayana.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    And Buddhism is just a school of Hinduism really. ;)

    Earthninja
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited January 2016

    Then of course, Hinduism is like the Mahayana of Brahmanism.

    Well, maybe not quite.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Anyway I don't care because I'm a pan-Buddhist with an interest in stir-fries. I like a bit of Pagan seasoning, a dash of mysticism and a teaspoon of Advaita. Lovely!

    I'm pretty much the same. I'm like an omnitheistic leaning agnostic Buddhist with/in a splash of the Tao.

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Asking just because I don't get it. Why is it that we all understand that "right view" and so on means wise, and not correct but we can't do the same with "lesser vehicle"? It has never been taught to me by any teacher that it is meant to be a "it is less because the others are better." Not ever, not by anything I've read, or anything I've been taught by numerous teachers in person. I realize that back in the day there were (and perhaps still are) people who did use hinayana and/or "lesser vehicle" to put others down. But just because a few misuse the word is no reason to throw it in the trash when we can understand that it is just a way to define or separate the terms, just like the word "right" in the Eightfold Path. Maybe I am dense. I've never understood it, lol. Perhaps it meant so much to others in the past that it's become like once-innocent but now permanently stained Swastika

    Also, why is it that several other people used the term, but only caz was warned about it? It seems obvious he was merely informing and not name-calling or any such thing. Cripes.

    @SpinyNorman I have only one choice. I quite love my teacher and our sangha. But had I lived in an area conducive to it, I would have explored other options. There are other sanghas nearer, but they are all based around my teacher, lol. For me to explore there types of Buddhism, I'd have to travel 250+ miles. Which that is doable here and there it is nothing something I could do remotely regularly so it just wasn't an option for my needs.

    lobster
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