The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 4003
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Coëmgenu »

Santi253 wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:All of the non-Pāli parallels say island specifically, rather than lamp.
Is it possible that "lamp," rather than "island," is closer to what the Buddha originally said? If the Buddha meant "island" rather than "lamp," then it wouldn't be a reference to Buddha-nature. It would still be a reference, on the other hand, to seeking no external refuge, rather than depending on an external Buddha for our enlightenment.
I'm not saying that its wrong to consider yourself a lamp in whichever way, presumably metaphorically obviously :tongue: (!).

There is another idiom/proverb in the Buddhavacana that has practitioners lighting a dharma lamp to guide their way, but I cannot remember the exact citation atm.

But the specific discourse of ātmadvīpa preserved in the Pāli SN 22.43 & Chinese SA 36, as well as the above Mahāsaṅghika-Lokuttarvāda Mahāvastu fragments, specifically point to "island" rather than "lamp" being the original intended meaning behind the Pāli dīpa, in this particular usage in this particular discourse.

Other of the Buddha's discourses compare the dharma to a lamp or illumination though.
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)
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Santi253 »

Coëmgenu wrote:
Santi253 wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:All of the non-Pāli parallels say island specifically, rather than lamp.
Is it possible that "lamp," rather than "island," is closer to what the Buddha originally said? If the Buddha meant "island" rather than "lamp," then it wouldn't be a reference to Buddha-nature. It would still be a reference, on the other hand, to seeking no external refuge, rather than depending on an external Buddha for our enlightenment.
I'm not saying that its wrong to consider yourself a lamp in whichever way, presumably metaphorically obviously :tongue: (!).

There is another idiom/proverb in the Buddhavacana that has practitioners lighting a dharma lamp to guide their way, but I cannot remember the exact citation atm.

But the specific discourse of ātmadvīpa preserved in the Pāli SN 22.43 & Chinese SA 36, as well as the above Mahāsaṅghika-Lokuttarvāda Mahāvastu fragments, specifically point to "island" rather than "lamp" being the original intended meaning behind the Pāli dīpa, in this particular usage in this particular discourse.

Other of the Buddha's discourses compare the dharma to a lamp or illumination though.
The most important thing about the passage is when the Buddha said to seek no external refuge. If the Buddha meant this literally, then Amitabha cannot be an external deity who provides salvation simply for calling on his name, like a theistic god. This is why I interpret Amitabha as symbolic of Dharma-body or of Buddha-nature.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 4003
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Coëmgenu »

As soon as the words come out of my mouth I am proven wrong (sort-of) by myself.

There are a few points in the Chinese DA, the Chinese Dhp, and possibly the Gándhárí Dhp, where "be your own island" is actually rendered as "be your own light/lamp". It is still clearly dvípa/island in the SN/SA/etc parallels, but other places either mistranslate the passage or deliberately pun on the similarity of the words (both being very possible). I will post the examples once I have taken a look at them.

Regarding this:
Santi253 wrote: If the Buddha meant "island" rather than "lamp," then it wouldn't be a reference to Buddha-nature.
From some Maháyána perspectives, this compound:
átmadvípa
Can still be read as a direct reference to tathágatagarbha/buddhadhátu.

Furthermore, consider átmadvípa in light of the language of framing Nibbána as "the other shore", if references to Buddha-nature are what you seek.
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)
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Santi253 »

In the Jodo Shinshu sect, the largest sect of Buddhism in Japan, the single practice of reciting the Nembutsu, the name of Amida Buddha, is emphasized.

I abide by this singleness of practice, since it's the Buddhist tradition I am most familiar with, but with the understanding that Amida is our true nature, rather than an external being.

Like any form of recollection or mindfulness of the Buddha, whether Mahayana or Theravada, the purpose is to cultivate that Buddha's enlightened qualities within oneself.

