Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

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Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:58 pm

The quotes below are taken from "The Lotus Sutra", translation by Gene Reeves 2008. if extinction is the final end of the gradualist path then the Lotus Sutra has something to say about extinction. i am interested to know of other sutras or sastras that discuss the topic of extinction. it would have been logical for the Tiantai monks to adopt the Lotus Sutra as the penultimate sutra by virtue of the fact that it has a few jewels hidden in it, among which are the quotes below mentioning extiction.

"Finally i have attained extinction, without remains." (p106 Reeves)

no self, no mind and no body. they never were, but now this is seen. by remains, i wonder whether there is a need also to renounce all emotions and feelings (which i have done and yet still feel).

"In the whole World there is no second vehicle for the attainment of extinction.
There is only the one Buddha vehicle for attainment of extinction. (p197 Reeves)

the path of renunciation leads to extinction.

"Even now, though i will not actually enter extinction; i declare that i will adopt the way of extinction." (p293 Reeves)

i would suggest that extinction can be experienced here and now: once selflessness, mindlessness and bodylessness are directly perceived (all unnecessary for instantenous awakening which is the ordinary mind seen).

"The Tathagata announces his extinction, though he does not in reality become extinct." (p294 Reeves)

still seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, still experiencing and yet no one to do these things. extinct and yet present, and yet not present. from the very beginning there has never been a mind and all things have always been unborn.

seeing all this, this ordinary mind (which does not exist) still knows and experiences.

i hope this is helpful and hope that those knowledgable in the Dharma will be able to shed further light on the matter of extinction. with great respect for the Lotus Sutra, best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:25 am

I think you mean ultimate, and not penultimate.

The simple reason the Lotus is considered the ultimate sutra by Tientai/Tendai Lotus Schools is because its says it is the ultimate teaching.

Chapter 21 reads:
Briefly stated, all the dharmas possessed by the Thus Come One, all the Thus Come One’s supernatural powers of self-mastery, the treasure house of all the Thus Come One’s secrets, all the Thus Come One’s profound affairs are entirely proclaimed, demonstrated, revealed, and preached in this scripture.

-Hurvitz

There is more to it than that, and its borne out in the narrative - all the teachings the Buddha preached from the time that he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree up to that point were expedients. The truth is that he never enters extinction, that he always has been in the world leading beings to awakening, always is, and always will be. Extinction is just another expedient. The Tientai school reads much more detail into the text.

The extinction referred to in the Lotus is the same extinction referred to in other Buddhist scriptures. They all deal with extinction in one way or another. Which is why the Lotus Sutra can sound nuts to some Buddhists, because the Buddha is explaining that the goal that they've all been taught to pursue as a final deliverance is nothing more than a pit stop.

There are many interpretations of the Lotus Sutra.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:04 pm

The truth is that he never enters extinction, that he always has been in the world leading beings to awakening, always is, and always will be. Extinction is just another expedient.


there is no one to enter extinction, seeing this is entering extinction; where infact everyone has always been extinct and unborn. though we say he has always been in the world - i would say that emptiness has always been in the world. exitinction is the absence of emptiness. emptiness is like a flame without a support or source. it is the unborn the unconditioned that experiences emptiness. that which experiences emptiness is not. there is no one experiencing emptiness and yet it is experienced. emptiness being the external dharma, unborn being the absence of any internal dharma.

so though we say he has always been leading beings, there is no one leading beings. someone leading beings with emptiness within and emptiness without is still leading beings. someone that sees she is unborn sees all things without seeing herself. therefore it can be said that she has never being leading beings since she is not. not to confuse the unborn with 'emptiness' which is still a form of presence, where infact there is none at all.

hope this is not confusing.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:11 pm

Queequeg, by expedient do you mean skillful means, what is meant by expedient in relation to the teaching or experience of extinction. can you explain please.

They all deal with extinction in one way or another

yes, and interesting that the word nirvana/nibbana is the 'blowing out of the flame'. i had not realised this before.

the goal that they've all been taught to pursue as a final deliverance is nothing more than a pit stop.

can you expand on this please. one of many pitstops? or once realised just to let go of it. not to become attached to this realisation nor any realisation. just another level in an infinite chain. but surely if one is extinct and always has been then all there is to see is this ordinary seeing in life. what some have called ordinary or original Mind. even if we say there is no mind, which there isnt: we come back to ordinary experience of life/Mind.

thank you Queequeg for your input.

rgds, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:02 pm

White Lotus wrote:not to confuse the unborn with 'emptiness' which is still a form of presence, where infact there is none at all.


My understanding is that emptiness and unborn are different ways of describing the same Reality. I'm going to suggest that if you consider that emptiness is a form of presence, you might be misunderstanding the full implications of emptiness. To say that there is no presence goes too far, as well. Neither presence nor no presence. My understanding is that sunyata is a negative, reductive approach to the True Aspect; unborn is a positive approach.

