Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:13 am

dude wrote:As an expedient.


Not according to this text. In this text, the arhat path is not an expedient at all.

~~Huifeng
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:22 am

Given that this is in the Academic Discussion Forum, let's try to see what the text itself says first, no?

Pp. 207ff:

025 – Falling onto the Śrāvaka or Pratyekabuddha Grounds is Fatal for a Bodhisattva
The grounds of the Śrāvakas or the Pratyekabuddhas,
If entered, constitute “death” for him
Because he would thereby sever the roots
Of the bodhisattva’s understanding and awareness.


...

026 – The Bodhisattva Fears the Two-Vehicles’ Grounds More Than the Hells
At the prospect of falling into the hell-realms,
The bodhisattva would not be struck with fright.
The grounds of the Śrāvakas and the Pratyekabuddhas
Do provoke great terror in him.


...

027 – Whereas Hells Don’t Block Buddhahood, Two Vehicles’ Grounds Do
It is not the case that falling into the hell realms
Would create an ultimate obstacle to bodhi.
If one fell onto the grounds of the Śrāvakas or Pratyekabuddhas,
That would create an ultimate obstacle.

...
However, in the event that the bodhisattva falls down onto the
grounds of the Śrāvaka-disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, that then
does result in [the bodhi of a buddha] never being able to manifest.
Thus the Śrāvaka-disciple and Pratyekabuddha grounds do constitute
an obstacle to realizing the right enlightenment.


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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:26 am

Verse 081 and commentary, pp. 279ff, are almost identical to the passage cited above from the Prajnaparamita.

081 – Analogies for Incompatibility of Two-Vehicles Irreversibility and Buddhahood
Similes for their plight reference “empty space,” “lotus flowers,”
“Precipitous cliffs,” and “a deep abyss.”
Their realms bar it. Analogies cite “non-virility” and “kācamaṇi,”
With an additional comparison made to “burnt seeds.”82

Commentary:
Just as one cannot grow seeds in empty space, so too one has
never been able to generate growth in the dharmas of buddhahood
in the sphere of the unconditioned, nor would one ever be able to
succeed in producing their growth therein. In just the same way
as one cannot grow lotus blossoms in the vast wilderness of the
high plains, so too the Śrāvaka-disciples and the Pratyekabuddhas
who have entered the unconditioned’s “right and definite position”
(samyaktva niyāma) cannot produce the dharmas of buddhahood
.


Details of what is meant by “right and definite position” (samyaktva niyāma) as mentioned in my footnote (2) above. Realized Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas have already gone well past samyaktva niyāma, which already occurs either just before, or at, Śrotaāpatti.

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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Will » Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:02 pm

Huifeng:
If I may cite the Xiăopĭn Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, Kumārajīva's Chinese, my own English...:

If a person has already entered into the status of certitude to perfection, they will be unable to arise mental aspiration toward anuttarā samyak saṃbodhi. For what reason? Because they have already constructed an embankment against the torrent of cyclic birth and death.


However, if one is only on the Arhat path, yet has not "entered into the status of certitude to perfection", there is a small possibility to deepen one's intention. This must be done with bodhisattva vows and cultivation of many if not all, of the 32 Dharmas.

Which vows, intentions or karmic forces will control depends on how strong or weak this bodhi resolve 'change of heart' is; relative to the Arhat resolve which has lifetimes of motive already.

Not likely, but possible, I would guess.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:27 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:Then why would the Buddha teach the Arhat path without at least a small warning that it's game over.


Every teaching of the arhat path states very clearly that it's game over.

"My births are ended, the holy life has been established, what was to be done is done, there is no further becoming."

Sounds pretty clear to me.

~~Huifeng
Wow, that expanded my mind. Thank you.

But what about the Bodhisattva mission to enlighten all beings. I've even seen prayers about rousing Arhats.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby dude » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:31 pm

You're both right.
The arahants have put an end to birth and death and freed themselves of afflictions.
They are more difficult to save than even those of incorrigible disbelief or those destined for the hell realms.
Konchog is also correct. The bodhisattva's true intent is to save even those considered beyond hope.
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:35 pm

Konchog1 wrote:But what about the Bodhisattva mission to enlighten all beings. I've even seen prayers about rousing Arhats.


The Bodhisattva vow is really to deliver sentient beings to the other shore, i.e. Nirvana. It was only later when the concept became "establish all beings into Buddhahood".
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Will » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:10 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:But what about the Bodhisattva mission to enlighten all beings. I've even seen prayers about rousing Arhats.


The Bodhisattva vow is really to deliver sentient beings to the other shore, i.e. Nirvana. It was only later when the concept became "establish all beings into Buddhahood".


What is early and what late, regarding the vow, I do not know. But the Ninth bodhisattva vow of Samantabhadra says 'accord with all beings'. This 'accord' or 'comply' is explained in the sutra as helping in any way at all. No priority for buddhahood or nirvana, just relieving suffering and bestowing happiness. Of course these compassionate actions water the tree producing the fruits of buddhas & bodhisattvas. The Tenth vow about transferring merit is equally wide in intent.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:07 am

Before I continue, just a quick question: Are we still talking about the Bodhisambhara sastra in the Academic Discussion? Or have we moved into just a general opinion about the status of Arhats viz full awakening?

While I think that either discussion is useful and valuable, I personally feel that mixing them up doesn't lead to good communication. Anyone can produce some text or whatever supporting either position--but that kind of discussion just leads to a sort of "this says", "that says" approach. Particularly in this corner of Dharma Wheel, we need to be very clear on how we're approaching such an issue, eg. cite specific texts, consider their relative historical time frame, consider what school of thought they may be associated with, etc.

