Will samsara be emptied?

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Will samsara be emptied?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:41 am

Hi, everyone. :smile: I've been away for months, but started visiting again recently.


One often reads (at least in Tibetan Buddhism) the words "until samsara is emptied" (e.g., "Until samsara is emptied, I shall work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman's body," "From now until samsara is emptied, I shall work for the benefit and well-being of my mothers, all sentient beings," "Until Samsara is emptied of living beings, may this Great Work of liberating them not be abandoned," "I'm a servant of all sentient beings until samsara is emptied," etc.). Does this clause point to a goal that will one day be achieved or is it simply an expression meaning "forever"? In other words, will buddhas and higher-bhumi bodhisattvas eventually guide all beings in all worlds into nirvana? The answer might not be as obvious as it seems at first glance.


Buddhas and celestial bodhisattvas have an infinite amount of time in which to liberate all beings, according to Mahayana. It seems as though it is inevitable that they will accomplish this goal. Some have seen this idea as implicit in the Lotus Sutra. It might also be implied by the Avatamsaka Sutra. On the other hand, one often finds references to "numberless" or "infinite" beings. In fact, the (pre-Mahayana) Lokottaravada text the Mahavastu claims that innumerable Buddhas (one per Buddha field) and innumerable bodhisattvas each lead infinite beings to liberation, yet they will never reach their goal, because infinite suffering beings always remain. (Yes, this is actually mathematically possible. See, for example, http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57069.html ) Similarly, a passage in the Mahayanasutralamkara seems to imply that the task is endless: "without ever reaching any boundary to suffering, one should strive and act [to bring an end to suffering]." (This isn't as depressing as it sounds. Countless beings are being liberated after all!)


What does your tradition teach?* What does your favorite text teach? What do you think? Will samsara be emptied?




*I already know the Theravada perspective. It may be summed up as, "Few are those persons who go to the Far Shore." (Dhp. 6.10) DN 22.22 says that anyone who practices satipatthana for at least one week will either attain arahantship in this life or the state of a non-returner, one who will be reborn into one of the Pure Abodes and from there attain Nibbana (Nirvana). Thus anyone can attain liberation in one or (at most) two lives with sufficient time and effort. Everyone has this potential. (The term "buddha nature" does not occur in the Pali scriptures.) But it is not inevitable that all beings will apply themselves and there are no celestial bodhisattvas in this picture to encourage them and persuade them endlessly with skillful means, no matter what impression you might get from an appearance by "Vajirapani (Skt. Vajrapani) the yakka (Skt. yaksha), holding a huge iron club" and using a wrathful appearance for good in DN 3.1.21 (Theravada tradition equates this "yakka" with the deva Sakka/Indra.)



Ed
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:14 am

Empty or still full...this is my attitude...
http://cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40.asp
The Tenth Vow: To Universally Transfer All Merit and Virtue
“Moreover, Good Man, to universally transfer all merit and virtue is explained like this:
All of the merit and virtue, from the first vow, to worship and respect, up to and including the vow to constantly accord, I universally transfer to all living beings throughout the Dharma Realm and to the limits of empty space.
I vow that all living beings will be constantly peaceful and happy, without sickness or suffering.
I vow that no one will succeed in doing any evil, but that all will quickly perfect their cultivation of good karma.
I vow to close the doors to the evil destinies and open the right paths of humans, gods, and Nirvana.
I will stand in for beings and receive all the extremely severe fruits of suffering which they bring on with their evil karma.
I will liberate all these beings and ultimately bring them to accomplish Unsurpassed Bodhi.
The Bodhisattva cultivates transference in this way.

“Even when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, I will still transfer all merit and virtue endlessly, continuously, in thought after thought without cease.
My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.

Realms of worlds and empty space might reach an end,
And beings’ karma and afflictions be extinguished;
But they will never be exhausted,
Neither will any of my vows.
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Adamantine » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:04 am

Great topic Ed! I don't know the answer. I've contemplated it before, thanks for the inspiration to revisit it.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Adamantine » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:05 am

plwk wrote:Empty or still full...this is my attitude...
http://cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40.asp
The Tenth Vow: To Universally Transfer All Merit and Virtue
“Moreover, Good Man, to universally transfer all merit and virtue is explained like this:
All of the merit and virtue, from the first vow, to worship and respect, up to and including the vow to constantly accord, I universally transfer to all living beings throughout the Dharma Realm and to the limits of empty space.
I vow that all living beings will be constantly peaceful and happy, without sickness or suffering.
I vow that no one will succeed in doing any evil, but that all will quickly perfect their cultivation of good karma.
I vow to close the doors to the evil destinies and open the right paths of humans, gods, and Nirvana.
I will stand in for beings and receive all the extremely severe fruits of suffering which they bring on with their evil karma.
I will liberate all these beings and ultimately bring them to accomplish Unsurpassed Bodhi.
The Bodhisattva cultivates transference in this way.

