Avoiding the stream?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Azidonis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:39 am

wisdom wrote:No need to avoid the stream. Nirvana is the attainment of mental peace, free from all extremes, clinging, and all things that produce suffering. If you enter Nirvana without having first cultivated compassion there will be little that can disrupt that experience due to its power. However if you enter it as a Bodhisattva it will be like languishing in bed while you have a million things to do. You might be able to enjoy it for a bit, but compassion will motivate you to "re-enter" Samsara, and the whole time there is a nagging feeling in the back of your head saying "Get up, you got things to do!". However, the truth is that if you are a Bodhisattva who has experienced Nirvana, you have also apprehended the true nature of reality. Hence on some level you experience Nirvana only to transcend it and go beyond both Samsara and Nirvana, beyond the need to leave one or abide in the other.

Why does compassion do this? Because compassion does not give us peace of mind. In fact it is a state of agitation in my opinion. It demands our attention, like an itch, or a hunger. This is why compassion will keep us out of Nirvana and in Samsara, but it is also why it is the key to transcending both and hence why Bodhicitta is so emphasized from the very beginning of Mahayana practice.



Interesting how you are talking about "going into" and "coming out of" Nirvana.

If Nirvana means, "blowing out", then seems more like a complete explosion of what was there before. Such a complete explosion would leave nothing left. What is there then, that "comes out of" Nirvana?

Also, I was pretty sure that a bodhisattva foregoes Nirvana, as in - doesn't achieve it?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby wisdom » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:05 am

Saying that one "re enters" Samsara is just a conventional term. It means that such a person remains visible to sentient beings, able to interact with them and aid them on their path. Conventionally they enter Samsara, but ultimately they are free from the extremes of Samsara and Nirvana. Isn't this what the Buddha did? Achieved Nirvana but remained in the world in order to benefit beings?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Azidonis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:47 am

wisdom wrote:Saying that one "re enters" Samsara is just a conventional term. It means that such a person remains visible to sentient beings, able to interact with them and aid them on their path. Conventionally they enter Samsara, but ultimately they are free from the extremes of Samsara and Nirvana. Isn't this what the Buddha did? Achieved Nirvana but remained in the world in order to benefit beings?


Wouldn't the blow out, blow out that which makes the vow, or that which perceives a necessity for such a vow? If so, would the vow be considered fulfilled?

Something I always wondered about, is this bodhisattva vow. If Nirvana blows out everything, and then that which is seen is seen from a unseparated perspective, wouldn't achieving Nirvana be the fulfillment of the vow, if afterwards everything and nothing is Nirvana, due to the lack the sense of separation? If so, then what is the point of "withholding oneself" from Nirvana? Doesn't such a withholding create a separation from oneself and everything else?

Just trying to understand.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:32 am

Azidonis wrote:It has always been my understanding that the point of the practices is to become Awakened, to become a Buddha (no matter what term is used to describe an awakened person). Understanding why one would approach the path with aspirations to anything less than the full possible development of their potential is very tricky at times.


In Buddhism, at least from the earliest Sravakayana teachings to the earlier forms of Mahayana, the point of the practice is to be free from suffering, free from the bonds of Samsara. So in terms of their liberation from suffering, the three fruits - Sravakabodhi, Pratyekabodhi and Anuttarasamyaksambodhi - are the same, in that they are all free from suffering forever. Which is why is many of the earlier Mahayana sutras, the main point of training to be a Buddha is to let sentient beings to liberation, and in the course if you can set others onto the Bodhisattva path, that is wonderful too. Which is why Bodhisattvas have to master all myriad paths, so that you can liberate those who are inclined towards Sravakabodhi, guide those suited to solitary paths to Pratyekabodhi, and train the most foolhardy ones on the long long road to Buddhahood. So the initial main idea is not to produce more Buddhas, but free sentient beings.

Then a bit later came the idea/teaching that actually the lower 2 fruits are not the end of the road for them, but that they will be roused towards the bodhisattva paths to full Buddhahood, so really the main point is to only teach the Buddha path. This is exemplified in the Lotus Sutra.

Then later came the idea actually attaining Buddhahood is not going to take that long, as long as you have wonderful techniques, empowerments, a lot of hard work and be of the very best calibre.

