Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

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Malcolm
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

Queequeg wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:41 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:29 pm
mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:26 pm

Yes, a source would be nice. It's interesting because it contradicts Wohnyo who pretends that the finite number of sentient beings "is a big error". I wonder if he means that in the sense of a "finite number" fixed by who/what?
Its in the Pali canon somewhere. When I find it again, I will post here. There is a statement to the effect that the sattva dhātu never increases or decreases.
Interesting. I think I've read that but can't recall where either. I didn't think of its import much at the time. My instinct would be to understand that as meaning infinite as an infinite quality, not as a quantity. I don't know if that makes sense. Is there commentary on this point as well?
It refers to the total number of sentient beings there are. That number is inconceivable, but still finite.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by mutsuk »

The English translation can be found here :

https://daitangkinh.net/Books/T16n0668/ ... Rulu).html

Not really convincing in terms of explaining "finite number of sentient beings" imho... In fact the text does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number but declares "increase and decrease in sentient beings" as a wrong view. It equates the dharma realm which neither increases or decreases with the real of sentient beings. So that is clear but it does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number of sentient beings. Or am I missing something?
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:00 pm The English translation can be found here :

https://daitangkinh.net/Books/T16n0668/ ... Rulu).html

Not really convincing in terms of explaining "finite number of sentient beings" imho... In fact the text does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number but declares "increase and decrease in sentient beings" as a wrong view. It equates the dharma realm which neither increases or decreases with the real of sentient beings. So that is clear but it does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number of sentient beings. Or am I missing something?
There has to be a limit to sentient beings, otherwise, where do new sentient beings come from? It is not possible for there to be brand-new sentient beings.

It just stands to reason that there is a finite number of sentient beings, despite that number being beyond any comprehension.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Queequeg »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm
mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:00 pm The English translation can be found here :

https://daitangkinh.net/Books/T16n0668/ ... Rulu).html

Not really convincing in terms of explaining "finite number of sentient beings" imho... In fact the text does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number but declares "increase and decrease in sentient beings" as a wrong view. It equates the dharma realm which neither increases or decreases with the real of sentient beings. So that is clear but it does not discuss if there is a finite or infinite number of sentient beings. Or am I missing something?
There has to be a limit to sentient beings, otherwise, where do new sentient beings come from? It is not possible for there to be brand-new sentient beings.

It just stands to reason that there is a finite number of sentient beings, despite that number being beyond any comprehension.
But...

A sentient being that awakens is no longer a sentient being, but a Buddha... so that means with each awakened being, there is one less sentient... ie. a decrease. That can't stand because that's wrong view.

And it is wrong view to think beings increase as well for the reason you point out - from whence?

This is why infinite seems to be the implication, ie. as long as one is still deluded, they see infinite sentient beings. Awakened, they drop the view that there are any sentient beings at all...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by mutsuk »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm There has to be a limit to sentient beings, otherwise, where do new sentient beings come from?
I understand, but what/who fixed that limit? And does any Indian text (as Indians are really into numbers) define that limit?
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Queequeg »

From the text Mutsuk links -
“Śāriputra, foolish ordinary beings do not have the wisdom that comes from hearing the Dharma. When they hear about a Tathāgata’s entering nirvāṇa, they take the wrong view of cessation or extinction. Because of their perception of cessation or extinction, they claim that the realm of sentient beings decreases. Their claim constitutes an enormously wrong view and an extremely grave, evil karma.
Can someone parse that?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Malcolm
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:13 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm There has to be a limit to sentient beings, otherwise, where do new sentient beings come from?
I understand, but what/who fixed that limit? And does any Indian text (as Indians are really into numbers) define that limit?
What fixes that limit is just the fact that no new sentient beings come into existence. Its a consequence of dependent origination. It is a finite set; it may be uncountable, but it is still finite.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

Queequeg wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:57 pm

A sentient being that awakens is no longer a sentient being, but a Buddha... so that means with each awakened being, there is one less sentient... ie. a decrease. That can't stand because that's wrong view.
A buddha's consciousness does not vanish into thin air. So in this case, still a sattva since Buddha began as a sattva, like all of us.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Sādhaka »

Interesting discussion.

