kalden yungdrung wrote:
Your post is very to the point.
My question to you as an expert in Theravada views, would be:
- Do you see Thervada - Mahayana - Tantra (yana) - Mahamudra and Dzogchen as interdependent?
- Could you elucidate then please your example for all above mentioned Traditions?
Thanks at beforehand
I am no expert regarding Theravada, let alone Mahayana, Tantrayana, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, and am therefore not at all equipped to answer your questions in the terms you have set them out. There is a thread in this forum on Theravada and Dzogchen. What seems to emerge there is that, while the Dhamma-Vinaya displays no notion of Dzogchen, there are passages in the Suttas (and, something I do not think was noted, practices in certain Theravadin traditions, the Thai Forest tradition for example) which are likely to "ring bells" for practitioners of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. The thread also gives a reference to a book by Ajahn Amaro, a Thai Forest tradition monastic, in which he reflects upon Dzogchen. A number of passages from the suttas have been cited in that thread. It should be noted that there are strands of Theravadin tradition which teach methods of meditation which make use of chakras in much the same way as certain Tantric practices and some secondary practices used in Dzogchen. The "Access to Insight" website includes some of the teachings of the late Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro about mindfulness of breathing (anapana-sati), which includes methods of working with the chakras which are interesting. There are also key concepts in the practice of meditation -- sati-sampaja~n~na, for example, which Luang Por Sumedho calls "intuitive awareness" in his writings, which will also probably ring bells.
Something which has been pointed out several times in this forum is that different yanas are self-sufficient, each in its own right, and that it is specifics of the path of each and the speed of the journey to liberation, as it were, which differentiates between different vehicles. From this perspective, it is not a matter of superior and inferior: you pays your money and you makes your choice.
In addition to this, however, traditions (of which what is described broadly as Theravada) are not homogenous by any manner or means, and cannot necessarily be regimented narrowly into a single-vehicle schema. As I have noted, there are streams of tradition within Theravada which work with the chakras -- not just the Thai Forest tradition, there are esoteric samatha and samatha/vipassana traditions in Myanmar, and U Bha Khin, whose method is used as the basis of the practice of vipassana taught by Goenka, also involves work with energy -- what the late U Bha Khin called "the nibbaana-dhatu". Dig deep enough, and some tantric techniques will probably be found. There is a Bodhisattva tradition in Theravada -- some practitioners take a Bodhisattva vow -- though this looms far less large than it does in Mahayana. So: there are practitioners within the Theravadin tradition who stand within the Bodhisattva tradition, and there are also strands of tradition which teach what are tantamount to Tantric practices in the context of adaptations of methods of meditation with roots in the Suttas and later developments. By the same token, strands of tradition within Tibetan Buddhism also encompass different vehicles, and there are doubtless good and sincere practitioners whose practice remains essentially a shravaka practice whose goodness and sincerity should not be belittled because of this.
Regarding some of the people I mentioned in my earlier post, the late Luang Por Chah, the late Luang Por Maha Boowa and the late Luang Por Pa~n~navadho are all reputed to have achieved Arahatship, which Theravada regards as the highest attainment possible within the dispensation of a particular Buddha (in our case, Sakyamuni). The way in which the Dhamma-Vinaya and the Theravada tradition conceives of Arahatship and indeed of Buddhahood differs significantly from the way in which these are conceived in Mahayana and Vajrayana: technically, the Buddha of the current dispensation, Sakyamuni, is viewed in what might be described as docetic terms in Mahayana and Vajrayana, in stark contrast to the Dhamma-Vinaya and the Shravaka traditions. The term "docetic" is derived from a Greek word, "dokein" (to seem)/ "dokesis" (apparition, phantom), and was used to describe a view condemned by early Christians as heretical, to the effect that Jesus crucified on the cross was in fact an apparition. In similar fashion, if I understand the matter correctly, Mahayana and Vajrayana view the historical Buddha as it were, Sakyamuni, as an apparition of sorts, a Nirmanakaya controlled like a puppet (to use terms that Malcolm, in his days as Namdrol on E-Sangha used in a message to me) by the Sambhogakaya. The Theravadin view is emphatically non-docetic, by contrast. Notwithstanding the differences, it is common cause that the Suttas are the word of the Buddha and worthy of respect, and none of this impugns my point about different styles of practice within Theravada which do not support a simplistic equation of Theravada and "Hinayana". Any tradition of sufficient age, depth and complexity is probably more like a fleet of carriages and cars of different types than like a sigle car or carriage.
A note on terminology: not many Theravadins like being called "Hinayanists", which certainly looks and sounds like a term which judges Theravada to be inferior to Mahayana and Vajrayana. "Sharavakayana" is probably a far kinder term in this regard, and with reference to the Dhamma-Vinaya, whether involving the Paali Suttas or the Agamas preserved in Chinese or parallel texts discovered over the past years in other Prakrit languages, is more accurate.
Apologies for not anwering your questions directly.