advaita and buddhism (was RE: [Advaita-l] discussion about panchayatan puja)

Rishi Lamichhane rishi.lamichhane at
Thu Mar 2 17:14:17 CST 2006

Dear Kartik,

It is not at all true that there is no one teaching Buddhist doctrines
properly - the phrase would much more closely apply to the classical
method of Advaita Vedanta, which is fare more rare than traditional
Buddhist teachings.

If someone wants to find out about Advaita Vedanta what are the things
they will most likely find? They will find many teacher of
Yoga-Vedanta hybdrids which is an important tradition (with a fairly
old history), and after Vivekananda, the most dominant position
amongst many educated Hindus; however, this is not classical Advaita
methodologically. They will find Ramana Maharshi, who is inconcievable
in greatness, but is not teaching according to the classical method
and the force of His teachings are often based on His presence. They
will find plenty of neo-Advaita - not exactly following Shankara.

Just because the traditional teachings are not the ones you are
immidiately likely to run into in pop-culture, it doesn't mean that
traditional teachers don't exist.

In Buddhism, the situation is not as bad as Advaita in that anyone who
is interested will encounter traditional teachings very quickly.

In Thailand and Burma, they know their Theravada very well. They
follow mostly the commentarial tradition and not as much the Buddha's
discourses. The commentarial tradition they follow is more or less
intact from when it was created. Sri Lanka has not had a strong
tradition for a long time.

Tibetan Buddhists in general are extremely well-informed about the
Madhyamika as well as Tantric Buddhism and have been studying it based
on texts and commentaries by Indians and Tibetans who studied with
Indian Pandits and were fluent in Sanskrit. It is not too uncommon for
Tibean Lamas to be fluent in Sanskrit and they know their traditions
very well. They also have a lot of controversies, debates, etc... so
they know of all the intricate details and so on.

In the far-east, other than Zen, most traditions study quite a lot.
Zen is very extreme in spectrum and not too well-regarded by most
other sects - definitely not a representation of the far-eastern
Mahayana in general. In general in the far east they are not as
intellectually strong as in Tibetan traditions, but they of course
know Buddhism well.

We have to be careful to not throw stones at people living in more or
less brick houses when we live in a glass ones!



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