The following post is from about 3.5 years ago; but I remembered about it, and thought I’d search it up:


Malcolm wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:48 pm
Losal Samten wrote:
Vasana wrote:If we are to take the bodhisattva ideal literally, then why wouldn't you expect all beings to attain Buddhahood? If compassion is a natural quality of realization and time is not a restricting factor, then why would some beings be excluded from that?
Presumably because just as time is infinite, so are sentient beings, so mathematically speaking there's always going to be someone that's out of reach. (IIRC that was one Yogacarin argument for the existence of icchantikas?)

Some sutras state that the sattvadhatu neither increases nor decreases (anunatvaapurnatva), is this to be only understood in the non-conceptual ultimate sense, or relatively too, since whether infinity +1, or infinity -1, it still equals infinity?

https://www.academia.edu/30408695/The_S ... %9Br%C4%AB
This point is addressed by Longchenpa at the end of the difficult points chapter in the Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle.He resolves the difficulty by stating that while all sentient beings are liberated at the end of the great eon, because there is never any limit to latent traces in the dharmadhātu, new sentient beings can always arise. He claims these two points of view are not contradictory.

Apparently contradictory, but as stated: It’s one of those difficult points.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

In the Surangama Sutra, The Buddha asks Ananda to make a comparison between looking at the Ganges River now with having at the Ganges River as a child, and asks Ananda whether there is any difference in perception, meaning whether his perception has somehow aged as he (Ananda) has aged.

Ananda replies that when he looks at the Ganges now, it’s just like when he looked at it as a child (here we are talking strictly about perception, not about some kind of day, aesthetic appreciation of the river’s beauty, nor are we talking about changes in visual clarity such as becoming nearsighted).

The Buddha says that this demonstrates that the mind is unchanging, even though the body ages. The implication. Here (also supported in the context of other parts of this sutra is that the mind (which experiences samsara as well
as liberation from samsara) does not arise and fall conditionally, depending on conditions.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:31 pm
mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:13 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm There has to be a limit to sentient beings, otherwise, where do new sentient beings come from?
I understand, but what/who fixed that limit? And does any Indian text (as Indians are really into numbers) define that limit?
What fixes that limit is just the fact that no new sentient beings come into existence. Its a consequence of dependent origination. It is a finite set; it may be uncountable, but it is still finite.
Although sentient beings occur,
There is nothing essential that truly exists
that can be defined as a “sentient being”,
Just as a tiger chasing one in a dream may certainly have a form, and may even produce in one a feeling of fear (the dreaming person may even toss and turn and sweat, and of course everything that is a result has a cause!) and in that sense it occurs, it happens for sure, but ultimately none of it exists.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:07 am
Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:31 pm
mutsuk wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:13 pm
I understand, but what/who fixed that limit? And does any Indian text (as Indians are really into numbers) define that limit?
What fixes that limit is just the fact that no new sentient beings come into existence. Its a consequence of dependent origination. It is a finite set; it may be uncountable, but it is still finite.
Although sentient beings occur,
There is nothing essential that truly exists
that can be defined as a “sentient being”,
Just as a tiger chasing one in a dream may certainly have a form, and may even produce in one a feeling of fear (the dreaming person may even toss and turn and sweat, and of course everything that is a result has a cause!) and in that sense it occurs, it happens for sure, but ultimately none of it exists.
Uh huh, so I see you’ve grasped the basics of buddhadharma. Excellent.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

"Finite" doesn't make much sense to me as a descriptor....more like continuous as opposed to discrete, finite almost makes it feel like a fixed number, just a number we don't know.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Queequeg »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:59 am "Finite" doesn't make much sense to me as a descriptor....more like continuous as opposed to discrete, finite almost makes it feel like a fixed number, just a number we don't know.
I believe that is what M is saying.

