Early Buddhism and Mahayana

General forum on Mahayana.

Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:44 pm

Malcolm wrote:Since the Sautrantikas strictly define nirvana as a cessation, a non-existence, would you deny them the claim they are Buddhist because they do not support your eternalist vision of nirvana?


My view of nirvana isn't eternalism. Eternalism is the belief that something among the aggregates and of the phenomenal world has eternal or permanent existence. From a commentary on the Udana:

They (eternalists) declare material form to be the self and the world, stating such to be not only the self and the world but also eternal; they declare sensation ... perception ... the formations ... consciousness to be the self and the world, stating such to be not only the self and the world but also eternal.

That which transcends time is timeless and unborn, not eternal in the sense of endless time.

Malcolm wrote:BTW, there are many people who think Dolpopa's view i.e. gzhan stong, is a corrupt view of Buddhadharma.


Let's use a different enlightened master then. Here is something from Huang Po, brackets are mine:

If an ordinary man, when he is about to die, could only see the five elements of consciousness as void; the four physical elements as not constituting an 'I'; the real Mind as formless and neither coming nor going; his nature as something neither commencing at his birth nor perishing at his death [contradicts Batchelor's materialist view], but as whole and motionless in its very depths; his Mind and environmental objects as one -- if he could really accomplish this, he would receive Enlightenment in a flash. He would no longer be entangled by the Triple World; he would be a World-Transcendor [contradicts Batchelor's materialist view]. He would be without even the faintest tendency towards rebirth. If he should behold the glorious sight of all the Buddhas coming to welcome him, surrounded by every kind of gorgeous manifestation, he would feel no desire to approach them. If he should behold all sorts of horrific forms surrounding him, he would experience no terror. He would just be himself, oblivious of conceptual thought and one with the Absolute. He would have attained the state of unconditioned being [contradicts Batchelor's materialist view]. This, then is the fundamental principle.

Malcolm wrote:So there are two things which are not mentioned in the four seals: belief in rebirth, and belief in a transcendent existent nirvana.


The fourth seal is that of nirvana, which isn't to be found in materialism.

Malcolm wrote:What we need to understand about Batchelor, for example, and many Westerners like him, is that they are trying.


Yes, trying to corrupt Buddhism and turn it into a form of secular-atheistic materialism, going so far as making claims that teachings Buddha preached and all Buddhists have accepted historically are superstitions. Why not just create your own secular philosophy influenced by Buddhism rather than trying to claim your perversion of Buddhism is in fact Buddhism as Batchelor has done? Though I suppose such forms of "Buddhism" can be expected to manifest in this advanced period of the Dharma-Ending age.

Malcolm wrote:Buddhadharma is not about belief and faith.


While it is true that Buddhism is based on direct experience, most Buddhist masters I've read emphasize the need for faith in the possibility of enlightenment and the efficacy of the Buddhist path in order to be successful.

Malcolm wrote:So now, Buddhists, you have to make room for a new understanding of Dharma, one that does not include rebirth as a vital central principle. It won't kill you to be generous.


Accepting materialism (nihilism) posing as Buddhism as a new understanding of Dharma isn't generous but erroneous and harmful.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:17 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:
That which transcends time is timeless and unborn, not eternal in the sense of endless time.


Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist. If you propose it exists, your view is no different than Hindus who believe in a permanent, unborn purusha.

Malcolm wrote:BTW, there are many people who think Dolpopa's view i.e. gzhan stong, is a corrupt view of Buddhadharma.


Let's use a different enlightened master then. Here is something from Huang Po, brackets are mine:


One, I am not sure that translation you are using is reliable. Two, there are a lot of people who have a big problem with the "true self" and "one mind" language and so on that exists in Zen -- who see it as again, crypto -Advaita.




The fourth seal is that of nirvana, which isn't to be found in materialism.


The fourth seal is merely that nirvana is peaceful. As we have seen, there are all kinds of Buddhist understandings of nirvana -- many of which flat out contradict each other. Moreover, the fourth seal does not exist in Theravada, it is a Mahāyāna interpolation.