Then yet later came the idea that hard work is not really that important, but rather you have to have the essence pointed out to you.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Azidonis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:38 am

pueraeternus wrote:
Azidonis wrote:It has always been my understanding that the point of the practices is to become Awakened, to become a Buddha (no matter what term is used to describe an awakened person). Understanding why one would approach the path with aspirations to anything less than the full possible development of their potential is very tricky at times.


In Buddhism, at least from the earliest Sravakayana teachings to the earlier forms of Mahayana, the point of the practice is to be free from suffering, free from the bonds of Samsara. So in terms of their liberation from suffering, the three fruits - Sravakabodhi, Pratyekabodhi and Anuttarasamyaksambodhi - are the same, in that they are all free from suffering forever.


I really appreciate you using the technical terms. If I understand it right:

Sravakabuddha - Achieving nirvana by listening, or hearing the dharma from a Sammasambuddha.

Pratyekabuddha - Achieving nirvana entirely on their own, and giving no teaching.

Anuttarasamyaksambodhi - "This is a Sanskrit term refering to the perfect and universal enlightenment of a Buddha. It is variously translated as meaning "Utmost, right and perfect enlightenment," "Supreme, orthodox, and equal awakening", or the like. The commentarial traditions indicate that the term includes the levels of enlightenment of the Bodhisattva and Arhat within that of the Buddha. This Dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore, it is called anuttarasamyaksambodhi. "

What about Samyaksambuddha, the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha?

These all seem to point to various methods of achieving enlightenment, as you say.

pueraeternus wrote:Which is why is many of the earlier Mahayana sutras, the main point of training to be a Buddha is to let sentient beings to liberation, and in the course if you can set others onto the Bodhisattva path, that is wonderful too. Which is why Bodhisattvas have to master all myriad paths, so that you can liberate those who are inclined towards Sravakabodhi, guide those suited to solitary paths to Pratyekabodhi,


This is very well put.

pueraeternus wrote:and train the most foolhardy ones on the long long road to Buddhahood. So the initial main idea is not to produce more Buddhas, but free sentient beings.


I see, essentially what you are getting at. I was referring to one who had achieved Nirvana, as a Buddha, one who has Awakened.

You seem to be referring to methods of Awakening, and what the person does after the Awakening occurs. Breaking it up into parts, so to speak. I appreciate the help. :)

A 'free sentient being' is a Buddha though, yes?

pueraeternus wrote:Then a bit later came the idea/teaching that actually the lower 2 fruits are not the end of the road for them, but that they will be roused towards the bodhisattva paths to full Buddhahood, so really the main point is to only teach the Buddha path. This is exemplified in the Lotus Sutra.


The four fruits are stream enterer, once returner, non-returner, arhant, right? And this seems also to refer to four approaches, identified by types of karma, or actions. It makes sense that a person may be best fit to reach fulfillment of one or more of these, and may have to work harder at others. Since the fourth fruit is that of arhant, I will have to maybe re-read this thread to see where the four fruits concern the bodhisattva, unless they all do.

I admittedly have troubles with the idea of arhant vs bodhisattva. This seems to be a type of duality that, depending on who one speaks to, one gets elevated over the other.

pueraeternus wrote:Then later came the idea actually attaining Buddhahood is not going to take that long, as long as you have wonderful techniques, empowerments, a lot of hard work and be of the very best calibre.


I think the hard work is definitely some sort of requirement.

pueraeternus wrote:Then yet later came the idea that hard work is not really that important, but rather you have to have the essence pointed out to you.


That would be the Sravakabuddha, right? But of course, it would have to be pointed out by a Buddha. I imagine that in lieu of direct contact and personal teaching, this last one would be rather hard to accomplish. For the idea of upaya, or skillful means, is that a Buddha has the ability to speak directly towards a person. I can see how that would help loosen the hold of samsara, possibly break it, but then the person may lack the training necessary to deal with such a thing and continue to function sanely and intelligently within a society.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:16 am

Azidonis wrote:Pratyekabuddha - Achieving nirvana entirely on their own, and giving no teaching.


Pratyekabuddhas achieves nirvana on their own (or in small groups) in their last life, but prior to that, in many lives they would have received instruction in the pratyekabuddhamarga from others. Hence though for the most part they prefer solitary practice, they are not entirely independent throughout the many kalpas of their career. It is not that they absolutely give no teachings, but rather they tend not to do so, and when they do, they usually do it through signs or manifestations of their supernormal powers. In Buddhist avadanas (past life stories), they sometimes appear as fields of merit - so and so meets a Pratyekabuddha, gives dana and makes a resolution, and the resolution bears great fruit, etc.


