What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:27 am

darvki wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But very frequently it gets used that way.


Indeed, but this is not grounds for indiscriminantly rejecting use of the phrase. I've been surprised how the mere mention of it, without any clear indication that it refers to literalist tathagatagarbha doctrine, can elicit very indignant and/or dismissive reactions.
You might want to do a little research on the Critical Buddhism movement in Japan.

tiltbillings wrote:Dogen did it better: Buddha-nature=impermanence.


Thank you for mentioning that. I was going to bring it up myself if no one else did. The impermanent and dependently arisen nature of things allows awakening to be possible.
The problem is with words. Dogen, I do believe, went in the direction he did as a corrective to the tendency to reify the concept of buddha-nature.

By the way, none of these statements are aimed at you specifically, Tilt. They're for the general public.
I know and thanks for saying that.
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: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:28 am

PeterB wrote:Undies resolutely unknotted Tilt......air is flowing freely around my khandas... :smile:
I am very happy to hear that, but now I have that image in my head which is very disturbing.
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: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:30 am

The Critical Buddhist Movement is the most significant development in the Mahayana in modern times imo.
And offers REAL hope for Buddhist unity. Not an idea based on wishful thinking.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Aloka » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:11 am

More about the Tibetan Buddhist viewpoint....

From "Path to Buddhahood -teachings on Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation"by Ringu Tulku :

"Buddha Shakyamuni himself asserted the presence of buddha nature, and we have every reason to trust what he said, as he himself attained Buddhahood. Who better to tell us whether buddha nature exists or not? In the Samadhiraja Sutra the Buddha says, "The essence of Buddhahood pervades all beings." Likewise, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra says "All beings possess the nature of buddha or tathagatagarbha. " This same sutra goes on to explain that buddha nature is inherent in all beings as butter is inherent in milk. This assertion was not only made by Buddha himself but also by his successors, particularly those who founded and developed Mahayana Buddhism such as Asanga and Nagarjuna."



The text then goes on to say that the nature of both samsara and nirvana is shunyata and therefore the basic nature of all beings is also shunyata.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:39 am

I enjoyed Ven. Thanissaro's talk, but must take issue with some of his claims. His critique rests on three different presentations of the idea of "Buddha nature":

1) that we are already enlightened, so no need for practice,
2) that we all have the potential to become enlightened,
3) that buddha nature refers to some kind of "ground of being"; I guess he is referring to Mahayana dharmadatu.

But 1) sounds more like pop dharma than Mahayana; what legitimate teacher in any tradition would say that it's all right to go around sliming joggers in the park as an expression of "buddha nature" ?!?

His argument against 2) is weak, as Theravada also agrees that beings have the potential for enlightenment. Where did we get this potential? It was not transferred to us through the grace of God. Therefore it must be somehow innate.

As for 3) this is really a doctrinal difference over the nature of enlightenment, rather than "buddha nature" per se.

If the Venerable believes that Mahayana does not require effort and practice, perhaps he is not familiar with texts such as this:
http://www.kalavinka.org/book_excerpts/ ... _Intro.pdf

It seems to me a stronger argument against "buddha nature" is that, among some Mahayanists, it has been turned into a sort of ineffable, quasi-eternalistic spiritual essence. This is a problem which Stephen Batchelor discusses in his excellent talk "Buddha Nature, Mara Nature". (http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/12/t ... part_1.mp3). As Batchelor suggests, translation problems from Sanskrit into Chinese may be partly to blame. However, he also points out that buddha nature does not have to be defined this way; it can be conceived more simply in terms of a capacity or potential for awakening.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:45 am

The reality is if you frequent the pages of at least one Zen forum you will see that a full blown reification of Buddhadhatu is the default position. Your no's one and three are seen as mainstream Buddhism.
Practice becomes redefined as letting go of practice.

It is in fact a complete recasting of the Atman/ Brahman schemata.

The Theravada and Mahayana are not the same.
They have different means and different goals.

But no amount of saying so will make any difference to those who are emotionally invested in projecting commonality.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:02 pm

_/|\_
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:17 pm

A restatement of the same doctrine , a doctrine completely at odds with the Theravada view, is not a more balanced view from a Theravadin pov. Its just one more Mahayanist view.

Mahayanists agree with each other . Quelle suprise.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:34 pm

PeterB wrote:Mahayanists agree with each other . Quelle suprise.
Actually, they don't. Sallie King is working from a text called THE BUDDHA NATURE TREATISE, which can be contrasted with THE AWAKENING OF FAITH attributed to Asvaghosa. This is an East Asian/Chinese text where one's gets a full blown reification of buddha-nature.

Anyway, from a Theravadin standpoint, the idea of buddha-nature is quite unnecessary. Ven Thanissaro's talk is well worth listening to.
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: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 pm

Basically like Muller (in the essay above) clearly shows, the so-called Critical Buddhism movement rather than being a Mahayana movement is a bunch of Japanese academics engaged in second-rate scholarship based on their fundamental misunderstanding of key Mahayana doctrines. It may be applicable to segments of Japanese Buddhism that share the same misunderstanding but it's certainly not applicable to Mahayana as a whole.

