Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Nicholas2727
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Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Nicholas2727 »

Hello

First off I want to start by saying that my knowledge of Mahayana and Vajrayana are very limited. Most of my knowledge in Buddhism is in the Theravada lineage and I have just recently started learning more about the Mahayana. From what I can tell the main focus in both schools is achieving Buddhahood. The Mahayana school teaches the six perfections as a way towards Buddhahood (I may be wrong here but this is what I believe I have heard as true) while the Vajrayana school teaches tantric practices to achieve Buddhahood (Again this may also be wrong so if it is I am sorry!) I have heard that that Mahayana school says it will take 3 incalculable eons before someone reaches Buddhahood, although the Vajrayana school says someone can achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime. If both schools focus is on becoming a Buddha, why would one choose Mahayana (The much slower school) versus Vajrayana (The much quicker school?) Hopefully my question makes sense and I can learn more about each school from your responses.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by LastLegend »

I know nothing about Vajrayana and what they practice. From a Mahayana (I think), one can enter samadhi of great emptiness that will surpass samadhi of Arahant and transcend both samsara and Nirvana. From that samadhi they have to develop further wisdom or perfect all skillful means to level of Buddhas. In my opinion what often happens on Mahayana side is people often get stuck with consciousness including Zen schools.
Make personal vows.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

I think it depends on which teachers inspire you to practice which methods.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Orgyen »

Vajrayana practice must have Mahayana teachings as it basis . Both form it bases on bodhicitta which include emptiness right understanding / panna and great compassion . To be trained in vajrayana vehicle is not advisable for ordinary worldling as it similar to an untrained person driving in F1 race . :mrgreen:
One need all preparation in Mahayana teachings as it prerequisites .
Sravaka is the vehicle for those concentrate on personal liberation as main concern .
People may speaks marvelously, highly intelligent but they have no integrity, the dharma do not function in their life .
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Steel »

Nicholas2727 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:17 am Hello

First off I want to start by saying that my knowledge of Mahayana and Vajrayana are very limited. Most of my knowledge in Buddhism is in the Theravada lineage and I have just recently started learning more about the Mahayana. From what I can tell the main focus in both schools is achieving Buddhahood. The Mahayana school teaches the six perfections as a way towards Buddhahood (I may be wrong here but this is what I believe I have heard as true) while the Vajrayana school teaches tantric practices to achieve Buddhahood (Again this may also be wrong so if it is I am sorry!) I have heard that that Mahayana school says it will take 3 incalculable eons before someone reaches Buddhahood, although the Vajrayana school says someone can achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime. If both schools focus is on becoming a Buddha, why would one choose Mahayana (The much slower school) versus Vajrayana (The much quicker school?) Hopefully my question makes sense and I can learn more about each school from your responses.
I think it depends more on the individual than the method. A person who's karma is ripe will succeed faster towards buddhahood in whichever method they choose.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Grigoris »

Karmic predisposition.

Anyway, how does somebody on the Vajrayana path know if they have (or have not) already spent 2.999999999999 incalculable eons worth of lives practicing Mahayana and this is their last life before Buddhahood? :shrug:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Astus »

Nicholas2727 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:17 amwhy would one choose Mahayana (The much slower school) versus Vajrayana (The much quicker school?)
That's a somewhat false dichotomy. Mahayana is the largest group of teachings after Buddhism. There are Chinese Mahayana (the primary canonical language being Chinese) and Tibetan Mahayana (the primary canon being in Tibetan), and they have different histories. Both forms have various teachings and traditions, including the concept of buddhahood in this life/body.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Dan74 »

I don't know if this sectarian sell is what really determines what people practice. I am sure there is truth behind these teachings, but it is not always so easy to parse. Vajrayana may only take one lifetime if one is ripe and able to follow its methods. In Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha also teaches that high attainment can take a week, if one is able to maintain "the Four Arousings of Mindfulness", but we don't have Theravada churning out non-returners right and centre either...

Mahayana may take 3 incalculable aeons, but who knows how long they have been on the path? And Zen traditionally classes itself as Ekyana and doesn't fully subscribe to these distinctions, as far as I understand.

At the end of the day, the reality is that most of us are mired in selfishness, delusion and suffering. When we meet a Teaching and a Teacher who appear to be reliable guides to help us out of it a bit, we follow them. We can be all intellectual about it, do the research, but it's not about buying a car. Our entire being with all its karma are involved and either we plunge in headlong and do what we can or we dabble and carve out a fancy little bit of samsara for ourselves, imagining all sorts of spiritual things. The pull of old habit is strong, so whatever serves to loosen it and create room for insight is the right vehicle.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SteRo »

Nicholas2727 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:17 am ... why would one choose Mahayana (The much slower school) versus Vajrayana (The much quicker school?)
The illusion 'I have chosen' arises from the conceit 'I am'. Actually a sphere of experience is naturally drawn to the teachings that matches its lineage. This does however not exclude temporarily going an inappropriate path due to delusion. But it's only a matter of time and suffering until the appropriate path is 'received'.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Orgyen »

Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:10 am Anyway, how does somebody on the Vajrayana path know if they have (or have not) already spent 2.999999999999 incalculable eons worth of lives practicing Mahayana and this is their last life before Buddhahood? :shrug:
Simple , i would guess all the parami are not anywhere near to perfection . Otherwise this question wouldnt arise . And great bodhisattva does not have a notion of last life in the practice .

