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Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version) - Dhamma Wheel

Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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withoutcolour
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Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:06 am

Hi all,

I've studied both Mahayana (particulary the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and zen) and Theravada, and I definitely would consider myself more a follower of the Theravadin path (though I hate to label!)... so that being said...
I was confused to find that the concept of buddha-dhatu (buddha nature) is only recognized in Mahayana buddhism (according to Wikipedia, which is ever-so-reliable :thinking: ) ... but that the word Tathāgatagarbha can be interchangeable. Is this correct? Would the idea of the "womb of the buddha" be equivalent to "buddha nature"?
I've always heard it referred to as buddha-dhatu so I just wanted to understanding it in relation to Theravada.

metta
-wc
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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retrofuturist
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:09 am

NOTE TO ALL:

This topic was split from the original one in Discovering Theravada

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=3289

... so that the discussion on the Mahayana understanding of these terms could be pursued further.

All posts relating to the scope of the Discovering Theravada forum have therefore been removed from this DFFA mirror topic.

Thanks for you understanding, and apologies for any inconvenience.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby IanAnd » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:48 am

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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withoutcolour
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:55 pm

So... then Theravada doesn't recognize the potential in all beings to awaken? Or would it be safer to say that neither Tathāgatagarbha nor buddha-dhatu are terms used in Theravada, but the potential for enlightenment in all beings exist?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:46 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Dan74 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:07 pm

My understanding is that Buddha-nature is an ongoing subject of debate in Thai Buddhism, in the guise of an unconditioned or true Self. In 1939, the then Samgharaja published essays that advocated this concept and more recently a number of prominent Thais have taken this up again, particularly (but not only) the controversial Dhammakaya movement.

Cholvijarn's 2007 thesis Nibbana as Sef or Not Self: Some Contemporary Thai Discussions provides some info, but this is to show that it is not just a Mahayana issue.

_/|\_
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:38 am

OK, thank you guys.
Right now, I'm trying to sort out what's separating Theravadin and Mahayanan teachings, and figuring out which concepts belong to which. I really like Theravada for so many reasons, so that's what I'm attempting to categorize at the moment.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Dan74 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:04 am

Mahayana is an umbrella term for many different teachings, some fairly contradictory. Paul William's Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations may be helpful for you, although it doesn't do justice to the Far Eastern Buddhism (the author is a sanskrit specialist and well-versed in Tibetan texts, but not really in Chinese ones).

_/|\_
_/|\_

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:46 am

สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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Dan74
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Dan74 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:52 am

My understanding is that whichever school of Buddhism one affiliates with, the important thing is to be clear about the practice and what immediately relates to it and of course to have sincere motivation - Right View and Right Intention.

The basics are anyway the same - dependent origination, virtue, discipline, concentration, mindfulness and insight. They appear in various guises but in my experience they are definitely there.

What I am trying to say is that philosophical speculation or matters relating to higher levels of attainment are best left alone, at least until they are relevant to practice.

I am not sure if what you are "weeding out" falls into this category, if not - my apologies for rambling.

_/|\_
_/|\_

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:10 am


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:25 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talk on this issue is good, from a Theravada perspective. Title is "What is Wrong with Buddha Nature"

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/ThanissaroBhikkhu.html

I'd say that the concept itself isn't "wrong," though it's not a part of the Canon, therefore we would say it wasn't taught by the Buddha. But even the concept itself has a few different dimensions. If you just think of it as Nibanna then there's no problem. If it's simply the innate capacity to awaken, I think we all have that potential - but maybe it's going to take you a lifetime and me an Aeon or two (thousand...billion).

If you say we all are already awakened, of course that's a problem, because you can't be awakened and still have the kilesas (defilements). So that doesn't work from a Theravada POV.

Calling it a true self or any other kind of self is a problem because the Buddha advised against pretty much any form of self identification you can come up with - even grand noble ones like a cosmic self, true self, one with the universe, etc.

Mahayana has ways of addressing these issues with it's own kind of logic, but they just don't work in Theravada. The Theravada ideal is arahantship, and not Buddhadhood. Since a Buddha is self awakened, a Buddha can't be a person who is currently studying the teachings of the Buddha of the current period, so none of us can be Buddhas as long as we are studying the teachings of the Buddha! :buddha1:

-M

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:14 pm


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:39 am


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Heavenstorm » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:40 pm


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby meindzai » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:00 pm


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby Heavenstorm » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:32 pm


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:16 pm


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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby ground » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:06 am

What strikes me in this thread is that it is implied that "buddha nature" is unanimously accepted in all schools of Mahayana and that if the term as such is accepted then there would be one meaning that is unanimously implied by all schools of Mahayana.
This is definitely not so. E.g. Madhyamaka does not hold the Tathāgatagarbha view and some schools of Madhyamaka explicitely reject all interpretations of "buddha nature" that imply something other than a mere non-affirming negation (i.e. emptiness).

Kind regards

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Postby baratgab » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:39 am

If it is of any interest at all, one possible way of viewing Buddha Nature is that beings already have nibbana (or jhanas, for that matter); it is just covered with activity. This is in line with the path of letting go: we need less, rather than more; we need to lose, rather than to gain. If applied to the mental sphere, the end point is total detachment, anatta. I think I have heard this explanation from Ajahn Brahm (well, I'm just a parrot), who is very keen on reconciling traditions.
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"


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