what is "esoteric buddhism"?

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vinasp
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby vinasp » Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:30 pm

Hi everyone,
In what way might the Theravada teachings be an esoteric system of some sort ? The basic idea is that the teachings may be structured in a way which allows them to make sense in more than one interpretative framework. There is clearly a standard way to make sense of the teachings , which I am sure that we are all aware of. You find it in ( almost ) every book on Theravada Buddhism. The question that I find most interesting is whether there might be an alternative way to make sense of the teachings. I suppose this question only begins to look interesting if one is dissatisfied with the standard interpretation.
But how would this work in practice ? Lets imagine a monk who is dissatified who thinks " Five years now and I still dont seem to be making any progress". He asks himself " have I misunderstood the teachings?" , " Is there another way ?". If he looks for such an alternative understanding and finds one , does he then start telling all his fellow monks ? Of course not. He would not be allowed to do this . He is not a teacher and he should not offer such an alternative teaching in public. It would seem that there is no reason why a monk should not have his own different understanding of things , even a radicaly different one , as long as he keeps it private. Nor would the Sangha be able to control these private thoughts , or entirely prevent some sharing of these ideas if one such monk should meet another. Perhaps it has always been the case that most people are meant to understand the teachings in one way , and a few people in another way .
Kind Regards, Vincent.

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby cooran » Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:15 pm

Chris wrote:
vinasp wrote: Hi everyone,
I am not sure what to do at this point. I have just found even stronger evidence that the Buddha tells porkies.
Is anyone still following this thread ? Do you want to see this evidence ?
Several posters have made strong assertions of the kind : " The Buddha does not lie ". Are they just expressing their opinion, or are they telling me to shut up ? Several posters have suggested that I need to change my views . If I present this evidence are some people going to go bananas ?
Or can we have a calm rational enquiry here ? Please tell me what you think.

Hello vinasp, all,

Please present what you think is your evidence. There are quite a few of us waiting to see what it is. Nobody is going to 'go bananas' ~ we've been on internet groups for years and nothing shocks us anymore.
Please present it ... how else will you learn except through discussion and listening to those well versed in the Dhamma?

metta
Chris


Hello vinasp,

Could you please answer this question, which a few have asked you, before taking the thread further on?

metta
Chris
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Ben » Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:29 pm

Hi Chris
I would suggest that Vincent was not willing to share the 'evidence' with us so that we could scrutinise it.
Either that, or there was no 'evidence' in the first place.

In any case, if anyone else would like to carry on this discussion, they are welcome to do so.
I don't mind people playing the Devil's Advocate, but as I said very early in this thread, care must be taken to not disrespect the triple gem or our members.
Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:55 pm

Greetings Vinasp,

vinasp wrote:"Is there another way ?". If he looks for such an alternative understanding and finds one , does he then start telling all his fellow monks ? Of course not. He would not be allowed to do this . He is not a teacher and he should not offer such an alternative teaching in public. It would seem that there is no reason why a monk should not have his own different understanding of things , even a radicaly different one , as long as he keeps it private. Nor would the Sangha be able to control these private thoughts , or entirely prevent some sharing of these ideas if one such monk should meet another.


To use the debate over the interpretation of dependent origination as an example, your hyopthesis bears no relation to actual events. It bears no relation to the Sangha as it functions in Theravada Buddhism, and more closely resembles something like Catholicism, where the Vatican might possibly look to control heterodox interpretations in such a way.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:20 pm

Hi All,

A couple of thoughts...

The Buddha of the Pali Cannon did contradict himself from the perspective of normal everyday logic when he said something to the effect of...

The Tathagata cannot be said to exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to not exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to both exist and not exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to neither exist nor not exist after the passing of the body


Someone who has time might quote it exactly for me and I would be thankful.

Also in terms of esoteric teaching. I think of spiritual friendship with a more aware and kind individual as a type of ongoing esoteric teaching. It is difficult to explain and generally of a personal nature. There where times in the Pali cannon when the Buddha showed or told a student something which would not have been necessarily helpful to others. I am tinkling of the Sutta where a Bikkhu was exposed the the Beauty of ethereal dove footed nymphs.


