Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Malcolm
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

Caoimhghín wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:23 pm
Bristollad wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:46 pm
Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:31 pm I'm suggesting that the rhetoric of tantric empowerment is that it is often described as starting with the abhiṣeka of the Buddhas of the ten directions that Mahāyāna practitioners are generally believed to receive at the 10th bhūmi and that the maṇḍala wherein it takes place is the akaniṣṭa ghanavyūha. I could be wrong though.
But just because "it is often described as starting with the abhiṣeka of the Buddhas of the ten directions that Mahāyāna practitioners are generally believed to receive at the 10th bhūmi" doesn't mean that a tantric practitioner is necessarily a bodhisattva on the 10th bhumi. If that were the case, the rhetoric of tantra being a swifter path wouldn't make much sense - one would have already completed 3 countless aeons of merit gathering the same as the Perfection vehicle.
"Is often described" was simply me being humble. I can take it back if it caused confusion.

So we're dealing with different assignments of the "tathāgatabhūmi," which as I understand some Tantrikas place at an "11th" station, 10th-stage bhūmikas being merely bodhisattvas. So when I say "the abhiṣeka of the Buddhas of the ten directions that Mahāyāna practitioners [...] receive at the 10th bhūmi" I am talking about what you might consider the 11th bhūmi. We can just discard this "specific enumeration of bhūmi" business as well, since it's causing problems. 11th, 10th aside, we're talking "samyaksaṁbuddhatva," and that's what's important, "(complete) Buddhahood-in-this-life," not "the irreversible grounds," not "śrāvakabuddhatva," etc. Otherwise, Vajrayāna just a free-for-all redefining of terms from Mahāyāna. And yes, I'm fully aware that there are contingency plans for when practitioners receive this abhiṣeka and it's evident that nothing important has really happened and no realization has accompanied their empowerment. The point is, if you need your sadhāna to facilitate your accumulations, then you never actually received the abhiṣeka of the Buddhas of the ten directions in the first place. They don't hand those out to just anyone.
jmlee369 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:58 am I thought the 52 stages scheme was from the Bodhisattva keyūra mūla karma sūtra? The Avatamsaka Sutra itself teaches the 40 something stages, Fazang also adapted the Keyura sutra's scheme, and then there's the Shurangama's 57 stages?.
50+ bhūmi schemata show up in Shugendō and Daoist-Buddhist hybrid scriptures as well. I've never read the Keyūrasūtra, and I can't find that much about it. I certainly wouldn't want to call it apocryphal, not knowing that for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me. Talking about the Śūraṅgama, do you mean the Indian Śūraṅgamasamādhisūtra or the Chinese Śūraṅgama?

The Buddhāvataṁsaka supposedly lays out the 52 bodhisattva stages, but then once you get to its nested Daśabhūmikasūtra, there are only 10. I've never read the bulk of the Buddhāvataṁsaka. It's just too massive. Supposedly, chapters 15, 21, 22, 25, and 26 lay out grounds 1-40 in successive enumerations of ten bhūmis. I think the Indian tradition was that all of these lists of 10 bhūmis are the same 10 bhūmis, but I'm not actually sure there, so I'd need to read a bit. Am I going to be jumped on for daring to admit that I'm not sure of something? We'll find out next time on DharmaWheel!
Yes, there are only ten bodhisattva bhumis. No more and no less. There are also the five paths. No more and no less. There are anywhere from 1 to 11 stages of buddhahood, depending on system.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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alinhyagha
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by alinhyagha »

Here is how I understand it or don't, with visual syntax. I'm not versed in the texts much, so learning curve is present.

vajra — adept's practice is vajra master's enlightened activity
not self, guru, upaya.
guru — suchness — (tathagatagarbha + prajñaparamita) = result | where there is attainment, there kayas must be.
sutra practices are on the path even without deity sadhana as consequence of empowerments
clarity : emptiness, upaya : prajña
accumulations of merit and wisdom are guru's enlightened activity, or activity of vajra master's mandala
without possessiveness implied, mandala is guru's in that it depends upon empowerment on both sides
Buddhas are only present in consequence of beings to tame, students gather accumulations

buddha via sutra — practice-dharmata-realization | _________ (tathata/sunyata), prajña is sutra (Dharma) is practice | practice-realization (yet kayas, where, how?) | could be more likely to imply the accumulations have already been gathered at moment of equipoise.