Malcolm wrote:What we need to understand about Batchelor, for example, and many Westerners like him, is that they are trying.


Yes, trying to corrupt Buddhism and turn it into a form of secular-atheistic materialism, going so far as making claims that teachings Buddha preached and all Buddhists have accepted historically are superstitions.


Buddhists for centuries have accused other Buddhists of "corrupting" the Dharma and indulging in superstitions. Still, you would accept Vajrayāna practitioners as Buddhists, no? How about Mahāyāna Buddhists -- they have many things that could be labeled "superstitions" by Thervavadins, for example. Buddhists have accused each of false beliefs and incorrect interpretations for centuries.

At the end of the day however, eventually these new heretical Buddhist trends become accepted and canonized.


While it is true that Buddhism is based on direct experience, most Buddhist masters I've read emphasize the need for faith in the possibility of enlightenment and the efficacy of the Buddhist path in order to be successful.


What you need is sraddha which is defined as mental clarity. You need the mental clarity to understand that exploring the Buddha's teachings will help you end your own suffering in this life.


Malcolm wrote:
Accepting materialism (nihilism) posing as Buddhism as a new understanding of Dharma isn't generous but erroneous and harmful.


You are merely flinging around a reactionary term you have not defined. What kind of materialist is Batchelor: money, cars and sex? Is he a dialectical materialist?

There is nothing in Batchelor's writings to indicate that he has decided that consciousness is solely a result of material interactions. Merely that he has personally abandoned all metaphysical speculations about rebirth and such questions, and feels that in the context of Buddha's teaching of anatman, Buddha's accounts of rebirth are largely mythological, generated with respect the milieu Buddha was teaching in. I think he even grants that Buddha may have believed these stories. But his point, one to which I now agree, is that the practice of Buddhadharma does not depend on accepting the Jatakas as literally true, or accepting the Buddha's account as having been the first human king in a past life, and so on.

That being said, I imagine that Batchelor probably is a physicalist, but that is different than being a materialist.

Batchelor generally says a perfectly respectable thing: consciousnesses arise based on specific conditions. When you study Abhidharma you will discover that in Abhidharma (as well as Madhyamaka in general) claim that without a sense organ and a sense object, a consciousness cannot arise. It is never said that without a consciousness and a sense organ, the object won't arise, or that the without the sense object, the sense organ won't arise. All these texts clearly state that a consciousness arises only when there is a functioning sense organ and a sense object. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to assert in the context of Buddhism.

So this is another area in which you attempt at blackballing Batchelor fails utterly.

So I can either blackball you for having an eternalist view of nirvana and blackball Batchelor for not accepting the doctrine of rebirth literally or I can be expansive and understand that even though you both suffer from some wrong views, you both are still within the Buddhadharma.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist. If you propose it exists, your view is no different than Hindus who believe in a permanent, unborn purusha.


It is not an existent to be found somewhere phenomenally. It is beyond existence and non-existence. Of course on an ultimate level it is beyond words and concepts.

Malcolm wrote:The fourth seal is merely that nirvana is peaceful. As we have seen, there are all kinds of Buddhist understandings of nirvana -- many of which flat out contradict each other. Moreover, the fourth seal does not exist in Theravada, it is a Mahāyāna interpolation.


Yes, and if the material world is all that exists, then dukkha is all there is. Nirvana won't be found holding the view that Batchelor has as mentioned in the interview a few posts back, and if somehow it were, I guarantee that the one who awakened will repudiate his former materialist views.

Malcolm wrote:Buddhists for centuries have accused other Buddhists of "corrupting" the Dharma and indulging in superstitions. Still, you would accept Vajrayāna practitioners as Buddhists, no? How about Mahāyāna Buddhists -- they have many things that could be labeled "superstitions" by Thervavadins, for example. Buddhists have accused each of false beliefs and incorrect interpretations for centuries.