Take Care

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:51 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:The Buddha of the Pali Cannon did contradict himself from the perspective of normal everyday logic when he said something to the effect of...

The Tathagata cannot be said to exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to not exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to both exist and not exist after the passing of the body

The Tathagata cannot be said to neither exist nor not exist after the passing of the body


Hi Gabe,

unfortunately I'm not very good in expressing myself, especially in english which is not my native language, but I try to do my best. The Buddha does not contradict himself regarding these quoted sentences. When it is said "The Tathagata cannot be said to exist after the passing of the body" this only means that it cannot be said that the Tathagata exists after the passing of the body. As simple as it is. Just because it cannot be said, this does not coercively mean that it can be said that the Tathagata does not exist after passing of the body. I'm aware of the fact that it seems to be the logic assumption but it's not because the puthujjana thinks the Tathagata could be found in the body or depends on something which has to do with the body or something like that and actually there is a lack of obvious evidence, which necessarily could lead to such an assumption. Thus the Buddha said: "The Tathagata cannot be said to not exist after the passing of the body". The reason why the Buddha seems to contradict himself is due to the belief of a self (attavada). If we wanted to express ourselves correctly we would have to say, that the Tathagata can not be found "anywhere". That's why the Buddha said: "The Tathagata cannot be said to both exist and not exist after the passing of the body. The Tathagata cannot be said to neither exist nor not exist after the passing of the body."
Because there is nothing which can be found which actually is the Tathagata. All there is, is form (rupa), sensation (vedana), perception (sanna), formations (sankhara) and consciousness (vinnana) or we could say instead of the five aggregates (pañc'upadana khandha), all there is are the 4 great elements (mahabhuta), fire, wind, water and earth. There are loads of examples in the suttas.
What should be understood is that all there is, are conditioned phenomena and thus they are changing (anicca), unpleasant (dukkha) and not-self (anatta). And the Buddha said that these things (which are anicca, dukkha, anatta) are not mine, not "I", not my "self", so thats why the above sentences doesn't contradict theirselves and why
here and now the Tathagata acually and in truth is not to be found...(Avyákata Samy. 2 (S.IV,384))

in addition...
That consciousness by which the Tathagata migth be manifested has been eliminated by the Tathagata, cut off at the root, dug up, made non-existent, it is incapable of future arising; the Tathagata, great king, is free from reckoning as consciousness...(Avyákata Samy. 1 (S.IV,379)).


I hope there is something which might helps.


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:09 pm

acinteyyo wrote:unfortunately I'm not very good in expressing myself, especially in english which is not my native language, but I try to do my best. The Buddha does not contradict himself regarding these quoted sentences. When it is said "The Tathagata cannot be said to exist after the passing of the body" this only means that it cannot be said that the Tathagata exists after the passing of the body. As simple as it is. Just because it cannot be said, this does not coercively mean that it can be said that the Tathagata does not exist after passing of the body. I'm aware of the fact that it seems to be the logic assumption but it's not because the puthujjana thinks the Tathagata could be found in the body or depends on something which has to do with the body or something like that and actually there is a lack of obvious evidence, which necessarily could lead to such an assumption. Thus the Buddha said: "The Tathagata cannot be said to not exist after the passing of the body". The reason why the Buddha seems to contradict himself is due to the belief of a self (attavada). If we wanted to express ourselves correctly we would have to say, that the Tathagata can not be found "anywhere". That's why the Buddha said: "The Tathagata cannot be said to both exist and not exist after the passing of the body. The Tathagata cannot be said to neither exist nor not exist after the passing of the body."
Because there is nothing which can be found which actually is the Tathagata. All there is, is form (rupa), sensation (vedana), perception (sanna), formations (sankhara) and consciousness (vinnana) or we could say instead of the five aggregates (pañc'upadana khandha), all there is are the 4 great elements (mahabhuta), fire, wind, water and earth. There are loads of examples in the suttas.
What should be understood is that all there is, are conditioned phenomena and thus they are changing (anicca), unpleasant (dukkha) and not-self (anatta). And the Buddha said that these things (which are anicca, dukkha, anatta) are not mine, not "I", not my "self", so thats why the above sentences doesn't contradict theirselves and why
here and now the Tathagata acually and in truth is not to be found...(Avyákata Samy. 2 (S.IV,384))

