Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

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Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Jnana » Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:02 pm

Here's a paper for anyone who may be interested in trying to navigate through this particular labyrinth of doctrinal development:

A Comparison of Ālaya-Vijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen by David F. Germano and William S. Waldron.

    How are we shaped by structures and processes outside our conscious awareness? To what degree are these processes bodily, emotional, or cognitive? How do they determine the way we react to or apprehend our world? Are they peculiar to each individual or also intersubjective? Are these structures largely fixed, or are they ongoing constructive processes? How can we bring these structures and processes into conscious awareness? How can reflexive awareness alter their character and influence? Are these processes pure or impure? If they were originally pure, how would deluded and distorted reactive patterns arise? Or if these processes were originally impure, how could they be purified? And if they were originally pure, how would such purity appear within deluded bodily, emotional, and cognitive experiences?

    These questions have been raised by countless thinkers over the centuries and systematically addressed by mystics and philosophers alike. We will examine Buddhist responses to these questions in the Indian Yogācāra and Tibetan Great Perfection (rdzogs chen) traditions as articulated through the concepts of “foundational consciousness” (S: ālaya-vijñāna, T: kun gzhi rnam par shes pa) and “foundation/ground” (S: ālaya, T: kun gzhi), respectively.
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:16 pm

As usual - excellent resource. Thanks Jnana!
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Leo Rivers » Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:09 am

Check out this while you're there: 11.3.3 Doctrinal Systems for Richard H. Robinson - The Buddhist Religion http://www.scribd.com/doc/81473477/51/Doctrinal-Systems
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:03 pm

Leo Rivers wrote:Check out this while you're there: 11.3.3 Doctrinal Systems for Richard H. Robinson - The Buddhist Religion http://www.scribd.com/doc/81473477/51/Doctrinal-Systems


Thanks Leo,

This is interesting. I knew about the tulku tradition stemming from the Kagyus, but didn't know about this part of its origin:

"The tulku tradition originated in the Karma subschool of the Kagyus. One of Marpa's reputed magical skills had been the ability to transfer his spirit to animate the body of a person newly dead. The purpose of this skill, aside from its entertainment value, was to cheat death. If one were approaching death oneself, one could continue life in a younger body of one's choosing. Marpa had been unable to pass along this particular skill to any of his followers, but the tradition of its existence led the second hierarch of the Karma school,Karma Paksi (1204-83)-reputedly skilled at both Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices - to attempt to inject his spirit at death into the corpse of a boy. He failed in his attempt and ended up injecting his spirit into the womb of an expectant mother. After his rebirth, he was able to recount the details of his experience and was ultimately accepted as the next leader of the Karma school."

Begs the question - if the 2nd Karmapa injected his mindstream into the foetus of the expectant mother, won't it mean that the original mindstream of the foetus was ejected out (since in the sutras the Buddha taught that the consciousness of the reborn descends into the womb upon conception of the baby)? Won't that result in death?
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:15 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
Leo Rivers wrote:Check out this while you're there: 11.3.3 Doctrinal Systems for Richard H. Robinson - The Buddhist Religion http://www.scribd.com/doc/81473477/51/Doctrinal-Systems


Thanks Leo,

This is interesting. I knew about the tulku tradition stemming from the Kagyus, but didn't know about this part of its origin:

"The tulku tradition originated in the Karma subschool of the Kagyus. One of Marpa's reputed magical skills had been the ability to transfer his spirit to animate the body of a person newly dead. The purpose of this skill, aside from its entertainment value, was to cheat death. If one were approaching death oneself, one could continue life in a younger body of one's choosing. Marpa had been unable to pass along this particular skill to any of his followers, but the tradition of its existence led the second hierarch of the Karma school,Karma Paksi (1204-83)-reputedly skilled at both Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices - to attempt to inject his spirit at death into the corpse of a boy. He failed in his attempt and ended up injecting his spirit into the womb of an expectant mother. After his rebirth, he was able to recount the details of his experience and was ultimately accepted as the next leader of the Karma school."

Begs the question - if the 2nd Karmapa injected his mindstream into the foetus of the expectant mother, won't it mean that the original mindstream of the foetus was ejected out (since in the sutras the Buddha taught that the consciousness of the reborn descends into the womb upon conception of the baby)? Won't that result in death?


One would think so, but at the same time you also have cases multiple incarnations of the same mindstream operating spontaneously in some cases - eg all the Kongtrul tulkus. So if that is possible, what isn't?
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:44 pm

For Buddhas, multiple emanations are normal.
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:24 am

Greg wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
Leo Rivers wrote:Check out this while you're there: 11.3.3 Doctrinal Systems for Richard H. Robinson - The Buddhist Religion http://www.scribd.com/doc/81473477/51/Doctrinal-Systems


Thanks Leo,

This is interesting. I knew about the tulku tradition stemming from the Kagyus, but didn't know about this part of its origin:

"The tulku tradition originated in the Karma subschool of the Kagyus. One of Marpa's reputed magical skills had been the ability to transfer his spirit to animate the body of a person newly dead. The purpose of this skill, aside from its entertainment value, was to cheat death. If one were approaching death oneself, one could continue life in a younger body of one's choosing. Marpa had been unable to pass along this particular skill to any of his followers, but the tradition of its existence led the second hierarch of the Karma school,Karma Paksi (1204-83)-reputedly skilled at both Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices - to attempt to inject his spirit at death into the corpse of a boy. He failed in his attempt and ended up injecting his spirit into the womb of an expectant mother. After his rebirth, he was able to recount the details of his experience and was ultimately accepted as the next leader of the Karma school."