Azidonis wrote:What about Samyaksambuddha, the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha?


No - there is no such thing as the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha. Samyaksambuddha refers to a Anuttarasamyaksambuddha.

Azidonis wrote:A 'free sentient being' is a Buddha though, yes?


A "free sentient being" can also refer to Sravaka Arhat and Pratyekabuddha.


Azidonis wrote:The four fruits are stream enterer, once returner, non-returner, arhant, right?


No - when I mentioned the "lower 2 fruits", I meant the Sravakabodhi and Pratyekabodhi. The four fruits you mentioned are the 4 stages of enlightenment for a Sravakayana practitioner.

Azidonis wrote:And this seems also to refer to four approaches, identified by types of karma, or actions. It makes sense that a person may be best fit to reach fulfillment of one or more of these, and may have to work harder at others. Since the fourth fruit is that of arhant, I will have to maybe re-read this thread to see where the four fruits concern the bodhisattva, unless they all do.


I am not sure what you mean by the four approaches, types of karma, etc. The four fruits you mentioned are stages of increasing sanctity of the Sravakayana practitioner - they are not four different types of practice, etc. These four fruits also do not pertain to the Bodhisattva path.



Azidonis wrote:That would be the Sravakabuddha, right? But of course, it would have to be pointed out by a Buddha. I imagine that in lieu of direct contact and personal teaching, this last one would be rather hard to accomplish. For the idea of upaya, or skillful means, is that a Buddha has the ability to speak directly towards a person. I can see how that would help loosen the hold of samsara, possibly break it, but then the person may lack the training necessary to deal with such a thing and continue to function sanely and intelligently within a society.


Oh no - the last few paragraphs I mentioned pertain to the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths, so it's not the fruit of the Sravakabuddha they seek - but the full enlightenment of a Samyaksambuddha. The pointing out does not necessary have to be done by a Buddha (depends on which tradition and the type of view you need to hold with respects to your guru, etc) - but it has to be by someone who have "seen" it, can abide in the state with stability, and have the skills to teach and point out the essence.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby muni » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:09 pm

lowlydog wrote: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?


Certainly how his teachings are understood and written down, is dependent.

As far as I understand some expressions; "the simple ones, may they come to me" (apologize, I don't know the exactly words). I translate that:
Those who have no heavy mental bagage and no heavy material bagage will "see nature". In a way of simple being, 'less' grasping?

Also the love/compassion which is clearly in the teachings, is it not dependent as well what "Bodhichitta" teaching has been percieved/given/understood and written down?

I cannot know by reading a text of 'his teachings'.

Differences, labels....practice. :namaste:
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Azidonis » Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:11 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
Azidonis wrote:Pratyekabuddha - Achieving nirvana entirely on their own, and giving no teaching.


Pratyekabuddhas achieves nirvana on their own (or in small groups) in their last life, but prior to that, in many lives they would have received instruction in the pratyekabuddhamarga from others. Hence though for the most part they prefer solitary practice, they are not entirely independent throughout the many kalpas of their career. It is not that they absolutely give no teachings, but rather they tend not to do so, and when they do, they usually do it through signs or manifestations of their supernormal powers. In Buddhist avadanas (past life stories), they sometimes appear as fields of merit - so and so meets a Pratyekabuddha, gives dana and makes a resolution, and the resolution bears great fruit, etc.


Thanks for the explanation.

pueraeternus wrote:
Azidonis wrote:What about Samyaksambuddha, the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha?


No - there is no such thing as the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha. Samyaksambuddha refers to a Anuttarasamyaksambuddha.


I meant active in that the Pratyekabuddha doesn't necessarily teach while the Samyaksambuddha does, although both types achieve liberation on their own.

Anuttarasamyaksambuddha - I took this to mean the "perfect full enlightenment" of any person who reaches the buddha level of awareness.

We seem to be differing on this. You seem to be saying that there are different types of buddhas, and not all of them have achieved "perfect full enlightenment", nor are all of them able to. I seem to be saying that a buddha is a buddha, end of story. Is this where we are differing?

pueraeternus wrote:
Azidonis wrote:A 'free sentient being' is a Buddha though, yes?


A "free sentient being" can also refer to Sravaka Arhat and Pratyekabuddha.


