Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

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Dharma Flower
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Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:26 am

Though it's commonly claimed that Theravada influenced Mahayana, it's historically the other way around. Please let me explain. The most important commentator in Theravada of all time is Buddhagosa:

His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga "Path of Purification", a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation. The interpretations provided by Buddhaghosa have generally constituted the orthodox understanding of Theravada scriptures since at least the 12th century CE.[4][5] He is generally recognized by both Western scholars and Theravadins as the most important commentator of the Theravada.[3][6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhagho%E1%B9%A3a


Buddhagosa's writings were influenced by the Mahayana:

According to Kalupahana, Buddhaghosa was influenced by Mahayana-thought, which were subtly mixed with Theravada orthodoxy to introduce new ideas. Eventually this led to the flowering of metaphysical tendencies, in contrast to the original stress on anattā in early Buddhism[36]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghoṣa


If this isn't going back far enough to show that Mahayana influenced Theravada, let's go back to the beginning of Buddhism. The first major schism of Buddhism occurred during the Second Buddhist Council:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Buddhist_council

At that time, the Mahāsāṃghikas were the doctrinally conservative majority, while the Sthaviras were the innovating minority, leading to Buddhism's first major schism. The rest is history, as the Mahāsāṃghikas came to later be known as the Mahayana, and the Sthaviras came to be known as the Theravada.

And if that's not going back far enough, we can see in the Lotus Sutra how many of Shakyamuni's own disciples walked out on him when it came time to share the Bodhisattva teachings. This incident of masses of disciples walking out on Shakyamuni is paralleled in a story of the Pali scriptures, though I don't remember where to find it.

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Grigoris
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 02, 2017 3:37 pm

I think your research into the subject is going to have to go a little deeper than a couple of wiki articles before you can draw and definite conclusions.

And let us say that there is some truth in the claim that Theravada has some Mahayana influences: So what?
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:38 pm

Grigoris wrote:I think your research into the subject is going to have to go a little deeper than a couple of wiki articles /quote]

It has.

Grigoris wrote: So what?


It dispels the myth that the Mahayana isn't the historical Buddha's teachings.

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Grigoris
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:35 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:It dispels the myth that the Mahayana isn't the historical Buddha's teachings.
No it doesn't, it may show that 11 and a half centuries after the Buddhas death Buddhagosa may have been influenced by Mahayana teachings.

Most Theravadins know that their school is a more recent development. It wasn't one of the schools that the Mahayanis considered Hinayana, so...
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:52 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:It dispels the myth that the Mahayana isn't the historical Buddha's teachings.
No it doesn't, it may show that 11 and a half centuries after the Buddhas death Buddhagosa may have been influenced by Mahayana teachings.

Most Theravadins know that their school is a more recent development. It wasn't one of the schools that the Mahayanis considered Hinayana, so...


Please read my other historical examples too.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby anatta whisperer » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:11 pm

You are most likely correct...it was most likely mutual...perhaps at times imperceptible and surely not provable to others. You believe, and that should be enough, "the Tao that can be spoken is not the Tao." At best the past as well as the future are unknowable. Even that we chose to believe about their contents and meanings...are as the Buddha taught, not what we need to apply attention to. Still in the present I find your perception interesting. The way of the scholar ultimately leads back to surrender to the ground beyond conceptual thought. I apologize for taking a tangent from your question.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:20 pm

Grigoris wrote:Most Theravadins know that their school is a more recent development. It wasn't one of the schools that the Mahayanis considered Hinayana, so...
Most reasonable ones. Many are also deluded by extremist sectarian polemic, as are many Mahāyānists in this regard.
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:05 pm

anatta whisperer wrote:You are most likely correct...it was most likely mutual...perhaps at times imperceptible and surely not provable to others.


Maybe not proof, but there is evidence. If what we know about the Second Buddhist Council is correct, then Theravada is a schismatic group, and Mahayana came first. Mahayana and Theravada, at that time, had different names.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:27 pm

Also, in this thread, I dispelled the myth that Mahayana sutras came hundreds of years after Theravada sutras:

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213
viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213&start=20

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:00 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:Also, in this thread, I dispelled the myth that Mahayana sutras came hundreds of years after Theravada sutras:

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213
viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213&start=20

'Disputed' or 'denied' rather than 'dispelled'.

:thinking:
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:08 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:Also, in this thread, I dispelled the myth that Mahayana sutras came hundreds of years after Theravada sutras:

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213
viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213&start=20

'Disputed' or 'denied' rather than 'dispelled'.

:thinking:
Kim


That's not exactly the case, if I can say so respectfully:

Dharma Flower wrote:This is an article that first appeared in Tricycle magazine, which used historical evidence to call into question the common belief that the Pali scriptures are more historically trustworthy than the Mahayana scriptures:
http://www.lindaheuman.com/stories/Tric ... Truest.pdf

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:38 am

Dharma Flower wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:Also, in this thread, I dispelled the myth that Mahayana sutras came hundreds of years after Theravada sutras:

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213
viewtopic.php?f=102&t=21213&start=20

'Disputed' or 'denied' rather than 'dispelled'.

