Are sutra's to be taken literally?

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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:34 am

If Buddha is full of everything, then by reciting Buddha we will also gain access to what Buddha has. If Buddhas minds and sentient beings mind cannot be separated, then why is salvation in this context hard to understand? Some believe that sentient beings are full of negative karma that Buddha cannot save them. This is true if sentient beings continue to do evil and don't put the personal efforts into practice in order to gain access to what Buddha has-things such as merits, wisdom, etc and these are the tools that will help us exit Samara. Likewise, if a person recites the bad karmic habits of body, speech, and mind, what qualities will the person have? Karma then can be understood at the level of Buddha recitation. Recitation is a way to make the karmic connection with Buddha, then when will this karmic connection will be ripened? In the same way again, if a person recites bad karmic habits of body, speech, and mind, then when will this karmic connection with Samara will be ripened?

Sentient beings have to decide to save themselves first. It is not that the Buddhas don't have such ability. The sentient beings are the ones who don't believe in karma and the method of Buddha recitation. The conditions have to be compatible or right for the result to ripe. If sentient beings don't believe in the method, and continue to do evil, what Buddha can save these sentient beings? Things do not work that way.

So who have the power to save sentient beings but themselves?

Peace.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:19 am

The way I see it the Sutras and Tantras are maps showing routes towards a destination. Some maps have lots of detail of altitudes, small paths as well as major roads, grades and angles, etc... some just have the major towns and local tourist traps on them. To get to the destination you grab a map that has the amount of info you need and you start your trip. Truth is though that it's the trip which is the experience and the source of the experience, not the map. Even with a map you have to rely on your capacity to navigate, make decisions regarding the route, change direction along the way, get sidetracked to a scenic point of interest which isn't on the map, etc... The map is just there so you have a rough idea of where you are heading and wha to expect along the way.
:namaste:
PS What I said is metaphorical and not literal! ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Ervin » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:43 pm

LastLegend wrote:If Buddha is full of everything, then by reciting Buddha we will also gain access to what Buddha has. If Buddhas minds and sentient beings mind cannot be separated, then why is salvation in this context hard to understand? Some believe that sentient beings are full of negative karma that Buddha cannot save them. This is true if sentient beings continue to do evil and don't put the personal efforts into practice in order to gain access to what Buddha has-things such as merits, wisdom, etc and these are the tools that will help us exit Samara. Likewise, if a person recites the bad karmic habits of body, speech, and mind, what qualities will the person have? Karma then can be understood at the level of Buddha recitation. Recitation is a way to make the karmic connection with Buddha, then when will this karmic connection will be ripened? In the same way again, if a person recites bad karmic habits of body, speech, and mind, then when will this karmic connection with Samara will be ripened?

Sentient beings have to decide to save themselves first. It is not that the Buddhas don't have such ability. The sentient beings are the ones who don't believe in karma and the method of Buddha recitation. The conditions have to be compatible or right for the result to ripe. If sentient beings don't believe in the method, and continue to do evil, what Buddha can save these sentient beings? Things do not work that way.

So who have the power to save sentient beings but themselves?


Peace.


Peace. I like your list very much. I mean what's the point in asking Budha for help but not practising at the same time his teachings wich he says are necessary for progress.

I believe that there is some sort of a system in place wich is very similar to what you say only that I believe in God( The monotheistic God) and heaven at the same time instead of just karma and nirvana.

But, I must say that I have learned a lot of stuff from a Budhist nun in the past. I learned from her how to Ep everything right for the sake of faith and sentient beings.

Thanks
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:31 pm

Will wrote:Focusing on step one; it says put your personal experience of the literal Dharma first - not the person who explains it for you. But in order to do that, one must have enough confidence or faith in the plain sutra text as authoritative as is. The fact that we (most of us) deal with translations and much innate ignorance is no excuse for fobbing off responsibility for our initial understanding to another.

Step One: Follow the [scriptural buddha] dharma, not the person [who dazzles with his spin].


No, it is not saying follow the literal words of a given text. Dharma does not live in texts.

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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:44 pm

It seems that Namdrol is dealing with all Sutra in the same manner as the 6th Patriarch Huineng, when he advised the nun seeking explanations on the MahaParinirvana Sutra to look past the finger and see the moon.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:56 pm

Is not putting personal experience primary and written Dharma secondary, a fundamentalist view? What could be more basic than "I the Ego" know better than Buddha's recorded teachings?

