Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

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Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:48 am

Seems there are always threads involving vigorous debate on whether Tathagatagarbha is an eternalist doctrine. So, I have a simple question.

I guess i'm missing something here, it seems to me that if we say that the Buddha Nature concept is eternalist, then also the notions of Nirvana even in the Pali Canon are eternalist, as is the entire concept of Nirvana itself.

So can someone explain to me, outside of simply disagreeing with Buddha Nature as a kind of misleading, self-advocating pedagogical tool, how exactly is the one an eternalist doctrine and the other not? What exactly makes Nirvana, or any language used to point to the unconditioned "not eternalist" in the same way that it is claimed Tathagatgarbha is?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:13 am

Everything is in complete agreement. Only myopic dharma students think otherwise.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:27 am

I imagine it might have something to do with a confusion between thinking of tathagathagarba as some actual component of the mind underneath everything as opposed to the nature of the mind itself.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby xabir » Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:24 am

Can't speak for Tathagatagarbha but the Nirvana of early Buddhism is actually a cessation of conditioned afflictions, that cessation is termed unconditioned etc.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Jinzang » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:15 am

The point is all the teachings build on one another. You can't understand emptiness without understanding that all phenomena are conditioned. If you try, you will mistake emptiness for nihilism. And you can't understand buddha nature without understanding emptiness. If you try, you will mistake it for a kind of eternalism. Because all phenomena have been empty from the beginning there is nothing to change or alter. And that is buddha nature.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby songhill » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:29 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Seems there are always threads involving vigorous debate on whether Tathagatagarbha is an eternalist doctrine. So, I have a simple question.

I guess i'm missing something here, it seems to me that if we say that the Buddha Nature concept is eternalist, then also the notions of Nirvana even in the Pali Canon are eternalist, as is the entire concept of Nirvana itself.

So can someone explain to me, outside of simply disagreeing with Buddha Nature as a kind of misleading, self-advocating pedagogical tool, how exactly is the one an eternalist doctrine and the other not? What exactly makes Nirvana, or any language used to point to the unconditioned "not eternalist" in the same way that it is claimed Tathagatgarbha is?


Eternalism is basically the belief that the five khandhas or aggregates are the self and therefore eternal. Almost, ad nauseum, the Buddha in the Pali canon taught that the aggregates are impermanent and suffering in addition to the fact, that they belong to Mara (the evil one). In that regard, the five aggregates are not the self (anattâ). The Buddha even said that his self or attâ was not an aggregate (This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self [na meso attâ]” ~ S. iii. 45). The Buddha's self has nothing to do with the five khandhas because attâ is transcendent. Transcendent means "proceeding beyond or lying outside of what is perceived or presented in experience" in this case, the five khandhas. The Buddha even asked us to take refuge in the self ((attasaranâ)) and the dhamma.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:47 pm

And so we arrive once again to my original (unanswered) question to you: We have established that the five aggregates are not-self. Fine. Yes. We know and agree. But you have yet to describe what the "True Self" is composed of. What is the "True Self"? A moment of consciousness? A phenomenon? What? You say it is, so what is it?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby songhill » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:And so we arrive once again to my original (unanswered) question to you: We have established that the five aggregates are not-self. Fine. Yes. We know and agree. But you have yet to describe what the "True Self" is composed of. What is the "True Self"? A moment of consciousness? A phenomenon? What? You say it is, so what is it?
:namaste:


Obviously the self is not consciousness (the fifth Mara aggregate). It is not a phenomenon. You might read this.

The self (in thee), man, knows what is true or false. Surely the noble Witness, sir, the Self, you do misjudge, in that when sin is there you do conceal the Self within the self. — AN 1. 149 (trans. Horner)


Also read this.

"He [the Buddha] does not say that we should know the true self, but that we must not regard as the self (âtmâ, p. attâ) that which is not the self. For otherwise craving clings to this false self, and thus brings about an entanglement in the cycle of beings. And salvation takes place not through our becoming consciousness of the true self, but through our recognizing as not-self (anatmâ, P. anattâ) all that is falsely regarded as the self, and so detaching desire there from" (Erich Frauwallner)
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:16 pm

Again, both these examples outline what is not the self (ie the skhanda), the second one (not so) deftly avoids the question by deflecting the issue back to what the false self is. But my question is: What is the True Self?

or, to use Horners rather outdated terms: What is the "noble Witness"?

Is this clear? (I should hope so!)
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby songhill » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:33 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Again, both these examples outline what is not the self (ie the skhanda), the second one (not so) deftly avoids the question by deflecting the issue back to what the false self is. But my question is: What is the True Self?

or, to use Horners rather outdated terms: What is the "noble Witness"?

Is this clear? (I should hope so!)
:namaste:


The self transcends the five aggreagetes and that is precisely what you want to realize the self with. :rolling:
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby conebeckham » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:08 pm

:coffee: :popcorn:
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:And so we arrive once again to my original (unanswered) question to you: We have established that the five aggregates are not-self. Fine. Yes. We know and agree. But you have yet to describe what the "True Self" is composed of. What is the "True Self"? A moment of consciousness? A phenomenon? What? You say it is, so what is it?
:namaste:


The one who realizes Thatness.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:52 pm

I still don't understand the fundamental difference here other than a pedagogical one - which I grant might be very important.

