Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:13 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Are you implying that Theravada is for "beginners" and Mahayana for the "more developed" practitioners? :juggling:


That's your interpretation, not mine... :smile:

"Being a Theravadin" or "being a Mahayana practitioner" is just one more useless ego identification, in my view. Who cares?

That's true. Any ego identification, including the identification as "non-secular", is something to be let go of... :popcorn:

I'm not averse to getting some inspiration from non-Theravadin sources. I spent an interesting weekend with a lay (former monastic) Tibetan teacher a couple of months ago. But, as I tried to illustrate with my quote from meindzai's post, there are some rather fundamental differences in approach between different teachers. [There's some rather large differences even between various Theravada practise schools. Again, I'm not averse to spending some time sampling them.]

Of course, some of these differences would be less confusing if I had an encyclopaedic grasp of the literature of all of the traditions, but who has time?

In my opinion it's much more efficient to have a firm grasp of one or two approaches within a particular tradition. And especially to have teachers to whom I can confidently entrust my mind-stream...

Metta
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:39 pm

Yes, well put.
It has been brought to my attention,( I should explain that I am a computer neophyte, therefore a Buddhist website neophyte ) that there are a small group of apparantly well known people who ( I am told ) go Buddhist website to website apparantly challenging whatever the prevailing school is. In the name of ..well whatever. I find this difficult to believe. Surely this cant be so ? Can there be people with so much time on their hands ?

I can only say that for me practising just one path calls for all of my effort, and all of my commitment. Which I gladly give. It is not though a matter of debate and discussion merely. Its to be lived and applied.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:49 pm

"Each system depends on it's own paradigm"

This is probably the best statement I have yet read on this topic.
- Peter

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:00 pm

Peter wrote:"Each system depends on it's own paradigm"

This is probably the best statement I have yet read on this topic.

And the shortest... :anjali:

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Dan74 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:19 pm

I am probably not bringing anything really new to the discussion, but just to stress Buddha-nature is a teaching tool. It is something to be let gone of in due course. But before that it is something that is good to hold on to as we let go of more mundane things like the attachment to being right and to having the best vehicle of them all! So it is not atta/atman because it is clear in Zen that it is a provisional teaching.

So we practice to let go of attachments, including the attachment to Dharma and to Buddha-nature. Zen is a practice of abiding no where. Once the mind rests in a particular state, reification begins, the building of an identity begins, no matter how subtle. Just as people have said - arahatship is not an achievement of a state. There is no Buddha-nature there.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:28 pm

Well perhaps we in the Theravada can save you a little time and effort Dan74. I dont see any reason at all to accept that the Buddha taught that there is anything like a " Buddha nature ". So why not leave attachment to "Buddha nature" in the pages of the books where it is found, rather than accepting something that doesnt exist and then later detaching your self from it ? :smile:

You see I suspect that you think that we must somehow have a doctrine of Buddha nature but have somehow mislaid it.. :broke:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Dan74 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:39 pm

No, I suspect that the statement Peter quotes above is quite spot on.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:56 pm

OK so if we agree that each system has its own paradigm, what is to be gained from attempting to hybridise paradigms ? To what end ? What is lacking ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:20 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:OK so if we agree that each system has its own paradigm, what is to be gained from attempting to hybridise paradigms ? To what end ? What is lacking ?


Right. Nothing is to be gained. There's no reason why a Theravadin should even think twice about something like "Buddha nature." It's not found in the Canon and Theravadin teachers don't really teach about it unless they're trying to make some skillful comparison to Zen.

So, once again, it comes down to choosing a practice and sticking to it. The hybridizing mind is what we're trying to tame. If one is restless in their current practice, they either aren't practicing rightly or really should change practices.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby BudSas » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:50 am

Pannapetar wrote:I have finally listened to the 2-hour talk by Stephen Batchelor (thank you, tiltbillings) on Buddha nature. Batchelor contrasts Buddha nature with Mara nature, saying that these are two sides of the same coin, and that it depends on our effort which one we develop. I think this understanding is helpful in as far as it prevents the most obvious misunderstanding, namely that Buddha nature is a given. Batchelor also mentioned that the English term 'Buddha nature' is a translation accident that occurred earlier last century when Chinese Mahayana sources were translated by people like D.T. Suzuki and others. The more correct translation would be 'Buddha womb'. The proper understanding of this very term would probably have prevented some of the above discussion.


In Chinese, there are 2 different terms: "rúláizàng" = Tathagatha womb/store = Tathagatagarbha ; "fóxìng" = Buddha nature = Buddha-dhatu. I don't think there is any confusion or mis-translation here.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Macavity » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:18 pm

BudSas wrote:In Chinese, there are 2 different terms: "rúláizàng" = Tathagatha womb/store = Tathagatagarbha ; "fóxìng" = Buddha nature = Buddha-dhatu. I don't think there is any confusion or mis-translation here


I haven't listened to Batchelor's talk, but usually when scholars speak of a "translation accident" in this matter they mean that tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu have become conflated as a result of both of them being translated into English as "Buddha nature".
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby kannada » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:30 pm

Hi Thomas,
if sentient beings have the potential for enlightenment, and if enlightenment does not involve becoming something else altogether, then the logical conclusion must be that we are in some sense already enlightened. In other words, the seeds for enlightenment should be present already.

In brief:

Thought = thing, no thought = no thing.

'Sentient beings' is a product of assertion, there are no 'sentient beings' unless asserted either by (a self asserted) 'self' or (a self asserted) 'other'.

Nirvana = cessation, not cessation of GHD, but 'cessation' pure and simple (but not excluding GHD).

'Self' / 'Other' are conceptual overlays on the skandhas (even 'skandhas' are a product of conceptuality).

'Enlightenment' is woeful terminology , anatta excludes a 'self' to be 'enlightened'. Therefore there are no 'seeds' for enlightenment.

suunya, sunya, shunya, zunya, zuunya (noun) = 'zero' not 'empty'. Sunya-atta (adjective) = 'zero-self', not as usually (and erroneously) translated as 'emptyness'.
See link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_numerals
Since Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, it is obvious (as also seen from the table) that the words for numerals closely resemble those of Greek and Latin. The word "Shunya" for zero was translated into Arabic as "صفر" "sifr", meaning 'nothing' which became the term "zero" in many European languages from Medieval Latin, zephirum (Arabic: sifr).


All the best

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:46 pm

I see the path to enlightening as a process of letting go imperfections by developing wisdom. In the end there is only the absence of imperfections.

Where is this "Buddha nature"?
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-dhātu

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:40 am

BudSas wrote:In Chinese, there are 2 different terms: "rúláizàng" = Tathagatha womb/store = Tathagatagarbha ; "fóxìng" = Buddha nature = Buddha-dhatu. I don't think there is any confusion or mis-translation here.


According to Batchelor, D.T. Suzuki translated "Buddha nature" correctly from the Chinese "fóxìng", however, the latter is not an adequate rendering of the Sanskrit word Buddha-dhātu. So the translation accident goes back to the Chinese.

@Kannada,

You are right; we have clarified in this conservation that the metaphor of a "seed" or "inner jewel" which is sometimes found in Mahayana is misleading, because it implies thingness where none is found; in other words Buddha-dhātu needs to be seen as "potential", the development of which depends on conditions.

Cheers, Thomas
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