Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
meindzai
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by meindzai » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:00 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:
withoutcolour wrote:Hi all,
I was confused to find that the concept of buddha-dhatu (buddha nature) is only recognized in Mahayana buddhism (according to Wikipedia, which is ever-so-reliable :thinking: ) ... but that the word Tathāgatagarbha can be interchangeable. Is this correct? Would the idea of the "womb of the buddha" be equivalent to "buddha nature"?
The problem with Buddha nature is that it might invoke the idea of "Buddha soul" or underlying hidden ultimate reality beneath Samara, similar to the Brahman & Maya theory in the Vedas. Then that will be a problem as it stands against the doctrine of Anatta.
And indeed this does become a problem, which is why I think people studying Mahayana should have some background in Theravada first.

The Mahayana answer as I understand it is that Buddha Nature is unconditioned, unfabricated, etc. or in other words, anything you can say about Nibanna/Nirvanna you can also say about Buddha nature. Mahayana still teaches anatta/anatman of course, so the teachings are held up against each other. Though it still looks very confusing and from a Theravada point of view is, as you indicate below, perhaps unecessary. Not all Mahayana schools use it, BTW.
Personally, I see anatta and other two marks of existence as being a self sufficient mean to Satipatthana. Why include an extra dimensional level of complexity and mental attachment?
My interpretation is that it was teaching developed for people who were scared off by the anatta/anatman teachings. (Again, a not unbiased interpretation - and without too many Mahayanists here to be able to defend their doctrines - keep that in mind.)

-M

Heavenstorm
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by Heavenstorm » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:32 pm

meindzai wrote:And indeed this does become a problem, which is why I think people studying Mahayana should have some background in Theravada first.
Agree. But unfortunately, its not the trend in the world's today. I'm amazed by the fantasy stuffs that are coming from some of their mouths. And some stuffs that some Mahayanists believe in sounds more like superstitions than Buddhism.
The Mahayana answer as I understand it is that Buddha Nature is unconditioned, unfabricated, etc. or in other words, anything you can say about Nibanna/Nirvanna you can also say about Buddha nature. Mahayana still teaches anatta/anatman of course, so the teachings are held up against each other. Though it still looks very confusing and from a Theravada point of view is, as you indicate below, perhaps unecessary. Not all Mahayana schools use it, BTW.
I do know that. But debates about Buddha Nature can be rather confusing, I'm not exaggerating to say that thousands of books had been written on that subject alone. So much so that sometimes I think perhaps its better to do away with the entire concept just like Theravada does.
My interpretation is that it was teaching developed for people who were scared off by the anatta/anatman teachings.
You mean wrong understanding of anatta? If anyone understands anatta correctly, I don't see why they need to be scared. On the other hand, they should be afraid of the dukkha in their current state by recognizing it through Anicca.

meindzai
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:16 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:
My interpretation is that it was teaching developed for people who were scared off by the anatta/anatman teachings.
You mean wrong understanding of anatta? If anyone understands anatta correctly, I don't see why they need to be scared.
True. I think I'd rephrase my statement to say that it was developed to gaurd against a nihlistic interpretation of Anatta.

-M

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by ground » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:06 am

What strikes me in this thread is that it is implied that "buddha nature" is unanimously accepted in all schools of Mahayana and that if the term as such is accepted then there would be one meaning that is unanimously implied by all schools of Mahayana.
This is definitely not so. E.g. Madhyamaka does not hold the Tathāgatagarbha view and some schools of Madhyamaka explicitely reject all interpretations of "buddha nature" that imply something other than a mere non-affirming negation (i.e. emptiness).

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by baratgab » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:39 am

If it is of any interest at all, one possible way of viewing Buddha Nature is that beings already have nibbana (or jhanas, for that matter); it is just covered with activity. This is in line with the path of letting go: we need less, rather than more; we need to lose, rather than to gain. If applied to the mental sphere, the end point is total detachment, anatta. I think I have heard this explanation from Ajahn Brahm (well, I'm just a parrot), who is very keen on reconciling traditions.
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:44 pm

baratgab wrote:If it is of any interest at all, one possible way of viewing Buddha Nature is that beings already have nibbana (or jhanas, for that matter); it is just covered with activity. This is in line with the path of letting go: we need less, rather than more; we need to lose, rather than to gain. If applied to the mental sphere, the end point is total detachment, anatta. I think I have heard this explanation from Ajahn Brahm (well, I'm just a parrot), who is very keen on reconciling traditions.
You see no problems with this?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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baratgab
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by baratgab » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:You see no problems with this?
Generally I agree about the path of letting go, and I think that one can validly make a good case of Buddha Nature out of it, as outlined above. As far as my representation goes, I'm not sure that this is the exact position of Ajahn Brahm (or the teacher, from whom I heard from); one's own silliness can introduce many faults even into the most tidy concept, when it comes to phrasing it with one's own words. :)

In any case, I see no special significance in this subject, other than the good-hearted intention of reconciling traditions, when it is needed. As others pointed out, the original teachings are entirely enough, and redundant concepts don't really improve upon anything.

