Author Topic: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism  (Read 1024 times)

Offline gaelic

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« on: January 04, 2014, 11:28:45 am »
Hello!

Just wanted to ask, I have heard many times HH Dalai Lama say that there is no Creator God in Buddhism, but I also read a lot of references to deities and "gods". Can someone explain the definition of deity in Buddhism, because when I see the word I think one thing, but most likely it is not what is meant to Tibetan Buddhists.

Also, what is the definition of "Creator God" to Buddhists?   

Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4474
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 02:05:38 pm »
Hi, gaelic.

There are gods in Buddhism, and god realms.  There are even "creator gods", that is god's who create things, but no single god of all creation as in The Abrahemic Religions. 

Buddha was asked to teach them and to teach all of humanity as to The Dhamma:

Teacher of The Devas 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/jootla/wheel414.html

and.....

Quote
Heaven
sagga
© 2005
In Buddhist cosmology, the heaven realms are blissful abodes whose present inhabitants (the devas) gained rebirth there through the power of their past meritorious actions. Like all beings still caught in samsara, however, these deities eventually succumb to aging, illness, and death, and must eventually take rebirth in other realms — pleasant or otherwise — according to the quality and strength of their past kamma. The devas are not always especially knowledgable or spiritually mature — in fact many are quite intoxicated by their sensual indulgences — and none are considered worthy of veneration or worship. Nevertheless, the devas and their happy realms stand as important reminders to us both of the happy benefits that ensue from the performance of skillful and meritorious deeds and, finally, of the ultimate shortcomings of sensuality.

A rare rebirth

Blinded this world  —
how few here see clearly!
Just as birds who've escaped
   from a net are
   few, few
   are the people
who make it to heaven.
         
— Dhp 174

      
Seeing for oneself
"I have seen beings who — endowed with bodily good conduct, verbal good conduct, & mental good conduct; who did not revile Noble Ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — at the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destination, the heavenly world. It is not from having heard this from other brahmans & contemplatives that I tell you that I have seen beings who — endowed with bodily good conduct, verbal good conduct, & mental good conduct; who did not revile noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — at the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destination, the heavenly world. It is from having known it myself, seen it myself, realized it myself that I tell you that I have seen beings who — endowed with bodily good conduct, verbal good conduct, & mental good conduct; who did not revile noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — at the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destination, the heavenly world."

— Iti 71

Recollecting the devas
"Furthermore, you should recollect the devas: 'There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the conviction, virtue, learning, generosity, and discernment found both in himself and the devas, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the [qualities of the] devas. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated."

— AN 11.12

Happy, but of limited wisdom
"Once, Kevatta, this train of thought arose in the awareness of a certain monk in this very community of monks: 'Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?' Then he attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there are the Four Great Kings who are higher and more sublime than us. They should know where the four great elements... cease without remainder.'

"So the monk approached the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements... cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the Four Great Kings said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there are the gods of the Thirty-three who are higher and more sublime than us. They should know...'

"So the monk approached the gods of the Thirty-three... Sakka... the Yama gods... Santusita... the Nimmanarati gods... Sunimmita... the Paranimmitavasavatti gods... Paranimmita Vasavatti... the gods of the retinue of Brahma...

"Then the monk attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods of the retinue of Brahma appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of Brahma and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the gods of the retinue of Brahma said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there is Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. He is higher and more sublime than we. He should know...'

"'But where, friends, is the Great Brahma now?'

"'Monk, we also don't know where Brahma is or in what way Brahma is. But when signs appear, light shines forth, and a radiance appears, Brahma will appear. For these are the portents of Brahma's appearance: light shines forth and a radiance appears.'

"Then it was not long before Brahma appeared.

"So the monk approached the Great Brahma and, on arrival, said, 'Friend, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

"A second time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, 'Friend, I didn't ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.'

"A second time, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

"A third time...