No - that swamp is not good for we newbies to the Dharma. Accept the sutras & shastras as literally true and one's path will be much smoother.

Buddhist traditions are in reality largely oral traditions with large canons in tow.

If you're like me who studied a lot of Buddhist scriptures and then found out in living sanghas a lot of it isn't really followed, you'll see what I mean.

The most prominent example of this is precepts. There is what the scripture says, and there are the standards of your given community, cultural conditioning, peer pressure and so on.

Literature on precepts have seldom been taken literally, both in present times and historically.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Sönam » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:58 pm

to look past the finger and see the moon ... or to eat the finger
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:07 pm

Sönam wrote:to look past the finger and see the moon ... or to eat the finger
It's an option, but it makes picking ones nose a little difficult! :tongue:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:44 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:It seems that Namdrol is dealing with all Sutra in the same manner as the 6th Patriarch Huineng, when he advised the nun seeking explanations on the MahaParinirvana Sutra to look past the finger and see the moon.
:namaste:



Not just all sutras, all written texts.

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Will » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:51 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:Focusing on step one; it says put your personal experience of the literal Dharma first - not the person who explains it for you. But in order to do that, one must have enough confidence or faith in the plain sutra text as authoritative as is. The fact that we (most of us) deal with translations and much innate ignorance is no excuse for fobbing off responsibility for our initial understanding to another.

Step One: Follow the [scriptural buddha] dharma, not the person [who dazzles with his spin].


No, it is not saying follow the literal words of a given text. Dharma does not live in texts.

N


Then the Tripitaka was a silly notion and Nagarjuna, Asanga, Chandrakirti, Je Tsongkhapa & hundreds of sages were fools to write or have their disciples write down their teachings and further advise the close study and pondering of said texts.

If "Dharma does not live in texts", then it does not live in the spoken word, nor the minds & hearts of those who speak it. Stuff & nonsense, say I!

As for Master Hui Neng, his bodhi came from hearing a verse from he Diamond Sutra; further his teachings were written down in a text.

The fact that the Dharma is beyond words & thought does not mean thought & words (written or spoken) are irrelevant or exclusively non-literal. As Je Tsongkhapa put it "No form of the Dharma is worthless, each and every element is needed for someone at sometime." Oodles of texts are full of literal passages that need to be practiced just with their literal, plain meaning.

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form" says the sutra. It does not say, nor did Buddha teach, that emptiness is apart from form.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:23 pm

Will wrote:
Then the Tripitaka was a silly notion and Nagarjuna, Asanga, Chandrakirti, Je Tsongkhapa & hundreds of sages were fools to write or have their disciples write down their teachings and further advise the close study and pondering of said texts.


I didn't say texts were useless. But they have no life on their own, dharma solely lives in practice.

I say this Will, because as you know, I have read thousands and thousands of texts, and practiced for the past two decades.

For example, the real Kalacakra tanta is not the book. It is the experience of mandala. The real Prajn̄āpāramita is not the several volumes of texts in the Tripitika, it is experience of inexpressible emptiness. The real Vinaya is not the rules and stories about the rules, the real Vinaya is not harming sentient beings.

You cannot follow all sutras, much less tantras, literally. It is completely impossible.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Will » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:55 pm

Namdrol: You cannot follow all sutras, much less tantras, literally. It is completely impossible.


Quite true, but I did say or think that. What I do know is true (from 30 years of feeble practice) is that "One can follow literally & practice those parts of all shastras, sutras & tantras that fit one's present point on the path of stages." Or "One can follow literally & practice primarily one sutra or shastra or tantra."

I didn't say texts were useless. But they have no life on their own, dharma solely lives in practice.


You do see the high possibility Namdrol, that putting "personal experience" as most important and teaching that the Tripitaka texts "have no life of their own" can easily be misunderstood as meaning that "texts are useless"?

After all, sutra recitation & sutra copying are ancient practices and cannot be done other than "literally". I will not even accept that sutras have "no life of their own". They are hardly as powerful as being in the presence of the author, but they are not dead piles of paper.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:13 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol: You cannot follow all sutras, much less tantras, literally. It is completely impossible.


Quite true, but I did say or think that. What I do know is true (from 30 years of feeble practice) is that "One can follow literally & practice those parts of all shastras, sutras & tantras that fit one's present point on the path of stages." Or "One can follow literally & practice primarily one sutra or shastra or tantra."



