Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:54 am

I understand the Kagyu school combines all Buddhist teaching in the Tibetan fashion to arrive at a cohesive synthesis.

Longchenpa tries the same thing.

Dudjom Rinpoche does the same thing in the big red book. He quotes sutra material in tantric contexts, if I remember correctly.
Last edited by JohnRammy on Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby deepbluehum » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:55 am

JohnRammy wrote:I was disparaging Kagyu from page 1

:rolling:


No but seriously, Kayu classification and Gampopa definitely confuses the issue, as I've been hinting at from page 1.


Your opinion is duly noted. You might think Kagyu confuses things unless you are a Kagyu with a Kagyu master, then it's very clear. In point of fact, the Kagyu do very well. It is the practice blessing lineage after all.
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Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby songhill » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:57 am

deepbluehum wrote:
There are citations in the Pali Suttas that say a purified citta is atta. I was just doing some reading on this a few weeks ago, I would have to retrace my steps to find these cites, but it's not trolling. It's simply a little discussed aspect of the suttas. But it's not meant to say it is the "Self," as in Brahman. In the Pali, it is used in the sense of developing oneself, where through the path one becomes Brahma, becomes Dhamma, etc., self perfection, i.e., in the Agganna Sutta.


Yep. It is attāti cittaṃ found in the Sundarikasuttavaṇṇanā which is part of the Sagathavagga Atthakatha.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby deepbluehum » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:59 am

JohnRammy wrote:I understand the Kagyu school combines all Buddhist teaching in the Tibetan fashion to arrive at a cohesive synthesis.

Longchenpa tries the same thing.

Dudjom Rinpoche does the same thing in the big red book. He quotes sutra material in tantric contexts, if I remember correctly.


Dharma is a wheel.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Jinzang » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:26 am

Karma Dorje wrote:Can you please point to where Saraha criticizes tantra?


These verses from the Royal Doha are his well known criticism of tantra:

Enlightening the House of Brahma in the fontanelle
Stroking the uvala in wanton delight,
Confused, believing binding pleasure to be spiritual release,
The vain fools calls himself a yogin.

Teaching that virtue is irrelevant to intrinsic awareness,
He mistakes the lock for the key;
Ignorant of the true nature of the gem
The fool calls green glass emerald.

His mind takes brass for gold,
Momentary peak experience for reality accomplished;
Clinging to the joy of ephemeral dreams
He calls his short-thrift life Eternal Bliss.

With a discursive understanding of the symbol EVAM,
Creating four seals through an analysis of the moment,
He labels his peak experience sahaja:
He is clinging to a reflection mistaken for the mirror.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:27 am

he is pointing out errors that can occur in tantric practice.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:34 am

Jinzang wrote: his well known criticism of tantra:


If its "well known", can you provide a secondary reference by a scholar or such on this topic?
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Jinzang » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:43 am

JohnRammy wrote:If its "well known", can you provide a secondary reference by a scholar or such on this topic?


I don't understand. This is a primary source, what authority would a secondary source add to it? Are you disputing that the text is well known or that the verses refer to tantric practice?
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Jinzang » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:47 am

I'm not criticizing Tantra, obviously not, because I'm a Kagyu Buddhist. But there are controversies, tensions, and criticisms within the different strains of the tradition and anyone who knows even a bit of the history is aware of them.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:49 am

If its well-known that this passage of Saraha is a criticism of tantra you should be able to give a scholar's opinion to support your assertion.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Jinzang » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:58 am

Well, to soften the blow somewhat, what Saraha is saying is that tantric practice devoid of the understanding that comes from mahamudra is of no value. I hate to drag my teacher into my controversy, but as Lama Phurbu Tashi put it once, "If mahamudra is understood, all of Tibetan Buddhism makes sense. If it's not understood, none of it makes sense."
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:01 am

Jinzang wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Can you please point to where Saraha criticizes tantra?


These verses from the Royal Doha are his well known criticism of tantra:

Enlightening the House of Brahma in the fontanelle
Stroking the uvala in wanton delight,
Confused, believing binding pleasure to be spiritual release,
The vain fools calls himself a yogin.
...<snip>


Is this not the same pedagogical technique as Padmasambhava uses in Self Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness:

The Sravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas are (mentally) obscured by their attachments to subject and object.
The Madhyamikas are (mentally) obscured by their attachments to the extremes of the Two Truths.
The practitioners of the Kriya Tantra and the Yoga Tantra are (mentally) obscured by their attachments to seva-sadhana practice.
The practitioners of the Maha-yoga and the Anuyoga are (mentally) obscured by their attachments to Space and Awareness.
And with respect to the real meaning of non-duality, since they divide these (Space and Awareness) into two, they fall into deviation.
If these two do not become one without any duality, you will certainly not attain Buddhahood.


Padmasambhava was not criticizing these different approaches as a matter of doctrinal dispute. It is merely going beyond the provisional methods to the real meaning at the time of introduction to the nature of mind.

Saraha was a tantric thoroughly acquainted with completion stage practice and he was presenting mahamudra as a remedy to the pitfall of contrived practice. At least this is what my understanding of this is.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:04 am

Jinzang wrote:Well, to soften the blow somewhat, what Saraha is saying is that tantric practice devoid of the understanding that comes from mahamudra is of no value. I hate to drag my teacher into my controversy, but as Lama Phurbu Tashi put it once, "If mahamudra is understood, all of Tibetan Buddhism makes sense. If it's not understood, none of it makes sense."


That's a great quote. I would extend that to say if mahamudra is understood, most spiritual paths are understood. The problem is, it's very easy to intellectualize an understanding of mahamudra/dzogchen which is not the same at all as a real understanding of it.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:12 am

JohnRammy wrote:This is a Gampopa / Kagyu schema. There is no such thing as sutra Mahamudra.


deepbluehum wrote:Now you are disparaging Kagyupa. I don't recommend you adhere to this way of arguing.



