Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

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Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:50 pm

Is buddha-nature within one of the aggregates or not? The storehouse-consciousness in Yogacara is included in the consciousness aggregate (as shown in the Pancaskandhaprakarana). But often later schools claim that buddha-nature is beyond arising and ceasing, however, the aggregates are not. Assuming that buddha-nature is beyond the aggregates generates several problems (as argued in chapter 18 of the Mulamadhyakamakarika).

Since the doctrine of buddha-nature is cardinal in both East Asian and Tibetan Mahayana, I'd love to hear some answers for the topic's question.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby flavio81 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:05 pm

Astus wrote:Is buddha-nature within one of the aggregates or not? The storehouse-consciousness in Yogacara is included in the consciousness aggregate (as shown in the Pancaskandhaprakarana). But often later schools claim that buddha-nature is beyond arising and ceasing, however, the aggregates are not. Assuming that buddha-nature is beyond the aggregates generates several problems (as argued in chapter 18 of the Mulamadhyakamakarika).

Since the doctrine of buddha-nature is cardinal in both East Asian and Tibetan Mahayana, I'd love to hear some answers for the topic's question.


Umm...

Well, what i understood is that the "five skhandas" are a way to explain how the illusion of a concrete ego (and conciousness) is built. The buddha-nature, or what i'd call the true nature of the mind, is underlying all this elaborate illusion. All thoughts, be them good or bad, and all ilussion of ego, arises from the nature of the mind, however delusional they may be. As the incomparable Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche said in reference to this: "We are a symbol of our own enlightenment."
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby smcj » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:05 pm

In the Yogacara system the alayavijnana (all base-consciousness) is called the eighth consciousness. The seventh consciousness is called the klesha mind.

I'm not very comfortable with the Yogacara position. It seems pretty solipsistic to me.

Here's a quote:
"One may wonder whether every being has their own alayavijnana or whether there is only one. In relative truth each individual has his own stream of alayavijnana and his own actions ripen to him. In the absolute truth there is only mind and it is empty of any separate perceivers and perceived objects."

I got that from the Yogacara chapter in Khenpo Tsultrim's "Progressive Stages on the Meditation on Emptiness." What that means I can only guess.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:47 pm

smcj wrote:In the Yogacara system the alayavijnana (all base-consciousness) is called the eighth consciousness. The seventh consciousness is called the klesha mind.

I'm not very comfortable with the Yogacara position. It seems pretty solipsistic to me.

Here's a quote:
"One may wonder whether every being has their own alayavijnana or whether there is only one. In relative truth each individual has his own stream of alayavijnana and his own actions ripen to him. In the absolute truth there is only mind and it is empty of any separate perceivers and perceived objects."

I got that from the Yogacara chapter in Khenpo Tsultrim's "Progressive Stages on the Meditation on Emptiness." What that means I can only guess.

A solipsistic view would be only MY mind exists.
Although on some western Zen sites it would sometimes be hard to discern a difference.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:26 pm

Tathagatagarbha is not a Skandha. Nor is it within one of the aggregates. It is all-pervading. It may be more appropriate to think of the skandhas as residing within the Tathagatagarbha, in fact.....like stains on a piece of cloth.

It's also not correct to posit a Tathagatagarbha "beyond the Skandhas," as this just creates another conceptual seperation.

Uttaratantrashastra says:

"Just as at all times worlds arise
and disintegrate in space,
the senses arise and disintegrate
in the uncreated expanse.
***
Likewise skandhas elements and senses
are based upon karma and mental poisons.
Karma and poisons are always based
upon improper conceptual activity.
the improper conceptual activity
fully abides on the purity of mind.
Yet, the nature of the mind itself
has no basis in all these phenomena."
(From Buddha Nature, Snow Lion Pubs., p. 26-27)
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby cdpatton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:00 pm

Astus wrote:Is buddha-nature within one of the aggregates or not? The storehouse-consciousness in Yogacara is included in the consciousness aggregate (as shown in the Pancaskandhaprakarana). But often later schools claim that buddha-nature is beyond arising and ceasing, however, the aggregates are not. Assuming that buddha-nature is beyond the aggregates generates several problems (as argued in chapter 18 of the Mulamadhyakamakarika).

Since the doctrine of buddha-nature is cardinal in both East Asian and Tibetan Mahayana, I'd love to hear some answers for the topic's question.


It would be interesting to analyze the doctrinal positions - especially those which attempted to fuse the Yogacara theory with the Tathagata-garbha notion. But, my personal answer is that Tathagata-garbha is an innate quality of sattvas such that Buddhas arise from them, just as it is the innate nature of milk that ghee comes from it. It is just a way of describing the potential cause-effect relationship prior to its taking place.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby flavio81 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:51 pm

conebeckham wrote:Tathagatagarbha is not a Skandha. Nor is it within one of the aggregates. It is all-pervading. It may be more appropriate to think of the skandhas as residing within the Tathagatagarbha, in fact.....like stains on a piece of cloth.