All those Buddhists you mentioned accepted that the goal of Buddhism is to transcend the wheel of birth and death, which Batchelor denies. None of them were materialists either. I think this article by B. Alan Wallace sums Batchelor up quite well:

http://mandala.fpmt.org/archives/mandal ... d-atheist/

From the above article:

To draw a parallel, communist regimes that are bent on destroying Buddhism from the face of the earth may be called the far enemies of Buddhism, for they are diametrically opposed to all that Buddhism stands for. Batchelor and Harris, on the other hand, present themselves as being sympathetic to Buddhism, but their visions of the nature of the Buddha’s teachings are false facsimiles of all those that have been handed down reverently from one generation to the next since the time of the Buddha. However benign their intentions, their writings may be regarded as “near enemies” of Buddhism.

Wallace also gives a nice critique of materialism and why Buddhism isn't materialism in this video, which I think everyone, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, should watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Yx75ppXO60

Malcolm wrote:You are merely flinging around a reactionary term you have not defined. What kind of materialist is Batchelor: money, cars and sex? Is he a dialectical materialist?


As defined by twentieth century philosophers William James and Alfred North Whitehead, for instance, scientific materialism is the belief that physical reality, as made available to the natural sciences, is all that truly exist.

What Batchelor stated in the interview previously also touches on what is meant by the term.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby PorkChop » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:59 pm

Indrajala wrote:I think Pure Land Buddhism would be seen as rather alien to the early Buddhists, especially Shinran's ideas.


On the contrary, I would think most Pure Land would be seen as completely consistent with early Buddhist householder practice - buddhanussati/buddhanusmrti (mindfulness of the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Devas that the Buddha taught Mahanama), circumnambulation of an object in veneration (in this case, a representation of a Buddha instead of a stupa) - which the Buddha was all about for householders in the MahaPariNibbana Sutra, a focus on Pure Abodes/Pure Lands for non-returners - like in the Sekhin Sutta... Sure the sutras are a little different in Pure Land from what was probably around early on, but the teachings are the same (dharma seals, 37 limbs of enlightenment, faith, practice, etc, etc), and everyone forgets that the Kalama Sutta explicitly warns against blind faith in scripture - rely on the meaning don't grasp at the words. You gotta figure if these similar practices are showing up in the Buddhism of South Asia, West Asia, and East Asia, then they probably have a common root. Even in Shinran's defense, he starts with faith and uses it to abandon doubt, abandon a view of self, and he's probably one of the best at abandoning rites and rituals - all completely consistent with stream entry. It's not like Shinran was encouraging antinomian behavior either.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:08 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist. If you propose it exists, your view is no different than Hindus who believe in a permanent, unborn purusha.


It is not an existent to be found somewhere phenomenally. It is beyond existence and non-existence. Of course on an ultimate level it is beyond words and concepts.


Something beyond existence and non-existence is a non-existent by definition.




Malcolm wrote:The fourth seal is merely that nirvana is peaceful. As we have seen, there are all kinds of Buddhist understandings of nirvana -- many of which flat out contradict each other. Moreover, the fourth seal does not exist in Theravada, it is a Mahāyāna interpolation.


Yes, and if the material world is all that exists, then dukkha is all there is. Nirvana won't be found holding the view that Batchelor has as mentioned in the interview a few posts back, and if somehow it were, I guarantee that the one who awakened will repudiate his former materialist views.


You still have not adequately addressed even a single point I have brought up. Your reasoning is flawed, BTW. Nirvana is merely the cessation of afflictive patterning aka dukkha.



Malcolm wrote:Buddhists for centuries have accused other Buddhists of "corrupting" the Dharma and indulging in superstitions. Still, you would accept Vajrayāna practitioners as Buddhists, no? How about Mahāyāna Buddhists -- they have many things that could be labeled "superstitions" by Thervavadins, for example. Buddhists have accused each of false beliefs and incorrect interpretations for centuries.


All those Buddhists you mentioned accepted that the goal of Buddhism is to transcend the wheel of birth and death, which Batchelor denies.


No, Batchelor accepts that the goal of Buddhism as taught by the Buddha is to transcend birth and death. He also thinks that Buddhism has other, more immediate goals, like living a mindful ethical life based on the eight fold path. What he refuses to do is be drawn into metaphysical debates about such questions as rebirth.


However benign their intentions, their writings may be regarded as “near enemies” of Buddhism.


