Buddhahood in Chan

Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:43 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Outside of Tibeta Buddhism/Vajrayāna, Chan alone proposes that it is possible to attain fullbuddhahood in a single lifetime. But it seems that in Chan, "buddhahood" is a generally a euphemism for attaining the bodhisattva stages, and no Indian Mahāyāna tradition denies that it is impossible for someone to attain the path of seeing and so on. However, they would have done so based on past accumulations. So even here, Vajrayāna remain unique in asserting that one can attain full awakening 11 bhumi + in a single lifetime, soup to nuts.


It is not only Chan but also Huayan and Tiantai teach sudden enlightenment - interestingly Huayan puts "sudden enlightenment" one level below its own "complete teaching of the one vehicle". As for the difference between the entry to the bodhisattva stages and full buddhahood, in Chan it is clarified with the distinction of gradual and sudden paths. Gradual means the bodhisattva stages, sudden means immediate buddhahood. Of course, not everyone among the Chan teachers agreed with this view.



No, I don't think that sudden enlightenment in Chan means sudden full buddhahood.

N



The character in Chinese normally translated as "enlightened" or "awakening" is wu 悟 (read as satori in Japanese). This is different from chengfo 成佛, which means "attainment of Buddhahood" or "becoming a buddha".

I think in English there is a tendency to equate "being enlightened" with being a buddha, which is not the case. You can have a great awakening without being a buddha. Arhats, bodhisattvas and pratyekabuddhas are all examples of this.

Now that being said, it is not always clear in Chan texts what wu 悟 means and the often cryptic nature of the language, which is amplified several fold when attempts to translate it into any language are made. Also keep in mind much of Chan literature is just fictional accounts of past patriarchs in the lineage. Glorified hagiographies.

Zongmi's idea of enlightenment was one of "sudden enlightenment and gradual practice" dunwu jianxiu 頓悟漸修, but that does not mean buddhahood. The idea is that the sudden realization or enlightenment enables one to the gradually remove the defilements through practice in a serious way. The timetable for buddhahood would presumably follow the bodhisattva bhūmi stages as outlined in canonical texts like the Avataṃsaka Sūtra.

Now other Chan thinkers would have other ideas. There is no single Chan line of thought. It is quite varied and diverse.

In the case of Huayan thinkers like Fazang the description of the ultimate teaching might lead one to think he was saying Buddhahood right this moment, which is true in one sense (in principle this is the case, but it still takes conventional time to really achieve it), but in actuality I think he was proposing a vision of Buddhahood as attained through yogic insight into the tolerance of non-arising of phenomena. That is to say realizing time is empty and that ultimately Buddhahood does not take immeasurable kalpas of time to achieve, though conventionally this is still nevertheless the case. You might not actually have attained Buddhahood, but one has had a glimpse of it and realizing the time between now and then as empty, there is an unbreakable tolerance and motivation cultivated as a result.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:16 am

It is all right to not accept that Chan teaches the sudden gateway to buddhahood. Just as Huseng quoted, Zongmi is one of the few outstanding teachers who did not accept that view. But a large number of teachers did accept.

The fourth principle of Chan is "see nature, become buddha" (jianxing chengfo / kensho jobutsu 見性成佛). As it's said in the Platform Sutra, "If you recognize your own mind and see the nature, you will definitely accomplish the enlightenment of buddhahood." (T48n2008, p351a, 12)

To make it clear how it was understood in the Hongzhou school:

"The deluded man seeks to obtain or attain something, while the enlightened man neither seeks, obtains nor attains anything whatsoever. The deluded man yearns for attainment in some distant kalpa in the future, while the enlightened man perceives the nature of all things suddenly and instantaneously."
(Huihai's "Tsung-Ching Record" tr. by Lok To, X63n1224, p26c, 5-6)

"Some students attain the state of liberated Mind quickly, some slowly. After listening to a Dharma talk, some reach "no mind" directly. In contrast, some must first pass gradually through the ten grades of Bodhisattva faith, the Dasabhumi of Bodhisattva development, and the ten stages before attaining the Perfectly Awakened Mind. Whether one takes a long or a short time, however, once attained, "no mind" can never be lost. With nothing further to cultivate and nothing more to attain, one realizes that this "no mind" is true, not false, Mind. Whether reaching this stage quickly or after passing through the various stages of Bodhisattva development gradually, the attainment of "no mind" cannot be characterized in terms of shallow or deep."
(Huangbo's "Chung-Ling Record" tr. by Lok To, T48n2012A, p380b, 5-9)
"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: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:26 am

Astus wrote:The fourth principle of Chan is "see nature, become buddha" (jianxing chengfo / kensho jobutsu 見性成佛). As it's said in the Platform Sutra, "If you recognize your own mind and see the nature, you will definitely accomplish the enlightenment of buddhahood." (T48n2008, p351a, 12)



There is no difference between the awakening of a first stage bodhisattva and a buddhahood. There is a difference however in terms of qualities and omniscience.

