Buddhahood in This Life

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Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:50 pm

In the major Mahayana traditions that we have today all teach, except one, that Buddhahood is possible in a single lifetime. There are different names given to this concept but what seems to cover all is "this body becomes buddha" (即身成佛), i.e. becoming buddha in this body, which has been singled out by Kukai as the term summing up the essence of Shingon (see: Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body), but actually can be traced back to the case with the dragon princess in the Lotus Sutra who turned into a buddha in no time.

This idea of sudden enlightenment (頓悟) - first advocated by Daosheng (355-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva - is taken to be an improvement, a higher teaching compared to the gradual path of the bodhisattva going through kalpas of training. But it is possible to see it not as an improvement but actually a return to being an arhat.

What I mean is that there's hardly any difference between the attainment taught in these sudden methods from one we can find in Theravada and other Mahayana teachings. The basic concept is, as always has been, to eliminate attachment to the six kinds of experiences. That is what an arhat achieves. Then compared to an arhat a buddha is supposed to have some extras starting with the bodily signs, so comes in the accumulation of merits through aeons. Finally, with the appearance of the tathagatagarbha teachings the possibility of a short cut came up, since buddha-nature contains all the buddha qualities. That's how sudden enlightenment became possible, that's what the Zen axiom of "this mind is buddha" (即心是佛) stands for.

Then if there is this inherent enlightenment (本覺), which is not different from the mind free from attachments, how could it be different from an arhat but in name only?
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:35 pm

Not to debate this with youi as I don't really care what you think or not, but to explain in a fashion but a simple fashion as I am simple. And only my personal opinion.

Even the Buddha had to have a last human life prior to buddhahood. So even though he may have taken a long long way to arrive where he was without a clear path, he did attain enlightenment some would say in his last human life. So if we likewise have the same learning curve and experience how could we not say enlightenment is not possible in one life. WE do not know where we fall on the scale. Did the buddha know he was to be enlightend at a particular time date or lifetime..no he knew he had to become enlighened.

There are those that feel a buddha to be a buddha does not do so as a human. Essentially the cause of full enlightenment are such that being human does not equate. As such Buddha shakumuni the teacher buddha is considered a example of how to do things by a emanation, but not a real person.

Subtle self concept is considered very very difficult to eradicate by logic or sutric means experience considered almost impossible. Not gross self concept which is self conscious, but subtle which forms our need to rebirth.....the beginings of the 12 links.

So some would contend the buddha became functionally enlightened in a human life but did not really attain buddhahood as a human since being human infers by description or defining quality...existance of suble self.

So one may retain self subtle and be for all intents and purposes enlightened but retain this subtle self quality and be human.
While a buddha not only is enlightened but by destruction of subtle self is no longer human.

A buddha then present emenations to teach but they are emenations and really not human. Human infers subtle self.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:10 pm

Astus wrote:In the major Mahayana traditions that we have today all teach, except one, that Buddhahood is possible in a single lifetime.


I don't think all but a very small minority of people realistically think they'll achieve attainment of the dharmakāya within their lifetime. Even in the case of esoteric traditions while theoretically possible it is stressed that it requires one to have already cultivated countless roots in past lives. As my guru said to me in regards to Buddhahood in this life, "You need a perfect teacher and a perfect student."



There are different names given to this concept but what seems to cover all is "this body becomes buddha" (即身成佛), i.e. becoming buddha in this body, which has been singled out by Kukai as the term summing up the essence of Shingon (see: Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body), but actually can be traced back to the case with the dragon princess in the Lotus Sutra who turned into a buddha in no time.



I wouldn't take symbolism in religious literature as absolutely literal.


This idea of sudden enlightenment (頓悟) - first advocated by Daosheng (355-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva - is taken to be an improvement, a higher teaching compared to the gradual path of the bodhisattva going through kalpas of training. But it is possible to see it not as an improvement but actually a return to being an arhat.


That term means different things to different people. We must keep in mind that "enlightenment" (悟), whether it be gradual or sudden, is not equivalent to Buddhahood (成佛). You can be enlightened and not be a Buddha.

What I mean is that there's hardly any difference between the attainment taught in these sudden methods from one we can find in Theravada and other Mahayana teachings. The basic concept is, as always has been, to eliminate attachment to the six kinds of experiences. That is what an arhat achieves.


In some Mahayana thought the idea is that the Arhat only achieves nirvana with remainder or residue (有餘涅槃 / sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa).

For quick reference let me provide the entry from the DDB:

Nirvāṇa with residue. Nirvāṇa attained while living in this world. Nirvāṇa attained while still having a body. Also called “lesser vehicle nirvāṇa,” because it can be attained by śrāvakas 聲聞 and pratyekabuddhas 緣覺. The term refers to the manifestation of true thusness coincident with the extinction of the afflictive hindrances. Abbreviated as 有餘依 and written more fully as 有餘依涅槃. Pre-Mahāyāna teaching held that the arhat after his last term of mortal existence enters into nirvāṇa, but while finishing out this life he is in the state of sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa. This is a form of nirvāṇa that is contrasted with nirvāṇa with no residue 無餘涅槃 (nirupadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa). Mahāyāna holds that when the cause 因 of reincarnation is ended the state is that of 有餘涅槃 incomplete nirvāṇa; when the effect 果 is ended, and 得佛之常身 the eternal Buddha-body has been obtained, then there is 無餘涅槃 complete nirvāṇa. Mahāyāna writers say that in the Hīnayāna 無餘涅槃 “remainderless” nirvāṇa for the arhat there are still remains of illusion, karma, and suffering, and it therefore has residue. In the Mahāyāna nirvāṇa without residue these remains of illusion, etc. are ended. One of the “four kinds of nirvāṇa” 四種涅槃 in Yogâcāra theory. 〔瑜伽論 T 1579.30.789b20, 成唯識論 T 1585.31.55b27〕 (Skt. sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa) [cmuller; reference(s): Yokoi,Hirakawa,JEBD]

Cited from: Digital Dictionary of Buddhism: 有餘涅槃 | nirvāṇa with remainder http://www.buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xp ... 85-69c3%27)#ixzz0xdfk464V


In this theory the Arhat has really yet to achieve ultimate elimination of attachments.

Obviously a śrāvakayāna proponent could find plenty of reason to disagree with what a Mahayana advocate would propose concerning this. For example in the case of an Arhat post-mortem where are they if there are no aggregates?

One response to this is stating that the Arhat abides in the samadhi of non-abiding and that due to the remains of illusion, having not truly comprehended emptiness, they are eventually arisen from it and become Bodhisattvas.