Image
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 4003
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Nirvana is a Transcendent Reality

Post by Coëmgenu »

Coëmgenu wrote:There are a few points in the Chinese DA, the Chinese Dhp, and possibly the Gándhárí Dhp, where "be your own island" is actually rendered as "be your own light/lamp". It is still clearly dvípa/island in the SN/SA/etc parallels, but other places either mistranslate the passage or deliberately pun on the similarity of the words (both being very possible). I will post the examples once I have taken a look at them.
From DA 2:

佛告阿難:
The Buddha said to Ānanda:

「眾僧 於我有所須耶?若有自言:『我持眾僧,我 攝眾僧。』
“The bhikṣusaṃgha of me has great needs? (As if) I myself had spoke: ‘I sustain the bhikṣusaṃgha. I uphold the bhikṣusaṃgha.’

斯人於眾應有教命,如來不言: 『我持於眾,我攝於眾。』
(As if) it is this person [i.e. the one who says “I sustain […]”] who should have taught you vocation, the Tathāgata did not speak: ‘I sustain the many. I uphold the many.’

豈當於眾有教令乎?
How can it be that there should be amongst these many instructed ones the makings of doubt?

阿難!我所說法,內外已訖,終不自稱所 見通達。
Ānanda! I taught it, the dharma, inner and outer thereafter until now, in the end there is nothing I do not profess to have seen and understood entirely.

吾已老矣,年且八十。譬如故車,方 便修治得有所至。
I hereafter am old, resolutely, my years passed are eighty. To make an analogy such as the purpose of a vehicle, a bamboo raft, a waste to be repaired after the goal has been reached.

吾身亦然,以方便力得 少留壽,自力精進,忍此苦痛,
My body is also as such, regarded as a bamboo raft whose power is spent, there is no reason to prolong life,

不念一切 想,入無想定,時,我身安隱,無有惱患。
with nonattention to all saṃjñā (original may have been 想 (“nimittā”)), I enter asaṃjñā (or “animittā”) dhyāna, at this time, my body finds occultation, is not afflicted or suffering.

是故, 阿難!當自熾燃,熾燃於法,勿他熾燃;當 自歸依,
Consequently, Ānanda! You should regard your self as a flame blazing, a flame blazing with the dharma, no other flame blazing; you should see yourself as a refuge,

歸依於法,勿他歸依。云何自熾燃, 熾燃於法,勿他熾燃;
the refuge as the dharma, no other refuge. How do you regard yourself as a flame blazing, how are you a flame blazing with the dharma, with no other flame blazing;

當自歸依,歸依於法, 勿他歸依?阿難!比丘觀內身精勤無懈,
How should you be yourself as a refuge, a refuge of the dharma, not to take another refuge? Ānanda! A monks regards the inner body with vitality, diligence, not lax,

憶 念不忘,除世貪憂;觀外身、觀內外身,精 勤不懈,憶念不忘,
he removes the seed of tṛṣṇā and affliction, regards the outer body, regards the inner and outer body, with vitality, diligence, not lax, is mindful and not neglectful,

除世貪憂。受、意、法觀,亦 復如是。是謂,阿難!
he removes the seed of tṛṣṇā and affliction. Feelings, thoughts, dharmāḥ, observe (these), repeatedly thus so. This is what I say, Ānanada!

自熾燃,熾燃於法,勿他 熾燃;
Yourself as a flame blazing, a flame blazing with the dharma, no other flame blazing;

當自歸依,歸依於法,勿他歸依。」
the same as yourself as a refuge, a refuge of the dharma, no other refuge.


The "flame blazing" (熾燃) is pretty unambiguously pointing towards the Dharmaguptaka translators, Buddhayaśas (佛陀耶舍) & Zhú Fó Niàn (竺佛念) possibly having understood a Middle Indic "dīpa" as "light/lamp". I aso want to credit the SuttaCentral user "James" who helped with this amatuer transation.

The following extract will also comment on the above variation in the Buddhavacana and it's interpretation.

Regarding the claims of “lamp” in the Gāndhārī & Chinese Dhp we are less clear. I have to conceded to John Brough, Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Cambridge, if those academic credentials translate into fluency in the Dharma. He also gives us the attestation of "lamp" in the Chinese Dhp (he will also comment on “lamp” in the DA indirectly, I believe):

111. Uv. iv. 5 has dvīpaṃ haroti medhāvi tam ogho nābhimardati, thus agreeing with the Prākrit in the verbs, but with the Pāli in ogho against jara.

