Author Topic: is buddhahood impermanent?  (Read 1050 times)

Offline Pixie

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2017, 11:18:05 am »

According to Mahayana teachings the Buddha taught Interdependant Origination.  He also taught E
mptiness, and Buddha Nature.

On the other hand, Ajahn Sujato notes in his article "Is the Lotus Sutra Authentic":

Quote

One of our commenters asked about whether the Lotus Sutra was considered authentic according to the Theravadin view.

To answer this from the traditional Theravadin point of view, all the Mahayana Sutras are inauthentic in the sense that they were not spoken by the Buddha. Historically, Theravada has tended to take a dim view of Mahayana, regarding it as a mere degeneration of the pure teachings.

That the Lotus Sutra and other Mahayana Sutras were not spoken by the Buddha is unanimously supported by modern scholarship. I don’t know of a single academic in the last 150 years who has argued otherwise.

 The basic historical background is given in Wikipedia. The upshot is that the Lotus Sutra was composed over a period of time, or in a number of stages. The oldest sources probably stem from a little before the common era, and it was finalized around 200 CE. This makes it one of the earliest Mahayana Sutras (and it is even argued that the earliest form of the sutra may not have even been Mahayana).

So there is no doubt that the Lotus Suta and other Mahayana sutras are historically late, dating from many centuries after the Buddha. When reading them as historical documents, rather than seeing them as spoken by the Buddha, we should see them as the response and articulation by Buddhists of the past to the conditions that they were in. They were addressing matters of concern for them, asking how the Dhamma is to be applied in these situations. Of course the same is true of many Theravdin texts, although in the case of the early Suttas and Vinaya there is still a core that probably stems from the Buddha himself.

Why were the Mahayana Sutras phrased as if spoken literally by the Buddha? This is a difficult question, and there is unlikely to be one answer. Partly it was just how the literary form evolved. But I suspect, given the visionary nature of many Mahayanist texts, that they often stemmed from meditation experiences; visions of the Buddha, memories of ‘teachings’ received while in samadhi. Perhaps the authors of these texts believed that the Buddha was really present to them in some sense – and this is indeed the theme of many Mahayana sutras. Or perhaps they more humbly believed that they had gained insight into the Dhamma in some direct way.

https://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/is-the-lotus-sutra-authentic/



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May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
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Offline IdleChater

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2017, 12:05:16 pm »

According to Mahayana teachings the Buddha taught Interdependant Origination.  He also taught E
mptiness, and Buddha Nature.

On the other hand, Ajahn Sujato notes in his article "Is the Lotus Sutra Authentic":

And I would expect Sujato to say precicely that, and honestly, I don't care.

Offline francis

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2017, 03:31:15 pm »
If we're  taking about Buddhahod, the becoming of  a Buddha,is not something we usually find in Theravada.  They stopped listening after the Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma for the second time.  That's  fine.  No one need practice beyond their understanding.  However, this means that Theravadin teachings really don't  have a place in the realization of Thagathagarba.  That doesn't mean that a Theravadin can't  take part in such discussions, but to say that something like "Buddha Nature isn't  a part of Theravadin teachings", while correct,  does nothing to move the discussion forward. 

According to Mahayana teachings the Buddha taught Interdependant Origination.  He also taught Emptiness, and Buddha Nature.


Hi IdleChater,

If in doubt go to the source:

Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous (AN 1.49-52)

"Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements."

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements."

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind."

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind."


Link to note 1. It is an important read.

One sutta, so many interpretations.

And by the way, bodhisattva’s are not exclusive to the Mahayana.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2017, 05:41:11 pm »
I’m sure the topic of the authenticity of “our” suttas over “their” “sutras” has been discussed ad infinitum. Some Theravadans apparently cannot resist appealing to higher authority in order to back up their claims to superiority over their “visionary” Mahayana bretheren.

If you believe that the historical Buddha was special, a god or something akin to it, then his words would carry extra weight. But if he was, as I suspect, another greatly enlightened practitioner of meditation in a long line of such individuals, then the fact that the Mahayana Sutras were the work of numerous similarly enlightened folks, over the course of many years, who were humble enough to remain anonymous, would seem to be just as “special,” if not more so.

I think it’s better to remain above such sectarianism and feel free to take the best from a variety of writings, including non-Buddhist sources.

Here's another quote that's from a Theravadan source which explicitly points to a Mahayana term for the "unborn" Buddhamind.

"There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance visible for what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincerely, there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded." (Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)

 
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2017, 08:44:56 pm »
I think its worth noting that apart from a comment about the Visuddhimagga, I haven't actually expressed any personal opinions in this thread, I've just posted some articles by other people.

Thanks for the interaction guys - and remember to let go  and lighten up occasionally, life is short.


Bye. _/|\_

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2017, 10:47:40 pm »
I think its worth noting that apart from a comment about the Visuddhimagga, I haven't actually expressed any personal opinions in this thread, I've just posted some articles by other people.

