Buddha-nature

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:52 am

TMingyur wrote:"buddha nature" for me always has had the connotation of "self", "constraint" ... wheras "emptiness" refers to "openness", no clinging ... not even to the concept "buddha" ... groundlessness (in a positive sense) ... no frame of reference at all ... neither "self", nor "other", nor "sentience", nor "inanimate" ... no limitations at all ... but not at all nihilistic :)

Precisely why I mentioned in an earlier post that one needs to have at least a proper intellectual understanding of emptiness before one can properly understand buddhanature.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:07 am

Sherab wrote:
TMingyur wrote:"buddha nature" for me always has had the connotation of "self", "constraint" ... wheras "emptiness" refers to "openness", no clinging ... not even to the concept "buddha" ... groundlessness (in a positive sense) ... no frame of reference at all ... neither "self", nor "other", nor "sentience", nor "inanimate" ... no limitations at all ... but not at all nihilistic :)

Precisely why I mentioned in an earlier post that one needs to have at least a proper intellectual understanding of emptiness before one can properly understand buddhanature.


But why bother with the term "buddha nature" in the first place?

Because one is in a mood to complicate things? In a mood to get distracted? In a mood to fabricate?

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:58 am

TMingyur wrote:
Sherab wrote:
TMingyur wrote:"buddha nature" for me always has had the connotation of "self", "constraint" ... wheras "emptiness" refers to "openness", no clinging ... not even to the concept "buddha" ... groundlessness (in a positive sense) ... no frame of reference at all ... neither "self", nor "other", nor "sentience", nor "inanimate" ... no limitations at all ... but not at all nihilistic :)

Precisely why I mentioned in an earlier post that one needs to have at least a proper intellectual understanding of emptiness before one can properly understand buddhanature.


But why bother with the term "buddha nature" in the first place?



Because while both mind and a rock are equally empty, a mind can shed its fetters and attain buddhahood, while a rock cannot.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:05 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:But why bother with the term "buddha nature" in the first place?



Because while both mind and a rock are equally empty, a mind can shed its fetters and attain buddhahood, while a rock cannot.


Now we are going around in circles. And the reason is just that there are some who take a liking to the term "buddha nature" and the concepts it involves and that I prefer not to bother with unnecessary concepts.

I will not repeat what I have already elaborated above.

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:01 am

TMingyur wrote:
Sherab wrote:
TMingyur wrote:"buddha nature" for me always has had the connotation of "self", "constraint" ... wheras "emptiness" refers to "openness", no clinging ... not even to the concept "buddha" ... groundlessness (in a positive sense) ... no frame of reference at all ... neither "self", nor "other", nor "sentience", nor "inanimate" ... no limitations at all ... but not at all nihilistic :)

Precisely why I mentioned in an earlier post that one needs to have at least a proper intellectual understanding of emptiness before one can properly understand buddhanature.


But why bother with the term "buddha nature" in the first place?

Because one is in a mood to complicate things? In a mood to get distracted? In a mood to fabricate?

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Because it is in the sutras. Because it was taught by the Buddha.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:03 am

Yes. And I follow the interpretation of Tsongkhapa and Candrakirti why it is in the sutras.

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:14 am

TMingyur wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:But why bother with the term "buddha nature" in the first place?



Because while both mind and a rock are equally empty, a mind can shed its fetters and attain buddhahood, while a rock cannot.


Now we are going around in circles. And the reason is just that there are some who take a liking to the term "buddha nature" and the concepts it involves and that I prefer not to bother with unnecessary concepts.

I will not repeat what I have already elaborated above.

Kind regards


Yes, some people find skillful means in the terms and concepts "buddha nature" and "emptiness" indeed...

Some of these people remain caught up at conceptual level with these terms and can be quite fussy about them, while some others don't have that affliction. In the case of the latter, whether they favor the exegesis emphasizing emptiness or that emphasizing enlightened capacity to benefit beings, I can scarcely find any fault. As their meditation is beyond extremes and elaboration, they know very well that the true nature of mind and phenomena is neither an impotent void nor a truly existent self. Such individuals don't find themselves tethered to one camp or the other and understand the lack of contradiction between the two; they also understand the skillful application of each viewpoint based on the shortcomings and needs of their students.

TMingyur wrote:Yes. And I follow the interpretation of Tsongkhapa and Candrakirti why it is in the sutras.

