Karma Dorje wrote:The point of what has been said is that conventional Mahayana does not make use of the sense objects as Vajrayana does. It rejects them as unsatisfactory, relies upon antidotes, etc. such as the charming image you paint of women. The way to cultivate non-attachment in conventional Mahayana is by avoiding the objects. Of course, the goal is to develop mental non-attachment but the way to do it is to avoid the object and use thought constructs to condition oneself. That's all that has been said. It's really not a controversial opinion.
My point is that there is more than one method in Mahayana, not just avoiding objects. Sure, there are restrictive precepts, they are applied by every Buddhist who has took vows from 5 to 250. Even Vajrayana samayas tell you things one shouldn't do. My argument is against the idea that outside of Tantra all there is is renunciation as the only way to deal with desire.
It is understood very well that desire doesn't lie in the object:
"The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality, not the beautiful sensual pleasures found in the world. The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality. The beauties remain as they are in the world, while the wise, in this regard, subdue their desire."
And there several methods known to handle passion (e.g. Thag 21
). It is also not true that in Vajrayana you don't aspire to become free from desire, since it also uses several techniques to manage them. Saying that changing an impure vision into a pure vision constitutes a whole different system, while methods like switching an unwholesome mind to wholesome and such are just renunciation is overlooking how both are nothing but changing one's attitude.
The path of renunciation in a Dzogchen book is defined this way:
"In general, the Sutra teachings are known as the path of renunciation because an individual following this method may be obliged to give up a whole variety of things, such as sex and alcohol, and to avoid performing negative deeds. ... The idea is that by avoiding or eliminating the factors in our lives which inflame our feelings or fuel our emotions, we don't experience the same kind of problems. It is as simple as that!"
(Lawless & Allan: Beyond Words, p. 17)
That is, this statement is based only on the Vinaya, as if that were the essence of Hinayana and Mahayana. First of all, just by avoiding sex doesn't make one free from desire, so it'd be a very weak solution. Second, there are also lay practitioners who don't live a celibate life.
"People who see that their mind is the Buddha don’t need to shave their head. Laymen are Buddhas too."
(The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p. 39)