Now let us examine the opposite term of nirvana without remainder (無餘涅槃):

# Nirvāṇa without residue. Unconditioned, unlimited nirvāṇa; the state of total liberation from all physical and mental conditions. This is in contrast to nirvāṇa with remainder 有餘涅槃, where the body still exists. Also written as 無餘依涅槃. One of the four kinds of nirvāṇa in Yogâcāra the afflictive hindrances 煩惱障 in the mind are cut off, and the body that is composed of the five aggregates is extinguished. Therefore there is nothing remaining to depend upon. In this nirvāṇa, all afflictive hindrances are destroyed, so it can be attained by śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. (Skt. anupadhi-śeṣa-nirvāṇa, nirupadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa, nirupadhiśeṣa, nirupādi-gati; Pali anupādi-sesa-nibbāna; Tib. lhag med myang 'das) 〔瑜伽論 T 1579.30.375c21, 成唯識論 T 1585.31.13c7, 起信論 T 1666.32.581a2〕 [cmuller; source(s): Nakamura,YBh-Ind,Hirakawa]

Cited from: Digital Dictionary of Buddhism: 無餘涅槃 | nirvāṇa without remainder http://www.buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xp ... 85-69c3%27)#ixzz0xdiRxhAg




Then compared to an arhat a buddha is supposed to have some extras starting with the bodily signs, so comes in the accumulation of merits through aeons. Finally, with the appearance of the tathagatagarbha teachings the possibility of a short cut came up, since buddha-nature contains all the buddha qualities. That's how sudden enlightenment became possible, that's what the Zen axiom of "this mind is buddha" (即心是佛) stands for.


Tathāgatagarbha is not single unified system. In general there seems to be two ideas about Buddha nature. The first, which is found in the Treatise on Buddha Nature (佛性論), in no uncertain terms states that Buddha nature is one of three types of potential causal-processes for beings to attain the dharmakāya.

For your reference please examine the following diagram I drew:

Image

In this model Arhats are subsumed under the prāpya-hetu type.

However, in this model the three causal types are not mutually exclusive. One can initiate the cause towards Buddhahood through understanding emptiness, aspiration or through the appropriate practices, but we can also say that these causes mutually support one another and in reality they do just looking at prāpya-hetu.

This model does not suggest one can instantly attain the dharmakāya. However, later thinkers and others, whom I think were more often than not speaking figuratively, proposed one could achieve the dharmakāya, which is synonymous with Buddhahood, in a lifetime. Later on the time frame was removed and we have statements such as, "This very mind is Buddha!" thus negating that you ever really achieve Buddhahood because right this instant you are Buddha. However, such statements, while valid in context, are often distorted and misconstrued. When you become a Buddha linear time becomes unreal and thus right now, as well as all past and future moments, become encompassed within your awareness. However, until you get to such a point it is probably best to refrain from actively saying or thinking that your mind and very being is Buddha.


Then if there is this inherent enlightenment (本覺), which is not different from the mind free from attachments, how could it be different from an arhat but in name only?



The idea of original or inherent enlightenment (本覺) is a product of East Asian thought and has no direct ancestor in Indic thought. To my understanding the first appearance of this term is in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana 大乘起信論, which while attributed to Aśvaghoṣa was most likely composed in China. This being said I don't see how you can relate this term to Arhatship which by the time said text appears was a pejorative in Chinese Buddhism.

However, for the sake of discussion not limited in academic understanding, let me say this: one simple way of understanding this is that Arhat has not achieved complete elimination of attachments ergo they are not ultimately enlightened which in this case means attainment of the dharmakāya.

Again, the key point here is that in the context I have outlined above "enlightenment" in the sense of "Buddhahood" is specifically defined as attainment of the dharmakāya. In English these terms are more often than not conflated and carelessly tossed around without proper definition first.

In this sense the Arhat does not even seek attainment of the dharmakāya and within their system of dharma they have no means to even work towards it. The goal of the śrāvakayāna is the cessation of rebirth and their model works quite well for that aim. However, to explain why they do not achieve full realization of tathātā and by extension the dharmakāya despite having purportedly cut off defilements and cravings, it is said by some Mahayana thinkers that they have not actually eliminated all their defilements particularly at a subtle level. It is for this reason that Arhats are said to attain a nirvana with remainder or residue even after their supposed final rebirth. In said model they will eventually voluntarily take rebirth which would require the appropriate career as a Bodhisattva which precedes Buddhahood.

What this discussion boils down to is how you define the term "enlightened" or "realized". The Arhat is indeed enlightened, but her enlightenment is not Buddhahood. The Bodhisattva likewise is enlightened, but she has yet to achieve the dharmakāya or in other words Buddhahood.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:45 pm

Huseng,

Maybe I should have put up a note that I'm going here cross-traditional using references to Southern, Northern and Eastern traditions. So it is not a question how one school, one lineage or one teacher defines these terms for in that case it'd be quite straightforward. I'm trying to explore the "One Dharma" perspective, to use Goldstein's terminology, or a Western Ekayana.

"I don't think all but a very small minority of people realistically think they'll achieve attainment of the dharmakāya within their lifetime."

Well, it depends on what you take to be dharmakaya. Either I take a Zen or a Vajrayana approach, it is nothing but the nature of mind one realises at the very beginning. Not that difficult.

"I wouldn't take symbolism in religious literature as absolutely literal."

While that case in the Lotus Sutra has been actually used in Zen texts for reference, I mentioned it actually because the Fo Guang Shan dictionary uses it in the definition of "this body becoming buddha". By the way, what else would it symbolise than what it apparently looks like?

"You can be enlightened and not be a Buddha."

Intended no confusion here. I took the easier path where sudden enlightenment equals attaining buddhahood, so it doesn't matter whether it's 悟, or 覺, or 成佛, or anything else.

"In some Mahayana thought the idea is that the Arhat only achieves nirvana with remainder"

Yes, there are many versions of interpreting arhathood in Mahayana. Here I refer to only Theravada interpretations, where actually a living arhat attains nirvana with remainder. But that simply stands for the presence of aggregates without attachment.

"Tathāgatagarbha is not single unified system."

Certainly. But I rather take the Awakening Mahayana Faith Treatise as it has been a lot more popular than the Buddha-Nature Treatise and had influence on Zen and other schools. On the Tibetan side it's the Shentong form of interpretation that could be the matching one here.

"a product of East Asian thought and has no direct ancestor in Indic thought"

Being Indic or non-Indic has little relevance in today's Buddhism. And perhaps if we looked into the latest forms of Indic Buddhism we could find the teachings like Anuttarayogatantra and the Sahajiyas talking about inherent purity and original buddha-mandala.

So, just to make it really clear, I'm not looking for definitions within a single tradition or how an ancient master argued against even older masters. This whole thing I bring up from today's perspective, or at least I'm trying, with having three major Buddhist traditions in one place. That's the point of the "One Dharma Project".
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:50 pm

Astus wrote:Huseng,

Maybe I should have put up a note that I'm going here cross-traditional using references to Southern, Northern and Eastern traditions. So it is not a question how one school, one lineage or one teacher defines these terms for in that case it'd be quite straightforward. I'm trying to explore the "One Dharma" perspective, to use Goldstein's terminology, or a Western Ekayana.



I have mixed feelings about such a pan-Buddhist vision, though in the past, most notably in China, people found themselves in a similar situation. The difference, however, was that in the doxographies they drew up they had no problems calling certain traditions and lineages inferior to others. Their classification systems clearly appointed one interpretation or school as supreme and the rest as inferior.

