The Platform Sutra

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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby Huifeng » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:31 am

The word is 自性 zi4xing4, which is a translation of "svabhava", meaning "own-nature". Sometimes translated as "self-nature", but the "self" here is "sva-" and not "atma-", so it doesn't imply a "soul", but rather has a sense of "specific" to that thing itself, and not to something "other" (para-).

This term has a number of meanings, but in the early Mahayana, it was used to indicate the emptiness of phenomena, in a similar way to the suchness of phenomena, but not 100% the same.

To translate it as "essence of mind", well, I just can't figure out how they come to that translation. Now, granted, the Platform sutra does use this term in a similar sense to that of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, and it does at times - but not always - have some Tathagatagarbha connotations. However, even that is nothing to do with "mind" per se.
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby White Lotus » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:56 pm

Venerable Hui Feng,

The word is 自性 zi4xing4, which is a translation of "svabhava", meaning "own-nature". Sometimes translated as "self-nature", but the "self" here is "sva-" and not "atma-", so it doesn't imply a "soul", but rather has a sense of "specific" to that thing itself, and not to something "other" (para-).


one needs to see oneself in the mirror in order to attain basic awakening. "own nature" would be a helpful translation, better than self nature. in McRae one finds "one needs to see ones own nature" [in my own words] thus tathagatagharba becoming mature Tathagata. in the McRae translation. also i see in the corresponding paragraphs that i have quoted above, in McRae also a strong hinting at Tathata... seeing, tasting, touching: one needs to be mindful for the tathagata seed to mature. (reality being the womb). Tathata sometimes referred to as being the One, a sort of super self, without being atman, immutable and indestructible, though giving the appearance of defilement. as a friend said to me recently... this table will cease to be, however there will always be tables. pointing at the immutable essence or nature of reality. or in other words there will always be reality. Tathata. just so. so.

This term has a number of meanings, but in the early Mahayana, it was used to indicate the emptiness of phenomena, in a similar way to the suchness of phenomena, but not 100% the same.


thanks Hui Feng... I appreciate these words.

To translate it as "essence of mind", well, I just can't figure out how they come to that translation. Now, granted, the Platform sutra does use this term in a similar sense to that of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, and it does at times - but not always - have some Tathagatagarbha connotations. However, even that is nothing to do with "mind" per se.


I see the use of self nature and essence of mind as being suchness, in the sense that all is suchness/form/dharmakaya, in the same sense that this all is empty. this is the oneness of things, their sameness (samata). the buddha seed is the buddha womb. the tathagatagharba being the same as the tathata/Form, being the same as emptiness. There are strong indicators of Shunyata, Tathagatagharba and Tathata/Dharmakaya. I find that remarkable, this biography, origins of Hui Neng.

so far... i am not impressed by the Tung Huang manuscript, but feel that McRaes translation is ok on tahtagatagharba, but not quite so clear on tathata. (though stongly points towards it). I dont know who translated my copy of the Platform sutra and feel that it is great on tathata, but not so clear that tathata is 'own nature' (which initially needs to be seen, in order to pass the gateway of basic enlightenment), though really these are both the same thing. (if these things are looked at with a mind of particualrisation/distinctions. knowing that really they are all one and the same thing... some call it Mind, self nature, essence or tathata, others reality, some like emptiness etc.)

i am finding that i am getting a better understanding by comparing texts. I like Mcraes text. which one was it he used? (but feel his translation doesnt flow, nor make meanings clear).

best wishes, White Lotus. x

buddha nature - seeing oneself in the mirror.
emptiness - that self is no longer there.
tathata - 'this' is all that is left.
and it is bounteous!
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby plwk » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:00 am

Image
Today, 23rd March, 8th Day/2nd Lunar Month,
the Chinese Mahayana world commemorates
the Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an, Hui Neng :bow:

and...the Buddha's Renunciation
Image
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby White Lotus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:11 pm

just have a cup of tea!
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby White Lotus » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:52 pm

i am particularly interested in what Hungjen, the old master read to Hui neng from the Diamond sutra. Mc Rae's translation has it like this:

from 'Origins':
"The patriarch kept his robe hidden and would not let anyone see it. He preached the diamond sutra for me. When he reached the words, 'responding to the nonabiding, yet generating the mind' 56. I experienced a great enlightenment."


the non abiding i take to mean as all that we experience, it is nonabiding, that is impermanent, yet it is the source of mind, what we see, hear, smell etc. this is like saying that suchness is the source of all mind. the essence or quintessance of mind. the surprising thing is that it seems defiled and yet is absolutely true, a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea. the leaves are truly red in autumn. in spring the flowers emerge after the cold winter.

