What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:28 pm

PeterB wrote:Yes.

Yes... what Ajahn Maha Boowa is saying is different from what other (Mayhayana) teachers are talking about when they use the words "Buddha Nature?"

How so?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:39 pm

Yes its different. He is talking about attainment, not an a priori universal state.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:07 pm

PeterB wrote:Yes its different. He is talking about attainment, not an a priori universal state.

So if someone talks about attaining a nature which is unassailable, absolute and permanent, then that's fine and not a pernicious doctrine. A nature which is the Dhamma.

But if there's talk of a permanent nature which is an "a priori universal state" then it's a pernicious doctrine.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:15 pm

If someone talks about attaining any permanent state, that is pernicious .
According to the Theravada.
What is attained is a freedom from such views.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:25 pm

PeterB wrote:I have no doubt that the good Bhikkhu is right and that it is a pernicious doctrine.
Happily not one that need detain Theravadin Buddhists except when it is periodically dragged in through the back door.


Goodness it must be a burden bringing the gospel of Buddhist ecumenicism to the benighted. Exausting I should think.


Peter,

I can't see any problem with Theravada Buddhists ignoring the topic of Buddha Nature or any other Mahayana doctrine. But if someone launches a thread on the topic, isn't that an invitation to have a discussion about it?
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:32 pm

PeterB wrote:If someone talks about attaining any permanent state, that is pernicious .
According to the Theravada.
What is attained is a freedom from such views.

And is the attainment of freedom from such views a permanent state?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:00 pm

Why are you asking questions that you probably know the answers to kirk5a ? Are you bored ?
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:12 pm

PeterB wrote:Why are you asking questions that you probably know the answers to kirk5a ? Are you bored ?

I am asking questions about what you have said Peter. Answer or don't. Whether I'm bored or not is off-topic.

What is on topic is that you have said "Buddha Nature" is a pernicious doctrine. How do we tell if a doctrine is pernicious? "If someone talks about attaining any permanent state, that is pernicious" you say.

And yet you speak of the attainment of freedom from views. So is that a permanent state or not? It's an obvious question, since you've defined how to spot a pernicious view.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:25 pm

"If you got to ask that lady, you shouldnt be messing with all this ".

Fats Waller to a woman who asked him to define "swing "....
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Kusala » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:59 am

Aloka wrote:More about the Tibetan Buddhist viewpoint....

From "Path to Buddhahood -teachings on Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation"by Ringu Tulku :

"Buddha Shakyamuni himself asserted the presence of buddha nature, and we have every reason to trust what he said, as he himself attained Buddhahood. Who better to tell us whether buddha nature exists or not? In the Samadhiraja Sutra the Buddha says, "The essence of Buddhahood pervades all beings." Likewise, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra says "All beings possess the nature of buddha or tathagatagarbha. " This same sutra goes on to explain that buddha nature is inherent in all beings as butter is inherent in milk. This assertion was not only made by Buddha himself but also by his successors, particularly those who founded and developed Mahayana Buddhism such as Asanga and Nagarjuna."



The text then goes on to say that the nature of both samsara and nirvana is shunyata and therefore the basic nature of all beings is also shunyata.



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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Nibbida » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:46 am

Lazy_eye wrote:So we don't necessarily need to frame this discussion in terms of Theravada vs. Mahayana. It could equally well (perhaps better) be framed in terms of "orthodox Theravada" vs. the more syncretic approach that we find among, say, the Insight Meditation Society folks.


Good point.

I rather like the syncretic approach of the IMS folks.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:08 am

What is Wrong with Buddha Nature


IMO the question is not really helpful. What appears more appropriate is the question "What dangers may be involved with the concept 'Buddha Nature' ?"


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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:45 am

TMingyur wrote:
What is Wrong with Buddha Nature


IMO the question is not really helpful. What appears more appropriate is the question "What dangers may be involved with the concept 'Buddha Nature' ?"


Kind regards



Kind of boils down to the same thing really.
We could phrase it differently.
Are there any inherent dangers in ascribing Buddhist Doctrinal status to a concept not found in the teachings of the Buddha ?
One that kind of snuck in later, as was then used as a tribal marker to distinguish the sneakers-in ?
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:58 am

Hi darvki,
darvki wrote:Indeed, but this is not grounds for indiscriminantly rejecting use of the phrase.

Then perhaps you could draw our attention to "buddha nature" in the tipitaka? I think that would greatly aid discussion.
kind regards

en
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:04 am

It's been said before - it has been used synonymously in various Mahayana schools with dependent origination, emptiness, unborn, unconditioned, the potentiality for awakening, the luminous mind free from defilements, freedom from delusion, unbinding and the liberated mind being no different to the mind of the Buddha. It is not a "thingie" in most treatments, it is simply a pointer to awakening. It is what happens when the defilements, obscurations and ignorance are removed.

I don't think it is reasonable to declare every phrase and device used by a teacher heretical if it is not found verbatum in the Canon. What matters is the import of the teaching, what it is pointing towards. Just like intention with sila, so it is with the teachings - if they point towards liberation from delusion, they are Dhamma.

Of course not being liberated, we do have a tendency to cling to words - make a fetish of the raft rather than use it for its intended purpose. I don't recall my teacher use Buddha nature in her teachings, but for other teachers and students it may be appropriate.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:12 am

Dan74 wrote:It's been said before - it has been used synonymously in various Mahayana schools with dependent origination, emptiness, unborn, unconditioned, the potentiality for awakening, the luminous mind free from defilements, freedom from delusion, unbinding. It is not a "thingie" in most treatments, it is simply a pointer to awakening. It is what happens when the defilements, obscurations and ignorance are removed.

I don't think it is reasonable to declare every phrase and device used by a teacher heretical if it is not found verbatum in the Canon. What matters is the import of the teaching, what it is pointing towards. Just like intention with sila, so it is with the teachings - if they point towards liberation from delusion, they are Dhamma.

Of course not being liberated, we do have a tendency to cling to words - make a fetish of the raft rather than use it for its intended purpose. I don't recall my teacher use Buddha nature in her teachings, but for other teachers and students it may be appropriate.

All good and well, Dan. I accept that buddha nature has a provenance and context within the mahayana. What I am asking Darvki is to trace its provenance within the ancient literature of the Theravada. Given that the focus of this thread appears to be the theravadin context of buddha nature, a definitive answer or collection of citations which links buddha nature to the canon would be of interest to all.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:16 am

Dan74 wrote:It's been said before - it has been used synonymously in various Mahayana schools with dependent origination, emptiness, unborn, unconditioned, the potentiality for awakening, the luminous mind free from defilements, freedom from delusion, unbinding. It is not a "thingie" in most treatments, it is simply a pointer to awakening. It is what happens when the defilements, obscurations and ignorance are removed.

So basically "Buddha Nature" is just a poetic description of an aspiration ?

That is not what I was taught by Vajrayana teachers..who said that we are already Buddhas but "obscured" Buddhas.*
And it is not what I was taught by Kennett Roshi either...
Nor is it what is taught by the proprietors of ZFI either, who very much believe in an a priori, universal, Buddha Dhatu which seems to be coterminous with the Collective Unconscious.


* A view which is of course totally at odds with the radical Theravadin view of D.O. as found in the Pali Canon.

The reality is..we cannot be all things to all people. We cannot squeeze incompatible views into a shape that suits our emotional need for inclusion. Or rather we can, but at the cost of lying to ourselves at a deep and damaging level.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Dan74 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:41 am

Ben wrote:
Dan74 wrote:It's been said before - it has been used synonymously in various Mahayana schools with dependent origination, emptiness, unborn, unconditioned, the potentiality for awakening, the luminous mind free from defilements, freedom from delusion, unbinding. It is not a "thingie" in most treatments, it is simply a pointer to awakening. It is what happens when the defilements, obscurations and ignorance are removed.

I don't think it is reasonable to declare every phrase and device used by a teacher heretical if it is not found verbatum in the Canon. What matters is the import of the teaching, what it is pointing towards. Just like intention with sila, so it is with the teachings - if they point towards liberation from delusion, they are Dhamma.

Of course not being liberated, we do have a tendency to cling to words - make a fetish of the raft rather than use it for its intended purpose. I don't recall my teacher use Buddha nature in her teachings, but for other teachers and students it may be appropriate.

All good and well, Dan. I accept that buddha nature has a provenance and context within the mahayana. What I am asking Darvki is to trace its provenance within the ancient literature of the Theravada. Given that the focus of this thread appears to be the theravadin context of buddha nature, a definitive answer or collection of citations which links buddha nature to the canon would be of interest to all.
kind regards

Ben


Hi Ben.

I guess I didn't get that. I saw the thrust of this thread as debating whether the teachings on Buddha Nature are actually compatible with the Theravada Dhamma (which to my mind, most of them are) or whether they are indeed "pernicious," to quote Peter. Although very little actual debate has taken place, but mostly just assertions.

PeterB wrote:
Dan74 wrote:It's been said before - it has been used synonymously in various Mahayana schools with dependent origination, emptiness, unborn, unconditioned, the potentiality for awakening, the luminous mind free from defilements, freedom from delusion, unbinding. It is not a "thingie" in most treatments, it is simply a pointer to awakening. It is what happens when the defilements, obscurations and ignorance are removed.

So basically "Buddha Nature" is just a poetic description of an aspiration ?

That is not what I was taught by Vajrayana teachers..who said that we are already Buddhas but "obscured" Buddhas.*
And it is not what I was taught by Kennett Roshi either...


Well once the defilements are removed, the Buddha manifests. It is not obtained from without, it is always here, as it were, only obscured by defilements. It is a result of insight rather than an acquisition of any sort. Saying we are "obscured Buddhas" is a strong version of saying the same thing. Like Linchi said:

""There is only the man of the Way, listening to my discourse, dependent upon nothing --
he it is who is the mother of all Buddhas... Followers of the way, the you who right now is
listening to my discourse is not your four elements; this you makes use of your four elements. If you can fully understand this, you are free to go or stay [as you please]."


http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/C%20-%20Zen/Ancestors/The%20Zen%20Teachings%20of%20Master%20Lin-Chi/Zen%20Teachings%20of%20Master%20Lin-Chi.htm

In other words he is pointing out the awareness prior to defilement, to grasping. The Zen method is pointing out this mind which is indeed luminous, spacious and unhindered by any circumstances.

Nor is it what is taught by the proprietors of ZFI either, who very much believe in an a priori, universal, Buddha Dhatu which seems to be coterminous with the Collective Unconscious.


This is news to me, but maybe I have not seen those posts.

*
A view which is of course totally at odds with the radical Theravadin view of D.O. as found in the Pali Canon.


I don't see this.

The reality is..we cannot be all things to all people. We cannot squeeze incompatible views into a shape that suits our emotional need for inclusion.

[/quote]

Of course. But in a conversation it is useful to present arguments backed up by evidence. So far there is a lot of smoke and mirrors, strong assertions and little substance.

For what it's worth I don't have any obsessive hankering for acceptance and inclusion from the esteemed members here. My faith is my practice is OK and I feel included enough as it is. My motivation is simply to present facts that correct misunderstanding and distortion for those who care, rather than evangelise or convince anyone that we are all the same.
Last edited by Dan74 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:50 am

Dan74 wrote:I guess I didn't get that. I saw the thrust of this thread as debating whether the teachings on Buddha Nature are actually compatible with the Theravada Dhamma (which to my mind, most of them are) or whether they are indeed "pernicious," to quote Peter. Although very little actual debate has taken place, but mostly just assertions.
No problem. Its why I asked Darvki for material evidentiary of buddha nature in the Theravada canon. And I think that would be a good starting point. A discussion based on evidence, I think, would be more interesting for all of us.
kind regards

Ben
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Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: What is Wrong with Buddha Nature

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:15 am

I used the word pernicious advisedly.
The concept of Buddha Dhatu is fundamentally at odds with the Buddhas teaching of Dependant Origination.
"Buddha Dhatu" represents a failure of nerve. A stepping back from the truly radical uncompromising teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha towards a fudge, a restatement of Vedic atmanic doctrine.
It fundamentally obscures what the Buddha is saying at the most basic level.
THIS is the reason for Thannisaro (and others ) concern. And I hope no one will think that Thannisaro's views on this issue are untypical..or "western". What he is saying vis a vis " Buddha Nature " is absolutely mainstream Theravada.
It leads to a number of distortions of the Buddhas Dhamma. Distortions which can be seen on a regular basis on this forum from those who seek to absorb the Theravada into a kind of Pan Buddhism which in the end turns out to be not different from the Mahayana.

Stepping back from the radical nature of the Pali Canon has a number of observable side effects in its adherents.
One of which for a minority is a need to frequent Theravadin forums like a hungry ghost, or like Kathy in Wuthering Heights, always peering through the window from the outside......
Personally I have more respect for those like, (fill in your own choice of names ) ........ ......... who say unambiguously that the Theravada is incomplete, partial, for beginners.
I dont accept it for one moment. But it is honest. It is real. It is fullbloodied.
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