Using wisdom's phrasing from earlier, it seems that the various buddhas you are describing are related to their paths towards buddhahood, and what they do after their buddhahood, but they do not necessarily effect their buddhahood.

pueraeternus wrote:
Azidonis wrote:The four fruits are stream enterer, once returner, non-returner, arhant, right?


No - when I mentioned the "lower 2 fruits", I meant the Sravakabodhi and Pratyekabodhi. The four fruits you mentioned are the 4 stages of enlightenment for a Sravakayana practitioner.

Azidonis wrote:And this seems also to refer to four approaches, identified by types of karma, or actions. It makes sense that a person may be best fit to reach fulfillment of one or more of these, and may have to work harder at others. Since the fourth fruit is that of arhant, I will have to maybe re-read this thread to see where the four fruits concern the bodhisattva, unless they all do.


I am not sure what you mean by the four approaches, types of karma, etc. The four fruits you mentioned are stages of increasing sanctity of the Sravakayana practitioner - they are not four different types of practice, etc. These four fruits also do not pertain to the Bodhisattva path.



Azidonis wrote:That would be the Sravakabuddha, right? But of course, it would have to be pointed out by a Buddha. I imagine that in lieu of direct contact and personal teaching, this last one would be rather hard to accomplish. For the idea of upaya, or skillful means, is that a Buddha has the ability to speak directly towards a person. I can see how that would help loosen the hold of samsara, possibly break it, but then the person may lack the training necessary to deal with such a thing and continue to function sanely and intelligently within a society.


Oh no - the last few paragraphs I mentioned pertain to the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths, so it's not the fruit of the Sravakabuddha they seek - but the full enlightenment of a Samyaksambuddha. The pointing out does not necessary have to be done by a Buddha (depends on which tradition and the type of view you need to hold with respects to your guru, etc) - but it has to be by someone who have "seen" it, can abide in the state with stability, and have the skills to teach and point out the essence.


Okay, this has me all confused now. Do you know of any sources where I can read this for myself, and get a better idea of it? The discussion may be more beneficial for everyone then.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby wisdom » Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:39 pm

Azidonis wrote:
wisdom wrote:Saying that one "re enters" Samsara is just a conventional term. It means that such a person remains visible to sentient beings, able to interact with them and aid them on their path. Conventionally they enter Samsara, but ultimately they are free from the extremes of Samsara and Nirvana. Isn't this what the Buddha did? Achieved Nirvana but remained in the world in order to benefit beings?


Wouldn't the blow out, blow out that which makes the vow, or that which perceives a necessity for such a vow? If so, would the vow be considered fulfilled?

Something I always wondered about, is this bodhisattva vow. If Nirvana blows out everything, and then that which is seen is seen from a unseparated perspective, wouldn't achieving Nirvana be the fulfillment of the vow, if afterwards everything and nothing is Nirvana, due to the lack the sense of separation? If so, then what is the point of "withholding oneself" from Nirvana? Doesn't such a withholding create a separation from oneself and everything else?

Just trying to understand.


Yes, but thats the difference between relative and absolute Bodhicitta. On a relative level there is a person who takes a vow, does various meritorious acts, and unfetters themselves from the various attachments that bind them. On an absolute level there is only our Buddha Nature which acts spontaneously for the benefit of others (With compassion), and its that compassionate action that arises spontaneously from the ground of all being which is transcendent to whatever is blown out, and since there are plenty of sentient beings that suffer there is plenty of opportunity for compassionate activity. Thus, its possible to experience Nirvana and yet still be motivated to remain within the world of sentient beings for their benefit, motivated by your compassion for them and your desire to see them freed from suffering.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:36 am

Azidonis wrote:I meant active in that the Pratyekabuddha doesn't necessarily teach while the Samyaksambuddha does, although both types achieve liberation on their own.


Both types do indeed achieve liberation (vimukti) on their own, but Pratyekabuddhas do not possess the omniscience (sarvajna) of a Buddha, hence the difference between them is not only that one is passive and the other is active. The Pratyekabuddha's faculties are stronger than the Sravaka Arhat's, but even if he wants to start teaching actively, his wisdom and skillful means won't come close to a fully enlightened Buddha.

Azidonis wrote:Anuttarasamyaksambuddha - I took this to mean the "perfect full enlightenment" of any person who reaches the buddha level of awareness.

We seem to be differing on this. You seem to be saying that there are different types of buddhas, and not all of them have achieved "perfect full enlightenment", nor are all of them able to. I seem to be saying that a buddha is a buddha, end of story. Is this where we are differing?