White Lotus wrote:Queequeg, by expedient do you mean skillful means, what is meant by expedient in relation to the teaching or experience of extinction.

By expedient, I mean upaya, sometimes translated as "expedient means" sometimes as "skillful means". As for how extinction is an expedient, I refer you to Chapter 16.

the goal that they've all been taught to pursue as a final deliverance is nothing more than a pit stop.

can you expand on this please. one of many pitstops? or once realised just to let go of it. not to become attached to this realisation nor any realisation. just another level in an infinite chain. but surely if one is extinct and always has been then all there is to see is this ordinary seeing in life. what some have called ordinary or original Mind. even if we say there is no mind, which there isnt: we come back to ordinary experience of life/Mind.


What I mean by pitstops, I refer you to Chapter 7 in particular.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Jikan » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:43 am

This is an interesting thread.

A close reading of Chapters 2 and 3 can also shed important light on these questions. Summary: Yes, in the past Syakyamuni taught extinction, but that's not the complete story... not just extinction, but Buddhahood is possible.

*on the question of ultimate/penultimate: If I remember correctly, Tendai Daishi taught that the Lotus Sutra was taught immediately before the Nirvana Sutra, meaning that it is the penultimate teaching (but representative of the ultimate view). Am I off the mark here?
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Queequeg » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:35 am

Ah, you're right. Penultimate in sequence, ultimate in message. My bad.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Queequeg » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:40 am

Jikan wrote:A close reading of Chapters 2 and 3 can also shed important light on these questions. Summary: Yes, in the past Syakyamuni taught extinction, but that's not the complete story... not just extinction, but Buddhahood is possible.

Buddhahood was possible before the Lotus, but, it turns out, those are provisional types of Buddhahood.
Buddhahood itself is redefined with the revelation of the Buddhas lifespan in the Lotus, I believe.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:35 pm

1.
My understanding is that emptiness and unborn are different ways of describing the same Reality.

unborn can refer to emptiness, however emptiness can be subject to conditions. emptiness/buddha nature within are subject to cessation. if you believe in only two fundamental truths: phenomenal and empty (which in reality are one truth), you deny a third or perhaps we should call it a fourth truth: that of not empty, not even emptiness(of any kind). when one sees ones own nature one sees emptiness, however when ones nature has ceased one no longer perceives emptiness in spite of the fact that all things are empty. unborn is emptiness, however it can also refer to that which is not. that which is extinct.

2.
To say that there is no presence goes too far, as well. Neither presence nor no presence.

i am unsure about this particular point/paragraph (2.) because i believe in freedom of expression in mind and analysis of experience.
and so i need to give it more thought.
i see no presence, not seeing. it could be argued that because i see, that there is not ''no presence''. however there is a seeing but no one who sees. its a very fine point to say that because there is a seeing there must be a ''not no presence'' (as well as a no presence). neither nor applies fine to the emptiness : phenomenalty (relativity) dialectic. however, when one no longer perceives ones own buddha nature, only the external world one no longer perceives emptiness - though all things are still known to be empty, except the unborn in its final (?) expression.

3.
unborn is a positive approach.

unborn can refer to emptiness, however it can also refer to that which does not have any perceivable existence. its a positive affirmation of something that can be affirmed as emptiness, or not affirmed as the extinct and therefore non existent, about which not much can be said.

4.
not just extinction, but Buddhahood is possible.

does buddhahood emerge from extinction? or is the buddha extinct and yet paradoxically always active?

5.
the Lotus Sutra was taught immediately before the Nirvana Sutra

the Lotus Sutra addresses extinction as part of his ultimate teaching. there is no buddha and yet he speaks and always will.

Queequeg, you mentioned in another post ''emptiness of emptiness''? i have in the past taken this to mean that all things are empty, however that this may not be seen after extinction of the buddha nature within. naturally there are a range of interpretations concerning this. i would be very interested if you could elaborate on your understanding of empty emptiness. to me the simplest pointer would be to an extinction of ones buddha nature. an emptying of emptiness experience within.

i hope my approach is a bit clearer and that in asserting extinction and absence of both no presence and no non presence, i have not gone too far. this is how i see things, however i am free if i want to to assert that emptiness is a form of extinction as are all things, its just that this cant normally be seen or experienced directly. (it is my daily and natural experience).

i must finally assert that i believe ordinary Mind to be the summation and perfect expression of complete buddhahood, beyond even extinction, in which it can rest (as well as the ordinary experience of life.)

respect and best wishes to you both, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:58 pm

Neither Present nor non present. Extinction is not present. Is extinction not non present? From the perspective of freedom of thought, total freedom; one can say that extinction is non present that’s easy, but to say it is not non present is possible on the basis that there is seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and experiencing;. Even though there is no one doing these things, nor anything doing them. Since there is seeing there cannot entirely be non presence. I am free to say that. However when I examine I loose my freedom to say what I want. I find no observer. Therefore its easy to say not present. Non non present, because there is seeing is harder, though it can be said. So this is a fine point in regards to extinction.

