Against Nāgārjuna

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Dan74
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Dan74 »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 4:41 am Greetings,

As we all know, Nāgārjuna is one of the most respected and followed Buddhist philosophers since the Blessed One himself. He is quite popular even among those who claim to follow Theravāda. It is said that he argued for a return to the Middle Way and a move away from the realist extremes of the Ābhidharmikas/Abhidhammikas. As an Abhidhammika I would submit that Nāgārjuna does no such thing. I have made a post regarding this before, but I felt a new post was required as this comes from a slightly different angle.

My argument is simple. Nāgārjuna was opposing the substance metaphysics of Sarvāstivādins and their bastardised form of Abhidhamma. These were likely the principle opponents of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. In opposing substance I agree with Nāgārjuna. However, I feel that Nāgārjuna makes an error that is replicated in his followers today. The error is in moving from establishing that there is no substance to claiming that there is no existence apart from concept. Whilst its true that there can be no substance, it does not follow that there is no existence apart from what is conceptual and conventional. What is forgotten here is essence. There being essence there is existence. Essence, however, does not equate to substance or permanence. To give an example, citta has no substance. There is no enduring "cittahood" that persists. There are only moments of citta. These moments of citta however do have an essence. The essence of citta is to cognise. Apart from cognition there is no citta. Apart from its essence, apart from cognition, there is no citta. To say there is no essence to citta is to say there is no citta. This, however, cannot be true since we do cognise. There is an act of cognition right now. There being cognition there must be an essence. There being an essence to citta, citta then exists since essence is the fundamental requirement for existence apart from concept. If this essence didn't exist, citta would not exist. Therefore, we can speak of dhammas that exist since if we deny their characteristic then we deny their reality. Based on this understanding, dhammas then are not empty of existence. We can say that dhammas exist. They exist because they have essence despite having no substance. Ultimate truth is then not emptiness of existence. It is the emptiness of substance and self. It is emptiness of permanence and self. Indeed, the Awakened One said we have a perverted view not of existence but of permanence, self and beauty. Nāgārjuna's arguments and those of his followers therefore overreach and go from one extreme to another. They overreach by equating the absence of substance with the absence of existence apart from concept. This however is not true for essence entails existence, and essence exists apart from concept and substance.

Thoughts?
I could be reading you wrong, C, but it seems to me that your gripe with Nagarjuna is the old materialist vs idealist saw. You fault him for denying the reality of phenomena, which you see as an overreach, right? But Nagarjuna was not out there to proclaim a metaphysics, at least I don't take him that way. He was a Buddhist, that is to say, a practitioner. And to a practitioner, the relevant understanding is that existence cannot be established. Essence cannot be established. But characteristics can of course, they don't requite essence or existence. Characteristics are a provisional description of an ever-changing flux, why should they require essence and existence? Dan can be described by his friends and family as x, y and z, but does that mean that Dan has an essence and existence? Dan is a sometimes convenient label for a dependently originated flow of phenomena, manifesting for a very short cosmic moment. Why does Dan need to be ascribed essence, just because he may be described at this moment of time as having certain height and weight, etc.. These too are dependently originated characteristics, rather than anything absolute.

Fundamentally, it seems to me that Nagarjuna's objective was to pull the rug from under all clinging. Nothing that can be clung to can be reliably established. It's a goddamm relief if it's truly accepted!
_/|\_
PeterC86
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by PeterC86 »

PeterC86 wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:13 am
SteRo wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:41 am
Where is there mention that the 8th jhana would have a fruition that is Pannavimutti?
I found it being mentioned on the website Access to insight. To clear this up from a theravada perspective, not that it is any of my concern though, but also in Theravada, Citta refers to mind and Pānnā to intellect (wisdom). Which means the confusion is not between Early Buddhism and Theravada, but in Ceisiwr's mind. An excerpt from https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el351.html;

Jhana and the Arahant

From the standpoint of their spiritual stature the seven types of noble persons can be divided into three categories. The first, which includes the faith-devotee and the truth-devotee, consists of those on the path of stream-entry, the first of the eight noble individuals. The second category, comprising the one liberated by faith, the body-witness and the one attained to understanding, consists of those on the six intermediate levels, from the stream-enterer to one on the path of arahatship. The third category, comprising the one liberated in both ways and the one liberated by wisdom, consists only of arahats.[30]