in addition...
That consciousness by which the Tathagata migth be manifested has been eliminated by the Tathagata, cut off at the root, dug up, made non-existent, it is incapable of future arising; the Tathagata, great king, is free from reckoning as consciousness...(Avyákata Samy. 1 (S.IV,379)).


I hope there is something which might helps.


best wishes, acinteyyo


Thank You Acinteyyo,

You have expressed yourself quite well in my view. I agree that the above lines are not contradictory. However, to simply point to the constituent parts and say that "this is all there is" seems to me to be another trap of existence and non existence. I do not say that this is your meaning only that it is also a provisional pointing out which we can use to look into why the lines are not contradictory. I don't think that the explanation that the person is made up of conditioned parts ends with the acceptance of or perception of those parts.

Kindly

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:20 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:I don't think that the explanation that the person is made up of conditioned parts ends with the acceptance of or perception of those parts.

could you please explain how you meant this? I think I don't really know what you are driving at.

best wishes
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:56 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:I don't think that the explanation that the person is made up of conditioned parts ends with the acceptance of or perception of those parts.

could you please explain how you meant this? I think I don't really know what you are driving at.

best wishes


Hi Acinteyyo,

We may perceive or accept the constituent parts of our being but I do not think this in itself is what resolves the question of the nature of the Tathagata.

Im not sure if I know how to expand on this further.

Best wishes to you as well

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:32 pm

Hi Gabriel

gabrielbranbury wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:I don't think that the explanation that the person is made up of conditioned parts ends with the acceptance of or perception of those parts.

could you please explain how you meant this? I think I don't really know what you are driving at.

best wishes


Hi Acinteyyo,

We may perceive or accept the constituent parts of our being but I do not think this in itself is what resolves the question of the nature of the Tathagata.

Im not sure if I know how to expand on this further.

Best wishes to you as well

Gabe


Can you please support your contention with any references from the Tipitaka or commentaries? It appears to me to me that you are inferring that there is something other than the five khandhas and to be contrary to the doctrine of anatta.
many thanks

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:03 am

Ben wrote:
Can you please support your contention with any references from the Tipitaka or commentaries? It appears to me to me that you are inferring that there is something other than the five khandhas and to be contrary to the doctrine of anatta.
many thanks

Ben


Hi Ben,
I really dont see how what I said would appear to you in this way. I think the division of the person into the khandhas is for the practical purpose of inviting us to look deeper into the totally insubstantial and conditional nature of experience. All Im saying is that dividing the self into categories to logically conclude that the image of the whole is merely a representation of an interplay of parts does not resolve the question of what really exists and what has lasting value. Certainly the three jewels represents for me something which I attribute lasting value to and I have faith that this is the case.

Thank you for being thorough regarding not self.

Take care

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:43 am

gabrielbrandbury wrote:I do not think this in itself is what resolves the question of the nature of the Tathagata

I'm sorry but there is no "nature of the Tathagata"
here and now the Tathagata acually and in truth is not to be found...(Avyákata Samy. 2 (S.IV,384))

gabrielbranbury wrote:All Im saying is that dividing the self into categories to logically conclude that the image of the whole is merely a representation of an interplay of parts does not resolve the question of what really exists and what has lasting value.

the five aggregates do not divide "the self" into categories to logically conclude that the image of the whole is merely a representation of an interplay of parts. you act on the assumption of a "self". neither one or more or all of the khandhas nor none/"outside" of the khandhas is a "self". thus the khandhas do not divide "the self" into categories. that what we call "person" are the khandhas, the "person" is that image of the whole, which is merely a representation of an interplay of parts (namely the five khandhas) - but the "person" is also not a "self".
what do you mean with: "what really exists and what has lasting value"? what are you supposing what really exists and what has lasting value? maybe you could ask a more precise question?