It seems that's where we differ. There are different types of Buddhas, and the commonality among them is that they are all liberated from Samsara forever, no longer bond to endless cyclic existence - so this is the "end of story" part. However, only the anuttarasamyaksambuddha is fully enlightened, possess omniscience, and is incomparable in turning the wheel.

Azidonis wrote:Using wisdom's phrasing from earlier, it seems that the various buddhas you are describing are related to their paths towards buddhahood, and what they do after their buddhahood, but they do not necessarily effect their buddhahood.


In this case, your usage of the term "buddhahood", really only refers to their liberation (vimukti) from Samsara. Usually when we talk about "Buddhahood" (for both Theravada and Mahayana), we really mean "liberation from Samsara" + "omniscience".

Azidonis wrote:Okay, this has me all confused now. Do you know of any sources where I can read this for myself, and get a better idea of it? The discussion may be more beneficial for everyone then.


Regarding what I mentioned about "the idea/teaching that actually the lower 2 fruits are not the end of the road for them, but that they will be roused towards the bodhisattva paths to full Buddhahood, so really the main point is to only teach the Buddha path" - this is the perspective of the Lotus Sutra. There are many books out there on this sutra, one of which is The Threefold Lotus Sutra

I haven't revisited the Lotus for a long time, so there are probably many good works out there now about it. If someone can make some recommendations, it will be appreciated.

Regarding these:
Then later came the idea actually attaining Buddhahood is not going to take that long, as long as you have wonderful techniques, empowerments, a lot of hard work and be of the very best calibre.

Then yet later came the idea that hard work is not really that important, but rather you have to have the essence pointed out to you.


I was making references to sudden paths such as Chan/Zen, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, and tantric traditions such as Shingon, Tibetan Buddhist tantras.

For Chan Buddhism, a good book to start with is Master Shengyen's Hoofprint of the Ox.

For Tibetan Buddhism, a good place to start with is Professor Berzin's website.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby PorkChop » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:38 am

wisdom wrote:Yes, but thats the difference between relative and absolute Bodhicitta. On a relative level there is a person who takes a vow, does various meritorious acts, and unfetters themselves from the various attachments that bind them. On an absolute level there is only our Buddha Nature which acts spontaneously for the benefit of others (With compassion), and its that compassionate action that arises spontaneously from the ground of all being which is transcendent to whatever is blown out, and since there are plenty of sentient beings that suffer there is plenty of opportunity for compassionate activity. Thus, its possible to experience Nirvana and yet still be motivated to remain within the world of sentient beings for their benefit, motivated by your compassion for them and your desire to see them freed from suffering.


I kinda wanted to back this up.
In the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta of the Nikayas, it is said that one that masters the 4 types of "psychic" trainings (jnanas?) can choose to stay in the world until the end of the world-age; bodhicitta being the guiding principle that keeps them around to help other sentient beings until the end of the world age.
I don't know where this stands in relation to later Mahayana sutras that state that those arhats that have achieved liberation will be encouraged to go back into the world to help sentient beings in order to be come full, Samyaksam Buddhas; or how it stands in relation to the 10~13 bhumis on the Bodhisattva path.
In the first scenario, there is no reason to avoid the trainings required for liberation; rather achieve that mastery as soon as possible so that one can properly help sentient beings.
This would explain why many Sthaviras would also chose to train as Bodhisattvas in the early days of Buddhism. I also think this sutta would be perfect precedent for any Theravadan practitioner of today to aspire to become a Bodhisattva.

The Maha-Parinibbana Sutta also seems to be the basis for the claim in the Lotus Sutra where it states that the Buddha refused Ananda's requests to remain in the world until the end of the world-age as a matter of skillful means to appear to keep the promise the Buddha made to those who were witness to his final unbinding as being final liberation.
The situation the Buddha is in at the end of his life in that Sutta does seem rather curious; as if to say "I gave you opportunities to ask me to stay many times Ananda. I know you are making this request of me, but I made a promise to many people to show them final liberation". Even more curious is the ascent up the 4 jnanas, then ascent through the 4 states beyond the 4 jnanas, before descending back down all 8 states, and finally ascending the 4 jnanas before his death.
There are various statements that are made after the fact that don't seem to make sense that make the claim that the first 4 stages are what is required for final liberation (I'm thinking the story of Shariputra's unbinding which was obviously written/told after the Buddha's death). What I mean is, why would it be only half way up if the goal is all?
If I misread something in the Nikayas, please let me know, but I could see a serious case being made for that aspect of the Lotus Sutra.