I think this is just polemics, just as wrongheaded as your fatwas.


Malcolm wrote:You are merely flinging around a reactionary term you have not defined. What kind of materialist is Batchelor: money, cars and sex? Is he a dialectical materialist?


As defined by twentieth century philosophers William James and Alfred North Whitehead, for instance, scientific materialism is the belief that physical reality, as made available to the natural sciences, is all that truly exist.

What Batchelor stated in the interview previously also touches on what is meant by the term.


I don't think you can pin Batchelor down that easily.

Basically, all you have demonstrated in this thread is that you cannot prove that Bachelor views are in contradiction to three of the most basic tenets of Buddhadharma:

all conditioned things are impermanent
all defiled things are suffering
everything lacks a self.

Batchelor accepts the four noble truths:

suffering
cause
cessation
and the path.

He just does not do so in a way that is appealing to Buddhist dogmatists.

Look, I have argued your side of this before and at length and in detail. But it is a losing argument — why? Because there are many things in many Buddhist teachings that have been regarded as heretical by someone.

The fact is, and you are just going to have to accept it — is that there are a large number of people out there who practice Zen and Vipassana who nevertheless do not accept rebirth. There are even many Nicherin Buddhists who deny that rebirth is a fact. When you take this hard position that "this is the really the teaching of the Buddha" you put yourself in a corner. The strength of the Dharma lies in the fact that it is a method of discovering the truth. We don't lay out the truth in the beginning and say "this is what you must confirm in order to be considered a Buddhist." If this were the case, we could not even have the discussion "Early Buddhism and Mahāyāna". Why? Because the Mahāyāna Buddhists themselves introduced heresies into Buddhism, heresies clearly defined in Abhidharma literatures. Then we have the heresies of Vajrayāna. Then Dzogchen. Then Bon. Then Nicherin Buddhism. Then Chan, Zen, etc.

All we can do really is say "That person's Buddhism is not for me". For example, your eternalist disposition is not for me. I am sure that Dzogchen is not to your liking. So what? Some people like Batchelor's "metaphysics free" approach. They would not even explore Buddhadharma otherwise.

We all have ignorance. All of our views are limited. Even the most perfect mental model of how things are is not how things are. This is why it is more useful to focus on the methods of Dharma and discover for ourselves what we can perceive and what we can infer. We really ought not be telling people like Batchelor that they have no right to call themselves Buddhist. It opens up oneself to the same charge. Our conceptual map is not really that relevant to our practice unless it is causing us suffering and preventing us from practicing. I don't think that practicing Dharma has much to do with our conceptual beliefs. Everyone wants to wake up. How is demonizing Batchelor helping you or anyone else given that you are no more an authority than he is, or Wallace, or me?

As far as I can tell, you don't understand Batchelor's point of view very well. I think it comes from his training in Korean Zen. He is putting it out there that there are many questions the answers to which he does not know and does not feel anyone can know without claiming special knowledge. I respect that position. It is really honest. There is a lot of dishonesty in religious discourse. People claiming as truths things they have merely heard or read and not personally experienced is the essence of dishonesty. This is why I find the polemics against Batchelor incredibly dishonest. Not one person who is criticizing Batchelor has any personal experience or realization of these so called "truths" they are enunciating.

For example, in his book Heartwood, Bhikku Buddhadassa completely rejects literal rebirth as a fiction of the Abhidhammists. Are you going to say that Buddhadassa is not a Buddhist? He says elsewhere:

    If we use the Kalama Sutta and the Four Criteria, we can strictly apply the Buddha's principle to choose the right things from layers upon layers of garbage. This is not to say that all of the essays and canons are useless, but that the Buddha's principle must be strictly applied to find the right explanations. According to the Four Criteria, anything that is not in accord with the Doctrine [dhamma] and Discipline [vinaya] should be considered as erroneous hearing, memory, speech, and teaching. The doctrine of dependent origination is primarily intended to abolish the concept of a continuing existence and nihilism. Therefore, if the teaching of the doctrine involves man’s transmigration in three lifetimes, then it is unacceptable in accordance with the Four Criteria.
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... uppada.htm