Do you mean to say those articles didn't represent your opinions? Then why post them? Just to get a rise out of us Mahayanists?
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2017, 11:28:25 pm »

Do you mean to say those articles didn't represent your opinions? Then why post them? Just to get a rise out of us Mahayanists?


 Hello again Zafrogzen, they were posted in the hope of stimulating some calm, and rational, ...even educated discussion, not to get "a rise" out of anyone here. I can get "a rise" from baking a loaf of bread, without having to post on an internet forum.

Perhaps its because I'm a woman that some of you guys get so snarky and unfriendly, who knows?  Metta or Tonglen can be useful practices in such circumstances.
 
Meanwhile, "The Mind Lets Go of Itself".

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn_Chah_The_Mind_Lets_Go_of_Itself.pdf

Please also read my Tilopa quote in this previous Freesangha topic:

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/meditation-forum/the-self-and-the-five-skandhas/msg86586/#msg86586

 I won't be reading any further responses, so please don't waste your precious time.

May everyone be well and happy.

 :dharma:
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 04:03:45 am by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2017, 07:37:58 am »

Do you mean to say those articles didn't represent your opinions? Then why post them? Just to get a rise out of us Mahayanists?

 Hello again Zafrogzen, they were posted in the hope of stimulating some calm, and rational, ...even educated discussion, not to get "a rise" out of anyone here. I can get "a rise" from baking a loaf of bread, without having to post on an internet forum.

I don't believe you won't be reading this, sooo...

I was calm and rational.  So was Zafrogzen.

Quote
Perhaps its because I'm a woman that some of you guys get so snarky and unfriendly, who knows? 

That's it EXACTLY!  We're all down on you because you're a woman.  BTW that's NOT snarky, that sarcasm.

Quote
Metta or Tonglen can be useful practices in such circumstances.

Instruction please, if, on the in-breath I'm taking in calm and rational, what should I release on the outbreath?

The truth is you posted something slightly off-topic and controversial relative to the topic.  Most, if not all Mahayanists understanbd that Theravada doesn't accept Mahayana teachings and often see Mahayana as "heresy". We are reminded of that constantly, even though many of us have studied Theraveda teachings via what we sometimes call "Hinayana".  In fact, many of us, in formal study, can't do Mahayana studies and practices until we have a reasonable grounding in those foundational teachings.
 


Offline francis

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2017, 07:56:26 am »
I’m sure the topic of the authenticity of “our” suttas over “their” “sutras” has been discussed ad infinitum. Some Theravadans apparently cannot resist appealing to higher authority in order to back up their claims to superiority over their “visionary” Mahayana bretheren.

If you believe that the historical Buddha was special, a god or something akin to it, then his words would carry extra weight. But if he was, as I suspect, another greatly enlightened practitioner of meditation in a long line of such individuals, then the fact that the Mahayana Sutras were the work of numerous similarly enlightened folks, over the course of many years, who were humble enough to remain anonymous, would seem to be just as “special,” if not more so.

I think it’s better to remain above such sectarianism and feel free to take the best from a variety of writings, including non-Buddhist sources.

Here's another quote that's from a Theravadan source which explicitly points to a Mahayana term for the "unborn" Buddhamind.

"There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance visible for what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincerely, there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded." (Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)


Hi zafrogzen, I’m not sure who your comments were directed at, but I will reply being the previous poster.   

I’m sure the topic of the authenticity of “our” suttas over “their” “sutras” has been discussed ad infinitum. Some Theravadans apparently cannot resist appealing to higher authority in order to back up their claims to superiority over their “visionary” Mahayana bretheren.


I don’t see Theravadins trying to back up their claims of superiority over the Mahayana, God forbid. Rather, it’s more about providing context to the many Mahayana developments of the Buddha’s teachings.

The Pabhassara (luminous) Sutta is considered a source for the Mahayana developments of both the Buddha mind and Tathagatagarba doctrines. Theravadins don’t see luminous mind as pre-existing in some metaphysical sense. For Theravadins, attaining luminosity of mind would be achieved by reaching the fourth dhyana.  Whatever the belief, luminosity mind cannot be reached without washing away the defilements.

If you believe that the historical Buddha was special, a god or something akin to it, then his words would carry extra weight. But if he was, as I suspect, another greatly enlightened practitioner of meditation in a long line of such individuals, then the fact that the Mahayana Sutras were the work of numerous similarly enlightened folks, over the course of many years, who were humble enough to remain anonymous, would seem to be just as “special,” if not more so.


Siddhārtha Gautama became the Buddha. He never pretended to be a god or something akin. This is recognised by the Mahayana who await the Maitreya, the successor to the historic Buddha. Personally, I think Eckhart Tolle was a greatly enlightened practitioner, but unlike the Buddha, he could not sustain his enlightenment.

I think it’s better to remain above such sectarianism and feel free to take the best from a variety of writings, including non-Buddhist sources.


I would suggest that taking from non-Buddhist sources, even those with similar a background like the Vedas for example, often confuses people because interpretations and even the meanings of words are different.

Here's another quote that's from a Theravadan source which explicitly points to a Mahayana term for the "unborn" Buddha mind.

