Buddha Nature ?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:21 pm

That was the title Sonam. I have the programme in front of me.
As I recall, in the end the content all boiled down to Anatta. Like an elaborate gothic structure being built around a basic motif which was both simple and profound.
Or like the big bite of Cotton Candy which ends up as a little pink ball of sugar when chewed.
What led me back to the Theravada, and of course this thread started out in the Discovering Theravada forum, was a growing taste for an absence of frilliness.
For minimalism rather than the gothic.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Sönam » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:07 pm

PeterB wrote:That was the title Sonam. I have the programme in front of me.
As I recall, in the end the content all boiled down to Anatta. Like an elaborate gothic structure being built around a basic motif which was both simple and profound.
Or like the big bite of Cotton Candy which ends up as a little pink ball of sugar when chewed.
What led me back to the Theravada, and of course this thread started out in the Discovering Theravada forum, was a growing taste for an absence of frilliness.
For minimalism rather than the gothic.


As you say it was certainly a pyramid of concepts playing with emptiness, not being really emptiness, to finally becoming emptiness ... I may recognize there the, sometime, complexe mind of Tibetans in Buddhism.
Anyway, and I hope we agree, sunyata is one and cannot be two, otherwise it is not emptiness ... it is this time simple.

I can understand your pursuit of simplicity ... but for some beings, things are not so easy, they sometime need to construct montains for it can fall apart in thousand pieces ... like castels made of cards. Anyway, what ever is the vehicle choosen, they all conduct to the same goal, the one told by Bouddha Shakyamouni.

May we cross each other on others threads
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Aloka » Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:09 pm

PeterB wrote:What led me back to the Theravada, and of course this thread started out in the Discovering Theravada forum, was a growing taste for an absence of frilliness. For minimalism rather than the gothic.


Indeed......and this is the reason why I'm now investigating Theravada from a Mahayana background myself. (and why I started the thread on Buddha Nature in the first place !)

Kind regards,

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby mudra » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:48 am

As has been mentioned earlier in this thread, the Gelug (and its related Madhyamaka perspective) presentation really doesn't give much (if any) airtime to "Buddha Nature".
In the Gelug stages of the path (Lam Rim) it doesn't come up. The most that I have ever heard my teacher ever say about Buddha Nature is that the fact that the mind has no inherent nature (shunya) and is dependent on causes and conditions is what allows one to attain Buddhahood.

But in the Kagyu version of the stages of the path, Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa (who was himself a bit of a crossover) the very first chapter is about Buddha Nature. This raises a lot of eyebrows in the Gelug camp.

As explained from the Gelug perspective emptiness itself is a dependent phenomena, why get into a big huge knot trying to posit a self existing Buddha Nature?

Again to reiterate, there is no "Mahayana" view of Buddha Nature. It varies greatly.

And as to the discussion of the different kinds of emptiness let's not make a complete mess of this. This is not a discussion of different kinds of emptinesses, its a thorough list of all (the various and all inclusive) things which lack their own true existence. Or if you like, emptiness being "predicated" of the exhaustive list of categories of phenomena.

The idea of using a list of emptinesses as trick to create a house of cards/huge elaboration just to knock it down in a sartori like moment might appeal to some as a simplified explanation for its seemingly mystifying presence in Mahayana treatises and tantra. But really what the list of twenty/sixteen or however many categories of emptiness is about is to present an exhaustive list of phenomena. Sometimes its not enough just to say "all phenomena are shunya", there can be a need to be more explicit.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Yogicfire » Sat May 01, 2010 5:32 pm

There seems to be a trend on this thread towards saying that Theravada doesn't have any kind of time for concepts such as Buddha nature. I am not quite sure that is the case, or if it is as simple as that. Maybe the classical notions of self expounded in some of the more orthodox suttas when compared to certain Vajrayana or Zen concepts of Buddha nature could be understood to be quite different. However, I know that even within the Pali canon there are quite a lot of different stances to be found on what actually constitutes the self, and some of these could be seen to move towards something like Buddha nature or pure consciousness.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Sat May 01, 2010 6:03 pm

Perhaps you would care to give some citations from the Pali Canon Yogic fire ?
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Aloka » Sat May 01, 2010 7:19 pm

Yogicfire wrote: However, I know that even within the Pali canon there are quite a lot of different stances to be found on what actually constitutes the self, and some of these could be seen to move towards something like Buddha nature or pure consciousness.


Examples would be greatly appreciated please, Yogicfire. _/\_

.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Yogicfire » Sun May 02, 2010 5:05 am

I am making a general point, as I know that many people might disagree, and I just wanted to offer my opinion that things might not be quite so black and white as some make out.

I don't have my books/references with me, but from a search on the net, and from what I remember, I note that in particular passages from the Anguttara Nikaya a view on something moving towards Buddha nature can be discerned, as well as notions of 'purity' in the Samyutta Nikaya.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Ben » Sun May 02, 2010 5:14 am

Hi YF
Yogicfire wrote:I don't have my books/references with me, but from a search on the net, and from what I remember, I note that in particular passages from the Anguttara Nikaya a view on something moving towards Buddha nature can be discerned, as well as notions of 'purity' in the Samyutta Nikaya.