Although initial dv- is preserved in dvaya-, a dissimilation might reasonably have been expected in *-dvīvu, and there is no reason to doubt that dīvu here can mean ‘island’. Confirmation may be seen in the fact that the word was borrowed in the form diva- into Knotanese (Knonow, Saka Studies, p. 79; where the sense can only be ‘island’). In the present verse, however, and in that corresponding to Dhp. 236, 238, the Chinese translators understood the word as “lamp’ (Lévi, JAs 1912, 240-1; for a recent discussion of the question, with citations of relevant passages, see Genjun H. Sasaki, A Study of Abhidharma Philosophy, Tokyo, 1958, pp. xiv, 594 ff.) This translation might indicate that the Chinese were influenced by a Middle Indic original, but without further evidence one could not exclude the possibility of a less Sanskritic version of the Uv. which still had here the form dīpaṃ instead of dvīpaṃ. On the other hand, in the locus classicus for this expression, the last words of the Buddha (D. ii. 100), the Sanskrit has ātmadvīpair vihartavyam, and the Chinese also has “island’ (Mahāyānamahāparinirvāṇasūtra, ed. Waldschmidt, ii. 200). In this and similar contexts, the Pāli commentators reguarly understood the world in the same way. In his translation of the Dīghanikāya, Rhys Davids at first wrote ‘lamp’, but subsequently noted- with some surprise- that the commentator took it as ‘island’.

The ambiguity of the Middle Indian dīpa (presumably already ambiguous in the pre-Pāli texts) would seem to make it inevitable that the word should have been used as a śleṣa on occasion. A translator naturally had to choose between the two possibilities, and the Sanskrit texts regularly chose dvīpa. Therefore, either this was the only sense considered in such contexts, or, if a double sense was seen, that of ‘island’ was considered more important. In prose, however, both sense can be brought in: lokasya dvīpā bhaviṣyāmo lokasyālokā bhaiviṣyāmo (Abhisamayālankārālokavyākhyā, ed. Wogihara, p. 596). Sasaki is ready to take the rendering ‘lamp’ as simply a mistake, and this seems to be the general tendency since modern scholars became familiar with dvīpa in the Sanskrit. But the metaphor of light is so natural that it would hardly be fair to dismiss the rendering ‘lamp’ as curious error and nothing more. The phrase dīpaṃ karoti presumably recalled the name of the former Buddha Dīpaṃkara, who is understood in Sanskrit as well as in Pāli to be a “light-bringer”, not an “island-maker”. Intrinsically the latter would seem no more forced that tīrthaṃkara, and indeed one could not reject out of hand the possibility that one term may have stimulated the formation of the other by way of rivalry: since if one religion were though, even through a misunderstanding, to claim to have made the island (of salvation), the other might retort by claiming the construction of the ford leading to that island; or vice versa. The Buddha may indeed be an island (or refuge) for the world; but when the author of the Mahāvaṃsa say (iii.2) dīpo lokassa nibbuto, he could hardly have meant that an island had been extinguished. The same text also puns elaborately on the two senses of dīpa in i. 84.

In many places the sense of ‘island’ is quite unambiguous, for example Sn. 1092, 1145: Thg. 412. In others, where the context does not immediately decide, it is tempting to suppose that the commentators deliberately preferred ‘island’ because of attādīpa in the sense of ‘with the ātman as light’ may have seemed too reminiscent of the Upaniṣadic ātman (Bṛhadāraṇyaka, iv. 3, 6 astamita āditye yājñavalkya candramasy astamite śānte ‘gnau śāntāyāṃ vāci kiṃjyotir evāyam puruṣa iti: ātmaivāsya jyotir bhavaty ātmanaivāyaṃ jyotiṣāste, &c.; Kaṭha Up. v. 15 tam eva bhāntam anubhāti sarvaṃ, t tasya bhāsā sarvam idaṃ vibhāti; or even Bhagavadgītā, xiii. 33 kṣetraṃ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṃ prakāśayati.) Nevertheless, we may suspect that for the same reason the early Buddhists who first used the expression did think of dīpa in terms of “light”, while they would necessarily reinterpret ātman. (This is possible without any implication that primitive Buddhism was ‘upaniṣadic,’ or that it held Mrs. Rhys Davids’s doctrine of ātman in opposition to the orthodox Buddhist theory of anātman.)

