Avoiding the stream?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:09 pm

In Theravaden Buddhism one meditates according to satipatthana sutta, as one progresses stages of insight are reached, eventually one enters the stream(sotapanna). At most one will have seven rebirths until full liberation.

How do Mahayana meditators gain insight, but avoid entering the stream and becoming sotapanna's?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Ayu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:34 pm

As far as i understood, a bodhisattva does not avoid the stream. His goal is also personal release. (Am i right with such words in English?)
But by the increasing bodhicitta he will come back. Rebirth by wish and compassion.
The bodhisattva is not attached to samsara, he has as much deviation against Samsara like the Theravadins too, but because of the strong wish to help the sentient beings he doesn't merge into Nirvana.

It is like if the own mother is suffering big pain: i cannot enjoy my personal holiday then, i have the wish to be with her to help.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:14 pm

Entering the 1st Bhumi is considered entering the stream in Mahayana. The practitioner is not assured of attainment of complete Buddhahood yet (this is only attained at the 8th Bhumi), but even if he falters in his Bodhisattva career, he will not slip back into the stage of a worldly being (prathagjana).
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Jinzang » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:31 am

By cultivating bodhicitta and vowing to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings. This is explained in the Jewel Ornament of Liberation and probably elsewhere.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:34 pm

pueraeternus wrote:Entering the 1st Bhumi is considered entering the stream in Mahayana. The practitioner is not assured of attainment of complete Buddhahood yet (this is only attained at the 8th Bhumi), but even if he falters in his Bodhisattva career, he will not slip back into the stage of a worldly being (prathagjana).


Thanks pueraeternus,

This was very informative, will the bodhisattva attain full awakening within 7 births?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:18 pm

lowlydog wrote: This was very informative, will the bodhisattva attain full awakening within 7 births?


I am assuming you meant after entering the 1st bhumi, and full awakening refers to anuttara samyaksambodhi. That depends on which tradition you are practicing. Some teachings espouse the possibility of full enlightenment with the same lifetime (whether this is really the case realistically is another question), while some teachings follow the traditional timeline of 3 asamkhyeyas kalpas to accomplish the five paths and ten grounds (bhumis). Note that entering the 1st bhumi is the 3rd path (path of seeing), so the 3 asamkhyeyas kalpas include the first 2 paths of accumulation and preparation.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:36 pm

By full awakening I meant Arahantship, but this only equates to the 8th bhumi if I'm understanding this correctly. 9-10th bhumis lead to buddhahood.

My understanding to date is that a human being is human being and the teaching must be universal. Different techniques may be used as we each have led different karmic paths, but ultimately we must pass through the same stages as the enlightened ones before us have. My point being that all factions of buddhism are ultimately the same teaching under a different disguise, basically a different description of the same stages.

Now if one is practicing within a Theravaden tradition and becomes an arahant, what would prevent this being from going further and becoming a buddha?

Gotama reached the level of arahant and concluded no one would understand his teaching, he then was begged by a brahman to teach. It seems the overcoming of this obstacle is equivalent to 9-10th bhumi?

If so, a Christian following a path of deep contemplation could reach a similar stage of saintlyness(arahantship) and go on to become the next Buddha(only call it something else).
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:08 am

lowlydog wrote:By full awakening I meant Arahantship, but this only equates to the 8th bhumi if I'm understanding this correctly. 9-10th bhumis lead to buddhahood.


The reason why it is often considered that the 8th bhumi is equivalent to the arhat's attainment is due to the complete eradication of the kleshas upon entering the 8th bhumi, which is also the reason why the 8th-10th bhumis are called the 3 pure stages. However, that's the only similarity between the two (as in both the bodhisattva and arhat are free of afflictions). By this time, the bodhisattva's accumulation of merit and wisdom is vastly ahead of the arhat. I have come across presentations that state that the arhat can embark on a bodhisattva path from the 8th, and also presentations that state the arhat have to start from the path of accumulation, though it won't be as arduous for them due their already formidable accomplishments.

lowlydog wrote:My understanding to date is that a human being is human being and the teaching must be universal. Different techniques may be used as we each have led different karmic paths, but ultimately we must pass through the same stages as the enlightened ones before us have. My point being that all factions of buddhism are ultimately the same teaching under a different disguise, basically a different description of the same stages.


Well, the stages are not exactly the same, since their paths are different. Also, the gotras of the arhat and bodhisattva are different too (see the Ratnagotravibhaga/Uttaratantra). And of course, their goals are also different. Though most people take the Lotus' perspective that eventually the Sravaka Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas will continue their path and attain Buddhahood, this is not exactly the case if you examine the broad spectrum of Mahayana sutras. For example, Nagarjuna was very explicit that for a Bodhisattva to fall into the state of an Arhat, that means the final end of his career and he will never attain Buddhahood.

lowlydog wrote: Now if one is practicing within a Theravaden tradition and becomes an arahant, what would prevent this being from going further and becoming a buddha?


