Buddhism and Eternalism

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Buddhism and Eternalism

Postby Knotty Veneer » Thu May 31, 2012 12:44 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Why everybody keeps calling it a Buddhist community is well beyond me! I mean the "secular" newspapers who have no idea, I can understand, but now even Tricycle? Mind you, from what I hear about Tricycle... Sigh...
:namaste:


I know what you mean. I just got spammed by Tricycle for a "BuddhaFest Online Film Festival" which included a film about Ram Das and video of a performance by Krishna Das. Now I am sure the latter two gentlemen are wonderful people but neither is Buddhist. After dipping in and out for many years, I think it's a terrible rag - and it's not too surprising that Tricycle journalists are not keen to narrow the target demographic.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 5:11 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Why everybody keeps calling it a Buddhist community is well beyond me! I mean the "secular" newspapers who have no idea, I can understand, but now even Tricycle? Mind you, from what I hear about Tricycle... Sigh...
:namaste:


I know what you mean. I just got spammed by Tricycle for a "BuddhaFest Online Film Festival" which included a film about Ram Das and video of a performance by Krishna Das. Now I am sure the latter two gentlemen are wonderful people but neither is Buddhist.



Actually, both Ram Das and Krishna Das are students of Tulku Orgyen. Many of Neem Karoli Baba's students wound up sitting at the feet of Tulku Orgyen and many are still involved with Gomde crowd, Danny Goleman, etc.

But your comments are just more proof of what a confining and narrow box the label "Buddhist" has come to be. The first place I ever encountered Guru Rinpoche and his mantra was in Be Here Now.

M
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 6:21 pm

The first place I ever encountered Guru Rinpoche and his mantra was in Be Here Now.


WOW! REALLY? Then I must have read it there as well. Of course many people were introduced through Dr. Who as well (albeit negatively in that case).

Actually, both Ram Das and Krishna Das are students of Tulku Orgyen. Many of Neem Karoli Baba's students wound up sitting at the feet of Tulku Orgyen and many are still involved with Gomde crowd, Danny Goleman, etc.


Yeah but Krishna Das at last reading is focused on Hindu based devotionalism. The real issue there is eternalism.

Ram Das is clearly responding to his students and people who come to him but reportedly is a Krishna devotee. As students of Tulku Orgyen they might see things differently. But then we might say the same of Rebbe Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. The results are good and useful, esp. for this world, but this is not the same understanding and realization as Buddhdharma just as Catholic Zen is not the same as Zen Buddhism*.

Kirt

*I had two Catholic Zen teachers as they were also in Maezumi Roshi's lineage. I found it a bit strange but they could lead retreats well. To me they were Zen teachers. To many others they were Catholic teachers. Although this is superficial, for several short retreats I had no idea that the Kwan Yin statue at the entrance of the zendo was actually a statue of Mary.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 6:27 pm

kirtu wrote:...but this is not the same understanding and realization as Buddhdharma.


When you have realized Buddhadharma, then you can say something about the "realization of Buddhadharma". As for understanding, there are a hundred different understandings of Buddhadharma, and some are quite "eternalistic". In the meantime, it is better to keep and open mind and not create more unnecessary divisions in an already fractured world.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 7:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:...but this is not the same understanding and realization as Buddhdharma.


When you have realized Buddhadharma, then you can say something about the "realization of Buddhadharma". As for understanding, there are a hundred different understandings of Buddhadharma, and some are quite "eternalistic". In the meantime, it is better to keep and open mind and not create more unnecessary divisions in an already fractured world.


Now, now .... (shades of Scott Pilgrim vs. the Seven Evil Ex's) - both Ram Das and Krishna Das *have* presented their understanding and in their terminology (always a mine field) they have presented a kind of eternalist view, something not based on anatta. More recently (like the past 20 yrs) Ram Das has not played his cards on the matter as he is devoted to serving people where they are and so uses whatever terminology is meaningful to people in need who come to him. Nonetheless Ram Das said he was a Ganesh devotee in the 90's (I previously said Krishna). Reb Zalman is similar (one cannot hold him to a traditional Orthodox view that he espoused before the mid-60's for example) but seems to hold an eternalist view at least as a starting point for expressing himself within a Jewish context (taken for example from interviews between himself and HHDL).