“Even when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, I will still transfer all merit and virtue endlessly, continuously, in thought after thought without cease.
My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.

Realms of worlds and empty space might reach an end,
And beings’ karma and afflictions be extinguished;
But they will never be exhausted,
Neither will any of my vows.


:twothumbsup:
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Rael » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:19 pm

Are there not a few burnt seeds that will never attain liberation....

where do those seeds remain...???
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm

The prerequisite for something to be emptied is that it is not empty in the first place.

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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Rael » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:34 pm

TMingyur wrote:The prerequisite for something to be emptied is that it is not empty in the first place.

kind regards


please tell us you are not using emptiness in this manner....


as per my few burnt seeds..

A Tulku once said on said subject of Avolikiteshvera and his remaining in samasara until all beings were liberated..That there were a few burnt seeds...

My christian judaic guilt jumped to the for...he saw my angst and I asked him if i thought i was one of those seeds...lol....

i never asked him about where they remain....

is it going to be like some samsaric piece of hell ...or like...an island of samsaric planetary like existence in a jar.....

i'm not insulting or being saracastic...I DO HAVE THESE THOUGHTS....

*watches as the intillectual egos in the forum revall that they have one over on me....
:woohoo: :rolling: :woohoo:
:tongue:


am i using the emoticon function to liberally lately
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:03 pm

Rael wrote:Are there not a few burnt seeds that will never attain liberation....

where do those seeds remain...???




I know that this is a view that was once held in some Yogacara circles regarding the icchantika, who is spiritually the worst of the worst. Longchenpa also referred to the "unfortunate" who "like burnt seeds,... will not sprout enlightenment," but I don't know enough about the text yet to know if he really meant that this is an eternal condition. (It's in Thurman's Essential Tibetan Buddhism.) He does relate this condition to a total lack of faith, so it doesn't strike me as something permanently unchangeable. The pessimistic view of icchantikas is also present in shorter versions of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, however, the last sections to be translated into Chinese say that each being will eventually attain Buddhahood, even icchantikas. Moreover, the various Tathagatagarbha sutras and treatises teach that all beings have the buddha-nature (buddhadhatu) or the matrix/embryo of the Tathagata (tathagatagarbha), construed as either a universal potential for enlightenment or as full buddhahood buried under ignorance, depending on whom you ask. Lama Tsongkhapa equated the buddha nature with the emptiness of inherent existence of the mind, which permits mental development. All mindstreams exist relatively, therefore, all are capable of change. Only self-existing things cannot change. Similarly, the Avatamsaka Sutra teaches that all beings have the Buddha awareness (tathagatajnana).
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:06 am

Rael wrote:as per my few burnt seeds..

A Tulku once said on said subject of Avolikiteshvera and his remaining in samasara until all beings were liberated..That there were a few burnt seeds...

My christian judaic guilt jumped to the for...he saw my angst and I asked him if i thought i was one of those seeds...lol....

i never asked him about where they remain....



Did the tulku explicitly say that the "burnt seeds" would never be liberated throughout eternity? Is it possible that he meant that they would be the most difficult to liberate or the very last to be liberated? Do you recall his words? I am interested to know what he thinks. Thanks.


Most texts say that icchantikas will be reborn in hell realms (they're usually depicted as extremely wicked), but Robert Buswell found one passage that says they're reborn as pretas. The idea that they are stuck in either place forever is not a pleasant one.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:38 am

Ohh, there are so many vows and vower that technically it will be more than full...

*plopp* and empty again, or was it full?

Ohh, if I would understand what that samsara actually is.
Just that! :-)
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Rael » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:19 am

sukhamanveti wrote:
Rael wrote:as per my few burnt seeds..

A Tulku once said on said subject of Avolikiteshvera and his remaining in samasara until all beings were liberated..That there were a few burnt seeds...

My christian judaic guilt jumped to the for...he saw my angst and I asked him if i thought i was one of those seeds...lol....

i never asked him about where they remain....