"Then the Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him, 'These gods of the retinue of Brahma believe, "There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not know. There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not see. There is nothing of which the Great Brahma is unaware. There is nothing that the Great Brahma has not realized." That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. So you have acted wrongly, acted incorrectly, in bypassing the Blessed One in search of an answer to this question elsewhere. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers it, you should take it to heart.'

"Then — just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm — the monk disappeared from the Brahma world and immediately appeared in front of me. Having bowed down to me, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to me, 'Venerable sir, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, I said to him, 'Once, monk, some sea-faring merchants took a shore-sighting bird and set sail in their ship. When they could not see the shore, they released the shore-sighting bird. It flew to the east, south, west, north, straight up, and to all the intermediate points of the compass. If it saw the shore in any direction, it flew there. If it did not see the shore in any direction, it returned right back to the ship. In the same way, monk, having gone as far as the Brahma world in search of an answer to your question, you have come right back to my presence.'"

— DN 11


The Thirty One Planes of Existence:


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline NepalianBuddhist

  • Member
  • Posts: 707
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 03:35:49 pm »
"Creator God" typically means the God who created everything and fashioned it into being.

Offline gaelic

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 03:45:31 pm »
Thank you so much for this, good resource.

Maybe I can explain myself better, when I was a Muslim, we were taught that there is a Creator God "Allah". Now on a certain level, we are taught that there is the Creator and the creation. But, through my training with the Sufis, and the retreats I did, etc, I came to realize that what I understood about the Creator God was not how we in the West would normally assume. Through the practices, I eventually realized that there is no Creator God other than me. There is only one existence, only one mind, one intellect, one self, and only one identity. Not pantheism, or God existing in creation, which still affirms duality. Rather the Creator is creation and the creation is the Creator. There is oneness of reality, and even the multiplicity that we term as creation, is just a sort of veil over the oneness. The arabic word for God "Allah" actually means "that which eternally astounds". Allah is that which is worshiped, the worshiper, the worship, that which prevents worship, the sin, the sinner, the sinned against etc. So having said that, I heard some talks about that in Buddhism, it is the Mind that creates, and that there is no individual self, but there is only one. I'm just wondering if what I just wrote is at all similar with the Buddha's teachings? Sorry lol.

And just to further go into the point of gods or deities. I guess my question is what makes something a deity as apposed to a human being? I'm kind of looking for definitions, are they a sort of type of being that exists? Cause in the Islamic tradition, there are some beings that have supernatural powers, who can appear, disappear, take forms, some have powers over certain aspects of nature, etc.
   

Offline gaelic

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 03:49:28 pm »
"Creator God" typically means the God who created everything and fashioned it into being.

Right, yes I agree with you on that, that is typically how we understand it. I posted above my understanding of what the Creator God actually was in Islamic Sufi spirituality, from my training and practice, and it is not what regular people understand about the Creator God.

I was just wondering, in Buddhism, is the mind the creator and fashioner of that which exists, and is it true to say that there is only one mind? I'm new, so sorry any silliness in the questions lol.

Offline NepalianBuddhist

  • Member
  • Posts: 707
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 04:10:35 pm »
You'll basically get all sorts of different perspectives concerning a Creator God ~ Some religions believe some don't and some are atheist.

I presume the definition of a deity in Buddhism  is one possessing supernatural powers.

As for the Nature of the Mind - the Buddha taught extensively about the mind somewhere in the Pali canon.


Offline ZenFred

  • Member
  • Posts: 304
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 05:46:45 pm »
As Zen, we have a different perspective than other branches and likely between different schools of Zen (Chinese chan is more buddhist and Japanese zen is more toaist). Personally I understand that zen teaches that god and our true nature and the interconnectedness of all things is undescribable and unknowable by our ego-thought minds. I tend to lean most towards soto zen and that "god" is experienced through meditation(zazen) and beyond labels. Anyone better versed in Zen please correct me and I welcome any criticism. I know that I don't know.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4474
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2014, 09:22:42 am »
Hi, gaelic:

This from Bhikkhu Samahita this morning:

