52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby dearreader » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:02 pm

Hello Lotus School followers. I was wondering if any one might be able to help me to answer a question,

In Snodgrass' The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism http://www.vedicbooks.net/matrix-diamond-world-mandalas-shingon-buddhism-p-7352.html He states that the 52 stages of Boddhisattvas is derived from the Saddharma Pundarika sutra. I, unfortunately, do not have a translation of this Sutra and can not find a reliable resource online that backs this up (only SGI sites).

In your readings or studies of the Lotus Sutra did you come across this teaching? If so, in what Chapter?

If not, does anyone know if this is an error in Snodgrass's work?

Thank you. :thanks: !
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby PorkChop » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:25 pm

Hrm... wonder if this corresponds to the 53 teachers in the Avatamsaka Sutra and the 53 former Buddhas in the Infinite Life Sutra.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:38 pm

Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, that is the Lotus Sutra. Quite a few translations are available online. Here is the BTTS version.

The 52 stages system is based on the Gandavyuha Sutra, which is also the last chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Here are the stages in brief: Fifty-two Positions in the Process of Cultivation
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby greentara » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:09 pm

Astus, It's a very exacting list. If you look at the life of the doctor Jack Preger, you see a Boddhisattva in action. Working for decades on the streets of Calcutta (Kolkata) with the poorest of the poor. Tending people, not asking for money and no strings attached. A really good man and a great healer, reaching out a helping hand to all.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby dearreader » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:54 pm

Astus wrote:Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, that is the Lotus Sutra. Quite a few translations are available online. Here is the BTTS version.

The 52 stages system is based on the Gandavyuha Sutra, which is also the last chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Here are the stages in brief: Fifty-two Positions in the Process of Cultivation


Astus,

Thank you for the answer. The 52 stages are listed in Snodgrass, Appendix 1. It is here that he references the Lotus Sutra and then provides "A typical list, given in the Tendai teaching is:" (pg 728)

Can someone in Tendai-shu confirm or clarify this? If it is an error I will make a note of it in my text.

Thank you.
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:37 pm

I don't have a copy of Snodgrass' book (this is the big two-volume one, right?), so I can't say one way or another. I find it difficult to imagine how the Lotus Sutra could be used in a stages-of-the-path sort of way, particularly by a Tendai writer.

If this is a high priority for you, I can go to the library, track Snodgrass down, and double check for you.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby dearreader » Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:46 pm

Dear Jikan,

Thank you for your generous offer. It is unnecessary though. I have scanned and attached the relevant section. The work, as presented, makes no claim to copyright so I believe this scan to be within our legal rights. If not, please feel free to delete the attachment. I do not wish to steal "not a broken needle or even a blade of grass."

As you might know the work is based on Shingon Buddhist teachings but the author's claim the 52 Stages presented in the Appendix is both Tendai and based from the Lotus Sutra is why I posted my question here.

Unless someone knows different, I will now assume this reference to the Lotus Sutra to be in error and make a note.

Lastly, there are times when you can find the Snodgrass book on sale for 50 Euro or so. I always try to pick up a copy when I find one at this price, they make nice gifts. If it is in your budget, perhaps check alibris.co.uk or their north american site. Avoid the karmic implications of using Amazon :)


Jikan wrote:I don't have a copy of Snodgrass' book (this is the big two-volume one, right?), so I can't say one way or another. I find it difficult to imagine how the Lotus Sutra could be used in a stages-of-the-path sort of way, particularly by a Tendai writer.

If this is a high priority for you, I can go to the library, track Snodgrass down, and double check for you.
Attachments
Snodgrass_Appendix1.pdf
(455.83 KiB) Downloaded 40 times
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:20 pm

That's very interesting material indeed. I think the way these stages are presented reflects some of the commentarial tradition in TienTai/Tendai which is said to derive ultimately from the Lotus Sutra, but not directly or exclusively from that sutra (Snodgrass cites more than one source anyway).

Please understand also that I am by no means competent in esoteric practice.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Astus » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:39 pm

greentara wrote:Astus, It's a very exacting list. If you look at the life of the doctor Jack Preger, you see a Boddhisattva in action. Working for decades on the streets of Calcutta (Kolkata) with the poorest of the poor. Tending people, not asking for money and no strings attached. A really good man and a great healer, reaching out a helping hand to all.


