Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach this?

Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach this?

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:37 pm

Yesterday someone wrote in a google plus post that Zhiyi's "Three Thousand Realms in a Single Thought Moment" doctrine (i.e., the teaching that in each moment of thought the mind and all phenomena contain each other) led to the conclusion that a buddha "may experience evil thoughts," contrary to all earlier teaching about the mind of a buddha. Is this true? If so, whose teaching is this? Is this interpretation of the doctrine found in the writings of the T'ien-t'ai school or the subsequent Tendai school? I know that this doctrine was accepted by Nichiren. Does a Nichiren-derived school teach this conclusion?

Thank you very much in advance to the kind person with the answer!
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Seishin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:55 pm

Personnaly I have never heard of such in Tendai. Then again I still have a lifetime to learn.

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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby dude » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:25 am

Yes and yes.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:43 am

Of course such a teaching is total rubbish.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:47 am

Zhiyi taught that wisdom can be found even in evil--the principle of Buddhahood inheres in all, nondually. Brook Ziporyn & Ng Yu-Kwan have described this lucidly in English. However, this is lightyears away from the notion that the Buddha could think evil thoughts.

I don't know how this is interpreted in the Nichiren schools, but I doubt any of them would accept such a premise. Perhaps something's lost in translation?
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby rory » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:48 am

Hmm of course a Buddha could experience bad thoughts, there are Buddhas in hell realms for goodness' sake. Let's not even go into the interpenetration of all dharmas (that's Avatamsaka philosophy so I won't go there)

Takeuchi Yoshinori's "Buddhist Spirituality" has this on Zhiyi's meditative methods:
"the samadhi which involves neither walking nor sitting the object of contemplation can be either good or bad thoughts. Good thoughts are observed as containing evil, and bad thoughts as containing good.It is important to practice the samadhi on evil, so that one is not enslaved to evil; in fact evil is never eradicated but retained as an object of samadhi, for evil is not an obstruction to enlightenment and enlightenment does not hinder evil. This samadhi reveals that any static and permanent...." sorry Google Books only let me have that much, but I'm surprised here at the lack of understanding, 'evil' just like 'good' is not a static nor permanent state, there are no such things - it's un-buddhist to assert such things.

I just spent a minute looking via google books to get an authority, but instead of chatting around the cracker barrel, do this: go and do a little research in google books and even google, here's the blurb from Brooks Ziporyn's book

"Other than the devil, there is no Buddha; other than the Buddha, there is no devil.” The Chinese monk Siming Zhili (960–1028) uttered this remark as part of his justification for his self-immolation. An exposition of the intent, implications, and resonances of this one sentence, this book expands and unravels the context in which the seeming paradox of the ultimate identity of good and evil is to be understood. In analyzing this idea, Brook Ziporyn provides an overview of the development of Tiantai thought from the fifth through the eleventh centuries in China and contributes to our understanding of Chinese intellectual culture and Chinese Buddhism, as well as to basic ontological, epistemological, and axiological issues of interest in modern philosophy."

So there you go
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Jesse » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:33 am

What is evil?
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby smcj » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:36 am

I was told that the Buddha does not think per se. That's Dharmakaya/Vajradhara, not Shakyamuni.
Last edited by smcj on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby reddust » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:40 am

Jesse wrote:What is evil?

Avidyā and Māra :twisted: depending on context, ignorance and death
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:57 am

sukhamanveti wrote:Yesterday someone wrote in a google plus post that Zhiyi's "Three Thousand Realms in a Single Thought Moment" doctrine (i.e., the teaching that in each moment of thought the mind and all phenomena contain each other) led to the conclusion that a buddha "may experience evil thoughts," contrary to all earlier teaching about the mind of a buddha. Is this true? If so, whose teaching is this? Is this interpretation of the doctrine found in the writings of the T'ien-t'ai school or the subsequent Tendai school? I know that this doctrine was accepted by Nichiren. Does a Nichiren-derived school teach this conclusion?

Thank you very much in advance to the kind person with the answer!



Can you point to the specific passage?
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby smcj » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:59 am

Jesse wrote:What is evil?

I read a good definition in a non-Tibetan oriented Dharma book, which I wish I could find again. I can't remember the definition exactly, but it was something like a cocktail of ignorance, fear in the perception of the world as hostile, then self-cherishing in the form of self-pity, dishonesty in the form of rationalization and self-justification, and something else. I remember when I succumbed to substance abuse I recognized the mentality because I had read about it Dharma.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby muni » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:00 am

sukhamanveti wrote:the teaching that in each moment of thought the mind and all phenomena contain each other!