Well, then I find it strange that you are constantly questioning the usefulness and legitimacy of the teachings on buddha nature if you understand that the Buddha taught them. If the Buddha saw even a merely provisional use for a teaching, then it is incumbent upon one of his followers to maintain respect for it, all the while understanding its provisional intent.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:28 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:In the case of the latter, whether they favor the exegesis emphasizing emptiness or that emphasizing enlightened capacity to benefit beings, I can scarcely find any fault.

Just to make this clear: "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" and "enlightened capacity to benefit beings" are not mutually exclusive.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Such individuals don't find themselves tethered to one camp or the other and understand the lack of contradiction between the two;

It is a matter of assessing the skillfulness of concepts. If the aim is to liberate all beings then from my point of view the "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" is the "exegesis" of choice.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:... they also understand the skillful application of each viewpoint based on the shortcomings and needs of their students.

Understanding the reasons for a view does not mean to make the view one's own. And to my knowledge we have been talking about our personal preferences and our personal reasons for these preferences.

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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:54 am

TMingyur wrote:Just to make this clear: "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" and "enlightened capacity to benefit beings" are not mutually exclusive.

This is a point I've made to you many, many times, and that enlightened capacity is merely more explicitly treated by the buddha nature teachings, while it is not the explicit focus of the prasangika-maghyamaka teachings. The two explanations are not (necessarily) any more mutually exclusive than emptiness and enlightened capacity are.

TMingyur wrote:It is a matter of assessing the skillfulness of concepts. If the aim is to liberate all beings then from my point of view the "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" is the "exegesis" of choice.

If all beings thought the way you do and had your tendencies, then you'd be right. But there are many, many beings with as many views and tendencies, and they each need the right medicine at the right time. For some very rare individuals, even prasangika-madhyamaka would be an unnecessary detour involving analysis and discursive thought, when for them empty wisdom could be got at directly without all the conceptual rigor. Different strokes for different folks.

Also, I for one do not question the Buddha's skillfulness, so I don't suppose he was misguided in teaching different approaches for the different needs and inclinations of beings. It is my belief that all his methods are intended to re-direct students away from from their delusions and more and more subtly in line with wisdom. I also believe that for some, that voyage entails more detours than for others.

TMingyur wrote:Understanding the reasons for a view does not mean to make the view one's own. And to my knowledge we have been talking about our personnel preferences and our personnel reasons for these preferences.

You're right, it doesn't. But if one intends to teach others as a Mahayana spiritual friend, then one learns all the systems and teaches them to individuals as is appropriate. For the record, though, I've been talking about the usefulness of both the two major systems we've been discussing and recognizing the wisdom in both, while you've been championing the one and referring to the other as "unnecessary complication, distraction, and fabrication." Aside from the fact that that is disrespectful to your teacher, the Buddha, it seems to be based on specious logic. Let's try to clarify the reasons for your opinion by narrowing things down, shall we? At which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a distraction and fabrication, during meditation or in post-meditation?
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Sherab » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:59 am

TMingyur wrote:Yes. And I follow the interpretation of Tsongkhapa and Candrakirti why it is in the sutras.

Kind regards

And in reading the sutras for myself, I found myself not quite agreeing with their interpretation, and which is why we are having this discussion. However, the arguments that I have put forth, supported by quotations from the sutras and logical reasonings, have been ignored or brushed aside. So, time for me to move on.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:59 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Yes. And I follow the interpretation of Tsongkhapa and Candrakirti why it is in the sutras.

Well, then I find it strange that you are constantly questioning the usefulness and legitimacy of the teachings on buddha nature if you understand that the Buddha taught them. If the Buddha saw even a merely provisional use for a teaching, then it is incumbent upon one of his followers to maintain respect for it, all the while understanding its provisional intent.


Please be careful! Do not equate critical anaylsis with "not having respect. "

I consider analysis an essential of the path. Including analysis of the Buddhas words. This is the way to find out what refers to the interpretable and what refers to the definitive meaning.

Thus I am follow the advice of Dharmakirti and Tsongkhapa.


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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:09 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Aside from the fact that that is disrespectful to your teacher, the Buddha, it seems to be based on specious logic. ... At which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a distraction and fabrication, during meditation or in post-meditation?

I do not consider this to be disrespectful to the Buddha. As I understand it the Buddha adviced to be critical and examine his words whether they are "true" based on one's own experience. In case he applied different terms and terminology in different contexts this entails to assess their truth comparatively (based on one's own experience.)

So when I say "distraction", "fabrication" I am expressing my experience. Really we both know that things are not inherently the way people talk about them, right?

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Different strokes for different folks.

See, we do agree.



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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:19 am

TMingyur wrote:I do not consider this to be disrespectful to the Buddha. As I understand it the Buddha adviced to be critical and examine his words whether they are "true" based on one's own experience. In case he applied different terms and terminology in different contexts this entails to assess their truth comparatively (based on one's own experience.)

