What is Transmission?

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What is Transmission?

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:24 pm

Based on two previous topics I'd like here to discuss the notion and meaning of transmission within Buddhism. By transmission there are three versions I can think of now: transmission of precepts (ordination), transmission of Dharma (as in Zen), transmission of empowerment (as in Tantra). The concept of transmission always involves a lineage behind it that goes back to Shakyamuni or some other major figure (human or non-human). My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?
"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: What is Transmission?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:32 pm

Astus wrote:Based on two previous topics I'd like here to discuss the notion and meaning of transmission within Buddhism. By transmission there are three versions I can think of now: transmission of precepts (ordination), transmission of Dharma (as in Zen), transmission of empowerment (as in Tantra). The concept of transmission always involves a lineage behind it that goes back to Shakyamuni or some other major figure (human or non-human). My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?
I don't think texts are transmitted, they are a source of transmission though, it is ideas/notions that are transmitted via texts. As for rituals, I would say they are learnt, but then I guess that learning is another form of transmission. And then we get to tantra. You say that there is a lack of something perceptible that can be transmitted, what perceptible phenomena is transmitted during the exchange of knowledge for example? You can point to the outcome of the transmission of knowledge if it is practical (ie the capacity to do something) but what if it is theoretical knowledge? So how does this differ (essentially) from tantric transmission?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:39 pm

Knowledge is conceivable and perceivable by mind. It can also be spoken of and written down. Transmission beyond the six senses, that is the mystical part I was talking about.
"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: What is Transmission?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:44 pm

Do you agree with the yogacara model of eight consciousness? Yes? So what about ālayavijñāna, do you doubt its existence because it is beyond the capacity of the six senses to perceive it? What about the tathagatagarbha? Again imperceptible by the six senses.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby zerwe » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:24 pm

I too am curious as to what the parameters and opinions are regarding "transmission." Lama Zopa Rinpoche has a series of different ongoing teachings he is engaged in annually at centers and retreats around the world. One such sutric teaching is that of Atisha's "Light of the Path to Enlightenment." Another, is

tantric, a commentary on "Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga." With both of the aforementioned teachings there has been a formal transmission of the text. It is said that after the appropriate prayers and motivation one can listen to the recording of the transmission of " Light of the Path..." and receive

it as a blessing. However, from what I understand it is not considered an actual transmission unless you receive it in the presence of Rinpoche himself.

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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:31 pm

PS Ever taken part (really taken part not just sat around as a doubting observer) in a tantric transmission? Boy is the effect perceptible or what!
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Josef » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:32 pm

Astus wrote:Knowledge is conceivable and perceivable by mind. It can also be spoken of and written down. Transmission beyond the six senses, that is the mystical part I was talking about.

How is it mystical or beyond the senses?
Rigpa/vidya is knowledge of ones true condition. The transmission/introduction to this state is a state of knowledge that one receives from another being. Its direct, applicable, and perceivable.
The transmission is like guru yoga in the sense that you enter into that state by being introduced to it by someone who has the capacity to share it with you directly.
Once you have knowledge of that state you then have the capacity to work with it and go beyond the ordinary mental understanding of transmission.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Kyosan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:33 pm

Astus wrote:....My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?

It is said that the ultimate dharma can not be expressed in words. So why do you think that transmission of the ultimate dharma should be perceptible to anyone?

Suppose that two persons share the same experience. They can most certainly communicate with each other and see that the other person has had that experience and understands. But a third person who hasn't had that experience won't understand what the other two persons are talking about and might think that the other two person's experience isn't real.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Josef » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:41 pm

Kyosan wrote:
Astus wrote:....My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?

It is said that the ultimate dharma can not be expressed in words. So why do you think that transmission of the ultimate dharma should be perceptible to anyone?



If this were true we would all be wasting our time.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Kyosan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:51 pm

Nangwa wrote:
Kyosan wrote:
Astus wrote:....My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?

It is said that the ultimate dharma can not be expressed in words. So why do you think that transmission of the ultimate dharma should be perceptible to anyone?



If this were true we would all be wasting our time.

No we wouldn't be wasting our time, because by practicing the way we eventually reach the point where we can understand the ultimate dharma and receive transmission ourselves.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby zerwe » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:55 pm

Kyosan wrote:
Astus wrote:....My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?

It is said that the ultimate dharma can not be expressed in words. So why do you think that transmission of the ultimate dharma should be perceptible to anyone?

Suppose that two persons share the same experience. They can most certainly communicate with each other and see that the other person has had that experience and understands. But a third person who hasn't had that experience won't understand what the other two persons are talking about and might think that the other two person's experience isn't real.


From what I understand "Ultimate Dharma" is indeed something that is only realized/actualized. However, transmission is something that plants the

seeds that will later ripen in our own understand at deeper and deeper levels. Thus, transmission becomes essential for removing obstacles to understanding

and the achievement of realization. So, transmission could be thought of as essential to our realizing the dharma on the ultimate level.