My point still stands. "Sudden Awakening" in Chan does not mean full buddhahood.

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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:33 am

Awakening in Chan means realising the nature of mind, i.e. the buddha-mind. Since the buddha-mind is perfect in qualities and omniscience, how could that awakening be limited? It is free from the emotional (klesa) and conceptual (jneya) obscurations, how could it be bound by anything at all? Teachers of Chan were well aware of the gradual stages and aeons of bodhisattva practice when they talked about buddhahood and claimed that Chan is a sudden path. Those who viewed it in a different way did say so.
"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: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:30 pm

Astus wrote:Awakening in Chan means realising the nature of mind, i.e. the buddha-mind. Since the buddha-mind is perfect in qualities and omniscience, how could that awakening be limited? It is free from the emotional (klesa) and conceptual (jneya) obscurations, how could it be bound by anything at all? Teachers of Chan were well aware of the gradual stages and aeons of bodhisattva practice when they talked about buddhahood and claimed that Chan is a sudden path. Those who viewed it in a different way did say so.


The difference lies in equipoise and post-equipoise.

Frankly, it is obvious that realizing the nature of the mind does not make one a buddha. That is why I stated that "buddhahood" in Chan is a euphemism for awakening, but it does not mean that one who has awakened is a Samyaksambuddha, though I imagine there are some deluded Chan practitioners even today who think it is so.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:46 pm

What possible purpose can a discussion like this have?
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:48 pm

mindyourmind wrote:What possible purpose can a discussion like this have?


The purpose is to distinguish what is rhetorical from what is actual.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:54 pm

Namdrol wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:What possible purpose can a discussion like this have?


The purpose is to distinguish what is rhetorical from what is actual.

N


And how exactly do we, who are not realized, tell the difference? By way of a war of quotes and a nice game of "my master says"?

How can anyone meaningfully address the question of what is rhetorical buddhahood and what is actual buddhahood, other than an effort to try and define and describe that which most traditions view as indescribable?
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:26 pm

mindyourmind wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:What possible purpose can a discussion like this have?


The purpose is to distinguish what is rhetorical from what is actual.

N


And how exactly do we, who are not realized, tell the difference? By way of a war of quotes and a nice game of "my master says"?

How can anyone meaningfully address the question of what is rhetorical buddhahood and what is actual buddhahood, other than an effort to try and define and describe that which most traditions view as indescribable?


If we, who are not realized, have no way to infer what is correct and incorrect regarding Buddhist doctrine, than we are really screwed, aren't we?

Citations are not sufficient, of course, one must also use reasoning, and a whole host of other things.

There is no need to use citations in this respect, it is obvious to anyone who really thinks about it --1) realizing emptiness is not equivalent with becoming a Samyak Sambuddha, 2) realizing emptiness, period, is the emptiness realized by a Buddha.

The ancient Chan masters are making the argument than the realization of emptiness is sufficient and there is not much reason to place a lot of emphasis on the path of cultivation (bhumis 1-10). Once in possession of the Gnosis of the path, that is the main point, and that is Buddhahood.

There is a similar sentiment in Kagyu Mahāmudra -- which is why there are so many different presentations of the way four yogas (split into twelve) are mapped to the paths and stages. But in reality, the Mahāyāna paths and stages are irrelvent in Mahamudra, just as they are in Dzogchen. It is not the case however that there is no gradual progression in both mahamudra and dzogchen. The progression is not with respect to the ultimate, but rather, with respect to the person.

Now then, the question inevitably arises "Is it possible for someone to fully awaken suddenly?" The answer to this question from a Mahamudra, Dzogchen and Chan POV is yes (and from a Vajrayāna POV, one's yogic progress through the stages can be accomplished in a matter of days, theoretically (for example, Saraha was someone who acheived full buddhahood suddenly; Virupa acheived the sixth bhumi in six days)). The caveat to this is that it is so rare as to be merely an academic distinction. In other words, sudden awakeners are possible, but rarer than visible stars at noon.