How can questioning the skillfulness of a teaching of the Buddha not be considered disrespectful of him? It is one thing to view certain teachings as intentionally provisional and certain ones as intentionally definitive, recognizing the skillfulness of the Buddha. But to pronounce one of his teachings as universally being a distraction and unskillful, how could that not be implying that the Buddha's wisdom was faulty?

But what I really want to know, in the interest of possibly making this discussion fruitful, is this: at which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a fabrication, during meditation or post-meditation?
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:36 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:I do not consider this to be disrespectful to the Buddha. As I understand it the Buddha adviced to be critical and examine his words whether they are "true" based on one's own experience. In case he applied different terms and terminology in different contexts this entails to assess their truth comparatively (based on one's own experience.)

How can questioning the skillfulness of a teaching of the Buddha not be considered disrespectful of him?

How to assess the skillfulness of a teaching if not from one's own perspective?

Are you in a position to assess it from the perspective of others?

Do we have to add to each and every senctence we write in a discussion forum "From my perspective" or "in my opinion" or "as I understand it" ? As if we could express a view that is not just our own?

Above I have written: the teaching about "buddha nature" is for those who are inclined to "soul theories" and scared by emptiness. And I have added "Let it be that this way. Being scared is not conducive on the path" (I think actually I used the term "fright")

What else?


Pema Rigdzin wrote:It is one thing to view certain teachings as intentionally provisional and certain ones as intentionally definitive, recognizing the skillfulness of the Buddha. But to pronounce one of his teachings as universally being a distraction and unskillful, how could that not be implying that the Buddha's wisdom was faulty?

Sorry I did not say "universally being a distraction and unskillful".

Honestly I feel you want to make me shut up.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:But what I really want to know, in the interest of possibly making this discussion fruitful, is this: at which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a fabrication, during meditation or post-meditation?

I have elaborrated on this above in the context of experiential correlates.


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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:10 pm

TMingyur wrote:How to assess the skillfulness of a teaching if not from one's own perspective?

Is there no difference between assessing a teaching as "unskillful, period, for anyone" and "merely not intended for me or others with similar proclivities"?

TMingyur wrote:Do we have to add to each and every senctence we write in a discussion forum "From my perspective" or "in my opinion" or "as I understand it" ? As if we could express a view that is not just our own?

Above I have written: the teaching about "buddha nature" is for those who are inclined to "soul theories" and scared by emptiness. And I have added "Let it be that this way. Being scared is not conducive on the path" (I think actually I used the term "fright")

No, but if you merely say that a teaching "is a distraction and a fabrication," that is what is called a blanket statement. I'm sure you understand that a blanket statement is a universal pronouncement that means "this is always the case for anyone who comes across this teaching, not just for me and those with my own proclivities." As a further example of your blanket statements, I'll continue to use your own words: "it is a matter of assessing the skillfulness of concepts. If the aim is to liberate all beings then from my point of view the "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" is the "exegesis" of choice."

Exegesis of choice for who? The "exegesis of choice" is a subjective matter that is relative to a given individual's wrong views and current limitations. The "exegesis of choice" is whichever of the Buddha's teachings that will work for an individual based on his/her karma and obscurations. The prasangika teachings might be just the right medicine for one person, too advanced for another, and wholly unnecessary conceptual rigor for yet another.

TMingyur wrote:Sorry I did not say "universally being a distraction and unskillful".

See above.

TMingyur wrote:Honestly I feel you want to make me shut up.

No, not at all.

TMingyur wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:... at which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a fabrication, during meditation or post-meditation?

I have elaborrated on this above in the context of experiential correlates.

It doesn't have to be that complicated. Please just reply "in meditation" or "in post-meditation".

Here especially, I'm trying to honestly debate you by trying to ascertain and focus on the core of your actual position.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:25 pm

I must clarify something about my assertion that you've made blanket statements: you initially only ever said that "buddha nature" teachings were an unnecessary and unskillful elaboration, but recently you've occasionally allowed that they might be useful for those fearing emptiness of self.... So you've been sending mixed messages lately, alternating between your original position and this latest one.
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:32 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Is there no difference between "unskillful, period, for anyone" and "merely not suited for me or others with similar proclivities"?

I never said "for anyone".


Pema Rigdzin wrote:If you say that a teaching "is a distraction and a fabrication,"

Actually I said "a concept" and not "a teaching"
And actually I also mentioned the advantages of this concept and just repeated it.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:that is what is called a blanket statement. I'm sure you understand that a blanket statement is a universal pronouncement. It means "this is always the case for anyone who comes across this teaching, not just for me and those with my own proclivities."