In the other Dharmapada passage where the Chinese has translated in terms of ‘light’, the context makes it certain that this was the sense primarily intended by the author of the verses (Dhp. 235-8). The literal sense is the common metaphor of a journey, and a translation with ‘island’ reads rather quaintly; “You have started on your journey to Yama’s presence (not, as Radhakrishnan, “arrived” - sampayāto si yamassa santike), there is no inn where you can pass the night (vāso pi ca te natthi antarā), and you have laid in no provisions for the journey (pātheyyam pi ca te na vijjati): therefore be sensible (paṇḍito bhava), get yourself an island, and press on repidly (khippaṃ vāyama)’. If forced to continue walking through the night, a sensible man will doubtless find a lamp more serviceable. It must of course be conceded that the allusion to attadipā viharatha is intentional, and the commentator’s suggestion that the traveller has been shipwrecked is thus not altogether perverse.

For jara in d, against ogho in other versions, Senart though of the possibility of jharā) which graphically would imply only the omission of the diacritic in jāra), with a transfer of sense of “waterfall” to “flood”. This was disproved by Franke, who cited Jāt. iv. 121 dīpaṃ ca kātum icchāmi yāṃ jarānābhikīrati. Lévi suggested that in both places jarā resulted from a replacement of ogha by jala, which was then misunderstood as a Māgadhī form for jarā. This can also be excluded, since Sn. 1092 shows that, when the flood (scil. of saṃsāra has arisen, it is precisely against old age and death that the island is required as a refuge: oghe jāte mahābhaye jarāmaccuparetānaṃ dīpaṃ pabhrūhi mārisa. Similarly in Thg. 412. Lüders (BSU § 86), while rejecting Lévi’s explanation of jarā as an error for jala, thought that the similarity in sound (with jalā ‘old age’ in the “Magadhan” form of the verses) might have had some influences in the development of the metaphor of the island in this connexion.

The Chinese versions here, in keeping with ‘lamp’ in the preceding clause, have ‘darkness’ instead of ogho. Lévi ingeniously suggested that, since gha and ya are so similar in the Indian writing, the translators might have read tamo yaṃ instead of tam ogho. Indeed, the phrase invites misunderstandings. An alternative would be taṃm ogho (since from early times a superfluous anusvāra is often written in such a position), read as taṃ mogho, and interpreted as moho, or ever appearing in this form through a Prākrit version. From this, ‘darkness’ would be an easy step.

Or again, tamogho might have been taken as a compound (tamas + agha), in which case [cannot find character] 淵 ‘the abyss of shadows’ (Lévi) might be thought to render it very neatly. Or the idea of darkness might have been suggested by the similar verse Dhp. 236, where niddhantamalo (Uv. xvi. 3 nirdhānta-) might have prompted someone to think of nirdhvānta- though this is probably too abstruse a pun to have been intended by the author of the verse. But of course it remains possible that the Chinese wrote ‘darkness’ merely because, after ‘lamp’, this was the logical way to conclude the stanza.

(John Brough, The Gāndhārī Dharmapada, 209-211, commentary on verse 111, I cannot navigate Gāndhārī texts very well, but the section being commented on is, I believe, the Maguvagga, and the relevant section with the "island/lamp" reading should be therein)


The rest of the text is quite interesting, but this is the most relevant section I think.
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)
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: Nirvana is a Transcendent Reality

Post by Santi253 »

Coëmgenu wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:There are a few points in the Chinese DA, the Chinese Dhp, and possibly the Gándhárí Dhp, where "be your own island" is actually rendered as "be your own light/lamp". It is still clearly dvípa/island in the SN/SA/etc parallels, but other places either mistranslate the passage or deliberately pun on the similarity of the words (both being very possible). I will post the examples once I have taken a look at them.
From DA 2:

佛告阿難:
The Buddha said to Ānanda:

「眾僧 於我有所須耶?若有自言:『我持眾僧,我 攝眾僧。』
“The bhikṣusaṃgha of me has great needs? (As if) I myself had spoke: ‘I sustain the bhikṣusaṃgha. I uphold the bhikṣusaṃgha.’

