Many and Various Doctrines
Since this is the Dhamma-ending age, there are a lot of false teachings about. Take care that what you study and practise is the genuine teaching of the Buddha.
1. The Mānayāna
The followers of this school regard other traditions as inferior. They disparage the original teachings of the Buddha as the Hīnayāna, and regard Arahants as inferior to Bodhisattvas. They say that the attainment of Arahantship is only the completion of the lower path. After that one must cultivate bodhicitta and strive for the highest goal, which is the Omniscience of a Sammāsambuddha. Even Arahants like Venerable Sāriputta, the Mānayānists regard as inferior to others. The Arahants, they say, have only practised for their own benefit, and are ultimately of no benefit to others. The special esoteric teachings of this school preserved only in Sanskrit, were taught by the Buddha for only those especially intelligent ones who had the capacity to understand it. The teachings in the five Nikāyas, the Vinaya, and the Abhidhamma were just the basics for the less intelligent.
Holding such a view, why would these conceited fools pay respect to Arahants? The Buddha praised Arahantship as the highest goal. Those who achieve it are worthy of the greatest homage. The very meaning of the term “Araham” means “worthy.” Offering a spoonful of almsfood to an Arahant is a highly meritorious deed that leads to great benefits for the giver, so what can be said for paying reverential homage, providing a dwelling place for, or studying the Dhamma under such a pure-hearted individual?
2. The Ekayāna
As everyone should know, there is really only one path to the goal. That is the pure Vipassanā Satipatthāna method. As the Buddha said, “Ekayāno ayam bhikkhave maggo ... this, monks, is the only way.” These narrow-minded people are on the right track, but their practice is immature. They know very little of the great breadth and depth of the Buddha’s teachings. They know about respiration meditation, as that is mentioned first in the Satipatthāna Sutta, but they think that that is the only teaching in the Satipatthāna Sutta. Anyone practising another method is regarded as giving off “bad vibrations” so you shouldn’t meditate in the same room as Ekayānists unless you follow the same practice.
3. The Mamayāna
Those who follow this school are not really followers at all, but leaders. They regard all schools as inferior to their own views and opinions. Picking what they like, and rejecting what they don’t approve of, they construct their own form of Buddhism, with bits and pieces they find in other philosophies and religions. In general, they reject any teaching about rebirth, recollection of previous lives, or psychic powers because their approach is pragmatic and scientific. “Seeing is believing” as the saying goes, so they believe whatever they see as right, and dismiss anything that they cannot understand.
4. The Manyāna
“Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” This is the philosophy of the Manyāna or Mañana. This world is just too impure a place to gain liberation nowadays. In this Dhamma ending age no one can practise the genuine Dhamma so the only thing to do is to pray for rebirth in an alleged Pure Land, where only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwell. There is no need to study the Tipitaka or to cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path, just chant some holy words, and everything will be alright tomorrow.
5. The Jhānayāna
The followers of this school stress the practice of Samatha meditation. Without developing the fourfold rūpajhāna and arūpajhāna, they say, one cannot attain the goal. There are no shortcuts and no liberation by wisdom alone (paññāvimutti). They don’t understand the difference between concentration on concepts (paññatti) and concentration on realities (paramattha). If its not jhāna, its not proper meditation. They are right that right concentration is required, but they are wrong, because they don’t understand about vipassanā jhāna, which is right concentration on realities using access concentration, not absorption concentration, which is gained by concentrating on concepts.
6. The Soyayāna
These food fanatics think that purity and impurity come from what you eat. Only vegetarians are true, compassionate Buddhists. Never mind that the Buddha himself ate meat, and that most of the great teachers of modern times ate meat, if you eat meat you cannot be enlightened, nor even hold any hope of gaining enlightenment. They don't know much about what the Buddha taught. All they know is that the Buddha was very compassionate, so he couldn’t possibly have eaten meat. If you eat only organic vegetables and soya beans you can easily attain enlightenment.
7. The Hahayāna
Some think that the Dhamma can be taught best by telling jokes and humurous anecdotes. This is also not the right path. The Buddha likened laughter to childishness in the discipline of the Noble Ones. In the same discourse he likened singing to lamentation, and dancing to madness. Enjoy a joke by all means, but remember that it is not the right path taught by the Buddha. The truth of suffering must be understood. The cause of suffering must be abandoned. The cessation of suffering must be realised, and the Path to the cessation of suffering must be cultivated.
8. The Papañcayāna
Saying is easy, doing is difficult. Accumulating is easy, letting go is difficult. After 2,600 years, Buddhism has accumulated a whole lot of impediments. Extraneous clutter that never was taught by the Buddha. Rites and rituals, prayer beads, holy threads, mandalas and mantras, holy footprints, and all kinds of superstitious beliefs. If you know them for what they are you can use them in your practice, but if you mistake the inessential for what is essential your practice will lead nowhere.
Be especially careful what you accept as Dhamma. If it is not Dhamma you will be lead very far astray from the right path. Focus on the essentials, not on the outward form. If you think that this article is engaging in sect-bashing then you are a sectarian. A sect means a teaching that has split away from the genuine teaching. If it has deviated from the right path, then it deserves to be bashed. The genuine teaching of the Buddha will always stand up to being bashed and tested thoroughly. Bogus teachings cannot stand up to a few good knocks.
1 This Dhamma is for one who wants little, not for one who wants much.
2 This Dhamma is for the contented, not for the discontented.
3 This Dhamma is for the secluded, not for one fond of society.
4 This Dhamma is for the energetic, not for the lazy.
5 This Dhamma is for the mindful, not for the unmindful.
6 This Dhamma is for the composed, not for the uncomposed.
7 This Dhamma is for the wise, not for the unwise.
8 This Dhamma is for one who is free from impediments, not for one who delights in impediments.