Above I've brought up the issue of implicit (neyartha) teachings that need further explanation and may be skillful means (upaya), versus those teachings which are fully explicit (nitartha) and can be taken straight-forwardly. We've got texts and teachings that give both sides, ie. arhats can continue to attain full awakening, and that arhats cannot continue to attain full awakening. How are we to resolve that tension in what the texts are saying, without just pointing to one text or another and saying "This one is correct"?

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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby dude » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:28 am

I had taken Konchog's question to mean in general.
We could always start another thread if you prefer to keep this on the one shastra.
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:32 am

Huifeng wrote:Above I've brought up the issue of implicit (neyartha) teachings that need further explanation and may be skillful means (upaya), versus those teachings which are fully explicit (nitartha) and can be taken straight-forwardly. We've got texts and teachings that give both sides, ie. arhats can continue to attain full awakening, and that arhats cannot continue to attain full awakening. How are we to resolve that tension in what the texts are saying, without just pointing to one text or another and saying "This one is correct"?

~~Huifeng
Exactly.

I'm mainly worried about the difference in opinion between a titan like Nagarjuna and other thinkers. For example: Tsongkhapa was a huge fan of Nagarjuna but it is my understanding that he taught that Arhats can attain Enlightenment.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Will » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:42 am

Sorry I did not know that we must always & only discuss one specific text.

Here is Bhikshu Dharmamitra commenting on verse 75:

075 – Though Realizing Definite Stage and Gates to Liberation, One Avoids Nirvāṇa

Although one may have entered “the right and definite position,”
And one’s practice may accord with the gates to liberation,
Because one has not yet fulfilled one’s original vows,
One refrains from proceeding to the realization of nirvāṇa.

Dharmamitra:
For a śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha, this “right and definite position”
coincides with the Path of Seeing wherein the emptiness of all
phenomena is perceived directly. From the standpoint of this treatise,
once this position is reached, a śrāvaka practitioner is definitely
bound for final nirvāṇa as an arhat and will definitely not be able
to switch over to the Bodhisattva Path.


This is clear, provided emptiness is 'perceived directly'. So there is a tiny window for a change of heart before that direct perception. This quote is the basis of my response to the Venerable a few posts above.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:21 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Above I've brought up the issue of implicit (neyartha) teachings that need further explanation and may be skillful means (upaya), versus those teachings which are fully explicit (nitartha) and can be taken straight-forwardly. We've got texts and teachings that give both sides, ie. arhats can continue to attain full awakening, and that arhats cannot continue to attain full awakening. How are we to resolve that tension in what the texts are saying, without just pointing to one text or another and saying "This one is correct"?

~~Huifeng
Exactly.

I'm mainly worried about the difference in opinion between a titan like Nagarjuna and other thinkers. For example: Tsongkhapa was a huge fan of Nagarjuna but it is my understanding that he taught that Arhats can attain Enlightenment.


Yes, such questions are important. I don't know enough about Tsongkhapa, unfortunately, but we could still ask: When he makes statements about arhats attaining full awakening, did he mean this literally, ie. in an explicit manner? Or did he make such a statement for pedagogical reasons, but really maintain the notion that they could not? I don't know, I have no idea what Tsongkhapa meant, but we can still ask, right? We don't have to take everything literally.

~~Huifeng
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby Huifeng » Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:29 am

Will wrote:Sorry I did not know that we must always & only discuss one specific text.

Here is Bhikshu Dharmamitra commenting on verse 75:

075 – Though Realizing Definite Stage and Gates to Liberation, One Avoids Nirvāṇa

Although one may have entered “the right and definite position,”
And one’s practice may accord with the gates to liberation,
Because one has not yet fulfilled one’s original vows,
One refrains from proceeding to the realization of nirvāṇa.

Dharmamitra:
For a śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha, this “right and definite position”
coincides with the Path of Seeing wherein the emptiness of all
phenomena is perceived directly. From the standpoint of this treatise,
once this position is reached, a śrāvaka practitioner is definitely
bound for final nirvāṇa as an arhat and will definitely not be able
to switch over to the Bodhisattva Path.


This is clear, provided emptiness is 'perceived directly'. So there is a tiny window for a change of heart before that direct perception. This quote is the basis of my response to the Venerable a few posts above.


Thanks, Will. I am sorry, I didn't meant to imply that we can only look at one text. I just wasn't sure whether we were still specifically talking about it, or had gone on to broader perspectives.

I think this statement in the Bodhisambhara works well with a key idea in the Prajnaparamita, namely, that the Bodhisattva "trains in emptiness, but does not realize emptiness". The latter notion, ie. that of realizing emptiness, is what occurs during the path of vision. And, if the other requisites of the bodhisattva path are not fulfilled, then that "realization of emptiness" would be the path of vision of the sravakas, and lead to attainment of stream-entry, ie. the "correct status" (samyaktva niyama). From there, it's all down hill, in both a good and bad way--good in that they have at most 7 rebirths until the end of samsara; bad in that they are on track as sravakas, and can now no longer change to a Mahayana track.

However, at any point before this path of vision, or while they "train in emptiness" but do not "realize emptiness", then they can maintain the bodhisattva path, so long as they have bodhicitta, etc. However, a bodhisattva at this stage is still potentially subject to turning back (vinivartaniya). Only when they realize suchness, which is the bodhisattva equivalent of realizing emptiness, do they become non-regressible (avinivartaniya), bodhisattvic "correct status" (samyaktva niyama). Once non-regressible, then again it's all down hill, in the positive sense, a very long but ultimately one way track to the full awakening of a samyak sambuddha.

~~Huifeng
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Re: Nagarjuna's Bodhisambhara

Postby dude » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:07 am

Once non-regressible, then again it's all down hill, in the positive sense, a very long but ultimately one way track to the full awakening of a samyak sambuddha.


Quite right.
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