anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

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múscailt
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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by múscailt » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:52 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:33 pm

I was at a talk being given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu/Ajahn Geoff.
He quoted the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming translated as 'the great way is not difficult for those with no preferences' and then went on to criticize that viewpoint, saying there's no way to not have preferences, it's how we deal with them that matters, etc. etc. and basically used that as a launching pad to be critical of Zen.
Ven Thanissaro, from reading his comments about things Mahayana, seems not to know much about the Mahayana/Zen in terms of actual practice, and what he does not know much about and what he does not like he will grumpily criticize it.

Aurthur Waley’s trans of the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming:
The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.


What Ven T fails to recognize is that Hsin Hsin Ming is a text describing not everyday mind, but, rather describing meditation practice of a mind as it becomes mature in its practice of cultivating a concentrated and mindful/attentive mind, and it is much in keeping with Dogen’s famous lines from the Genjo Koan (tr. Paul Jaffe): To study the Buddha way is to study oneself. To study oneself is to forget oneself. To forget oneself is to be enlightened by the myriad dharmas. To be enlightened by the myriad dharmas is to bring about the dropping away of body and mind of both oneself and others. The traces of enlightenment come to an end, and this traceless enlightenment is continued endlessly. When a person starts to search out the dharma, he separates himself far from the dharma. When the dharma has already been rightly transmitted in oneself, just then one is one's original self. This is a text very much in keeping with vipassana practice, and the vipassana teachers I have had during my 3 month retreats would approvingly quote both Dogen and the possibly mythic Seng-ts’an as ways of illustrating the practice.


Of course, the problem, as you rightly raised the question, is with a lack of knowledge and understanding of differing traditions.
"We don't use the Pali Canon as a basis for orthodoxy, we use the Pali Canon to investigate our experience." -- Ajahn Sumedho

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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:00 pm

I don't know how anyone could not understand that this statement refers to freedom from attachment and aversion, not living from the eight worldly concerns etc. IMO it takes some actual effort to believe the meaning lies in a literal statement of "don't choose stuff"....that's basically just willful ignorance.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttaniddeso

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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:01 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:33 pm
I was at a talk being given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu/Ajahn Geoff.
He quoted the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming translated as 'the great way is not difficult for those with no preferences' and then went on to criticize that viewpoint, saying there's no way to not have preferences, it's how we deal with them that matters, etc. etc. and basically used that as a launching pad to be critical of Zen.
I immediately bristled a bit, as I was already leaning towards Zen, and was very familiar with that text and Richard Clark's translation that 'the great way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences' - which is a different thing entirely, and actually in alignment with Ajahn's viewpoint. ...
Thanks for that. I like listening to Ajahn Geoff's talks, as often has some stong advice that undermines my complacency. However, as in the case you highlight, when he criticises other paths or teachers he often seems to be holding up a cartoon version. Which is odd, since he seems very intelligent and well read.

:heart:
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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:11 pm

Regarding:
múscailt wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:52 pm
Aurthur Waley’s trans of the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming:
The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
Compare Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda's, Nibbāna –The Mind Stilled, Sermon 28.
https://seeingthroughthenet.net/books/
... "Experiencing taste Master Gotama takes his
food, but not experiencing any attachment to the taste."

It is indeed something marvellous. The implication is that there is such
a degree of detachment with regard to things experienced by the tongue,
even when the senses are taking in their objects. One can understand the
difference between the mundane and the supramundane, when one
reflects on the difference between experiencing taste and experiencing an
attachment to taste.

Not only with regard to the objects of the five senses, but even with
regard to mind-objects, the emancipated one has a certain degree of
detachment. The arahant has realized that they are not `such'. He takes in
concepts, and even speaks in terms of `I' and `mine', but knows that they
are false concepts, as in the case of a child's language,
There is a discourse among the Nines of the Aïguttara Nikàya which
seems to assert this fact. It is a discourse preached by Venerable Sàriputta
to refute a wrong viewpoint taken by a monk named Chandikàputta.

"Friend, in the case of a monk who is fully released, even if many
forms cognizable by the eye come within the range of vision, they do not
overwhelm his mind, his mind remains unalloyed, steady and unmoved, he
sees its passing away. Even if many sounds cognizable by the ear come
within the range of hearing ... even if many smells cognizable by the nose
... even if many tastes cognizable by the tongue ... even if many tangibles
cognizable by the body ... even if many mind-objects cognizable by the
mind come within the range of the mind, they do not overwhelm his mind,
his mind remains unalloyed, steady and unmoved, he sees its passing
away."

So here we have the ideal of the emancipated mind. Generally, a person
unfamiliar with the nature of a lotus leaf or a lotus petal, on seeing a drop
of water on a lotus leaf or a lotus petal would think that the water drop
smears them.