Did the tulku explicitly say that the "burnt seeds" would never be liberated throughout eternity? Is it possible that he meant that they would be the most difficult to liberate or the very last to be liberated? Do you recall his words? I am interested to know what he thinks. Thanks.


Most texts say that icchantikas will be reborn in hell realms (they're usually depicted as extremely wicked), but Robert Buswell found one passage that says they're reborn as pretas. The idea that they are stuck in either place forever is not a pleasant one.


He said a few burnt seeds would never attain enlightenment...it seems he was talking about certain really burnt seeds that were beyond redemption....thats why i got worried...

it wasn't along the lines you are referring to...

definite seeds burnt and i asked how many and he said it was just a few...

he never really explained who they were...

but there are some real burnt seeds that cannot be saved ....

i'm not mistaken...he said this and it worried me and gave me thought to think about the serious nature of doing something really really bad...
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:20 am

sukhamanveti wrote:Does this clause point to a goal that will one day be achieved or is it simply an expression meaning "forever"? In other words, will buddhas and higher-bhumi bodhisattvas eventually guide all beings in all worlds into nirvana? The answer might not be as obvious as it seems at first glance.


Buddhas and celestial bodhisattvas have an infinite amount of time in which to liberate all beings, according to Mahayana. ...
In fact, the (pre-Mahayana) Lokottaravada text the Mahavastu claims that innumerable Buddhas (one per Buddha field) and innumerable bodhisattvas each lead infinite beings to liberation, yet they will never reach their goal, because infinite suffering beings always remain. ...
Similarly, a passage in the Mahayanasutralamkara seems to imply that the task is endless: "without ever reaching any boundary to suffering, one should strive and act [to bring an end to suffering]." ...
...
What do you think? Will samsara be emptied?
...


As to "all beings"
Samsara is empty in the first place. According to Mahayana there is no difference beween samsara and nirvana because these ideas are just dependently arisen ideas.
So samsara has to be a state of "not knowing". But how can anyone know the state of others minds? It can be inferred from deeds if one knows what deeds are samsara and what deeds are nirvana. To "liberate all beings" implies that one does not mistakenly have the intention to liberate those who are already liberated.
Since there have been already several buddhas "all beings" does not make much sense because "all beings" should already be liberated.
Therefore "all beings" means that the sphere of the bodhisattvas activities is beyond calculated effort, that the bodhisattva has transcended "effort" and "quantities".

As to "time"
The bodhisattva practices for 3 countless eons which means that the sphere of the bodhisattva activities is beyond time, that the bodhisattva has transcended "time".


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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:36 am

How is this in relation to "individual liberation" of the Non-Mahayana and the "buddhahood" of the Mahayana.

Bodhicitta is the catalyst and for this catalyst to be activated the ideas of "all beings" and "endless duration" are mandatory. Anyone who negates these ideas in the first place and does not train in bodhicitta based on these ideas with right effort will never activate this catalyst and will never reach buddhahood.

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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:38 am

Therefore those who seek "faster vehicles" because of "endlessly lasting endless effort" are destined to fail in the first place

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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:54 am

TMingyur wrote:Therefore those who seek "faster vehicles" because of "endlessly lasting endless effort" are destined to fail in the first place

Kind regards


Actually such deluded ideas like seeking "faster vehicles" because of "endlessly lasting endless effort" ressemble ideas of skipping the 8fold path and only practicing a "3fold" path because one does not like the remaining 5 items or ideas like putting much effort into overcoming only one of the 12 links of dependent origination instead of abondoning all links altogether.

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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:54 am

What would bring me to the question: What is endless? What is lasting? What is empty? What is full? Especial: What is first?
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:56 am

Hanzze wrote:What would bring me to the question: What is endless? What is lasting? What is empty? What is full? Especial: What is first?

Who wants to know and why?

Do not fear the conventional!


Rationalizing about some "ultimate" often is nothing other than negating what one does not like, a cheap trick of the "I".

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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:02 am

"Rationalizing about some ultimate often is nothing other than negating what one does not like."

:twothumbsup:
Just that! :-)
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:44 am

TMingyur wrote:As to "all beings"
Samsara is empty in the first place. According to Mahayana there is no difference beween samsara and nirvana because these ideas are just dependently arisen ideas.
So samsara has to be a state of "not knowing". But how can anyone know the state of others minds? It can be inferred from deeds if one knows what deeds are samsara and what deeds are nirvana. To "liberate all beings" implies that one does not mistakenly have the intention to liberate those who are already liberated.
Since there have been already several buddhas "all beings" does not make much sense because "all beings" should already be liberated.
Therefore "all beings" means that the sphere of the bodhisattvas activities is beyond calculated effort, that the bodhisattva has transcended "effort" and "quantities".