It's harshly put, but there is some substance to this claim. This distinction between sutra, tantra and essence mahamudra were not present in the Indian tradition. It was certainly a Tibetan innovation. Now Gampopa was a tremendous scholar and had reasons for his claim, but one can certainly ask if this was such an important distinction, why was it not already explicit in the tradition that Marpa brought back from India?

Taking this distinction as self-evident and applying it to other traditions seems at best anachronistic.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby heart » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:05 am

JohnRammy wrote:
heart wrote:There is Mahamudra, according to Gampopa, that is both based on sutra and tantra. Dzogchen is all based on tantras. Cool it boys.

/magnus


Which is why I specifically mentioned I am talking about pre-Gampopa Mahamudra.

In fact we were both talking about the origin of Mahamudra, which would be before Gampopa anyway.


Well, I think Gampopa did exactly that as well, talking about the origin of Mahamudra.

/magnus
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:22 pm

That stanza from Saraha is about mistaking the means for the meaning. Yogic techniques and the bliss that results from those are not the goal of Tantric Buddhist practice--they're merely a means to create a certain state, wherein Mahamudra can be "ascertained." It's a warning about the fault of being attached to bliss and the practices that bring it about.

I personally think Mahamudra is derived from the Tantras, and that Gampopa' system was an attempt to present Mahamudra to the greatest and most diverse audience possible, including monastics and laypeople. Try a search for the term "Mahamudra" in sutras and see what you come up with. Do the same with the Tantras. Frankly, I think this is beyond dispute. But that doesn't negate or demean Gampopa's presentation, or "Sutra Mahamudra," at all.

My opinion is that primary sources--Sutras, Tantras, and Dohas--are all ultimately equivalant, really. To say, for instance, that "Essence Mahamudra" as revealed primarily in Dohas of the Mahasiddhas is in some way in conflict with Tantric or Sutric presentations of Nature of Mind, or that one source is more "Authentic" than another, is just silly. But that's my own (perhaps unique) view.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby heart » Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:39 pm

conebeckham wrote:That stanza from Saraha is about mistaking the means for the meaning. Yogic techniques and the bliss that results from those are not the goal of Tantric Buddhist practice--they're merely a means to create a certain state, wherein Mahamudra can be "ascertained." It's a warning about the fault of being attached to bliss and the practices that bring it about.

I personally think Mahamudra is derived from the Tantras, and that Gampopa' system was an attempt to present Mahamudra to the greatest and most diverse audience possible, including monastics and laypeople. Try a search for the term "Mahamudra" in sutras and see what you come up with. Do the same with the Tantras. Frankly, I think this is beyond dispute. But that doesn't negate or demean Gampopa's presentation, or "Sutra Mahamudra," at all.

My opinion is that primary sources--Sutras, Tantras, and Dohas--are all ultimately equivalant, really. To say, for instance, that "Essence Mahamudra" as revealed primarily in Dohas of the Mahasiddhas is in some way in conflict with Tantric or Sutric presentations of Nature of Mind, or that one source is more "Authentic" than another, is just silly. But that's my own (perhaps unique) view.


The word Mahamudra might come from the Tantra's but the realization Mahamudra is free from both Sutra and Tantra and accomplished by anyone that truly knows ordinary mind, no matter were they might come from. Perhaps that is my own very unique view. :smile:

/magnus
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:12 pm

The Eighth Karampa emphasizes the luminous mind in the tantras is NOT the same as in the sutras.

And this is a Kagyu fellow.

pg. 61-62 of "Center of the Sunlit Sky"

http://books.google.com/books?id=8zeh8V ... ind&f=true
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:49 pm

Your position, Heart, is agreeable to me.

:smile:

Now, with regard to the assertions by JohnRammy, I have no quarrel with the differences between "The Heart of the Blissfully Gone Ones" being mentioned only as a mere name in sutra, and it's more explicit, and fully-developed, explication in the Tantras, as Brunnholzl say in"Center of the Sunlit Sky." However, Mikyo Dorje also comments that it essential to an understanding of Mahamudra that one have renunciation of samsara, the mind of Bodhicitta, and the view of Emptiness as outlined in Madhyamaka, all three of which are rooted in the Sutras. This may not exactly "bolster" the validity of a "Sutra (-only) Mahamudra," but it does point toward a gradualist, systematic approach, which is in keeping with Gampopa's presentation, to a degree.

Also, you'll find, I think, that there is a suggestion that one should train in the analytical meditations of the Sutra approach, and that this was the way it was in India, as well, before one enters the Tantric paths. It may not have been presented in India as "Sutra Mahamudra," per se.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:49 am

..also, according to Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, perhaps the foremost student of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, and a "mentor" to Brunnholzl, Marpa and Mila also taught the same paths, found in India, including the "Sutra Mahamudra" as it was later known after Gampopa codified and systematized these paths. And without a doubt, the Tathagatagarbha Sutras are part of the transmission of this "Sutra Mahamudra" path. See Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's "Wild Awakening."

Mahamudra is thus not based solely on some sort of "Tantric Explication" of Buddha Nature in conflict with that found in the Tathagatagarbha Sutras, or in the idea of Sunyata found in the Madhyamaka/Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and Shastras. Also, according to Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, the "Pointing Out" instruction/transmission is found in the "Sutra Mahamudra" path, as an "export" of sorts from Tantric tradition. So I think it's a mistake to see the "Sutra Mahamudra" path is based ENTIRELY on Sutra/Shastra sources. In the same way it's not appropriate to say that Mahamudra is exclusively the domain of the Tantras.
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