I've noticed some Tibetan Lamas have no issues with calling non-tantric schools as inferior to Vajrayana. For example I heard one Tibetan Geshe say that Zen is junior high Buddhism while Vajrayana is graduate school.

However, they're actually exceptional. Nowadays on the international Buddhist stage and the spiritual marketplace the general sentiment is that everything Buddhist is equal and more or less the same. This is in stark contrast to the days of old where authors noted their feelings that some traditions were superior to others and stated at length why.

I wonder about the efficacy of attempting to doctrinally tie together everything from Theravada to Vajrayana to Humanistic Buddhism to Japanese Zen. I don't think it can be done.

People are afraid of disagreeing with each other. So few people are willing to say, "You're wrong. Here's why." There is concern for political correctness and religious tolerance. To criticize someone's religious views is taboo because religion nowadays is whatever you want it to be. I think this view is contributing to decay of Buddhism in particular in the world. There are countless fools teaching false dharma and they are left largely unchallenged.


"I don't think all but a very small minority of people realistically think they'll achieve attainment of the dharmakāya within their lifetime."

Well, it depends on what you take to be dharmakaya. Either I take a Zen or a Vajrayana approach, it is nothing but the nature of mind one realises at the very beginning. Not that difficult.


No, there is much more to the dharmakāya than that. It includes omniscience and complete eradication of all defilements without exception among other features. You might witness it for a moment -- "entering the realm of the Buddhas for a moment" as Master Shengyan put it -- but there is a difference between that and actually attaining it. However, due to such an experience one will inevitably be properly directed towards the attainment of Buddhahood with rapid haste.


"I wouldn't take symbolism in religious literature as absolutely literal."

While that case in the Lotus Sutra has been actually used in Zen texts for reference, I mentioned it actually because the Fo Guang Shan dictionary uses it in the definition of "this body becoming buddha". By the way, what else would it symbolise than what it apparently looks like?


I spoke to Venerable Huifeng at Foguangshan in Taiwan a few weeks ago about the Lotus Sutra. His opinion is that the Lotus Sutra is atypical in Indian Buddhism. It was only under the influence of Zhiyi's doxography that it came to the prominence it did in East Asia.

I'm hesitant about any claims that one can completely bypass the Bodhisattva stages. Whether you interpret such statements in sutra as meaning that or not is up to you and the commentaries you favour.


"You can be enlightened and not be a Buddha."

Intended no confusion here. I took the easier path where sudden enlightenment equals attaining buddhahood, so it doesn't matter whether it's 悟, or 覺, or 成佛, or anything else.



I'll believe it when I see it or meet a reliable authority who can demonstrate the validity of such claims.


"In some Mahayana thought the idea is that the Arhat only achieves nirvana with remainder"

Yes, there are many versions of interpreting arhathood in Mahayana. Here I refer to only Theravada interpretations, where actually a living arhat attains nirvana with remainder. But that simply stands for the presence of aggregates without attachment.


Sure, but then you have to explain why if the enlightenment of an Arhat and a Buddha is the same why does the former completely remove themselves from the conditioned world at death, thus being unable to help others while the latter does indeed remain.

"Tathāgatagarbha is not single unified system."

Certainly. But I rather take the Awakening Mahayana Faith Treatise as it has been a lot more popular than the Buddha-Nature Treatise and had influence on Zen and other schools. On the Tibetan side it's the Shentong form of interpretation that could be the matching one here.


The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, from which the idea of inherent enlightenment is first proposed, also is clearly opposed to śrāvakayāna, so trying to tie such an idea to Arhatship will be problematic.


So, just to make it really clear, I'm not looking for definitions within a single tradition or how an ancient master argued against even older masters. This whole thing I bring up from today's perspective, or at least I'm trying, with having three major Buddhist traditions in one place. That's the point of the "One Dharma Project".


I don't think you'll get anywhere useful with such an approach. There is enough disagreement within single traditions (such as Theravada), that trying to make a modern pan-Buddhist doctrine that suits everyone will lead nowhere.

I also think "today's perspective" is more and more distorted, flawed and corrupted. With few exceptions in our present day there are very very few teachers you can consider authoritative. The "perspective of today" in Buddhism both east and west is increasingly forgetting even the very fundamentals of what the Buddha taught. There is rejection of karma, rebirth, the meaning of suffering. Furthermore you see a shift towards secular ideologies that serve to make people superficially happy yet ignore the nightmare of samsara.

So, if I understand you correctly, what you're proposing will probably lead further into samsara rather than away from it.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:57 pm

Huseng,

There can't be a unifying vision. It is possible to synthesise, a classic method, but that necessarily results in something new. In China they created different schools based on structuring available Buddhist materials, so they did in India and Tibet. Now we have a growing corpus of English Buddhist teachings which is already quite big, especially if put together. It is possible that one simply delves into a single tradition, a single practice. But then actually a single tradition means that some have already sorted out, interpreted and structured the Buddhist teaching so they can present it as one, whole and complete. It is all fine, we have Theravada, we have Tiantai, we have Nyingma. However, what they summed up in those traditions are from different sources that we have now. Zhiyi could use the MPPU while Yinshun could use the Lamrim Chenmo for instance. If I had to single out one sutra, or one shastra as the best, I couldn't do so. Sure, I have some favourites, but that doesn't mean to me that the others are inferior in any sense. It is true that there were hardly any Mahayana teacher in China or Tibet who cared to use the Agamas but today many quote the Pali Canon, while Theravada teachers cite some Zen stories. In sum, there is a merging going on on some levels. Fine examples are Yogi Chen, Yinshun and Ajahn Amaro. This, in my opinion, doesn't make Buddhism less or worse but rather fresh and alive, capable of transformation.

"No, there is much more to the dharmakāya than that. It includes omniscience and complete eradication of all defilements without exception among other features."

Well, the nature of mind is naturally without any obstruction to comprehension and there's no defilement to be found in it. The whole point of the buddha-mind is that it is not different from the mind of the buddhas. But of course this is not everyone's view of the buddha-mind. Also, an interesting extra from Huangbo: "Buddha-nature is emptiness. Even if adorned by immeasurable wisdom and merit, in the end those cannot remain." (T51n2076_p0272a11-12)

"I'm hesitant about any claims that one can completely bypass the Bodhisattva stages. Whether you interpret such statements in sutra as meaning that or not is up to you and the commentaries you favour."

And this is actually a key thing in what I've brought up originally about sudden/direct paths since they say they in fact by pass the bodhisattva stages. So the promise of becoming a buddha in this life is about avoiding the long bodhisattva path. Therefore it may be - at least this sounds like a fine argument against those ideas - that they actually teach a sravakayana.

"I'll believe it when I see it or meet a reliable authority who can demonstrate the validity of such claims."

I can quote a dozen famous Zen masters if that's good enough for you. But actually everyone else who teach sudden enlightenment talk about becoming buddha and not something below that.

