Buddha Nature ?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby altar » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:29 pm

I'm not suggesting that people (or their minds) do have a kind of nature, just that if someone did think like that, the sensible thing to do I don't think would be to try to discover some profound Buddha nature, but simply to watch what's actually there, and discern its nature.
And though nature is maybe not the best word, it could apply to qualities of the mind. Actually i was made to think along these lines after I heard Thanissaro Bhikkhu refer to luminosity of the mind as a "dimension" of the mind which can be discerned, as opposed to the mind's inherent nature, as someone in the audience suggested.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:52 pm

christopher::: wrote:There was so much static though, anyone know of a clearer version of that talk, or was it a problem with my download, should i try again?

Domo arigato!


I don't remember hearing any static - so you might want to download again or stream instead? (Usually I'd recommend downloading the mp3 vs. streaming though).

-M

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:05 pm

I did get a bit of static, but only towards the end, in the Q and A part.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:53 pm

I'll try to download it again.

Found this also:

Freedom from Buddha Nature

Brilliant observations. I agree with all the potential traps of the concept. This is very much related to a point i was trying to make (unsuccessfully) over at ZFI in a discussion i've now given up on...

The only thing i disagree on is that the concept should be thrown out. I think it can be reconceptualized. This is done all the time in the social sciences, why not in Mahayana Buddhism?

: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 retrofuturist » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:58 pm

Greetings Chris:::,

christopher::: wrote:The only thing i disagree on is that the concept should be thrown out. I think it can be reconceptualized. This is done all the time in the social sciences, why not in Mahayana Buddhism?

I think it's already understood in different ways in Mahayana already. If you reconceptualize it, there'll just be yet one more definition.

Personally I prefer no definition for the term "Buddha nature"

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: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:15 pm

Hi Paul..

You may be right. Just that this has come up in my field (education) with the concepts of "self esteem" and "intelligence"... They carry many of the same potential "dangers" as buddha nature, but are less troublesome when thought of in terms of human potential for skill development.

I dunno. I'd be interested in hearing the views of people like Ven. Huifeng, Shonin and Dan74 who have an appreciation of the strengths of both Mahayana & Theravadin wisdom.

:juggling:
"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 retrofuturist » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:27 pm

Greetings Chris:::,

christopher::: wrote:I dunno. I'd be interested in hearing the views of people like Ven. Huifeng, Shonin and Dan74 who have an appreciation of the strengths of both Mahayana & Theravadin wisdom.


Fair enough. Anything I say should be taken with the caveat that I don't see any need for the Mahayanisation of the Dhammavinaya. I don't see the need for any Theravadisation of it either, but that's another story.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:34 pm

retrofuturist wrote:

Fair enough. Anything I say should be taken with the caveat that I don't see any need for the Mahayanisation of the Dhammavinaya. I don't see the need for any Theravadisation of it either, but that's another story.


Paul, i am not worried about the Dhammavinaya, at all, it's the implications of the issues raised here for Mahayana Buddhism that i'm much more concerned about...

I tried to raise some related points over at ZFI in the Is Zen in Danger of Losing Touch with Buddhism? thread, but botched the whole thing. Would not even consider raising this new topic over there, it would send some folks into a rage.

:jawdrop:
"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 retrofuturist » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:00 am

Greetings Chris:::,

christopher::: wrote:Paul, i am not worried about the Dhammavinaya, at all, it's the implications of the issues raised here for Mahayana Buddhism that i'm much more concerned about...

All sects of Buddhism have deviated from the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Buddha. That is just how it is, and it's not an inherently value-laden comment either.

Fair enough, someone might retort "Who's Dhamma?" and "Who's Vinaya?" since there is no single uniform version of these things and perhaps never was, but most make little or no effort to identify what the Buddha taught, nor seemingly do they care about the deviations. There will be many justifications for these deviations... the enlightened discoveries of later monks, adaptation to local expectations and beliefs, respect for certain elders (who ironically aren't as "elder" as the Buddha himself), accusations about the failings of oral Dhamma transmission and so on. To some it's the rich tapestry of Buddhism... to others its testimony to the myriad ways people can go astray and lose the message of the Buddha in the process.

To me at least, what the institution of "Mahayana Buddhism" does is its own business, since it has already knowingly and intentionally deviated far from the Dhammavinaya of the Buddha and has little interest in the Nikayas or Agamas (which most closely represent the Buddha's actual teachings) and slanders them by classing them as of inherently lesser value than the Mahayana Sutras which are falsely attributed to the Buddha. Theravada has deviated too, so I'm not arguing one sect over another here... I'm just pointing out that any Dharma concept which was not established by the Buddha is sectarian by its very nature, and being sectarian it is a deviation from the Dhammavinaya... particularly if it cannot be resolved with or shown to be comparable what does exist in the Dhammavinaya. Thus, my belief there is no need for the "Buddha nature" concept. What a Mahayanist believes will of course be different as their belief structure is based on a different foundational platform.

Some would doubtless take exception to what I have said and call me intolerant or somesuch, so I want to make clear that what I say above isn't laced with hatred or animosity... it is necessary to be direct in order to speak clearly. It is so that you (and Aloka, who started this topic) can clearly understand the reasons why I think the term is sectarian, superfluous and is neither found in, nor corollary to the Pali Canon.

And just so you know I'm in good spirits about it, here's a group hug smilie!

:group:

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:47 am

I take no offense from your views, Paul.

