Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
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Phenomniverse
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Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Post by Phenomniverse »

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of a basic breakdown of the different groups of sutras, if such a thing exists. Something like, these are the Prajnaparamita sutras, this is what they generally have in common and this is (very briefly) how each one develops that theme. And so on with other 'families' of discourses. I'm looking for an introduction to the evolution of Buddhist thought not so much historically but in terms of how the different groups of Sutras have evolved the view and practice of Buddhism.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited by mistake
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Apologies for editing, I hit the wrong button, let me know if your post is not intact.

Anyway:

Looking at the Wiki's for Theraveda and Mahayana, Prajnaparamita, and Tathgatagarbha and similar issues will give you some idea:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theravada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Tur ... _of_Dharma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prajnaparamita

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tath%C4%8 ... %C5%ABtras

Buddhanet has some Mahayana sutras and a kind of guide:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/his ... sutras.htm
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Phenomniverse
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Re: Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Post by Phenomniverse »

Thanks Johnny. I found the three turnings wiki article soon after I posted the question, and that does give the basic structure that I'm looking for, but I'd like to see a more elaborate discussion with reference to the specific content of the sutras pertaining to each of the turnings. Also, the wiki article says this (in relation to the second turning): "The audience comprised bodhisattvas; in some telling there were also shravaka arhats there as well, who promptly had heart attacks and died from the shock of the new teachings". Why is the concept of emptiness so shocking to arhats? Maybe this second question would be better put in a different part of this forum though.
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Re: Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Phenomniverse wrote:Thanks Johnny. I found the three turnings wiki article soon after I posted the question, and that does give the basic structure that I'm looking for, but I'd like to see a more elaborate discussion with reference to the specific content of the sutras pertaining to each of the turnings. Also, the wiki article says this (in relation to the second turning): "The audience comprised bodhisattvas; in some telling there were also shravaka arhats there as well, who promptly had heart attacks and died from the shock of the new teachings". Why is the concept of emptiness so shocking to arhats? Maybe this second question would be better put in a different part of this forum though.

That's opening a whole can of worms my friend! Basic Mahayana doctrine holds that the nirvana of the Arhats of the first turning was only the cessation of the kleshas, and they still have the obscurations of knowledge of the nature of reality. There is no need to get embroiled in sectarian questions I don't think though, beyond understanding the basics of why Mahayana views itself as the "great vehicle". If you can get a hold of (one example off the top of my head) Red Pine's commentary on the Heart Sutra, there is some good explanation line by line as it were as to how the Heart Sutra teaches the dialectics of emptiness in reference to older teachings.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
Phenomniverse
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Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:23 am

Re: Basic breakdown/arrangement of the sutras

Post by Phenomniverse »

Ok I'll keep the worms canned for now then ;) I'll check out Red Pine's book, thanks.
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