"Sure, but then you have to explain why if the enlightenment of an Arhat and a Buddha is the same why does the former completely remove themselves from the conditioned world at death, thus being unable to help others while the latter does indeed remain."

I hope that by now you see what kind of buddhahood I talk about here, that kind of buddha one can become in this body.
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:44 am

Astus wrote:Now we have a growing corpus of English Buddhist teachings which is already quite big, especially if put together.


Unfortunately not all of it is from reliable authorities. Over the last number of decades there have been a few good western teachers that have produced reliable teachings, but on the other hand there have been countless other fools walking around being called masters.

Just look in your average bookstore and see what's on the "Buddhism" shelf.

The store Chapters in Canada even has a separate shelf for "Zen Buddhism" which includes books on the "Zen Lifestyle" among other titles. It is quite a profitable venture these days Buddhism.



It is possible that one simply delves into a single tradition, a single practice. But then actually a single tradition means that some have already sorted out, interpreted and structured the Buddhist teaching so they can present it as one, whole and complete. It is all fine, we have Theravada, we have Tiantai, we have Nyingma. However, what they summed up in those traditions are from different sources that we have now. Zhiyi could use the MPPU while Yinshun could use the Lamrim Chenmo for instance.


In the case of Yinshun he was an actual monk, well read, educated and by the time of his death a very senior practitioner.

That's the difference: in the western world we have a handful of individuals who are actually qualified to draw from numerous sources and synthesize reliable models. Buddhism is still in its infancy.


If I had to single out one sutra, or one shastra as the best, I couldn't do so. Sure, I have some favourites, but that doesn't mean to me that the others are inferior in any sense. It is true that there were hardly any Mahayana teacher in China or Tibet who cared to use the Agamas but today many quote the Pali Canon, while Theravada teachers cite some Zen stories. In sum, there is a merging going on on some levels. Fine examples are Yogi Chen, Yinshun and Ajahn Amaro. This, in my opinion, doesn't make Buddhism less or worse but rather fresh and alive, capable of transformation.


I never said it made Buddhism less worse. However, attempting to combine the doctrines of Pure Land in Japan with Theravada in Sri Lanka is not going to work.


"No, there is much more to the dharmakāya than that. It includes omniscience and complete eradication of all defilements without exception among other features."

Well, the nature of mind is naturally without any obstruction to comprehension and there's no defilement to be found in it. The whole point of the buddha-mind is that it is not different from the mind of the buddhas. But of course this is not everyone's view of the buddha-mind. Also, an interesting extra from Huangbo: "Buddha-nature is emptiness. Even if adorned by immeasurable wisdom and merit, in the end those cannot remain." (T51n2076_p0272a11-12)


I have problems with statements that the mind is naturally without any obstruction.

If this was the case then liberation should occur naturally. There should be no need to toil in practice to be liberated because the causes for suffering should have no root.

On the other hand, saying that the mind is naturally with obstruction is likewise flawed because it would mean that no matter how much one toiled in practice the desired fruit of liberation would be impossible.

"I'm hesitant about any claims that one can completely bypass the Bodhisattva stages. Whether you interpret such statements in sutra as meaning that or not is up to you and the commentaries you favour."

And this is actually a key thing in what I've brought up originally about sudden/direct paths since they say they in fact by pass the bodhisattva stages. So the promise of becoming a buddha in this life is about avoiding the long bodhisattva path. Therefore it may be - at least this sounds like a fine argument against those ideas - that they actually teach a sravakayana.



Or they're talking about having achieved Arhatship or Pratyekabuddhahood, neither of which is attainment of the dharmakaya. Or maybe they were speaking figuratively when they used the two characters 成佛 (becoming Buddha). As I said above in the case of Master Shengyan he wrote that one has a brief vision of the realm of the Buddhas which would be a life changing event, but would not actually be permanent Buddhahood.

"I'll believe it when I see it or meet a reliable authority who can demonstrate the validity of such claims."

I can quote a dozen famous Zen masters if that's good enough for you. But actually everyone else who teach sudden enlightenment talk about becoming buddha and not something below that.


The problem with famous Zen masters is that they like to talk in riddles and use figurative language. If you sit down and read those Chan stories in particular they're interesting fiction and not to be taken literally. They employ many many metaphors to convey ideas not apparent on the surface.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:16 am

Huseng,

"Unfortunately not all of it is from reliable authorities."

One has to be able to sort it out and don't put the books by Rajneesh on the same shelf as those by Jamgon Kongtrul.

"Buddhism is still in its infancy."

I thought it was the oldest world religion. :tongue: Buddhism has been known longer in the west than linguistics or psychology were invented. It may be that today we count Buddhism's presence in the West from the 50s, but actually it's been here on some level centuries before, the 20th century brought the rapid spread of the religion, but not its appearance. What makes it an infant actually? A man has only 60-70 years maximum to study it, many renown masters had only 20-30. Dogen was 28 when he returned to Japan and started to teach Zen, then died 25 years later. Could we say that was OK he established a new school because there was Buddhism in Japan for a few centuries by then? Or because Zen in China was well established? Or Zhiyi could form his novel ideas because he was a monk and there was already a corpus he could work from?

"attempting to combine the doctrines of Pure Land in Japan with Theravada in Sri Lanka is not going to work."

Doesn't sound impossible. For instance, one could use their Abhidhamma to outline the work of Amita Buddha, or use satipatthana to meditate on the Pure Land.

"I have problems with statements that the mind is naturally without any obstruction."

It's fine with me if you don't like buddha-mind teachings. That doesn't mean it is not an important part of a couple of Mahayana traditions.

"Or they're talking about having achieved Arhatship or Pratyekabuddhahood, neither of which is attainment of the dharmakaya. Or maybe they were speaking figuratively when they used the two characters 成佛 (becoming Buddha)."

I think both are unlikely, especially the first one.

"As I said above in the case of Master Shengyan he wrote that one has a brief vision of the realm of the Buddhas which would be a life changing event, but would not actually be permanent Buddhahood."

That is Ven. Shengyan's view of it, which is fine in itself, but there are other interpretations. For instance, in Vajrayana it is "working with the result", ie. buddha-mind. Same applies for Zen, training with the buddha-mind.

"The problem with famous Zen masters is that they like to talk in riddles and use figurative language. If you sit down and read those Chan stories in particular they're interesting fiction and not to be taken literally. They employ many many metaphors to convey ideas not apparent on the surface."

I understand Zen stories are like that but those are only one form of teachings, actually a literary style created in the 10th century, after the Tang era, and became popular in the Song. Still, what they gave as teachings either in Tang or after were all in usual Buddhist parlance and nothing incomprehensible. These you can read in the "recorded sayings" of different masters. However, there are some exceptions here, especially the records of Linji and Yunmen as those were seriously reworked in later times, so a large portion of them are like koans. But try the works of Dazhu Huihai or Huangbo Xiyun, both early masters in the Hongzhou school, and they're not mystical at all.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Anders » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:50 am

Seeing as the Awakening of Faith is being mentioned here as a basis for possible 'Buddhahood in one lifetime' models, I think it is worth bearing in mind that it does in fact anticipate these thoughts and explicitly says that although there may be great yogins who appear to attain Buddhahood in just one lifetime, this is purely a demonstration of skilful means to inspire others to practise - in actual fact, all Buddhas go through X kalpas of practise as Bodhisattvas before Buddhahood is perfected.