So you see, there are a lot of people, intelligent people, who feel that we can interpret Buddha's teaching in such a way that even proposing literal rebirth is actually opposed to Buddha's intention! But of course, according to you, they are not Buddhist.
Last edited by Malcolm on Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:22 pm

To be honest, I am tired of debating you so I won't continue the debate any further. If you wish to take that as triumph, feel free to do so. However, I think that article by B. Alan Wallace sums up quite nicely why Batchelorism isn't Buddhism, so I will let that do the talking for me. That said, I must ask, is your personal Buddhism based entirely on philosophy or have you had any direct experience? I ask because if you had any direct experience, I am not sure how you could possibly defend Batchelor, which isn't to say that I think he is defensible purely from a philosophical or doctrinal understanding of Buddhism either.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:30 pm

I maintain that the principles of karma and transmigration (the appearance, disappearance and reappearance in different forms) are irreducible tenets of the Buddha's teaching, to be found in the higher, lower, "earlier and later" teachings with total consistency.
I don't think it's debatable, the words of the sutras are what they are.
To deny this is to slander the Buddha, by the Buddha's own definition : "One who claims the Thus Come One did not say what he said slanders the Thus Come One."
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:43 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Vidyaraja wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Your Buddhism is not his Buddhism, that is all you can say.


If his atheistic-materialism (nihilism) is Buddhism, anything can be Buddhism, thus rendering the appellation "Buddhism" a meaningless term.


He feels his story is squarely grounded in the Buddha's teachings. You feel yours is. You are both interested in liberation from suffering. All that separates the two of you is that you are substance dualist and he is a physicalist. Oh, and he will readily call you a Buddhist, but you deny him (as I have in the past) the same decency -- that's another difference.

M



This is a really good point Malcolm, thanks.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:45 pm

dude wrote:I maintain that the principles of karma and transmigration (the appearance, disappearance and reappearance in different forms) are irreducible tenets of the Buddha's teaching, to be found in the higher, lower, "earlier and later" teachings with total consistency.
I don't think it's debatable, the words of the sutras are what they are.
To deny this is to slander the Buddha, by the Buddha's own definition : "One who claims the Thus Come One did not say what he said slanders the Thus Come One."


Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Batchelor is very much in tune with Buddhadassa's interpretation of emptiness and selflessness.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:48 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:To be honest, I am tired of debating you so I won't continue the debate any further. If you wish to take that as triumph, feel free to do so. However, I think that article by B. Alan Wallace sums up quite nicely why Batchelorism isn't Buddhism, so I will let that do the talking for me. That said, I must ask, is your personal Buddhism based entirely on philosophy or have you had any direct experience? I ask because if you had any direct experience, I am not sure how you could possibly defend Batchelor, which isn't to say that I think he is defensible purely from a philosophical or doctrinal understanding of Buddhism either.


I am defending Batchelor based on the principle that Buddha's Dharma robe was cobbled together from patches of rags -- which represents his disciples, and their inability to agree with each other in the future.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby cloudburst » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Vidyaraja wrote:
That which transcends time is timeless and unborn, not eternal in the sense of endless time.


Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist. If you propose it exists, your view is no different than Hindus who believe in a permanent, unborn purusha.


This is not correct, the unborn does exist, and the great Madhyamikas including Buddha affirm this.

Chandrakirti says in the Avatarabhyasa

Chandrakirti wrote:"What is this "reality?" It is the nature of things such as these eyes. And what is their nature? It is that in them which is neither fabricated nor dependent upon something else; it is their identity as known by knowledge free from the impairment of ignorance. Does it exist or not? If it did not exist, for what purpose would the bodhisattvas undergo hundreds of hardships in order to know reality?"


If something completely non-existent is proposed to exist one would be similar to a Hindu as described above, but unborn just means empty, and empty appearances of course DO exist nominally. Unborn means not produced ultimately, but obviously this are conventionally produced. This is incontrovertibly attested to by Buddha, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti etc. This is an important point.

Malcolm wrote:What we need to understand about Batchelor, for example, and many Westerners like him, is that they are trying.


