Buddhahood in Chan

Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Adamantine » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:18 am

Namdrol, what's your take on this exchange with CTR, what was he getting at? He clearly had
admiration for Suzuki Roshi so I can't read this as tongue-in-cheek:

Student: I think you said you can only get enlightened by going through
tantric transmission. Have enlightened people from the Zen tradition gone
through tantric transmission?
Trungpa Rinpoche: In some cases. Sure. I think so!
S: In that case, would you say that Suzuki Roshi was a tantric master?
TR: Absolutely. Good for him

The Lion's Roar in the forthcoming Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa,
Volume Four, p. 193
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:54 am

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Yes, these are often trotted out, but they do not prove anything other than that Chan Buddhists had a view of buddhahood that does not correspond to mainstream Buddhist thinking on the subject.


What "mainstream" actually means is debatable since Chan has been the primary doctrine of elite Buddhism in East Asia for a thousand years now.

Proving that Chan, and particularly sudden enlightenment, is a valid Buddhist teaching is the real issue then. For that we would need a couple of terms defined, especially buddhahood and buddha-mind.



"Mainstream" means "rest of the Buddhist world..."
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Sönam » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:54 am

Not sure than Trungpa Rinpoché had the same view that mainstream about what tantrism is, and so on ...

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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Jnana » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:01 am

Namdrol wrote:I see, so for you, Virupa, Tilopa, Luipa, Ghanapāda are merely nominal "mahāsiddhas", and reports of their realization are not to be taken literally.

The vajrayāna operates on multiple levels, using symbolism, metaphor, magic, and myth to convey non-linear gnosis and vision, none of which can be limited by worldly, consensual perceptions.

Namdrol wrote:How about reports of the Buddha's realization? Are they to be taken literally?

Did the Buddha have a right elbow or not? According to the 80 minor marks he didn't....

Namdrol wrote:What do numbers have to do with it?

Taking these two versions of the bodhisattva path literally results in, among other things, the absurd situation where we have one group of hapless bodhisattvas toiling away for eons, again and again and again giving away life and limb over a period of many 1000s of lifetimes, while at the same time there is another group of tantric bodhsattvas who are quickly bouncing up the bhūmis with no sacrifice or hardship at all. This has the effect of relegating the former path to that of a new deficient hīnayāna.

Namdrol wrote:No, we just have the usual philosophical sleight of hand I mentioned above.

The sleight of hand is using a 9th century polemical argument to criticize a 2nd century conception of the bodhisattva path.

Namdrol wrote:The point that I am really trying to make is that Indian Mahāyānists took their own tradition seriously. For example, Nāgārjuna in the Ratnavali lists in some detail how much merit is required for each of the major and minor marks, when encouraging the king to cultivate merit.

And three uncalculable eons is not even really a Mahāyāna number. It is a number which comes from the earliest ideas about the length of time it took the bodhisattva to acheive buddhahood.

As I mentioned previously on another thread, if we were to show up in 2nd century India with our basket of tantras and claim that it's possible to attain buddhahood in one lifetime, we'd be laughed out of every vihāra on the sub-continent.

Namdrol wrote:Of coure what we are dealing with here is a specfies of tathāgatagarbha thinking, but even hear, I don't think that the type of instant buddhahood you see some Chan masters proclaiming can be justified on the basis of any Indian sutras, tathāgatgarbha or otherwise.

Agreed.

Namdrol wrote:Of course, this is the realm of religion, so no one can prove anything since it all boils down to belief.

Indeed.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Adamantine » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:35 am

Sönam wrote:Not sure than Trungpa Rinpoché had the same view that mainstream about what tantrism is, and so on ...

Sönam


What do you mean? He was, after all, a tantric master as well as a scholar and in many ways was more conservative about bestowing abhisheka than most contemporary Lamas. . . so I don't think he was in any way casual about his presentation or idea of what constituted tantra .
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:44 am

Namdrol wrote:"Mainstream" means "rest of the Buddhist world..."


That means a few of millions in Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan, and the many Theravadins. In terms of the number of followers Vajrayana is not mainstream at all.
"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 Adamantine » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:27 am

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:"Mainstream" means "rest of the Buddhist world..."


That means a few of millions in Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan, and the many Theravadins. In terms of the number of followers Vajrayana is not mainstream at all.


Well, them there's the Shingon practitioners
in Japan, the hidden lineage/s in Indonesia, and all the rest
of us Vajrayanans scattered across the globe. Although, for sure that may
not bump the number up too much :)
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:52 pm

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:"Mainstream" means "rest of the Buddhist world..."


That means a few of millions in Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan, and the many Theravadins. In terms of the number of followers Vajrayana is not mainstream at all.


Mainstream means Buddhism in India.

N
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:02 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:"Mainstream" means "rest of the Buddhist world..."


