Three Turnings.

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Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:56 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:I have shown where the Buddhas says the 5 aggregates are suffering.


Of course they are, but there are also pure aggregates.

You mentioned the Diamond Sutra.....well the Diamond sutra is provisional the third turning deems all 1st and second turning to be provisional,only glimmers of the absolute truth can be found in the provisional teachings and even then they rely on interpretation from the third turning,now if you ask me to prove that with Buddhist scriptural reference I can.......im only you to do the same with your assertions.


There is really only one reference to the three turnings of the wheel in a single sutra. The Samdhinirmocana. The way I read the Samdhinirmocana is that it confirms the teaching found in the second turning and renders it indisputable.

The Bhagavan, well disclosing the correct entry into all vehicles, beginning from the nonexistence of the inherent existence of all phenomena, beginning from their absence of arising, absence of ceasing, being peaceful from the beginning, being parinirvana by nature, turned a third very amazing wheel of Dharma. This wheel of Dharma is unsurpassable, not circumstantial, of definitive meaning and indisputable.

This is hardly a smoking gun that confirms that you are basing your opinions on the so called third turning. Frankly, there is virtually no attention this teaching in the Indian canon, though a big deal about it is made in Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism. The idea that the three turnings are based on three distinct historical epochs is rejected out of hand by such India scholars as Dharmamitra in his Abhisamayālaṃkārakārikāprajñāpāramitopadeśaśāstraṭīkā prasphuṭapadā.



http://ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Exalted-Utterances/8-Pataligamiyavaggo-03.htm
“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”


By your own criteria this is provisional since it comes from the first turning.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:30 pm

“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”


How could such a statement be 'provisional'? Wouldn't that then be a 'conditioned unconditioned'?

I think it is much more straightforward to read this text literally, i.e. there is an unmade, unconditioned....

It is not an equivocal statement. Actually it is an 'utterance' or an 'exclamation' of a mystical insight, as are some of the other 'utterances' (for instance the Pabhassara Sutta. It might be interpreted as an indication that there are various layers or levels of teachings from the very earliest texts, some more mystical than others, which anticipate the later developments of the prajnaparamita and yogacara. This is the case put by Peter Harvey in an essay called Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha.

So perhaps the three 'turnings' are later elaborations of ideas that were actually present in the teachings from the outset, which different audiences or listeners were prone to interpret in different ways. The Samdhinirmocana Sutra sought to bring an end to the equivocations and disputes around these different doctrinal positions by showing they were all part of a higher unity of vision, in other words, providing the 'definitive interpretation'.
Last edited by Wayfarer on Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:42 pm

jeeprs wrote:
“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”


How could such a statement be 'provisional'? Wouldn't that then be a 'conditioned unconditioned'?



...Not sure you got my point. If one claims the "third turning" is definitive, defines it as a number of sutras like the Saṃdhinirmocana and so on, and then you cite a "first" turning sūtra, you have contradicted yourself.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:44 pm

Malcolm wrote:
http://ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Exalted-Utterances/8-Pataligamiyavaggo-03.htm
“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”

By your own criteria this is provisional since it comes from the first turning.

I don't particularly care about the "three turnings" scheme but may I ask what your take on this passage is?
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:58 pm

Malcolm wrote:If one claims the "third turning" is definitive, defines it as a number of sutras like the Saṃdhinirmocana and so on, and then you cite a "first" turning sūtra, you have contradicted yourself.


Not necessarily. It might be the case that the so-called 'later' teachings unpack or explicate deeper meanings that were inherent in the earliest texts. That is why Nagarjuna could say that he was affirming the true meaning of the Buddha's teaching, even though to many of his contemporaries he seemed to be radical (well that is a point made in many of the scholarly studies of early Mahayana anyway.) But that is because the Buddha's teaching, right from the outset, was vast, profound, difficult to fathom, deep and perceptible only to the wise. It accomodates many different kinds of perspectives. So in some ways you can see as the tradition developed, there was the attempt to harmonize some of these perspectives, whilst not claiming that the later ones conflicted with or undermined the earlier. (//edit//although of course from the viewpoint of the traditionalists, the so-called 'later turnings' were simply ways to rationalize heterodoxy.)