"There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance visible for what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincerely, there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded." (Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)


I’m not sure many would agree with your interpretation of unborn in the Nibbana Sutta: Unbinding (Udana 8.3) as Buddha mind, Thich Nhat Hanh for example.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2017, 10:11:07 am »
Hi Francis,

Sorry if it wasn't clear what I was commenting on.

You wrote
Quote
I don’t see Theravadins trying to back up their claims of superiority over the Mahayana, God forbid. Rather, it’s more about providing context to the many Mahayana developments of the Buddha’s teachings.
My comments about "Theravadins trying to back up their claims of superiority over the Mahayana," was in response to "Freedom from Buddhanature" by Thanissaro and "Is the Lotus Sutra Authentic," by Sujato. The titles pretty much speak for what is said in those articles. Much of Theravada criticism of Mahayana is based on the notion that because their suttas are likely to be earlier, and perhaps spoken by the historical buddha, that somehow that makes them truer.

My quote about the "unborn" was meant to echo yours regarding Mahayana concepts in Theravada suttas. But I don't agree that those ideas originated there. I think the Mahayanists came up with the concepts on their own, although they appear in many different places, including early Vedic literature.

Anyway, I find this sectarian business rather annoying. Just as women and minorities can be overly sensitive to perceived slights, similarly, although obviously less significant, Mahayanists bristle when Theravadans go off on that kind of criticism of their sutras and teachings (which they frequently do). The perpetrators are often unaware of their own prejudice, although in some cases there is a conscious effort to undermine and degrade, as a way to make themselves superior.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 12:40:11 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline pureleaf

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2017, 10:00:37 pm »
There are many Buddha statues…
And for who else? Any other teacher?

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 10:17:17 pm by pureleaf »

Offline pureleaf

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2017, 11:06:40 pm »
Buddha is very different… Why?
Because only he teaches (total) selflessness.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 06:33:11 am by pureleaf »

Offline francis

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2017, 05:10:34 am »
Hi zafrogzen,

It’s probably a good time to create a clearing.

My comments about "Theravadins trying to back up their claims of superiority over the Mahayana," was in response to "Freedom from Buddhanature" by Thanissaro and "Is the Lotus Sutra Authentic," by Sujato. The titles pretty much speak for what is said in those articles. Much of Theravada criticism of Mahayana is based on the notion that because their suttas are likely to be earlier, and perhaps spoken by the historical buddha, that somehow that makes them truer.

No one forced anyone to read the Theravada commentaries. And I’m not really seeing any attempt by Theravadins trying to back up their claims of superiority over the Mahayana. To me, it seems more about providing context for discussion.   

The Lotus Sutra, it’s well and truly due for a makeover. As Gombrich said in an interview at the Australasian Buddhist Convention, 2002: “It is very odd, for example, that the Lotus Sutra is so important in the world at large and yet the Sanskrit version of it has only been translated once in the nineteenth century. It was a good effort for the nineteenth century, but we now know it is full of very simple errors. It is strange that no one has re-done that. It has only ever been re-translated from the Chinese version, not the Sanskrit one”.

My quote about the "unborn" was meant to echo yours regarding Mahayana concepts in Theravada suttas. But I don't agree that those ideas originated there. I think the Mahayanists came up with the concepts on their own, although they appear in many different places, including early Vedic literature.

Nevertheless, the Pabhassara (luminous) Sutta (AN 1.49-52) is considered by many to be the source for the Mahayana developments of both Buddha nature and Tathagatagarba doctrines.

What I find annoying, is this notion that Vedic literature is somehow superior to the Buddha’s teachings, as recorded in the Pali Canon. And Buddhism is really only an offshoot of Hinduism.

While the Upanishads contain many of the main concepts of Hinduism, some of which are shared with Buddhism and Jainism, there are many differences. The Buddha never taught the existence of a soul, an individual self (atta/atman) or a God (Brahman). Instead he taught no self (anatta/anatman) the five aggregates (khandhas/skandhas) and dependent origination (Pratityasamutpada). It’s also likely the historic Buddha came from a Sramanic and rather than a Brahmanic background.

Anyway, I find this sectarian business rather annoying. Just as women and minorities can be overly sensitive to perceived slights, similarly, although obviously less significant, Mahayanists bristle when Theravadans go off on that kind of criticism of their sutras and teachings (which they frequently do). The perpetrators are often unaware of their own prejudice, although in some cases there is a conscious effort to undermine and degrade, as a way to make themselves superior.

Point taken, but it’s all Buddhism. I don’t think its criticism of the sutras so much, as trying to provide another source. Anyhow, historically the shoe has often been on the other foot when it comes to the Mahayana verses the Hinayana rift.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline pureleaf

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2017, 06:35:33 am »
Although he did teach gods and didn't negate soul…

(Common misconception…)
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 06:39:00 am by pureleaf »

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: is buddhahood impermanent?
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2017, 08:07:14 am »
Although he did teach gods and didn't negate soul…

(Common misconception…)

I was taught that he thought the gods were caught up on the wheel too. He thought they were to be pitied because they would find it hard to make further progress.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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