Theravada and Buddha nature

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Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:35 pm

Hello,

I am interested in exploring Theravada...

I was wondering about a few things, is Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyakakarika (one of my favorite books) considered part of Theravada? Or is that only Mahayana? Are there things in there that Theravada disagree with? And also "Buddha nature", do Theravadins believe that everybody has Buddha nature?

I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.

Thanks.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:03 pm

Nāgārjuna is definitely a Mahayana figure, but most of what he had to say is still very relevant to Theravada practice.

As for Buddha-nature, you might be interested in this essay by Thanisarro Bhikkhu. In short though, there is no concept of Buddha Nature in Theravada.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:39 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Nāgārjuna is definitely a Mahayana figure, but most of what he had to say is still very relevant to Theravada practice.

As for Buddha-nature, you might be interested in this essay by Thanisarro Bhikkhu. In short though, there is no concept of Buddha Nature in Theravada.


Actually that isnt a great explanation of the idea of buddha nature. The author sets up a straw man "buddha nature" to compare it to "the peace that's not fabricated at all.", which might itself be a good explanation of buddha nature. If you want the straight dope on buddha nature, my advice would be to look for mahayana sources.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby befriend » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:48 pm

not true, ajahn chah says in Chapter 1 in food for the heart "about this mind in truth there is nothing really wrong with it. it is intrinsically pure. Within itself it is already peaceful. if the mind is not peaceful these days its because it follows moods."
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby cooran » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:09 pm

Hello all,

A couple of previous threads on Buddha nature:

What is wrong with Buddha Nature?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7716
Buddha nature
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=11429

with metta
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:16 pm

Greetings Arjan,

Arjan Dirkse wrote:I am interested in exploring Theravada...

I was wondering about a few things, is Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyakakarika (one of my favorite books) considered part of Theravada? Or is that only Mahayana? Are there things in there that Theravada disagree with?

Given your questions, I'd suggest reading...

The Heretic Sage
http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2010/10 ... etic-sage/

... to find out what Venerable Nanananda makes of Nagarjuna and some of the challenges to that Nagarjuna poses to classical Theravada orthodoxy.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:35 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Actually that isnt a great explanation of the idea of buddha nature. The author sets up a straw man "buddha nature" to compare it to "the peace that's not fabricated at all.", which might itself be a good explanation of buddha nature. If you want the straight dope on buddha nature, my advice would be to look for mahayana sources.

Well it depends how you define Buddha Nature; if it is just a poetic way of describing the ability of all beings to achieve Nibbana, as some Mahayana sources make it out to be, then obviously no Buddhist school refutes that. But if you make it out to be an ontologically real, essential base of being like many other schools do, then it is at odds with the Buddha's teachings. In order to really discuss this, we need to have a better definition of exactly what kind of Buddha Nature we're talking about here.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby dhammapal » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:11 am

Hi,

Hanzze posted Maha Ghosananda's book on the Mahayana forum. It is very interfaith. I think that Cambodia is Theravada.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out that the expert on Buddha Nature would have been the historical Buddha and he didn't mention it in the Pali Canon.

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:44 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Actually that isnt a great explanation of the idea of buddha nature. The author sets up a straw man "buddha nature" to compare it to "the peace that's not fabricated at all.", which might itself be a good explanation of buddha nature. If you want the straight dope on buddha nature, my advice would be to look for mahayana sources.

Well it depends how you define Buddha Nature; if it is just a poetic way of describing the ability of all beings to achieve Nibbana, as some Mahayana sources make it out to be, then obviously no Buddhist school refutes that. But if you make it out to be an ontologically real, essential base of being like many other schools do, then it is at odds with the Buddha's teachings. In order to really discuss this, we need to have a better definition of exactly what kind of Buddha Nature we're talking about here.


I don't think these are the two possibilities, LY.

The most common Mahayana view is that Buddha Nature is our fundamental state which is obscured by ignorance/delusion/defilements.

By fundamental state I don't mean a self or a thing, but rather simply how it is when the stranglehold on delusion is loosened, it is glimpsed. The Tibetans call it "rigpa" I think and similarly to Zen, it is subsequently stabilised, extended and deepened. So that it pervades every aspect of our lives.
_/|\_
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:07 am

Dan74 wrote:The most common Mahayana view is that Buddha Nature is our fundamental state which is obscured by ignorance/delusion/defilements.

But is this fundamental state a poetic rendering of the emptiness that allows beings to reach enlightenment, or is it a literal "true self" or base of existence? The question is important, especially if we're going to talk about the Buddha Nature's relation to Theravada.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Kusala » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:03 am

Arjan Dirkse wrote:Hello,

I am interested in exploring Theravada...

