Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

General forum on Mahayana.

Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:08 pm

In the teachings I have received from various Tibetan masters there sometimes seemingly contradictory statements found in various sutras are explained by categorizing various sutras as interpretable and others as definitive.

Generally, the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras of the Middle Turning of the Wheel are presented as definitive according to the teachings I have received from Tibetan teachers. I am wondering two things:

1)Do other Mahayana traditions have these categories of Definitive and Interpretable? If not, how do they reconcile the seemingly contradictory statements in some sutras?

2)If they have this category, which turning of the wheel is proposed as Definitive?

Thanks so much.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:27 pm

In Chan there is no categorisation of definitive and interpretable sutras, however, there are a couple of scriptures that are used to represent the common view of Mahayana according to their position. Although Tiantai claims the Lotus and the Nirvana Sutras as the final teachings of the Buddha, I've seen no problem using other texts in explaining their doctrines. Huayan focuses on the Avatamsaka Sutra naturally as the primary source of their teachings, while Pure Land has the three main sutras and portions of other scriptures.

So, if we use the definitive-interpretable categories, it is simply a question whether a scripture expresses explicitly what a given tradition holds as its doctrine or not. And if not then the exegete has to work until it does. As an example, in Chan it was first Shenxiu who explained every sutra in a way to teach Chan, i.e. seeing the nature of mind. It is a feature of Chan that has been followed ever since.

On the other hand, in Japanese Pure Land Honen simply put aside all other sutras not directly relevant to birth in Amita Buddha's world without rejecting their content, but rendering them useless for anyone following the Pure Land path.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4226
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby Huifeng » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:33 pm

In Chinese Mahayana, the Tiantai system of doxography (panjiao) is a classic one. This was in turn based on earlier systems, mainly by northern Chinese groups. Later, other Chinese Mahayana schools had similar practices.

The Tiantai system broke the teachings up into five periods, from the Avatamsaka, the Agamas, the Prajnaparamita, the [other Mahayana] Vaipulya sutras, and lastly the Saddharmapundarika and Mahaparinirvana sutras. There is a cross system which breaks these up into eight types.

The Tiantai system is still a kind of default Chinese Mahayana doxography, though there are others. Not to mention that modern Buddhist studies often stands this on its head. That is something presently being worked on.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:35 pm

Ven Huifeng,

Who was the main formulator of the Tian Tai system,and where can I read about him in English?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:02 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Who was the main formulator of the Tian Tai system,and where can I read about him in English?


He was Zhiyi. There isn't much you can read in English unfortunately, and the "Buddhism in a Nutshell" series on BuddhistDoor.com has been removed and I can't find any copy of it (it had a nice intro to all Chinese schools). Wikipedia has a few words on the five periods.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4226
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby Huifeng » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:32 pm

As mentioned above, Tiantai Zhiyi or Zhizhe (天台智顗 / 天台智者).
Swanson's book may be helpful.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby zangskar » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:33 pm

Buddhistdoor's Buddhism in a nutshell is here: http://wfcs.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdo ... /index.htm
Best wishes, Lars
zangskar
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:05 pm

Re: Definitive versus Interpretable Sutras across Mahayana

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:41 pm

zangskar wrote:Buddhistdoor's Buddhism in a nutshell is here: http://wfcs.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdo ... /index.htm
Best wishes, Lars


Big thanks to you! :twothumbsup:

Here's the link to the Tiantai panjiao system: Classification of Teaching.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4226
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest


Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: M.G. and 15 guests

>