('Unborn, unconditioned' comes from Nibbana Sutta.)
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:16 am

jeeprs wrote:
Malcolm wrote:If one claims the "third turning" is definitive, defines it as a number of sutras like the Saṃdhinirmocana and so on, and then you cite a "first" turning sūtra, you have contradicted yourself.


Not necessarily. It might be the case that the so-called 'later' teachings unpack or explicate deeper meanings that were inherent in the earliest texts. That is why Nagarjuna could say that he was affirming the true meaning of the Buddha's teaching, even though to many of his contemporaries he seemed to be radical (well that is a point made in many of the scholarly studies of early Mahayana anyway.) But that is because the Buddha's teaching, right from the outset, was vast, profound, difficult to fathom, deep and perceptible only to the wise. It accomodates many different kinds of perspectives. So in some ways you can see as the tradition developed, there was the attempt to harmonize some of these perspectives, whilst not claiming that the later ones conflicted with or undermined the earlier. (//edit//although of course from the viewpoint of the traditionalists, the so-called 'later turnings' were simply ways to rationalize heterodoxy.)


('Unborn, unconditioned' comes from Nibbana Sutta.)


You are missing my point again, the gzhan stong pas like SOB, generally assert that Buddha's career had three distinct phases.

Maitreyanatha rejects this interpretation and asserts that all three turnings were turned at the same time.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:46 am

"In the country of Benares at Rsipatana in the Deer Park, the World-honored One first turned the wheel of doctrine, [teaching] the four holy truths for those setting out in the word-hearers' vehicle. This turning of the wheel was marvelous and wonderful, such as nobody, whether gods or men, had been able to turn in the world before. Nevertheless there were superior teachings, for [this first turning] had to be interpreted and occasioned controversy. Then the World-honored One with an underlying intent turned the wheel for the second time for the sake of those setting out in the great vehicle, [teaching] that all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation. This turning of the wheel was marvelous and wonderful indeed. Nevertheless there were teachings superior to this, for it also had to be interpreted and occasioned controversy. The World-honored One then with an explicit meaning for the third time turned the wheel of doctrine for those setting out in all the vehicles, [teaching] that all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation. This turning was the most marvelous and wonderful that had ever occurred in the world. It had no superior nor did it contain any implicit meaning nor occasion any controversy."
(Samdhinirmocana Sutra, ch 5, p 49; tr. Keenan, BDK edition)

So, to sum up the teachings of the three turnings:

1. four holy truths for those setting out in the word-hearers' vehicle
2. all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation
3. all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation

The definitions of the second and third turnings are identical.

The same sutra also answers the question about the nature of the unconditioned.

"Good son, the term 'unconditioned' is also a word provisionally invented by the First Teacher. Now, if the First Teacher provisionally invented this word, then it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination. And, if it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination, then, in the final analysis, such an imagined description does not validate a real thing. Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist."
(ch 2, p 12)
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:56 am

Astus wrote:Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist."[/i]


Indeed, and there goes gzhan stong up in smoke hoisted on its own petard.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:24 am

Malcolm wrote:
Astus wrote:Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist."[/i]


Indeed, and there goes gzhan stong up in smoke hoisted on its own petard.


Hahaha your joking right :mrgreen:

Might want to re-read that quote.

"Good son, the term 'unconditioned' is also a word provisionally invented by the First Teacher. Now, if the First Teacherprovisionally invented this word, then it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination.
And, if it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination, then, in the final analysis, such an imagined description does not validate a real thing.
Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist." (ch 2, p 12)


all this quote is saying is that ALL words are provisional they are not absolute and all words themselves are a Samsaric invention and are not the ultimate.

This is actually a very basic Zen view which is Enlightenment is outside of invented words themselves.

The MEANING of unconditioned however is not put into question only the provisional word/words themselves that are used to describe that meaning.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:39 am

all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation


Even though this is something that is said a lot, I don't really understand what it means.