The ubhatobhagavimutta, "one liberated in both ways," and the paññavimutta "one liberated by wisdom," thus form the terms of a twofold typology of arahats distinguished on the basis of their accomplishment in jhana. The ubhatobhagavimutta arahant experiences in his own person the "peaceful deliverances" of the immaterial sphere, the paññavimutta arahant lacks this full experience of the immaterial jhanas. Each of these two types, according to the commentaries, again becomes fivefold — the ubhatobhagavimutta by way of those who possess the ascending four immaterial jhanas and the attainment of cessation, the paññavimutta by way of those who reach arahatship after emerging from one of the four fine-material jhanas and the dry-insight meditator whose insight lacks the support of mundane jhana.

The possibility of attaining the supramundane path without possession of a mundane jhana has been questioned by some Theravada scholars, but the Visuddhimagga clearly admits this possibility when it distinguishes between the path arisen in a dry-insight meditator and the path arisen in one who possesses a jhana but does not use it as a basis for insight (Vism.666-67; PP.779). Textual evidence that there can be arahats lacking mundane jhana is provided by the Susima Sutta (S.ii, 199-23) together with is commentaries. When the monks in the sutta are asked how they can be arahats without possessing supernormal powers of the immaterial attainments, they reply: "We are liberated by wisdom" (paññavimutta kho mayam). The commentary glosses this reply thus: "We are contemplatives, dry-insight meditators, liberated by wisdom alone" (Mayam nijjhanaka sukkhavipassaka paññamatten'eva vimutta ti, SA.ii,117). The commentary also states that the Buddha gave his long disquisition on insight in the sutta "to show the arising of knowledge even without concentration" (vina pi samadhimevam nanuppattidassanattham, SA.ii,117). The subcommentary establishes the point by explaining "even without concentration" to mean "even without concentration previously accomplished reaching the mark of serenity" (samathalakkhanappattam purimasiddhamvina pi samadhin ti), adding that this is said in reference to one who makes insight his vehicle (ST.ii,125).

In contrast to the paññavimutta arahats, those arahats who are ubhatobhagavimutta enjoy a twofold liberation. Through their mastery over the formless attainments they are liberated from the material body (rupakaya), capable of dwelling in this very life in the meditations corresponding to the immaterial planes of existence; through their attainment of arahatship they are liberated from the mental body (namakaya), presently free from all defilements and sure of final emancipation from future becoming. Paññavimutta arahats only possess the second of these two liberations.

The double liberation of the ubhatobhagavimutta arahant should not be confused with another double liberation frequently mentioned in the suttas in connection with arahatship. This second pair of liberations, called cetovimutti paññavimutti, "liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom," is shared by all arahats. It appears in the stock passage descriptive of arahatship: "With the destruction of the cankers he here and now enters and dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having realized it for himself with direct knowledge." That this twofold liberation belongs to paññavimutta arahats as well as those who are ubhatobhagavimutta is made clear by the Putta Sutta, where the stock passage is used for two types of arahats called the "white lotus recluse" and the "red lotus recluse":

How, monks, is a person a white lotus recluse (samanapundarika)? Here, monks, with the destruction of the cankers a monk here and now enters and dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having realized it for himself with direct knowledge. Yet he does not dwell experiencing the eight deliverances with his body. Thus, monks, a person is a white lotus recluse.

And how, monks, is a person a red lotus recluse (samanapaduma)? Here, monks, with the destruction of the cankers a monk here and now enters and dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having realized it for himself with direct knowledge. And he dwells experiencing the eight deliverances with his body. Thus, monks, a person is a red lotus recluse. (A.ii,87)

Since the description of these two types coincides with that of paññavimutta and ubhatobhagavimutta the two pairs may be identified, the white lotus recluse with the paññavimutta, the red lotus recluse with the ubhatobhagavimutta. Yet the paññavimutta arahant, while lacking the experience of the eight deliverances, still has both liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom.

When liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom are joined together and described as "cankerless" (anasava), they can be taken to indicate two aspects of the arahant's deliverance. Liberation of mind signifies the release of his mind from craving and its associated defilements, liberation by wisdom the release from ignorance: "With the fading away of lust there is liberation of mind, with the fading away of ignorance there is liberation by wisdom" (A.i,61). "As he sees and understands thus his mind is liberated from the canker of sensual desire, from the canker of existence, from the canker of ignorance" (M.i,183-84) — here release from the first two cankers can be understood as liberation of mind, release from the canker of ignorance as liberation by wisdom. In the commentaries "liberation of mind" is identified with the concentration factor in the fruition attainment of arahatship, "liberation by wisdom" with the wisdom factor.

Since every arahant reaches arahatship through the Noble Eightfold Path, he must have attained supramundane jhana in the form of right concentration, the eighth factor of the path, defined as the four jhanas. This jhana remains with him as the concentration of the fruition attainment of arahatship, which occurs at the level of supramundane jhana corresponding to that of his path. Thus he always stands in possession of at least the supramundane jhana of fruition, called the "cankerless liberation of mind." However, this consideration does not reflect back on his mundane attainments, requiring that every arahant possess mundane jhana.

Although early Buddhism acknowledges the possibility of a dry-visioned arahatship, the attitude prevails that jhanas are still desirable attributes in an arahant. They are of value not only prior to final attainment, as a foundation for insight, but retain their value even afterwards. The value of jhana in the stage of arahatship, when all spiritual training has been completed, is twofold. One concerns the arahant's inner experience, the other his outer significance as a representative of the Buddha's dispensation.



And as Lars Ims pointed out in his paper 'Cetovimutti or liberation of mind';

The citta influenced by desire (kāma and bhava) desires, hates, binds itself, gets involved, acts, creates karmic results, suffers karmic consequences and so forth, while the paññā influenced by avijjā (and later also diṭṭhi) keeps misunderstanding what the world is, what the self is, during the process of which it creates a life of untruth. It is all delusion and confusion. Citta and paññā operate together, as they are the two sides of the same human psyche or consciousness, comprising a complex system of the khandhas or personality factors. Citta could not desire the possession of a physical object unless there were present an ignorance of the empty or ephemeral nature of the object, and the knowledge that attaching itself to it would eventually lead to suffering. And - by extension - life itself as a human would be understood to end in disease, old age and death, and with this knowledge the citta would not be inclined to bind itself, understood as clinging to the five personality factors.

So Pānnā is translated as 'wisdom' (intellect), and Citta is translated as 'mind' (emotional, faculty of feeling; the base of perception), even for Theravada. Although the teaching of Nāgārjuna seems to imply a dry insight liberation, leading to Pannavimutti only, so not a twofold liberation.

Aṅguttara Nikāya (A.i.61): There is samatha and there is vipassanā. Samatha, monks, what happens when it is cultivated? The mind (citta) is cultivated. Citta being cultivated, what happens? The desire is abandoned. Vipassanā, monks, what happens when it is cultivated? Paññā is cultivated. When intellect (paññā) is cultivated, what happens? The ignorance is abandoned. The citta, monks, cannot be liberated if it is defiled by desire. The paññā defiled by ignorance is not cultivated. Indeed, monks, abandonment of desire is mind liberation (cetovimutti), and abandonment of ignorance is intellect liberation (paññāvimutti).
The translation above is probably from Lars Ims. He just made the obvious connection of mind referring to the emotional mind; faculty of feeling, and wisdom relating to intellect. The original text, in Pali I presume;

Samatho ca vipassanā ca. Samatho, bhikkhave, bhāvito kamattham anubhoti? Cittaṃ bhāvīyati. Cittaṃ bhāvitaṃ kamattham anubhoti? Yo rāgo so pahīyati. Vipassanā, bhikkhave, bhāvitā kamattham anubhoti? paññā bhāvīyati. paññā bhāvitā kamattham anubhoti? Yā avijjā sā pahīyati. Rāgupakkiliṭṭhaṃ vā, bhikkhave, cittaṃ na vimuccati, avijjupakkiliṭṭhā vā paññā bhāvīyati. Iti kho, bhikkhave, rāgavirāgā cetovimutti, avijjāvirāgā paññāvimuttī’’ti.