Being a good and caring person is not exclusive to Buddhism or bodhisattvas. Also, the bodhisattva path is not simply about being good and caring but bringing ultimate liberation to others and oneself.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby dearreader » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:45 pm

Jikan wrote:That's very interesting material indeed.
Please understand also that I am by no means competent in esoteric practice.


I thank you again. My question has no relation to esoteric Buddhism and is regarding solely exoteric teachings. To provide you with more context, Snodgrass's inclusion of this was in reference to Kukai's distinction between Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism and his comparison of the four Mahayana schools Kegon, Tendai, Hosso, and Sanron with related esoteric doctrine.
Snodgrass wrote: 1. The Dharma Body is the Doctrine Lord
Firstly, the teachings differ concerning the identify of the Doctrine Lord (kyooshu), the Buddha who preaches the sutras. The exoteric schools say that the Doctrine Lord is Shakyamuni, the Buddha who preached the Dharma in India. They teach that the Reward Body (sambhoga-kaya) preaches the doctrine of the One Vehicle (the one great Vehicle which includes both the Hinayana and Mahayana) for the sake of the Bodhisattvas who are in the superior stages in the fifty-two Bodhisattva stages; and the Correspondence Body (nirmana-kaya)which is the Body of Shakyamuni, preaches the doctrines of the Two Vehicles and the Three Vehicles for the sake of humankind, for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, and for the Bodhisattvas who are in the prior stages of the fifty-two Bodhisattva stages. The third and highest of the Buddha Bodies, the Dharma Body (Dharma-kaya), does not preach the Dharma because it is wholly transcendent. It is Suchness (tathata), identified with Voidness (shunyata) and the principle of Formlessness, and therefore cannot preach the Dharma because this would involve the use of words, which belong to the realm of forms.


Kukai then goes on to explain how esoteric Buddhism is different but I'll leave that for the Shingon forum if anyone is interested.

I have, however, received an answer to my question from professor at Uni.
The Fifty-two stages of the Boddhisattva is not from Gandavyuha Sutra as was suggested -it has 41 stages by the way. The 52 Stages is one of Zhiyi's major teachings (expounded in his work "Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra") and is classical TienTai thought. It is standard East Asian thinking but not known in Indic/Tibetan schools. If you are curious, more can be read in Hurvitz's work on Zhiyi http://alturl.com/mribh
and in the Humane Kings Sutra (english translation available thanks to Orzech). http://alturl.com/z8qrc
Hurvitz' work can be difficult to locate but the Humane King's Sutra is available.


I guess it is not part of Tendai teachings taught in the West? Out of curiosity, which Zhiyi teachings are studied in Western Tendai?

So the answer is that the reference to the Lotus Sutra in Snodgrass is an error but the teaching is solidly Tendai. For what it is worth to others.

Thank you again for your help.
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Astus » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:57 pm

The reason I said it is the Gandavyuha Sutra is because in T. Cleary's translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, in Appendix 3 he introduces and translates Li Tongxuan's commentary to it which in fact outlines the 52 stages, and also the same commentary is referred to in Buswell's "Collected Works of Chinul" summing up the bodhisattva path. I did not hear of Zhiyi's work before.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:21 pm

dearreader wrote:
Jikan wrote:That's very interesting material indeed.
Please understand also that I am by no means competent in esoteric practice.


I thank you again. My question has no relation to esoteric Buddhism and is regarding solely exoteric teachings. To provide you with more context, Snodgrass's inclusion of this was in reference to Kukai's distinction between Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism and his comparison of the four Mahayana schools Kegon, Tendai, Hosso, and Sanron with related esoteric doctrine.
Snodgrass wrote: 1. The Dharma Body is the Doctrine Lord
Firstly, the teachings differ concerning the identify of the Doctrine Lord (kyooshu), the Buddha who preaches the sutras. The exoteric schools say that the Doctrine Lord is Shakyamuni, the Buddha who preached the Dharma in India. They teach that the Reward Body (sambhoga-kaya) preaches the doctrine of the One Vehicle (the one great Vehicle which includes both the Hinayana and Mahayana) for the sake of the Bodhisattvas who are in the superior stages in the fifty-two Bodhisattva stages; and the Correspondence Body (nirmana-kaya)which is the Body of Shakyamuni, preaches the doctrines of the Two Vehicles and the Three Vehicles for the sake of humankind, for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, and for the Bodhisattvas who are in the prior stages of the fifty-two Bodhisattva stages. The third and highest of the Buddha Bodies, the Dharma Body (Dharma-kaya), does not preach the Dharma because it is wholly transcendent. It is Suchness (tathata), identified with Voidness (shunyata) and the principle of Formlessness, and therefore cannot preach the Dharma because this would involve the use of words, which belong to the realm of forms.