Agree. He is teaching wrong views in the midst of a Buddhist presentation, and that is exactly what Buddha did on many occasions. Teaching interpretative views is helpful to those for whom they are intended, and leads them along the correct path.

I think you are wrong, Malcolm, in saying that he is teaching a profound skepticism. He actually sneers and scoffs at the notion of rebirth, and I think much of what he says is harmful. All interpretative views are meant to be refuted by higher views, and eventually by definitive views, so I think we can accept Batchelor as a Buddhist while refuting his incorrect views.

SB - ...And another camp, which would include, obviously, people like myself, who I would maybe portray as more liberal, more secular in orientation, who have exactly the opposite problem—mainly, they cannot conceive of a Buddhist practice or at least an intelligible Buddhist practice, having to incorporate what looks to them, but looks to me, like an antiquated, pre-modern belief.

On one hand he says "actually, I don't KNOW..." but then goes on to say its utterly implausible. So really he is an agnostic only in the weak sense that any of us must be forced to admit we are agnostic about the existence of talking snakes..... we must admit, we don't know.... but it's not something we're going to take seriously.

Malcolm wrote:There is nothing in Batchelor's writings to indicate that he has decided that consciousness is solely a result of material interactions.


He basically has, I think. he dances around it, and makes sure to be philosophically correct, but then says "given what we now know about the brain.... I mean, come on..." (this is not a real quote, but something very like what he says in Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist).

If anyone really wants to have this debate, I'm up for it, ( should be moved to another thread, I think) but I think its evident if you read Batchelor, he does actively deny rebirth. This means he denies any meaningful interpretation of karma, and also the existence of course of other realms. So in the Batchelordharma, there are no thoughts that turn the mind, no future worlds, no renunciation of samsara since it has been incorrectly identified, no bodhicitta etc..., its a travesty.

On the other hand, if he wants to call himself a Buddhist, I think that's fine. But I also think it is important that his wrong vies be publicly savaged so that those who have the propensity will not be taken in by this nonsense. Let it benefit those for whom it is beneficial.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:04 pm

cloudburst wrote:This is an important point.


You just proved my point, since Vidyārāja was talking about "ultimately" Nirvana is beyond existence and non-existence. He was not playing into your Gelug "Great Madhyamaka" game where emptiness [an absence] exists conventionally.

I think you are wrong, Malcolm, in saying that he is teaching a profound skepticism. He actually sneers and scoffs at the notion of rebirth, and I think much of what he says is harmful. All interpretative views are meant to be refuted by higher views, and eventually by definitive views, so I think we can accept Batchelor as a Buddhist while refuting his incorrect views.


I never said his skepticism was profound, just that he was skeptical. My point exactly is that we can accept someone as a Buddhist, even if we vehemently disagree with their views even on fundamental principles.

If anyone really wants to have this debate, I'm up for it, ( should be moved to another thread, I think) but I think its evident if you read Batchelor, he does actively deny rebirth. This means he denies any meaningful interpretation of karma, and also the existence of course of other realms. So in the Batchelordharma, there are no thoughts that turn the mind, no future worlds, no renunciation of samsara since it has been incorrectly identified, no bodhicitta etc..., its a travesty.


His is a very narrow, selective interpretation of early Buddhism. But he is still a Buddhist, and that was my point.

Let it benefit those for whom it is beneficial.


Its a waste of time, actually. All it does is convince one's own disciples.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:10 pm

Malcolm wrote:
dude wrote:I maintain that the principles of karma and transmigration (the appearance, disappearance and reappearance in different forms) are irreducible tenets of the Buddha's teaching, to be found in the higher, lower, "earlier and later" teachings with total consistency.
I don't think it's debatable, the words of the sutras are what they are.
To deny this is to slander the Buddha, by the Buddha's own definition : "One who claims the Thus Come One did not say what he said slanders the Thus Come One."


Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Batchelor is very much in tune with Buddhadassa's interpretation of emptiness and selflessness.