As for the anomalous status of the lotus sutra in east-asian Mahayana, I find myself asking - does it matter? It is certainly something to bear in mind in in finding common ground with non-east-asian Mahayana, as something that needs deconstruction beforehand. But frankly, I think the lotus sutra has been so universally recognised in east-asian Buddhism by so many great teachers and masters that it would be hard to reconcile reservations about the message of the Lotus with adherence to most any kind of east-asian Buddhism.

Personally, I'm tentatively on the 'x kalpas to Buddhahood' side of the fence. The sutras are all pretty clear - not a one mentions Buddhahood in one lifetime as a generic path. That said, there are plenty of sutras who mention stage-skipping for various reasons. But I would think such a thing the exception (among those gifted enough to even have realisation), not the norm, which is also how the sutras present it. That said, I did once ask a teacher of mine about this and her response was along the lines of 'you'll find the closest thing to a true answer if you assume there is no such thing as time'. Which I think is probably also the fundamental message of the Avatamsaka Sutra in this regard.

Either way, I take the attitude that I'm happy to walk this path for innumerable kalpas in either case, but aspire to attain Buddhahood in this very lifetime no matter what.

While it would be most beautiful and expedient to attain Buddhahood in just one lifetime, I can't help but think that the motivation for being drawn to such teachings are often not altogether wholesome. The whole point of taking the Bodhisattva vows is, in the words of the Avatamsaka:

At this point enlightening beings also think, 'I should, for the sake of a single sentient being, in each land in the worlds in the ten directions, spend countless eons teaching and developing, and should do the same for all sentient beings, without on this account wearying or giving up.'

Being fixated on Buddhahood in one lifetime often sounds a bit like 'but isn't there a more convenient way for me' to this'? That and the spiritual one-upmanship attitude you sometimes see of wanting to practise the most super-duper ultimate path around and nothing less will do for a guy like me.

I am always moved by the verse in the Gandavyuha Sutra:

"Even if my body should be burnt to death
In the fires of hell,
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practise."


I think that encapsulates perfectly the spirit every Bodhisattva should aspire to on the path, whilst being committed to attaining Buddhahood as quickly as possible.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:19 am

Anders Honore wrote:As for the anomalous status of the lotus sutra in east-asian Mahayana, I find myself asking - does it matter? It is certainly something to bear in mind in in finding common ground with non-east-asian Mahayana, as something that needs deconstruction beforehand. But frankly, I think the lotus sutra has been so universally recognised in east-asian Buddhism by so many great teachers and masters that it would be hard to reconcile reservations about the message of the Lotus with adherence to most any kind of east-asian Buddhism.


On the other hand we have other lines of thought that insist, for example, that Arhats and in some cases icchantika are incapable of achieving ultimate Buddhahood which is indeed contrary to what the Lotus Sutra proposes.

One convenient way of answering such a problem is to call such teachings incomplete. Fazang for example on icchantikas states that while it may take them an immeasurable period of time for liberation, it does not mean they cannot become liberated. He also believes that while one's gotra or spiritual affinity might be for cessation or Arhatship in this life, it does not mean one will never give rise to a mind of bodhi.

Still, some would insist that Arhatship and cessation is permanent which runs contrary to what the Lotus Sutra proposes.

It is a difference in opinion that we find even in East Asia.


Personally, I'm tentatively on the 'x kalpas to Buddhahood' side of the fence. The sutras are all pretty clear - not a one mentions Buddhahood in one lifetime as a generic path. That said, there are plenty of sutras who mention stage-skipping for various reasons. But I would think such a thing the exception (among those gifted enough to even have realisation), not the norm, which is also how the sutras present it. That said, I did once ask a teacher of mine about this and her response was along the lines of 'you'll find the closest thing to a true answer if you assume there is no such thing as time'. Which I think is probably also the fundamental message of the Avatamsaka Sutra in this regard.


This is a good point -- that time is not absolute.

I've heard one teacher explain it that while for the non-Buddha it seems to take an immeasurable length of time, but from the perspective of a Buddha the whole process was instant. Since your awareness is simultaneously aware in all three times you're also aware of yourself (and everyone else) in all past lives.

The Avatamsaka-sutra or Huayan vision of time is perhaps akin to a sphere rather than a line. During samsara you wonder around the surface of the sphere since beginningless time with everyone else and then at Buddhahood you become the sphere.

Being fixated on Buddhahood in one lifetime often sounds a bit like 'but isn't there a more convenient way for me' to this'? That and the spiritual one-upmanship attitude you sometimes see of wanting to practise the most super-duper ultimate path around and nothing less will do for a guy like me.


This might explain the appeal of Tantra to many persons. At the Tibetan Buddhist temple I frequented there were plenty of people wanting Tantric empowerments yet they could not tell you all items in the Eightfold Noble Path (and to be honest when I first started I was guilty of the same thing -- wanting the biggest and best without having any foundation in Buddhism 101, but fortunately my guru took pity on me and refused my requests :smile: ).
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:50 pm

It was a good point Anders that the Awakening Mahayana Faith Treatise says explicitly that bodhisattvas have to go through three aeons. What to do with that then if actually Tiantai, Huayan, Chan and Zhenyan talks about sudden enlightenment, ie. not going through the ten stages? In the "Netbreaking Commentary to the Awakening Mahayana Faith Treatise" (T44n1850, vol. 5) Ouyi Zhixu first explains that passage with "Time is not real dharma. It depends only on false thinking." (455c12) and then gives usual examples for that (what feels long for one is short for others). In the second part then he speculates about the actual meaning of this arduous task of a bodhisattva and what the Buddha meant by it. It seems to me he takes no definitive position but goes by the line of the Platform Sutra saying that sudden and gradual is dependent on one's faculties.

Huangbo Xiyun says (T48n2012A, p380b), "Some hearing the Dharma easily attain no mind in one moment. Some reach the ten faiths, ten abodes, ten practices, ten dedications, then attain no mind. Long or short, when no mind is obtained it remains. There can be nothing more to cultivate or realise. ... Since there's nothing more beyond buddhahood, they (long and short path practitioners) attain the same. When [the one who went through long practice] looks back on kalpas of practices, it's all as if he was acting deluded in a dream."

This whole problem can be enlightened by this simple dialogue (X63n1224, p27a8-9):

Yuan precept master said, "Must go through three great asankhyeya-kalpas, only then attains it."
Huihai said, "Asankhyeya-kalpas can be counted, or not?"