Regardless of this, feel free to point out any inconsistencies, either here, if they are relevant to the topic, or in PM. :anjali:
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:46 am

TMingyur wrote:What strikes me in this thread is that it is implied that "buddha nature" is unanimously accepted in all schools of Mahayana and that if the term as such is accepted then there would be one meaning that is unanimously implied by all schools of Mahayana.
This is definitely not so. E.g. Madhyamaka does not hold the Tathāgatagarbha view and some schools of Madhyamaka explicitely reject all interpretations of "buddha nature" that imply something other than a mere non-affirming negation (i.e. emptiness).

Kind regards
Exactly.

Your key point here, if I understand, is not that the Madhyamaka (and others) reject "buddha nature", but reject a particular interpretation of "buddha nature".
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Without Colour,

To the best of my knowledge, neither of these terms (nor what they point to) are recognised in Theravada.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Paul's attempt at rejecting "buddha nature" in terms of a "buddha element" are only applicable to the affirming position vis this doctrine, but not with regards the Madhyamaka position. Simply reading the words "buddha-dhatu" and thinking that we now understand what all Mahayana schools mean by this is misrepresenting those schools. How can we then come to an understanding or answer the original question? Paul after all does state "what they point to", but unfortunately has not made the investigation to find out what they actually do refer to, and apparently doesn't even think that it is appropriate int his thread to find out!

Many Mahayana schools understand "tathagatagarbha" and "buddhadhatu" as synonyms for emptiness. This is almost always a strictly non-reified position, and in many cases extremely similar to Theravada positions on emptiness as not self. In fact, I may even go so far as to suggest that a majority of Indo-Tibetan schools read it in this way, and a fair portion of the east asian schools, too.

Thus, in this sense at least, although they may not use those exact words "tathagatagarbha" and / or "buddhadhatu", doctrinally there is a fair amount of commonality. As the second reliance states: Rely on the meaning, not on the words.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by cooran » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:24 pm

Hello all,

Cross-referencing other threads here on this topic, plus a bit more information:

Emptiness - mahayana and theravada
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=220" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Buddha Nature
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3878" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

What is wrong with Buddha Nature
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7716" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Buddha Nature (also read the 20 page Word attachment)
http://littlebang.org/2009/05/06/buddha ... theravada/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu

Post by DarwidHalim » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:55 am

withoutcolour wrote:OK, thank you guys.
Right now, I'm trying to sort out what's separating Theravadin and Mahayanan teachings, and figuring out which concepts belong to which. I really like Theravada for so many reasons, so that's what I'm attempting to categorize at the moment.
You may be able to do it.

However, can you sort out the differences in terms of realization between Theravada and Mahayana?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by LastLegend » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:33 am

Hello folks.

I just want to say the mind is empty, cannot be conceptualized, touched, imagined. It's what we experience everyday. But it is nowhere to be seen or observed even at subatomic level because it is empty.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:48 am

LastLegend wrote:Hello folks.

I just want to say the mind is empty, cannot be conceptualized, touched, imagined. It's what we experience everyday. But it is nowhere to be seen or observed even at subatomic level because it is empty.
So, how do we experience the mind? Also, "to say the mind is empty, cannot be conceptualized, touched, imagined" is to give us a large load of conceptualization about the mind.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

befriend
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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by befriend » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:36 pm

i think the question comes down to, is the mind naturally pure and bright, or is it only colorless and has no shape?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by Kenshou » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:18 pm

...and what does that even mean and why does it matter?

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Re: Tathāgatagarbha & Buddha-dhatu (DFFA version)

Post by befriend » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:03 pm

Kenshou wrote:...and what does that even mean and why does it matter?


if the mind is naturally pure and bright, wouldnt that mean we all have buddha nature, if the mind is at heart undefiled? or is the mind beyond any notion of good and bad pure or impure, meaning its not pure and bright and there is no buddha nature. does that make sense?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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