Buddha-nature

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Buddha-nature

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:40 pm

We are already Tathagathas. Whenever you meditate, you have already arrived at Suchness: seeing red as red, hard as hard, cold as cold, etc., and all the things of the world. And if you don't have this confidence in yourself, why and how do anything? If your five senses and mind don't even have a foothold on the world, how could you ever do anything? That's it right there!

We are already liberated. Because you have arrived here by karma and your karma has been your own choice. You always have a clear perception of the consequences of your actions, but you choose them anyway. You should own up to these actions and not disown them. You suffer, not because of what's external -- rebirth in Samsara -- but because of what's internal: it has been your choice to suffer, your decision to stay in Samsara. You can call this crazy -- innate Buddhahood and the idea that you choose to suffer -- but I'd say you're the one who's crazy. Because you are the one who says, "I desire to be free from suffering and help other be free from suffering," while carrying out all the actions which contradict what you are saying. And then, if somebody points it out, you contradict them too. The highest wisdom: Be honest with yourself and don't argue with others when they speak the truth. Don't delude yourself or be caught in others' delusions.

Does this seem clear enough, or am I rambling incoherently? Let me know.

So, what are your thoughts on Buddha-nature? Perhaps some people here could share some neat quotes from the classic texts. :)
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Indrajala » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:26 pm

Knock it off already.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:41 pm

Huseng wrote:Knock it off already.

Would that be helpful?

This sort of thinking is useful, although I admit this sort of talking might not be. I've considered keeping this sort of thinking to myself and waiting for somebody to ask, before I go off talking... But what if nobody asks? I'd be alone and happy, while the world around me crumbles.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:46 pm

Hi Individual,

If you're looking for a classic text to anchor a discussion of buddha nature, the Platform Sutra is one possibility. The basics are set out pretty clearly there, I think, and later texts that I've seen mostly build on what Huineng had to say.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:11 am

Is is not possible for omniscience to be produced without causes, because if it were everything could always be omniscient. If things were produced without reliance on something else, they could exist without constraints - there would be no reason why everything could not be omniscient. Therefore since all functional things arise only occasionally, they depend strictly on their causes. Omniscience too is rare because it does not occur at all times and in all places, and everything cannot become omniscient. Therefore it definitely depends on causes and conditions.

Also from among these causes and conditions you should cultivate correct and complete causes. If you put the wrong causes into practice, even if you work hard for a long time, the desired goal cannot be achieved. It will be like milking a [cow's] horn.
Likewise the result will not be produced when all causes are not put into effect. For example, if the seed or any other cause is missing, then the result, a sprout, and so forth will not be produced. Therefore, those who desire a particular result should cultivate its complete and unmistaken causes and conditions.

Kamalashila, Stages of Meditation.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:26 am

It's good to have faith in one's inherent buddha-nature. But that should be for supporting one's motivation on the path and not as an excuse for avoiding the path. Also, there are vague, undifined terms in the OP, which even suggest certain misunderstandings about buddha-nature and other things.
"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: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:54 am

Individual wrote:We are already Tathagathas. Whenever you meditate, you have already arrived at Suchness: seeing red as red, hard as hard, cold as cold, etc., and all the things of the world. And if you don't have this confidence in yourself, why and how do anything? If your five senses and mind don't even have a foothold on the world, how could you ever do anything? That's it right there!

We are already liberated. Because you have arrived here by karma and your karma has been your own choice. You always have a clear perception of the consequences of your actions, but you choose them anyway. You should own up to these actions and not disown them. You suffer, not because of what's external -- rebirth in Samsara -- but because of what's internal: it has been your choice to suffer, your decision to stay in Samsara. You can call this crazy -- innate Buddhahood and the idea that you choose to suffer -- but I'd say you're the one who's crazy. Because you are the one who says, "I desire to be free from suffering and help other be free from suffering," while carrying out all the actions which contradict what you are saying. And then, if somebody points it out, you contradict them too. The highest wisdom: Be honest with yourself and don't argue with others when they speak the truth. Don't delude yourself or be caught in others' delusions.