:popcorn:
People may speaks marvelously, highly intelligent but they have no integrity, the dharma do not function in their life .
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Grigoris »

SteRo wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:46 amBut it's only a matter of time and suffering until the appropriate path is 'received'.
No it is not. That is why beings are trapped for infinite lifetimes in samsara. Buddhism is not (some version of) Hinduism where one's path is carved out by a creator god and one just trundles along until inevitably they reach enlightenment.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Norwegian »

Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am Mahayana may take 3 incalculable aeons, but who knows how long they have been on the path?
If one studies the five paths texts found in the Mahayana, one will know very well how long one have been on the path (roughly), and how long is left before Buddhahood is manifested (again, roughly), since everything in terms of a contextual time frame will be explained there very well. So if you ask this question, it just means you haven't studied these things yet.

Basically, if you in this life, as a Mahayana practitioner, have no siddhis, haven't realized emptiness, and so on, then you're not even on the first bhumi. And so then that means you have a very, very long way to go, because the Bodhisattva spends a very long time on each of the five paths in his or her career as a Bodhisattva, before Buddhahood is manifested. And so that means eons more of practice on the path no matter what you may think, since it takes the supreme practitioner of Mahayana, three incalculable eons to do these things in total. For the practitioner who isn't of supreme capacity, it of course takes a lot longer.

For a Vajrayana practitioner, it is the same except the time frame is a lot shorter, since the speed of the methods employed there shortens this down to a maximum of 16 lifetimes. And just like in common Mahayana, there is a five paths context to be understood, but here the road map is different, since the time frame is also different (due to the practice being different). But just like with the Mahayana road map, these things are explained, and should be understood.

Not understanding these things means not understanding the path.
"The Guru is the Buddha, the Guru is the Dharma,
The Guru is the Sangha too,
The Guru is Śrī Heruka.
The All-Creating King is the Guru."

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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SteRo »

Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:02 am
SteRo wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:46 amBut it's only a matter of time and suffering until the appropriate path is 'received'.
No it is not.
of course it is not receivied, since there is no giver of the appropriate path. Therefore ' ... ' has been applied. In reality an appropriate path is neither chosen nor received but ... hmh ... an appropriate path appears :idea:
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:02 am That is why beings are trapped for infinite lifetimes in samsara.
Depends on the perspective. Some seem to be "trapped" because they have to practice for infinite lifetimes but since practice isn't a "trap" but a way out, "trapped" does not apply.
Nicholas2727 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:17 am ...
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Dan74 »

Norwegian wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:09 am
Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am Mahayana may take 3 incalculable aeons, but who knows how long they have been on the path?
If one studies the five paths texts found in the Mahayana, one will know very well how long one have been on the path (roughly), and how long is left before Buddhahood is manifested (again, roughly), since everything in terms of a contextual time frame will be explained there very well. So if you ask this question, it just means you haven't studied these things yet.

Basically, if you in this life, as a Mahayana practitioner, have no siddhis, haven't realized emptiness, and so on, then you're not even on the first bhumi. And so then that means you have a very, very long way to go, because the Bodhisattva spends a very long time on each of the five paths in his or her career as a Bodhisattva, before Buddhahood is manifested. And so that means eons more of practice on the path no matter what you may think, since it takes the supreme practitioner of Mahayana, three incalculable eons to do these things in total. For the practitioner who isn't of supreme capacity, it of course takes a lot longer.

For a Vajrayana practitioner, it is the same except the time frame is a lot shorter, since the speed of the methods employed there shortens this down to a maximum of 16 lifetimes. And just like in common Mahayana, there is a five paths context to be understood, but here the road map is different, since the time frame is also different (due to the practice being different). But just like with the Mahayana road map, these things are explained, and should be understood.

Not understanding these things means not understanding the path.
Thank you for sharing this, Norwegian. These notions are not something I can put into my soup, however. :shrug:
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Norwegian »

Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:20 am
Norwegian wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:09 am
Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am Mahayana may take 3 incalculable aeons, but who knows how long they have been on the path?
If one studies the five paths texts found in the Mahayana, one will know very well how long one have been on the path (roughly), and how long is left before Buddhahood is manifested (again, roughly), since everything in terms of a contextual time frame will be explained there very well. So if you ask this question, it just means you haven't studied these things yet.

