Talk:Mahayana

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Additions to the lead[edit]

Hello there. In response to your reversion and accusations the following should be noted. Firstly, the explanation of Mahayana which you have reverted a second time is not from a Theravada perspective and does not represent Theravada polemics. It is a view held by leading Mahayana scholars including the Dalai Lama himself. I say this as a published author in the field who has been invited by the International Association for the History of Relgions (the most prestigious academic body of its kind) to address many of the world's leading scholars. I say this not to boast but just to let you know that I do not have an agenda. What you have removed is neither Original Research nor a 'synthesis of published material that advances a position'. In fact I would say that most of the sources which promote the interpretive structure I use comes not from Theravada but Mahayana sources. In fact, to be honest, I cannot think of a single Theravada author who I have heard promote such a point of view. Therefore I would be grateful if you would to explain to me in what way the text you have removed is 'not accurate to the actual historical information available' and in what way it 'represents a biased viewpoint'. Many thanks 81.106.127.14 (talk) 01:50, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, to summarize: (1) Mahayana sutras were overwhelmingly not written in Sanskrit. It is widely acknowledged that they were typically written in a prakrit, and then Sanskrit formalisms were applied gradually over the centuries (except to gathas, which retain a more archaic form since they are verse). Pali is even one prakrit language that has been sanskritized to some extent. (2) The claim that Mahayana Buddhists accepted the Pali Canon is largely unfounded, since Mahayana Buddhists in India were no doubt overwhelmingly unfamiliar with the "Pali Canon", which refers to the collection of texts used in Sri Lanka (no clear history of this collection in India, nor any history of the Pali language in India). The Agamas that were used by the other schools contained some sectarian differences by means of which scholars can now determined which sects they belonged to. Therefore, they cannot be identified with the Pali Canon. (3) The material added seems to put everything in terms of individual liberation such as that of the arhat -- either attaining it, or helping others attain it. This does not give a full or accurate summary of the Mahayana views on enlightenment and buddhahood. (4) According to many Mahayana sutras, arhats have only attained an incomplete nirvana, yet the material you have added ascribes to arhats nirvana without qualifications. In fact, there are several different types of nirvana recognized by Mahayana teachings: incomplete nirvana, complete nirvana, and the non-abiding nirvana. Of these, the arhats are often ascribed the incomplete nirvana. (5) The use of Pali terms being applied to Mahayana subject matter does not inspire confidence, since Mahayana never used Pali that we know of. Now, aside from these issues regarding the accuracy of the information, there are several major problems with the addition. (1) There are no references given, so the material is subject to removal if it is controversial. (2) The added material modifies cited material already in the article, which indicates a process of synthesis. (3) The views added seem to be the views of an individual editor rather than modern scholarship on the matter. Best regards. Tengu800 02:26, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree that giving references is to be prefered. Being a "published scholar" using sources, it shouldn't be very difficult to give references to these sources. The fact that you mention being a "published scholar [...] the most prestigious [...] many of the world's leading scholars" is indeed boasting, yet contraproductive, there's no way to check if this is correct, except for the edit-behaviour you show. Which covers a broad range of topics, but has also been reverted before [1] [2] - by me, because of a lack of sources and WP:OR. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 15:42, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Mahayana and the Early Buddhist schools[edit]

Just for clarification, there is quite a bit of evidence indicating that some members of the early Buddhist schools (nikayas) did follow Mahayana teachings. Sometimes Mahayana and "Hinayana" monks would share monasteries and even teachers. However, there is evidence of conflict at other times, and the situation was not always simple or uniform. We do know that at Nalanda, both were respected as valid paths. There are also examples of individual monks that we know of who were members of early Buddhist schools and who followed Mahayana teachings as well. Tengu800 03:28, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Yes, Tengu, you are right. One of the very earliest historically verifiable sects of Buddhist monks was the Mahasanghikas, who are thought to have transmitted the Nirvana Sutra (amongst other things). The fact is that the earliest Mahayana sutras (such as some of the Prajnaparamita scriptures) were set down in writing at around the same time that the Pali texts were committed to writing too. This foolish old notion that Mahayana is tout court some very new, rootless invention of a perverse bunch of much later Buddhists really should have ceased to have any purchase amongst educated Buddhists long ago! Best wishes to you. From Suddha (talk) 04:36, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Dharmadhatu Not Self of Buddha[edit]

As of 4/9/2013, the Buddha Nature section has "this Buddha essence (Buddha-dhātu, co-terminous with the Dharmakāya or self[citation needed] of Buddha)" This is saying "the Dharmakāya or self[citation needed] of Buddha)"

Since the article's subheading is Buddha Nature, and not a topic of "self", I find relavant the definition of "dharma-kaya" from the Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford University Press 2003). I recognize the "abilities" of dharmakaya to be the abilities of buddha nature, as described in Buddha Nature, by Thrangu Rinpoche, so the reference to "Dharmakāya" should stay. The Oxford-definition includes the following:

"... under the influence of tantric thought, the dharma-kaya is considered to be equivalent to the mind of the Buddha."