Dazhu Huihai himself says (X63n1224, p26c6) of this issue: "Deluded people hope to realise it in a distant kalpa. Enlightened people suddenly see it." This rhymes well with what Huseng heard from that teacher. But I think Huihai's point was rather that only those without knowledge think there is an immeasurably long path ahead, but those who know better understand that "this mind is buddha" and there's nowhere else to go for it. So he defined (X63n1223, p22c5) the essential Chan teaching this way: "Sudden enlightenment is attaining liberation without leaving this life."

It should not be forgot here that these sudden teachings redefine the three buddha bodies from majestic external phenomena to attributes of buddha-mind. And as the buddha-mind becomes the cardinal tenet of these systems, there are quite a big number of sutras discussing the tathagatagarbha they can rely on. And if we add the tantras there's no way to call it simply a fiction of some Chinese monks. But contrary to what Mantrayana people claim, buddhahood in this life is not just a tantric teaching.

So I think first it would be good to settle this sudden path first, if it is what it claims to be, then go on with investigating whether it has anything to do with sravakayana or not.
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:42 pm

Astus wrote:So I think first it would be good to settle this sudden path first, if it is what it claims to be, then go on with investigating whether it has anything to do with sravakayana or not.


One might call it "sudden enlightenment" to distinguish it from "gradual enlightenment", but examining the whole process from a multiple lifetimes, as the late Master Shengyan suggested, you'll see some people already have the lifetimes of practice to break through the barriers to realization as if they were egg shells while others have brick walls before them.

It might seem sudden, but they had many lifetimes of gradual effort and insight already.

They're really not contradictory in that sense.

However, saying that one achieves anuttarasamyaksambodhi and is a Buddha free from any and all defilements without having gone through the Bodhisattva stages is something else.

Astus, by the way regarding the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, if you look at the following passage it details the realization level of ordinary beings, two-vehicle sages, beginner Bodhisattvas, dharmakaya-bodhisattvas and finally Bodhisattvas who have exhausted all stages of the path.

《大乘起信論》卷1:「本覺義者,對始覺義說,以始覺者即同本覺。始覺義者,依本覺故而有不覺,依不覺故說有始覺。又以覺心源故名究竟覺,不覺心源故非究竟覺。此義云何?如凡夫人覺知前念起惡故,能止後念令其不起,雖復名覺,即是不覺故。如二乘觀智、初發意菩薩等,覺於念異,念無異相,以捨麁分別執著相故,名相似覺;如法身菩薩等,覺於念住,念無住相,以離分別麁念相故,名隨分覺;如菩薩地盡,滿足方便一念相應,覺心初起心無初相,以遠離微細念故得見心性,心即常住,名究竟覺。是故修多羅說:「若有眾生能觀無念者,則為向佛智故。」又心起者,無有初相可知,而言知初相者,即謂無念。是故一切眾生不名為覺,以從本來念念相續未曾離念故,說無始無明。若得無念者,則知心相生住異滅。以無念等故,而實無有始覺之異,以四相俱時而有皆無自立,本來平等同一覺故。」(CBETA, T32, no. 1666, p. 576, b14-c4)


For the sake of convenience and readers here let me just cut and paste Hakeda's translation:

(2) The Process of Actualization of Enlightenment
Grounded on the original enlightenment is nonenlightenment. And because of
nonenlightenment, the process of actualization of enlightenment can be spoken of. Now, to
be fully enlightened to the fountainhead of Mind is called the final enlightenment; and not to
be enlightened to the fountainhead of Mind, nonfinal enlightenment. What is the meaning of
this? An ordinary man becomes aware that his former thoughts were wrong; then he is able
to stop (nirodha) such thoughts from arising again. Although this sometimes may also be
called enlightenment, properly it is not enlightenment at all because it is not enlightenment
that reaches the fountainhead of Mind. The followers of Hinayana, who have some insight,
and those Bodhisattvas who have just been initiated become aware of the changing state
(anyathatva) of thoughts and are free from thoughts which are subject to change [such as
the existence of a permanent self (atman), etc.]. Since they have forsaken the rudimentary
attachments derived from unwarranted speculation (vikalpa), their experience is called
enlightenment in appearance.
Bodhisattvas who have come to the realization of Dharmakaya become aware of the
temporarily abiding state (sthiti) of thoughts and are not arrested by them. Since they are
free from their rudimentary false thoughts derived from the speculation that the
components of the world are real, their experience is called approximate enlightenment.
Those Bodhisattvas who have completed the stages of a Bodhisattva and who have fulfilled
the expedient means needed to bring forth the original enlightenment to the fullest extent
will experience the oneness with Suchness in an instant; they will become aware of how the
inceptions of the deluded thoughts of the mind arise (jati), and will be free from the rise of
any deluded thought. Since they are far away even from subtle deluded thoughts, they are
able to have an insight into the original nature of Mind. The realization that Mind is eternal
is called the final enlightenment. It is, therefore, said in a sutra that if there is a man who is
able to perceive that which is beyond thoughts he is advancing toward the Buddha wisdom.
Though it is said that there is an inception of the rising of deluded thoughts in the mind,
there is no inception as such that can be known as being independent of the essence of
Mind. And yet to say that the inception of the rising of deluded thoughts is known means
that it is known as existing on the ground of that which is beyond thoughts [i.e., the
essence of Mind]. Accordingly, all ordinary people are said not to be enlightened because
they have had a continuous stream of deluded thoughts and have never been freed from
their thoughts; therefore, they are said to be in a beginningless ignorance. If a man gains
insight into that which is free from thoughts, then he knows how those thoughts which
characterize the mind [i.e., deluded thoughts] arise, abide, change, and cease to be, for he
is identical with that which is free from thoughts. But, in reality, no difference exists in the
process of the actualization of enlightenment, because the four states [of arising, abiding,
etc.] exist simultaneously and each of them is not self-existent; they are originally of one
and the same enlightenment [in that they are taking place on the ground of original
enlightenment, as its phenomenal aspects]. And, again, original enlightenment, when
analyzed in relation to the defiled state [in the phenomenal order], presents itself as having
two attributes. One is the "Purity of Wisdom" and the other is the "Suprarational Functions".



One thing I would stress here is that it outlines the varying levels of realization an individual has according to their level -- everything from the ordinary person to a Bodhisattva a step away from Buddhahood.

Here you can see that Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas are realized but only to a certain point:

如二乘觀智、初發意菩薩等,覺於念異,念無異相,以捨麁分別執著相故,名相似覺


The two-vehicles (Arhat and Pratyekabuddha) as well as Bodhisattvas of the initial stages are realized, but their realization is only a semblance of the actual thing. They key term in this sentence is 相似覺 or semblance realization. They have abandoned attachment to crude or basic discriminations, but this is still not complete. I think this is because that while they have realization of selflessness of person (人空), they lack realization of dharmas (法空).

This same sentiment is echoed by Huayan Patriarch Cheng'guan:

且計人我者。凡夫之執也。計法我者。二乘之滯也。
This is how it is said. The provisional conception of the self of the person is an attachment of the ordinary person. The conception of the self of a phenomenon is the hindrance of the two vehicles.