斯人於眾應有教命,如來不言: 『我持於眾,我攝於眾。』
(As if) it is this person [i.e. the one who says “I sustain […]”] who should have taught you vocation, the Tathāgata did not speak: ‘I sustain the many. I uphold the many.’

豈當於眾有教令乎?
How can it be that there should be amongst these many instructed ones the makings of doubt?

阿難!我所說法,內外已訖,終不自稱所 見通達。
Ānanda! I taught it, the dharma, inner and outer thereafter until now, in the end there is nothing I do not profess to have seen and understood entirely.

吾已老矣,年且八十。譬如故車,方 便修治得有所至。
I hereafter am old, resolutely, my years passed are eighty. To make an analogy such as the purpose of a vehicle, a bamboo raft, a waste to be repaired after the goal has been reached.

吾身亦然,以方便力得 少留壽,自力精進,忍此苦痛,
My body is also as such, regarded as a bamboo raft whose power is spent, there is no reason to prolong life,

不念一切 想,入無想定,時,我身安隱,無有惱患。
with nonattention to all saṃjñā (original may have been 想 (“nimittā”)), I enter asaṃjñā (or “animittā”) dhyāna, at this time, my body finds occultation, is not afflicted or suffering.

是故, 阿難!當自熾燃,熾燃於法,勿他熾燃;當 自歸依,
Consequently, Ānanda! You should regard your self as a flame blazing, a flame blazing with the dharma, no other flame blazing; you should see yourself as a refuge,

歸依於法,勿他歸依。云何自熾燃, 熾燃於法,勿他熾燃;
the refuge as the dharma, no other refuge. How do you regard yourself as a flame blazing, how are you a flame blazing with the dharma, with no other flame blazing;

當自歸依,歸依於法, 勿他歸依?阿難!比丘觀內身精勤無懈,
How should you be yourself as a refuge, a refuge of the dharma, not to take another refuge? Ānanda! A monks regards the inner body with vitality, diligence, not lax,

憶 念不忘,除世貪憂;觀外身、觀內外身,精 勤不懈,憶念不忘,
he removes the seed of tṛṣṇā and affliction, regards the outer body, regards the inner and outer body, with vitality, diligence, not lax, is mindful and not neglectful,

除世貪憂。受、意、法觀,亦 復如是。是謂,阿難!
he removes the seed of tṛṣṇā and affliction. Feelings, thoughts, dharmāḥ, observe (these), repeatedly thus so. This is what I say, Ānanada!

自熾燃,熾燃於法,勿他 熾燃;
Yourself as a flame blazing, a flame blazing with the dharma, no other flame blazing;

當自歸依,歸依於法,勿他歸依。」
the same as yourself as a refuge, a refuge of the dharma, no other refuge.


The "flame blazing" (熾燃) is pretty unambiguously pointing towards the Dharmaguptaka translators, Buddhayaśas (佛陀耶舍) & Zhú Fó Niàn (竺佛念) possibly having understood a Middle Indic "dīpa" as "light/lamp". I aso want to credit the SuttaCentral user "James" who helped with this amatuer transation.

The following extract will also comment on the above variation in the Buddhavacana and it's interpretation.

Regarding the claims of “lamp” in the Gāndhārī & Chinese Dhp we are less clear. I have to conceded to John Brough, Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Cambridge, if those academic credentials translate into fluency in the Dharma. He also gives us the attestation of "lamp" in the Chinese Dhp (he will also comment on “lamp” in the DA indirectly, I believe):

111. Uv. iv. 5 has dvīpaṃ haroti medhāvi tam ogho nābhimardati, thus agreeing with the Prākrit in the verbs, but with the Pāli in ogho against jara.