That means a few of millions in Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan, and the many Theravadins. In terms of the number of followers Vajrayana is not mainstream at all.


Mainstream means Buddhism in India.

N


Hm, the current Buddhism in India or sometimes in the past? And what time? Why only India and why that time? Among the Indian schools which is mainstream and which is marginal? This is getting messy...
"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 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:11 pm

Astus wrote:
Hm, the current Buddhism in India or sometimes in the past? And what time? Why only India and why that time? Among the Indian schools which is mainstream and which is marginal? This is getting messy...


Now you are just being deliberately obtuse.

All Indian Buddhist schools until the destruction of Indian Buddhism had a similar view of the length of time of the career of a bodhisattva -- based on the Chan quotes you cited, they must have thought that Sakyamuni Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Samantbhadra and so on were very stupid.

N
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:14 pm

Astus wrote:Why only India...?



Because India is the source of the Dharma, the place where Mahāyāna developed, etc., and the site of Vajrāsana.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Sönam » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:40 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Sönam wrote:Not sure than Trungpa Rinpoché had the same view that mainstream about what tantrism is, and so on ...

Sönam


What do you mean? He was, after all, a tantric master as well as a scholar and in many ways was more conservative about bestowing abhisheka than most contemporary Lamas. . . so I don't think he was in any way casual about his presentation or idea of what constituted tantra .


Casual not ... overview certainly

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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:16 pm

Namdrol wrote:Because India is the source of the Dharma, the place where Mahāyāna developed, etc., and the site of Vajrāsana.


Do you deny the possibility that authentic Buddhism is not bound by geographical location? You defined a "mainstream Buddhism" as all Indian Buddhists while we both know that Buddhism there was neither unified nor static. Vajrayana claims buddhahood within one lifetime, so it is not exactly true that all agreed on the time it has to take to achieve it. The concept of sudden enlightenment was first taught by Daosheng (360?-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva. Because he was a Chinese master and not Indian, his view of Buddhism must be wrong? Saying that Indian Buddhism is the definitive because that's where it first appeared is very much an argument based on an irrelevant fact. Buddhism developed pretty much independently in China after Buddhism established itself. Why would then it be inferior only because of geographical reasons? Just as in India so it was in China that there were different traditions and interpretations of the Buddhadharma. Sudden enlightenment might be inconceivable for the Theravada and early Mahayana followers, but not so for the Vajrayana. Vajrayana developed in India and Chan developed in China. Neither of them are something you could find in such mainstream schools as the Sarvastivadins or the Dharmaguptakas. But then it comes down to the spatial distance between India and China. Do you find that an important point? In my view, the source of Dharma is the Buddha and not a place, nationality, ethnicity, political system or climate.
"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 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:08 pm

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Because India is the source of the Dharma, the place where Mahāyāna developed, etc., and the site of Vajrāsana.


Do you deny the possibility that authentic Buddhism is not bound by geographical location? You defined a "mainstream Buddhism" as all Indian Buddhists while we both know that Buddhism there was neither unified nor static. Vajrayana claims buddhahood within one lifetime, so it is not exactly true that all agreed on the time it has to take to achieve it.


No, you are missing the point -- Vajrayānists in India accepted the lenghty time period for achieveing buddhahood based on the accumulating the two collections.



The concept of sudden enlightenment was first taught by Daosheng (360?-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva. Because he was a Chinese master and not Indian, his view of Buddhism must be wrong?


Please precise with your terms -- does sudden enlightenment mean sudden buddhahood, or sudden awakening on one of the bhumis?

The doctrine here under question is the idea promulgated by some Chan masters that Buddhahood does not require the two collections. This is unprecedented in Indian Buddhism, including Vajrayāna (as well as Dzogchen).


Saying that Indian Buddhism is the definitive because that's where it first appeared is very much an argument based on an irrelevant fact.


Indian Buddhism is definitive because Buddhism developed in India. All the texts and teachings upon which all other Buddhist doctrines, whether in line or in contrast with Indian Buddhism, depend on Indian Buddhism.

Buddhism developed pretty much independently in China after Buddhism established itself. Why would then it be inferior only because of geographical reasons?


It is not a question of inferiority - it is a question of continuity.

It is clear that certain Chan ideas about "Buddhahood" have no precedent in the Buddhism promulgated in India, including the Buddhism of Vajrayāna.


Just as in India so it was in China that there were different traditions and interpretations of the Buddhadharma. Sudden enlightenment might be inconceivable for the Theravada and early Mahayana followers, but not so for the Vajrayana.


There is no such thing as a "sudden enlightenment" in Vajrayāna which is free from the two collections. The rapid awakening in Vajrayāna is predicated on gathering the two accumulations extremely rapidly -- not, as in some Chan formulations, dismissing their importance all together.