Begs the question - if the 2nd Karmapa injected his mindstream into the foetus of the expectant mother, won't it mean that the original mindstream of the foetus was ejected out (since in the sutras the Buddha taught that the consciousness of the reborn descends into the womb upon conception of the baby)? Won't that result in death?


One would think so, but at the same time you also have cases multiple incarnations of the same mindstream operating spontaneously in some cases - eg all the Kongtrul tulkus. So if that is possible, what isn't?


Well, that's true. Robinson suggested that the idea of multiple simultaneous split of mindstreams was developed later, and for political expediency:

robinson_tulku.jpg
robinson_tulku.jpg (85.58 KiB) Viewed 870 times


I am still a little ambivalent about this idea. In the classical Indian texts, Buddhas can project nirmanakayas onto many realms as nirmanakaya Buddhas, but there can only be 1 Supreme Buddha at any one time in any realm, so you don't get a case of multiple birth incarnations of the same Buddha walking around in the same time period. The great Bodhisattvas can project multiple emanations but as far as I know, these are not birth emanations, but more like apparitions (similar to those created by the manomayakaya abhijna). Perhaps there are Indian texts that mention the type of birth emanations we see in Tibet, but I have not come across these before.

Is it the case that only in Tibet we find such examples, and that these phenomena only developed later? What happens when 2 birth emanations of the same mindstream disagree with each other? Is that a display of skillful means? All sorts of questions like these spring up, and it can be difficult to find justification for it sometimes, and is especially tricky if one need to maintain guru devotion.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Greg » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:00 pm

TUlkus who turned out to be obvious poor choices could be removed from office on the grounds that their bodhisattva had abandoned them.

This is a curious statement. I'm not aware of any examples of this happening.
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:49 pm

Greg wrote:TUlkus who turned out to be obvious poor choices could be removed from office on the grounds that their bodhisattva had abandoned them.

This is a curious statement. I'm not aware of any examples of this happening.


Actually, this statement is quite ridiculous, come to think of it. It implies that Bodhisattvas are like daimons watching over the tulkus. Wonder where Robinson got that information from.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Leo Rivers » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:25 am

Actually, I think I remember way back some decades ago I heard about some of the older legends in Tibet the language that sounds like a Bodhisattva "evicts" the consciousness stream in the baby in the womb and "inhabits' that body. But you have to understand Buddhist were considered magical people in Tibet and China so became the target of popular uneducated speculations. And a Good Tall Tale gets passed on - its too much fun to discard. This is consistent with the Tibetan Zombie tradition of a Monk "animating" a corpse or riding in it like a chariot or using it like a hand puppet by mind power. Or, Horror - getting trapped inside!

All of this is way ancient shamanistic language and I doubt the Karmapa Tradition or any of the subsequent mainstream Buddhist traditions use this kind of explanation. But it is ghoulish fun to chatter about.
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby pueraeternus » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:14 pm

Leo Rivers wrote:Actually, I think I remember way back some decades ago I heard about some of the older legends in Tibet the language that sounds like a Bodhisattva "evicts" the consciousness stream in the baby in the womb and "inhabits' that body. But you have to understand Buddhist were considered magical people in Tibet and China so became the target of popular uneducated speculations. And a Good Tall Tale gets passed on - its too much fun to discard. This is consistent with the Tibetan Zombie tradition of a Monk "animating" a corpse or riding in it like a chariot or using it like a hand puppet by mind power. Or, Horror - getting trapped inside!

All of this is way ancient shamanistic language and I doubt the Karmapa Tradition or any of the subsequent mainstream Buddhist traditions use this kind of explanation. But it is ghoulish fun to chatter about.


I am wondering if Robinson got his info from official Kagyu annals, or from common folklore. If from the former, then its is indeed curious - how do they reconcile that with basic precepts? I get he animation of corpses thing - no beings were harmed since the consciousness would have departed after death. But the 2nd Karmapa baby thing sounds accidental. Unless of course they say the consciousness of the baby was instantaneously sent to a pure buddhaksetra - then ok, maybe.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: Ālayavijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen

Postby Sherlock » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:59 pm

This is leading very far away from the original topic.

Abyway, projection into corpses is said to be the Sixth Yoga of Naropa; Buddhists claim it's lost, but I don't know, maybe it's still being taught in absolute secret to some practitioners. It definitely still exists in Hindu Tantra though.
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