I was wondering about a few things, is Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyakakarika (one of my favorite books) considered part of Theravada? Or is that only Mahayana? Are there things in there that Theravada disagree with? And also "Buddha nature", do Theravadins believe that everybody has Buddha nature?

I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.

Thanks.


As far as I understand, Buddha Nature is a later development...
Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:09 pm

Kusala wrote:As far as I understand, Buddha Nature is a later development...


Yes.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:26 pm

Thanks for all the answers.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby santa100 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:36 pm

From AN 1.49-52 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ):

Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements. Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements.


From the Theravada context, Ven. Thanissaro commented:
"The luminous mind is the mind that the meditator is trying to develop. To perceive its luminosity means understanding that defilements such as greed, aversion, or delusion are not intrinsic to its nature, are not a necessary part of awareness. Without this understanding, it would be impossible to practice. With this understanding, however, one can make an effort to cut away existing defilements, leaving the mind in the stage that MN 24 calls "purity in terms of mind."


And also Ven. Nanananda's comment (from "Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought - 1971" ):
"Moreover, the reference to a mind intrinsically pure is not to be confused with the idea of an
absolute entity, like a soul, already embedded in every being. The luminosity of the mind is a
potentiality which becomes a reality only when the necessary conditions are fulfilled. These conditions are collectively called bhāvanā, a word which even literally suggests growth. It is significant that this Aṅguttara passage referred to above, is in point of fact, an exhortation stressing the
importance of bhāvanā (development of mind). Thus, according to the Pāli Nikāyas, one has to
“grow” into the luminosity of the mind. It is not something pre-existing in some metaphysical
sense, ready to be traced metaphysically to the seed of the plant. It has to blossom forth in order
to be a lotus."
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Dan74 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:11 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Dan74 wrote:The most common Mahayana view is that Buddha Nature is our fundamental state which is obscured by ignorance/delusion/defilements.

But is this fundamental state a poetic rendering of the emptiness that allows beings to reach enlightenment, or is it a literal "true self" or base of existence? The question is important, especially if we're going to talk about the Buddha Nature's relation to Theravada.


Maybe neither!

Sure some Mahayana teachers say that talk of Buddha nature is a crutch. And Nagarjuna makes a very compelling case for all concepts to be very provisional and only useful as far as they point our the way the liberation, but empty of any inherent validity. So this puts a great big WARNING! on the label.

Then all dualities like "existence and its base" or "having or attaining this base" cannot be maintained.

In the end Buddha Nature and its associated teachings to me simply point out that nibbana is not "out there" but right here. It's an inspirational teaching to encourage us to stop reaching out. To trust what is right here and take a very very close look. As far as I can make out.
_/|\_
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Bonsai Doug » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:23 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.
Thanks.

This book has been mentioned above, and represents teachings from the Theravada perspective
by one of its foremost and respected monks: Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah.
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:54 pm

Bonsai Doug wrote:
Arjan Dirkse wrote:I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.
Thanks.

This book has been mentioned above, and represents teachings from the Theravada perspective
by one of its foremost and respected monks: Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah.


Thanks...

Another question, eventually I'd like to buy the Nikaya translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi, but money being tight, I can't buy them all at once.

Is there a recommended reading order for them?
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:14 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:
Bonsai Doug wrote:
Arjan Dirkse wrote:I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.
Thanks.

This book has been mentioned above, and represents teachings from the Theravada perspective
by one of its foremost and respected monks: Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah.


Thanks...

Another question, eventually I'd like to buy the Nikaya translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi, but money being tight, I can't buy them all at once.

Is there a recommended reading order for them?

For sure start with the Majjhima Nikaya. It's by far the easiest and the best introduction; aside from the first sutta, it avoids the super complex stuff and mostly focuses on the basics of the Theravada perspective.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Theravada and Buddha nature

Postby Bonsai Doug » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:28 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:
Bonsai Doug wrote:
Arjan Dirkse wrote:I would appreciate any reading tips...so far the only Theravada book I have read is "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I really liked it.
Thanks.

This book has been mentioned above, and represents teachings from the Theravada perspective
by one of its foremost and respected monks: Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah.


Thanks...

Another question, eventually I'd like to buy the Nikaya translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi, but money being tight, I can't buy them all at once.

Is there a recommended reading order for them?

Not sure about an order, but you can find many of them here: http://what-buddha-said.net/
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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