Then I think it would be good if you could provide references and quotations that support your argument, especially if those references and quotations are from the Nikayas.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 02, 2010 5:33 am

Perhaps YogicFire is thinking of:
AN 1.49-52 Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"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." {I,vi,1}

"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." {I,vi,2}


Tilt has already commented on this passage:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3878#p57005
tiltbillings wrote:
christopher::: wrote: aren't there places where Buddha talked of the mind being luminous? If so, what did he mean by that?

:anjali:

Oh, gawd, not that again. It does not mean that we are already awakened, but it does mean that as we becomes aware of something there is a brief moment of clarity before the rest of the khandhas kick in and we get lost all that stuff. It is that clarity that is what is cultivated as mindfulness. The clarity is not awakening, but it is the tool that allows us to see the interdependent rise and fall of whatever comes into our awareness and from that, awakening.


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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Yogicfire » Sun May 02, 2010 3:57 pm

Something quite interesting that I am looking at now:

"Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?" SN 44.10

Some commentators are suggesting that this is a clear sign that it is incorrect to say that there is a self, just as much as it is incorrect to say that there is no self, thus we should understand that the Buddha is talking about not-self rather than the two extremes.... Any thoughts?
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Kenshou » Sun May 02, 2010 6:25 pm

Yogicfire wrote:Some commentators are suggesting that this is a clear sign that it is incorrect to say that there is a self, just as much as it is incorrect to say that there is no self, thus we should understand that the Buddha is talking about not-self rather than the two extremes.... Any thoughts?


That's exactly the point, actually. We hear about not-self the most because it's useful in releasing clinging, but as you notice not-self isn't the same as no-self. Which also doesn't imply that there is a self, either.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun May 02, 2010 7:10 pm

PeterB wrote:If those analogies help then feel free...I am afraid they dont do much for me. :smile:

I think trying to mix Yanas is likely ( to borrow analogy from the visual arts ) likely to end up with neither blue nor yellow but khaki..everything all muddied up.


Hee hee, Pete, maybe even like Camo...lost in the background:

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Yogicfire » Mon May 03, 2010 6:42 am

Kenshou wrote:
Yogicfire wrote:Some commentators are suggesting that this is a clear sign that it is incorrect to say that there is a self, just as much as it is incorrect to say that there is no self, thus we should understand that the Buddha is talking about not-self rather than the two extremes.... Any thoughts?


That's exactly the point, actually. We hear about not-self the most because it's useful in releasing clinging, but as you notice not-self isn't the same as no-self. Which also doesn't imply that there is a self, either.


Right, but Buddha nature isn't a self either. I would have to say from reading these kinds of passages that not-self would be most applicable to Buddha nature rather than self or no self..... This is what I am suggesting.

As the Buddha said, to suggest that there is no self whatsoever is annihilationism, while to suggest that there is a self is eternalism.
Last edited by Yogicfire on Mon May 03, 2010 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 03, 2010 6:46 am

Yogicfire wrote:Right, but Buddha nature isn't a self either. I would have to say from reading these kinds of passages that not-self would be most applicable to Buddha nature rather than self or no self..... This is what I am suggesting.



Why burden ourselves with an unnecessary and unnecessarily vague doctrine?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon May 03, 2010 7:17 am

Buddha nature is a problem even within Mahayana and there have been many debates redefinitions etc of the topic, the Japanese critical Buddhism movement has taken up this issue.
if it is a problem for the schools that it is a somewhat central issue to, then why should Theravada even take up the issue?

when i was practicing in the Soto school of zen we were not taught that everything has Buddha nature but rather everything is Buddha nature, which changes the game completely if you think about it.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 03, 2010 7:48 am

Yes The Japanese Critical Buddhism movement is interesting. It amounts to a kind of Reformation within the Mahayana taking a steady look at the accretions that have developed onto the body of the Buddhas teaching. They are very interesting on the subject of Buddha Nature. Within JCB there is a view that it is a restatement in Buddhist terms of the Atta doctrine.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Mon May 03, 2010 1:02 pm

Just a quick 2 cents to throw in...

When Buddha Nature is conceptualized as a potential for liberation, for cultivating factors of awakening, that exists within all sentient beings, then i don't think it creates major problems. This is how many "sincere" Tibetan & Zen Buddhist practitioners think about it, in my opinion. They recognize that this potential for liberation will not develop until one puts the dharma into practice.

On the other hand, when Buddha Nature is conceived as something eternal and indestructable, atman-like, something we all "have" already and simply need to uncover or acknowledge in order to awaken, such a belief can become a massive act of self-deception. People start to think of themselves as Buddhas, faultless, already pure, when they still have so many fetters and unwholesome mind patterns to unravel.

The first way of thinking about Buddha Nature is not nearly as problematic as the second, imo.

:thinking:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 03, 2010 1:07 pm

christopher::: wrote:When Buddha Nature is conceptualized as a . . . .
It is still an unnecessary dotcrine.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 03, 2010 1:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
christopher::: wrote:When Buddha Nature is conceptualized as a . . . .
It is still an unnecessary dotcrine.


To my way of seeing, no more unnecessary than Nibbana, and with the same potential for reification, grasping, etc.

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