Let's assume that we are taking the Lotus/Ekayana perspective, then the only thing preventing the Arhat from proceeding forward is to fail to produce Bodhicitta.

lowlydog wrote: Gotama reached the level of arahant and concluded no one would understand his teaching, he then was begged by a brahman to teach. It seems the overcoming of this obstacle is equivalent to 9-10th bhumi?


Shakyamuni attained the state of a Buddha Arhat - not the state of a Sravaka Arhat. By the time he was approached by Brahma Sahampati, he had already surpassed the 10th bhumi and crowned Dharmaraja.

lowlydog wrote: If so, a Christian following a path of deep contemplation could reach a similar stage of saintlyness(arahantship) and go on to become the next Buddha(only call it something else).


Well, personally I think it is highly unlikely that a Christian would reach any arya stage, since their paths of contemplation are not the same as the ones taught by the Buddha. Their faith is centered around the idea of a Creator - so no matter how lofty their meditations are, they cannot escape this view, unless they deviate from Christian doctrine and teachings.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:04 pm

Are you saying Jesus Christ was not a bodhisattva?

Some may have confused his teachings, but there are some who understand.

What does a Mahayana meditator do differently?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:11 pm

lowlydog wrote:Are you saying Jesus Christ was not a bodhisattva?
Some may have confused his teachings, but there are some who understand.


Jesus Christ gives some good teachings, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is a bodhisattva. I don't know for sure, but I don't see anything in his teachings that approximate the Buddha's teachings in terms of emptiness, dependent origination, etc.

So what aspects of his teachings leads you to consider him a bodhisattva?

lowlydog wrote: What does a Mahayana meditator do differently?


Do differently from whom or what (are we talking about Christian contemplation or Theravada)?
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:25 pm

I believe the bible has been mistranslated over the years and the message and teachings have not been preserved. When I view passages from the bible from a buddhist perspective they take on a similar message, "know thyself", "the meek will inherit the earth". I believe a man who is being tortured to death, and who only has compassion towards all, must have reached a stage of saintlyness if not equal to that of an arahant. He certainly left an impression on those who knew him.

I practice morality, concentration and wisdom, what does a mahayana practicioner do differently that will lead them to buddhahood and not me?

If a christian or a muslim practices morality, concentration and wisdom within their own tradition why can they not become a buddha only call it another name?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:43 am

lowlydog wrote:I believe the bible has been mistranslated over the years and the message and teachings have not been preserved. When I view passages from the bible from a buddhist perspective they take on a similar message, "know thyself", "the meek will inherit the earth". I believe a man who is being tortured to death, and who only has compassion towards all, must have reached a stage of saintlyness if not equal to that of an arahant. He certainly left an impression on those who knew him.


Well, I don't share the same sentiments. "Know thyself" is pretty general good advice, but nothing astoundingly groundbreaking. "The meek will inherit the earth" is entirely specific to Christianity that has no correlation to Buddhist teachings. There are many good people out there, but it doesn't mean they are saints in the Buddhist sense. Buddhist notion of sanctity is very specific - it has more to do with a specific type of insight, rather than general "saintlyness". It seems your notion of sanctity is more to do with virtue (sila), which is alright as a general measure, but insufficient in the Buddhist paradigm. A Buddhist arya attains his fruit by three measures - virtue (sila), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna), and the wisdom is the most important in breaking through onto the path of seeing.

lowlydog wrote: I practice morality, concentration and wisdom, what does a mahayana practicioner do differently that will lead them to buddhahood and not me?


A Bodhisattva-aspirant sees the suffering of the samsara, brings forth great compassion (mahakaruna) and engenders adhimukti (aspiration) for enlightenment. If he is not yet of the Buddha-gotra, he applies great effort and enters it through developing the roots of merit. At the peak of these preparatory stages, he generates the production of the thought of bodhi (bodhicittotpada) and vows that he will embark on the arduous discipline of the Bodhisattva so that he may attain Buddhahood for the sake of delivering all sentient beings. From this point on, he is truly a Bodhisattva, and not only a hopeful aspirant.

In short - it is a specific orientation and vow that makes the difference. Also, in Mahayana, there are other teachings, practices and meditations that are taught in the Mahayana sutras that are not found in the Agamas.

lowlydog wrote: If a christian or a muslim practices morality, concentration and wisdom within their own tradition why can they not become a buddha only call it another name?