Yes, this is how i understood it as well.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:39 pm

The question that occurs to me is, is Tathagatagarbha a valid object of cognition? (I hope that is not an improper question.)
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby smcj » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:54 pm

jeeprs wrote:The question that occurs to me is, is Tathagatagarbha a valid object of cognition? (I hope that is not an improper question.)

No, and very specifically so. If it could be taken as an object of cognition it would be compounded, impermanent, and the source of dukha. Not even a buddha can take it as an object of cognition.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:54 pm

The question about the relationship between buddha-nature and the aggregates occurred to me when I was reading Ringu Tulku's commentary to one of Gampopa's works. So, let's see first a Mahamudra work on the topic.

"The aggregates, the elements and the sense factors of beings have all from the beginning the true nature of awakened male and female buddhas and deities. As it is taught in all sutras and tantras, they are themselves buddha mind.
If, on the contrary, you assume that there is another superior buddha mind to be attained outside of your mind and believe that it is impossible that the extremely pure buddha mind exists within the mind stream of impure beings, that this is nothing but glossing things over and misinterpreting the vajra words of the secret mantra, you have distorted the meaning of the abiding nature and this is improper."

(Wangchug Dorje: Ocean of True Meaning, p 209-210, tr. Henrik Havlat)

Next, here is a Yogacara interpretation (note that there can be other Yogacara views, also note that what is discussed in the following passage from Xuanzang is not identical to the doctrine of "universal buddha-gotra" since there are several gotras):

"The 'meritorious qualities' (gunas) and the bodies and lands of the Tathagatas are comprised in the Skandhas, Ayatanas, and Dhatus, as it is fitting that they should be so comprised; but the Skandhas, etc., may be pure (anasrava) or impure (sasrava). ... It is certain that the qualities, bodies, etc., of the Buddha are comprised in the Dhatus. - Why? Because, according to the texts, all Samskrtas (conditioned dharmas) are comprised in the five Skandhas, all dharmas are comprised in the eighteen Dhatus and the twelve Ayatanas ; there is no nineteenth Dhatu (Vimalakirti). ... Let us therefore conclude that the eighteen Dhatus are found in the body of the Buddha but are absolutely pure (anasrava)."
(Ch'eng Wei-Shih Lun, p 787-789, tr. Wei Tat)

The Tiantai understanding of buddha-nature is also interesting, as it is used to cover the entire path as shown in this essay: T'ien-t'ai Chih-i's Concept of Threefold Buddha Nature - A Synergy of Reality, Wisdom, and Practice. It is useful to have a deeper appreciation of Dogen's presentation of the subject in his writing on buddha-nature (Bussho PDF). He writes (with reference to a passage in the Platform Sutra where Huineng explains buddha-nature as impermanent to a monk asking about the Nirvana Sutra),

"Therefore, that the grasses, trees, thickets and groves are impermanent is the buddha nature; that humans and things, body and mind are impermanent — this is because they are the buddha nature. That the lands, mountains, and rivers are impermanent — this is the buddha nature. Annuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, because it is the buddha nature, is impermanent; the great parinirvāṇa, because it is impermanent, is the buddha nature. All those with the small views of the two vehicles and the tripiṭaka master teachers of the sūtras and treatises should be “alarmed, dubious, and frightened” at these words of the Sixth Ancestor. If they are alarmed and dubious, they are grouped with Māra and the aliens."

Also (with reference to a Zen story where Nagarjuna manifested the buddha-nature by appearing as full moon),

"Though the buddha nature has a “spacious clarity” that takes a “shape like” “the full moon,” it is not the case that it lines up with the “round moon form,” let alone that its “explanation” is “sound or sight,” or its “body manifesting” is form and mind, or the aggregates, fields, and elements. Even if we say it completely resembles the aggregates, fields, and elements, it is “showing by which”; it is “the body of the buddhas.” ... The buddha body is the body manifesting, has a buddha nature that is the body manifesting. Even the measure of a buddha or the measure of an ancestor that speaks of and understands it as the four major elements and five aggregates is the hurried act of the body manifesting. Since we have called them “the body of the buddhas,” the aggregates, fields, and elements are like this."
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby smcj » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:42 am

I suspect that there may be some apples and oranges being discussed here. The major Tibetan schools each have their own slightly different versions of Yogacara (a.k.a. Cittamatra) and Shentong, both of which are based on tatagatagharba teachings. The Chinese authors seem to have a different take on the subject(s), even if they are labeling it Yogacara. So I suspect that it will be possible to find conflicting quotes from different authorities on the subject.

