Buddha Nature ?

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Buddha Nature ?

Postby Aloka » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:24 am

.

The term "Buddha nature" is used a lot in Mahayana, sometimes to indicate that all beings have the inherent potential to be Buddhas..... and sometimes like in this quote from Sogyal Rinpoche in the 'Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'.

" It is in the sky-like nature of our mind. Utterly open, free, and limitless, it is fundementally so simple and so natural that it can never be complicated, corrupted, or stained, so pure that it is beyond even the concept of purity and impurity. To talk of this nature of mind as sky-like, of course, is only a metaphor that helps us to begin to imagine its all -embracing boundlessness, for the buddha nature has a quality the sky cannot have, that of the radiant clarity of awareness."


Does Lord Buddha make any similar references anywhere in the Pali Canon? I would be very grateful if anyone could give me some if there are any.


Kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Ben » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:36 am

Not to my knowledge, Aloka.
metta

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:39 am

My own view Aloka is that the concept of Buddha Nature is a reversion to the Vedic view of Atman.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:40 am

Aloka wrote:.

The term "Buddha nature" is used a lot in Mahayana, sometimes to indicate that all beings have the inherent potential to be Buddhas..... and sometimes like in this quote from Sogyal Rinpoche in the 'Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'.

" It is in the sky-like nature of our mind. Utterly open, free, and limitless, it is fundementally so simple and so natural that it can never be complicated, corrupted, or stained, so pure that it is beyond even the concept of purity and impurity. To talk of this nature of mind as sky-like, of course, is only a metaphor that helps us to begin to imagine its all -embracing boundlessness, for the buddha nature has a quality the sky cannot have, that of the radiant clarity of awareness."


Does Lord Buddha make any similar references anywhere in the Pali Canon? I would be very grateful if anyone could give me some if there are any.


Kind regards,

Aloka
Like Nagarjuna, buddha-nature notion is something the Theravada does not need, and it is something the Buddha did not teach.
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 christopher::: » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:09 pm

I agree with Peter, the term can be conceptualized in an Atman way. But it also can mean simply the potential each of us has to awaken fully, as Buddha did.

Concerning references in the suttas- for those of you with greater familiarity, aren't there places where Buddha talked of the mind being luminous? If so, what did he mean by that?

:anjali:
"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 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:17 pm

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.
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 PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:23 pm

In the way that you have described it Chris it is as meaningless as saying that there is potential for fire in flint, which actually I think Plato did teach.
In terms of the Theravada there are changing conditions arising from causes.
Potentiality in that context means nothing at all.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:25 pm

You might want to check out Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talk here entitled "What is wrong with Buddha nature."

Direct link --> [MP3] [STREAM]

-M
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:16 pm

Excellent meindzai.. :anjali:

Very interesting on the reality of "luminous mind."
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:18 pm

I hope this analogy isn't taken the wrong way, but the traditional Theravadin view sometimes reminds me of acoustic folk/blues music, with the Mahayana being like electric rock. A rock musician who unplugs at times, knows how to play acoustic, can make some really beautiful music. Dylan, the Beatles, Hendrix, etc...

And acoustic folk or blues alone is outstanding. It's the heavy metal stuff that just goes nowhere, for me anyway...

So-- if someone understands and practices the primary teachings of Buddha's dharma skillfully, as taught in Theravada, and also holds conceptions of Buddha Nature, i think they'll do fine. But ideas like Buddha Nature on their own, without being rooted in the essentials of the dharma...

ouch.

The Dhamma is essential, the idea of Buddha Nature is not. Folk/Blues acoustic skills are essential, electricity is not, but the two together can produce some excellent music....

Folk/blues purists may disagree, of course. That's to be expected...



:smile:
"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 PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:39 pm

I dont think the analogy holds at all Chris. After all someone who plays an electric guitar ( and we will ignore the implied more advanced nature of the amplified instrument ) can still pick up an acoustic and play as well as ever.
Did you listen to the talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu that Meindzai posted ?
Among other things he discuusses the fact that concepts like Buddha Nature actually harms the ability to understand the Theravadin view. This is not simply a question of purity of tradition.
The concept of Buddha Nature prevents an understanding of what constitutes reality according to the Theravada. Have a listen to the good Bhikkhu.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:12 pm

I'd say if you firmly plant yourself in the Mahayana context, you'll have a better time if you have some foundational study in the Pali canon. Otherwise Buddha nature does seem to become exactly the kind of eternalist teaching the Buddha constantly warned about. In Theravada it is pretty heavily drilled into one that "all dhammas are not self" including Nibanna. (With which Buddha nature is equated).

