Interpenetrationality

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Coëmgenu
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Interpenetrationality

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:27 pm

:anjali:

What do Theravadins think of the Doctrine of Interpenetration expounded by Zhìyǐ, the patriarch of the Tiāntái school and the founder of the greater Lotus Tradition of Mahāyāna Buddhism?

(Greater is just used to indicate that there are multiple sects within the Lotus tradition, and I am talking about them all, not to imply that the Lotus tradition is "greater" than anything.)

This subject was inspired by Spiny Norman's own thread, entitled: Is Nibbana a transcendent reality, or just a state of mind?

EDIT: by "Theravadins" I meant all Theravadins, using "Theravadin" as a catch-all label for anyone who bases the foundation of their understanding of Buddhadharma on the Pali scriptures.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

chownah
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:12 pm

Its the cosmic hologram:
From the wikipedia article on holography:
"each point on a holographic recording includes information about light scattered from every point in the scene."

Some cosmologists have suggested that the universe is a holographic projection....which aligns quite nicely with the doctrine of interpenetration. So far this is just considered to be one neat idea among many by cosmologists but some sorts of math have been thrown at this idea and some of it seems to stick....but not enough to "prove" anything. I think the same attitude should be taken towards interpenetration...nice idea but nothing seems to have been discovered to give it any particular cred or utility....so....some excitement on first discovery but quickly fading into the long cosmic yawn.
chownah

JiWe2
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby JiWe2 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:07 pm

I'm not sure about the opinions of Theravadins, but here's some opinions by David L. McMahan:
David L. McMahan, A Brief History of Interdependence
or
http://www.shin-ibs.edu/publications/pa ... fall-2008/

First (in his article), there's "Dependent Origination in Classical Pāli Literature":
Dependent origination
denotes in early Buddhist literature the chain of causes and conditions
that give rise to all phenomenal existence in the world of imperma-
nence, birth, death, and rebirth (samsara). Far from being celebrated
as a wondrous web of interconnected life, it is repeatedly referred to
as a “mass of suffering” (dukkha). Indeed, it is through the reversal of
this chain of interdependent causation — not an identification with it —
that the Buddha is said to have become awakened.
p.136

Rather than
celebrating the “experience of engagement and the mystery of partici-
pation” in the interconnected “web of life,” Pāli literature instead en-
courages quite the opposite: the disengagement from all entanglement
in this web.
p.137

The early concept of dependent origination, therefore, cannot ful-
ly account for the contemporary concept of Buddhist interdependence
and its implications. In some ways the early view appears, in fact, quite
contrary to the contemporary one. It depicts the interdependent chain
of causes and condition as binding one to a world of suffering. Although
it emphasizes ethical concern for all sentient beings, it does not advo-
cate the expansion of self-identity to include all things and beings. The
ultimate goal, moreover, is not identification with the interdependent
network of causality but transcendence of it.
p.139


Then (in his article), we have "Interdependence and Interpenetration in the Mahāyāna" and this:
The Visionary Cosmos

The reading of Nāgārjuna given above is supported by quite a few
Mahāyāna sutras that re-interpret the ultimate goal of Buddhism from
transcending the conditioned phenomenal world (samsara) to various
conceptions of awakened life in the midst of the world. Subsequently
tendencies emerge toward a view of this “seeing” of dependent origi-
nation as a kind of vision of the cosmos that is itself liberative, aside
from any “instructive” elements showing the causes and conditions
of both bondage and liberation. There are two ways of understanding
this. One is the Nāgārjunian insight that all things are empty of inher-
ent self-existence which, having freed one from the illusion of inherent
self-existence, constitutes liberation itself. Another way of interpret-
ing this “seeing” is as a kind of cosmic vision. In the more visionary
genre of Mahāyāna literature, seeing the Buddha, or having a vision of
the cosmos as it is seen by the Buddha, can itself constitute liberation,
or at least great progress towards it.

The Avataṃsaka-sūtra epitomizes this visionary tradition and is
also one of the most important sources for the contemporary inter-
pretation of interdependence. Here, especially in the Gaṇḍavyūha sec-
tion, the idea of emptiness is transposed into visual imagery in which
each individual thing and all things in the universe interpenetrate and
yet retain their distinctiveness.

p.141-142

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Javi
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Javi » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:58 am

Can you provide a quotation or an explanation of how you interpret said theory? I have read about this idea and the imagery of Indra's net (which is Huayan, not Tiantai), however, I have seen it interpreted in many different ways (as Idealism for example or as Monism).