Well, good luck here. :) I will be leaving this forum, and will head over to the Dharmapaths forum.
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salayatananirodha
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by salayatananirodha »

maybe u should read more
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadhamma/
https://seeingthroughthenet.net/books/
http://buddhadust.net/backmatter/indexe ... ta_toc.htm
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
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confusedlayman
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by confusedlayman »

No one can come to conclusion of anything anywhere other than this statement alone
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Ceisiwr »

Dan74
I could be reading you wrong, C, but it seems to me that your gripe with Nagarjuna is the old materialist vs idealist saw. You fault him for denying the reality of phenomena, which you see as an overreach, right? But Nagarjuna was not out there to proclaim a metaphysics, at least I don't take him that way.
But for him, from the ultimate point of view, dhammas are empty of existence. They only exist conventionally, but citta is not a convention or a concept. Citta exists because it has essence. If citta were empty of essence, it would not exist and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


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Dan74
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Dan74 »

Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:56 am Dan74
I could be reading you wrong, C, but it seems to me that your gripe with Nagarjuna is the old materialist vs idealist saw. You fault him for denying the reality of phenomena, which you see as an overreach, right? But Nagarjuna was not out there to proclaim a metaphysics, at least I don't take him that way.
But for him, from the ultimate point of view, dhammas are empty of existence. They only exist conventionally, but citta is not a convention or a concept. Citta exists because it has essence. If citta were empty of essence, it would not exist and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Well, this may be the dispute Yagacarins (Cittamatra school) had with him.

I think one can argue along with Nagarjuna, that citta too is dependently originated and empty of any essence. An essence may be perceived but it is a delusion, thoughts imbued wth a notion of self, strung together to form a self-view, a continuity that isn't actually there but is perpetuated by clinging to a notion of essence. In a sense believing in the essence of citta is what makes it appear as having such. Perhaps.

But regardless of whether citta has essence or merely attributes, like all other phenomena, the point for practitioners is not to reify and cling to anything. Like Ajahn Sumedho says, "just put all it down".
_/|\_
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Ceisiwr »

Dan74
I think one can argue along with Nagarjuna, that citta too is dependently originated and empty of any essence. An essence may be perceived but it is a delusion, thoughts imbued wth a notion of self, strung together to form a self-view, a continuity that isn't actually there but is perpetuated by clinging to a notion of essence. In a sense believing in the essence of citta is what makes it appear as having such. Perhaps.
Essence means "nature" or "characteristic". The essence of citta is to cognise. If citta were empty of essence it would be empty of cognition, and so would not exist. We are having this conversation, so citta does exist. Therefore, citta has essence and so is not empty of sabhāva.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
Dan74
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Dan74 »

Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:04 am Dan74
I think one can argue along with Nagarjuna, that citta too is dependently originated and empty of any essence. An essence may be perceived but it is a delusion, thoughts imbued wth a notion of self, strung together to form a self-view, a continuity that isn't actually there but is perpetuated by clinging to a notion of essence. In a sense believing in the essence of citta is what makes it appear as having such. Perhaps.
Essence means "nature" or "characteristic". The essence of citta is to cognise. If citta were empty of essence it would be empty of cognition, and so would not exist. We are having this conversation, so citta does exist. Therefore, citta has essence and so is not empty of sabhāva.
This isn't quite what Nagarjuna means. From Peter Harvey:
Nagarjuna’s critique of the notion of svabhava (Mmk. ch.15) argues that anything which arises according to conditions, as all phenomena do, can have no inherent existence/nature; for what it is depends on what conditions it. Moreover, if there is nothing with inherent existence, that is, self-existence, there can be nothing with ‘other-existence’ (para-bhava), that is, something which is dependent for its existence and nature on something else which has self-existence. So there is not anything with a true, substantially existent nature (bhava); hence no non-existent (abhava), in the sense of a true existent that has gone out of existence. Like Nagarjuna, the Perfection of Wisdom literature therefore regards all dharmas as like a dream or magical illusion (my) (BTTA.166; cf. p. 58). This does not mean that they are simply unreal. Their ungraspable nature is, rather, wholly different from what it seems, like the trick of a conjurer; or, we might now say, like an illusion in a ‘virtual reality’ electronic medium – except that all components of the medium would also be seen as perceptual illusions too . . . There is something there in experience, and one can describe it well in terms of dharmas, so it is wrong to deny these exist; yet they do not have substantial existence either. What we experience does not exist in an absolute sense, but only in a relative way, as a passing interdependent phenomenon. The nature of dharmas lies in between absolute ‘non-existence’ and substantial ‘existence’, in accordance with an early Sutta passage quoted by Nagarjuna (Mmk.15.7; cf. EB.4.2.3). This is what Nagarjuna means by the ‘Middle Way’.[3]
_/|\_
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by binocular »

Seriously. Is noone bothered by the man's name?