"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world".
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:46 am

rory wrote:Takeuchi Yoshinori's "Buddhist Spirituality" has this on Zhiyi's meditative methods:
"the samadhi which involves neither walking nor sitting the object of contemplation can be either good or bad thoughts. Good thoughts are observed as containing evil, and bad thoughts as containing good.It is important to practice the samadhi on evil, so that one is not enslaved to evil; in fact evil is never eradicated but retained as an object of samadhi, for evil is not an obstruction to enlightenment and enlightenment does not hinder evil. This samadhi reveals that any static and permanent...." sorry Google Books only let me have that much, but I'm surprised here at the lack of understanding, 'evil' just like 'good' is not a static nor permanent state, there are no such things - it's un-buddhist to assert such things.

...here's the blurb from Brooks Ziporyn's book

"Other than the devil, there is no Buddha; other than the Buddha, there is no devil.” The Chinese monk Siming Zhili (960–1028) uttered this remark as part of his justification for his self-immolation. An exposition of the intent, implications, and resonances of this one sentence, this book expands and unravels the context in which the seeming paradox of the ultimate identity of good and evil is to be understood. In analyzing this idea, Brook Ziporyn provides an overview of the development of Tiantai thought from the fifth through the eleventh centuries in China and contributes to our understanding of Chinese intellectual culture and Chinese Buddhism, as well as to basic ontological, epistemological, and axiological issues of interest in modern philosophy."


In Evil And/or/as the Good: Omnicentrism, Intersubjectivity, and Value Paradox (at google books), Brook Ziporyn writes that, according to Zhiyi, "The Buddha's evils are like Xishi's frown; as part of the totality of the Buddha, these evils only add to his perfection." (Xishi was a beautiful woman who was even more beautiful when she frowned.) Zhiyi also taught that "this capacity for evil must exist in him eternally." The same author writes that a later T'ien-t'ai patriarch, Zhanran, similarly taught that "sin and suffering are included in buddhahood." Zhanran recognized that the teaching of "evil inherent in the Buddha-nature" was a unique teaching of T'ien-t'ai, according to Ziporyn, distinguishing it from all others schools existing at the time. It is beginning to look as though the post was correct and that the heterodox idea of evil in the mind of the Buddha originated with Zhiyi, if all of this is true and means what it appears to mean.

I'm going to keep looking for a bit. I would like to find an alternative interpretation of Zhiyi, one more consistent with Indian Buddhist thought, if possible.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:57 am

Jesse wrote:What is evil?


Here "evil" is likely an English translation of zuì (罪), which is a common Chinese translation of Sanskrit pāpa ("evil" or "transgression"), meaning a nonvirtuous, unwholesome, or "unskillful" (akauśalya) action of mind, speech, or body, which can be traced back to the Three Unwholesome Roots: attachment/compulsive desire/craving (rāga or lobha), ill will/aversion (dveṣa) and delusion (moha).
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:16 am

LastLegend wrote:Can you point to the specific passage?


It isn't a quote from a text, unfortunately. It comes from someone's own original, lengthy post on google plus. In explaining this interpretation of Zhiyi's doctrine he wrote in part:

"A consequence of contact with Evil combined with causality is that the buddha may experience evil thoughts!...What distinguishes a buddha from ordinary beings is the buddha's ability not to identify with such thoughts, not to perpetuate them: they arise, they cease, the buddha didn't act on them, nor did (s)he cling to them in any way. This is what the freedom to choose what you act on brings...it lets Evil cease… not by fighting it, but by not giving energy to it, by not perpetuating it. Of course the later conception reinforces the perspective that buddhahood is humanly possible: buddhahood doesn't rely on a separate state of unachievable purity of mind, never touched by any 'bad' thought."

EDIT: This post was shared publicly.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:45 am

How does one know how a realized mind of a Buddha work when one is not a realized Buddha? More like using thoughts to understand a Buddha.
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby muni » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:05 am

LastLegend wrote:How does one know how a realized mind of a Buddha work when one is not a realized Buddha? More like using thoughts to understand a Buddha.


Right, this makes me thinking.................as we are a thought ourselves, there is understanding of things, more thoughts.

If you allow me this here, devoid of any limitations;
“Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experiences of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress, are devoid of true identity”. (Dudjom Rinpoche)

Back to lotus sutra. :smile:
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:32 pm

sukhamanveti wrote:
rory wrote:Takeuchi Yoshinori's "Buddhist Spirituality" has this on Zhiyi's meditative methods:
"the samadhi which involves neither walking nor sitting the object of contemplation can be either good or bad thoughts. Good thoughts are observed as containing evil, and bad thoughts as containing good.It is important to practice the samadhi on evil, so that one is not enslaved to evil; in fact evil is never eradicated but retained as an object of samadhi, for evil is not an obstruction to enlightenment and enlightenment does not hinder evil. This samadhi reveals that any static and permanent...." sorry Google Books only let me have that much, but I'm surprised here at the lack of understanding, 'evil' just like 'good' is not a static nor permanent state, there are no such things - it's un-buddhist to assert such things.