Whether we refer to the unconditioned we aspire to as "not having a self", or whether we say it is a "self" of a sort that phenomenal things are not; they are both just labels for something which we all know we can't describe linguistically anyway, and is not really self, non-self, nor anything we can actually define the qualities of - by definition. Something that only comes through realization anyway - right? Other than misrepresentation of the teachings to someone who doesn't yet understand "Buddhism 101", I have to say the differences between these labels seems completely semantic to me.

It sounds to me like the sutra(s) where Buddha talks about the "Nirvana of the philosophers" being a false one, borne out of constant obsession with negation and affirmation of views.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:18 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Seems there are always threads involving vigorous debate on whether Tathagatagarbha is an eternalist doctrine. So, I have a simple question.

I guess i'm missing something here, it seems to me that if we say that the Buddha Nature concept is eternalist, then also the notions of Nirvana even in the Pali Canon are eternalist, as is the entire concept of Nirvana itself.

So can someone explain to me, outside of simply disagreeing with Buddha Nature as a kind of misleading, self-advocating pedagogical tool, how exactly is the one an eternalist doctrine and the other not? What exactly makes Nirvana, or any language used to point to the unconditioned "not eternalist" in the same way that it is claimed Tathagatgarbha is?


The unfashioned, the unbent,
the fermentation-free, the true, the beyond,
the subtle, the very-hard-to-see,
the ageless, permanence, the undecaying,
the featureless, non-elaboration,
peace, the deathless,
the exquisite, bliss, rest,
the ending of craving,
the wonderful, the marvelous,
the secure, security,
unbinding,
the unafflicted, dispassion, purity,
release, attachment-free,
the island, shelter, harbor, refuge,
the ultimate.
— SN 43.1-44

does this sound like eternalist?I think the question really is what is Eternalist?what was the Buddha talking about when he was talking about the eternalist view?
Songhill answered this question when he stated Eternalism was based on the view that the 5 aggregates are eternal.this was what was meant by eternalist view.the Buddha never considered his view of deathless and undecaying Nirvana to be wrong even though he was stateing it was eternal and unchanging,Permenant.

simply said their Idea of what is eternal is wrong what I am saying is eternal is right.so its not that eternal is wrong its WHAT is considered to be eternal that is the question.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:30 pm

Eternal, self..these are all just terms, obviously Nirvana cannot actually be described, i'm sure everyone will agree on that.

So what's the left is just whatever method is used to allude to it...beyond the very beginnings of learning about Buddhism, I don't really see how one position or the other makes alot of difference. Once someone accepts and has basic understanding of ideas of non-self and emptiness, dependent origination, understands there can be no cause separate from effect etc.. this is the protection against wrong views on the self and causality isn't it, rather than splitting hairs over the terminology used?

It seems irrelevant to me whether or not someone uses the term "true self" to label potential of realizing what lies outside of conditioned existence, or spends all their time arguing that it MUST not be called "true self".

In the end it's just an argument about labels and views anyway, I can see how it might matter in terms of not confusing people completely new to Dharma, but it really seems to be quibbling over nothing otherwise.

Again maybe my lack of scholarship shows here I don't know, but it seems like a bizarre thing to me, endless affirmation and negation of terms and views, arguing over what exact terms we use to define what is by definition undefinable.

:shrug:
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Jnana » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:00 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:The unfashioned, the unbent,
the fermentation-free, the true, the beyond,
the subtle, the very-hard-to-see,
the ageless, permanence, the undecaying,
the featureless, non-elaboration,
peace, the deathless,
the exquisite, bliss, rest,
the ending of craving,
the wonderful, the marvelous,
the secure, security,
unbinding,
the unafflicted, dispassion, purity,
release, attachment-free,
the island, shelter, harbor, refuge,
the ultimate.
— SN 43.1-44

does this sound like eternalist?

Firstly, this quotation is actually an extremely abridged edit of 44 suttas. Secondly, there is no reference in any of these terms to a Self. Thirdly, there's no need for a "Self" in the Buddhadharma. It's just one more thing to let go of.
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:09 pm

Fourthly, he used it again in the "Why not Theravadra" thread were I made a very similar critique.

I shut down the "Why not Theravadra" thread and I will shut down this one if it devolves into the same old round of repetitive and circular arguments.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:11 pm

deepbluehum wrote:The one who realizes Thatness.
And the "one" that realises Thatness is obviously not the "one" which we impute onto the skhanda so now there is a second "one'? ie You have not answered my question: What is this "one" composed of?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:00 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:And so we arrive once again to my original (unanswered) question to you: We have established that the five aggregates are not-self. Fine. Yes. We know and agree. But you have yet to describe what the "True Self" is composed of. What is the "True Self"? A moment of consciousness? A phenomenon? What? You say it is, so what is it?
:namaste:


The one who realizes Thatness.

I always thought that the "one who realizes Thatness" is just the reflexive action of consciousness realizing that it is not self. No?
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Re: Tathagatagarbha, Eternalism, etc.

Postby Jnana » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:29 pm

songhill wrote:Obviously the self is not consciousness (the fifth Mara aggregate).

Then your precious self is unconscious. Soul theories are irrelevant for the realization of knowledge. A complete waste of time. The Buddhadharma is not an ātmavāda.
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