The fact that I did not add a qualifier does not legitimate you to assert that I meant a certain qualifier.
You could also say that I made unskillful remarks because I did not add a qualifier but you prefer to accuse me of being disrespectful to the Buddha when I actually just expressed that i do not share your preferences.


Pema Rigdzin wrote:As a further example of your blanket statements, I'll continue to use your own words: "it is a matter of assessing the skillfulness of concepts. If the aim is to liberate all beings then from my point of view the "exegesis emphasizing emptiness" is the "exegesis" of choice."

Here it reads "from my point of view". How can you assert this to be a "blanket statement"?

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Exegesis of choice for who? The "exegesis of choice" is a subjective matter that is relative ...

So again we agree. It is relative.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:... at which point do you find "buddha nature" to be a fabrication, during meditation or post-meditation?

I have elaborrated on this above in the context of experiential correlates.

It doesn't have to be that complicated. Please just reply "in meditation" or "in post-meditation".

We are posting here in the sphere of conventional communication. There is no need for such qualifiers.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Here especially, I'm trying to honestly debate you by trying to ascertain and focus on the core of your actual position.

Assertions should be dialectically traceable.
One may assert everything and obscure reason with some alleged meditational experience.

See if your meditation proves yourself that your view is right then you can be content with that.
Or do you want to argue in a way like "I am right and you are wrong because my view is based on my meditational expirience"? Or "My gurus said this and he is a good meditator and if others do not agree then it is just because they are bad meditators"
I trust that you would not want to consider such "reasoning" "honestly debating".


Really I have already addressed this to conebeckam and would like to address this to you, too:

It is not about who is right and who is wrong.

It is about different approaches.



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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:52 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:I must clarify something about my assertion that you've made blanket statements: you initially only ever said that "buddha nature" teachings were an unnecessary and unskillful elaboration, but recently you've occasionally allowed that they might be useful for those fearing emptiness of self.... So you've been sending mixed messages lately, alternating between your original position and this latest one.


Pema, my first post in the beginning of this thread is this one:

TMingyur wrote:I think this quote shows pretty well that Tathagatagarbha has been taught for those who misunderstand emptiness. so the misunderstanding is in the first place then comes the Tathagatagarbha teaching.

Sherab wrote:One should take the medicine of emptiness before taking the milk of Tathagatagarbha:

Appropriate understanding in the first place renders "Tathagatagarbha" superfluous.
So: Different strokes for different folks.

The danger of emptiness is on the negative side of the scale whereas the danger of "Tathagatagarbha" is on the positive side of the scale.


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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

There is a well known teaching of Why buddha nature was taught? in Uttara Tantra Shastra of Maitreya. The teaching is quoted in Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso's Progressive Stages of the Meditation on Emptiness ( somewhere towards the end), it is also explained in Thrangu Rimpoche's commentary on the Uttara Tantra Shastra that bears the name Buddha Nature.
Wikipedia article may be useful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha-nature
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Re: Buddha-nature

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:10 pm

TMingyur-

First off, all the teachings, even those we classify as Ultimate rather than Provisional, are in some sense "provisional," given that the reality of the Buddha is beyond conceptual comprehension--it is inconceivable, literally. Chandrakirti says this, as does Tsong Khapa. The "analytical" techniques you are so fond of are methods. They are methods for removing, exhausting, or cutting off, conceptual elaboration. The purpose of Madhyamika is to negate all conceptual elaborations, reifications, held by Mind--or, more specifically, the mental consciousness. So, in the end, if successful, the mental consciousness that experiences emptiness becomes Wisdom.

Now, this "Wisdom" is not a mere blankness. It has a "knowing" capacity, it can be discussed on the conventional level in terms of it's "qualities." All of this is provisional, too, as the reality of the Buddha is beyond conceptual comprehension, as noted. But there's a reason this Buddha Nature was taught--and it is precisely because, although inconceivable in truth, it cannot be equated with a mere "lack," "Absence," or "Voidness." So, the teaching of "Buddha Nature" is a method.

It's not merely that some are scared of emptiness, and therefore need some sort of "positive" to counteract the "negative." We're talking about two separate things, really.....Existence and Awareness are, from a certain POV, like Color and Shape. They're different categories.

Incidentally, it is rumored that Tsong Khapa had a lineage of "restricted" Mahamudra that was apparently not passed down......it would be interesting to find out exactly what the contents of those lineage teachings were.
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