Quote
Life, person, pleasure, pain, just these join in a conscious moment that flicks by.
Even gods, that live for 84.000 aeons, are not the same even for 2 such moments!
Ceased aggregates of those dead & alive are all alike, gone for never to return...
And those states and accumulations that break up meanwhile, and in any future,
have no traits different from those ceased before. All states are equally brief!
No world is born if consciousness is not produced! When consciousness is present,
then the world appears as living! When consciousness dissolves, the world is dead!
This is the highest sense, this concept of ever blinking re-becoming, can justify...
No store of broken states exist anywhere, & no future stock of states to come!
Those phenomena that are momentarily born balance like seeds on a needle point.
Fall and breakup of all states is surely foredoomed, even at their fleeting birth...
Those present states decay now, unmingled with those past states, just gone by.
They come from nowhere, break up, & then they inevitably go back to nowhere..
Reality flash in & then flash out, as a lightning in the sky... Not ever to be kept!
Even for a single moment, that has already passed the instant it is perceived!
Visuddhimagga 625, Nd I 42
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline gaelic

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2014, 03:35:12 pm »
Hi, gaelic:

This from Bhikkhu Samahita this morning:

Quote
Life, person, pleasure, pain, just these join in a conscious moment that flicks by.
Even gods, that live for 84.000 aeons, are not the same even for 2 such moments!
Ceased aggregates of those dead & alive are all alike, gone for never to return...
And those states and accumulations that break up meanwhile, and in any future,
have no traits different from those ceased before. All states are equally brief!
No world is born if consciousness is not produced! When consciousness is present,
then the world appears as living! When consciousness dissolves, the world is dead!
This is the highest sense, this concept of ever blinking re-becoming, can justify...
No store of broken states exist anywhere, & no future stock of states to come!
Those phenomena that are momentarily born balance like seeds on a needle point.
Fall and breakup of all states is surely foredoomed, even at their fleeting birth...
Those present states decay now, unmingled with those past states, just gone by.
They come from nowhere, break up, & then they inevitably go back to nowhere..
Reality flash in & then flash out, as a lightning in the sky... Not ever to be kept!
Even for a single moment, that has already passed the instant it is perceived!
Visuddhimagga 625, Nd I 42

Wow, beautiful, so this is talking about beings (human and deities) and emotional/mental/physical states which exist within time. This is what I gather. So I guess then deities are beings that exist within time, since they can change, just like humans, even though they can live for a long long time, or eternally?   

Is there any "thing" or "state" that is timeless, existing eternally with no beginning and no end? This is really good, thank you all so much.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4474
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2014, 04:02:21 pm »
Quote
gaelic:  Is there any "thing" or "state" that is timeless, existing eternally with no beginning and no end? This is really good, thank you all so much.

Nirvana / nibbana _is_ the deathless state, without change, timeless.

Quote
Nibbana
nibbana
(Skt: nirvana)
© 2005
Nibbana names the transcendent and singularly ineffable freedom that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha's teachings.

Defined in terms of what it is...
"This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana."

— AN 3.32


There's no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

Hunger: the foremost illness.
Fabrications: the foremost pain.
For one knowing this truth
as it actually is,
   Unbinding
is the foremost ease.

Freedom from illness: the foremost good fortune.
Contentment: the foremost wealth.
Trust: the foremost kinship.
Unbinding: the foremost ease.
— Dhp 202-205


The enlightened, constantly
   absorbed in jhana,
   persevering,
   firm in their effort:
they touch Unbinding,
the unexcelled safety
   from bondage.
— Dhp 23

...and in terms of what it is not
"There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress."

— Ud 8.1

"There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned."

— Ud 8.3


Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
   the sun is not visible,
   the moon does not appear,
   darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
   a brahman through sagacity,
   has known [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
   from bliss & pain,
      he is freed.
— Ud 1.10

One's first breakthrough to Nibbana puts an end to so much suffering
Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth — this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail — when compared with the great earth."