:thinking:
Kim


That's not exactly the case, if I can say so respectfully:


Screen Shot.png
Screen Shot.png (75.88 KiB) Viewed 339 times

Sorry - you can only claim "dispelled" if no-one believes it any more. (Should I remind you that there are tens of millions of Buddhists who haven't even come across your beliefs about their beliefs? Oh - I guess I just have.)
Dharma Flower wrote:This is an article that first appeared in Tricycle magazine, which used historical evidence to call into question the common belief that the Pali scriptures are more historically trustworthy than the Mahayana scriptures:
http://www.lindaheuman.com/stories/Tric ... Truest.pdf

That article has been doing the rounds for a while. If you look up other threads about it you will find that it isn't held in particularly high regard.

:namaste:
Kim

[edit - fixed formatting :emb: ]

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:29 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:That article has been doing the rounds for a while. If you look up other threads about it you will find that it isn't held in particularly high regard.


Thank you for your response. In the very least, if you look at everything I've presented, it suggests that Mahayana influenced Theravada more than the other way around, especially if what we know about the Second Buddhist Council is correct.

If we look at the matter historically, Mahayana is the legitimate heir to pre-sectarian Buddhism, and Theravada is a schismatic group:

Since at least the Meiji period in Japan, some scholars of Buddhism have looked to the Mahāsāṃghika as the originators of Mahāyāna Buddhism.[44] According to Akira Hirakawa, modern scholars often look to the Mahāsāṃghikas as the originators of Mahāyāna Buddhism.[45]

According to A.K. Warder, it is "clearly" the case that the Mahāyāna teachings originally came from the Mahāsāṃghika branch of Buddhism.[46]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahāsāṃghika


They were a group of reformists who split from the conservative majority Mahāsāṃghikas at the Second Buddhist council, resulting in the first schism in the Sangha...

The Theravāda school of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia has identified itself exclusively with the Sthaviras, as the Pali word thera is equivalent to the Sanskrit sthavira.[9] This has led early Western historians to assume that the two parties are identical.[9]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sthavira_nik%C4%81ya


None of what I am saying is meant to disparage the Theravada, since their teachings as found in the Pali scriptures are analogued in the Chinese Agamas. I am just dispelling or disputing the myth that the Mahayana was an aberration from hundreds of years after the historical Buddha.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Lucas Oliveira » Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:54 am

I believe that the Buddha influenced Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism.

Proof of this is that the two Buddhists speak about the 4 noble truths.

:anjali:
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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:19 am

Lucas Oliveira wrote:I believe that the Buddha influenced Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism.

Proof of this is that the two Buddhists speak about the 4 noble truths.

:anjali:


At a most fundamental level, that is true. The question is, other than accepting the Four Noble Truths, whether the Mahayana contradicts the historical Buddha's teachings.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:11 am

Coëmgenu wrote:Many are also deluded by extremist sectarian polemic, as are many Mahāyānists in this regard.

How apropos.

Dharma Flower wrote:If we look at the matter historically, Mahayana is the legitimate heir to pre-sectarian Buddhism, and Theravada is a schismatic group

:roll:
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:18 am

Mkoll wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:If we look at the matter historically, Mahayana is the legitimate heir to pre-sectarian Buddhism, and Theravada is a schismatic group

:roll:


All the evidence I've shared so far has been along those lines. If you have conflicting evidence, please share it, so then we can be more enlightened of the history involved.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:21 am

Lucas Oliveira wrote:I believe that the Buddha influenced Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism.

Proof of this is that the two Buddhists speak about the 4 noble truths.

:anjali:

That is a good way of looking at the situation.
The analogy I have been using for several years now is that both are true descendants of pre-sectarian Buddhism in just the same way that both chimps and orangutans are legitimate descendants of some ancestral ape. (BTW, as in that situation, we don't really know a lot about the original.)

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:27 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:The analogy I have been using for several years now is that both are true descendants of pre-sectarian Buddhism


If that were true, it would at least show that claiming the Mahayana to be an aberration of the historical Buddha's teachings is wrong.

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Re: Did Mahayana influence Theravada Buddhism?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:42 am

Another myth I'd like to dispel is that the Mahayana seeks after Buddhahood, while Theravadans only settle for arahantship. Both the Theravada and Mahayana scriptures refer to Shakyamuni as an arahant, in addition to calling him a Buddha.

The only difference between the Buddha, according to Theravada, and those who attain enlightenment after him, is that he did so without the help of a teacher. Disciples who attain enlightenment are referred to as Savaka Buddhas:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C4%81vakabuddha


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