Both cases in this convo seem to deal with how to use referents to describe attenuation of mundane consciousness toward prajña.
How does that leap occur when nothing has truly occurred as far as enlightenment being like an event in time?
Mahayana lacking guru expresses on the side of "not" . . . sunyata is relied upon as conventionally designated (signless) practice referent . . .
Vajrayana depending on guru expresses the result as the guru's kayas, meaningfully since kayas are the enlightened bodhicitta activity . . . nirmanakaya Buddha-guru is suchness, signlessness, and so forth + student arises as pure upaya appearance

Vajrayana is involving relatedness, practice as pure bodhicitta appearance is beneficial to beings
Mahayana without empowerment in practice lacks kaya referent which describes prajña by way of a first-person analogy (Buddhas are not self-consciously kayas, as a student is liable to believe in the manner of a crutch in the absence of ontologically significant skandhas — where's my consciousness? oh, my consciousness is wisdom (erroneous thought perhaps?)
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

I wouldn't say that non-Vajrayānika Mahāyānas don't have gurus full-stop. For instance, yes, sometimes traditions like Nichiren, Pure Land, etc., don't have any formal instruction by "Dharma Specialists" per se who are anything more than other laymen. Some denominations of these traditions also have priesthoods, though, for better or worse in their own contexts. You learn from teachers, generally speaking. I think one of the big differences is what the guru is, i.e. an object of triple refuge (mind, body, speech) or an object of single refuge (your refuge in them being refuge in the jewel of the saṁgha).
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Aemilius
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Aemilius »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:29 am I wouldn't say that non-Vajrayānika Mahāyānas don't have gurus full-stop. For instance, yes, sometimes traditions like Nichiren, Pure Land, etc., don't have any formal instruction by "Dharma Specialists" per se who are anything more than other laymen. Some denominations of these traditions also have priesthoods, though, for better or worse in their own contexts. You learn from teachers, generally speaking. I think one of the big differences is what the guru is, i.e. an object of triple refuge (mind, body, speech) or an object of single refuge (your refuge in them being refuge in the jewel of the saṁgha).
The term Kalyanamitra or Kalyanamitta (pali) in Sravakayana and Mahayana means spiritual friend or spiritual benefactor from whom one learns the Dharma.

Kalyāṇa-mittatā (Pali; Skt.: -mitratā; JNP: 善知識) is a Buddhist concept of "spiritual friendship" within Buddhist community life, applicable to both monastic and householder relationships. One involved in such a relationship is known as a "good friend", "virtuous friend", "noble friend" or "admirable friend" (kalyāṇa-mitta, -mitra).

Since early Buddhist history, these relationships have involved spiritual teacher-student dyads as well as communal peer groups. In general, such is a supportive relationship based on shared Buddhist ethical values and the pursuit of awakening.

Canonical sources
Sculpture of the Buddha holding hand on head monk at the right side of the Buddha, the latter monk smiling
Sculpture at Vulture Peak, Rajgir, India, depicting the Buddha consoling Ānanda

In the Pali Canon's Upaddha Sutta (SN 45.2), there is a conversation between the Buddha and his disciple Ananda in which Ananda enthusiastically declares, 'This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.' The Buddha replies:

'Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.'

The Buddha elaborates that, through such friendships, one develops each of the path factors through seclusion, dispassion and cessation. Further, the Buddha states that through spiritual friendship with the Buddha himself followers have gained release from suffering.

According to Dr. R.L. Soni, canonical discourses state that "companionship with the wise" leads to the following developmental progression: "listening to good advice, rational faith, noble thoughts, clear thinking, self-control, good conduct, conquest of the hindrances, gaining of wisdom and the consequent liberation."

More broadly, in Itivuttaka 1.17, the Buddha declares:

'With regard to external factors, I don't envision any other single factor like admirable friendship as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart's goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.'

In terms of householders, the Buddha provides the following elaboration in the Dighajanu Sutta (AN 8.54):

'And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.'