We should change this part of the article to read,

"the Dharmakāya or mind of Buddha" (source: Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism "dharma-kaya" (Oxford University Press 2003)).)

Tenzin Sangpo 174.126.176.170 (talk) 13:06, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Maybe we should rewrite/re-order this section, and start it with a definition of "Buddha-nature". Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 13:21, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Basic tathagatagarbha doctrine 101: the Buddha Nature (Buddha-dhatu) is equated in major sutras which first promulgated this entire notion of Buddha-dhatu/ tathagatagarbha with the Dharmakaya and Atman (Self) of the Buddha. The Dharmakaya in such scriptures is basically the equivalent of the Atman of Buddha (it is stated in the Nirvana Sutra to be the Buddha-dhatu, which in turn is explicated as the Self which is Buddha): the unbegotten, deathless essence of the Buddha present (in concealed form) in all beings. So it is completely correct to use the word 'Self' when speaking of the Buddha Nature or Dharmakaya, as these are functional equivalents in the relevant major TG scriptures. Of course Buddha-Mind is also correct. People tend to hesitate over the word 'Self' in a Buddhist context, merely because they are not in general familiar with the ten tathagatagarbha sutras which enunciate such a cataphatic Atman doctrine. Best wishes to you. Suddha (talk) 00:00, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Supposed origins in the Northwest[edit]

Recently some material was added to the lede claiming that Mahayana Buddhism originated in what is now Pakistan (i.e. the kingdom of Gandhara). While it is certain that Mahayana Buddhism flourished at some times in this region, there is no evidence that it originated there. In fact, scholars are unable to agree on exactly which texts are oldest, and some say that even the "oldest" extant texts that we have are "medieval" in a sense because they treat Mahayana as something completely established. Similarly, the estimates of the first century BCE, so often repeated since Edward Conze made that estimate, are based on nothing except taking the first translation dates into Chinese, and adding on a few hundred years for good measure. Since the situation is so unclear, we should avoid taking estimates and claims in a self-published book as fact. Scholarship has not arrived on any consensus on the matter, and no scholars of Mahayana Buddhism would be so presumptuous as to claim that Mahayana is known to have originated in Gandhara. Tengu800 01:41, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Origins of Mahayana[edit]

Tengu, you are clearly wrong. Warder states: "the Mahāyāna originated in the south of India and almost certainly in the Āndhra country."VictoriaGrayson (talk) 18:50, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

This is one scholar's view, and there is no consensus at all on this matter among scholars. Warder also gives basically no evidence, and so it's just his personal conjecture. Guang Xing basically echoes this in saying "some scholars" -- not all scholars, and certainly not a majority. We have to be careful about using sources, because for matters like this there is no widespread agreement on the matter. Tengu800 00:35, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
a) There is actually widespread agreement that Mahayana originated in Andhra. b) Its laughable that you say Warder doesn't provide evidence. There are 27 mentions of Andhra in his book. c) Xing says "several scholars", not "some scholars".VictoriaGrayson (talk) 01:12, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
No, there is not widespread agreement about this matter. I'm not sure where you are coming up with this stuff. As I've said before, Warder does not provide clear evidence for a southern origin at all. If you can claim otherwise, then please present the information. I've already read through the "evidence" in the book myself, which is basically non-existent. Yes, Guang Xing says several scholars, which demonstrates a rather weak position rather than a majority or a consensus on the matter. In fact, practically all early Mahayana manuscripts and translations came from Gandhara and were written in the Gandhari language. Some scholars believe that Mahayana originated in Gandhara. Others still believe that it was a non-sectarian development that sprang up in multiple locations. Tengu800 01:57, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
You cannot use your personal opinions to dismiss highly reliable sources. See Wikipedia policy WP:VNT, which states editors "may not remove sources' views from articles simply because they disagree with them." You are not a scholar Tengu800.VictoriaGrayson (talk) 02:52, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Generalizing Xing's view on the origins of the Prajnaparamita to "Scholars believe that Mahayana was developed by the Mahāsāṃghika" is not a correct representation of this source; nor is the generalization of Warder's view to the view of scholars in general. I'm sure both of you can give more sources. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:36, 14 June 2014 (UTC)