Does this seem clear enough, or am I rambling incoherently? Let me know.

So, what are your thoughts on Buddha-nature? Perhaps some people here could share some neat quotes from the classic texts. :)

Until one has a good understanding of the meaning of emptiness, thinking about Buddha-nature along this line is dangerous.

In the Parinirvana sutra, the Buddha said only a Buddha has clear seeing of Buddha-nature. Even a 10th bhumi bodhisattva has only a dim and uncertain sight of Buddha-nature.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:44 pm

If it makes me happy and my mom happy, who are you to tell me what's wrong and right? It's thinking like a "normal person" that is dangerous.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:52 pm

Individual wrote:If it makes me happy and my mom happy, who are you to tell me what's wrong and right? It's thinking like a "normal person" that is dangerous.


By that reasoning, one might claim:

Smashing kittens with a car battery makes my mom and I happy. Who are you to tell me it's wrong or right, on the basis of thinking like a :quoteunquote: normal person :quoteunquote:


See the problem? Some things are true; some things are pleasing; these two categories don't always coincide.

I think the doctrine of Buddha nature is indeed true and indeed joy-inducing.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:44 pm

Jikan wrote:
Individual wrote:If it makes me happy and my mom happy, who are you to tell me what's wrong and right? It's thinking like a "normal person" that is dangerous.


By that reasoning, one might claim:

Smashing kittens with a car battery makes my mom and I happy. Who are you to tell me it's wrong or right, on the basis of thinking like a :quoteunquote: normal person :quoteunquote:


See the problem? Some things are true; some things are pleasing; these two categories don't always coincide.

I think the doctrine of Buddha nature is indeed true and indeed joy-inducing.

One can extrapolate some pretty absurd conclusions based on the sutras (and they're even more clear than my words, right?). So why should I take such reasoning seriously? Do you honestly think that smashing kittens or anything like that is something that would make me and my mom happy? No? Then why say it?

And I said happy, not pleasing. Why do you confuse the two?

Buddha-nature is true and joy-inducing? But what if it leads to the kind of joy which involves smashing kittens? See how stupid it sounds when it comes out of the mouth of another.

For the sake of harmony, I can't say anymore. :)
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:48 am

I have a copy of the platform sutra with commentary, so if anyone wants me to look up quotes and such, it's available.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:50 am

Individual wrote:But what if it leads to the kind of joy which involves smashing kittens?


Don't worry, it doesn't. And my apologies if my earlier comment offended.

To the point: try not to worry about it or manufacture problems with words and concepts. If you really want a handle on Buddha Nature, find yourself a qualified teacher and practice with him or her. Can't miss! :cheers:
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:00 am

One should take the medicine of emptiness before taking the milk of Tathagatagarbha:

From the Mahaparinirvana Sutra:
"Also, next, O good man! As an example: a woman has a child who, while yet very young, is seized by illness. Worried by this, the woman seeks out a good doctor. The good doctor comes and compounds three medicines, which are butter, milk, and rock candy. This he gives her, to have it taken by the child. Then he says to the woman: "When the child has taken the medicine, do not give any milk to the child for some time. When the medicine has worked its way out, you may then give milk." Then the woman applies a bitter substance to her nipple and says to the child: "Do not touch it [i.e. her nipple]. My nipple is poisonous." The child is dying for the milk and wants to have it. [But] on hearing of the poison, it runs away. After the medicine has done its work, the mother washes her nipple, calls in her child and gives it [her nipple]. Although hungry, the child, having heard about the poison, will not come to it. The mother then says: "I only put poison on my nipple so as to give you the medicine. As you have already taken the medicine, I have washed the poison off. Come! Take my nipple. It is not bitter any more." On hearing this, the child slowly comes back and takes it. O good man! The case is the same with the Tathagata. In order to save beings, he gives them the teaching of non-Self. Having practised the Way thus, beings do away with the [cast of] mind that clings to self and gain Nirvana. All of this is to do away with people's wrong concepts, to show them the Way and cause them to stand above, to show them that they adhere to self, that what obtains in the world is all false and not true, and to make them practise non-Self and purify themselves. This is similar to the woman's applying a bitter substance to her nipple out of love for her child. It is the same with the Tathagata. For practising the Void, I say that all do not have the Self. This is like the woman's cleaning her nipple and calling for her child to partake of her milk. The case is the same with me, too: I speak of the Tathagatagarbha. For this reason, the bhiksus do not entertain fear. It is analogous to the child who hears its mother, slowly comes back and takes the milk. The situation is the same with the bhiksus. They should know well that the Tathagata hides nothing."