Kukai then goes on to explain how esoteric Buddhism is different but I'll leave that for the Shingon forum if anyone is interested.

I have, however, received an answer to my question from professor at Uni.
The Fifty-two stages of the Boddhisattva is not from Gandavyuha Sutra as was suggested -it has 41 stages by the way. The 52 Stages is one of Zhiyi's major teachings (expounded in his work "Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra") and is classical TienTai thought. It is standard East Asian thinking but not known in Indic/Tibetan schools. If you are curious, more can be read in Hurvitz's work on Zhiyi http://alturl.com/mribh
and in the Humane Kings Sutra (english translation available thanks to Orzech). http://alturl.com/z8qrc
Hurvitz' work can be difficult to locate but the Humane King's Sutra is available.


I guess it is not part of Tendai teachings taught in the West? Out of curiosity, which Zhiyi teachings are studied in Western Tendai?

So the answer is that the reference to the Lotus Sutra in Snodgrass is an error but the teaching is solidly Tendai. For what it is worth to others.

Thank you again for your help.


So your professor agrees with me when I said:

Jikan wrote:That's very interesting material indeed. I think the way these stages are presented reflects some of the commentarial tradition in TienTai/Tendai which is said to derive ultimately from the Lotus Sutra, but not directly or exclusively from that sutra


Indeed: solidly TienTai.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:32 pm

I should add two points on this:

1) Astus' ideas on this are very much worth considering. Why? Because this claim..

dearreader wrote: He states that the 52 stages of Boddhisattvas is derived from the Saddharma Pundarika sutra.!


...is not entirely accurate. Snellgrove attributes it to the Lotus Sutra and to the Niokyo (at least in the PDF dearreader* provided). I'm dreadful with languages and I don't know if NioKyo is Gandhavyuha Sutra. (Kegon Kyo is the full Avatamsaka, which has pride of place in Tendai Daishi's writings)

2)I use the word "commentarial" to describe Tendai Daishi's writings on purpose. It's true that Zhiyi did produce some novel doctrines, which are interesting and inspiring to practitioners (see Swanson's book on the topic). However, I don't think Zhiyi understood his role as a philosopher. He was primarily an expounder of the sutras. He taught the sutras. Given the state of the canon in China in his time (he relied on Chinese translations, not Sanskrit originals), it fell to him as a prominent teacher to systematize and synthesize the sutric teachings, in order to make some sense of the body of materials in circulation. He did so, and in doing so (the logic behind his doing so) advanced some original doctrines. His purpose was exegetical and hermeneutic. He wanted people to practice in the best way, the best-informed way, and he presented the teachings according to his understanding.

Since we're on the interwebz, I didn't want to use constipated terms like "hermeneutic" or "exegetical," but since my earlier post with the word commentarial in it threw you for a loop (the bolded bit I quoted back to you that you saw fit to delete in your quoting of my words), some clarification seemed in order.


*Incidentally: is "dearreader" intended as a slur against the phonemic difficulties of some Asians attempting to speak in English? I ask because your avatar is an image of "Dear Leader." You know, with an L. I hope your intention is not a bigoted one, because that would surely undermine your credibility among Buddhists.

PS: sorry, I forgot to say "you're welcome." You're welcome. Thank you for an interesting thread.
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby dearreader » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:21 am

Jikan wrote:I should add two points on this:

1) Astus' ideas on this are very much worth considering. Why? Because this claim..

dearreader wrote: He states that the 52 stages of Boddhisattvas is derived from the Saddharma Pundarika sutra.