Although initial dv- is preserved in dvaya-, a dissimilation might reasonably have been expected in *-dvīvu, and there is no reason to doubt that dīvu here can mean ‘island’. Confirmation may be seen in the fact that the word was borrowed in the form diva- into Knotanese (Knonow, Saka Studies, p. 79; where the sense can only be ‘island’). In the present verse, however, and in that corresponding to Dhp. 236, 238, the Chinese translators understood the word as “lamp’ (Lévi, JAs 1912, 240-1; for a recent discussion of the question, with citations of relevant passages, see Genjun H. Sasaki, A Study of Abhidharma Philosophy, Tokyo, 1958, pp. xiv, 594 ff.) This translation might indicate that the Chinese were influenced by a Middle Indic original, but without further evidence one could not exclude the possibility of a less Sanskritic version of the Uv. which still had here the form dīpaṃ instead of dvīpaṃ. On the other hand, in the locus classicus for this expression, the last words of the Buddha (D. ii. 100), the Sanskrit has ātmadvīpair vihartavyam, and the Chinese also has “island’ (Mahāyānamahāparinirvāṇasūtra, ed. Waldschmidt, ii. 200). In this and similar contexts, the Pāli commentators reguarly understood the world in the same way. In his translation of the Dīghanikāya, Rhys Davids at first wrote ‘lamp’, but subsequently noted- with some surprise- that the commentator took it as ‘island’.

The ambiguity of the Middle Indian dīpa (presumably already ambiguous in the pre-Pāli texts) would seem to make it inevitable that the word should have been used as a śleṣa on occasion. A translator naturally had to choose between the two possibilities, and the Sanskrit texts regularly chose dvīpa. Therefore, either this was the only sense considered in such contexts, or, if a double sense was seen, that of ‘island’ was considered more important. In prose, however, both sense can be brought in: lokasya dvīpā bhaviṣyāmo lokasyālokā bhaiviṣyāmo (Abhisamayālankārālokavyākhyā, ed. Wogihara, p. 596). Sasaki is ready to take the rendering ‘lamp’ as simply a mistake, and this seems to be the general tendency since modern scholars became familiar with dvīpa in the Sanskrit. But the metaphor of light is so natural that it would hardly be fair to dismiss the rendering ‘lamp’ as curious error and nothing more. The phrase dīpaṃ karoti presumably recalled the name of the former Buddha Dīpaṃkara, who is understood in Sanskrit as well as in Pāli to be a “light-bringer”, not an “island-maker”. Intrinsically the latter would seem no more forced that tīrthaṃkara, and indeed one could not reject out of hand the possibility that one term may have stimulated the formation of the other by way of rivalry: since if one religion were though, even through a misunderstanding, to claim to have made the island (of salvation), the other might retort by claiming the construction of the ford leading to that island; or vice versa. The Buddha may indeed be an island (or refuge) for the world; but when the author of the Mahāvaṃsa say (iii.2) dīpo lokassa nibbuto, he could hardly have meant that an island had been extinguished. The same text also puns elaborately on the two senses of dīpa in i. 84.

In many places the sense of ‘island’ is quite unambiguous, for example Sn. 1092, 1145: Thg. 412. In others, where the context does not immediately decide, it is tempting to suppose that the commentators deliberately preferred ‘island’ because of attādīpa in the sense of ‘with the ātman as light’ may have seemed too reminiscent of the Upaniṣadic ātman (Bṛhadāraṇyaka, iv. 3, 6 astamita āditye yājñavalkya candramasy astamite śānte ‘gnau śāntāyāṃ vāci kiṃjyotir evāyam puruṣa iti: ātmaivāsya jyotir bhavaty ātmanaivāyaṃ jyotiṣāste, &c.; Kaṭha Up. v. 15 tam eva bhāntam anubhāti sarvaṃ, t tasya bhāsā sarvam idaṃ vibhāti; or even Bhagavadgītā, xiii. 33 kṣetraṃ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṃ prakāśayati.) Nevertheless, we may suspect that for the same reason the early Buddhists who first used the expression did think of dīpa in terms of “light”, while they would necessarily reinterpret ātman. (This is possible without any implication that primitive Buddhism was ‘upaniṣadic,’ or that it held Mrs. Rhys Davids’s doctrine of ātman in opposition to the orthodox Buddhist theory of anātman.)

