Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (Discovering Theravada vers.)

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby baratgab » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:39 am

If it is of any interest at all, one possible way of viewing Buddha Nature is that beings already have nibbana (or jhanas, for that matter); it is just covered with activity. This is in line with the path of letting go: we need less, rather than more; we need to lose, rather than to gain. If applied to the mental sphere, the end point is total detachment, anatta. I think I have heard this explanation from Ajahn Brahm (well, I'm just a parrot), who is very keen on reconciling traditions.
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:44 pm

baratgab wrote:If it is of any interest at all, one possible way of viewing Buddha Nature is that beings already have nibbana (or jhanas, for that matter); it is just covered with activity. This is in line with the path of letting go: we need less, rather than more; we need to lose, rather than to gain. If applied to the mental sphere, the end point is total detachment, anatta. I think I have heard this explanation from Ajahn Brahm (well, I'm just a parrot), who is very keen on reconciling traditions.
You see no problems with this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings TMingyur,

What you say is true, but in the interests of keeping to the theme of "Discovering Theravada", we'll leave the Mahayana treatment of these terms to another time and another place.

Thank you.

Metta,
Retro. :)


But if we ignore what the Mahayana schools say "tathagatagarbha" and "buddhadhatu" actually is, we run the risk of defining it incorrectly, and then arguments about whether or not the Theravada accept it, may be strawman arguments, or simply statements about ideas that no buddhists at all actually hold.

(Don't you see some ironic parallels with the Hinayana vs Theravada issue on this?)
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:46 pm

Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:(Don't you see some ironic parallels with the Hinayana vs Theravada issue on this?)


I do actually. :tongue:

In fact, that's precisely why I think it's sufficient in the context of this sub-forum to say, "No, Theravada doesn't recognise this" (because if it's not true or relevant from the Theravada perspective, it is irrelevant to Theravada how others define it) and for that to be the end of the story - same logic as with the "Hinayana" issue. But often what I find sufficient, others find insufficient, and so be it.

Perhaps if Withoutcolour revisits this topic, she may comment on some outstanding angles she wishes to pursue in relation to the topic... and this may (or may not) include Mahayana definitions of these terms not used in the Pali Canon.

In keeping with the logic of SN 22.86 - Anuradha Sutta (which denies the application of the post-mortem tetralemma) "And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare..." the existence of some Buddha-element?

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby baratgab » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:You see no problems with this?


Generally I agree about the path of letting go, and I think that one can validly make a good case of Buddha Nature out of it, as outlined above. As far as my representation goes, I'm not sure that this is the exact position of Ajahn Brahm (or the teacher, from whom I heard from); one's own silliness can introduce many faults even into the most tidy concept, when it comes to phrasing it with one's own words. :)

In any case, I see no special significance in this subject, other than the good-hearted intention of reconciling traditions, when it is needed. As others pointed out, the original teachings are entirely enough, and redundant concepts don't really improve upon anything.

Regardless of this, feel free to point out any inconsistencies, either here, if they are relevant to the topic, or in PM. :anjali:
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:38 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:(Don't you see some ironic parallels with the Hinayana vs Theravada issue on this?)


I do actually. :tongue:

In fact, that's precisely why I think it's sufficient in the context of this sub-forum to say, "No, Theravada doesn't recognise this" (because if it's not true or relevant from the Theravada perspective, it is irrelevant to Theravada how others define it) and for that to be the end of the story - same logic as with the "Hinayana" issue. But often what I find sufficient, others find insufficient, and so be it.

Perhaps if Withoutcolour revisits this topic, she may comment on some outstanding angles she wishes to pursue in relation to the topic... and this may (or may not) include Mahayana definitions of these terms not used in the Pali Canon.

In keeping with the logic of SN 22.86 - Anuradha Sutta (which denies the application of the post-mortem tetralemma) "And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare..." the existence of some Buddha-element?

Metta,
Retro. :)


All I can say, Paul, is that I feel that this sort of attitude and approach is not conducive to real understanding between different Buddhist groups. Nor will it lead to an accurate answer to the issues raised by the original thread starter.