What I have read about Zhiyi and Tiantai does not really mention 'interpenetration' so much as it talks about the "three truths", the 'Three Thousand things in a Single Thought' (一念三千 yiniansanqian). I take it Zhiyi taught interpenetration as well? Is it similar to the Huayan view?

If so, ultimately, it is a metaphysical theory that cannot be proven and hence, it is better to put it aside and focus on the teachings of the Buddha (which speak of our connection through our actions, not metaphysics) and on practice here and now. It is nice to learn about, and perhaps ponder it as a possibility, but I do not see how one could take it as a metaphysical reality - any more so than for example, the Advaita theory of Universal Consciousness, the idea of our Universe as a computer simulation, or any other metaphysical theory.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

davidbrainerd
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby davidbrainerd » Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:59 pm

Every attempt to say "everything is really only one thing" (whether it be Vedanta, emptiness theory, theoretical physics' search for one equation to explain everything) reminds me of this:

the ring from Lord of the Rings wrote:One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Caodemarte
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Caodemarte » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:32 am

Javi wrote:
....What I have read about Zhiyi and Tiantai does not really mention 'interpenetration' so much as it talks about the "three truths", the 'Three Thousand things in a Single Thought' (一念三千 yiniansanqian). I take it Zhiyi taught interpenetration as well? Is it similar to the Huayan view?.....If so, ultimately, it is a metaphysical theory that cannot be proven and hence, it is better to put it aside and focus on the teachings of the Buddha... and on practice here and now.


I would think all Mahayana Buddhist sects would teach interpenetration. I can't imagine many Mahayanists rejecting dependent arising or co-dependent causation (pratītyasamutpāda or paṭiccasamuppāda), or arguing for permanent separate substantial entities that do not exist in relation to each other which many would see as the only option if you reject interpenetration. It is seen as a logical consequence or illustration of the doctrine of emptiness, which Mahayanists would argue is an implicit and logical implication of the Buddha's teaching (so, in this view, you understand this teaching in order to more fully understand the Buddha's teaching). Of course, interpenetration makes no sense if you take a monistic view or don't recognize difference and individuality at the same time. A stew doesn't work as stew if everything in it has the same taste; it does not work as stew if the ingredients don't interpenetrate.

It is important to note that interpenetration or Indra's net is not merely meant as an abstract metaphysical theory, but as a soteriological aid. It is meant to help practice here and now, as I think most, if not all, Buddhist teachings are meant.

So, have there been any modern mainstream Theravada views on this? I would suspect that there would be mostly indifference as, AFAIK, this has not been part of its traditional soteriological tool kit.

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Javi
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Javi » Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:37 am

Caodemarte wrote:I would think all Mahayana Buddhist sects would teach interpenetration. I can't imagine many Mahayanists rejecting dependent arising or co-dependent causation (pratītyasamutpāda or paṭiccasamuppāda), or arguing for permanent separate substantial entities that do not exist in relation to each other which many would see as the only option if you reject interpenetration. It is seen as a logical consequence or illustration of the doctrine of emptiness, which Mahayanists would argue is an implicit and logical implication of the Buddha's teaching (so, in this view, you understand this teaching in order to more fully understand the Buddha's teaching). Of course, interpenetration makes no sense if you take a monistic view or don't recognize difference and individuality at the same time. A stew doesn't work as stew if everything in it has the same taste; it does not work as stew if the ingredients don't interpenetrate.

It is important to note that interpenetration or Indra's net is not merely meant as an abstract metaphysical theory, but as a soteriological aid. It is meant to help practice here and now, as I think most, if not all, Buddhist teachings are meant.

So, have there been any modern mainstream Theravada views on this? I would suspect that there would be mostly indifference as, AFAIK, this has not been part of its traditional soteriological tool kit.


But interpenetration is not the same thing as emptiness or dependent origination. It is a different, albeit related, theory which states that every dharma contains every other dharma within it, and each dharma contained therein, also contains every other dharma, ad infinitum.