So, returning back to your original question...

Then if there is this inherent enlightenment (本覺), which is not different from the mind free from attachments, how could it be different from an arhat but in name only?


The answer is clear, at least according to said text, that while indeed the Arhat is realized and free from crude discriminations and attachments, it does not reach down into the more subtle levels.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:36 pm

Huseng,

Good quote. See, what it says, actually goes perfectly fine with the sudden teachings: "The realization that Mind is eternal
is called the final enlightenment." So if one, instead of gradually working on myriad defilements, just "see nature", then the whole thing is immediately solved. And this direct insight is what Zen and others teach. Although they also say it is for people with high capacity. So karma is definitely a factor. The Perfect Enlightenment Sutra is a good example for this as it goes from sudden to gradual, from simple to complicated, from higher to lower methods, starting with "there's nothing to do" and finishing with repentance practice. Then another issue, that makes sudden enlightenment (theoretically) accessible to everyone is the teaching of universal buddha-nature. So if we all have it right here, this mind, then if it is actually pointed out, what could stop one to realise it?
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:51 pm

Astus wrote:Huseng,

Good quote. See, what it says, actually goes perfectly fine with the sudden teachings: "The realization that Mind is eternal
is called the final enlightenment." So if one, instead of gradually working on myriad defilements, just "see nature", then the whole thing is immediately solved.



This assumes one is actually capable of such an insight before having mastered the previous insights.

That would be like suggesting one can enter the formless realms (arupa-loka) without having even mastered the first dhyana. You might pretend you've done it and imagine the whole process, but that wouldn't be the real thing.


And this direct insight is what Zen and others teach. Although they also say it is for people with high capacity. So karma is definitely a factor.


The problem is mental fitness. This is where having an intellectual understanding and actually having penetrating insight and their difference must be stressed.




Then another issue, that makes sudden enlightenment (theoretically) accessible to everyone is the teaching of universal buddha-nature. So if we all have it right here, this mind, then if it is actually pointed out, what could stop one to realise it?


Traditionally the response to such a question is quite simply the defilements prevent insight.

Buddha nature according to the said treatise as I outlined above is a causal-process and not a thing, so while one may initiate that cause it doesn't mean one will instantly become a Tathagata.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:04 pm

"This assumes one is actually capable of such an insight before having mastered the previous insights."

Indeed. But that is not necessarily the case in my view. It is how we see those stages and their realisation. The essence of Zen meditation is seeing thoughts arise and leave without getting involved. That is one common definition summing up all the Buddhist meditation techniques. There is more to it before and after. Before it is what Shenhui criticised as gradual teaching, the usual contemplation on the skandhas and six sensory area, etc. After it is the direct pointing to mind being the buddha. In real life practice there are no limits of varieties how a practitioner may progress.

The essence will always be to "see beyond thoughts" (觀無念), whether one is meditating on the body, on emotions, on appearances, or on thoughts, it's always realising its emptiness, relinquishing it, and going on without attachment to it. It is called the sudden path because it goes immediately to the root of all the problems: mind. To see that the mind is empty - which cannot be any more difficult than seeing a piece of paper empty, but actually even easier as we have the mind right here and there's no need for any special explanation and understanding to investigate it directly - is to see the emptiness of everything. When that is realised, what else could be left? That's why it is "seeing nature, becoming buddha".

So, I now look at my mind. Sure, it is empty, clear, aware, unborn, undying. What else could it be but buddha? Anyone can see it for himself. But am I now perfectly enlightened, free from all defilements, never to arise any more? No. It is the nature of the mind that is buddha. It's always been like that. The sole difference a single insight makes is that I can attest it is true, I have a solid faith in it. Dongshan says (T47n1986B, p526a1-2) in his famous poem: "It's like before a jewelled mirror, form and reflection see each other; you are not it, but it is you." This is the same what he says in his enlightenment verse (520a22). Yangshan Huiji once helped a monk by first making him think of his home town then asking if those things in his home town exist in his mind, pointing out that "What is thinking is the mind, what is thought of is the environment (from Schloegl's translation of 境)." (T47n1990, p587b5) This teaching resembles Yangshan's enlightenment story (582b8-11):

Yangshan asked, "What is the abode of the real buddha?" Guishan said, "Without thinking think of the mysterious. Return your thinking to the boundlessness of the spiritual flame, until thinking exhausts in the source, where nature and characteristics always dwell and phenomena and principle are not two. The real buddha is like that." Upon these words Yangshan suddenly enlightened.

Guishan once explained (T47n1989, p577c4-7) that there might be people who, though enlightened suddenly, still have karma from the beginningless past, so that has to be purified, but now from the view of realisation. This actually happens to match what Zongmi and his followers taught about sudden enlightenment followed by gradual cultivation, which was used as a way to bring together Chan and Huayan views. The same approach is found in Mahamudra and Dzogchen too. Nevertheless, there's no negation of buddhahood in this life.

"The problem is mental fitness. This is where having an intellectual understanding and actually having penetrating insight and their difference must be stressed."

Of course, as you may well know, it is stressed heavily in Zen, so far as it's done even excessively by abandoning the teachings.
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:16 pm

Astus wrote:
...

This actually happens to match what Zongmi and his followers taught about sudden enlightenment followed by gradual cultivation, which was used as a way to bring together Chan and Huayan views. The same approach is found in Mahamudra and Dzogchen too. Nevertheless, there's no negation of buddhahood in this life.

"The problem is mental fitness. This is where having an intellectual understanding and actually having penetrating insight and their difference must be stressed."

Of course, as you may well know, it is stressed heavily in Zen, so far as it's done even excessively by abandoning the teachings.



Cheng'guan represents an opponent with a similar sentiments (my translation):
問。夫求解脫。祗是了妄證真。但能契真如理。寂然無念則便離縛。何假興心觀蘊方求解脫。豈不乖理哉。
It is asked, “Seeking liberation is only just understanding delusion and realizing the truth. It is merely being able to realize the principle of tathātā – in quietude without thoughts and then binds are removed. How does one provisionally arouse the mind, examine the aggregates and then seek liberation? Is this not in opposition to the principle?”

答。離蘊真妄約何而立。且五蘊者身心之異名。行人若不識身心真妄。何能懸契。
We answer: with what do you stand without aggregates, truth and delusion? For the moment the five aggregates are a different name for the body and mind. Supposing the practitioner is not aware of the truth and delusions of body and mind, how could they completely understand them?

不達真妄之本。諸行徒施。
They do not reach the source of truth and delusion and practises are vainly undertaken.

故經云。若於虗空終不能成。
Thus the scripture states, “It is like in emptiness ultimately nothing being able to be established.”

斯之謂也。且計人我者。凡夫之執也。計法我者。二乘之滯也。
This is how it is said. The provisional conception of the self of the person is an attachment of the ordinary person. The conception of the self of a phenomenon is the hindrance of the two vehicles.