...is not entirely accurate. Snellgrove attributes it to the Lotus Sutra and to the Niokyo (at least in the PDF dearreader* provided). I'm dreadful with languages and I don't know if NioKyo is Gandhavyuha Sutra. (Kegon Kyo is the full Avatamsaka, which has pride of place in Tendai Daishi's writings)


It is not an inaccurate statement either. But for your information Niokyo = Ninnokyo or the "Scripture of Humane Kings" Typically attributed to the 5th century and Kumarajiva but more widely known through the 8th Century's Pu-k'ung aka Amoghavajra (Kukai's Dharma grandfather). It is almost certainly of Chinese pedigree. Zhiyi "regularly quotes the Scripture for Humane Kings.... Arguments in his major works, such as Great Calming and Contemplation, the Meaning of the Four-fold teaching, the Profound Meaning of the Lotus of the Teaching... are strewn with quotations from the Scripture for Humane Kings." Charles Orzech in Politics and Transcendent Wisdom.

Jikan wrote:2)I use the word "commentarial" to describe Tendai Daishi's writings on purpose. It's true that Zhiyi did produce some novel doctrines, which are interesting and inspiring to practitioners (see Swanson's book on the topic). However, I don't think Zhiyi understood his role as a philosopher. He was primarily an expounder of the sutras. He taught the sutras. Given the state of the canon in China in his time (he relied on Chinese translations, not Sanskrit originals), it fell to him as a prominent teacher to systematize and synthesize the sutric teachings, in order to make some sense of the body of materials in circulation. He did so, and in doing so (the logic behind his doing so) advanced some original doctrines. His purpose was exegetical and hermeneutic. He wanted people to practice in the best way, the best-informed way, and he presented the teachings according to his understanding.


I am not sure who was suggesting that Zhiyi was a philosopher (or that they even existed then as we understand them today). I agree that his study and classification of all Sutra available in China at the time accomplished a great deal and largely formed the basis of a truly "Chinese Buddhism." Zhiyi is recorded as teaching the Sutra of Humane Kings and it is "cited as the source of his doctrine of three truths,etc" (Orzech again). I have not fully read this Sutra but will do so now and post any additional findings related to the 52 Stages to this thread. There looks to be a lot of Chih-i mentioned in this book. Should be interesting (I have the 1998 edition not sure if there are other editions)

Jikan wrote:Since we're on the interwebz, I didn't want to use constipated terms like "hermeneutic" or "exegetical," but since my earlier post with the word commentarial in it threw you for a loop (the bolded bit I quoted back to you that you saw fit to delete in your quoting of my words), some clarification seemed in order.


I apologise, I seem to have committed a forum mistake. I simply edited your quote because my response was only related to the "esoteric" remark you made. It was not because your use of "commentarial" provided me with confusion. I will now be sure to fully quote when posting on this forum. I never dismissed your comment or answer. I only provided additional confirmation I had received assuming it would be of interest to others. You have my apologies for this mistake.

Jikan wrote:*Incidentally: is "dearreader" intended as a slur against the phonemic difficulties of some Asians attempting to speak in English? I ask because your avatar is an image of "Dear Leader." You know, with an L. I hope your intention is not a bigoted one, because that would surely undermine your credibility among Buddhists.


I must say this comment surprised me a great deal. I am unsure why you post this now and in public as I have used this name and picture for quite some time and neither you nor anyone else has suggested such a thing. All languages have sounds that are difficult to make and this is well known here in Europe. My use of the image and name is no more a slur than is your use of the word "slur" is intended to make fun of those who have problems with unclear or abnormal enunciation. (Looked up slur on Wikipedia). For what it is worth Jikan, I am not English. Additionally, I am not the only one to make the joke of the Dear Leader writing things to his Dear Readers as you can see here: http://laughingsquid.com/dear-reader-the-unauthorized-autobiography-of-kim-jong-il-by-michael-malice/

I will change my avatar, however, so people only need to focus on the content of my post instead of my possible since of humour or motivations :oops:
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: 52 Stages of the Boddhisattva

Postby Jikan » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Dearreader,

If you were surprised, then my post was effective. Surprise has an important role in TienTai pedagogy...

http://books.google.com/books/about/Bei ... zm_dBAXB0C

...but I expect you to retort that you know this already, or that you were demanding some other sort of response from the gallery.

It's considered exceptionally impolite to ask someone for knowledge or advice, and then dictate back to that person how that advice should be given (or what the content of that advice should be). Much more so in public. You're welcome.

Thanks for the scoop on NioKyo, by the way. Your new avatar is much improved.

This thread is done.
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