From a Buddhist perspective, they will not, since they may have morality and concentration, but their notion of what constitutes wisdom is not the same as what constitutes wisdom in Buddhism. Their understanding of the nature of reality is entirely different from the Buddhist.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Jeff » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:08 am

lowlydog wrote:I believe the bible has been mistranslated over the years and the message and teachings have not been preserved. When I view passages from the bible from a buddhist perspective they take on a similar message, "know thyself", "the meek will inherit the earth". I believe a man who is being tortured to death, and who only has compassion towards all, must have reached a stage of saintlyness if not equal to that of an arahant. He certainly left an impression on those who knew him.

I practice morality, concentration and wisdom, what does a mahayana practicioner do differently that will lead them to buddhahood and not me?

If a christian or a muslim practices morality, concentration and wisdom within their own tradition why can they not become a buddha only call it another name?


Makes a lot of sense. Even when you think of the concept of communion and Jesus says things like "eat of my body", you could see that as possibly describing something like Dzogchen Transmissions to poor Jewish fishermen.

:smile:
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby lowlydog » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:40 am

pueraeternus wrote:In short - it is a specific orientation and vow that makes the difference. Also, in Mahayana, there are other teachings, practices and meditations that are taught in the Mahayana sutras that are not found in the Agamas.



Could you explain this specific orientation and vow that seperates us?

Also, the Buddha was not a "Buddhist" he was a man who rediscovered a simple technique that eradicates the ego, and he shared this with others. Any human being that practices this technique will come out of suffering. Others have found this without coming in contact with buddhism and they teach in their own ways and these other ways are the basis of other religions. Do not be so naive to discount other traditions as inferior.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:56 am

lowlydog wrote:Could you explain this specific orientation and vow that seperates us?


The vow to become a fully enlightened Buddha. If you have this vow to attain Buddhahood, then you are a Bodhisattva. If you vow to free yourself from samsara and without any specific intention to help others free themselves, then your goal is probably Arhathood.

lowlydog wrote:Also, the Buddha was not a "Buddhist" he was a man who rediscovered a simple technique that eradicates the ego, and he shared this with others. Any human being that practices this technique will come out of suffering.


I am not so sure it is simple, but yes, any sentient being who can practise the path he taught can free themselves from suffering.

lowlydog wrote: Others have found this without coming in contact with buddhism and they teach in their own ways and these other ways are the basis of other religions. Do not be so naive to discount other traditions as inferior.


Oh, but the paths of those religions you mentioned have nothing in common with Buddhadharma. None of their doctrines are commensurate with whatever the Buddha taught, hence they don't lead to the same end result. I don't think I am the naive one here.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby viniketa » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:59 am

pueraeternus wrote: I don't think I am the naive one here.


Perhaps only near-sighted.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby greentara » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:12 am

lowlydog wrote: "Others have found this without coming in contact with buddhism and they teach in their own ways and these other ways are the basis of other religions. Do not be so naive to discount other traditions as inferior"
I have to say that Eastern religion has a particularly good and clear 'road map' nevertheless there are many paths to the top of the mountain.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:23 am

viniketa wrote:Perhaps only near-sighted.


Well, then I am afraid people will have to cure me of my nearsightedness by explaining to me why they think Abrahamic religions leads to the same liberation as Buddhism?
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:51 am

pueraeternus wrote:For example, Nagarjuna was very explicit that for a Bodhisattva to fall into the state of an Arhat, that means the final end of his career and he will never attain Buddhahood.


Where did you get this from?

Nāgārjuna in his Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa states the follows:

問曰:阿羅漢先世因緣所受身必應當滅,住在何處而具足佛道?
答曰:得阿羅漢時,三界諸漏因緣盡,更不復生三界。有淨佛土,出於三界,乃至無煩惱之名,於是國土佛所,聞《法華經》,具足佛道。如《法華經》說:「有羅漢,若不聞《法華經》,自謂得滅度;我於餘國為說是事,汝皆當作佛。 (CBETA, T25, no. 1509, p. 714, a9-15)


Question -- Arhats in their past lives must have extinguished all the conditions and conditions to receive a new body. Where do they abide and perfect the Buddha's path?

Answer -- When one attains arhatship all contaminated causes and conditions of the three realms are extinguished and one is no longer reborn in the three realms. There is a pure Buddha-land beyond the three realms, even being without the word 'defilements'. In this realm, the place of the Buddha, they hear the Lotus Sūtra, and perfect the Buddha's path. As the Lotus Sūtra says, "There are arhats who, if they have not heard the Lotus Sūtra, think of themselves as having attained cessation. In another realm I explain this: you all will become buddhas."
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:58 am

lowlydog wrote:In Theravaden Buddhism one meditates according to satipatthana sutta, as one progresses stages of insight are reached, eventually one enters the stream(sotapanna). At most one will have seven rebirths until full liberation.

How do Mahayana meditators gain insight, but avoid entering the stream and becoming sotapanna's?


You don't need to worry. Arhats are reborn outside the three realms.

I wrote something about Fazang's ideas on the subject here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... -of-arhats
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