Even the 10th bhumi Bodhisattva does not see the Tathagatagarbha clearly:

From the Mahaparinirvana Sutra:
"Also, next, O good man! For example, a man sees a child in the darkness, far off. He thinks: "Is this a cow, a man, or a bird?" He keeps gazing at it for a goodly while. He now sees that it is a child, and yet he does not see it very clearly. It is thus. The same applies to the Bodhisattva who is at the stage of the ten "bhumis" and who sees within himself the nature of the Tathagata. Nothing is completely clear."
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:52 am

I think this quote shows pretty well that Tathagatagarbha has been taught for those who misunderstand emptiness. so the misunderstanding is in the first place then comes the Tathagatagarbha teaching.

Sherab wrote:One should take the medicine of emptiness before taking the milk of Tathagatagarbha:

Appropriate understanding in the first place renders "Tathagatagarbha" superfluous.
So: Different strokes for different folks.

The danger of emptiness is on the negative side of the scale whereas the danger of "Tathagatagarbha" is on the positive side of the scale.


Kind regards
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Huifeng » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:13 am

Disgusting as it is to quote myself, here goes:
-------------
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=475&p=5224&hilit=Tathagatagarbha#p5224

There are a couple of very different ways of understanding notions such as "buddha nature".

Those very brief posts above only represent one of them, which tends towards the Tathagatagarbha theory side of things. Even this teaching has several forms, so a single textual citation will be too brief. But in general, it takes the Tathagatagarbha / Buddha nature idea as definitive over the other teachings, such as non-self. It may claim in some cases that non-self is applicable to certain phenomena, eg. the aggregates, but not to the Tathagatagarbha, which is subtle and difficult to perceive. However, the idea is that every living being has this buddha nature within them, a fully awakened buddha ready to be uncovered. This means that this type of buddha nature theory is only applicable to sentient beings, but not the insentient.

The other main explanation is that "buddha nature" refers to the emptiness, dependently originated nature of all phenomena. It thus makes the emptiness teachings definitive over such teachings as a true self Tathagatagarbha, etc. It considers that this buddha nature is not some thing within the heart / mind of each living being, but is merely potentiality. ie. because phenomena are empty, they can be enlightened. This notion of buddha nature as emptiness may thus be applicable to all phenomena, not just sentient beings.

Both of these two main schools of buddha nature thought have many subtle sub-schools and ideas, too.

Some schools, such as Huayan in East Asia, and mid-period Chan / Zen, will tend towards the first type as definitive. Others, such as most Madhyamaka based schools, will take the latter. They are in many ways very very different takes on the same words / terms. Often people will discuss this topic, and fail to notice the main differences. They then tend to talk past each other. It is thus worth clarifying before continuing further with such discussions.

Huifeng

-----

Huifeng :anjali:
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:26 am

Thanks Venerable.

Personally, I find neither view - " buddha nature within them, a fully awakened buddha ready to be uncovered" and "buddha nature is not some thing within the heart / mind of each living being, but is merely potentiality" - represents the real meaning of buddha nature.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:28 am

TMingyur wrote:I think this quote shows pretty well that Tathagatagarbha has been taught for those who misunderstand emptiness. so the misunderstanding is in the first place then comes the Tathagatagarbha teaching.