There is no exact Western equivalent, but calling oneself "Lucifer" is similar enough. I would be careful about anything said by someone who calls himself Lucifer, or Trickster, and such.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Caodemarte »

binocular wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:14 pm Seriously. Is noone bothered by the man's name?

There is no exact Western equivalent, but calling oneself "Lucifer" is similar enough. I would be careful about anything said by someone who calls himself Lucifer, or Trickster, and such.
???? Assuming you are referring to Nagarjuna, do you object to the link to the Nagas, symbol of wisdom?? It is the equivalent of naming people “Angel” in Latin countries or after the saints.
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu »

binocular wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:14 pm Seriously. Is noone bothered by the man's name?

There is no exact Western equivalent, but calling oneself "Lucifer" is similar enough. I would be careful about anything said by someone who calls himself Lucifer, or Trickster, and such.
Westerns snakes are evil, eastern snakes are good.

You're just giving them a bad rap because they let Eevee eat of the tree! :cry:

I think there is a reason why the snake "guards" the tree (to be fair, is "just in the tree" in that text), and in the Gilgamesh version he is still guarding that tree, to the point where he steals it away from Gilgamesh, forbidding him to eat of the fruit of life. To get that tree, Gilgamesh had to do far down into the deep apsu, the abyssal waters of Semitic mythology, to find it. Snakes are associated with guarding the secrets of (forbidden) gnosis and immortality. In the Christian/Jewish version, the gnosis is wicked, as the wicked snake has them eat from the tree of knowledge instead of the tree of life.

Venerable Nagarjuna also mythohistorically "descended" into the abyss of no light to meet with the watery snakes below. The abyss of no light is, of course, a metaphor for deep dhyana.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Caodemarte »

The name is still commonly used in India 🇮🇳 and there is at least one very popular actor and singer who has the same name. Nagas are also supposed to be beautiful as well as wise so I guess they are going for the handsome connotation.
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by binocular »

Coëmgenu wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:29 pmWesterns snakes are evil, eastern snakes are good.
And yet the Dhamma is compared to a snake.
Grasp it wrongly, and you get bitten.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu »

binocular wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:48 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:29 pmWesterns snakes are evil, eastern snakes are good.
And yet the Dhamma is compared to a snake.
Grasp it wrongly, and you get bitten.
Well, not all snakes get to be a magical fancy-fancy snakes. The boring old regular ones are dangerous.

The Northern tradition of Buddhism says that nagas are actually animals, snakes precisely. So when you see that adder or less-dangerous garter snake, you are looking at a naga child. They believed, like many animistic ancient peoples, that the snakes did not die and simply shed their skin indefinitely growing constantly bigger. As they grew in physical size and in age, they gained their spiritual, psychic, and magical powers. It is the elderly nagas, supernaturally old, lasting as long as a mahakalpa, who are the wise ones, and even they can be wicked depending on the being. There are tales of wicked powerful nagas in Buddhist mythology.

The Southern tradition says that they are a kind of celestial deva-like being, associated with living up in the heavens and not under the water.

The split happened at the third council when the Theravadins suddenly decided it didn't make sense anymore for animals, those unfortunate births, to be able to populate the heavens. travel there, etc.

Who has the more ancient belief? Who has the belief more likely to be true? It's a lot easier to explain away celestial god-snakes than the more chthonic and IMO far-older-seeming quasi-immortal animals from the Northern tradition. I'd say the Southern tradition has been "cleaned up" because of untenable questions concerning how the nagas were animals (and so they were made to not be animals anymore).
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Against Nāgārjuna

Post by confusedlayman »

Why should there be snakes in heaven but not dogs and puppies? Dogs are better than snakes .. i hate snake
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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