Vajrayana developed in India and Chan developed in China. Neither of them are something you could find in such mainstream schools as the Sarvastivadins or the Dharmaguptakas.


What Vajrayāna shares with Sarvastivadins or the Dharmaguptakas is that by normal means, buddhahood requires a minimum of three asaṃkhyakalpas to acheive. In order to bypass that requirement, Vajrayāna proposes the adoption of a specfic methodology by which these two collections may be gathered in a single lifetimes, and progress through the paths and stages, including all the visionary indicators of such progress that may be measured through yoga specific indications in the experience of the meditator on both a mental and physical level.

Chan masters that promulgate the extreme notions of sudden buddhahood, by contrast, hinge their argumemts solely on the notion that paths, practice, merit, virtue, are part of relative truth and therefore are a waste of time even to consider as having anything to do with attaining buddhahood -- that in fact, buddhahood is not attainable by any relative means whatsoever. The consequence of course is that these extreme speculations of the part of certain Chan masters render their version of buddhahood unrecognizable as buddhahood. We can call it Buddhism since they insist they are Buddhist, but it resembles nothing at all like mainstream Buddhism.

But then it comes down to the spatial distance between India and China. Do you find that an important point? In my view, the source of Dharma is the Buddha and not a place, nationality, ethnicity, political system or climate.


What I find important is that there is a serious discontinuity between the idea of buddhahood promulgated by certain extreme Chan masters and the rest of the Buddhist world.

You seem to think the argument hinges on sudden verses slow. It does not. It hinges on whether buddhahood is accomplished by virtue of the two things all Mahāyāna sutras say it is accomplished by i.e. the practice of the perfections and the two accumulations. Vajrayāna differs solely from common Mahāyāna of India, in this respect, by virtue of the suggestion that there are means by which one can reduce the amount of time it takes to generate the complete two collections from the daunting three incalculable eons to one, seven or sixteen lifetimes.

These Chan speculations you have introduced, on the other hand, hinge on philosophical sleights of hand that I have already pointed out. My point is that these philosphical speculations have no precedent in Indian Buddhism.

Whether one accepts them or not is entirely a matter of personal choice. I don't accept them, since I think they represent a deviation from Indian Buddhism -- I do not believe that there was any person who became a Buddha without gathering the two accumulations in their entirety.

In the end it is not a question of valid or invalid, it is a question of definitions. For me, a Buddhahood divorced from the two accumulations is impossible.
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Astus » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:37 pm

I see. So the problem is the lack of the two accumulations. But even in the Prajnaparamita teachings we find that one paramita includes all the other paramitas.

In the Mahaprajnaparamitasastra (30.5.3; vol. 2, p. 859, tr. Lamotte-Migme) we find even the concept of abstaining for all kinds of practices, "Furthermore, the bodhisattva acquires the Prajñāpāramitā without practicing any dharma and without acquiring any dharma. Why? All practices (caryā) are erroneous and futile: from near or far, they present faults. In fact, bad dharmas (akuśaladharma) are faulty from close up; as for good dharmas, they are transformed and modified from far away; those who become attached to them will end up by experiencing pain and sorrow; thus they show defects from far off. [Good and bad practices] are like an appetizing food and a disgusting food both of which have been poisoned."

There is also the story of Prasannendriya and Agramati (MPPS, vol. 1, p. 323ff) where the first only taught insight into the true nature of reality without renouncing the world and the other all the many practices and ascetic methods. Prasannendriya became a buddha eventually and Agramati had to undergo lot of suffering later on.

Adding the buddha-mind teachings, the nature of mind has perfect function, the functioning of a buddha, and this is the display of all the qualities. What is there to accumulate for it?
"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 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:00 pm

Astus wrote:I see. So the problem is the lack of the two accumulations. But even in the Prajnaparamita teachings we find that one paramita includes all the other paramitas.

In the Mahaprajnaparamitasastra (30.5.3; vol. 2, p. 859, tr. Lamotte-Migme) we find even the concept of abstaining for all kinds of practices, "Furthermore, the bodhisattva acquires the Prajñāpāramitā without practicing any dharma and without acquiring any dharma. Why? All practices (caryā) are erroneous and futile: from near or far, they present faults. In fact, bad dharmas (akuśaladharma) are faulty from close up; as for good dharmas, they are transformed and modified from far away; those who become attached to them will end up by experiencing pain and sorrow; thus they show defects from far off. [Good and bad practices] are like an appetizing food and a disgusting food both of which have been poisoned."

There is also the story of Prasannendriya and Agramati (MPPS, vol. 1, p. 323ff) where the first only taught insight into the true nature of reality without renouncing the world and the other all the many practices and ascetic methods. Prasannendriya became a buddha eventually and Agramati had to undergo lot of suffering later on.

Adding the buddha-mind teachings, the nature of mind has perfect function, the functioning of a buddha, and this is the display of all the qualities. What is there to accumulate for it?