However if you stay in a Theravada context I would say that it's not beneficial to bring the teaching into the fold and try to make it fit.

As for music analogies, I tend to equate Theravada with classical and Mahayana with Jazz. Lots more improvising going on in Jazz, but the best jazz players (at least my favorites) have at least some classical training. :)

-M
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:21 pm

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.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:56 pm

To clarify, Pete, I don't believe in mixing either. What I think is that Mahayanists benefit from a background in the Pali Canon, but I don't believe it works the other way around. Most of the people that I know who have jumped straight into Mahayana suttas have ended up with something that is not much different from Brahmanism - just with slightly different vocabulary.

-M
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:03 pm

D'accord meindzai.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Aloka » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:31 pm

.

Thanks for the interesting replies everyone. The reason why I asked is because after many years as a Vajrayana practitioner and knowing hardly anything at all about any other tradition,I have more recently been investigating Theravada .I find myself particularly comfortable with the teachings of the Thai Forest tradition (I started with Ajahn Chah) I'm also reading the Pali Canon Suttas whenever time permits.


Kind regards,

Aloka.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby ground » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:43 pm

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Stephen » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:11 pm

If by "Buddha nature" you mean the potential to reach the same awakening, Nibbana, then naturally it need not be pointed out anywhere in the suttas because it is the entire point of the Buddhist teachings to reach this state of enlightenment.

I'd try not to call the Buddha "Lord", as it makes it seem like he's being worshiped or thought of as some kind of deity by anyone who doesn't understand Buddhism fully (which is a lot of people in the West). Perhaps better to say either Buddha, Master, Teacher or Tathagata (as he referred to himself, also meaning Teacher). Anything but "Lord". ;)
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Aloka » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:28 pm

Stephen wrote:I'd try not to call the Buddha "Lord", as it makes it seem like he's being worshiped or thought of as some kind of deity by anyone who doesn't understand Buddhism fully (which is a lot of people in the West). Perhaps better to say either Buddha, Master, Teacher or Tathagata (as he referred to himself, also meaning Teacher). Anything but "Lord". ;)



I'm quite comfortable saying 'Lord',thanks, Stephen.

I wouldn't like to speculate about how many other people understand Buddhism in the west because I'm dealing with my own practice at the moment.

Thank you for your concern. .

Kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:09 am

Hi all.

PeterB wrote:
....Did you listen to the talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu that Meindzai posted ?
Among other things he discuusses the fact that concepts like Buddha Nature actually harms the ability to understand the Theravadin view. This is not simply a question of purity of tradition.
The concept of Buddha Nature prevents an understanding of what constitutes reality according to the Theravada. Have a listen to the good Bhikkhu.


No, I haven't listened to the talk posted yet, Peter, but am currently very much appreciating Bikkhu's "Wings to Awakening." I will check it out.

meindzai wrote:I'd say if you firmly plant yourself in the Mahayana context, you'll have a better time if you have some foundational study in the Pali canon. Otherwise Buddha nature does seem to become exactly the kind of eternalist teaching the Buddha constantly warned about. In Theravada it is pretty heavily drilled into one that "all dhammas are not self" including Nibanna. (With which Buddha nature is equated).

However if you stay in a Theravada context I would say that it's not beneficial to bring the teaching into the fold and try to make it fit.

As for music analogies, I tend to equate Theravada with classical and Mahayana with Jazz. Lots more improvising going on in Jazz, but the best jazz players (at least my favorites) have at least some classical training. :)

-M


We all may find different analogies to be useful, or not, but what you said (in bold) is the main point i was trying to emphasize...

However if you stay in a Theravada context I would say that it's not beneficial to bring the teaching into the fold and try to make it fit.


Perhaps this is so. I should listen to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talk before commenting further.

:anjali:
"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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