In the other Dharmapada passage where the Chinese has translated in terms of ‘light’, the context makes it certain that this was the sense primarily intended by the author of the verses (Dhp. 235-8). The literal sense is the common metaphor of a journey, and a translation with ‘island’ reads rather quaintly; “You have started on your journey to Yama’s presence (not, as Radhakrishnan, “arrived” - sampayāto si yamassa santike), there is no inn where you can pass the night (vāso pi ca te natthi antarā), and you have laid in no provisions for the journey (pātheyyam pi ca te na vijjati): therefore be sensible (paṇḍito bhava), get yourself an island, and press on repidly (khippaṃ vāyama)’. If forced to continue walking through the night, a sensible man will doubtless find a lamp more serviceable. It must of course be conceded that the allusion to attadipā viharatha is intentional, and the commentator’s suggestion that the traveller has been shipwrecked is thus not altogether perverse.

For jara in d, against ogho in other versions, Senart though of the possibility of jharā) which graphically would imply only the omission of the diacritic in jāra), with a transfer of sense of “waterfall” to “flood”. This was disproved by Franke, who cited Jāt. iv. 121 dīpaṃ ca kātum icchāmi yāṃ jarānābhikīrati. Lévi suggested that in both places jarā resulted from a replacement of ogha by jala, which was then misunderstood as a Māgadhī form for jarā. This can also be excluded, since Sn. 1092 shows that, when the flood (scil. of saṃsāra has arisen, it is precisely against old age and death that the island is required as a refuge: oghe jāte mahābhaye jarāmaccuparetānaṃ dīpaṃ pabhrūhi mārisa. Similarly in Thg. 412. Lüders (BSU § 86), while rejecting Lévi’s explanation of jarā as an error for jala, thought that the similarity in sound (with jalā ‘old age’ in the “Magadhan” form of the verses) might have had some influences in the development of the metaphor of the island in this connexion.

The Chinese versions here, in keeping with ‘lamp’ in the preceding clause, have ‘darkness’ instead of ogho. Lévi ingeniously suggested that, since gha and ya are so similar in the Indian writing, the translators might have read tamo yaṃ instead of tam ogho. Indeed, the phrase invites misunderstandings. An alternative would be taṃm ogho (since from early times a superfluous anusvāra is often written in such a position), read as taṃ mogho, and interpreted as moho, or ever appearing in this form through a Prākrit version. From this, ‘darkness’ would be an easy step.

Or again, tamogho might have been taken as a compound (tamas + agha), in which case [cannot find character] 淵 ‘the abyss of shadows’ (Lévi) might be thought to render it very neatly. Or the idea of darkness might have been suggested by the similar verse Dhp. 236, where niddhantamalo (Uv. xvi. 3 nirdhānta-) might have prompted someone to think of nirdhvānta- though this is probably too abstruse a pun to have been intended by the author of the verse. But of course it remains possible that the Chinese wrote ‘darkness’ merely because, after ‘lamp’, this was the logical way to conclude the stanza.

(John Brough, The Gāndhārī Dharmapada, 209-211, commentary on verse 111, I cannot navigate Gāndhārī texts very well, but the section being commented on is, I believe, the Maguvagga, and the relevant section with the "island/lamp" reading should be therein)


The rest of the text is quite interesting, but this is the most relevant section I think.
I like some of the things you have to say, but the language you use is often too technical. It's sometimes hard to follow along, even with my college education.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 4003
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Nirvana is a Transcendent Reality

Post by Coëmgenu »

Santi253 wrote:I like some of the things you have to say, but the language you use is often too technical. It's sometimes hard to follow along, even with my college education.
I think Dr. John Brough is a much harder read than me! But to each their own.

Linguistics is notoriously jargon-filled, and textual criticism is abundant in abbreviations (it took be forever to finally figure out that, apparently, "Uv." is Udānavarga, a Sanskrit recension of the Dharmapada, and I'm not altogether sure if that's correct still), but I suppose if I say something you don't get, you can just ask me what it means. Google is also a good friend. Wiktionary is actually one of my go-to places for parsing out Sanskrit words, too.
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)
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: Nirvana is a Transcendent Reality

Post by Santi253 »

Coëmgenu wrote: I suppose if I say something you don't get, you can just ask me what it means.
OK. Thank you.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Santi253 »

Santi253 wrote:
pilgrim wrote:Because of the popularity of Pure Land, Hui Neng and other apologists of Mahayana gave new interpretations to the practice to make it compatible to the meditation schools. These interpretations were their own. There are no sutras that say Pure Land exist in the mind ( unless one takes Hui Neng's Platform Sutra to be a sutra). One might as well say chanting Coca Cola will bring one to the Flying Spaghetti Monster's kingdom and then ask if that is a legitimate practice. This too exists in the mind and getting people to chant this mantra is just skilful means.
This summarizes what the Mahayana sutras teach regarding the Pure Land:
Buddhism sets forth two views concerning the relationship of the saha world (our world) and the pure land.

