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.
What is the True Dhamma?

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.
(Gradual Sayings, iv. 227)

Dear Venerable Pesala,

Thank you for the above. An interesting categorisation.

Being new to all this, in the last year or so as I’ve struggled my way to the point I am at, I have seen examples of all of the above in the views and advice of others. I’ve encountered versions of some of the above in myself as well.

The search for “the truth,” if one may put it this way without appearing fanatical or sectarian, has seemed important to me and yet troubling because I’ve thought that, knowing nothing, I can’t trust my own ideas on things. I’ve thought that not everyone can be “right.” And I’ve read or been told things which seemed plain wrong or ridiculous but I have little of my own knowledge to back up the sense. Difficult.

What I find most difficult is the frequent internal arising wherein it is framed, “I’m right about such-and-such.” It’s hard for me to be reminded that, no matter how deeply seductive it is, there is no substantial benefit from relying on a sense that “I am” anything. And yet it keeps happening in me. There must be something that is “Right” otherwise teachings in the Noble Eightfold Path would have no meaning. If there is “Right” then there is “Wrong.”

This is an important post you have made.


Venerable Pesaya,

What a wondeful piece. I’ve encountered so many devotees of these various schools (and recently at that) and it has never occurred to me that they could be so well categorized…it really is almost as if these were real ‘schools’.

My first reaction was to ask your permission to post this to another list where some of these schools have been well-represented. On second thought though it occurred to me that this would be inflammatory and would only provoke a backlash–not to mention the questionable nature of my own intentions…

I feel privileged to be in the company of yourself and of others who will appreciate the value of this analysis.

Saadhu and Anumodanaa,


I have already posted the same article on E-Sangha. I posted it here too as I thought it would soon get deleted there. Fortunately, it hasn’t been removed yet. Several previous attempts by me to point out that certain Sutras never were taught by the Buddha, and were therefore heretical, resulted in warnings and suspensions. Heretical teachings are very dangerous. Teaching non-Dhamma as Dhamma is obstructive kamma. One should learn the basic teachings of the Tipitaka thoroughly before studying later teachings.
No problem with criticism of non-Thervadan, or even of unorthdox “Theravada”, on this site.
Some Buddhists have the idea that it is unbuddhist to point out wrong Dhamma. But in fact it is very compassionate to expose what is wrong.
See the thread on cheating dhammas (dhammas that look like they are good, but are actually akusala).

I couldn’t agree more. Thanks very much again.

Hi Robert,

Thanks for reminding be of these, I got them from Gayan Karunaratne years ago and have ever since considered them one of the best things I’ve ever found on the internet–outside the tipi.taka, that is of course.


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.
(Gradual Sayings, iv. 227)

Hello to everyone and Ven. Pesala,

Somehow, this Anurudha Sutta is really my favorite.

And yes, we should point out if something seems to us not to be what the Buddha taught. But let us never attack another for his views personally. It is very easy to become misunderstood as dispising, if such terms as …yana are used. I understand that these labels are used here only as funny headings. But they easily could be used by more inmatured individuals for their preconceptions.

Here a short excerpt out of Majjhima Nikaya 95 about dogmatism:

There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked… truly an unbroken tradition… well-reasoned… Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn’t proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; anything else is worthless.”

“But to what extent, Master Gotama, is there the safeguarding of the truth? To what extent does one safeguard the truth? We ask Master Gotama about the safeguarding of the truth.”

“If a person has conviction, his statement, ‘This is my conviction,’ safeguards the truth. But he doesn’t yet come to the definite conclusion that ‘Only this is true; anything else is worthless.’ To this extent, Bharadvaja, there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one safeguards the truth. I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth. But it is not yet an awakening to the truth… (well worth to read the whole Sutta – translation by Ven. Thanissaro)

Anyone declaring ‘having arrived at truth’, in this context, would amount to the proclaiming of Arahatta. And doesn’t allow the other the freedom to accept or not, or to find out for himself. If he doesn’t want to become rediculed. Even such figures as Angulimala would not become ridiculed by the Buddha – put skillfully pointed out the truth. If the pointing out doesn’t happen skillfully – it wouldn’t be to anyone’s advantage.

May all beings become free…

I earnestly inquire as to what difference does is make if the Dhamma becomes unknown, lost or corrupted?

Surely the Dhamma is not dependent on correct teachings?
Surely the Dhamma is beyond that of any teaching, even that of Buddha.
So what , if the discoveries of Buddha are lost?
Lost to whom?

Why the fear and caution of incorrect Dhamma teaching?
What difference does it make other than that of a quest for personal salvation?

I don’t understand the drive that seeks nibanna?

And it becomes especially confusing when claims and counter claims begin to surface. It’s the claims themselves that are troublesome. Does it really matter?

Who is it that cares? So what? The Dhamma is there. Known or unknown.

