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 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:53 am

conebeckham wrote:And without a doubt, the Tathagatagarbha Sutras are part of the transmission of this "Sutra Mahamudra" path.


Yes, this being a late invention of Gampopa.

Otherwise Tathagatagarbha Sutras are not part of the Mahamudra tradition.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:09 am

conebeckham wrote: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


Yes you definitely need Madhayamaka. Madhyamaka is the basis of the tantras. You might have missed where I said this previously.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:15 am

JohnRammy-
Maitripa is a part of the Mahamudra lineage, is he not? He's also credited with "finding" the Ratnagotravibhaga, otherwise known as the Uttaratantrashastra of Maitreya/Asanga, is he not? We Kagyupas count this as one of the key texts of the Third Turning, relating to Tathagatagarbha doctrine.

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:
The sutra tradition of Mahamudra encompasses both the second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma [the teachings on emptiness and buddhanature, respectively]. According to the second turning of the wheel, the true nature of mind is beyond conceptual fabrication. That means it cannot be described as being existent or nonexistent, as being something or nothing, or as being permanent or impermanent. Mind cannot be described or conceptualized in any of these ways: the nature of mind is beyond all conceptual fabrication. Then, according to the third turning of the wheel of dharma, which are the teachings on buddhanature such as the Uttaratantrashastra, the true nature of mind is described as luminous clarity. This is the enlightened essence of the buddhanature, completely free from any stain, completely free from any imperfection or flaw. This luminosity is inseparable from emptiness. So the true nature of mind is described as the union of clarity and emptiness.

From: http://www.ttem.org/forum/index.php?topic=1867.0
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:17 am

conebeckham wrote:JohnRammy-
Maitripa is a part of the Mahamudra lineage, is he not? He's also credited with "finding" the Ratnagotravibhaga, otherwise known as the Uttaratantrashastra of Maitreya/Asanga, is he not?


I'm pretty sure this is a tale like Nagarjuna being given the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras from the nagas.

I would be interested to know when and why this tale was invented.

conebeckham wrote:Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:
The sutra tradition of Mahamudra encompasses..........


You might have missed that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso says "sutra". I already agreed that the late sutra Mahamudra of Gampopa has a connection to the Tathagatagarbha Sutras.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:50 am

Ah. Well, you might have missed where I pointed out that these teachings existed prior to Gampopa, and even prior to Marpa-i.e., in India. Or is your assertion that Tathagatagarbha sutras and doctrines were only incorporated into Mahamudra transmission with Gampopa?
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:54 am

conebeckham wrote:Or is your assertion that Tathagatagarbha sutras and doctrines were only incorporated into Mahamudra transmission with Gampopa?


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

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:50 am

conebeckham wrote:Ah. Well, you might have missed where I pointed out that these teachings existed prior to Gampopa, and even prior to Marpa-i.e., in India. Or is your assertion that Tathagatagarbha sutras and doctrines were only incorporated into Mahamudra transmission with Gampopa?


I think the question is, if a distinction was critical between "sutra" mahamudra and any other sort then why was it not made explicit in the Indian tradition? It seems more likely that this is part of the hermeneutic edifice of the Tibetan scholarly tradition that attempted more or less successfully to knit all of the disparate elements of Buddhist thought into one Grand Unified Theory. It may very well have been important in Tibet to justify the mahamudra teachings, but we are no longer in the same boat here in the West at this time.

Of course there is great identity between the tathagathagarbha sutras, the tantras and the dohas of mahamudra: they describe the same underlying reality of luminous emptiness. We need not assume that these are all of a single piece historically.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:57 am

I see, JohnRammy.

Well...Milarepa, I believe, would find much in the Tathagatagarbha doctrines to recommend. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso was quite fond of using Milarepa's songs to teach the harmonious and complete doctrine. You may want to study these, or, better yet, find someone who can transmit the meaning.

Here's Milarepa's Song of Mahamudra:

"At the time I’m meditating on Mahamudra,
I rest without struggle in actual real being.
I rest relaxed in a free-from-wandering space,
I rest in a clarity cradled in emptiness-space.
I rest in awareness and this is blissful space.
I rest unruffled in non-conceptual space.
In variety’s space I rest in equipoise.
I’m resting and this is naked mind itself."