Basically, if you in this life, as a Mahayana practitioner, have no siddhis, haven't realized emptiness, and so on, then you're not even on the first bhumi. And so then that means you have a very, very long way to go, because the Bodhisattva spends a very long time on each of the five paths in his or her career as a Bodhisattva, before Buddhahood is manifested. And so that means eons more of practice on the path no matter what you may think, since it takes the supreme practitioner of Mahayana, three incalculable eons to do these things in total. For the practitioner who isn't of supreme capacity, it of course takes a lot longer.

For a Vajrayana practitioner, it is the same except the time frame is a lot shorter, since the speed of the methods employed there shortens this down to a maximum of 16 lifetimes. And just like in common Mahayana, there is a five paths context to be understood, but here the road map is different, since the time frame is also different (due to the practice being different). But just like with the Mahayana road map, these things are explained, and should be understood.

Not understanding these things means not understanding the path.
Thank you for sharing this, Norwegian. These notions are not something I can put into my soup, however. :shrug:
Then by all means remain ignorant about these things. Just don't ask the kind of question you did above next time, because that question is very easy to understand, provided you actually care to do your homework.
"The Guru is the Buddha, the Guru is the Dharma,
The Guru is the Sangha too,
The Guru is Śrī Heruka.
The All-Creating King is the Guru."

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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Grigoris »

SteRo wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:17 am
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:02 am
SteRo wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:46 amBut it's only a matter of time and suffering until the appropriate path is 'received'.
No it is not.
of course it is not receivied, since there is no giver of the appropriate path. Therefore ' ... ' has been applied. In reality an appropriate path is neither chosen nor received but ... hmh ... an appropriate path appears :idea:
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:02 am That is why beings are trapped for infinite lifetimes in samsara.
Depends on the perspective. Some seem to be "trapped" because they have to practice for infinite lifetimes but since practice isn't a "trap" but a way out, "trapped" does not apply.
Nicholas2727 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:17 am ...
Oh look, gibberish again.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Dan74 »

Norwegian wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:25 am
Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:20 am
Norwegian wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:09 am
If one studies the five paths texts found in the Mahayana, one will know very well how long one have been on the path (roughly), and how long is left before Buddhahood is manifested (again, roughly), since everything in terms of a contextual time frame will be explained there very well. So if you ask this question, it just means you haven't studied these things yet.

Basically, if you in this life, as a Mahayana practitioner, have no siddhis, haven't realized emptiness, and so on, then you're not even on the first bhumi. And so then that means you have a very, very long way to go, because the Bodhisattva spends a very long time on each of the five paths in his or her career as a Bodhisattva, before Buddhahood is manifested. And so that means eons more of practice on the path no matter what you may think, since it takes the supreme practitioner of Mahayana, three incalculable eons to do these things in total. For the practitioner who isn't of supreme capacity, it of course takes a lot longer.

For a Vajrayana practitioner, it is the same except the time frame is a lot shorter, since the speed of the methods employed there shortens this down to a maximum of 16 lifetimes. And just like in common Mahayana, there is a five paths context to be understood, but here the road map is different, since the time frame is also different (due to the practice being different). But just like with the Mahayana road map, these things are explained, and should be understood.

Not understanding these things means not understanding the path.
Thank you for sharing this, Norwegian. These notions are not something I can put into my soup, however. :shrug:
Then by all means remain ignorant about these things. Just don't ask the kind of question you did above next time, because that question is very easy to understand, provided you actually care to do your homework.
I don't think I asked any questions. I shared my perspective as a practitioner. You are free to add yours of course.

If you cared about where I was coming from, I'd explain further. But you certainly didn't ask any questions.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

This is not how things are. Vajrayana is part of mahayana. However, one can ask why choose sutra teachings over tantric teachings. And there might be many reasons for that.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Dan74 »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:13 am This is not how things are. Vajrayana is part of mahayana. However, one can ask why choose sutra teachings over tantric teachings. And there might be many reasons for that.
Who actually practices Sutrayana, as understood by the Tibetan Buddhists?
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Norwegian »

Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:08 am I don't think I asked any questions. I shared my perspective as a practitioner. You are free to add yours of course.

If you cared about where I was coming from, I'd explain further. But you certainly didn't ask any questions.
You wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Mahayana may take 3 incalculable aeons, but who knows how long they have been on the path?
That is a question.

And that question is easy to understand in its full scope by study of the five paths texts as found in common Mahayana.
"The Guru is the Buddha, the Guru is the Dharma,
The Guru is the Sangha too,
The Guru is Śrī Heruka.
The All-Creating King is the Guru."

-- The Secret Assembly Tantra
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