The original question was "are sutras to be taken literally". The answer is no. They cannot be. There is too much internal contradiction in Buddhist texts for this ever to be possible.




I didn't say texts were useless. But they have no life on their own, dharma solely lives in practice.


You do see the high possibility Namdrol, that putting "personal experience" as most important and teaching that the Tripitaka texts "have no life of their own" can easily be misunderstood as meaning that "texts are useless"?


On their own, texts are of little help. One needs a teacher. Why? Because a teacher has experience.



After all, sutra recitation & sutra copying are ancient practices and cannot be done other than "literally". I will not even accept that sutras have "no life of their own". They are hardly as powerful as being in the presence of the author, but they are not dead piles of paper.



Most sutras these days are used as nests by insects.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Yes, the sutra's are to be taken literally

Postby Will » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:30 pm

Most sutras these days are used as nests by insects.

N


Thus proceeds the Dharma Ending age, with Dharma Lite, denial of rebirth etc.
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Re: Yes, the sutra's are to be taken literally?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:49 pm

Will wrote:
Most sutras these days are used as nests by insects.

N


Thus proceeds the Dharma Ending age, with Dharma Lite, denial of rebirth etc.


What I mean, Will, is that they are not read by anyone but people like myself, Huseng, Huifeng, and so on. There are thousands of copies of the Kenjur and Tenjur that just sit on shelves.

They are brought out once a year, their titles read, rewrapped, etc. eventually, not even this happens. Eventually, they just become bug nests. This is a commonly stated observation in Tibetan Buddhist texts.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Yes, the sutra's are to be taken literally

Postby Will » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:
Most sutras these days are used as nests by insects.

N


Thus proceeds the Dharma Ending age, with Dharma Lite, denial of rebirth etc.


What I mean, Will, is that they are not read by anyone but people like myself, Huseng, Huifeng, and so on. There are thousands of copies of the Kenjur and Tenjur that just sit on shelves.

They are brought out once a year, their titles read, rewrapped, etc. eventually, not even this happens. Eventually, they just become bug nests. This is a commonly stated observation in Tibetan Buddhist texts.

N


I know what you mean Namdrol - and what I mean is, that the ignoring of sutras for practice and study is bad karma and weakens the buddhadharma. It is a sign of the Dharma Ending Age. So the opposite tack of using the sutras for practice would empower the buddhadharma, benefit practitioners and forestall, to some degree, the Dharma Ending Age.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:39 pm

Huseng wrote:Literature on precepts have seldom been taken literally, both in present times and historically.


Well that depends too. The sutras dealing with precepts are mostly meant to be taken literally.

In the beginning the sutras are signposts or maps as Greg has noted. In the middle and presumably the end they are living experiences that arise within us. In this sense we meet Shakyamuni Buddha directly.

Kirt
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:17 pm

kirtu wrote:
Huseng wrote:Literature on precepts have seldom been taken literally, both in present times and historically.


Well that depends too. The sutras dealing with precepts are mostly meant to be taken literally.




Not by Mahāyanists unless they are Mahāyana sutras, and even then, it depends.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:41 pm

Namdrol wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Huseng wrote:Literature on precepts have seldom been taken literally, both in present times and historically.


Well that depends too. The sutras dealing with precepts are mostly meant to be taken literally.




Not by Mahāyanists unless they are Mahāyana sutras, and even then, it depends.

N


That's true but I was thinking of Mahayana sutras and I also threw in the "mostly".

As a concrete example, Atisha provides a Bodhisattva Vow practice in his Lamp on the Path. He meant literally that Manjushri had a former life as a monk named Ambaraja and that in that lifetime he took the Bodhisattva Vow quoted six times a day with his right knee bent, etc. This story and this practice quoted from a sutra are meant to be taken literally both as an actual practice from Bodhisattva Manjushri's former life and as a practice for us to do as well.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:00 am

kirtu wrote:
That's true but I was thinking of Mahayana sutras and I also threw in the "mostly".

As a concrete example, Atisha provides a Bodhisattva Vow practice in his Lamp on the Path. He meant literally that Manjushri had a former life as a monk named Ambaraja and that in that lifetime he took the Bodhisattva Vow quoted six times a day with his right knee bent, etc. This story and this practice quoted from a sutra are meant to be taken literally both as an actual practice from Bodhisattva Manjushri's former life and as a practice for us to do as well.

Kirt


Yes, I am sure he did.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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