Of course esp. in our dark world one can learn lovingkindness and compassion and service from these great people. But they are not teaching a realization of anatta (except possibly in the gross sense of the breakdown or dissolution of artificial ego barriers).

Kirt
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 7:39 pm

kirtu wrote:Of course esp. in our dark world one can learn lovingkindness and compassion and service from these great people. But they are not teaching a realization of anatta (except possibly in the gross sense of the breakdown or dissolution of artificial ego barriers).
Kirt


How do you know? Did you ever talk to them about whether they accept a personal self?

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 7:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:Of course esp. in our dark world one can learn lovingkindness and compassion and service from these great people. But they are not teaching a realization of anatta (except possibly in the gross sense of the breakdown or dissolution of artificial ego barriers).
Kirt


How do you know? Did you ever talk to them about whether they accept a personal self?

M


No, not personally. As indicated everything is by inference from publicised interviews. It's also not appropriate for me to ask them such a question. They aren't teaching Buddhadharma as they aren't saying that their teachings are Buddhadharma. They themselves have identified their teachings as not Buddhadharma (or, as noted in Ram Das's case, just not taken a position that I know of in recent years). They are teaching Jewish people, Hindu's, New Age people, or other people who are attracted to their excellent teachings. When talking to other people in these interviews they are talking about a species of eternalism and usually the invocation of deistic ideas. So that's what I base my assertion on. While I haven't spoken to them personally I have nonetheless heard and read their words.

Kirt
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 7:52 pm

kirtu wrote:So that's what I base my assertion on. While I haven't spoken to them personally I have nonetheless heard and read their words.


Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Knotty Veneer » Thu May 31, 2012 8:22 pm

Malcolm wrote:
But your comments are just more proof of what a confining and narrow box the label "Buddhist" has come to be. The first place I ever encountered Guru Rinpoche and his mantra was in Be Here Now.

M


Well it may be confining for some but for others like myself, I like a clearly defined system with a beginning, a middle and an end. The problem of applying the term Buddhism to whatever teachings one approves of is that Buddhism becomes a creation in one's own image. That is what has got Michael Roach and Christie McNally in such a dreadful position.

Call me a simple soul but for me Buddhadharma is a teaching that bears the four seals and a Buddhist someone who takes refuge in the Three Jewels. I don't think that is so limiting.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 8:29 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:So that's what I base my assertion on. While I haven't spoken to them personally I have nonetheless heard and read their words.


Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.


Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism. He also taught some people to not abandon Vedic ceremonies from their cultural or familial lineages. He accepted at least one person as a student who was following Jain teachings and made him promise to not abandon those teachings. We could go on and on (Shakyamuni followed Jain teachings or Jain-like teachings from previous lifetimes for example). And as you noted there have been forms of Buddhism that seemed to have eternalist elements. But not surviving orthodox schools (although people would still throw that accusation at the Jonang).

Kirt
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 8:39 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:So that's what I base my assertion on. While I haven't spoken to them personally I have nonetheless heard and read their words.


Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.


Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism.


That's what some texts say. And there are other texts that say the opposite.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 8:45 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.


Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism.


That's what some texts say. And there are other texts that say the opposite.

M


Which other texts?

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 8:55 pm

kirtu wrote:
Which other texts?

Kirt



Mahāparinirvana sūtra for one.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 9:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Which other texts?



Mahāparinirvana sūtra for one.


Dang, I fell into your trap. I have to actually sit down and read that sutra through but you are refering to Chapter 12 where the Tathagatagarbha is identified as the self, etc.? Of course sutra's are finger's pointing to the moon, not the moon itself. It is of course true that the Tathagatagarbha is the self as all beings are endowed with the potential to attain Buddhahood. However that Tathagatagarbha is not self-existent and fully developed (unless we want to suggest that a person's occasional good deed and spontaneous compassion is a sign of the Tathagatagarbha lurking beneath the conditioned surface). We could go round and round (and you have in various explanations over the years and forums). And I could hardly raise a real objection to your arguments.

Nonetheless I would suggest that at least two of the three men's views that were raised a few posts ago, and possibly all three, would almost certainly admit a stronger degree of eternalism than that possibly raised in the Mahāparinirvana Sūtra.