Then they should explain what they mean. What I've seen so far from proponents of this line of thinking is not only unsatisfactory, it's absurd.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:16 pm

Malcolm wrote:Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Honestly, has this point ever been definitively clarified by the tradition? Malcolm you say you accept rebirth. How do you define and explain it?
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:20 pm

dude wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
dude wrote:I maintain that the principles of karma and transmigration (the appearance, disappearance and reappearance in different forms) are irreducible tenets of the Buddha's teaching, to be found in the higher, lower, "earlier and later" teachings with total consistency.
I don't think it's debatable, the words of the sutras are what they are.
To deny this is to slander the Buddha, by the Buddha's own definition : "One who claims the Thus Come One did not say what he said slanders the Thus Come One."


Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Batchelor is very much in tune with Buddhadassa's interpretation of emptiness and selflessness.


Then they should explain what they mean. What I've seen so far from proponents of this line of thinking is not only unsatisfactory, it's absurd.


You should read the link to Buddhadasa's teaching. He explains his point of view very clearly. I don't agree with him, but I am not going exile him from Buddhist intellectual history.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:21 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Honestly, has this point ever been definitively clarified by the tradition? Malcolm you say you accept rebirth. How do you define and explain it?


That's my objection as well. If it's a "technical term," what does it really mean?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby cloudburst » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:23 pm

Malcolm wrote:
cloudburst wrote:This is an important point.


You just proved my point, since Vidyārāja was talking about "ultimately" Nirvana is beyond existence and non-existence.


I was not responding to Vidyārāja, but to your error in saying that "Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist."

Malcolm wrote:He was not playing into your Gelug "Great Madhyamaka" game where emptiness [an absence] exists conventionally.


Actually, this is an Indian Madhaymaka "game," intially. See my quote above where Chandrakirti explicitly disagrees with you. I have not cited Gelug claims as I know they are not accepted as authoritative by you. You ignore them the same way I take with a grain of salt quotations from Dzogchen tantras etc. I have citied Indiam Madhayaikas, and as usual, your approach will be to try to ignore.

Malcolm wrote: But he is still a Buddhist, and that was my point.

yes, I am essentially agreeing with you on this one.

Malcolm wrote:
cloudburst wrote:Let it benefit those for whom it is beneficial.

Its a waste of time, actually. All it does is convince one's own disciples.

Sorry, this is a little unclear. What is it that you are saying is a waste of time? Refuting incorrect views?

It's a pleasure to see you posting again, btw. Hope your time away has been fruitful.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:26 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Well, not one person, even Batchelor, denies that Buddha talked about rebirth. There is a lot of disagreement over the what he meant when he did talk about it. For example, Buddhadassa's point of view is that we have to separate what "rebirth" means as a technical term in Dharma, as opposed to what it means in every day speech, asserting that to interpret rebirth as in every day language is violently at odds with the Buddha's real intention. As I mentioned above, Pudgalavadins claimed there is an inexpressible self responsible for transmigration. Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Honestly, has this point ever been definitively clarified by the tradition? Malcolm you say you accept rebirth. How do you define and explain it?


I understand the mechanism of rebirth in a couple of ways. First, the habit of grasping a non-existent self leads to the appropriation of aggregates in which a self cannot be found. This non-existent self can function as an agent and recipient of karma.

The second has to do with tantric anatomy and principles.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:36 pm

Malcolm wrote:Jamgon Kongtrul sees clear light or luminosity as the kernal which transmigrates and so on.

Was that his view? Based on the discussion here:
vajracakra.com/viewtopic.php?f=57&t=697
it seems that he thought that was the view of Mantra, but that it was not his final view.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:40 pm

I understand the mechanism of rebirth in a couple of ways. First, the habit of grasping a non-existent self leads to the appropriation of aggregates in which a self cannot be found. This non-existent self can function as an agent and recipient of karma.

The second has to do with tantric anatomy and principles.[/quote]

The existence or non-existence of a "self" and what the Buddha meant by the term self is a whole other issue, and I reject this as not being anything like a reasonable explanation.
The issue is : did the Buddha teach that living beings undergo the cycle of birth and death, and if not, what do the passages that appear to say so really mean?

I've already read Buddhasasa in the past, and yes I say he's no more a Buddhist than Batchelor is.
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