The teacher/student relationship
In traditional schools of Buddhist thought, a spiritual friendship is a friendship not between one's peers, but a friendship between a student and their spiritual teacher. From the aforementioned suttas, we can see that the Buddha believed it vital for spiritual growth to have a spiritual friend. This friendship is built on a deep respect for the teacher's knowledge and the student's potential, and, through this respect and friendship, the two individuals learn constructive behaviour. Constructive behaviour in Buddhism is to think, speak, and behave in a constructive way towards life, leading to personal happiness, and, then, to enlightenment.

Post-canonical Pali texts

In the first-century CE exegetic Vimuttimagga, Arahant Upatissa identifies the need to find a "good friend" or "pre-eminent friend" in order to develop "excellent concentration." The good friend should understand the Tipiṭaka, kamma, "beneficent worldly knowledge" and the Four Noble Truths. Citing Anguttara Nikaya 7.36, Upatissa says that a bhikkhūmitto ("monk friend") should have the following seven qualities:

Lovableness, esteemableness, venerableness, the ability to counsel well, patience (in listening), the ability to deliver deep discourses and the not applying oneself to useless ends."

In the fifth-century CE Visuddhimagga ("Path of Purification"), Buddhaghosa also mentions the need to find a "good friend" in the context of finding one who will be your "giver of a meditation subject." As did Upatissa, Buddhaghosa refers to the seven qualities of AN 7.36 and adds that only the Buddha has all these qualities. If the Buddha is not available to be the good friend, then one of the eighty great śrāvakas is recommended; if one of them is not available, then one should find for a good friend who has destroyed all fetters through the attainment of all jhānas and the development of vipassanā. Otherwise, in descending order, one may choose: an anāgāmi or sakadagami or sotāpanna or non-arahat who has attained a jhānic state, or one who knows the Tipiṭaka or two piṭakas or one piṭaka, or one who knows a nikāya and its commentaries and who is conscientious.
Last edited by Aemilius on Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
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jake
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by jake »

jmlee369 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:58 am I thought the 52 stages scheme was from the Bodhisattva keyūra mūla karma sūtra? The Avatamsaka Sutra itself teaches the 40 something stages, Fazang also adapted the Keyura sutra's scheme, and then there's the Shurangama's 57 stages?.
I understood that the 52 stage scheme is from Zhiyi's writings and is referenced in the Humane Kings Sutra as well.
Malcolm
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

FromTheEarth wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:26 am
Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:16 am Indian Buddhists were completely unimpressed with Sutric Descriptions of different schemes and divisions of the sutras into time periods of the Buddha’s life. They betray very little interest in such claims.
If I am not bothering you (otherwise please feel free to ignore me), this, the first sentence above, again is a very strong claim...A scholarly plausible view (just like when you challenged the traditional narrative of the authorship of the Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśa) should press one toward the second option.
If you examine the available literature in Tibetan translation on the subject, we find that for example, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, etc., devote virtually no time at all to explicating the distinction between the three turnings of the wheel, which itself is given a single passage in the Sandhinirmocana Sūtra. And Maitreyanatha seems to dismiss the idea of the three turnings being successive in the first pages of the Sūtra-laṃkara.

By contrast, Won-ch'uk, a disciple of Xuantsang, by contrast treats the theme extensively in his three volume Āryagambhīrasaṃdhinirmocanasūtraṭīkā ((D 4016).

Of the Indian authors represented in the bstan 'gyur, where they give chronologies of the teachings, they tend to do so principally in commentaries on the tantras.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

jake wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:09 am
jmlee369 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:58 am I thought the 52 stages scheme was from the Bodhisattva keyūra mūla karma sūtra? The Avatamsaka Sutra itself teaches the 40 something stages, Fazang also adapted the Keyura sutra's scheme, and then there's the Shurangama's 57 stages?.
I understood that the 52 stage scheme is from Zhiyi's writings and is referenced in the Humane Kings Sutra as well.
I'm actually reading 菩萨璎珞本业经, but I have to do it in Chinese. This sūtra is one of many, along with the Humane Kings, that supposedly has this 52-ground schema, along with the Gaṇḍavyūha, Buddhāvataṁsaka, Mahāprajñāpāramitā, and Saddharmapuṇḍarīka. Now, we'll notice that 3 out of those 6 scriptures arguably don't have a 52-bhūmi schema at all. I am just listing places I've seen it attributed to, in some cases falsely for whatever reason.