I do not come to the same conclusion when reading the sutra. To me, the Mahaparinirvana sutra said that in order to properly understand Buddha nature, at the very least, a proper understanding of emptiness is required. In other words, emptiness should be the foundation if a proper understanding of Buddha-nature is to be built.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:45 pm

Huifeng wrote:There are a couple of very different ways of understanding notions such as "buddha nature".

Those very brief posts above only represent one of them, which tends towards the Tathagatagarbha theory side of things. Even this teaching has several forms, so a single textual citation will be too brief. But in general, it takes the Tathagatagarbha / Buddha nature idea as definitive over the other teachings, such as non-self. It may claim in some cases that non-self is applicable to certain phenomena, eg. the aggregates, but not to the Tathagatagarbha, which is subtle and difficult to perceive. However, the idea is that every living being has this buddha nature within them, a fully awakened buddha ready to be uncovered. This means that this type of buddha nature theory is only applicable to sentient beings, but not the insentient.

The other main explanation is that "buddha nature" refers to the emptiness, dependently originated nature of all phenomena. It thus makes the emptiness teachings definitive over such teachings as a true self Tathagatagarbha, etc. It considers that this buddha nature is not some thing within the heart / mind of each living being, but is merely potentiality. ie. because phenomena are empty, they can be enlightened. This notion of buddha nature as emptiness may thus be applicable to all phenomena, not just sentient beings.

Both of these two main schools of buddha nature thought have many subtle sub-schools and ideas, too.

Some schools, such as Huayan in East Asia, and mid-period Chan / Zen, will tend towards the first type as definitive. Others, such as most Madhyamaka based schools, will take the latter. They are in many ways very very different takes on the same words / terms. Often people will discuss this topic, and fail to notice the main differences. They then tend to talk past each other. It is thus worth clarifying before continuing further with such discussions.

Huifeng

Venerable Huifeng, while those may be important academic, historical clarifications, they do not seem to be vital distinctions for my experience. To borrow a cliche metaphor you are probably familiar with, one can use many different types of fingers to point to the moon.

You can take Buddha-nature as definitive over emptiness, emptiness as definitive over Buddha-nature, state that Buddha-nature and emptiness are the same thing, or as Theravadins do, you can even deny (or without denying can simply refuse to teach) Buddha-nature and the Mahayana understanding of emptiness. All of these things may in practice be either fruitless ideation or fruitful analysis, because what defines their fruitfulness is not their outer appearance, but their essential nature. Do you know what I mean by that? Meaning is something ascribed by mind (it could also be said to be intrinsic to reality but let's ignore that for now), which is not intrinsic to language, so the fruitfulness depends upon the terms as they are understood and used by minds. People can use one or the other sets of language, while still engaging in mental activities which are more or less fruitful. When this happens and someone uses a certain language and practice still finds themselves engaging in fruitless mental activities, the dogmatic one says, "They don't truly understand the teaching," but in reality, whether Theravada, Zen, Tibetan, Huayan, Madhyamaka, whatever; the dogmatic one does not understand his own teaching. By dogmatic, it means attachment to views, regarding views as "mine" and "not mine," and reflecting, "This and only this is the Truth and nothing else."

Oh...!

And it's not that I'm attached to my own expression either! In that regard, perhaps your distinction was useful and we could benefit from knowing these many distinctions, if the people that read this may benefit from one or another particular expression. :)
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:11 am

Individual wrote:Venerable Huifeng, while those may be important academic, historical clarifications, they do not seem to be vital distinctions for my experience.


Obviously for other's experience they do seem to be such distinctions.

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Tilopa » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:49 am

Individual wrote:Does this seem clear enough, or am I rambling incoherently?


Unfortunately yes, you are.
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