songhill wrote: gregkavarnos wrote:
In the Tibetan traditions (for example) the only school that held an eternalist of "True Self" were the Jonangpa, and you know what happened to them? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonang
Are you suggesting that all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, with the exception of the Jonangpa, do not accept the authority of the Mahayana Mahaparinrivana Sutra, the Lankavatara Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and others since they speak of Âtman, positively?
You must understand that the Tibetans while accepting the authority of the various Mahayana Sutras, do differentiate between them. There are sutras that are thought to require interpretation, called interpretative sutras. And sutras that are thought to directly indicate Lord Buddha's final intent, called definitive sutras.
But don't take my word for it, in the words of Yangsi Rinpoche, a well respected Geshe and resident teacher at Maitripa Institute in Portland (From Practicing the Path p.421):
"The instructions for realizing the ultimate mode of existence can be found in the sutras, the direct teachings of the Buddha. According to the Prasangika-Madhyamika system... The sutras on the ultimate nature of reality are classified as definitive sutras, while those whose main subject matter is the conventional mode of existence are classified as interpretative. "
Basically what happens because of this, as Yangsi Rinpoche mentions later in the paragraph, is that the Sutra basket is divided into Three Turnings of the Wheel- and these turnings of the wheel are said by many Tibetan scholars to be determined by subject matter rather than chronologically. The Middle Wheel, on the ultimate nature, is considered the Definitive Wheel, while the two others are considered Interpretative. Another well respected scholar, Alex Berzin elaborates:http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ories.html
In this way, three turnings of the wheel of Dharma came to be known in Buddhist scriptures. The first taught truly established existence; the second non-truly established existence; and the third that the existence of some phenomena is truly established, while others are not. For this reason, the Gelug master Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) said clearly in his Essence of Excellent Explanation of Interpretable and Definitive Meanings (Drang-nges legs-bshad snying-po), “The classification of three turnings of the wheel of Dharma was not made in reference to specific events in Buddha’s life or gatherings of his disciples. It was made from the point of view of the subject matter of his teachings.”
I highly recommend reading the above article by Berzin if you want to understand how the seeming contradictions between some of the sutras are understood. It is an excellent article and he also discusses a bit how the classification system itself was a hotly debated topic.