The Huayan developed the doctrine of "interpenetration" or "coalescence" (Wylie: zung-'jug; Sanskrit: yuganaddha),[105][106] based on the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (Flower Garland sutra), a Mahāyāna scripture. Huayan holds that all phenomena (Sanskrit: dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising and that every phenomena contains every other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra's net...
Huayan metaphysics is influenced by Yogacara thought and is closer to idealism. The Avatamsaka sutra compares the phenomenal world to a dream, an illusion, and a magician’s conjuring. The sutra states nothing has true reality, location, beginning and end, or substantial nature. The Avatamsaka also states that "The triple world is illusory – it is only made by one mind" and Fazang echoes this by writing "outside of mind there is not a single thing that can be apprehended."[103]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ ... phy#Huayan

There hang the jewels, glittering "like" stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.[5]
This metaphor plays an essential role in the Chinese Huayan school,[6] where it is used to describe the interpenetration of microcosmos and macrocosmos.[7]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra%27s_net


Like I said, its an interesting theory, but what's the soteriological point? How is this helpful? And how can such a baroque metaphysics be actually proven? And more importantly, the fact that the Buddha rejected metaphysical speculation might be a clue that such ideas are at best harmless but useless, at worst distracting from the real work at hand.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:32 am

Javi wrote:Like I said, its an interesting theory, but what's the soteriological point? How is this helpful? And how can such a baroque metaphysics be actually proven? And more importantly, the fact that the Buddha rejected metaphysical speculation might be a clue that such ideas are at best harmless but useless, at worst distracting from the real work at hand.
The way I've always been taught Interpenetration is from a predominantly soteriogical perspective. Interpenetration, functionally, according at least to some Buddhists I met at the Toronto Buddhist Church (Jōdo Shinshū), is the knowledge that the Pure Land of the Buddha is always interpenetrating the Saha world, and that the two overlay eachother perfectly. So consequently, the Buddha is always available in the here and now, and the cessation of sufferings, albeit that cessation is temporary or permanent, is always available in the here and now, because the Pure Land to which the Buddha awakens and calls us to awaken to is generated by the purity, which always exists and co-exists, via interpenetration, inside of impurity.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

chownah
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:15 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Javi wrote:Like I said, its an interesting theory, but what's the soteriological point? How is this helpful? And how can such a baroque metaphysics be actually proven? And more importantly, the fact that the Buddha rejected metaphysical speculation might be a clue that such ideas are at best harmless but useless, at worst distracting from the real work at hand.
The way I've always been taught Interpenetration is from a predominantly soteriogical perspective. Interpenetration, functionally, according at least to some Buddhists I met at the Toronto Buddhist Church (Jōdo Shinshū), is the knowledge that the Pure Land of the Buddha is always interpenetrating the Saha world, and that the two overlay eachother perfectly. So consequently, the Buddha is always available in the here and now, and the cessation of sufferings, albeit that cessation is temporary or permanent, is always available in the here and now, because the Pure Land to which the Buddha awakens and calls us to awaken to is generated by the purity, which always exists and co-exists, via interpenetration, inside of impurity.

You ask for the theravadin take on this and then you bring non theravadin doctrine to explain what it means....tsk tsk tsk....finger wag finger wag finger wag......
From a theravadin point of view I think one might say that the buddha is dead so the only access you would have to him now is by visiting a relic.
.....and....speculating on the best and worst of this "baroque metaphysics" I think that Javi has not gone low enough for the worst.....at worst it could be taking people in exactly the wrong direction as seen from a theravadin point of view.
chownah

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Javi
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Javi » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:09 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Javi wrote:Like I said, its an interesting theory, but what's the soteriological point? How is this helpful? And how can such a baroque metaphysics be actually proven? And more importantly, the fact that the Buddha rejected metaphysical speculation might be a clue that such ideas are at best harmless but useless, at worst distracting from the real work at hand.
The way I've always been taught Interpenetration is from a predominantly soteriogical perspective. Interpenetration, functionally, according at least to some Buddhists I met at the Toronto Buddhist Church (Jōdo Shinshū), is the knowledge that the Pure Land of the Buddha is always interpenetrating the Saha world, and that the two overlay eachother perfectly. So consequently, the Buddha is always available in the here and now, and the cessation of sufferings, albeit that cessation is temporary or permanent, is always available in the here and now, because the Pure Land to which the Buddha awakens and calls us to awaken to is generated by the purity, which always exists and co-exists, via interpenetration, inside of impurity.