Hi, TMingyur. Thank you for your comments.


We might be seeing things from within different lineages (or so I suspect), so rather than enter an endless and pointless debate with you, I would like to present you with an alternative perspective for what it's worth, which is also an authentic Mahayana perspective.


> As to "all beings" Samsara is empty in the first place.


In the lineage with which I currently most identify this is true for the wisdom that realizes emptiness and perceives ultimate truths (the emptiness of all phenomena). Ultimate analysis finds nothing in samsaric existence, because all things lack inherent existence or intrinsic nature. All things arise dependently on causes and conditions, component parts, and conceptual designation. From the perspective of conventional valid cognition, however, which perceives conventional truths, samsara is full. "Samsara" refers to cyclic existence, the condition of being subject to repeated birth and death as the result of our deluded misperception of reality and the actions that spring from it. As Jay Garfield puts it, "To be in samsara is to see see things as they appear to deluded consciousness and to interact with them accordingly." Therefore, the countless sentient beings are caught in samsara, even though they all possess the buddhadhatu or buddha nature, which Gelukpas see as a potential for enlightenment, rather than buddhahood itself. Though they cannot be found by ultimate analysis, it cannot be said that beings, suffering, karma, and delusion are entirely nonexistent. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains in Transcendent Wisdom, "the manifold events in the world are not non-existent... They are able to help and hurt us..." or, to quote Guy Newland, "Our utter lack of a self-existent self, an ultimately real self--does not mean that we do not exist at all. Persons and other phenomena do exist interdependently." In other words, though they are not ultimately existent, they are real enough.


Of course, there is also the tantric practice of seeing oneself and all sentient beings as buddhas and the world as a pure land, but this does not relieve bodhisattvas of their responsibility to liberate beings, nor does it nullify their vows. It does not mean that beings are not suffering and that they do not need liberation. (His Holiness the Dalai Lama stresses Bodhi[sattva]caryavatara 10.55.)


To say that samsara is no problem is to undermine at least two of the principal aspects of the path in this lineage: renunciation of samsara and conventional bodhicitta.


> According to Mahayana there is no difference beween samsara and nirvana because these ideas are just dependently arisen ideas.


Yes. This is true, of course. I gather that you are referring to Mulamadhyamakakarika XXV.19-20: "There is not the slightest difference/Between cyclic existence and nirvana..." Some people read these verses and suppose that Nagarjuna is saying that samsara is the realm of enlightenment. If you look at it in context, however, it is clear that Nagarjuna is discussing emptiness, as you seem to acknowledge above, which is really the subject of the entire text. Thus Lama Tsongkhapa writes in Ocean of Reasoning that if samsara and nirvana "are analytically examined" (as Nagarjuna does), "they are absolutely identical in terms of their nature as completely empty of essence." Nagarjuna's point, on this interpretation, is that nirvana and samsara are the same in terms of emptiness or dependent arising.


In another sense I suppose one might say that samsara and nirvana are the same "place," so to speak, and perhaps you are hinting at something like this. With afflictive and cognitive obscurations, we are "in" samsara. Without afflictive and cognitive obscurations we are "in" nirvana. Bodhisattvas, seeking to become buddhas for the sake of all beings, work toward apratisthita or "nonabiding" nirvana, a nirvana which involves neither the abandonment of beings in a separate nirvana nor entanglement in samsara. As Bhavaviveka wrote in his Essence of the Middle Way, "Because they see its defects, they avoid samsara. Because their hearts are loving, nirvana will not hold them." If no beings were in samsara, then the "nirvana of the arhats" (as understood in this perspective) would be enough.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Will samsara be emptied?

Postby Rael » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:26 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Hanzze wrote:What would bring me to the question: What is endless? What is lasting? What is empty? What is full? Especial: What is first?

Who wants to know and why?

Do not fear the conventional!


Rationalizing about some "ultimate" often is nothing other than negating what one does not like, a cheap trick of the "I".

Kind regards


hopefully i get what this means...if i do then i can be part and parcel to the sheer joy of an online gem....

so i add....

the title of the thread implies for me that all sentients will one day be liberated...yes no??

then people want to define the nature of samsara as being empty and going on about suynata like it is relevant to the title of the thread..


lol.....
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