Case 82 of the Hekigan Roku (Blue Cliff Record):"Dairyu and the Dharma Body."
A Monk asked Dairyu, "the phenomenal body perishes. What is the Dharma Body wich remains solid?"
Dairyu responded. "The autumn foliage of the mountains spreads like brocade. The water in the valley remains blue as indigo."


he clearly points towards the apparent impermanence of the autumn foliage and yet balances this with the apparently timeless blue of the water in the valley lake. pointing to the fact that though the dharmakaya seems impermanent, it is actually stainless, permanent, unchanging and totally present, totally inviolable. this is the truth of the dharma body. a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea, the leaves are truly scarlet in the autumn, they go and are not permanent. and yet going we know they will come again. and so it goes on for ever. reality will always be reality, utterly empty displaying its impermanence and yet utterly eternal. this is the body of truth. this is suchness. impermanence is only apparent. there is ultimately no birth nor death. just the continuing cycle of reality/form/being (dharma).

no doubt i will make my cup of tea when i get home this evening.

best wishes, White Lotus. x
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby Huifeng » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:01 am

White Lotus wrote:i am particularly interested in what Hungjen, the old master read to Hui neng from the Diamond sutra. Mc Rae's translation has it like this:

from 'Origins':
"The patriarch kept his robe hidden and would not let anyone see it. He preached the diamond sutra for me. When he reached the words, 'responding to the nonabiding, yet generating the mind' 56. I experienced a great enlightenment."


the non abiding i take to mean as all that we experience, it is nonabiding, that is impermanent, yet it is the source of mind, what we see, hear, smell etc. this is like saying that suchness is the source of all mind. the essence or quintessance of mind. the surprising thing is that it seems defiled and yet is absolutely true, a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea. the leaves are truly red in autumn. in spring the flowers emerge after the cold winter.

Case 82 of the Hekigan Roku (Blue Cliff Record):"Dairyu and the Dharma Body."
A Monk asked Dairyu, "the phenomenal body perishes. What is the Dharma Body wich remains solid?"
Dairyu responded. "The autumn foliage of the mountains spreads like brocade. The water in the valley remains blue as indigo."


he clearly points towards the apparent impermanence of the autumn foliage and yet balances this with the apparently timeless blue of the water in the valley lake. pointing to the fact that though the dharmakaya seems impermanent, it is actually stainless, permanent, unchanging and totally present, totally inviolable. this is the truth of the dharma body. a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea, the leaves are truly scarlet in the autumn, they go and are not permanent. and yet going we know they will come again. and so it goes on for ever. reality will always be reality, utterly empty displaying its impermanence and yet utterly eternal. this is the body of truth. this is suchness. impermanence is only apparent. there is ultimately no birth nor death. just the continuing cycle of reality/form/being (dharma).

no doubt i will make my cup of tea when i get home this evening.

best wishes, White Lotus. x


Sorry to say, but McRae has made a glitch there with 'responding to the nonabiding, yet generating the mind', the original is: "應無所住而生其心", and it certainly looks like he has mistaken the 應 as "respond", which is standard later Chinese, when in fact it is originally a suffix "-tavyam", meaning "should".

"One should abide nowhere, yet arise the mind."

Actually, from the Sanskrit, this line reads:

"One should arise the mind which abides nowhere."
(nakascit-sthanam cittam utpadayatavyam - or something like that, from memory.)

The idea of "not abide" is very important. It means "don't cling" to the object in question. It doesn't refer to the object itself, but to one's attitude towards it. In other words, it is a subjective thing, not an objective one.

To not stand in Dharmas, is to stand in emptiness, to stand in prajnaparamita.

Suchness is not a "source" of anything. And maybe be careful about how we read "essence" too.
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Re: The Platform Sutra

Postby White Lotus » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:46 pm

Venerable Hui Feng,

you have translated this important verse as:
"One should arise the mind which abides nowhere."


yes, that is very clear. Thank you. a helpful translation. a mind that abides nohwere is a mind that is freed of all tethers and attachments to concepts, practices and static positions. it is a mind that does not take a fixed stand in any particular position? though is free to take any position it chooses to. it does not take a stand even in freedom/liberation, nor in emptiness. in short it is a mind that would not attach to appearance, silence, non action or any idea or ideal, including that of enlightenment?

best wishes, White Lotus.

(ps. i have noted down your translation and when i get home will put it in my notes on the Platform Sutra. as you say it is a very prajna paramita verse.)

not taking a stand,
even as a lamp.
what is seen is not
always what is valued.
no position, no lamp.
nonetheless free to shine.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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