The inexpressible realization of emptiness is the same in every respect from the moment of the path of seeing until full buddhahood. We can talk about afflcitive obscurations and knowledge obscurations and so on, but the real difference between buddhas and bodhisattvas on the stages is whether there is a difference in equipoise and post-equipoise. Buddhas are never not in a state of equipoise. Thus the notion of the two obscurations apply only in post-equipoise, not while in eqiupoise on the ultimate. However, this crucial difference is responsible also for the difference in qualities of a buddha and for example, a tenth stager.

Thus, it is important to distinguish rhetoric from reality so that people do not waste their time on fantasies. And it is indeed a fantasy for 99.999 percent of people that they will be able to suddenly awaken into full Buddhahood.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:14 pm

Namdrol wrote: And it is indeed a fantasy for 99.999 percent of people that they will be able to suddenly awaken into full Buddhahood.

N



Very irritating, that.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:37 pm

Namdrol wrote:The difference lies in equipoise and post-equipoise.

Frankly, it is obvious that realizing the nature of the mind does not make one a buddha. That is why I stated that "buddhahood" in Chan is a euphemism for awakening, but it does not mean that one who has awakened is a Samyaksambuddha, though I imagine there are some deluded Chan practitioners even today who think it is so.


Equipoise and post-equipoise matters when there is a specific state of mind to cultivate. Zen is not about creating any mind. So it is called no-mind.

Realising the nature of mind doesn't make one a buddha, the mind is buddha, so there's nothing to be transformed. This is the teaching of buddha-mind - not just as a possibility of becoming buddha but that the qualities of a buddha are inherent. There is no buddha outside the mind, this is a fundamental Zen teaching. Of course this is not like as in the doctrinal teachings where the buddha is far away out there and reaching that level is almost impossible.

"Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi is a name for the realization that the Buddhas of the whole universe do not in fact possess the smallest perceptible attribute. There exists just the One Mind." (Huangbo, tr. Blofeld, T48n2012B, p384c, 21)

"All you are doing is taking these worthless names to be real. That's all wrong! Even if they do exist, they are nothing but states of dependent transformation, such as the dependent transformations of bodhi, nirvana, emancipation, the threefold body, the [objective] surroundings and the [subjective] mind, bodhisattvahood, and buddhahood. What are you looking for in these lands of dependent transformations! All of these, up to and including the Three Vehicles' twelve divisions of teachings, are just so much waste paper to wipe off privy filth. The buddha is just a phantom body, the patriarchs just old monks."
"But you, weren't you born of a mother? If you seek buddha, you'll be held in the grip of Buddha-Mara. If you seek the patriarchs, you'll be bound by the ropes of Patriarch-Mara. If you engage in any seeking, it will all be pain. Much better to do nothing.
There are a bunch of shavepate monks who say to students, 'The Buddha is the Ultimate; he attained buddhahood only after he came to the fruition of practices carried on through three great asamkhyeya kalpas.' Followers of the Way, if you say that the Buddha is the ultimate, how is it that after eighty years of life the Buddha lay down on his side between the twin sala trees at Kusinagara and died? Where is the Buddha now? We clearly know that his birth and death were not different from ours."

(The Record of Linji, tr. Sasaki, p. 222-223)
"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: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:19 pm

Astus wrote:
Equipoise and post-equipoise matters when there is a specific state of mind to cultivate. Zen is not about creating any mind. So it is called no-mind.


That is a false dichtomy. When in equipoise on reality, is is not like there is some mental focus that designates an object called "reality". Equipoise on reality is not a mental state. It is beyond mind.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:21 pm

Astus wrote:the mind is buddha...


Nice, a conditioned, impermanent, afflicted buddha.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:36 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:the mind is buddha...


Nice, a conditioned, impermanent, afflicted buddha.

N


"Good sons, all hindrances are none other than ultimate enlightenment. Whether you attain mindfulness or lose mindfulness, there is no non-liberation. Establishing the Dharma and refuting the Dharma are both called nirvana; wisdom and folly are equally prajna; the method that is perfected by bodhisattvas and false teachers is the same bodhi; ignorance and suchness are not different realms; morality, concentration and wisdom, as well as desire, hatred and ignorance are all divine practices; sentient beings and lands share the same dharma nature; hell and heaven are both the Pure Land; those having Buddha-nature and those not having it equally accomplish the Buddha's enlightenment. All defilements are ultimately liberation. The reality-realms's ocean-like wisdom completely illumines all marks to be just like empty space. This is called 'the Tathāgata's accordance with the nature of enlightenment.' "
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch. 6, tr. C. Muller)
"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: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Kyosan » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:55 pm

We can have some idea of what Buddhahood is and there is nothing wrong with that, but we should realize our limitations and not think that we know what Buddhahood is. Of course we don't, only Buddhas know what Buddhahood is. We are just deluded sentient beings.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:10 pm

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:the mind is buddha...