If either side is not given the opportunity to correctly present a given doctrine or teaching before the other side begins to accept or reject their mis-interpretation of that doctrine and thus falsely misrepresent that other group, then both sides shall continue to feel lack of good faith and intention on the part of the other.

One may argue that a given forum or site is not the place for giving the other side the opportunity to represent themselves, but I feel that this is merely sticking to the letter of rule about the content of a given forum or site, at the expense of the spirit of clarity of communication and mutual goodwill.

The examples that you have shown above already indicate to me, that by only showing one of the many Mahayana positions on tathagatagarbha / buddhadhatu, and not giving space to other positions which are really very different (please don't merely read the words, that is a naive approach that helps nobody), this misrepresentation has already begun. And your post above has already shut the door to real communication.
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:46 am

TMingyur wrote:What strikes me in this thread is that it is implied that "buddha nature" is unanimously accepted in all schools of Mahayana and that if the term as such is accepted then there would be one meaning that is unanimously implied by all schools of Mahayana.
This is definitely not so. E.g. Madhyamaka does not hold the Tathāgatagarbha view and some schools of Madhyamaka explicitely reject all interpretations of "buddha nature" that imply something other than a mere non-affirming negation (i.e. emptiness).

Kind regards


Exactly.

Your key point here, if I understand, is not that the Madhyamaka (and others) reject "buddha nature", but reject a particular interpretation of "buddha nature".

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Without Colour,

To the best of my knowledge, neither of these terms (nor what they point to) are recognised in Theravada.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Paul's attempt at rejecting "buddha nature" in terms of a "buddha element" are only applicable to the affirming position vis this doctrine, but not with regards the Madhyamaka position. Simply reading the words "buddha-dhatu" and thinking that we now understand what all Mahayana schools mean by this is misrepresenting those schools. How can we then come to an understanding or answer the original question? Paul after all does state "what they point to", but unfortunately has not made the investigation to find out what they actually do refer to, and apparently doesn't even think that it is appropriate int his thread to find out!

Many Mahayana schools understand "tathagatagarbha" and "buddhadhatu" as synonyms for emptiness. This is almost always a strictly non-reified position, and in many cases extremely similar to Theravada positions on emptiness as not self. In fact, I may even go so far as to suggest that a majority of Indo-Tibetan schools read it in this way, and a fair portion of the east asian schools, too.

Thus, in this sense at least, although they may not use those exact words "tathagatagarbha" and / or "buddhadhatu", doctrinally there is a fair amount of commonality. As the second reliance states: Rely on the meaning, not on the words.
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:10 am

Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:All I can say, Paul, is that I feel that this sort of attitude and approach is not conducive to real understanding between different Buddhist groups.

This subforum is called Discovering Theravada. Its sub-title is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)".

There are sub-forums here at Dhamma Wheel and other forums which are about "understanding between different Buddhist groups"... but this particular one is not one.

I apologise if that sounds abrupt, as it's not intended to be... I'm just trying to keep discussion in the different sub-forums related to their raison d'être, and the original poster's questions and reasons for asking...

withoutcolour wrote:Right now, I'm trying to sort out what's separating Theravadin and Mahayanan teachings, and figuring out which concepts belong to which. I really like Theravada for so many reasons, so that's what I'm attempting to categorize at the moment.

withoutcolour wrote:Well I suppose my point is that I'm attempting to weed out the Mahayana stuff that I had learned before and focus my efforts on Theravada. I'm not saying that one is better than the other or that Mahayana is inferior, I just really prefer the Theravadan teachings. I guess you could say that I finally chose a tradition (though I still have a very special place in my heart for the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Heart Sutra).
So I'm re-reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words and spending some time on Accesstoinsight in an attempt to make sense of all this.

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:21 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:All I can say, Paul, is that I feel that this sort of attitude and approach is not conducive to real understanding between different Buddhist groups.

This subforum is called Discovering Theravada. Its sub-title is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)".

There are sub-forums here at Dhamma Wheel and other forums which are about "understanding between different Buddhist groups"... but this particular one is not one.