I think this is why Bodhisattvas are said to be fearless. Once they have achieved liberation from their defilements, they have the choice of whether to abide or not. In not abiding, they would not be afraid of whatever realm of the 6 realms of existence that they would find themselves in, for they would be undefiled themselves. I don't think they would be "trapped" in abiding, it would be their decision to abide or not. Once the fetters are cut, they're cut; the final fetter of becoming being left up to the discretion of one thus come.
I think the Buddha gave us a map of the system and how to work it. That's why even the Nikayas state that following the path for the development of self and others is the highest aspiration. There are even suttas in the Nikayas that state how a husband and wife could travel through (through because it's impermanent) the same heaven together after this life if they so wanted.

While we're on the topic of using the 8 fold path to navigate the "system". I also find it interesting that the 4 Deva kings are arranged according to cardinal direction in much the same way that the Pure Lands are. The sutta in the Nikayas about the Deva kings mentions a promise by the Deva kings that any that abide by the 5 precepts will have an opportunity to be born in the Deva realms. This is considered "an embarrassment" for Bhikshus/Bhikshunis (ie renunciates); but makes sense for Pure Landers (bonpo) who chant in order to create the causes and conditions for them to be reborn in a location conducive to attaining Nirvana/Nibbana. Of course the chanting itself is meditative and can lead to the 4 jnanas.

Like I said earlier, please point out where I have a misunderstanding.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:03 am

PorkChop wrote:In the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta of the Nikayas, it is said that one that masters the 4 types of "psychic" trainings (jnanas?) can choose to stay in the world until the end of the world-age; bodhicitta being the guiding principle that keeps them around to help other sentient beings until the end of the world age.


The "4 psychic trainings" are the four bases of psychic power (rddhipada): will, energy, intent and discrimination. In the Agamas/Nikayas, some arhats do extend their lives that way, but not exactly to help sentient beings in a Bodhisattva fashion - these arhats are (according to the traditional accounts) tasked by the Buddha to remain in the world and not enter nirvana until the arrival of Maitreya, so that they can protect the dispensation until then. Upon Maitreya's arrival, these arhats are to gather the relics of Shakyamuni, assemble at one place and make a glorious exit (the sixteen transformations, etc).

As far as I know, Bodhisattvas don't really extend their lives like that so that they can help sentient beings. One of the reasons they should take rebirth is so that they can develop the 32 marks - these marks are refined gradually through successive births, so if you extend your life for too long and too often, then it might actually make your path even longer.


PorkChop wrote:Even more curious is the ascent up the 4 jnanas, then ascent through the 4 states beyond the 4 jnanas, before descending back down all 8 states, and finally ascending the 4 jnanas before his death.
There are various statements that are made after the fact that don't seem to make sense that make the claim that the first 4 stages are what is required for final liberation (I'm thinking the story of Shariputra's unbinding which was obviously written/told after the Buddha's death). What I mean is, why would it be only half way up if the goal is all?


Traditionally there are either seven or nine bases of samatha where one can develop the insight for liberation - the seven bases are the 4 form dhyanas and the first 3 samapattis (until the base of nothingness). The nine bases include the anagamya-samadhi (just before the 1st dhyana) and the dhyanantara (between the 1st and 2nd dhyana), along with the aforementioned seven bases. So one can attain liberation from any of these bases, and don't necessary have to master all of them.
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 pueraeternus » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:22 am

Huseng wrote this article about Arhats and their life-extension techniques:
http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2010/10/ ... ty_04.html

This was also discussed in DW here:
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=4106
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.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby PorkChop » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:48 am

pueraeternus wrote:Huseng wrote this article about Arhats and their life-extension techniques:
http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2010/10/ ... ty_04.html

This was also discussed in DW here:
viewtopic.php?f=66&t=4106


Thanks for helping me!
From your last post in that thread, I'm still wondering if the 4th Jnana allows for attaining a formless existence. Instead of having to explain some "adamantine body", the idea that the form has dropped off and the form-less is what remains makes more sense given the impermanence of forms.
I've had a hard time understanding the 4 main Bodhisattvas - Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Samantabadhra, Ksitigarbha.
I find it interesting that there were 4 Arahants that the Buddha asked to remain until the arrival of Maitreya.
I understand not openly teaching the idea of the 4 jnanas leading to an indeterminably long lifespan; given the propensity of individuals to try to perpetuate a samsaric existence.
I think teaching that bodies can remain indefinitely would go against the teachings of impermanence.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:12 pm

In my understanding, which is quite limited, there are no bodies that can remain indefinitely.
These four Arahants who the Buddha asked to remain until the arrival of Maitreya will cease to exist at that time.
It may be eons, but their bodies/existence will physically end.