Here's another:

THE PROFOUND DEFINITIVE MEANING SUNG ON THE SNOWY RANGE

Sung on the Snowy Range


Supreme guru, I bow down at your feet
The siddhis of blessings come straight from the dakinis
Samaya’s nectar is the most nourishing drink

Your offering of faith has kept me so healthy
This way of gathering merit, it works quite well

For the mind that masters view, the emptiness dawns
In the content seen, not even an atom exists
A seer and seen, refined until they're gone
This way of realizing view, it works quite well

When meditation is clear light river flow
There is no need to confine it to sessions and breaks
Meditator and object, refined until they're gone
This heart bone of meditation, it beats quite well

When you're sure that conduct's work is luminous light
And you're sure that interdependence is emptiness
A doer and deed, refined until they're gone
This way of working with conduct, it works quite well

When biased thinking has vanished into space
No phony facades, eight dharmas, nor hopes and fears,
A keeper and kept, refined until they're gone
This way of keeping samaya, it works quite well

When you've finally discovered your mind is dharmakaya
And you're really doing yourself and others good
A winner and won, refined until they're gone
This way of winning results, it works quite well



Naropa's song, "The View, Concisely Put" says:

"Without conceptualizing a "mind,"
Since it is not something to be conceived,
This original wakefulness, cognizant yet thought-free,
Is like the wisdom of the Tathagatha."

Therefore it is taught, "Realize that luminous mind
is the mind of original wakefulness,
and don't seek an enlightenment separate from that."
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:02 am

Karma Dorje wrote:I think the question is, if a distinction was critical between "sutra" mahamudra and any other sort then why was it not made explicit in the Indian tradition? It seems more likely that this is part of the hermeneutic edifice of the Tibetan scholarly tradition that attempted more or less successfully to knit all of the disparate elements of Buddhist thought into one Grand Unified Theory. It may very well have been important in Tibet to justify the mahamudra teachings, but we are no longer in the same boat here in the West at this time.

Of course there is great identity between the tathagathagarbha sutras, the tantras and the dohas of mahamudra: they describe the same underlying reality of luminous emptiness. We need not assume that these are all of a single piece historically.


We may as well ask why there are the "Six Dharmas of Naropa," as prior to this classification, there was not such an explicit system. A collection of Completion Stage instructions from various lineages, and from various Tantras, were brought together in a meaningful and skillful way. Then again, perhaps this was Marpa's doing, eh? Maybe he was creating a hermeneutic edifice, as well?

I personally don't think Gampopa was attempting to create a Grand Unified Theory. I believe he was working with the notion of Skillful Means.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:07 am

Further on in Naropa's song, he says:

"The unconstructed self-knowing itself
which is free from the defilement of thought,
is the nondwelling nirvana.

The Vajra Being is also just this.
The Sixth Buddha is also just this.
The Six Families are also just this.
Manjusri Kumara is just this.
Vairochana is just this."
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Jinzang » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:14 am

Well, rNgog wrote a commentary on the Ratnagotravibhaga, which shows that Gampopa was not the first Kagyu practitioner to value this text. Plus the is the well known tradition that Mairtipa rediscovered the text.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:16 am

Jinzang wrote: which shows that Gampopa was not the first Kagyu practitioner



Gampopa is THE first Kagyu practitioner.

The first.

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

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:49 am

conebeckham wrote:We may as well ask why there are the "Six Dharmas of Naropa," as prior to this classification, there was not such an explicit system. A collection of Completion Stage instructions from various lineages, and from various Tantras, were brought together in a meaningful and skillful way. Then again, perhaps this was Marpa's doing, eh? Maybe he was creating a hermeneutic edifice, as well?

I personally don't think Gampopa was attempting to create a Grand Unified Theory. I believe he was working with the notion of Skillful Means.


Gathering together a set of six instructions Marpa received from Naropa and calling them the "Six Dharmas of Naropa" is rather obviously not the same thing as developing an innovative notion of Mahamudra broken down into sutra, tantra and essence which was never there before. The first is merely enumerating a list, the second is putting forward an entirely new interpretation. It was not taught by his guru Milarepa or his paramaguru Marpa, and Je Gampopa's formulation was controversial-- criticized by the likes of Sapan for revealing Mahamudra outside of vajrayana context.

I don't disagree with you that his philosophical moves were skillful means to engage beings more widely in the ultimate teachings. I am simply saying that the reasons behind such an innovation may be particular to Tibet where one had to justify any such a move against the entire edifice of the Buddhist teaching, situating the pointing out instruction in the context of sutra. These days, I don't see many people insisting on such a justification and many practitioners will practice their entire life without reading the works of Maitreya.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby JohnRammy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:03 am

Karma Dorje wrote:many practitioners will practice their entire life without reading the works of Maitreya.