With emptiness, that’s a different matter, its easy to say: neither present nor non present, since there is still a sensation of within and without, still a seeing of Buddha nature which is empty and which can still be called a form of presence though it is not clearly something nor nothing, nor anything (emptiness). It is still however emptiness.

Extinction is not. Emptiness neither is nor isn’t. that’s the difference. This point has made me think hard. Thank you Queequeg for raising such a hard question. Hope this is helpful. I conclude that extinction is a fourth truth. Beyond form which is emptiness to form which is not. It is seen that nothing is whatsoever, and yet all things are still experienced. This is not nihilism since there is still experience and perception where there is none.

It’s a fine difference between emptiness and extinction. Where it nothing, there would still be something. Were it anything it would still be something and this is where it is simlar to emptiness. This extinction that is not extinction.

You may say that I have gone too far in this approach. However it is grounded in what I see and in my direct experience and therefore I cannot deny it.

i keep an open mind but find assertion of neither nor presence unhelpful in this circumstance.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:52 am

There is usually talk of two truths (relative and absolute), however perhaps things are more complex. I hope it isnt presumptious of me to assume the order below. Queequeg, i was encouraged to consider this order after carefully reading your post on the thread about the burning house and the 'dying' doctor in the Lotus Sutra.

A speculative series of five truths:
1. the relative truth /apparent phenomena.
2. Emptiness/absolute.
3. the relative truth is the absolute. Form is emptiness.
4. Extinction. beyond emptiness.
5. Ordinary Mind: the one constant beyond extinction. the Buddha. [Jikan, perhaps this is what you were pointing towards].

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Jikan » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:23 am

White Lotus wrote:unborn can refer to emptiness, however emptiness can be subject to conditions. emptiness/buddha nature within are subject to cessation. if you believe in only two fundamental truths: phenomenal and empty (which in reality are one truth), you deny a third or perhaps we should call it a fourth truth: that of not empty, not even emptiness(of any kind). when one sees ones own nature one sees emptiness, however when ones nature has ceased one no longer perceives emptiness in spite of the fact that all things are empty. unborn is emptiness, however it can also refer to that which is not. that which is extinct.


Hi Tom,

I've been turning this one over in my mind, and it seems to me that you're blazing new territory here. Or maybe I should say these ideas are unfamiliar to me. You might find Paul Swanson's book Foundations of Tien Tai Philosophy worthwhile. the two truths resolve into three...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiantai#Th ... fold_Truth
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:15 pm

Thank you Jikan, i feel your compassion. will buy this book when funds allow. much appreciated.

rather than saying not present, nor non present, it may be clearer to say ''neither present nor absent''. extinction is not present and yet who is typing. therefore we can say that where there is extinction there is not abscence. extinct without extiction. i have wrestled with this concept and think i have to finally say that one can reject it on the basis that all views are discrimination and so fall short of perfection of wisdom.

i would like to say as regards this conundrum, the following:

a cup of tea in the morning gives a good start to the day!

(and leave it at that).

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby Queequeg » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:55 pm

WL, One thing you should keep in mind is that to a very great degree, what defines a Buddhist is that we take some form of the Buddhist canon as authoritative, to the extent that the teachings contained in the texts allow. This is more than just a collection of books, but rather a collection of texts that define and explain reality as understood by Buddhists. When we converse with each other on Dharma, it is through this language defined in the texts. When someone departs from this language, its difficult to reconcile and understand what they are saying because often the terms used do not carry the accepted meaning we have more or less agreed to. When there is innovation, its usually done by someone who has mastered the texts and then painstakingly explains the innovation to the rest of us so that we can follow along.

I think you would find basic texts of the Mahayana, such as Nagarjuna, very useful in refining your vocabulary and understanding what we generally mean when we use words like "emptiness" and "unborn" here in this forum and in other places where dharma is discussed. It will certainly help you to understand what the Lotus Sutra is about when it references "extinction" etc.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:41 pm

Yes, Queequeg we should always respect the Masters and the Texts.

respect, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:23 pm

i speculate that the contention or concern here regards the possibility of complete extinction, including of the Buddha Nature. i will try to further clarify that i believe that extinction is not the ultimate and also that it is debatable whether or not the Buddha Nature becomes extinct.