But you don't need a metaphysical edifice which says that all things are in all other things to infinity to show that suffering can be reduced and ended in the here and now. You just need to understand the four noble truths.

I am not against this theory on principle, I am just being skeptical and weary about unneeded philosophical theorizing. Why am I skeptical and weary? Because flashy and attractive views tend to divert people's attentions from the more grounded and practical teachings of the Buddha. I guess if this idea is helpful one might use it as a kind of meditation, but to state that it is the capital t Truth is in my view overreaching. And again, how could one ever prove this view that each dhamma contains all other dhammas? Is there any rational argument put forth besides appeal to scripture?
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:37 pm

chownah wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
Javi wrote:Like I said, its an interesting theory, but what's the soteriological point? How is this helpful? And how can such a baroque metaphysics be actually proven? And more importantly, the fact that the Buddha rejected metaphysical speculation might be a clue that such ideas are at best harmless but useless, at worst distracting from the real work at hand.
The way I've always been taught Interpenetration is from a predominantly soteriogical perspective. Interpenetration, functionally, according at least to some Buddhists I met at the Toronto Buddhist Church (Jōdo Shinshū), is the knowledge that the Pure Land of the Buddha is always interpenetrating the Saha world, and that the two overlay eachother perfectly. So consequently, the Buddha is always available in the here and now, and the cessation of sufferings, albeit that cessation is temporary or permanent, is always available in the here and now, because the Pure Land to which the Buddha awakens and calls us to awaken to is generated by the purity, which always exists and co-exists, via interpenetration, inside of impurity.

You ask for the theravadin take on this and then you bring non theravadin doctrine to explain what it means....tsk tsk tsk....finger wag finger wag finger wag......
From a theravadin point of view I think one might say that the buddha is dead so the only access you would have to him now is by visiting a relic.
.....and....speculating on the best and worst of this "baroque metaphysics" I think that Javi has not gone low enough for the worst.....at worst it could be taking people in exactly the wrong direction as seen from a theravadin point of view.
chownah
I only provided a non-Theravada doctrinal explanation because I was asked to. I didn't come here to proliferate Mahāyāna heterodoxies among you.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

Caodemarte
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Caodemarte » Thu Sep 29, 2016 4:57 pm

Javi wrote:But you don't need a metaphysical edifice which says that all things are in all other things to infinity to show that suffering can be reduced and ended in the here and now. You just need to understand the four noble truths.

I am not against this theory on principle, I am just being skeptical and weary about unneeded philosophical theorizing. Why am I skeptical and weary? Because flashy and attractive views tend to divert people's attentions from the more grounded and practical teachings of the Buddha. I guess if this idea is helpful one might use it as a kind of meditation, but to state that it is the capital t Truth is in my view overreaching. And again, how could one ever prove this view that each dhamma contains all other dhammas? Is there any rational argument put forth besides appeal to scripture?


From the point of view of the Mahayana (or most Mahayana) the whole point is that you do not fully understand or realize the 4 Truths or doctrines of impermanence or the not-self teachings of the Buddha, or dependent arising, etc. without understanding or realizing this. Volumes have been written to logically and rationally "prove" this argument (apart from scriptures) or ground the metaphor, but it is not mean primarily as philosophy, but as soteriology. It is a teaching device, meant to help practice and realization. From this POV, it is one of the most grounded and practical things in the world.

However, the objective here is not to go into basic Mahayana thought (there are plenty of books to go into that in depth), but to to find out if this resonates with any specific Theravada teachings and what, if any, comments have been made by Theravada teachers (or "philosophers" if you prefer).

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Javi
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Javi » Thu Sep 29, 2016 6:48 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Javi wrote:But you don't need a metaphysical edifice which says that all things are in all other things to infinity to show that suffering can be reduced and ended in the here and now. You just need to understand the four noble truths.

I am not against this theory on principle, I am just being skeptical and weary about unneeded philosophical theorizing. Why am I skeptical and weary? Because flashy and attractive views tend to divert people's attentions from the more grounded and practical teachings of the Buddha. I guess if this idea is helpful one might use it as a kind of meditation, but to state that it is the capital t Truth is in my view overreaching. And again, how could one ever prove this view that each dhamma contains all other dhammas? Is there any rational argument put forth besides appeal to scripture?