Again, this is just philosophical slight of hand, using the teaching of the emptiness of phenomena (shown above) to try and demonstrate that conventional phenomena are not effective borders on nihilism.

Further, this supposes that practicing dana paramita and realizing dana paramita is sufficient for full buddhahood. It is not. It is sufficient for realizing the first bodhisattva bhumi, and that is all. As I mentioned above, the emptiness realized on the path of seeing and the emptiness that a Buddha realizes is the same emptiness. There is no difference at all in the realization of emptiness of a first stage bodhisattva and a Buddha. But there is a difference in affliction and omniscience.

You might try and will it away with philosophical sophistries, but this is not the intention of Mahāyāna.

N
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby kirtu » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:23 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Because India is the source of the Dharma, the place where Mahāyāna developed, etc., and the site of Vajrāsana.


Do you deny the possibility that authentic Buddhism is not bound by geographical location? You defined a "mainstream Buddhism" as all Indian Buddhists while we both know that Buddhism there was neither unified nor static. Vajrayana claims buddhahood within one lifetime, so it is not exactly true that all agreed on the time it has to take to achieve it.


No, you are missing the point -- Vajrayānists in India accepted the lenghty time period for achieveing buddhahood based on the accumulating the two collections.



The concept of sudden enlightenment was first taught by Daosheng (360?-434), a disciple of Kumarajiva. Because he was a Chinese master and not Indian, his view of Buddhism must be wrong?


Please precise with your terms -- does sudden enlightenment mean sudden buddhahood, or sudden awakening on one of the bhumis?


I can't speak for Astus but In terms of rhetoric it means real sudden Buddhahood. However in terms of real practice it means a range of things from realizing for certain that one's own enlightenment is really possible (so from the higher Path of Accumulation) to sudden awakening on the bhumi's.

The doctrine here under question is the idea promulgated by some Chan masters that Buddhahood does not require the two collections. This is unprecedented in Indian Buddhism, including Vajrayāna (as well as Dzogchen).


It's not that Chan masters actually said that the two collections are unnecessary (well, some might have) - the emphasis is on continual practice that accumulates merit (without that being overtly stated) and on the basically inherent enlightenment held to be actually present in some form in the mind. That cultivation itself is the necessary accumulation of merit and wisdom.

Saying that Indian Buddhism is the definitive because that's where it first appeared is very much an argument based on an irrelevant fact.


It is clear that certain Chan ideas about "Buddhahood" have no precedent in the Buddhism promulgated in India, including the Buddhism of Vajrayāna.


No - Chan ideas about Buddhahood are largely a development of Yogacara influence and yogic experience.

Chan masters that promulgate the extreme notions of sudden buddhahood, by contrast, hinge their argumemts solely on the notion that paths, practice, merit, virtue, are part of relative truth and therefore are a waste of time even to consider as having anything to do with attaining buddhahood -- that in fact, buddhahood is not attainable by any relative means whatsoever. The consequence of course is that these extreme speculations of the part of certain Chan masters render their version of buddhahood unrecognizable as buddhahood. We can call it Buddhism since they insist they are Buddhist, but it resembles nothing at all like mainstream Buddhism.


They hinge the argument on the notion that the mind is a radiant Buddha and that this can be experienced directly. This view in turn is a strong influence of Yogacara.

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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby kirtu » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:Again, this is just philosophical slight of hand, using the teaching of the emptiness of phenomena (shown above) to try and demonstrate that conventional phenomena are not effective borders on nihilism.


It is because conventional phenomena are effective that Chan doctrine is centered in the view of realization in this moment. One can attain this realization directly and suddenly because one's mind is actually a Buddha. And then one takes this into the world, never parting from it (ah - that's the hard part) and deepening one's realization and saves the world. Basically all of Chan/Zen are agreed on this point.

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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby xabir » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Namdrol wrote:There is no such thing as a "sudden enlightenment" in Vajrayāna which is free from the two collections. The rapid awakening in Vajrayāna is predicated on gathering the two accumulations extremely rapidly -- not, as in some Chan formulations, dismissing their importance all together.
What is it that makes Vajrayana and Chan so different in its ability to 'gather the two accumulations extremely rapidly'? What in particular of Vajrayana allows the rapid two accumulations?
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Re: Buddhahood in Chan

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:18 pm

kirtu wrote:
No - Chan ideas about Buddhahood are largely a development of Yogacara influence and yogic experience.



I have read a lot of yogachara. In what Yogachara text is there anything remotely like the citations Astus as provided?




They hinge the argument on the notion that the mind is a radiant Buddha and that this can be experienced directly. This view in turn is a strong influence of Yogacara.



This is obviously false since buddhas cannot experience delusion. The Yogachara masters such as Asanga were actually strongly critical of tathagāgarbha theory.

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