Shaun :namaste:
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Kyosan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:06 pm

I suppose that transmission can have different meanings. I think of transmission as actualization of the dharma and acknowledgement by the teacher that the student has actualized it. That's what it means in Zen.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby zerwe » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:11 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:PS Ever taken part (really taken part not just sat around as a doubting observer) in a tantric transmission? Boy is the effect perceptible or what!
:namaste:


Greg, I am not quite there yet. But, let's just say that when you begin to rely on a teacher and listen with the appropriate mind

that the effect is beyond anything that I could have imagined.

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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Josef » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:15 pm

Kyosan wrote:

No we wouldn't be wasting our time, because by practicing the way we eventually reach the point where we can understand the ultimate dharma and receive transmission ourselves.
:namaste:

Thats not an approach that I find acceptable. It might work for others but I am not interested in a gradual approach at all.
I dont think we have to wait for eons in order to manifest the qualities of the three kaya's.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Kyosan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:25 pm

Nangwa wrote:
Kyosan wrote:

No we wouldn't be wasting our time, because by practicing the way we eventually reach the point where we can understand the ultimate dharma and receive transmission ourselves.
:namaste:

Thats not an approach that I find acceptable. It might work for others but I am not interested in a gradual approach at all.
I dont think we have to wait for eons in order to manifest the qualities of the three kaya's.

I'm not saying that we have to wait eons. But it is true that people (most people anyway) can not immediately understand the dharma because of our attachments. I am certainly one of those dharma-challenged persons.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Kyosan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:51 pm

In Zen, the patriarchs are thought of as being buddhas so they have actualized the ultimate dharma. But even today people receive transmission and I'm sure that they all haven't reached Buddhahood. So, I guess transmission doesn't necessarily mean that one has reached the ultimate actualization. I can mean reaching a high level of realization and being qualified to teach others.
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby adinatha » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:57 pm

Astus wrote:Based on two previous topics I'd like here to discuss the notion and meaning of transmission within Buddhism. By transmission there are three versions I can think of now: transmission of precepts (ordination), transmission of Dharma (as in Zen), transmission of empowerment (as in Tantra). The concept of transmission always involves a lineage behind it that goes back to Shakyamuni or some other major figure (human or non-human). My problem and cause of disbelief in the concept of transmission is based on two points: lack of historical basis and lack of anything perceptible that could be transmitted beyond the apparent texts and rituals. But, there are those who believe transmission is real and important. How so?


How is karma transmitted?
CAW!
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Will » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:19 pm

Astus wrote:Knowledge is conceivable and perceivable by mind. It can also be spoken of and written down. Transmission beyond the six senses, that is the mystical part I was talking about.


The sixth sense is mind, is it "mystical" too? Blessing or transmission can be felt or known by the mind. But unless you think the mind = brain, then why not puzzle over the invisible mind too? Or better yet, quit fussing so much.
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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Re: What is Transmission?

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:29 pm

Greg,

I find the eight-consciousness model a provisional one. Same for tathagatagarbha. I've never taken part in a Tantric initiation in order to be empowered to practice it - it would require faith in it on my part to do that. Curiosity is a different matter.

Nangwa,

Sharing directly, in my understanding that would require something like telepathy. It is another thing that one generates the appropriate mental state, that is the work of the faithful within the context of a religious event.

Kyosan,

We might share the experience of eating apple. Still, you have no direct access to my taste-consciousness to compare it to your taste-consciousness. Same goes with other kinds of experience. It is also because of the impossibility of accessing others' experiences directly that I find transmission a rhetorical means only.

Adinatha,

You can't transmit your karma to me and I can't transmit my karma to you. Of course, if such thing were possible fulfilling the bodhisattva vows would be pretty simple.

Will,

Yes, one can have the feeling and the idea that one has received blessings, transmissions or curses as well. But do you feel blessed when sprinkled by holy water? Do you feel ecstatic when meeting XY celebrity? Do you feel moved when hearing the national anthem? Even if you don't, many do. And some others feel and think the very opposite. Should we then say that the holy water is truly holy, the celebrity is charismatic and the national anthem is beautiful?
"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: What is Transmission?

Postby Will » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:45 pm

Astus: Will,

Yes, one can have the feeling and the idea that one has received blessings, transmissions or curses as well. But do you feel blessed when sprinkled by holy water? Do you feel ecstatic when meeting XY celebrity? Do you feel moved when hearing the national anthem? Even if you don't, many do. And some others feel and think the very opposite. Should we then say that the holy water is truly holy, the celebrity is charismatic and the national anthem is beautiful?


True enough, but you are shifting your query. The question was not, was X objectively holy etc, but if the alleged source of the transmission was extra-sensory or mystical how could that source affect one? I pointed out that our mind is beyond the 5 regular senses and thus mystical & extra-sensory itself. Are thoughts, feelings, ideas, imagination etc. confined to the 5 senses - no.

If you think the mind is identical with the brain, then say so; if not, then it appears to me that the non-physical mind is ideal for knowing the extra-sensory.
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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