Kirt
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 31, 2012 9:33 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Which other texts?



Mahāparinirvana sūtra for one.


Dang, I fell into your trap. I have to actually sit down and read that sutra through but you are refering to Chapter 12 where the Tathagatagarbha is identified as the self, etc.? Of course sutra's are finger's pointing to the moon, not the moon itself. It is of course true that the Tathagatagarbha is the self as all beings are endowed with the potential to attain Buddhahood. However that Tathagatagarbha is not self-existent and fully developed (unless we want to suggest that a person's occasional good deed and spontaneous compassion is a sign of the Tathagatagarbha lurking beneath the conditioned surface). We could go round and round (and you have in various explanations over the years and forums). And I could hardly raise a real objection to your arguments.

Nonetheless I would suggest that at least two of the three men's views that were raised a few posts ago, and possibly all three, would almost certainly admit a stronger degree of eternalism than that possibly raised in the Mahāparinirvana Sūtra.

Kirt


Your statement about the Tathagatagabha sutras is the polished and revisionist Madhyamaka/Yogacara version of Tgarbha theory. I personally beleive they are every bit as eternalistic in intent as their critics thought them to be. Unlike Madhyamaka [PP sutras] and Yogacara [yogacara sutras] there are no surviving independent treatises which do not belong to either of the aforementioned schools on Tgarbha theory. Tgarbha theory too is arguably much earlier than Yogacara. And the gzhan stong of Dolbuba is fully as eternlist as he is accused of being. Just saying...

M

But this is :offtopic: :-)
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:12 am

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:So that's what I base my assertion on. While I haven't spoken to them personally I have nonetheless heard and read their words.


Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.


Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism. He also taught some people to not abandon Vedic ceremonies from their cultural or familial lineages. He accepted at least one person as a student who was following Jain teachings and made him promise to not abandon those teachings. We could go on and on (Shakyamuni followed Jain teachings or Jain-like teachings from previous lifetimes for example). And as you noted there have been forms of Buddhism that seemed to have eternalist elements. But not surviving orthodox schools (although people would still throw that accusation at the Jonang).

Kirt



MY REPLY:MAHAPARINIRVANA SUTRA
Chapter 12:On the nature of the Tathagata
One who takes refuge in the Buddha is a true upasaka. He no longer takes refuge in all the other gods. One who takes refuge in Dharma cuts himself away from harming others. One who takes refuge In the holy Sangha does not take refuge in other religions. Thus taking refuge in the Three Treasures,one attains fearlessness."

We as Buddhists are not supposed to belong to other religions.

your joking right?? no surviving orthodox schools that hold eternalist elements,you do realise that MAHAYANA schools are centered around the Lotus sutra and Mahaparinirvana sutra dont you???the Lotus sutra was the sutra that proclaimed the Mahayana and the eternal Buddha who never dies (chap 16) it also speaks of all of us atttaining enlightenement in the future,while it doesnt use he word Tathagatagarbha it discribs it in perfect meaning.ALL of east asian schools are centered around the Tathagatagarbha teachings only 2% of all of Buddhism holds the Madhyamaka view of tibetan buddhism,as a famous zen master said end the self gain the TRUE SELF.

Chan was founded on Lankavatara sutra its Tathagatagarbha,teintai founded on Lotus sutra and incorperated the Nirvana school,3 pureland sutras contains the eternal living Buddha.

The Lotus sutra states that the views of the 2nd turning were provisional(Madyamaka)(not finished truth or the whoile truth) but =upaya
the Tathagatagarbha was the complete truth or finished truth which is why Mahaparinirvana sutra and Lotus sutra were the foundation for all of Mahayana Buddhism in asia.also the Nirvana sutra states that tathagatagarbha is not upaya.

the Mahaparinirvana sutra proclaims the eternal life of the Buddha the true self,and proclaims the end of the false self(nonself) or tainted individual ego,Tathagatagarbha is enlightenment with the dirt on it(YOU)
Nirvana sutra teaches the Buddha never dies
eternalism was always the view of YOU or a tainted self always existing
TRUE SELF is the 4th noble truth which is the only truth that is PERMANENT unless you say an Buddha retrogresses and is not fixed??meaning he can fall and have greed,anger,ignorance??

http://karunadharmakayabuddhism.org/Page_10.html

do a search on google for it.

this is our sanghas website tell us what you think about it.
please send me a personal message about the sangha info,not here for (TOS) reasons
were a mish mash of laity veitnamese,chinese,japanese,and american followers we center around loving kindness/Tathagatagarbha/and the Pureland teachings for laity.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:00 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Uh huh. Buddha also taught eternalism for some folks.


Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism. He also taught some people to not abandon Vedic ceremonies from their cultural or familial lineages. He accepted at least one person as a student who was following Jain teachings and made him promise to not abandon those teachings. We could go on and on (Shakyamuni followed Jain teachings or Jain-like teachings from previous lifetimes for example). And as you noted there have been forms of Buddhism that seemed to have eternalist elements. But not surviving orthodox schools (although people would still throw that accusation at the Jonang).

Kirt



MY REPLY:MAHAPARINIRVANA SUTRA
Chapter 12:On the nature of the Tathagata


your joking right?? no surviving orthodox schools that hold eternalist elements,you do realise that MAHAYANA schools are centered around the Lotus sutra and Mahaparinirvana sutra dont you???the Lotus sutra was the sutra that proclaimed the Mahayana and the eternal Buddha who never dies (chap 16)


My short answer is let's understand the meaning and not just the words.


it also speaks of all of us atttaining enlightenement in the future,


Good encouragement.


while it doesnt use he word Tathagatagarbha it discribs it in perfect meaning.ALL of east asian schools are centered around the Tathagatagarbha teachings only 2% of all of Buddhism holds the Madhyamaka view of tibetan buddhism,as a famous zen master said end the self gain the TRUE SELF.


A lot of TB is also centered around tathagathagarbha. Tathagathagarbha does not have to mean eternalism in any of the tenant systems of Mahayana Buddhism.

Chan was founded on Lankavatara sutra its Tathagatagarbha,teintai founded on Lotus sutra and incorperated the Nirvana school,3 pureland sutras contains the eternal living Buddha.


The Pure Land Sutras have the story of a monk who became Amitabha Buddha. So now that he has become a Buddha he lives eternally (actually there is this story about Buddhas having a very long but limited lifespan connected with the Pure Land Sutras and with Amitabha in particular).

You can interpret the sutras to support eternalism if you like but in Zen Buddhism in particular this is untenable. This is because in Zen we can directly purify our minds and over time see that progression. Nonetheless mind always changes and is subject to conditioning and we can observe that directly. We can experience the purity of mind directly but this purity is weak and virtually unseen in the workaday world. Therefore it is not a fully fleshed out Buddha.

also the Nirvana sutra states that tathagatagarbha is not upaya.


I never said that Tathagathagarbha was upaya.

Kirt
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Re: Buddhism and Eternalism

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:27 am

"Yes, that's true. But that was also upaya in order to get them to not fall into nihilism"

this was the past post I was refering to.

yet the lankavatara teaches to understand the meaning not the words.

when you read the nirvana sutra you will see the meaning
the Buddha is eternal,never dies,and never changes

and eternalism is wrong view/EXCEPT when people look at the "word" they take it to mean ALL things are not eternal,
the MEANING of eternalism was only for the tainted ego false self beings(i.e gods)

read the Mahaparinirva sutra chapter 45:on Kaundinya 1
look for SENIKA this is where ETERNALISM is refuted,it shows that the MEANING of eternalism was for the non-buddhist in reference to "their"self(tainted defiled self)
also commonly used to refer to the SELF of the gods mostly(the Buddhas refutaion of eternalism was meant for the tainted self not the Buddha.
this is the meaning not just the word.

Most Buddhist take eternalism at its word and include the Buddha also,when we should take it as its meaning that eternalism is talking about the tainted selfs and not the Buddha.

I also asked you earlier does the Buddha change???is (Buddha) fixed being or a changeing being like us??
also the LIFE priniciple itself is eternal,whether you are tainted self or Buddha self,you never truely die but are continuously reborn FOREVER,the tainted self changes but the life force itself always exists.so their is no such thing as death in buddhism,energy never dies it only transfers to a different outlet :D

peace and Love Brother I enjoy talking to you.
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Re: Buddhism and Eternalism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:25 am

While there are undoubtedly purposefully eternalist text exising within some Buddhist Canons I personally believe that the teachings within the Tathagatagarbha Sutras, the Lankvatara Sutra and or the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra are not necessarily eternalist. It is true though that if viewed through the prism of eternalism they may seem so. But then if one wears rose coloured glasses everything looks rose coloured, so that proves nothing...