Because I have to read 菩萨璎珞本业经 in Chinese, it might take me a month to get through it, because my Chinese is rather poor. It's only two scrolls though, not as bad as Buddhāvataṁsaka. If anyone with better Chinese than me knows a Taishō citation that leads directly to the section of the sūtra in question, that would be expedient and I would be thankful. I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
humble.student
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by humble.student »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
"The Scripture on Perfect Wisdom for Human Kings Who Wish to Protect Their States"
Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 377–380.
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FromTheEarth
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by FromTheEarth »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:03 pm
If you examine the available literature in Tibetan translation on the subject, we find that for example, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, etc., devote virtually no time at all to explicating the distinction between the three turnings of the wheel, which itself is given a single passage in the Sandhinirmocana Sūtra. And Maitreyanatha seems to dismiss the idea of the three turnings being successive in the first pages of the Sūtra-laṃkara.

By contrast, Won-ch'uk, a disciple of Xuantsang, by contrast treats the theme extensively in his three volume Āryagambhīrasaṃdhinirmocanasūtraṭīkā ((D 4016).

Of the Indian authors represented in the bstan 'gyur, where they give chronologies of the teachings, they tend to do so principally in commentaries on the tantras.
Very interesting—raised and mostly immersed in the East Asian tradition, I have not noticed this before. Surely the idea of a classification of Buddha's teachings should have other sources (some early Chinese classification systems do not have this chronological model at all). For instance, ideas as the distinction between definitive and provisional teachings, and that the Buddha addressed different audience differently, both of which seem to be more common themes in sutras and should have traces in treatises such as Mahāyāna-samgraha. Still, the fact you pointed out is indeed eye-opening.
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FromTheEarth
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by FromTheEarth »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm Because I have to read 菩萨璎珞本业经 in Chinese, it might take me a month to get through it, because my Chinese is rather poor. It's only two scrolls though, not as bad as Buddhāvataṁsaka. If anyone with better Chinese than me knows a Taishō citation that leads directly to the section of the sūtra in question, that would be expedient and I would be thankful. I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
If you use ctrl+f and happen to have a searchable file, say, this one, you may find in the second chapter the first 10 preliminary stages,
 佛告敬首菩薩。佛子。吾今略說名門中一賢名門。所謂初發心住。未上住前有十
順名字。菩薩常行十心。所謂信心念心精進心慧心定心不退心迴向心護心戒心願心。
佛子。修行是心。若經一劫二劫三劫。乃得入初住位中。
Then, in Chapter Three, you have the official 42 stages starting with
佛子。汝先言名字者。所謂銅寶瓔珞。菩薩字者。所謂習性種中有十人。其名發心住菩薩治地菩薩修行菩薩生貴菩薩方便具足菩薩正心菩薩不退菩薩童真菩薩法王子菩薩灌頂菩薩
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jake
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by jake »

humble.student wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:52 am
Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
"The Scripture on Perfect Wisdom for Human Kings Who Wish to Protect Their States"
Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 377–380.
Politics and Transcendent Wisdom
The Scripture for Humane Kings in the Creation of Chinese Buddhism
Charles D. Orzech
https://www.psupress.org/books/titles/0 ... 715-5.html
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm
jake wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:09 am
jmlee369 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:58 am I thought the 52 stages scheme was from the Bodhisattva keyūra mūla karma sūtra? The Avatamsaka Sutra itself teaches the 40 something stages, Fazang also adapted the Keyura sutra's scheme, and then there's the Shurangama's 57 stages?.
I understood that the 52 stage scheme is from Zhiyi's writings and is referenced in the Humane Kings Sutra as well.
I'm actually reading 菩萨璎珞本业经, but I have to do it in Chinese. This sūtra is one of many, along with the Humane Kings, that supposedly has this 52-ground schema, along with the Gaṇḍavyūha, Buddhāvataṁsaka, Mahāprajñāpāramitā, and Saddharmapuṇḍarīka. Now, we'll notice that 3 out of those 6 scriptures arguably don't have a 52-bhūmi schema at all. I am just listing places I've seen it attributed to, in some cases falsely for whatever reason.

