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April 29, 2008


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It seems that you too are eager to produce "opinionated comments", Bodhiratna!

You criticize Theravadin monks' "nasty behavior" with villagers, which is no doubt true for some of them - but not all! I have written critiques of such wayward monks on 'Forest Wisdom', & it's no revelation to someone living in Thailand that some monks here fall short of the ideal! However, are all Mahayana monks perfect bodhisattvas? Of course not! (This imperfection of those walking the Way is another point that unifies the two main branches of the Buddhadharma.)

And it's not only Theravadins that might obtain one of the false enlightenments, is it? (Or are you so bigoted against Theravada Buddhism that you're blind to the possibility that some Mahayanists are capable of errors in their meditative practice too?)

The last statement you make, Bodhiratna, is the only one fully in line with the One Vehicle (Ekayana) of the Lord Buddha; Yes, The Awakener does indeed make people peaceful and wise wherever they meet him/her - even Theravadins!

I hope that all sectarians, whether Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana Buddhists, find the wisdom to transcend their doctrinal attachments. Let us embrace one another, as the great teachers Master Hua (Mahayana) & Ajahn Sumendho (Theravada) did. We are all brothers & sisters in the Dharma, after all.

May all beings achieve Awakening - whatever their particular Path!

Peace to you, Bodhiratna,
G at "Forest Wisdom' & 'Buddha Space'.

It is really simple to see and one needs not write long opinionated comment about the article.

The Buddha has the Juice and that awakened others whereas a Theravadin "Buddha", the Arhat, might have obtained one of the false enlightenment mentioned in the Surangama Sutra.

While it is comparatively safe to say that Arhat's enlightenment appears to have induced a kind of "peace coma" in the minds of those sitting Theravadin monks, it is quite disturbing to see these monk's nasty behavior with the villagers, when they are not in meditation (mostly in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia).

The Awakener makes the people peaceful and wise where ever he/she meet them.


Hi Zennist.

This post seems to be a typical polemic against Theravada Buddhism from the Mahayana perspective. However, if Arhats are incapable of helping others to Awaken (realize Nirvana) then doesn’t it follow that modern Theravada Buddhism must be a dead religion without anybody achieving bodhi? It would be the blind leading the blind. Reading the teachings of a great – and very compassionate – Theravada monk like Ajahn Chah shows the fallacy of such an apparently sectarian argument.
Ajahn Chah gave some of the most wise and compassionate teachings to lead sentient beings to Liberation that were given in the Twentieth Century, comparable to anything taught by great Mahayana teachers such as Shunryu Suzuki and Master Hsuan Hua. Meeting and talking with some of this Thai forest monk’s successors like Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Brahm puts paid to the idea that only Mahayana Buddhists possess compassion for the suffering beings of this world. The Western Forest Sangha has done much to spread the Dharma across the globe, and all with a dash of compassion!
Indeed, where do we find compassion originally taught by the Buddha? In the Theravada Tipitaka of course! Along with metta, mudita & upekkha (goodwill, empathy & equanimity), compassion (karuna) has been taught throughout the history of Theravada Buddhism. The Buddha, according to Theravada suttas which exist as sutras in the Agama collection of the Chinese/Japanese Tripitaka, lead his followers to Awakening using what we might call ‘Theravada teachings and methods’, and those same disciples (who were Arhats) then lead others to the same enlightenment. The Venerable Sariputta (or Shariputra, if you prefer) is probably the best example of these ‘enlightening’ Arhats, his teaching on Right View (to which you refer) being rightly renowned as a superb exposition on the subject.
Mahayana Buddhism likes to make much of upaya (skillful means), supporting the many important innovations that its followers have made in their efforts to spread the Buddhadharma far and wide. This doesn’t mean that Theravada Buddhism is inferior or lacking in the compassion needed to lead others to bodhi, it simply indicates that different cultures and individuals require different versions of the Buddhadharma to realize the Truth (Satya). (And this is where Theravada Buddhism itself can be guilty of shortsightedness when it accuses Mahayana Buddhism of being ‘heretical’, which is just as bad as Mahayanists looking down on Theravadans as ‘underdeveloped’.)
That the Awakener has lead so many to sense their “undying life force” is something all Buddhists can celebrate together, whether Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana. And, as indicated in the Lotus Sutra, there is the Ekayana, of course, which states that there are three ‘vehicles’ to Awakening, those of the Shravakas, Pratyakabuddhas and Bodhisattvas, all of which coalesce into the ‘One Vehicle’. Although the Sutra does take the view that the latter is more developed or evolved than the others – a fact most unbiased observers would probably admit – it does recognize that they are all valid ways to realize enlightenment.
Buddhism is Buddhism. Sure, there are different interpretations, different practices, and sometimes somewhat different results too – often more dependent on our shortcomings as individuals than anything else! Seeing the value in the various Buddhist Vehicles can be a boon to the application of the Buddhadharma to one’s life, and doesn’t have to include ‘taking sides’, which is a dualistic approach to the Dharma at any rate! Ajahn Chah once taught one of his pupils who also studied Mahayana Buddhism that one shouldn’t cling to becoming either an Arhat or a Bodhisattva but simply practice the Buddhadharma moment to moment. This non-clinging to ideas of arhatship, bodhisattvahood or even Buddhahood prevents them from getting in the way of seeing things as they truly are (the Dharma). This way, all ways are really one way, and this One Way leads us home to where we were already Awakened all along but just hadn’t yet realized it!

Be well in the Buddhadharma (which ever way is your way!),
G at ‘Forest Wisdom’ and ‘Buddha Space’.

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