Eternalism puts one in contradiction with the Four Dharma Seals, thus an eternalist reading of these texts (or eternalist texts themselves) is not a view that is based on Buddhdharma. Now, of course M. may trot out the now jaded arguement that Buddism is not necessarily Buddhadharma, to which I agree to an extent, but at the same time not ALL Buddhism is divorced from Buddhadharma AND not all non-Budhist views are necessarily Buddhadharma. No matter which spiritual/religious milieu one may belong to, it's always a good idea to carefully consider what is being propounded using a analysis based on the Four Dharma Seals as a measure of the validity of their view.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Buddhism and Eternalism

Postby Anders » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:34 am

gregkavarnos wrote:While there are undoubtedly purposefully eternalist text exising within some Buddhist Canons I personally believe that the teachings within the Tathagatagarbha Sutras, the Lankvatara Sutra and or the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra are not necessarily eternalist. It is true though that if viewed through the prism of eternalism they may seem so. But then if one wears rose coloured glasses everything looks rose coloured, so that proves nothing...

Eternalism puts one in contradiction with the Four Dharma Seals, thus an eternalist reading of these texts (or eternalist texts themselves) is not a view that is based on Buddhdharma. Now, of course M. may trot out the now jaded arguement that Buddism is not necessarily Buddhadharma, to which I agree to an extent, but at the same time not ALL Buddhism is divorced from Buddhadharma AND not all non-Budhist views are necessarily Buddhadharma. No matter which spiritual/religious milieu one may belong to, it's always a good idea to carefully consider what is being propounded using a analysis based on the Four Dharma Seals as a measure of the validity of their view.
:namaste:


Imo, the question of eternalism and selfhood is perfectly overrated in Buddhism. Buddhists hear the word 'self' and before they've even taken a moment to consider how it is used they've braced themselves for adharma. What happens if you take the Dharmakaya to be eternalistic? What are the consequences? I don't subscribe to the view that getting a few abstract philosophical details wrong is such wrong view it will impede your chances of realisation

Or perhaps a better way to get at this is to ask: For whom is this relevant? . Imo, it's only relevant for those who have actually realised this and then apprehend it as self. And even so, rather than setting up a position of 'what is the Buddhist take' etc. I'd rather ask: What are the practical consequences? According to an arhat like Luangta Maha Boowa, the final strand of ignorance between arhatship and non-returning is so luminous and radiant that most people who get there will mistake it for a true self. That's a pretty select elite of people for whom the question of eternalism is relevant. It also tells us it's possible to hold the view of eternalism and actually get that far.

Someone else I know voiced the concern that people who awaken within a framework of eternalism are given a framework to really latch on to that realisation and make it into an ultimate prize and emptiness teachings don't encourage the same thing. I can see that and it's a fair call, but it's as much to do with personality of the practitioner and emptiness practitioners trade it in for a tendency towards annihilationalism.

OTOH, all these eternalist teachings, and I am cutting a wide swath here and including all Tathagatagarbha teachings and those that are based on them, provide a perspective with great practical value that madhyamika struggles to formulate. The whole 'innate wisdom' thing are very useful fingers pointing to the moon in terms of relaxing into the path and being able to let go. It's a very direct and intuitive approach.

As long as you let go of everything in the end, it isn't all it's cooked up to be along the way, imo. The great Chan master Mazu, who taught all kinds of eternalistic Tathagatagarbha stuff was asked: "Why do you teach that Mind is Buddha?" "to stop little children from crying." "What about after that?" "Neither mind nor Buddha." Problem solved.

As I see, we all carry views of alternating annihilationalism and eternalism on very subtle cognitive levels that see us departing from the middle way at a most basic level. Probably will do so all the way up until full liberation. Fretting too much about our intellectual views of all this is like polishing a turd. That's not where the real issue is.
"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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Anders
 
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