best wishes
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:03 pm

Hello Acinteyyo,

acinteyyo wrote:
gabrielbrandbury wrote:I do not think this in itself is what resolves the question of the nature of the Tathagata

I'm sorry but there is no "nature of the Tathagata"
here and now the Tathagata acually and in truth is not to be found...(Avyákata Samy. 2 (S.IV,384))



I read this sentence as saying that the nature of a Tathagata is that she can not be found.



acinteyyo wrote:the five aggregates do not divide "the self" into categories to logically conclude that the image of the whole is merely a representation of an interplay of parts. you act on the assumption of a "self". neither one or more or all of the khandhas nor none/"outside" of the khandhas is a "self". thus the khandhas do not divide "the self" into categories. that what we call "person" are the khandhas, the "person" is that image of the whole, which is merely a representation of an interplay of parts (namely the five khandhas) - but the "person" is also not a "self".


It is true that I habitually act with the assumption of a self. However at this point I am having trouble with your communication. For Practical reasons I can refer to you as being a person and you can refer to me the same. This does not mean we need to believe that there is a thing called a person or self to use such speech. The same goes for the khandas.

acinteyyo wrote:what do you mean with: "what really exists and what has lasting value"? what are you supposing what really exists and what has lasting value? maybe you could ask a more precise question?

best wishes

My question is precise and I suppose you have pointed out that it cannot be found which does not mean to me that it does not exist.
or that it does
or that it both does and does not
or that it neither does nor does not

Good luck with that

take care

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:46 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:Hello Acinteyyo,

Hello Gabe,
gabrielbranbury wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
gabrielbrandbury wrote:I do not think this in itself is what resolves the question of the nature of the Tathagata

I'm sorry but there is no "nature of the Tathagata"
here and now the Tathagata actually and in truth is not to be found...(Avyákata Samy. 2 (S.IV,384))


I read this sentence as saying that the nature of a Tathagata is that she can not be found.

when "nature of the Tathagata" is equal to "the Tathagata" then I'm of the same opinion if not then not, because when "the nature of the Tathagata" is something which is not equal to "the Tathagata" then we have the very same problem. because we can not say that "something which here and now actually and in truth is not to be found" has any nature and we can not say that it has not any nature and we can not say that it both has and has not and we can not say that it neither has nor has not. if for you "nature of the Tathagata" is not equal to "the Tathagata" because you meant "nature of the Tathagata" is an attribute of the Tathagata then I'll have to say your view is not correct.
gabrielbranbury wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:the five aggregates do not divide "the self" into categories to logically conclude that the image of the whole is merely a representation of an interplay of parts. you act on the assumption of a "self". neither one or more or all of the khandhas nor none/"outside" of the khandhas is a "self". thus the khandhas do not divide "the self" into categories. that what we call "person" are the khandhas, the "person" is that image of the whole, which is merely a representation of an interplay of parts (namely the five khandhas) - but the "person" is also not a "self".

It is true that I habitually act with the assumption of a self. However at this point I am having trouble with your communication. For Practical reasons I can refer to you as being a person and you can refer to me the same. This does not mean we need to believe that there is a thing called a person or self to use such speech. The same goes for the khandas.

absolutely
gabrielbranbury wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:what do you mean with: "what really exists and what has lasting value"? what are you supposing what really exists and what has lasting value? maybe you could ask a more precise question?

My question is precise and I suppose you have pointed out that it cannot be found which does not mean to me that it does not exist.
or that it does
or that it both does and does not
or that it neither does nor does not

I still don't get it, it doesn't matter we leave it aside for the moment.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:54 pm

acinteyyo wrote:I still don't get it, it doesn't matter we leave it aside for the moment.

best wishes, acinteyyo


This is my point. We dont "get it" but it does matter.

Best wishes to you as well

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Postby lonewolf » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:05 am

Guilty of it myself, use the word esoteric meaning a bit more complicated, harder to verify. Never meant it as secret. Note to myself, stop inventing new meaning for latin words.


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