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Buddha-nature

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The moon hidden by the clouds is a metaphor for Buddha-nature. "Throughout the twenty-four hours of the day, beings are perverted by deluded thoughts, and their original Buddha-nature is naturally buried by the afflictions. It is like the bright moon hidden by clouds. Once they have awakened to the source of these thoughts, it is like the bright moon emerging from the clouds.[1][note 1]
The moon hidden by the clouds is a metaphor for Buddha-nature. "Throughout the twenty-four hours of the day, beings are perverted by deluded thoughts, and their original Buddha-nature is naturally buried by the afflictions. It is like the bright moon hidden by clouds. Once they have awakened to the source of these thoughts, it is like the bright moon emerging from the clouds.[1][note 1]

Buddha-nature refers to several related Mahayana Buddhist terms, including tathata ("suchness")[note 2] but most notably tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu.[note 3] Tathāgatagarbha means "the womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the "thus-gone" (tathāgata),[note 4] or "containing a tathāgata", while buddhadhātu literally means "Buddha-realm" or "Buddha-substrate".[note 5]

Buddha-nature has a wide range of (sometimes conflicting) meanings in Indian and later East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Broadly speaking, the terms refer to the potential for all sentient beings to be a Buddha,[4][5][6][7][8] since the luminous mind,[9][10][11] "the natural and true state of the mind,"[12] the pure (visuddhi) mind undefiled by kleshas,[9] is inherently present in every sentient being. It will shine forth when it is cleansed of the defilements, c.q. when the nature of mind is recognised for what it is.

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (written 2nd century CE), which was very influential in the Chinese reception of the Buddhist teachings,[13] linked the concept of tathāgatagarbha with the buddhadhātu.[14] The term buddhadhātu originally referred to relics. In the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, it came to be used in place of the concept of tathāgatagārbha, reshaping the worship of the physical relics of the Buddha into worship of the inner Buddha as a principle of salvation.[15]

The primordial or undefiled mind, the tathagatagarbha, is also equated with sunyata;[10] with the alaya-vijñana ("store-consciousness", a yogacara concept);[10] and with the interpenetration of all dharmas. The Chinese Yogacara school came to regard buddha-nature as an eternal ground[16] and the ultimate source and support of all phenomenal reality.[17] The Chinese Madhyamaka based it's understanding of emptiness on the Indian sources and not on Daoist concepts which previous Chinese Buddhists had used,[16] and sought to remove all ontological connotations of the term as a metaphysical reality. It saw buddha nature as being synonymous with terms like "tathata," "dharmadhatu," "ekayana," "wisdom, '' "ultimate reality," "middle way" and also the wisdom that contemplates dependent origination.[18]

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Mahayana

Mahayana

Mahāyāna is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India and is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism. Mahāyāna accepts the main scriptures and teachings of early Buddhism, but also recognizes various doctrines and texts which are not accepted by Theravada Buddhism as original. These include the Mahāyāna Sūtras and its emphasis on the bodhisattva path and Prajñāpāramitā. Vajrayāna or Mantra traditions are a subset of Mahāyāna, which make use of numerous tantric methods considered to be faster and more powerful at achieving Buddhahood by Vajrayānists.

Buddhism

Buddhism

Buddhism, also known as Buddha Dharma or Dharmavinaya, is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on a series of original teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha. Originating in ancient India as a movement professing śramaṇa between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, it gradually spread throughout much of Asia via the Silk Road. Presently, it is the world's fourth-largest religion, with over 520 million followers (Buddhists) who comprise seven percent of the global population. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices that are largely based on the Buddha's teachings and their resulting interpreted philosophies.

Buddhahood

Buddhahood

In Buddhism, Buddha, "awakened one", is a title for those who are awake, and have attained nirvana and Buddhahood through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma. The title is most commonly used for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, who is often simply known as "the Buddha". Buddhahood is the condition and rank of a buddha "awakened one". This highest spiritual state of being is also termed sammā-sambodhi.