Earlier we happened to mention that there is a wide gap between the
mundane and the supramundane. Some might think that this refers to a gap
in time or in space. In fact it is such a conception that often led to various
misinterpretations concerning Nibbàna. The supramundane seems so far
away from the mundane, so it must be something attainable after death in
point of time. Or else it should be far far away in outer space. Such is the
impression made in general.

But if we go by the simile of the drop of water on the lotus leaf, the
distance between the mundane and the supramundane is the same as that
between the lotus leaf and the drop of water on it.
In Questions and Answers (see above link) Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda notes:
“I didn’t quote from the Mahāyāna texts in the Nibbāna
sermons,” he says, “because there was no need. All that was
needed was already found in the Suttas. Teachers like Nāgārjuna
brought to light what was already there but was hidden from
view. Unfortunately his later followers turned it in to a vāda.”

He goes on to quote two of his favourite verses from Ven.
Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamādhyamakakārikā (as usual, from memory):
Śūnyatā sarva-dṛṣtīnaṃ proktā niḥsaranaṃ jinaiḥ,
yeṣāṃ śūnyatā-dṛṣtis tān asādhyān babhāṣire [MK 13.8]
The Victorious Ones have declared that emptiness is the
relinquishing of all views. Those who are possessed of the
view of emptiness are said to be incorrigible.

Sarva-dṛṣti-prahāṇāya yaḥ saddharmam adeśayat,
anukampam upādāya taṃ namasyāmi gautamaṃ
– [MK 26.30]

I reverently bow to Gautama who, out of compassion, has
taught the doctrine in order to relinquish all views.
Bhante doesn’t bother translating the verses; the ones
provided above are by David Kalupahana.
:heart:
Mike

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múscailt
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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by múscailt » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:09 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:11 pm
Regarding:
múscailt wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:52 pm
Aurthur Waley’s trans of the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming:
The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
Compare Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda's, Nibbāna –The Mind Stilled, Sermon 28.

...

:heart:
Mike
Thanks for the quote. Ven. Ñāṇananda is a brilliant interpreter of the Buddha's Dhamma (as is Ven Analāyo).
"We don't use the Pali Canon as a basis for orthodoxy, we use the Pali Canon to investigate our experience." -- Ajahn Sumedho

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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by tonysharp » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:37 am

£$&^@ wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:56 am
I suspect that the different schools exist because they serve different needs.
Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata, the founder of BDK, agreed: "The Buddhist canon is said to contain eighty-four thousand different teachings. I believe that this is because the Buddha’s basic approach was to prescribe a different treatment for every spiritual ailment, much as a doctor prescribes a different medicine for every medical ailment."

In the broader debate, one side believes that their spiritual pharmacy is more legitimate, and the other side believes that theirs is more inclusive.

Regarding the question of legitimacy, it seems highly unlikely that, in 2,500 years, only one set of medicines were composed by enlightened individuals, and that no new developments are necessary—assuming that the Pali Pharmacy has the oldest prescriptions. The Theravada is no more or less "legitimate" than the Mahayana.

Regarding value, I don't believe that it's morally or intellectually honest to say that all ideologies are equal. A good possible way to judge an ideology is to look at its results. What kind of behaviors and sentiments does it instill? Does it cause harm? If so, how far does that harm extend? Is it helpful? If so, how far does that help extend?
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: anti-"Hinayana" bias in Zen (and Mahayana in general)

Post by ItsRaining » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:00 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:33 pm
ItsRaining wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:57 am


Sengcan is likely not even a real person so I'm not too sure how weighty his opinion should be but going by his Xinxin Ming I doubt Theravdins or other Sravakas would have accepted his view. Otherwise they would not have been so averse to the Madhyamaka or Thathgata teachings in ancient India and now as well going by some of their polemics.
This paragraph caught my eye because I had an experience that supports this...

I was at a talk being given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu/Ajahn Geoff.
He quoted the opening line of the Hsin Hsin Ming translated as 'the great way is not difficult for those with no preferences' and then went on to criticize that viewpoint, saying there's no way to not have preferences, it's how we deal with them that matters, etc. etc. and basically used that as a launching pad to be critical of Zen.
I immediately bristled a bit, as I was already leaning towards Zen, and was very familiar with that text and Richard Clark's translation that 'the great way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences' - which is a different thing entirely, and actually in alignment with Ajahn's viewpoint.
I almost wanted to speak up and say "Ajahn, I don't think you have that quite right" - but I didn't. :)

So yeah, as per my original post, the bias goes both ways....
Xinxin Ming was just talking about non-conceptual wisdom and non-conception in that paragraph from my understanding not literally having no preferences. Thanissaro is so sectarian it's like he's not even trying to understand what he's criticising, he's essays against Buddha Nature were possible the most inaccurate things I've read, at least people like the Critical Buddhists had some basis against Buddha nature but Thanissaro was just way off.

Maybe you didn't because you didn't correct him because you didn't have a preference for right and wrong haha ;)

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