...here's the blurb from Brooks Ziporyn's book

"Other than the devil, there is no Buddha; other than the Buddha, there is no devil.” The Chinese monk Siming Zhili (960–1028) uttered this remark as part of his justification for his self-immolation. An exposition of the intent, implications, and resonances of this one sentence, this book expands and unravels the context in which the seeming paradox of the ultimate identity of good and evil is to be understood. In analyzing this idea, Brook Ziporyn provides an overview of the development of Tiantai thought from the fifth through the eleventh centuries in China and contributes to our understanding of Chinese intellectual culture and Chinese Buddhism, as well as to basic ontological, epistemological, and axiological issues of interest in modern philosophy."


In Evil And/or/as the Good: Omnicentrism, Intersubjectivity, and Value Paradox (at google books), Brook Ziporyn writes that, according to Zhiyi, "The Buddha's evils are like Xishi's frown; as part of the totality of the Buddha, these evils only add to his perfection." (Xishi was a beautiful woman who was even more beautiful when she frowned.) Zhiyi also taught that "this capacity for evil must exist in him eternally." The same author writes that a later T'ien-t'ai patriarch, Zhanran, similarly taught that "sin and suffering are included in buddhahood." Zhanran recognized that the teaching of "evil inherent in the Buddha-nature" was a unique teaching of T'ien-t'ai, according to Ziporyn, distinguishing it from all others schools existing at the time. It is beginning to look as though the post was correct and that the heterodox idea of evil in the mind of the Buddha originated with Zhiyi, if all of this is true and means what it appears to mean.

I'm going to keep looking for a bit. I would like to find an alternative interpretation of Zhiyi, one more consistent with Indian Buddhist thought, if possible.


Ziporyn's being a bit provocative in that text and in its sequel, Being and Ambiguity, specifically in his treatment of the two (or for Zhiyi three) truths. That is: an act that is ultimately wise and compassionate can be, by conventional terms, evil or at least awful. The Lotus Sutra is, acc. to Ziporyn, exemplary of this, inclusive of the Buddha's conduct in that sutra, in which Buddha Shakyamuni has to bend reason in creative ways to say he's not *really* been a liar, he's just kept the whole truth back from his followers for their own good (ultimately good, provisionally bad). Hence good and evil "interpenetrate," to use Ziporyn's term.

Here's the relevant passage:

What is this strange 'charisma' that accrues to these lawless lawgivers who somehow place themselves in a position where they can, by definition as it were, 'do no wrong' no matter how much wrong they do? [...]

Gotama leaves his wife and child, and abandons his father's patrimony, not after fulfilling his Dharmic duties as an old man, but stealthily in the middle of the night. In the Mahayana version, in which his charisma is greatly amplified, he then goes on to repudiate all he had previously taught, and even, in the Lotus, baldly admits that it was all a pack of lies, and yet that he cannot for that reason be accused of lying (p. 411).


I should add that Ziporyn is describing this as admirable conduct. He's not criticizing Shakyamuni (or Jesus or Nichiren or any of the others he describes in this way). In the context of his argument, this is what liberation looks like. Buddha-activity is inscrutible and beyond conventional understanding. Go back to Lotus Sutra, chapter 4: you may find yourself tricked into shoveling horse droppings for decades even though this is, objectively, wholly unneeded and maybe even cruel, but is effective in helping one realize directly the uselessness of such practices in the light of one's own inherent capacity for awakening.

Now, on the topic of less "out there" and more conventional treatments of Zhiyi, see Ziporyn's own article on "Li" or Principle:

www.fas.nus.edu.sg/philo/iw/resources/d ... n%20Li.pdf

Ng Yu-Kwan's book on Chinese Madhyamika, which touches on this question of evil:

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=5599

and Paul Swanson's fine work, Foundations of Tien Tai Philosophy:

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=4998


and then there's issue of "original enlightenment" or hongaku shiso which, some argue, follows logically from all this: that all is already awakened, Buddhahood is immanent and always has been, &c. This doctrine colors the entire discussion when it is taken up through a Japanese Buddhist lens.

http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHI ... kurab.html

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 05&start=0
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:48 pm

Not to put too fine a point on it, here's Ziporyn describing the Lotus Sutra itself in the same terms as he described the historical Buddha (again from Being and Ambiguity, a book I really like):

Here, too, we have narcissistic self-aggrandizement, repeated self-contradiction from chapter to chapter, condemnations of unbelievers, compounded by a notorious absence of any actual doctrinal content, and so on (p. 412).


Ziporyn goes on to distinguish this sort of conduct from that of "lunatic sociopaths" on one hand and "obedient men of virtue, or ideologues, on the other." The point is that conduct is described here, teaching-activity, even locally-transgressive activity that is beneficent in some ways. As I said before, this is lightyears away from the notion of Buddha thinking malicious/samsaric thoughts, to return to the OP.

I won't reproduce it here myself, but interested persons may wish to track down a copy of this text to see how Ziporyn praises Nichiren...
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Re: Does one of the Lotus Sūtra based schools really teach t

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:53 pm

rory wrote:there are Buddhas in hell realms for goodness' sake.


Not because they experience afflicted thoughts. They emanate there out of compassion.
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