Thursday, August 30, 2007

theg pa dman pa - Hinayana

The Buddhist practitioners could be divided into two major groups. This is the first one, theg pa dman pa -- or Hinayana which should sound familiar. The short form of t his is theg dman. The only school left today of this group is the Theravada tradition. So the best way to really translate this today is to call it Theravada, why? See later debate about this all.

theg pa is vehicle, or yana in Sanskrit. The idea here is that it is a vehicle of teachings that carries the practitioner towards a goal.

dman pa is Tibetan for ordinary, and this is where I will stop explaining the Tibetan. Why, because its is not really proper to fully translate this vehicle as common, ordinary, or low.

Some English translations of this group of practitioners also try to convey the idea of individual responsibility, and that might sound well, but Hinayana practitioners also think of the welfare of others.

Furthermore, this teaching vehicle is the foundation for all Buddhist practices. For example, most of the teachings on karma, and a large part of keeping the vows are based on this system.

The biggest difference is in the meditation techniques and philosophical views of reality. Someone might actually think they belong to another school (Mahayana), but their views are actually in this group. So it's not just a matter of attending the right monastery, or belonging to a specific Buddhist tradition -- it's really how one is looking at the world, and how someone is practicing. Anyway, this term is used in the literature, so you need to know it.

The reason it's good to look into this classification at this point is that depending on the meditational system and world view, the outcome, Nirvana, will be different.

Next we will go through two kinds of practitioners that belong to this group.

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