"In the same way, monks, for a disciple of the noble ones who is consummate in view, an individual who has broken through [to stream-entry], the suffering & stress that is totally ended & extinguished is far greater. That which remains in the state of having at most seven remaining lifetimes is next to nothing: it's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth, when compared with the previous mass of suffering. That's how great the benefit is of breaking through to the Dhamma, monks. That's how great the benefit is of obtaining the Dhamma eye."

— SN 13.1

What happens to one who has fully realized Nibbana?
[Aggivessana Vacchagotta:] "But, Master Gotama, the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?"

[The Buddha:] "'Reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"In that case, Master Gotama, he does not reappear."

"'Does not reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"...both does & does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"...neither does nor does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if the monk reappears... does not reappear... both does & does not reappear... neither does nor does not reappear, he says, '...doesn't apply' in each case. At this point, Master Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured."

"Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, 'This fire is burning in front of me'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, 'This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"...I would reply, 'This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance.'"

"If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, 'This fire burning in front of me has gone out'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

"Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental fabrication...

"Any consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea."

— MN 72

The victory cry of the arahants
"Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world."

— SN 22.59

The end of samsara

Some are born   in the human womb,
evildoers   in hell,
those on the good course go
      to heaven,
while those without effluent:
      totally unbound.
— Dhp 126

See also:

The Third Noble Truth
Samsara
The Thirty-one Planes of Existence
"Nibbana," by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
"A Verb for Nirvana," by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
"Nibbana" in the General Index
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline gaelic

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 04:36:20 pm »
Ok wow, so I have a question, is nirvana a state that you attain, or is nirvana essentially you? Are you anything or any state other than nirvana?

A question comes to me, not only one about existence, but also identity, since these two are tied. What is identity?

Offline Dharmakara

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4233
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 04:54:18 pm »
Hmmm... it's interesting how every source being quoted in this thread is from the Pali Canon, even though the thread is in the Tibetan Connection.

Quote
The Meaning of the Word “Nirvana”

Nirvana (mya-ngan ‘das, myang-'das, Skt. nirvana, Pali: nibbana) in Sanskrit and Pali means, literally, an “extinguished state.” The image is that of a fire that has been extinguished due to there being no more fuel. In its most common usage, the fire represents the sufferings of uncontrollably recurring existence (samsara); while the fuel represents the disturbing emotions (nyon-mongs, Skt. klesha, Pali: kilesa) and karma represents the fuel. The Tibetan term for “nirvana” has a different connotation. It means, literally, a “state beyond sorrow,” referring to a state of release from suffering.


Types of Nirvana

According to the Gelug explanation of the Prasangika-Madhyamaka tenet system, there are two types of nirvana:

       • natural nirvana (rang-bzhin-gyi mya-ngan ‘das)

       • acquired nirvana (thob-pa’i mya-ngan ‘das).

Natural nirvana is another term for voidness (emptiness), the actual way in which all things exist.

There are three types of acquired nirvana that are attained:

       • nirvana with a residue (lhag-bcas-pa’i mya-ngan ‘das, Skt. sopadhishesha-nirvana, Pali: saupadi-sesa-nibbana, kilesa- parinibbana),

       • nirvana without residue, (lhag-med-pa’i mya-ngan-’das, Skt. nirupadhishesha-nirvana, Pali: anpadi-sesa-nibbana, khandha- parinibbana), also called parinirvana (yongs-su mya-ngan-'das, Pali: parinibbana).

       • nonabiding nirvana (mi-gnas-pa’i mya-ngan ‘das, Skt. apratisthitanirvana).

The Hinayana tenet systems and, within Mahayana, the Chittamatra and Madhyamaka-Svatantrika systems do not assert a natural nirvana. It appears only in the Prasangika system, as explained by Gelug. Moreover, the Hinayana and various Mahayana traditions explain the three types of acquired nirvana differently. Let us examine a few of these traditions.