745723046023460923468882524268688602492385065347847602354670345763405793458034756085687035634594198749841319567841771818953673668194651357496887432546846567634678654979879783564444454886549653656, neither increasing nor decreasing.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Malcolm »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:59 amfinite almost makes it feel like a fixed number, just a number we don't know.
Yes, that what it is. A fixed number we can never know: n to the nth power. But it can never be more nor less than that.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Queequeg »

Is there commentary drawing this meaning from the declaration that these views, beings increasing/decreasing, are wrong views?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by tkp67 »

Queequeg wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:29 pm From the text Mutsuk links -
“Śāriputra, foolish ordinary beings do not have the wisdom that comes from hearing the Dharma.


The dharma in question points out wisdom but does not impart it by simply hearing it. Not in the case of foolish ordinary beings.
When they hear about a Tathāgata’s entering nirvāṇa, they take the wrong view of cessation or extinction. Because of their perception of cessation or extinction, they claim that the realm of sentient beings decreases. Their claim constitutes an enormously wrong view and an extremely grave, evil karma.
Tathāgata’s entering nirvāṇa does not equate to cessation or extinction. The experience of his enlightenment itself surpassed his existence (for example past life remembrance was proof thereof). Thus his experience was transcendent in regards to the future as well.

I think it can be understood this way. Many wonders of the civilization are the fruits of seeds planted by generations past. From individual civilizations to their aspects like music or language. All of these things manifest over time somewhat viral in nature. look at flight for instance at the history of human flight. What was just a dream or a vision eventually manifested beyond anything originally conceived. The same dynamic existed in his time.

Either this or that is the product of subliminal deterministic perspective. If the state itself is beyond description it isn't defined by either. If the moment is boundless and pure then thus is the future.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:46 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:07 am
Malcolm wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:31 pm

What fixes that limit is just the fact that no new sentient beings come into existence. Its a consequence of dependent origination. It is a finite set; it may be uncountable, but it is still finite.
Although sentient beings occur,
There is nothing essential that truly exists
that can be defined as a “sentient being”,
Just as a tiger chasing one in a dream may certainly have a form, and may even produce in one a feeling of fear (the dreaming person may even toss and turn and sweat, and of course everything that is a result has a cause!) and in that sense it occurs, it happens for sure, but ultimately none of it exists.
Uh huh, so I see you’ve grasped the basics of buddhadharma. Excellent.
...as have you!
Wonderful!
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

There are infinite beings and there will never be any less. If you grasp this you will grasp part of the expanse of mind you have been so diligently seeking. Well, it is a simple meditation on the framework of Sunyata.
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Re: Alexander Berzin: "The Four Immeasurables (Brahma viharas) in Sravakayana, Mahayana and Bon"

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Aemilius wrote: Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:38 am The Four Immeasurables in Hinayana, Mahayana and Bon. Otherwise an excellent survey of the four brahmaviharas, unfortunately Dr. Berzin uses the words "limited beings" for sentient beings, which is an unforgivable idiosyncracy. It takes away some of the great value and merit that the article holds and generates. https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... na-and-bon
If you read the summary at this link, note that
he doesn’t say, “...limited beings” but rather,
“...all limited beings.
So, first of all, “limited” doesn’t refer to quantity or population. It’s not like a restaurant needing an occupancy permit.
Secondly, by listing all the various ‘happinesses’ that one wishes for beings, this in itself indicates that beings who are not fully realized (Buddhas) are therefore “limited”.
In other words, “limited” means “not limitless”,
There is no point in wishing for a Buddha to have happiness or to be free from suffering, because a Buddha has already gone beyond the dualistic limits of happiness/suffering, and thus is limitless.
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