From the point of view of the Mahayana (or most Mahayana) the whole point is that you do not fully understand or realize the 4 Truths or doctrines of impermanence or the not-self teachings of the Buddha, or dependent arising, etc. without understanding or realizing this. Volumes have been written to logically and rationally "prove" this argument (apart from scriptures) or ground the metaphor, but it is not mean primarily as philosophy, but as soteriology. It is a teaching device, meant to help practice and realization. From this POV, it is one of the most grounded and practical things in the world.

However, the objective here is not to go into basic Mahayana thought (there are plenty of books to go into that in depth), but to to find out if this resonates with any specific Theravada teachings and what, if any, comments have been made by Theravada teachers (or "philosophers" if you prefer).


As far as I know, the idea that a dharma contains within it all other dharmas, and so on etc is alien to Theravada, to the early Buddhist texts (Agamas, etc), various Indian Abhidharmas, and even Madhyamaka. So basically you are saying that from this point of view, the Buddha of the early texts, the early Buddhist sangha and even a large portion of Indian Mahayana simply did not understand the four truths because they lived before the time that the authors of the Gandhavyuha sutra etc developed this theory.
It is also interesting that you begin your paragraph by equating this theory with knowledge and truth and then switch to saying it is a 'teaching device'. Which is it?

What arguments do these 'volumes' that have been written put forth? Let's hear them and see if they have any merit.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

davidbrainerd
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby davidbrainerd » Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:16 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:I only provided a non-Theravada doctrinal explanation because I was asked to. I didn't come here to proliferate Mahāyāna heterodoxies among you.


I for one am glad you explained it

Caodemarte
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Caodemarte » Fri Sep 30, 2016 1:52 am

In case there is any confusion out there, interpenetration here does not refer to dharmas/dhammas as being a set of Matryoshka dolls, but rather to the idea of cause and effect (karma/kamma) and non-substantialism. Everything is caused by and affects everything else. Everything therefore "reflects" everything else, like Indra's net of jewels where every jewel reflects every other jewel (and can be said in a certain sense to be that reflection). I suspect that the idea or metaphor was used by other Indian philosophies, but can't check it now.

If anyone is interested in the Mahayana Buddhist idea itself, some very good books that summarize the philosophies involved and do partial surveys of the vast literature in China are:

Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra by Francis Cook

The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism
by Garma C.C. Chang

Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism
by Thomas F. Cleary

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Coëmgenu » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:40 am

Caodemarte wrote:In case there is any confusion out there, interpenetration here does not refer to dharmas/dhammas as being a set of Matryoshka dolls, but rather to the idea of cause and effect (karma/kamma) and non-substantialism. Everything is caused by and affects everything else. Everything therefore "reflects" everything else.

If anyone is interested in the idea itself, some very good books that summarize the philosophies involved and do partial survey the vast literature are:

Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra by Francis Cook

The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism
by Garma C.C. Chang

Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism
by Thomas F. Cleary
The post the OP is in reference to the "Is Nibbana a transcendental reality" thread got me thinking. From a Mahayanist worldview, of course Nibbana in a transcendent reality, or at least the realization of the transcendent, and it made me wonder if Theravada has anything similar to Interpenetration.

The trouble I can see with interpenetration, is that some people might not like how it sets up dispassion as the 'foundational' nature of being, into which ignorance impedes and intermixes, the two interpenetrating each other. It has various offshoots, particularly when it mixes with the discourse of the Dharmakaya as foundation of experience, which is very important in the Lotus tradition.

I didn't really want this to turn into a sectarian argument, I was just interested in the question of what Theravada practitioners thought of the whole thing, just strictly speaking, interpenetration itself, the idea that the Awakening of the Buddha interpenetrates our slumber, ignorance, and delusion.

Them having a negative opinion of it isn't a bad thing necessarily. Its only a bad thing when aggression, condescension, and egoism get involved. To calmly state why something is or isn't in one's tradition, why it is or isn't, and/or why it could or could not be, isn't a bad thing.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

Caodemarte
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Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Caodemarte » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:12 am

Javi wrote:
As far as I know, the idea that a dharma contains within it all other dharmas, and so on etc is alien to Theravada, to the early Buddhist texts (Agamas, etc), various Indian Abhidharmas, and even Madhyamaka. So basically you are saying that from this point of view, the Buddha of the early texts, the early Buddhist sangha and even a large portion of Indian Mahayana simply did not understand the four truths because they lived before the time that the authors of the Gandhavyuha sutra etc developed this theory.
It is also interesting that you begin your paragraph by equating this theory with knowledge and truth and then switch to saying it is a 'teaching device'. Which is it?

What arguments do these 'volumes' that have been written put forth? Let's hear them and see if they have any merit.


From the point of view of the Mahayana the Buddha both understood and (implicitly and explicitly) preached this idea. I can't imagine any Buddhist arguing that they are adding something new (instead of clarifying the old). Imagine a Christian theologian saying they were correcting Christ or the Apostles rather than clarifying what they "actually" said or implied! From most, but not all, later Chinese Buddhist POVs interpenetration was a logical consequence of dependent origination. Since dependent origination is so basic to Buddhism, the question arises as to whether or not Theravada has a similar idea.

As in all right speech, such ideas must be seen by the speaker as both true ( as far as words go) AND helpful. I would think that all or most Buddhist thought would have to have a soteriological purpose (be a teaching device or "skillful means" in this case) and believed to be true by the thinker. Of course, they may be wrong!

I have put a couple of books above if you are interested in exploring their arguments. It is certainly not my job to explain or defend Mahayana thought, especially on a Theravada board.

Caodemarte
Posts: 442
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby Caodemarte » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:12 am

I would have to add that Nirvana is NOT a transcendent separate reality in most Mahayana thought BECAUSE of the idea of interpenetration (or rather it is both transcendent and immanent or neither). However, without I think I've wandered into deep waters on a Theravada board and I think I'll drop out. I hope someone can answer the OP which I still think is fascinating

chownah
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:45 am

Caodemarte wrote:[ I can't imagine any Buddhist arguing that they are adding something new (instead of clarifying the old).

Did you forget to add the crucial modifier "mahayana" in front of the word "Buddhist" here?....clearly alot of theravadins argue exactly what you say you can't imagine.
chownah

davidbrainerd
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Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:12 am

Re: Interpenetrationality

Postby davidbrainerd » Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:01 am

Caodemarte wrote:From most, but not all, later Chinese Buddhist POVs interpenetration was a logical consequence of dependent origination.


I almost cringe when people bring up dependent origination, simply because I think its been misinterpreted to the point of its own destruction, by making it out to be some sort of way to explain how things arise without anything actually existing, and both Mahayanans and Theravadins are guilty of this.

Dependent origination, or more properly conditioned arising, requires some kind of substance from which things arise. If nothing exists, no conditions can exist either. And then nothing can arise conditionally. So dependent origination is not some ancient version of Lawrence Kraus's argument that the universe arose out of nothing, although this is what Mahayana turned it into, and what ultimately Theravada (as in later writers, not the suttas) did as well (probably by copying off of Mahayana, in my estimation). I think its obvious Buddha believed in eternally existing substances, at least two (like Samkhya), and that everything else conditionally arising from them. But I'll try to get :focus: if indeed what I said was off-topic, which I'm not entirely sure.

Coëmgenu wrote:The way I've always been taught Interpenetration is from a predominantly soteriogical perspective. Interpenetration, functionally, according at least to some Buddhists I met at the Toronto Buddhist Church (Jōdo Shinshū), is the knowledge that the Pure Land of the Buddha is always interpenetrating the Saha world, and that the two overlay eachother perfectly. So consequently, the Buddha is always available in the here and now, and the cessation of sufferings, albeit that cessation is temporary or permanent, is always available in the here and now, because the Pure Land to which the Buddha awakens and calls us to awaken to is generated by the purity, which always exists and co-exists, via interpenetration, inside of impurity.


Is this kind of like in sci-fi like on Stargate SG1's parallel universe mirror episodes, the idea of different dimensions existing out of phase with each other? I think the idea of the spiritual realm as somehow occupying the same space is ok. Probably believed in something like that as a Christian at some point. But from the suttas, I get the impression of a vertical universe, with the different realms accessible in meditation leading up like a ladder to Nibbana at the top, and I have to say I like that idea best.


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