Yes, Candrakīrti or Atisa would have said something if the Tathagatagarbha Sutras were important.

Indians ignored these texts for a reason.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:02 am

JohnRammy wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:many practitioners will practice their entire life without reading the works of Maitreya.



Yes, Candrakīrti or Atisa would have said something if the Tathagatagarbha Sutras were important.

Indians ignored these texts for a reason.


Woah, that's not what I said at all. I was saying that there was no need to justify Mahamudra by situating it in a sutric tradition as most Western practitioners will likely not undertake the study of these texts, *not* that there is no benefit to their study. In fact, I have found them tremendously clear and useful. That's a very glib of you to dismiss them summarily.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:21 am

JohnRammy wrote:
Jinzang wrote: which shows that Gampopa was not the first Kagyu practitioner



Gampopa is THE first Kagyu practitioner.

The first.

The founder.


This Kagyupa disagrees with you. Marpa was the founder of the Marpa Kagyu lineages. Not that I would underestimate Gampopa, or dismiss Milarepa.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:26 am

Karma Dorje wrote:Gathering together a set of six instructions Marpa received from Naropa and calling them the "Six Dharmas of Naropa" is rather obviously not the same thing as developing an innovative notion of Mahamudra broken down into sutra, tantra and essence which was never there before. The first is merely enumerating a list, the second is putting forward an entirely new interpretation. It was not taught by his guru Milarepa or his paramaguru Marpa, and Je Gampopa's formulation was controversial-- criticized by the likes of Sapan for revealing Mahamudra outside of vajrayana context.


Actually, the Six Yogas aren't merely a "list," they're a systematic presentation. Quite novel, in many ways. Also I am not certain that Mila or Marpa didn't teach the "non-tantric" Mahamudra --though I agree Gampopa popularized and systematized it.

I don't disagree with you that his philosophical moves were skillful means to engage beings more widely in the ultimate teachings. I am simply saying that the reasons behind such an innovation may be particular to Tibet where one had to justify any such a move against the entire edifice of the Buddhist teaching, situating the pointing out instruction in the context of sutra. These days, I don't see many people insisting on such a justification and many practitioners will practice their entire life without reading the works of Maitreya.
Could be true, what you say...I don't know.
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Re: Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Are they based on Sutra or Tantra?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:48 pm

Here's some more pre-Gampopa Mahamudra instruction, from various Dohas, to chew on....

"Teaching this primordially unborn great bliss
terrifies the ignorant and mistaken,
but raises goose bumps of joy on the worthy."
--Saraha

"the Vajra Mind is not disturbed by conditions;
It destroys the den of fear that is the result of the failure of hopes."

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

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:23 pm

"Wisdom and the expanse of appearance and emptiness
should be known to be primordial Buddhahood.
Self-knowing knowledge with it's stains
does not depend on anything else
and therefore is that self-arising wisdom.

Because it is knowledge, it is clear;
Because it is self-knowing it is non-conceptual;
Self-knowing cannot possibly conceive itself,
Because it is not conceivable.

That mind is non conceptual,
it is clarity, non-conceptuality and wisdom,
like the wisdom of the Sugatas.

Therefore, as to the mind's nature and luminosity,it was taught that
it should be realized that the mind is wisdom
and one should not seek Buddhahood elsewhere."

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

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:35 pm

..and finally, from Maitripa, who is the primary source for the Mahamudra of the Kagyupas, through Marpa and down through Gampopa, etc., I offer these verses:

"Realisation is self-liberated, is great wisdom,
the equal non-duality is the Dharmakaya.

Like the continuous flow of a great river
however it abides, it has meaning;
it is always Buddhahood.
Without the objects of samsara, it is great bliss.

All phenomena are devoid of their own essences;
The intellect that grasps emptiness becomes spontaneously purified;
in the Intellect-free mind, there is nothing to be done.
This is the path of all the Buddhas."

I trust that it is apparent that both Madhyamaka, and Tathagatagarbha, are at least conceptually-relevant, in reference to these quotes, and especially to the one above, from "The Summary of Maitripa's Mahamudra." It should be apparent to those with discernment that Gampopa did not "add Tathagathagarbha" features to Mahamudra anew.....but that the heritage of the transmission includes both an understanding of Sunyata of the Conditioned, from the Madhyamaka, as well as the ineffable, inconceivable, Primordial Wisdom beyond Extremes, which is the subject of the Tathagatagarbha teachings.
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