Luminous mind

Luminous mind

Luminous mind is a Buddhist term which appears only rarely in the Pali Canon, but is common in the Mahayana sūtras and central to the Buddhist tantras. It is variously translated as "brightly shining mind", or "mind of clear light" while the related term luminosity is also translated as "clear light" or "luminosity" in Tibetan Buddhist contexts or, "purity" in East Asian contexts.

Kleshas (Buddhism)

Kleshas (Buddhism)

Kleshas, in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term kleshas, such as: afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, neurosis etc.

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra or Nirvana Sutra is Mahāyāna Buddhist sutra of the Buddha-nature genre. Its precise date of origin is uncertain, but its early form may have developed in or by the second century CE. The original Sanskrit text is not extant except for a small number of fragments, but it survives in Chinese and Tibetan translation.

Yogachara

Yogachara

Yogachara is an influential tradition of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing the study of cognition, perception, and consciousness through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It is also variously termed Vijñānavāda, Vijñaptivāda or Vijñaptimātratā-vāda, which is also the name given to its major epistemic theory. There are several interpretations of this main theory; while often regarded as a kind of Idealism, critical scholars argue that it is closer to a kind of phenomenology or representationalism, aimed at deconstructing the reification of our perceptions.

East Asian Mādhyamaka

East Asian Mādhyamaka

East Asian Madhyamaka refers to the Buddhist tradition in East Asia which represents the Indian Madhyamaka (Chung-kuan) system of thought. In Chinese Buddhism, these are often referred to as the Sānlùn school, also known as the "emptiness school", although they may not have been an independent sect. The three principal texts of the school are the Middle Treatise, the Twelve Gate Treatise, and the Hundred Treatise. They were first transmitted to China during the early 5th century by the Buddhist monk Kumārajīva (344−413) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The school and its texts were later transmitted to Korea and Japan. The leading thinkers of this tradition are Kumārajīva's disciple Sēngzhào, and the later Jízàng. Their major doctrines include emptiness (k'ung), the middle way (chung-tao), the twofold truth (erh-t'i) and "the refutation of erroneous views as the illumination of right views" (p'o-hsieh-hsien-cheng).

Tathātā

Tathātā

Tathātā is a Buddhist term variously translated as "thusness" or "suchness," referring to the nature of reality free from conceptual elaborations and the subject–object distinction. While also used in Theravada, it is a significant concept in Mahayana Buddhism.

Dharmadhatu

Dharmadhatu

Dharmadhatu (Sanskrit) is the 'dimension', 'realm' or 'sphere' (dhātu) of the Dharma or Absolute Reality.

Pratītyasamutpāda

Pratītyasamutpāda

Pratītyasamutpāda, commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key doctrine in Buddhism shared by all schools of Buddhism. It states that all dharmas (phenomena) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: "if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist". The basic principle is that all things arise in dependence upon other things.

Etymology

Tathāgatagarbha

The term tathāgatagarbha may mean "embryonic tathāgata",[19][20] "womb of the tathāgata",[19] or "containing a tathagata".[21] Various meanings may all be brought into mind when the term tathagatagarbha is being used.[21]

Compound

The Sanskrit term tathāgatagarbha is a compound of two terms, tathāgata and garbha:[19]

  • tathāgata means "the one thus gone", referring to the Buddha. It is composed of "tathā" and "āgata", "thus come",[19] or "tathā" and "gata", "thus gone".[19][22] The term refers to a Buddha, who has "thus gone" from samsara into nirvana, and "thus come" from nirvana into samsara to work for the salvation of all sentient beings.[19]
  • garbha, "womb",[19][23] "embryo",[19][23] "center",[23] "essence".[24][note 6]

Asian translations

The Chinese translated the term tathāgatagarbha as rúláizàng (如来藏),[19] or "Tathāgata's (rúlái) storehouse" (zàng).[26][27] According to Brown, "storehouse" may indicate both "that which enfolds or contains something",[27] or "that which is itself enfolded, hidden or contained by another."[27] The Tibetan translation is de bzhin gshegs pa'i snying po, which cannot be translated as "womb" (mngal or lhums), but as "embryonic essence", "kernel" or "heart".[27] The term "heart" was also used by Mongolian translators.[27]