Because I have to read 菩萨璎珞本业经 in Chinese, it might take me a month to get through it, because my Chinese is rather poor. It's only two scrolls though, not as bad as Buddhāvataṁsaka. If anyone with better Chinese than me knows a Taishō citation that leads directly to the section of the sūtra in question, that would be expedient and I would be thankful. I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
THe 40-something/50-something stages are not considered bhumis, only the commonly accepted ten are described as such.

The 賢聖名字品 Names of Aryas chapter begins listing the different 42 arya stages, and mentions the preliminary 十心 10 minds on which bodhisattvas should train for one to three eons before they reach the first of the 42 stages. These 10 minds are the same as the 10 faiths of Fazang's 華嚴經探玄記 Record of the Search for the Profundities of the Huayan Sūtra, the Humane Kings Sutra, and Shurangama Sutra. Although not mentioned in the Avatamsaka itself, the 10 faiths became part of the Huayan school's path schema through Fazang's work.

For a side by side comparison, the stages of Keyura Sutra and Avatamsaka Sutra:

KS:
發心住
治地住
修行住
生貴住
方便具足住
正心住
不退住
童真住
法王子住
灌頂住

AS (80 scrolls):
初發心住
治地住
修行住
生貴住
具足方便住
正心住
不退住
童真住
王子住
灌頂住

KS:
歡喜行
饒益行
無瞋恨行
無盡行
離癡亂行
善現行
無著行
尊重行
善法行
真實行

AS:
歡喜行
饒益行
無違逆行
無屈撓行
無癡亂行
善現行
無著行
難得行
善法行
真實行

KS:
救護一切眾生迴向
不壞迴向
等一切佛迴向
至一切處迴向
無盡功德藏迴向
隨順平等善根迴向
隨順等觀一切眾生迴向
如相迴向
無縛解脫迴向
法界無量迴向

AS:
救護一切衆生離衆生相回向
不壞回向
等一切諸佛回向
至一切處回向
無盡功德藏回向
入一切平等善根回向
等隨順一切衆生回向
真如相回向
無縛無著解脫回向
入法界無量回向

KS:
逆流歡喜地
道琉璃離垢地
流照明地
觀明炎地
度障難勝地
薄流現前地
過三有遠行地
變化生不動地
慧光妙善地
明行足法雲地

AS:
歡喜地
離垢地
發光地
焰慧地
難勝地
現前地
遠行地
不動地
善慧地
法雲地

KS:
無相無垢地
妙覺者無上地

AS (60 scroll):
等覺
妙覺

They are pretty much the same in terms of names, someone with more time and dedication will have to see if their content is also the same.
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

jmlee369 wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:33 am THe 40-something/50-something stages are not considered bhumis, only the commonly accepted ten are described as such.
I've never been taught the 52 stages, to be fair, and have only seen them described as "bhūmis" by Buddhologists studying East Asian Buddhism. So you could be very right there. I don't really consider this stuff important enough to speak to a monastic about it, because I consider anything beyond the first bhūmi as not terribly relevant for spiritual progress for me. If I'm to benefit anyone, I need to have a realistic evaluation of where I am. Also, it's not that I "don't really consider this stuff important enough to speak to a monastic about" because I think bhūmimārgha are frivolous or anything like that. Bhūmimārgha is important and right view towards it can only be beneficial.

AFAIK, and I have yet to start really closely looking at those sources I said I would look at earlier, the Buddhāvataṁsaka tradition is the source of 50(+) bhūmi frameworks. Whether each enumeration of 10 bhūmis (or non-bhūmi "stages") are descriptions of the same ranks of 10 bhūmis or not, all description of these "stages" are buddhavacana. Following them, or practicing towards them, in this order, eventually, is going to, in theory, arrive at the first bhūmi (of the Daśabhūmika framework), then the second, etc. And that's presuming they are, all 52, bhūmis proper, contrary to your assertion, right or wrong it be. So ultimately, these framework become equivalent, but IMO this is indication, perhaps (and this is not final) that bhūmimārgha frameworks that exceed 10/11 are particular in nature and not universal to the dharma. And that is not a bad thing.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Malcolm
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

Caoimhghín wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:48 am Whether each enumeration of 10 bhūmis (or non-bhūmi "stages") are descriptions of the same ranks of 10 bhūmis or not, all description of these "stages" are buddhavacana.
They are, most definitely, descriptions of various qualities that belong to the ten bhumis.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
Malcolm
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

FromTheEarth wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:47 am
Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:03 pm
If you examine the available literature in Tibetan translation on the subject, we find that for example, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, etc., devote virtually no time at all to explicating the distinction between the three turnings of the wheel, which itself is given a single passage in the Sandhinirmocana Sūtra. And Maitreyanatha seems to dismiss the idea of the three turnings being successive in the first pages of the Sūtra-laṃkara.