故令修二觀。方能了妄證真。豈可離也。
Thus we have them practice the two examinations and then they are able to understand delusion and realize the truth. How could you do without this?


Full translation here:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2009/12/examination-of-five-aggregates-by.html

So, in Cheng'guan's thought it would seem that what you propose here...

The essence will always be to "see beyond thoughts" (觀無念), whether one is meditating on the body, on emotions, on appearances, or on thoughts, it's always realising its emptiness, relinquishing it, and going on without attachment to it.


...would be entirely futile and undertaken in vain.

Moreover abandoning the teachings without having first well understood and absorbed them would be like pushing away the raft before having arrived at the other shore.

That's why I say you should "finish the contents of your cup" before emptying it out.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:23 pm

Maybe I've used the wrong word. Only those who misunderstand Zen abandon the teachings. In my understanding "Zen and Kyo" is a false separation.

I don't see how it's a futile attempt to practise non-attachment.
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:46 pm

Astus wrote:Maybe I've used the wrong word. Only those who misunderstand Zen abandon the teachings. In my understanding "Zen and Kyo" is a false separation.

I don't see how it's a futile attempt to practise non-attachment.


There is attachment to wrong views and delusional pursuits which of course must be severed, but then on the other hand there are right views, right actions and right concepts.

It isn't thinking that is the problem, but wrong thought.

As Cheng'guan above points out one has to provisionally make use of concepts. This is to dislodge and eradicate the afflictions which perpetuate suffering and to initiate the understanding of emptiness of self and phenomena. Initially emptiness is a metaphysical principle, but it must be understood intellectually before it can be employed. Simply thinking, "Mind is empty! Mind is empty!" will not suffice.

Moreover, if all you need to do is rid oneself of all attachments as you propose then beings in the formless realm (arupa-loka) of naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatana (realm of neither perception nor non-perception) who are beyond all perception (saṃjñā) of any and all characteristics ergo having no attachments to them would be liberated.

However, we know they are not because theirs is a state subject to end.
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Re: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:45 pm

Huseng,

It seems I've presented my position here poorly that this kind of interpretation could have occurred. Not being attached is not the same as becoming nothing, or eliminating everything, and I didn't mean so. Attachment (upadana) is defined as fourfold: attachment to sensuality, to false views, to rules and rituals, and to self-view. But getting into this level of defining basic concepts feels a bit of a sidetrack. Also, the term "beyond thoughts", or "no thoughts" (無念) is not about not having thoughts and becoming a piece of stone. Rather it is a central teaching of Zen.

Here's what the Platform Sutra says:

McRae translation, p. 33 / 351b wrote:"What is nonthought? If in seeing all the dharmas, the mind is not defiled or attached, this is nonthought. [The mind’s] functioning pervades all locations, yet it is not attached to all the locations. Just purify the fundamental mind, causing the six consciousnesses to emerge from the six [sensory] gates, [causing one to be] without defilement or heterogeneity within the six types of sensory data (literally, the “six dusts”), autonomous in the coming and going [of mental phenomena], one’s penetrating function without stagnation. This is the samādhi of prajñā, the autonomous emancipation. This is called the practice of nonthought.
"If one does not think of the hundred things in order to cause thought to be eradicated, this is bondage within the Dharma. This is called an extreme view.
"Good friends, to be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is for the myriad dharmas to be completely penetrated. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to see the realms of [all] the buddhas. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to arrive at the stage of buddhahood.


But I believe the true champion of the no thought teaching is Wuzhu of the Baotang school:

Adamek translation, p. 364-365 / T51n2075, p0189c8-17 wrote:“All beings are fundamentally pure and fundamentally complete. From the Buddhas at the upper end down to sentient beings, all are of the same pure nature. However, with a single thought [produced by] the deluded mind of beings, the Three Worlds are dyed. It is because beings have thought that one provisionally teaches no-thought, but if there is no presence of thought, then no-thought itself is not. No thought is thus no-birth, no-thought is thus no-extinction. No-thought is thus no-love, no-thought is thus no-hate. No-thought is thus no-grasping, no-thought is thus no-abandoning. No-thought is thus no-high, no thought is thus no-low. No-thought is thus no-male, no-thought is thus no-female. No-thought is thus no-true, no-thought is thus no-false. At the time of true no-thought, no-thought itself is not. ‘When the mind is produced then the various dharmas are produced, when the mind is extinguished then the various dharmas are extinguished.’ ‘As one’s mind is, so also are the stains of wrongdoing, so also are all dharmas.’ At the time of true no-thought, ‘all dharmas are the Buddha-Dharma,’ there is not a single dharma separate from bodhi.”
"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: Buddhahood in This Life

Postby ground » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:42 am

Hi Astus

"a single lifetime" always is the current culmination of a vast number of lifetimes.

So the title of this thread is correct in that it reads "Buddhahood in This Life"

From the perspective of indo-tibetan Mahayana it is simply that bodhicitta is the crucial aspect.
If the bodhicitta motivation, i.e. the intent to take the responsibility to liberate all beings is unshakable and the basis of this intent - which is great compassion - is inexhaustibly strong and therefore the desire to attain buddhahood is inexhaustibly strong then Buddhahood may be attained in this life. Such a bodhisattva will be naturally drawn towards the appropriate path.

However if one looks for "fast paths" and the basic - often sort of "unconscious" - motivation is simply to get rid of the burden to liberate all beings and/or to get rid of actually having to practice the paramitas and/or to get rid of the burden to practice for kalpas for the benefit of all beings then the practitioner actually has lapsed from the Mahayana and it will be impossible for him to attain Buddhahood. However it may be possible that he attains the status of a Hinayana arya instead.

Kind regards

Astus wrote:In the major Mahayana traditions that we have today all teach, except one, that Buddhahood is possible in a single lifetime. There are different names given to this concept but what seems to cover all is "this body becomes buddha" (即身成佛), i.e. becoming buddha in this body, which has been singled out by Kukai as the term summing up the essence of Shingon (see: Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body), but actually can be traced back to the case with the dragon princess in the Lotus Sutra who turned into a buddha in no time.

This idea of sudden enlightenment (頓悟) - first advocated by Daosheng (355-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva - is taken to be an improvement, a higher teaching compared to the gradual path of the bodhisattva going through kalpas of training. But it is possible to see it not as an improvement but actually a return to being an arhat.

What I mean is that there's hardly any difference between the attainment taught in these sudden methods from one we can find in Theravada and other Mahayana teachings. The basic concept is, as always has been, to eliminate attachment to the six kinds of experiences. That is what an arhat achieves. Then compared to an arhat a buddha is supposed to have some extras starting with the bodily signs, so comes in the accumulation of merits through aeons. Finally, with the appearance of the tathagatagarbha teachings the possibility of a short cut came up, since buddha-nature contains all the buddha qualities. That's how sudden enlightenment became possible, that's what the Zen axiom of "this mind is buddha" (即心是佛) stands for.

Then if there is this inherent enlightenment (本覺), which is not different from the mind free from attachments, how could it be different from an arhat but in name only?
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