The first is that the pure land is another realm entirely, physically removed from the saha world. Examples of this view are belief in the Pure Emerald World of Medicine Master Buddha in the east, and in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Perfect Bliss in the west.

The second view, represented in the Lotus Sutra and the Vimalakirti Sutra, is that no pure land exists apart from the saha world: the saha world reveals either its pure aspect or impure aspect in response to the purity or impurity of the hearts and minds of those inhabiting it.

One with a pure heart thus dwells in a pure land here and now. Collectively, when people purify their hearts and minds, the society or world where they live becomes a pure land.
http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.co ... /Pure_land
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Santi253 »

This might be the most important section of any sutra regarding the nature of the Pure Land:
“Therefore, Jeweled Accumulation, if the Bodhisattva wishes to acquire a pure land, he must purify his mind. When the mind is pure, the Buddha land will be pure.”…

The Buddha then pressed his toe against the earth, and immediately the thousand-millionfold world was adorned with hundreds and thousands of rare jewels, till it resembled Jeweled Adornment Buddha’s Jeweled Adornment Land of Immeasurable Blessings. All the members of the great assembly sighed in wonder at what they had never seen before, and all saw that hey themselves were seated on jeweled lotuses.

The Buddha said to Shariputra, “Now do you see the marvelous purity of this Buddha land?”

Shariputra replied, “Indeed I do, World-Honored One. Somehing I have never seen before, and never even heard of-now all he marvelous purity of the Buddha land is visible before me!”

The Buddha said to Shariputra, “My Buddha land has always been pure like this. But because I wish to save those persons who are lowly and inferior, I make it seem an impure land full of defilements, that is all. It is like the case of heavenly beings. All ate their food from the same precious vessel, but the food looks different for each one, depending upon the merits and virtues hat each possesses. It is the same in this case, Shariputra. If a person’s mind is pure, then he will see the wonderful blessings that adorn this land.”
http://lirs.ru/lib/sutra/The_Vimalakirt ... ,1997.html
In reality, the Pure Land is here and now, rather than billions of galaxies away. It’s only when we’ve uncovered the original pure mind (Buddha-nature) through Buddhist practices that we are able to see the land in all its purity.

It is only for the sake of our spiritual growth that the Buddha allows this world, his pure land, to appear impure for those who are lowly and inferior such as ourselves.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 4003
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

Post by Coëmgenu »

If the OP and others will permit me to return for a moment to the "island/lamp"/"dvīpa/dīpa" uncertainty, I think that even despite the testimony of the Chinese DA clearly indicating "lamp/fire/light" as the intended meaning, it is still a manuscript corruption.

Why do I think this? It is a suspicion, not a resolute proven point.

Look at the larger context of DA 2: "regarded as a bamboo raft" (方). This is consonant with the framing of Nibbāna as "the other shore" (Parable of the Raft, MN 22). With this in mind, "yourself as an island" can be construed as having resonance with "the other shore". In addition to this, immediately before, "regard yourself as a flame blazing" (當自熾燃), we have "my body finds occultation, [and] is not afflicted or suffering" (我身安隱,無有惱患).

This is not an "objective complaint" regarding the reading of dīpa (lamp) instead of dvīpa (island). Dīpa is just as much like-and-unlikely as before. But it seems legitemately odd to say "my body finds occultation, is not afflicted or suffering" and then to say to call yourself a "flame blazing"/"lamp" (熾燃). Occultation is much closer to the reading of "island", as a flame blazing/lamp is hardly ever truly occultated. I think the context points to ātmadvīpa rather than ātmadīpa.

That being said, from some Mahāyāna perspectives, ātmadvīpa can still be a reference to Buddha-nature as much as ātmadīpa would have been, as the two compounds contain a common element.
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)
Post Reply