Nice, a conditioned, impermanent, afflicted buddha.

N


"Good sons, all hindrances are none other than ultimate enlightenment. Whether you attain mindfulness or lose mindfulness, there is no non-liberation. Establishing the Dharma and refuting the Dharma are both called nirvana; wisdom and folly are equally prajna; the method that is perfected by bodhisattvas and false teachers is the same bodhi; ignorance and suchness are not different realms; morality, concentration and wisdom, as well as desire, hatred and ignorance are all divine practices; sentient beings and lands share the same dharma nature; hell and heaven are both the Pure Land; those having Buddha-nature and those not having it equally accomplish the Buddha's enlightenment. All defilements are ultimately liberation. The reality-realms's ocean-like wisdom completely illumines all marks to be just like empty space. This is called 'the Tathāgata's accordance with the nature of enlightenment.' "
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch. 6, tr. C. Muller)


Awesome, so fools are buddhas and there is no need for Buddhism at all. Nice.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Kyosan » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:21 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:"Good sons, all hindrances are none other than ultimate enlightenment. Whether you attain mindfulness or lose mindfulness, there is no non-liberation. Establishing the Dharma and refuting the Dharma are both called nirvana; wisdom and folly are equally prajna; the method that is perfected by bodhisattvas and false teachers is the same bodhi; ignorance and suchness are not different realms; morality, concentration and wisdom, as well as desire, hatred and ignorance are all divine practices; sentient beings and lands share the same dharma nature; hell and heaven are both the Pure Land; those having Buddha-nature and those not having it equally accomplish the Buddha's enlightenment. All defilements are ultimately liberation. The reality-realms's ocean-like wisdom completely illumines all marks to be just like empty space. This is called 'the Tathāgata's accordance with the nature of enlightenment.' "
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch. 6, tr. C. Muller)


Awesome, so fools are buddhas and there is no need for Buddhism at all. Nice.

N

Before you say "this means that", keep in mind that Buddhism is almost all expedients. Ask yourself "what are they trying to do". For people who are attached to these notions they are saying that there is no distinction between these opposites so we shouldn't be attached to them. Even though we shouldn't be attached to them that doesn't mean that we shouldn't practice the Buddha way.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:35 pm

Kyosan wrote:We can have some idea of what Buddhahood is and there is nothing wrong with that, but we should realize our limitations and not think that we know what Buddhahood is. Of course we don't, only Buddhas know what Buddhahood is. We are just deluded sentient beings.
:namaste:


"Buddhahood" is our own idea that we already have. Whether you say we can analyse this idea of Buddhahood or not doesn't touch the immediate truth that it is a concept we have in our minds. The reason it is said that Buddhahood cannot be figured out is exactly because we just have to drop these ideas and there it is.

"habituated discursive thought arises from the conditioned mind. The six data- fields, false conceptualization and conditioned energies are not the true essence of mind— indeed, they are like sky-flowers. But using discursive thought to discern the Buddha-state is like the sky-flowers further producing 'sky-fruits.' Circular false thoughts are useless here."
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch. 4, tr. C. Muller)
"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: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Kyosan » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:50 pm

Astus wrote:
Kyosan wrote:We can have some idea of what Buddhahood is and there is nothing wrong with that, but we should realize our limitations and not think that we know what Buddhahood is. Of course we don't, only Buddhas know what Buddhahood is. We are just deluded sentient beings.
:namaste:


"Buddhahood" is our own idea that we already have. Whether you say we can analyse this idea of Buddhahood or not doesn't touch the immediate truth that it is a concept we have in our minds. The reason it is said that Buddhahood cannot be figured out is exactly because we just have to drop these ideas and there it is.

"habituated discursive thought arises from the conditioned mind. The six data- fields, false conceptualization and conditioned energies are not the true essence of mind— indeed, they are like sky-flowers. But using discursive thought to discern the Buddha-state is like the sky-flowers further producing 'sky-fruits.' Circular false thoughts are useless here."
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch. 4, tr. C. Muller)


Thankyou Astus. Yes, that is how I understand it also.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby LastLegend » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:31 am

Don't talk practice. When we have realized enlightenment we can come back and talk about all the paths not just the path we have employed.

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