My own perspective is based on contemporary Kagyu literature and that is almost exclusively what I quote from. My previous post saying that it was the 8th consciousness was from Khenpo Tsultrim R.'s "Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness" chapter on Yogacara. Being concise and clear, that is my most often quoted text on the subject. I know KT R.'s is one of Cone's teachers, so at best he and I are somewhat on the same page. At least I'd hope so, otherwise the great probability is that I've got it wrong!
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:30 am

I read on ZFI that the Lankavatara Sutra and the Yogacara sutras are actually very different in many particulars, even though they both talk in terms of 'mind only'.

As for me, I always stay with:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby smcj » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:38 am

I like this. It is a cut & paste from Astus' signature at the bottom of his posts.

"While teachers of the middle way, mind only, transcendent wisdom, mantra, and other schools may have their own assertions, the fulfillment of those intentions is the same. There is not a single thing that is not contained within mind."
(Gampopa to Düsum Khyenpa, in "The First Karmapa", KTD Pub, p 254)

As a Kagyu, if it was good enough for Gompopa & Dusem Khyenpa, it's good enough for me.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:45 am

Everything is sugatagarbha.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Koji » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:57 am

conebeckham wrote:Tathagatagarbha is not a Skandha. Nor is it within one of the aggregates. It is all-pervading. It may be more appropriate to think of the skandhas as residing within the Tathagatagarbha, in fact.....like stains on a piece of cloth.

It's also not correct to posit a Tathagatagarbha "beyond the Skandhas," as this just creates another conceptual seperation.

Uttaratantrashastra says:

"Just as at all times worlds arise
and disintegrate in space,
the senses arise and disintegrate
in the uncreated expanse.
***
Likewise skandhas elements and senses
are based upon karma and mental poisons.
Karma and poisons are always based
upon improper conceptual activity.
the improper conceptual activity
fully abides on the purity of mind.
Yet, the nature of the mind itself
has no basis in all these phenomena."
(From Buddha Nature, Snow Lion Pubs., p. 26-27)


I look at it this way. Imagine we are looking into the clouds and see a cloud formation that looks like a horse. Is the cloud, itself, beyond the image of a horse? The answer is, yes. Is our horse image the same as a cloud? The answer is no it isn't
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby cdpatton » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:39 am

Astus wrote:The Tiantai understanding of buddha-nature is also interesting, as it is used to cover the entire path as shown in this essay: T'ien-t'ai Chih-i's Concept of Threefold Buddha Nature - A Synergy of Reality, Wisdom, and Practice.


Chih-i understood that what was being discussed, ultimately, must be a process of becoming, not an definite entity, for tathagatagarbha to make any "real" (pun intended) sense in the context - for instance - of Nagarjuna and the Prajnaparamita. Like most of the Chinese exegetes, he was engaging in a Grand Unified Theory of Buddhism and trying to make it all come together. His inspiration, I believe, was a passage in the Lion's Roar chapter of the MPS that equates the garbha with the middle way. This he inserted between Nagarjuna's two truths to create three. (Or, is my memory fading ...?)

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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:39 am

I don't see the conflict.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Astus » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 am

This all-pervading buddha-nature reminds me of the Huayan teaching on the four dharmadhatus that end with the interpenetration of phenomena with phenomena, fully integrating relative and ultimate.

"First, [all] contain one to enter one.
Second, [all] contain all to enter one.
Third, [all] contain one to enter all.
Fourth, [all] contain all to enter all.
They simultaneously interpenetrate one another without obstruction or hindrance. ... This is to say that all and one are simultaneous. Setting both against each other, each has the two-fold headings and four sentences just introduced. They fuse into each other in a total manner without any obstruction as seen in other aforementioned principles."

(On The Meditation of Dharmadhātu)

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche also has a nice poem, that fits more into the 3rd dharmadhatu view (interpenetration of principle and phenomena): A Concise Explanation of Dharmadhatu Called: The Mind Itself—Dharmadhatu's Luminous Expanse
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby oushi » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:46 am

Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

"Don't know".
Say what you think about me here.
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Re: Which Skandha is Tathagatagarbha?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:15 am

[Queen Srimala Sutra] 8-9. The Dharmakaya and the Meaning of Void-ness
"Lord, the cessation of suffering is not the destruction of Dharma. Why so? Because the Dharmakaya of the Tathágata is named 'cessation of suffering,' and it is beginning-less, un-create, unborn, undying, free from death; permanent, steadfast, calm, eternal; intrinsically pure, free from all the defilement-store; and accompanied by Buddha natures more numerous than the sands of the Ganges, which are non-discrete, knowing as liberated, and inconceivable. This Dharmakaya of the Tathágata when not free from the store of defilement is referred to as the Tathágata-garbha.

so does the Dharmakaya of the Buddha have Skandha's?
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