Author Topic: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?  (Read 2405 times)

Offline Bodhicandra

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'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« on: October 14, 2010, 03:38:40 am »
I've been reading Paul Williams' "Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations".

On p.128 he refers to the "so-called 'tantric' Theravada in Thailand" as perhaps introducing / influencing recent tathagatagarbha thought into Thai Buddhism.

Does anyone know anything about this 'tantric' strand of Theravada?
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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2010, 06:56:10 am »
I've been reading Paul Williams' "Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations".

On p.128 he refers to the "so-called 'tantric' Theravada in Thailand" as perhaps introducing / influencing recent tathagatagarbha thought into Thai Buddhism.

Does anyone know anything about this 'tantric' strand of Theravada?

Tathagathagarba isn't necessarily tantra.  It's most definitely Mahayana though.

Regardless of that, I'd love to know more.

Offline Bodhicandra

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2010, 09:24:52 am »
I've been reading Paul Williams' "Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations".

On p.128 he refers to the "so-called 'tantric' Theravada in Thailand" as perhaps introducing / influencing recent tathagatagarbha thought into Thai Buddhism.

Does anyone know anything about this 'tantric' strand of Theravada?

Tathagathagarba isn't necessarily tantra.  It's most definitely Mahayana though.

Regardless of that, I'd love to know more.

Agreed. However Prof. Williams seems to be suggesting the converse, that some form of Tantra has been introduced to Thailand, bringing (in its wake?) the concept of Tathagathagarba.
"Your first task on the path is to learn to stop being a nuisance to the world"
adapted from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

GoGet

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010, 11:17:20 am »
Agreed. However Prof. Williams seems to be suggesting the converse, that some form of Tantra has been introduced to Thailand, bringing (in its wake?) the concept of Tathagathagarba.


A facinating notion.  It makes certain sense, that whatever influence was being applied to Thai Theraveda that lends tantric practice, also bring elements of Mahayana with it as well.

I was speaking with a senior student a while back about the whole "Hinayana" thing.  The course of the conversation led me to the question of whether or not Thereveda could be said to be a "pure" first turning tradition.  My friend didn't belive so, that there was a certain amount of crossover from Mahayana traditions into what we call "Theraveda".  Theraveda and Mahayana did not devlop in isolation from one another and undoubtedly influenced each other.  So, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there are pockets of practice in the Theraveda where tantic practice has a role as well as teachings found in the second and third turning.

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2010, 12:25:19 pm »
Although Theravadan Buddhism is the dominant form in Thailand, other Buddhist practices are certainly represented there. Many monks sell magical protective amulets, and that is not a practice endorsed by the Theravada. I would guess it would be the same with doctrine of Buddha nature. But then, I ain't never been to no Thailand, either. Next week I visit with a monk who was trained in Thailand, I'll ask his opinion.

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2011, 11:19:37 pm »
That would most likely be in reference to the culture of paritta chanting.

Kalupahana writes on that topic,

Quote from: (Kalupahana, History of Buddhist Philosophy, pp. 226-7)
It  is  interesting  to  note  that  some  features  of  the  mantra  discussed  earlier  can  be
seen  in  the  paritta.  The  texts  themselves  are,  of  course,  different.  The  parittas  are
discourses  (sutta)  taken  from  the  earliest  collection  (nikāya).  As  such,  they  do  not
contain any paradoxical statements. They are discourses that deal with the moral life,
like  the  Ratana-sutta,  20  concerning  the  invocation  of  blessings  that  can  be  enjoyed
following truthful words (sacca-vajja) relating to the Three Gems (ratana; see Chapter
XI);  the  Metta-sutta,  21  inculcating  the  virtues  of  a  life  of  friendliness  (mettā,  Skt.
maitr???);  and  the  Mahāma???gala-sutta,  22  describing  the  life  of  social  harmony
culminating  in  the  attainment  of  ultimate  freedom  (nibbāna).  The  only  symbolism  is
contained in the discourse called the Ā???ānā???iya, 23 where the so-called yakkhas
approach  the  Buddha  during  the  night  and  inform  him  that  some  of  the  them  are
pleased  with  his  teachings  and  some  are  not,  thus  rendering  the  Buddha's  disciples
in need of protection
from  those  who  are  not  pleased  and  who  could  bring  about  harm.  The  king  of  the
yakkhas,  Vessavana,  presents  the  Buddha  with  what  he  considers  to  be  a  protective
charm (rakkha) containing statements praising the Buddha and a brief dhāra???. 24 In
the  morning,  the  Buddha  tells  his  disciples  what  happened  during  the  night  and
recommends  that  they  study  and  preserve  the  protective  charm.  Thus  symbolism  is
not a major component of the text that is chanted, although it does play a significant
role in the designing of the setting for the ritual itself.
The close relationship between mantra and paritta becomes evident when we consider
the  manner  of  chanting  and  the  nature  of  actual  benefits  gained.  As  in  the  case  of
the  Tantras,  while  the  monk  who  is  chanting  the  discourse  may  understand  the
meaning and significance of the discourse recited, it may be incomprehensible to the
ordinary  layperson,  since  it  is  the  Pali  version  of  the  text  that  is  chanted.  After  the
preliminary ceremonials are performed, the chanting begins in the evening, in a rather
steady  tone,  with  the  more  popular  discourses  being  recited  during  the  initial  stages,
reaching  a  climax  after  midnight,  when  the  Ā???ānā???iyasutta  is  recited.  This
recitation  is  done at  the highest pitch or maximum loudness a monk  can generate. It
is  intended  to  create  agitation  in  the  mind  of  the  listener,  who  dares  not  leave  the
premises  until  the  recitation  is  complete  for  fear  that  he  will  not  be  protected  from
the  yakkhas  who  are  supposed  to  be  displeased.  Thereafter,  the  chanting  continues
in a smooth and soothing tone until the ritual is concluded around 5:00 A.M. with the
distribution of paritta water and thread.
As  in  the  case  of  the  mantra,  the  agitation  produced  in  the  mind  of  the  listener  is
appeased  in  the  end.  The  sense  of  relief,  the  calm  and  satisfaction  one  feels  at  the
conclusion  of  the  ceremony  can  produce  a  psychological  transformation  that  serves
as  an  antidote  to  many  a  physical  ailment  or  case  of  psychological  distress.  The
mantras  and  the  parittas,  if  they  can  claim  to  be  part  of  the  genuine  Buddhist
tradition,  need  to  be  evaluated  in  light  of  their  psychological  significance,  not  in
terms  of  any  mysterious  or  magical  effect.  Indeed,  neither  tradition  can  claim
superiority over the other, for similar or identical benefits are claimed on the basis of
chanting totally different texts.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2011, 02:30:39 am »
Theraveda and Mahayana did not devlop in isolation from one another and undoubtedly influenced each other. 

I'm sure that's right.  It's interesting to look for the commonalities too.

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Offline ground

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Re: 'Tantric' Theravada in Thailand?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2011, 09:46:02 pm »

 


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