Nothing is eternal as we understand it.
The Dharma will eventually fade and the dark times will be. Then, at the time of proper awakening, Maitreya will become Enlightened and teach the Dharma once again.


:namaste:
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:48 pm

PorkChop wrote:From your last post in that thread, I'm still wondering if the 4th Jnana allows for attaining a formless existence. Instead of having to explain some "adamantine body", the idea that the form has dropped off and the form-less is what remains makes more sense given the impermanence of forms.


I am not sure if it is possible to permanently attain a formless existence while still in kamadhatu. In any case, one can just maintain invisibility, just like Pindola. Traditionally he still hangs around here and there, but mostly keeps himself invisible. There is an early tradition (if I recall correctly) that whenever there is an offering to the sangha, an empty seat is reserved for him. Supposedly sometimes the seat will show signs of someone sitting on it (even though no one saw anything) and it is said that Pindola came by.

But seriously, if one is really keen in such matters, and especially if one is on the Bodhisattva path, then such an option is available once one attains the Eight Bhumi - upon reaching this stage, the arya-bodhisattva masters and attain the ten vasitas (sovereign powers), the first of which is the ayur-vasita (power of longevity). Here, the Bodhisattva can extend his lifespan to innumerable kalpas. Of course, at this stage you no longer hanker after immortality for dubious reasons, so your intentions would be totally pure.

PorkChop wrote:I've had a hard time understanding the 4 main Bodhisattvas - Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Samantabadhra, Ksitigarbha.


Noted. What aspect about them do you find it difficult to understand?
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.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby PorkChop » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:02 am

pueraeternus wrote:
PorkChop wrote:I've had a hard time understanding the 4 main Bodhisattvas - Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Samantabadhra, Ksitigarbha.
Noted. What aspect about them do you find it difficult to understand?


Very interesting about Pindola, thanks for all the info.

As far as the 4 Bodhisattvas...
For starters, I'm much more familiar with the Nikayas, so it was a little confusing the first time I attended a Mahayana temple.
In the Mahayana sutras, some of the origin stories are pretty spectacular (like the bright light at Manjushri's birth).
I was given different explanations on the additional cast of characters which is why I have a hard time understanding.
A book I was given on Pure Land also has both explanations.
One explanation was how I've seen people describe Yidams - aspects of ones own potential Buddhahood.
The other explanation was as as actual external beings that one could appeal to.
Lama Tsongkapa for example, seems to have had a lot of interaction with Manjushri.
Pretty much decided to be agnostic about these Bodhisattvas and the other Buddhas until I have some kind of personal experience.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:32 am

PorkChop wrote:As far as the 4 Bodhisattvas...
For starters, I'm much more familiar with the Nikayas, so it was a little confusing the first time I attended a Mahayana temple.
In the Mahayana sutras, some of the origin stories are pretty spectacular (like the bright light at Manjushri's birth).
I was given different explanations on the additional cast of characters which is why I have a hard time understanding.
A book I was given on Pure Land also has both explanations.
One explanation was how I've seen people describe Yidams - aspects of ones own potential Buddhahood.
The other explanation was as as actual external beings that one could appeal to.
Lama Tsongkapa for example, seems to have had a lot of interaction with Manjushri.



All these are celestial bodhisattvas from other realms. In the Mahayana scheme of things, these are real beings, as real (or unreal) as we are; in that, they are also sentient beings like us, except that these sentient beings are arya-bodhisattvas, and are close to full enlightenment (or in some traditions, are already full Buddhas, except that they manifest as Bodhisattvas as skillful means). Even in yidam practice when we identify it as an aspect of enlightenment, it does not negate the outer sense in that these bodhisattvas are beings (sattvas) like us, just like when we practice guruyoga, it does not mean that our guru does not exist as a being.

PorkChop wrote:Pretty much decided to be agnostic about these Bodhisattvas and the other Buddhas until I have some kind of personal experience.

I think this is a sound and wise policy.
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.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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