(I *think* there is a similarity to the early Greek philosophers, specifically Parmenides [and Zeno's paradoxes which were intended as proofs of Parmenedis], which originated from around the same historical time. Parmenides also was concerned with 'what truly is', in comparison to which the 'phenomenal' did not truly exist.

How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown.

B 8.20-22. )

So I would be very interested to hear an explanation of what this phrase actually means in terms of modern or analytical philosophy. When it is declared that things are 'not arisen', this doesn't seem to account for the fact that things - creatures, trees, mountains, planets, and so on - actually do 'arise' or come into and then go out of existence. So what does it mean that they don't really arise?

Any supplementary readings on that, preferably from a 'Buddhist studies', rather than traditional, perspective?
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:15 am

jeeprs wrote:
all things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent, and are essentially in cessation


Even though this is something that is said a lot, I don't really understand what it means.

(I *think* there is a similarity to the early Greek philosophers, specifically Parmenides [and Zeno's paradoxes which were intended as proofs of Parmenedis], which originated from around the same historical time. Parmenides also was concerned with 'what truly is', in comparison to which the 'phenomenal' did not truly exist.

How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown.

B 8.20-22. )

So I would be very interested to hear an explanation of what this phrase actually means in terms of modern or analytical philosophy. When it is declared that things are 'not arisen', this doesn't seem to account for the fact that things - creatures, trees, mountains, planets, and so on - actually do 'arise' or come into and then go out of existence. So what does it mean that they don't really arise?

Any supplementary readings on that, preferably from a 'Buddhist studies', rather than traditional, perspective?


They seem to, but not really.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:43 am

which, I think, is the metaphysical distinction between appearance and reality, between 'what seems to be' and 'what is'.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:05 am

But, whereas in Western metaphysics, the distinction is between 'truly existing essence/substance' and 'mere appearance', in Buddhism 'what is real' is 'just this' - but only when 'this' is seen properly. Normally cognition is skewed by clinging/aversion/indifference so things are not seen as they really are due to inherent and beginningless avidya.

So the phenomenal world exists, but everything in it is transient, unsatisfying and empty (sunya). However this doesn’t mean that the natural world is to be rejected or scorned, but renounced, let go; when it is no longer burdened with the imputed meanings that are attached to it on account of attachment to it, it is perceived in its suchness, tathata, as an aspect of boundless Reality. That is the basis of the equation of samsara with nirvana: what the ignorant perceive as samsara due to their clinging, the awakened perceive as nirvana due to non-attachment. 'Samsara is nirvana grasped, nirvana is samsara released' (as per this slide).

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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby xabir » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:54 am

jeeprs wrote:So I would be very interested to hear an explanation of what this phrase actually means in terms of modern or analytical philosophy. When it is declared that things are 'not arisen', this doesn't seem to account for the fact that things - creatures, trees, mountains, planets, and so on - actually do 'arise' or come into and then go out of existence. So what does it mean that they don't really arise?

Just like no matter what images appear on the movie or in a dream it will never amount to anything more than an appearance, without anything that truly come into existence. Look into a mirror, a dependently arising reflection... is anything created, originated, abiding, and going? Does anything truly come into existence in the mirror and then later ceases to exist or is there ever merely an appearance? It is not that things are mental projections (like literally an imagination or a dream) but that they are dependent arising.. what dependently originates is empty and nonarising appearance, completely equivalent to reflections, dreams, movies, etc.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:46 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Malcolm wrote:If one claims the "third turning" is definitive, defines it as a number of sutras like the Saṃdhinirmocana and so on, and then you cite a "first" turning sūtra, you have contradicted yourself.


Not necessarily.


Necessarily, since your criteria would then be based on the teachings career of the Buddha.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:48 pm

jeeprs wrote:
So the phenomenal world exists, but everything in it is transient, unsatisfying and empty (sunya).



This is not a Mahāyāna point of view.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby kirtu » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:
jeeprs wrote:
So the phenomenal world exists, but everything in it is transient, unsatisfying and empty (sunya).



