Buddha nature

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Buddha nature

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:33 pm

Dan74 wrote:You might want to reread the post - it didn't come from me! :D


Doh! my bad sorry.

Dan74 wrote:
The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must no cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.
.


Better not let tilt see this "ground of all being" quote. It would be interesting though to see this in Thai to determine if it is a translators interpretation or a direct one to one translation.

But yes I agree with you it's not uncommon for Thai forest masters to talk about Buddha in this way, however I interpret the word Buddha here slightly differently. The word Buddha means "the one who knows", so when one refers to Buddha in this way it's the quality of knowing, awakenedness, and awareness, and of course we all have this capacity we just have to develop it, become it.

To me this is what taking refuge in Buddha means, taking refuge in the process of knowing, of the minds capacity to be awake and aware.

I don't have a problem with this being referred to as "Buddha nature", the problem arises I think when one reify's Buddha nature into some kind of seed, or pseudo-atman, or uses it as a cop out because one doesn't need to practise if one is already enlightened.

It's definately skilful means when understood correctly.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:53 pm

I agree!

I don't have a problem with this being referred to as "Buddha nature", the problem arises I think when one reify's Buddha nature into some kind of seed, or pseudo-atman, or uses it as a cop out because one doesn't need to practise if one is already enlightened.


No traditions teach that of course! Only modern armchair zennies who've never seen a flesh and blood teacher in their life can fall into this and only for a short while, hopefully!
_/|\_
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:52 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Better not let tilt see this "ground of all being" quote. It would be interesting though to see this in Thai to determine if it is a translators interpretation or a direct one to one translation.

Yes. Shhhhhh! :sage:

Certainly translation can be a problem, and of course there can also be considerable confusion about what various English speakers mean by certain words.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby kirk5a » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:30 pm

greggorious wrote:I see Buddha nature everywhere, within my family, friends, even my Cats, and just because I've turned to Therevada I wont change this belief. :)

How do you see this Buddha nature in your cats? Is it their fur, teeth, claws.. their eyes? Recognition that they are also conscious? Just wondering. Why is it a "belief" if it is something you see? Your don't need to have a "belief" in your cat, because it's right there. So... is this Buddha nature a "belief" or something you actually observe? Maybe you won't feel comfortable answering this pointed a question, but it reminds me of when people say they see "God" in things. I would simply like them to explain what it is they see and how they see it.
"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: Buddha nature

Postby Anagarika » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:54 am

I'll throw in 2 baht on this very interesting discussion.

I read a bit from Ajahn Thanissaro's treatise on Buddha Nature: This is why the Buddha said that the mind is luminous, stained with defilements that come and go. Taken out of context, this statement might be construed as implying that the mind is inherently awakened. But in context the Buddha is simply saying that the mind, once stained, is not permanently stained. When the conditions for the stains are gone, the mind becomes luminous again. But this luminosity is not an awakened nature.

This status of luminosity suggests to me that, rather than the mind having Buddha "nature," the mind has Buddha potential. Inherent potential. This idea of luminosity suggests potential energy that does not convert into momentum until it is released. The analogy of that is the kyudo archer, who draws the bow (potential energy) and by virtue of the meditation, the moment arrives on its own accord and the arrow is released.

By the way, I failed physics in college. I have practiced kyudo, though.

The above is what you get for 2 baht.
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:40 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:I'll throw in 2 baht on this very interesting discussion.

I read a bit from Ajahn Thanissaro's treatise on Buddha Nature: This is why the Buddha said that the mind is luminous, stained with defilements that come and go. Taken out of context, this statement might be construed as implying that the mind is inherently awakened. But in context the Buddha is simply saying that the mind, once stained, is not permanently stained. When the conditions for the stains are gone, the mind becomes luminous again. But this luminosity is not an awakened nature.

This status of luminosity suggests to me that, rather than the mind having Buddha "nature," the mind has Buddha potential. Inherent potential. This idea of luminosity suggests potential energy that does not convert into momentum until it is released. The analogy of that is the kyudo archer, who draws the bow (potential energy) and by virtue of the meditation, the moment arrives on its own accord and the arrow is released.

By the way, I failed physics in college. I have practiced kyudo, though.

The above is what you get for 2 baht.


Whether the mind is made luminous through the removal of defilements or that luminosity is revealed when the defilements are gone, is perhaps a matter of perspective.