I apologise if that sounds abrupt, as it's not intended to be... I'm just trying to keep discussion in the different sub-forums related to their raison d'être.

Metta,
Retro. :)


If one wishes to dis-cover something, one has to be pretty clear about what is covering it in the first place.
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:24 am

Hi everyone

I have created a copy of this thread and placed it in the DFFA forum for those who are interested in exploring the topic outside of the constraints of the Discovering Theravada forum which, as Retro said, is for the purpose of presenting a Theravada perspective for those new to the Theravada.
I invite all those interested in continuing the discussion and exploring the Mahayana and Vajrayana perspectives alongside the Theravada perspectives, here: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=3455,in the Dhamma-fre-for-all. Go to the last message in the thread to see my direction there.
Keep in mind that as a thread has been created to explore non-Theravadan pov regarding Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu, any further non-Theravadin perspectives posted here will be deleted without warning.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (Discovering Theravada vers.)

Postby withoutcolour » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:30 am

Wow, this thread as grown so much!
I'm sorry if things got a little confusing or if I stirred up a few arguments ( :popcorn: ), just wanted a little clarification...
I know we all have the potential to become arahants but I wasn't sure if the Theravadins had a specific TERM for that, or if that was confined strictly to the Mahayana traditions. With that being said, I think that the Theravadins not having a term for this is actually beneficial to practice, in that it is one less thing to attach or cling to (as said by some posters above).

Thank you all so very much for your contributions.
To follow up, I have read through Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words" in its entirety and I feel like I have a much stronger grasp on the early teachings of the Buddha, and on Theravada in general. Every sutta, every page, made me feel very happy and in touch with the Tathagata. I have countless sticky notes on favorite suttas and stuff I would like to read again and again. What an invaluable piece of literature to have!

-wc
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (Discovering Theravada vers.)

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:51 am

withoutcolour wrote:... if that was confined strictly to the Mahayana traditions. ...

(Emphasis added by me.)

At the risk of sounding repetitive, from what we know, only some but definitely not all Mahayana traditions, and even then with very different meanings.
And for many non-Mahayana traditions, we don't know if they had such an idea or not, to be honest.

Oops, sorry, mistake. Poking around the Chattha Sangayana Tipitaka, I found this in the "other" texts:

Dhātuvaṃso
...
(Nagare kapilavatthumhi sammādiṭṭhi bahujjano;
Tattha sārīrikaṃ thūpaṃ akāsi ratanāmayaṃ.

Nagare allake ramme buddhadhātu patiṭṭhiya;
Silāya muggavaṇṇāya thūpaṃ sadhātukaṃ akā.

Jano pāveyyaraṭṭhasmiṃ patiṭṭhiya sārīrikaṃ;
Silāya maṇivaṇṇāya pāveyyaṃ cetiyaṃ akā.
...
Tā dhātuyo ṭhapetvāna thero kassapasavhayo;
Rañño ajātasattussa adāsi dhātuyo tadā.

Gehe cūpakaraṇāni catusaṭṭhisatāni so;
Abbhantare ṭhapesi rājā sabbā tā buddhadhātuyo.

Karaṇḍāsīti saṃkiṇṇaṃ cetiyāsītilaṅkataṃ;
Gehe bahusamākiṇṇaṃ thūpārāmappamāṇakaṃ.
...

And also in the:
Apadāna-aṭṭhakathā
...
403. Katvāna agghiyaṃ tatthāti tasmiṃ cetiyapūjanaṭṭhāne tālapantīhi tālapāḷīhi cittitaṃ sobhitaṃ agghiyaṃ katvāna kāretvā ca sakaṃ cittaṃ attano cittaṃ pasādetvā cetiyaṃ pūjayuttamanti uttamaṃ buddhadhātunidhāpitaṃ cetiyaṃ pūjayinti sambandho.
...

So, actually, the Theravada does on a few very rare occasions, use the term "buddhadhātu".
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (Discovering Theravada vers.)

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:13 pm

Greetings,

This topic has been closed in consultation with the original poster.

If you wish to discuss this topic further please do so at viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3455

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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