There is no need for the concept in Theravadin Buddhism. There is no need for the concept in Dhamma practice. I don't disagree on that point. Perhaps it's a bit of a Zen thing though, words and concepts are always held at a bit of a distance. This becomes a problem when we ignore important concepts (especially in the core dhamma, as Buddha taught) or hold tight to unhelpful/incorrect views, such as what's been mentioned here.

The potential for change exists though, that's the thing, and with Zen especially situations/structures can sometimes change more easily because people begin with the understanding that concepts are limited.

I could be wrong, of course.

:thumbsup:
"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 christopher::: » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:26 am

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

Direct link --> [MP3] [STREAM]

-M


Downloaded a second time, the problem is still there, ocassional static and instability in the recording from about 28:00...

:computerproblem:
"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 Aloka » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:26 am

retrofuturist wrote:
...Some would doubtless take exception to what I have said and call me intolerant or somesuch, so I want to make clear that what I say above isn't laced with hatred or animosity... it is necessary to be direct in order to speak clearly. It is so that you (and Aloka, who started this topic) can clearly understand the reasons why I think the term is sectarian, superfluous and is neither found in, nor corollary to the Pali Canon.

And just so you know I'm in good spirits about it, here's a group hug smilie!

:group:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

I was curious to see if there were any connections with the term 'Buddha Nature' and Theravada, hence my opening post. I was simply attempting to understand some of the differences and similarities between the traditions.

I didn't find you comments offensive - and just to clarify - my current interest is with Theravada rather than Mahayana.

Kind regards,

Aloka

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:42 am

I was asked to make a comment or two here:

From another thread:

------------------------------

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 literature does on a few very rare occasions, use the term "buddhadhātu".

------------------------
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby bodom » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:53 am

Could anyone translate this please?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:13 am

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:Could anyone translate this please?


That would be useful, as it could well be referring to Buddha relics for all we know.

"Sārira-dhātu (Pali), is the special bodily relics found amongst the bone remains after the cremation of Buddha and most Arahant. "

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C4%81rira-dh%C4%81tu

If that's what Sārira-dhātu means, there's a decent chance Buddha-dhātu refers to the Buddha's relics.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:22 am

I guess that in order to "Discover" something , including the Theravada, it is necessary to pick that something out from what it is not. Which: leads to this discussion about a topic considered irrelevant at best in the Theravada in a subforum called " Discovering Theravada".... :smile:

To my own simple mind it became clear that the development of concepts like Buddha Dhatu as interpreted in the Mahayana consituted a stepping back from the utterly radical position that the Buddha took. A stepping back into something more comfortable..more familiar. In fact a stepping back to a re-casting of the Atta doctrine, which instead of being described interms of a individual " soul" was re defined as a portion of a glowing collective pudding. In other words its the Vedanta.
It seems to me that such a stepping back is the result in the face of the Buddhas uncompromising radicalism , of a failure of nerve.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:52 am

Seems pretty clear, the concept isn't needed. One can think simply in terms of our having the potential to be buddhas, and that there are wholesome dhamma practices and factors in our minds that we need to cultivate to make that so. No hocus pocus, no magic self, just the capacity to become awakened.

BTW, i just did a search of the term buddha-dhatu and it brought me back to Dhamma Wheel and this conversation (linked below). Many of these points were raised there. Also, both Dan74 & Ven. Huifeng posted their views on this topic...

Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Dan74 wrote:My understanding is that whichever school of Buddhism one affiliates with, the important thing is to be clear about the practice and what immediately relates to it and of course to have sincere motivation - Right View and Right Intention.

The basics are anyway the same - dependent origination, virtue, discipline, concentration, mindfulness and insight. They appear in various guises but in my experience they are definitely there.

What I am trying to say is that philosophical speculation or matters relating to higher levels of attainment are best left alone, at least until they are relevant to practice.

I am not sure if what you are "weeding out" falls into this category, if not - my apologies for rambling.

_/|\_


Good points.

PeterB wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
meindzai wrote: Since a Buddha is self awakened, a Buddha can't be a person who is currently studying the teachings of the Buddha of the current period, so none of us can be Buddhas as long as we are studying the teachings of the Buddha!

-M


None of us likely can be sammasambuddha, but buddha we can be.


An important, in fact I would vital, distinction.


"Buddha we can be" - is how some conceptualize Buddha Nature...

Paññāsikhara wrote:
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.


: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 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:01 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:I was asked to make a comment or two here:

From another thread:

------------------------------

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 literature does on a few very rare occasions, use the term "buddhadhātu".



------------------------

Translate, translate, translate...., please, at least the relevant lines.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:18 am

As Paul has pointed out, it is about the Buddha's sarira and caityas.

Glad that somebody gave my earlier quote about "Rely on the meaning, not on the words."

I certainly hope that others also read my distinction between the two main interpretations of "buddha nature" (and synonyms), and that only one of them is akin to an "atman" at all. But, I've already tried to point this out in more online Forum threads than I care to remember, and something tells me that sometimes people just prefer to make a stab at things before getting a bigger picture.

Please excuse my foul mood.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:40 am

The philosophical reality might be as you describe Ven Huifeng, that we are not talking about one simple model.
The pragmatic reality however in many Mahayana discussions and instructions, whether in the Vajrayana or Zen or whatnot ,is glowing individual pudding portions who slip into the Great Pudding somwhere down the line..


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