To a healthy person confronted with a paranoid account of persecution, the danger is not real, but to the sick person it is. Is the sick person inherently free or is he persecuted? Even though the demons that oppress him have no tangible reality, to him, they are real.

Whatever keeps us in bondage appears real and inevitable to us, yet from an enlightened perspective, these fantoms, imaginary desires and identifications are no more than a mirage. Nothing real binds us. In that sense perhaps we are inherently enlightened.

But this thread is in Theravada subforum and if people would like to discuss this, it should be in the context of Theravada teachings, like Ajahn Dune Atulo, Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Maha Boowa, etc. Perhaps we can have a good look at those writings before going further. So I will bow out for now with thanks to the participants, who as Retro said have been courteous, diplomatic and some even thoughtful and open.
_/|\_
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby ground » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:51 am

greggorious wrote:After practicing Zen for a couple of years I have started the practice of Vipassana and Samadha, as I prefer these meditations. For the most part I like therevada Buddhism. However I'm still heavily influenced by the Mahayana and I believe in Buddha nature. I've been told more than once that Buddha nature is not a Therevadin concept. Does this mean that we don't have the seed of enlightenment within us. I see Buddha nature everywhere, within my family, friends, even my Cats, and just because I've turned to Therevada I wont change this belief. :)

But since you are practicing vipassana ... have you ever found a "nature" that may be validly called "Buddha nature"? If not your believing obviously is a thought believing in another thought, i.e. thought grasping thought, thought indulging in itself.

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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:22 pm

A quote from Ajahn Sumedho former Thai Forest Tradition abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK

"The "I am" is a perception - isn't it? - and "God" is a perception. They're conventionally valid for communication and so forth, but as a practice, if you don't let go of perception then you tend to still have the illusion - an illusoriness coming from a belief in the perception of the overself, or God or the Oneness or Buddha Nature, or the divine substance or the divine essence, or something like that."

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Sumedho_Question_Time.htm


_/\_[/quote]
The way I understand Ajahn Sumedho's teaching here is that we should be careful not to cap our inquiry by some imagine superconstruct. The moment we are invested in this notion (or experience that seems to support it) that moment we are stuck. Clinging to any such "thing" like Buddha nature is clinging and is to be let go. This is standard teaching in Mahayana too.


Cittasanto wrote:
Dan74 wrote:That may be so, Mike, but as you probably know the term Buddha nature has been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.

Hi Dan,
I personally have not noticed this, have you an example?


I am reading Ajahn Amaro's Small Boat, Great Mountain just now and I think it is an excellent source if you are interested in this question and for many other reasons.

http://www.amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/SmallBoat.pdf
Last edited by Dan74 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:01 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Dan74 wrote:That may be so, Mike, but as you probably know the term Buddha nature has been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.

Hi Dan,
I personally have not noticed this, have you an example?


I am reading Ajahn Amaro's Small Boat, Great Mountain just now and I think it is an excellent source if you are interested in this question and for many other reasons.

http://www.amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/SmallBoat.pdf

I have read that book, and yes it was given in a particular context of a Dzogchen retreat, where Ajahn Amaro was sitting with the teacher as it was part of the centres policy for guest teachers to be accompanied for their first few retreats, so may use terms not native to theravada, and as a result not a good source of the example sought.

but it is a very good book and I have a hard copy.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:13 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I am reading Ajahn Amaro's Small Boat, Great Mountain just now and I think it is an excellent source if you are interested in this question and for many other reasons.

http://www.amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/SmallBoat.pdf

I have read that book, and yes it was given in a particular context of a Dzogchen retreat, where Ajahn Amaro was sitting with the teacher as it was part of the centres policy for guest teachers to be accompanied for their first few retreats, so may use terms not native to theravada, and as a result not a good source of the example sought.

but it is a very good book and I have a hard copy.


The point is not the terms he used, but the essence of the teachings. In Zen, for instance, Buddha nature does not seem to be as common as Original Mind and both are relatively uncommon, in translations at least, where one finds terms which are more like tasks, "The Great Matter", "Task of a Lifetime" and even more often it is not expressed at all.