In any case the links elucidate what is meant by a number of key Mahayana tenets like the Buddha Nature which are so often misunderstood here.

The point (to me) is not whether Theravada needs these teachings or not (that for each practitioner to decide on the basis of their practice) but to clarify what they actually point towards. The OP has implied that there is something wrong with Buddha Nature, so it might be worthwhile to understand what is actually meant by this term.
_/|\_
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:05 pm

The need or otherwise of these doctrines as pertaining to the Theravada IS I would suggest rather important in the context of a Theravadin forum which addresses the " Dhamma Of The Theravada"...
As far as I am aware this is still a Theravadin forum.
I realise that of course in the Mahayana view of things that is unimportant as the Mahayana somehow trumps and subsumes the Theravada.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:07 pm

I said this:

Dan74 wrote:The OP has implied that there is something wrong with Buddha Nature, so it might be worthwhile to understand what is actually meant by this term.


If you are not interested, that's OK, but other people may wish to be informed before coming to conclusions.
_/|\_
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:10 pm

Dan74 wrote:Basically like Muller (in the essay above) clearly shows, the so-called Critical Buddhism movement rather than being a Mahayana movement is a bunch of Japanese academics engaged in second-rate scholarship based on their fundamental misunderstanding of key Mahayana doctrines. It may be applicable to segments of Japanese Buddhism that share the same misunderstanding but it's certainly not applicable to Mahayana as a whole.
Well, first rate scholars such as Jamie Hubbard and Dan Lusthaus would probably disagree.
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: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:11 pm

Can you provide some further info?
_/|\_
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:12 pm

Perhaps someone would care to post a source of support for the idea of Buddha Dhatu from a Theravadin teacher ( other than the schismatic Brahmavamso, or supposed quotes from Ajahn Chah clumsily edited by Jack Kornfield to have him say pretty much the opposite of his normal line )
Being that this is a Theravadin forum an' all.
Not too much to ask surely ?
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:14 pm

Dan74 wrote:I said this:

Dan74 wrote:The OP has implied that there is something wrong with Buddha Nature, so it might be worthwhile to understand what is actually meant by this term.


If you are not interested, that's OK, but other people may wish to be informed before coming to conclusions.



You mean we need a complete biologically correct description of a Unicorn before concluding glibly that they are mythical ?
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:01 pm

It seemed to me the main target of Ven. Thanissaro's talk was not Mahayana per se, but rather the eclectic, cross-fertilizing approach found in American Buddhism, which he finds troubling -- e.g. his joke about Rumi having been crowned Buddhist poet laureate.

So we don't necessarily need to frame this discussion in terms of Theravada vs. Mahayana. It could equally well (perhaps better) be framed in terms of "orthodox Theravada" vs. the more syncretic approach that we find among, say, the Insight Meditation Society folks.

I think he was convincing insofar that he showed that "buddha nature" is not a necesssary concept in Theravada, and that Theravada can do just fine without it. Where I think he goes too far, however, is in his effort to show that it is pernicious and dangerous. Because in doing so, he resorts to a cariacture, a straw man. The "no-effort Buddhism" which he derides would also come under fire among Mahayanists as well. Indeed, there were several heated arguments back at the "grey forum" over this very issue.

PeterB wrote:The reality is if you frequent the pages of at least one Zen forum you will see that a full blown reification of Buddhadhatu is the default position. Your no's one and three are seen as mainstream Buddhism.
Practice becomes redefined as letting go of practice.


Sure, but that represents a tiny subset of Mahayana, and even of Zen/Chan/Seon. Could you imagine someone like Sheng-Yen or Yin-shun signing on to this notion? I can't.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:17 pm

I have no doubt that the good Bhikkhu is right and that it is a pernicious doctrine.
Happily not one that need detain Theravadin Buddhists except when it is periodically dragged in through the back door.


Goodness it must be a burden bringing the gospel of Buddhist ecumenicism to the benighted. Exausting I should think.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:34 pm

I would just like to enter this for discussion, from Ajahn Maha Boowa. What can we say about this? Is what he is talking about different than "Buddha Nature"?
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Dhamma.pdf
p.38

"This is now the one who is absolutely certain, who discerns and perceives everything. The
kilesas can't destroy the citta. Though they may be capable of ruining many things and they
might afflict the citta with hardship and suffering, they can't possibly annihilate it. This nature
is unassailable, absolute and permanent. It cannot be annihilated. At most, it may appear
multifarious due to the things it comes into association and involvement with. Once cleansed,
this nature is complete, perfect and immaculately pure. Conventionally, it is called the
‘supreme fourth samana’. In ultimate terms, it is ‘the Arahatta Dhamma inside the citta’. This
citta is now wholly Dhamma. The citta is Dhamma; the Dhamma is citta."
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:02 pm

Yes.
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