The Hinayana Presentation

According to the Hinayana tenet systems, as presented in Mahayana, one attains nirvana with a residue when, during one’s life, one becomes an arhat of the shravaka or pratyekabuddha class, or a Buddha. This is so called because there is still a residue left of one’s tainted aggregates (zag-bcas kyi phung-po). There is a tainted residue left because, unlike the Mahayana tenets, the Hinayana tenet systems do not assert anything untainted except true pathway minds (the fourth Noble Truth) and static phenomena, including true stoppings (the third Noble Truth). Thus, these systems do not accept that even a Buddha can have untainted aggregates.

Upon death, an arhat or Buddha attains nirvana without residue, when the stream of continuity of his tainted aggregates is cut, like the extinguishing of a butter lamp. Then there is only a static true stopping (true cessation). These two types of nirvana, with and without residue, taken together, are called liberation (thar-pa, Skt. moksha, Pali: mokkha).

Nonabiding nirvana is the static unchanging state of full enlightenment achieved by a Buddha while he is alive. Because in this state, a Buddha remains neither in the extreme of continued samsaric suffering nor in the extreme of the passivity of a Hinayana arhat’s nirvana without residue, it is called “nonabiding.”


The General Mahayana Presentation

Although there is not total uniformity, from the general Mahayana point of view, only shravakas and pratyekabuddhas attain nirvana with a residue when they achieve arhatship during their lifetimes. They still have a residue of their tainted aggregates. Upon their deaths from that lifetime in which they achieved arhatship, the shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats achieve nirvana without residue. They no longer have tainted aggregates; however, their mental continuums do not extinguish like the Hinayana tenet systems assert. Their continuums go one with untainted aggregates – in other words, with pure bodies, residing mostly in Buddha-fields. Eventually, they will go on to the bodhisattva path. These two types of nirvana in reference to Hinayana arhats is still called “liberation.”

The terms nirvana with residue and nirvana without residue do not apply to Buddhas. Immediately upon their attainment of enlightenment, Buddhas have untainted aggregates. A Buddha achieves only nonabiding nirvana, still defined as remaining neither in the extreme of continued samsaric suffering nor in the extreme of a Hinayana arhat's nirvana without residue.


The Prasangika Presentation According to the Gelug Tradition

According to the Tibetan Gelug tradition, the Prasangika tenet system has its own unique way of defining the various nirvanas that are attainments. What a shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhat attains is still called “liberation” and what a Buddha attains, “ nonabiding nirvana.” However, both of these are divided into nirvanas with and without residue.

With respect to a shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats, nirvana without residue refers to their states during total absorption (meditative equipoise) on voidness, when there is no appearance-making of true findable existence. Nirvana with residue refers to their state either during subsequent attainment (post-meditation) periods, when meditating on something other than voidness, or when not meditating at all. Because such arhats have not overcome the cognitive obstacles preventing omniscience, namely the constant habits grasping for true findable existence, the appearance-making of such an impossible mode of existence recurs during such times. Thus, Prasangika is unique in asserting that, in this sense, nirvana without residue is attained before nirvana with a residue.

When referring to a Buddha, however, such a distinction between nirvana with or without a residue in terms of whether or not there is the appearance-making of true findable existence does not pertain. A Buddha has overcome even the habits of the unawareness that leads to such appearance-making and is always in total absorption on voidness even while acting. Therefore, in reference to Buddhas, nirvana with and without residue are different aspects of their state of nonabiding nirvana. The former refers to a Buddha’s Corpus of Enlightening Forms (Rupakaya, Form Bodies) and the latter to a Buddha’s Corpus of Deep Awareness Encompassing Everything (Jnana-Dharmakaya, Wisdom Dharmakaya).

Source: Berzin Archives
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level4_deepening_understanding_path/path/nirvana.html

Offline Karma Dondrup Tashi

  • Member
  • Posts: 448
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 11:49:34 am »
If I mix too much nirguna with my saguna or vice versa then my words become broken and slurry. And the hangover's a beast.
[size=90]what I want is a view. Hannibal Lecter[/size]

Offline Dharmakara

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4233
    • View Profile
Re: Definition of "deity" in Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 01:51:57 pm »
How about Bhakti and Coke with a slice of lime?  :teehee:

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal