Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

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Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby catmoon » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:24 am

In another thread Huifeng said

Huifeng wrote:If one wishes to understand the Mahayana, without Bodhicitta, even if one reads enough sutras and sastras to fill the ancient library of Alexandria, understanding will always remain out of reach.


This upset a cartload of my preconceptions.

Now, I'm not looking for a Dharma lesson here, but I would like to know a little more about how Ven. Huifeng views bodhicitta.

For instance I think I need a general idea of which bodies of sutras he draws on.
I would also like to know how prominently bodhicitta figures in his studies.

You see, I fear I have entirely the wrong idea of what Cha'an [sp?] practice IS! I thought it was severely austere and would view bodhicitta as a form of attachment or ambition. Maybe I'm getting mixed up with Zen again?

Do please cast a little light for me.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby Huifeng » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:48 am

catmoon wrote:In another thread Huifeng said

Huifeng wrote:If one wishes to understand the Mahayana, without Bodhicitta, even if one reads enough sutras and sastras to fill the ancient library of Alexandria, understanding will always remain out of reach.


This upset a cartload of my preconceptions.

Now, I'm not looking for a Dharma lesson here, but I would like to know a little more about how Ven. Huifeng views bodhicitta.

For instance I think I need a general idea of which bodies of sutras he draws on.
I would also like to know how prominently bodhicitta figures in his studies.


An excellent example of what is meant by bodhicitta is to be found in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (aka: the Diamond Sutra). Conze's translation has:

The Lord said: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should produce a thought in this manner: 'As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, comprehended under the term "beings" egg-born, born from a womb, moisture-born, or miraculously born; with or without form; with perception, without perception, and with neither perception nor non-perception, as far as any conceivable form of beings is conceived: all these I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana.' And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a 'being' should take place, he could not be called a 'Bodhi-being'. 'And why? He is not to be called a Bodhi-being, in whom the notion of a self or of a being should take place, or the notion of a living soul or of a person.'

It involves the compassion to lead beings to nirvana, and also the wisdom of emptiness that sees that ultimately there is no "living being".

You see, I fear I have entirely the wrong idea of what Cha'an [sp?] practice IS! I thought it was severely austere and would view bodhicitta as a form of attachment or ambition.


Chan 禪.

If one has merely the aspiration to liberate beings, and believes that there truly are living beings to be liberated, then that would be attachment, attachment to the view of a self or living being.
If one knows that ultimately there are no living beings, whilst still liberating these illusory beings, then there is no attachment.

Maybe I'm getting mixed up with Zen again?


Although texts like the Platform sutra state that mental defilements are "living beings" (well, actually, this only works with a Chinese breakdown of the term 眾生, that which arises 生 from many 眾 conditions, but doesn't work in Indic languages), some take this to mean that for Chan / Zen it only our own "mental defilements" that should be "liberated". They thus ignore other beings, and fall into the paths of the two vehicles. One may also read these passages as indicating that those living beings (which are not ultimately living beings) are thus only "living beings" in the sense constructed by our own minds. Hence, where some would say "liberate living beings", the Chan practitioner would say "liberate what the mind constructs as living beings". Such illusory created living beings are thus liberated, and the Mahayana path fulfilled.

Do please cast a little light for me.


In the long night of samsara, one searches for a light from others,
With the lamp of wisdom, one illuminates one's own path.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby catmoon » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:15 am

Blink blink.

Ponder ponder.


Thank you very much.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby vinasp » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:24 am

Greetings Venerable,

From your explanation of bodhicitta I see no difference from Theravada. They appear to be exactly the same. It is just that the "presentation" is different.

For example, it is not said that the bodhisatva becomes a stream-winner, but he does. Nor that he becomes an arahant, but he does.

Or have I got it completely wrong?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby ground » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:52 pm

Huifeng wrote:An excellent example of what is meant by bodhicitta is to be found in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (aka: the Diamond Sutra). Conze's translation has:

all these I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind.

"Conventional bodhicitta".

Huifeng wrote:If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a 'being' should take place, he could not be called a 'Bodhi-being'. 'And why? He is not to be called a Bodhi-being, in whom the notion of a self or of a being should take place, or the notion of a living soul or of a person.'

"Absolute bodhicitta".

Kind regards
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby ronnewmexico » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:18 pm

V Huifeng

Thank you very much for your explaination on bodhicitta in this manner, it is very useful clear and concise.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby Huifeng » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:22 am

vinasp wrote:Greetings Venerable,

From your explanation of bodhicitta I see no difference from Theravada. They appear to be exactly the same. It is just that the "presentation" is different.


Does the Theravada make the vow to liberate all sentient beings as the most essential part of it's practice?

For example, it is not said that the bodhisatva becomes a stream-winner, but he does. Nor that he becomes an arahant, but he does.


Does the bodhisattva become a streamwinner? What makes you say that?
Likewise an arahant (given that Mahayana explanation of arahant makes this quite distinct from a samyak sambuddha).

In fact, the vast majority of Mahayana sutras warns the Bodhisattva against attaining streamentry, because by doing so, they will soon be released from samsara, unable to develop the qualities of a fully enlightened one, and unable to liberate all sentient beings. For example, from the smaller Prajnaparamita Sutra (translation mine, from Kumarajiva's Xiaopin):

Although [the bodhisattva] does not seize upon the five aggregates; as they have not yet perfected the ten powers of a buddha, the four types of fearlessness, and the eighteen uncommon dharmas of a buddha; they do not [enter] parinirvāṇa while in the middle of the path.


In other words, before they have these various buddha qualities, then they don't prematurely reach nirvana!

If a person has already reached certitude, they are thus unable to arise the mind of anuttarā samyak saṃbodhi (= bodhicitta). For what reason? Because they have already made a barrier [between themselves and] saṃsāra.


"certitude" is samyaktva-niyama, the state of streamentry. The earlier versions of this text just have straight out "stream entry". In other words, if one realizes stream entry, then no bodhicitta for them. They won't be able to make it to full awakening.

Or have I got it completely wrong?

Best wishes, Vincent.


If you can answer the above questions to your assumptions, you may go some way to answering this question. :)
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby Huifeng » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:18 am

catmoon wrote:Blink blink.

Ponder ponder.


Thank you very much.


Sounds a bit like this:

Thereupon the Venerable Subhuti, by the Buddha’s might, said to the
Lord: The Lord has said, ‘Make it clear now, Subhuti, to the Bodhisattvas, the
great beings, starting from perfect wisdom, how the Bodhisattvas, the great beings
go forth into perfect wisdom!’ When one speaks of a ‘Bodhisattva,’ what dharma
does that word ‘Bodhisattva’ denote? I do not Lord, see that dharma ‘Bodhisattva’
[5], nor a dharma called ‘perfect wisdom.’ Since I neither find, nor apprehend,
nor see a dharma ‘Bodhisattva,’ nor a ‘perfect wisdom,’ what Bodhisattva shall I
instruct and admonish in what perfect wisdom? And yet, O Lord, if, when this is
pointed out, a Bodhisattva’s heart does not become cowed, nor stolid, does not
despair nor despond, if he does not turn away or become dejected, does not
tremble, is not frightened or terrified, it is just this Bodhisattva, this great being
who should be instructed in perfect wisdom
.


Some amount of confusion, and perhaps even fear, is not at all uncommon in the listener when the Mahayana is taught.

Surprisingly few can understand it, even less can act upon it.

As a result, over the years and centuries, many attempts were made to reduce the Mahayana into some kind of "open for all", catholic universalism for everyone. A nice entry, perhaps, but don't be fooled into thinking that this is the end of it all.
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Re: Ven. Huifeng on bodhicitta

Postby ground » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:46 am

Huifeng wrote:In fact, the vast majority of Mahayana sutras warns the Bodhisattva against attaining streamentry, because by doing so, they will soon be released from samsara, unable to develop the qualities of a fully enlightened one, and unable to liberate all sentient beings.
...
...
In other words, before they have these various buddha qualities, then they don't prematurely reach nirvana!

...
In other words, if one realizes stream entry, then no bodhicitta for them. They won't be able to make it to full awakening.



Rarely is the heart of the Mahayana presented so clearly.

Thank you Venerable!

Huifeng wrote:As a result, over the years and centuries, many attempts were made to reduce the Mahayana into some kind of "open for all", catholic universalism for everyone.

... or into some kind of "small vehicle" in disguise.

:namaste:
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