Thanks carl

Dear Carl
The Dhamma is always there but when there is no Buddhasasana no one can know about it, it takes a sammasambuddha to find and teach it. And if the Buddhasasana becomes corrupted it is very hard to find the right way.
Dear RobertK And this is my inquiry, why is it ” to finnd the way” ?
Dear RobertK, why do we seek a way? I would suggesest the effort is futile,and with out hope. Do you foreseehope/ THANKS CARL

…why do we seek a way? I would suggesest the effort is futile,and with out hope. Do you foreseehope/ THANKS CARL

Dear Carl,

May I please enter this discussion?

Are you asking about hope? And, if so, are you struggling with hopelessness?

I’m not sure from the above. One could begin to think you were making a rather cryptically worded point in favour of anatta, stating, in a way, that since there is no one to be seeking this so-called way the endeavour is futile. If you are not saying this, one wouldn’t want to misunderstand.

A little clarification might help. Excuse the interruption if it is unwelcome.


Hi Carl,
According to Buddhist thinking we have been in samsara (the round of birth and deaths) for a long time. And will continue indefinitely until we find the way out. So if that is true then it makes sense to try to find the way out.
The sectarians at E-Sangha finally came back from holiday and deleted my post. These people really are too stupid to understand the Dhamma. Henry suspended me again for alleged “sect-bashing.”

Someone in the Mahāyāna forum was asking the reasons why some Sutras threaten those who do not believe this Sutra will be reborn in hell, etc. I pointed out that such threats were a clear indication that such sutras were not the teaching of the Buddha, and I quoted the passage from the Kālāma Sutta to support this statement. The Buddha advised us not to believe in something just because it was written in any text, etc., therefore why should he threaten us for not believing in any teaching?

How sad that Bogus Sutras have gained credibility among many so-called Buddhists. People lack the intelligence to separate Dhamma from non-Dhamma. Some teachings are very subtle and difficult to be certain about — are they authentic or not? However, it requires only a few ounces of intelligence to discern that texts threatening people with hell if they don’t believe in them are not the genuine teaching of the Buddha.

Thanks for this defense of the Theravaada. By my understanding this kind of deterioration, perversion and obfuscation of the Buddhadhamma is inevitable. If the Theravaada is the closest thing we have to the original teachings (as I take it to be), then I feel very fortunate to have even what is left to investigate and consider.

Thank also for the link to your excerpts with translations from the Kesamutti sutta. Hope you don’t mind if I repost it here–I mean to hang onto a copy as a good reminder:

“Mā anussavena: Do not believe something just because it has been passed along and retold for many generations. Mā paramparāya: Do not believe something merely because it has become a traditional practice. Mā itikirāya: Do not believe something simply because it is well-known everywhere. Mā Pitakasampadanena: Do not believe something just because it is cited in a text. Mā takkahetu: Do not believe something solely on the grounds of logical reasoning. Mā nayahetu: Do not believe something merely because it accords with your philosophy. Mā akaraparivitakkena: Do not believe something because it appeals to “common sense.” Mā ditthinijjhanakkhantiya: Do not believe something just because you like the idea. Mā bhabbarupataya: Do not believe something because the speaker seems trustworthy. Mā samano no garu ti: Do not believe something thinking, “This is what our teacher says.” When you yourselves know, “This is unwholesome, this is blameworthy, this is censured by the wise, these things when accepted and practised lead to harm and suffering, then you should give them up.”

Thanks again.

I wasn’t defending the Theravāda or criticising the Mahāyāna. I was defending the Dhamma and criticising the Mānayāna.

Here is a link to the quote from the Kesamutti Sutta on my website.

This is the full sutta on ATI

This sutta is also one of the most often misquoted and misunderstood by free-thinkers and materialists who do not believe in rebirth.

Thanks for the correction.

Dear Venerable Pesala, Mike, All,

Hello! Say, this is ongoingly thought-provoking.

I’d like to know what you think about “fundamentalism.” Or “not-thinking-for-oneself-ism,” for that matter.

From what others have said to me I’d be forced to think that these apply to me. I think the appellations are meant to be sort of pejorative. This has been said because I consider there to be a “right way” to understand something and a “wrong way.” I try to read the suttas, abhidhamma, and commentaries to try to align with the “right way.” Even more than that, I consider the suttas, abhidhamma, and commentaries to be a source of “truth.” This does make me, by definition, a “fundamentalist,” doesn’t it?

I am little interested in Joe Blow’s ideas of what “x” or “y” means to Joe Blow. I’m even less interested in my own ideas of what various points of Dhamma mean. Is it reasonable to pursue a right intellectual understanding? Is there such a thing?

If there is an established “truth” then how can there not be either understanding it or not understanding it? How can one understand these things?

What do you think?

With loving kindness,

Heh. My take is that when it comes to Theravada the more fundamentalist one is the better.
Why? Because it is the true doctrine!


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