By contrast, Won-ch'uk, a disciple of Xuantsang, by contrast treats the theme extensively in his three volume Āryagambhīrasaṃdhinirmocanasūtraṭīkā ((D 4016).

Of the Indian authors represented in the bstan 'gyur, where they give chronologies of the teachings, they tend to do so principally in commentaries on the tantras.
Very interesting—raised and mostly immersed in the East Asian tradition, I have not noticed this before. Surely the idea of a classification of Buddha's teachings should have other sources (some early Chinese classification systems do not have this chronological model at all). For instance, ideas as the distinction between definitive and provisional teachings, and that the Buddha addressed different audience differently, both of which seem to be more common themes in sutras and should have traces in treatises such as Mahāyāna-samgraha. Still, the fact you pointed out is indeed eye-opening.
The distinctions between provisional and definitive teachings have two major sources: Akṣayamatinirdeśa Sūtra, and the Samdhinirmocana. Madhyamakas follow the former while Yogacārins follow the latter. The Indian Madhyamaka approach is that if it is about emptiness, absence of identity, etc., it is definitive, everything else is provisional. The Samdhinirmocana seems to assert that its own class of sūtras are definitive because they purport to resolve controversies over the meaning of the Prajñāpāramita sūtra and so on.

In Tibet, the tathāgatagarbha sūtras are either provisional or definitive depending on how they are interpreted, and how closely one follows Candrakīrti, who clearly follows the Lanka in regarding tathagātagarbha as an expedient teaching. Despite some pushback by some Tibetan interpreters of Yogacāra, Candra's presentation of Madhyamaka is universally regarded as the definitive expression of Madhyamaka in Tibet.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

FromTheEarth wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:01 am
Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm Because I have to read 菩萨璎珞本业经 in Chinese, it might take me a month to get through it, because my Chinese is rather poor. It's only two scrolls though, not as bad as Buddhāvataṁsaka. If anyone with better Chinese than me knows a Taishō citation that leads directly to the section of the sūtra in question, that would be expedient and I would be thankful. I'll have to read the Humane Kings in Chinese after, because I haven't found a translation.
If you use ctrl+f and happen to have a searchable file, say, this one, you may find in the second chapter the first 10 preliminary stages,
 佛告敬首菩薩。佛子。吾今略說名門中一賢名門。所謂初發心住。未上住前有十
順名字。菩薩常行十心。所謂信心念心精進心慧心定心不退心迴向心護心戒心願心。
佛子。修行是心。若經一劫二劫三劫。乃得入初住位中。
Then, in Chapter Three, you have the official 42 stages starting with
佛子。汝先言名字者。所謂銅寶瓔珞。菩薩字者。所謂習性種中有十人。其名發心住菩薩治地菩薩修行菩薩生貴菩薩方便具足菩薩正心菩薩不退菩薩童真菩薩法王子菩薩灌頂菩薩
Thanks. Having looked up some about these sūtras, the Humane Kings and Keyura, it does seem that they might be apocryphal. I'll still likely give them a read. Looking at what jmlee369 has given us:
jmlee369 wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:33 amKeyura Sutra and Avatamsaka Sutra:

KS:
發心住
治地住
修行住
[...]

AS (80 scrolls):
初發心住
治地住
修行住
[...]

They are pretty much the same in terms of names [...]
Not to repeat myself too much from previous posts, but the Buddhāvataṁsaka might be the ur-tradition spawning all these 50-bhūmi/50-level exegeses of the bodhisatva path (but I say that having not yet looked at the Humane Kings at all aside from information "about" it). The Flower Garland Scripture itself is still what we might call "universal" mahāyānika buddhavacana -- even if different schools can have their different interpretations of the sūtra (what is expedient and non-expedient in it, etc.). The material in the Humane Kings and Keyura needn't be non-Buddhist because it might be apocryphal. That's not a line I'm trying to draw.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Aemilius
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Aemilius »

There is the Neyyattha sutta in the Anguttara nikaya.

Nītattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: nītārtha), "of plain or clear meaning" and neyyattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: neyartha), "[a word or sentence] having a sense that can only be interpreted". These terms were used to identify texts or statements that either did or did not require additional interpretation. A nītattha text required no explanation, while a neyyattha one might mislead some people unless properly explained:

Neyyattha Sutta: "There are these two who misrepresent the Tathagata. Which two? He who represents a Sutta of indirect meaning as a Sutta of direct meaning and he who represents a Sutta of direct meaning as a Sutta of indirect meaning."

Saṃmuti or samuti (Pāli; Sanskrit: saṃvṛti, meaning "common consent, general opinion, convention", and paramattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: paramārtha), meaning "ultimate", are used to distinguish conventional or common-sense language, as used in metaphors or for the sake of convenience, from language used to express higher truths directly. The term vohāra (Pāli; Sanskrit: vyavahāra, "common practice, convention, custom" is also used in more or less the same sense as samuti.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
SilenceMonkey
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Simon E. wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 10:36 am No one “chooses” the Vajrayana. If we don’t have the necessary karma- vipaka and punya the conditions will not arise for us to find it, or it to find us, in this lifetime.

It’s that simple.
I've often wondered about this... It would seem to be that out of all the lives we've lived, one of them would have to be the first to encounter the Dharma teachings. This also goes for Vajrayana and Dzogchen. So perhaps for some people, this life could be the first.

I think prophecy is a powerful tool of motivation. Learning to understand oneself as fulfilling one's destiny by practicing the Mahayana for so many lifetimes, finally arriving at the vajrayana... So now is the time!
SilenceMonkey
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:23 am
Könchok Thrinley wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:20 am
Dan74 wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:15 am

Who actually practices Sutrayana, as understood by the Tibetan Buddhists?
Those who do not follow tantric teachings and methods. Zennies, theravadins, purelanders, etc.
Zennies certainly don't believe themselves to be practicing sutrayana - see Meido Roshi's many replies on this. Edit: on a quick search, here's is one relevant example: viewtopic.php?f=48&t=29208

From Bodhidharma's "beyond words and letters...", to the many unique methods, to continue to claim that Zen is sutrayana is just sectarian polemics. Unless, of course by sutrayana, one defines anything other than tantra. Then it's ok.
This "sutrayana" thing projected onto zen by tibetans is pretty strange. As I understand it, when Tibetans talk about sutrayana they are referring to using sutra and shastra to arrive at some intellectual/philosophical understanding of emptiness. But the sutras and shastras in zen maybe don't work like this. Usually the texts used in zen are to help the mind jump out of linear, analytical thinking. To short-circuit the faculty of discrimination between this and that. But in Tibetan tradition, it would seem the very foundation of sutra teachings are making distinctions! Nonduality (the very essence of zen) isn't really taught until Tantra.

Another feature of zen that is like tantra is the master/student relationship. The student should rely solely on the method the master tells them, and nothing else. At some point, there might be a mind-to-mind transmission from master to disciple. (Seems to me this might be pointing out the nature of mind.)

Going back to the issue of Sutrayana being "philosophy"... In spirit, zen throws books out the window. Zen uses books to understand how to throw books out the window.

As for Theravada, sometimes I wonder if the scholars of Abhidharma wouldn't fit more neatly into the Tibetan sutrayana paradigm.
Varis
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Varis »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:16 am Going back to the issue of Sutrayana being "philosophy"... In spirit, zen throws books out the window. Zen uses books to understand how to throw books out the window.
The thing about Ch'an is that any Dharma practice can, in theory at least, be incorporated into Ch'an practice. As a result many Chinese and Vietnamese Ch'an lineages continue to transmit tantric sadhanas and practice them from a Ch'an POV, and there's even a fully Esoteric Ch'an school alive and well in Vietnam. Ch'an is similar to Dzogchen in this respect.
If Ch'an weren't as profound as it is, this wouldn't be possible. And to define Ch'an as sutrayana is to ignore it's great profundity IMO.
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