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Thread: My Sutra is Better than Your Sutra!!!

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    My Sutra is Better than Your Sutra!!!

    I had sent a few questions to Jundo. He asked me to post them along with his answers here. This is one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin

    I've been reading some Mahayana history lately, and wanted to get your opinion on some things. One topic brought up repeatedly in the Mahayana sutras seems to be the self-aggrandisement of sutras. For instance, the Lotus Sutra touting itself as the ultimate sutra, the premier teaching of the Buddha, etc. And that all defamers of the Sutra are destined for the hell realms and so forth
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    The short answer is that these Mahayana Sutras were written by men (religiously inspired authors, perhaps, but not by the Buddha himself) in philosophical competition with other men who had written other sutras ... and they were trying to say "my Sutra is better than your Sutra"! That is why almost every Sutra purports to be the "highest teaching", and describes all the other Sutras as (putting words in Buddha's mouth) merely "a dumbed down version" for folks who could not handle the "highest teaching".

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    "Shall I compare thee to a summer day?" Indeed! Well chosen quote!

    Lots to think about with almost every reply posted here, so that bears much reflection. I didn't see anything mentioned about the Middle Way here though. Beyond the Self: Teachings on the Middle Way really helped me think through some of these issues. I believe a lot of the sutras really do contain the Shakyamuni Buddha's words and meanings. However, one of his biggest points was not to get caught in the trappings, the words, the exercises etc. I think this is what is drawing me to Zen. The words and stories were tools, a means to an end, and the Middle Way (his true way to enlightenment) was like a highway that surpasses everything. It's not a middle ground between extremes, though extremes are recommended to be avoided, by a way to surpass the extremes in entirety. In the end, according to Buddha, there isn't even dharma! It's like the roadmap, but if you get too caught up in memorizing the map and travelling all willy-nilly to the places listed, you will miss the point entirely.

    I think the sutras make great study and can teach us a lot about active living and guide Buddhists of every denomination on their path, but they are not the end-all-be-all, and Buddha says neither is himself! So is any sutra better than another sutra? Is any sutra the highest? This is an extreme view, and the middle way is the road past extreme views, as laid out by Buddha, but that has to be realized and practiced by your own higher conscience. Shall I compare thee to a summer day? Buddha says no!! Hehe..

    At least, that's my current understanding, which evolves depending on the day!!!!

    Gassho,
    Dani

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