''They are not shaken by their individuality, and yet their greed, hatred and delusion are not extinct. for non-extinction does not become extinct, nor go to complete extinction. [''Sayings from the Perfection of Wisdom'' p32quote from the Saptasatika Prajnaparamita 27b, Conze.


''Complete extinction'' as above is mentioned in the Prajnaparamita literature as well as the Lotus Sutra [any other quotes in this regard would be appreciated.] it must however be stated that silence leads one to see the external dharmas. one can say that Mind is the ultimate or consciousness (though this does not exist.) and that Mind is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, knowing, perceiving etc, where there is ultimately no experinece nor person to experience.

i will now address the issue of extinction of Buddha Nature as orthodox teaching, though ambiguous:

Zen Master Kumu Facheng, a true spiritual son of Furong Daokai, said to the monks, ''When you realize that there is something beyond the Buddha patriarchs, you will be able to express it. O Zen worthies, tell me, what is that beyond the Buddha patriarchs? He is someone who lacks the six senses and whose seventh consciousness is incomplete. He is the Great Icchantika, [a being] who has no Buddha nature.'' [Quote by Keizan Jokei; Taiso/Great Patriarch of Soto Zen, quoteing Facheng - ''Transmitting The Light'' p 243, Translation; Francis Dojun Cook. 2003.


The above quote is also given by the Koso of Soto, the Eminent Patriarch Ehei Dogen in The Bukkojoji (Going Beyond Buddha) chapter of his Shobogenzo.

There may be some ambiguity over the use of the word ''Buddha Nature''. in Soto this would refer to the ''own nature'', that which allows one to, once seen, perceive emptiness of all things. in Soto this is known to be subject to cessation (extinction). There is however another meaning in use for Buddha nature. This is ''Consciousness''. in the case of consciousness one can say that it is without base and not subject to extinction, ever.

The Encyclopedia of Buddhism says the following of Zhiyi:
Zhiyi characterised the final nature of things as consciousness, which he called Middle-Way Buddha Nature (Zhong-Dao Foxing)[P 741 on the Three Truths, Ed: Keown & Prebish/Pub: Routledge 2010


now, if we say that Buddha nature is Consciousness and not simply ''Own Nature'' it is possible to argue that the Buddha nature can never become extinct. i would from a fundamental position say however that it does not exist and so can already be said to be extinct. though unborn, all beings have consciousness as not having it.

I am inclined to think that The Buddha cannot be excelled in his enlightenment, this is since i believe that he has attained extinction and this is the reason why he is still at work. There is no mind and this no mind is what sees and experiences extinction.

i hope Queequeg that this clears things up.

with best wishes and respect, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Extinction in the Lotus Sutra.

Postby White Lotus » Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:58 pm

A passage from the Shorter Prajnaparamita makes extiction clearer in that it implies that where there is extinction that actually there is no extinction. Actually there is no extinction, only the perception of extinction where no such thing actually exists:

''This is the investigation of the cognition of both extinction and non-extinction with regard to all Dharmas. When one has understood it, one is free from the cognition of extinction and has reached the limit of non-extinction - a no-limit which is the limit of Nirvana.[p10 (11b) ''The Truth of Stopping'' Suvikrantavikramin Prajnaparamita in 2,500 lines: published in ''The Short Prajnaparamita Texts'' Conze. Luzac 1973


once extinction of own nature, Mind, Self and body are each seen one sees extinction. this extinction however still sees, hears, tastes, feels and knows; so where is the extinction? there is extinction where there is none. the Mind and Consciousness are unsupported and have no basis. extinction proves to be like form. it can be said to be illusory, or real, or neither; whatever you choose.

though i would say that there is extinction i would also say that it is truly non-extinction and that this limit focuses one onto ordinary mind and ordinary experience in life. it can be said that there is only Mind and that this Mind can be seen as both existent and non existent. as mind and no-mind whatsoever. it is ordinary mind that cannot be annihilated. the final limit. this forces us to ask questions about conciousness. its why and wherefore, especially since it outlives emptiness and extinction. this indestructible Mind takes us into the realms of myth, speculation and many world traditions, even secular philosophy has once again become relevant.

in the prajnaparamita one is encouraged to see in some places and people: defiled and delusional conceptualizations, but in other places we are told that there is only pure perfection and no delusion. All vehicles and traditions have become for me vehicles of truth and falsehood. emptiness is the antidote to suffering, the antithesis of fullness. where there is no pleasure there will be no pain. No pleasure: no pain. this is emotional emptiness overcoming the duality of pleasure and pain, which cannot be separated. if we are to drop pleasure in order to break the pleasure pain cycle; we should also avoid the other extreme of pain in terms of rigorous self denial. to avoid pleasure breaks the pleasure pain cycle. (sorry, i know this is a digression).

extinction is not extinction.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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