This is not a Mahāyāna point of view.


It's not a Cittamatrin or Madhyamakian view. It could however be a Mahayana POV since the view of reality has nothing to do with the motivation to attain enlightenment for all beings and since, at least in Sakya, one trains progressively in the lower views as steps to the higher views (with "lower" and "higher" seen from the TB perspective). Thus a bodhisattva could hold a Vaihashika or Sautrantika view.

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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:09 am

kirtu wrote:It's not a Cittamatrin or Madhyamakian view. It could however be a Mahayana POV since the view of reality has nothing to do with the motivation to attain enlightenment for all beings and since, at least in Sakya, one trains progressively in the lower views as steps to the higher views (with "lower" and "higher" seen from the TB perspective). Thus a bodhisattva could hold a Vaihashika or Sautrantika view.


A bodhisattva is not just the intention to attain buddhahood. Without the view of prajnaparamita there is no bodhisattva. Wisdom and compassion can go only hand in hand. Otherwise compassion is no different from those of worldly beings, and the intention to achieve buddhahood is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Wise Bodhisattvas, coursing thus, reflect on non-production,
And yet, while doing so, engender in themselves the great compassion,
Which is, however, free from any notion of a being.
Thereby they practise wisdom, the highest perfection.

(Verses on the Perfection of Wisdom, ch 1, p 11-12, tr Conze)

"the Bodhisattva, the great being, awakes in non-attachment to full enlightenment in the sense that he understands all dharmas. Because he has enlightenment as his aim, an 'enlightenment-being' [Bodhisattva], a great being, is so called."
(PP8000, ch 1, p 89, tr Conze)

"Good sons and good daughters who want to arouse the aspiration for peerless perfect enlightenment should think like this: 'I will save all sentient beings.' Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, in fact, not a single sentient being has been liberated. And why not? Subhūti, if a bodhisattva holds the notion of a self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, and the notion of life span, then she is not a bodhisattva. Why? Subhūti, there is actually no such a thing as peerless perfect enlightenment."
(Diamond Sutra, ch 17)
"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)
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:23 am

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
jeeprs wrote:
So the phenomenal world exists, but everything in it is transient, unsatisfying and empty (sunya).



This is not a Mahāyāna point of view.


It's not a Cittamatrin or Madhyamakian view. It could however be a Mahayana POV...
Kirt


It is not a Mahāyāna POV, which are only Yogacara or Madhyamaka.
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Re: Three Turnings.

Postby kirtu » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:34 am

Astus wrote:
kirtu wrote:It's not a Cittamatrin or Madhyamakian view. It could however be a Mahayana POV since the view of reality has nothing to do with the motivation to attain enlightenment for all beings and since, at least in Sakya, one trains progressively in the lower views as steps to the higher views (with "lower" and "higher" seen from the TB perspective). Thus a bodhisattva could hold a Vaihashika or Sautrantika view.


A bodhisattva is not just the intention to attain buddhahood. Without the view of prajnaparamita there is no bodhisattva.


The bodhisattva is defined by his/her commitment to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings and their commitment to eventually bring all beings to enlightenment. Their view of reality is not a defining factor until their are further along the path - they can't become an Arya without refining their view to at least the Cittamatra view. However they can spend many lifetimes on the Path of Accumulation with the view that was mentioned:

jeeprs wrote:So the phenomenal world exists, but everything in it is transient, unsatisfying and empty (sunya).


An example of exactly this is Shakyamuni Buddha who definitely held this view over many lifetimes. This view is the Vaibhashika or Sautrantika view and is philosophically a Sravakayana view. However what kept Shakyamuni from becoming a Praetyakabuddha or an Arhat under another Buddha was the force of his bodhicitta. In fact Shakyamuni held a even more realist view over many lifetimes as he was a Jain for many lifetimes although he had a correct view of karma.

Wisdom and compassion can go only hand in hand. Otherwise compassion is no different from those of worldly beings, and the intention to achieve buddhahood is nothing more than wishful thinking.


If we have to have the correct refined view of wisdom from the start then we will never get to Buddhahood.

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