When Ajahn Amaro writes (for instance):

Up until the point when Ajahn Chah met his teacher Ajahn
Mun, he said he never really understood that mind and its
objects existed as separate qualities, and that, because of getting
the two confused and tangled up, he could never find peace. But
Small Boat, Great Mountain
28
what he had got from Ajahn Mun—in the three short days he
spent with him—was the clear sense that there is the knowing
mind, the poo roo, the one who knows, and then there are the
objects of knowing. These are like a mirror and the images that
are reflected in it. The mirror is utterly unembellished and
uncorrupted by either the beauty or the ugliness of the objects
appearing in it. The mirror doesn’t even get bored. Even when
there is nothing reflected in it, it is utterly equanimous, serene.
This was a key insight for Ajahn Chah, and it became a major
theme for his practice and teaching from that time onward.
He would compare the mind and its objects to oil and water
contained in the same bottle. The knowing mind is like the oil,
and the sense impressions are like the water. Primarily because
our minds and lives are very busy and turbulent, the oil and
water get shaken up together. It thus appears that the knowing
mind and its objects are all one substance. But if we let the system
calm down, then the oil and the water separate out; they are
essentially immiscible.
There’s the awareness, the Buddha-mind, and the impressions
of thought, the sensory world, and all other patterns of consciousness.
The two naturally separate out from each other; we
don’t have to do a thing to make it happen. Intrinsically, they are
not mixed. They will separate themselves out if we let them.
At this point, we can truly can see that the mind is one thing
and the mind-objects are another. We can see the true nature of
mind, mind-essence, which knows experience and in which all
of life happens; and we can see that that transcendent quality is
devoid of relationship to individuality, space, time, and movement.
All of the objects of the world—its people, our routines
and mind states—appear and disappear within that space.


he is expressing the essence of the Buddha nature teachings that I have received in Mahayana.
_/|\_
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:26 pm

Hi Dan,
Well that still isn't an example of Buddha nature being used.
as you claimed
the term Buddha nature has been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:38 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Dan,
Well that still isn't an example of Buddha nature being used.
as you claimed
the term Buddha nature has been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.


You are right, Citta, I have not provided evidence to justify that it is in wide circulation. So I will retract with apologies and amend to say that teachings akin to the Mahayana teachings on Buddha nature have been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.
_/|\_
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:53 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Hi Dan,
Well that still isn't an example of Buddha nature being used.
as you claimed
the term Buddha nature has been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.


You are right, Citta, I have not provided evidence to justify that it is in wide circulation. So I will retract with apologies and amend to say that teachings akin to the Mahayana teachings on Buddha nature have been in wide circulation in Thai Buddhism, not least in the Forest tradition.


Akin to some interpretations, yes, I would say there are many things similar, and would go as far to say Ajahn Sumedho is more Mahayana than Theravada at times, particularly with the sound of silence teachings which are clearly related to Avalokitsvara (sp?) and the teachings of some Mahayana Bhikshus and Theravada Bhikkhus are so close at times it is only the expression making them different. However Tahn Ajahn actually uses what it is called in the west, I am not sure about Thailand, that being "The One Who Knows." This gives a different flavour to the impression it gives the listener in general, I think.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby dreamov » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:49 am

Does this mean
that we don't have the seed of
enlightenment within us.


Not unless we attain stream entry, we won't.
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Re: Buddha nature

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:03 am

This should make it as clear as day:

    -- The tathagatagarbha [buddha-nature] is not just any emptiness,
    however. Rather it is specifically emptiness of inherent existence when
    applied to a sentient being's mind, his (her) mental continuum. ... When
    the mind is defiled in the unenlightened state this emptiness is called
    tathagatagarbha. When the mind has become pure through following the
    path and attaining Buddhahood so emptiness is referred to in the dGe
    lugs tradition as the Buddha's Essence Body (_svabhavikakaya_). The
    Buddha's pure mind in that state is his Gnosis or Wisdom Body
    (_jnanakaya_), while the two taken together, the Buddha's mind as a
    flow empty of inherent existence, is what the tradition calls the
    _dharmakaya._ ... This also means that the tathagatagarbha itself is
    strictly the fundamental cause of Buddhahood, and is no way identical
    with the result, _dharmakaya_ or Essence Body as the case may be,
    except in the sense that both defiled mind and Buddha's mind are empty
    of inherent existence. ...which is to say that even the _dharmakaya_,
    and, of course, emptiness itself, are all empty of inherent existence.
    They are not 'truly established', there is no Absolute in the sense of an
    ultimate really existing entity. --- Paul Williams MAHAYANA
    BUDDHISM, pub by Routledge. Pg 106-7.
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 darvki » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:06 am

Medicine for the sick. Bhante Dhammika didn't have any qualms using it in his writing.
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