The Tibetan scholar Go Lotsawa outlined four meanings of the term Tathāgatagarbha as used by Indian Buddhist scholars generally: (1) As an emptiness that is a nonimplicative negation, (2) the luminous nature of the mind, (3) alaya-vijñana (store-consciousness), (4) all bodhisattvas and sentient beings.[10]

Western translations

The term tathagatagarbha first appears in the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras,[28] which date to the 2nd and third centuries CE. It is translated and interpreted in various ways by western translators and scholars:

  • According to Sally King, the term tathāgatagarbha may be understood in two ways:[19]
  1. "embryonic tathāgata", the incipient Buddha, the cause of the Tathāgata,
  2. "womb of the tathāgata", the fruit of Tathāgata.
According to King, the Chinese rúláizàng was taken in its meaning as "womb" or "fruit".[19]
  • Wayman & Hideko also point out that the Chinese regularly takes garbha as "womb",[25] but prefer to use the term "embryo".
  • According to Brown, following Wayman & Hideko, "embryo" is the best fitting translation, since it preserves "the dynamic, self-transformative nature of the tathagatagarbha."[20]
  • According to Zimmermann, garbha may also mean the interior or center of something,[29] and its essence or central part.[30] As a tatpuruṣa[note 7] it may refer to a person being a "womb" for or "container" of the tathagata.[31] As a bahuvrihi[note 8] it may refer to a person as having an embryonic tathagata inside.[31] In both cases, this embryonic tathagata still has to be developed.[31] Zimmermann concludes that tathagatagarbha is a bahuvrihi, meaning "containing a tathagata",[21][32][note 9] but notes the variety of meanings of garbha, such as "containing", "born from", "embryo", "(embracing/concealing) womb", "calyx", "child", "member of a clan", "core", which may all be brought into mind when the term tathagatagarbha is being used.[21]
  • In addition to Zimmerman's statement that tathagatagarbha most natural means "containing a Tathagata," Paul Williams notes that garbha also means "womb/matrix" and "seed/embryo," and "the innermost part of something." The term tathagatagarbha can thus also imply "that sentient beings have a tathāgata within them in seed or embryo, that sentient beings are the wombs or matrices of the tathāgata, or that they have a tathāgata as their essence, core, or essential inner nature."[32] According to Williams, the term tathāgatagarbha "may also have been intended simply to answer the question how it is possible that all sentient beings can attain the state of a Buddha.[33]

Buddhadhātu

The term "buddha-nature" (traditional Chinese: 佛性; ; pinyin: fóxìng, Japanese: busshō[19]) is closely related in meaning to the term tathāgatagarbha, but is not an exact translation of this term.[19][note 10] It refers to what is essential in the human being.[34]

The corresponding Sanskrit term is buddhadhātu.[19] It has two meanings, namely the nature of the Buddha, equivalent to the term dharmakāya, and the cause of the Buddha.[19] The link between the cause and the result is the nature (dhātu) which is common to both, namely the dharmadhātu.[34]

Matsumoto Shirō also points out that "buddha-nature" translates the Sanskrit-term buddhadhātu, a "place to put something," a "foundation," a "locus."[35] According to Shirō, it does not mean "original nature" or "essence," nor does it mean the "possibility of the attainment of Buddhahood," "the original nature of the Buddha," or "the essence of the Buddha."[35]

In the Vajrayana, the term for buddha-nature is sugatagarbha.

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Tathāgata

Tathāgata

Tathāgata is a Pali word; Gautama Buddha uses it when referring to himself or other Buddhas in the Pāli Canon. The term is often thought to mean either "one who has thus gone" (tathā-gata), "one who has thus come" (tathā-āgata), or sometimes "one who has thus not gone" (tathā-agata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathāgata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are, however, other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain.

Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel

Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel

gZhon-nu-dpal (1392-1481), also known as 'Gos Lo-tsa-ba was a famous Tibetan historian and scholar, known as the author of the "Blue Annals".

Luminous mind

Luminous mind

Luminous mind is a Buddhist term which appears only rarely in the Pali Canon, but is common in the Mahayana sūtras and central to the Buddhist tantras. It is variously translated as "brightly shining mind", or "mind of clear light" while the related term luminosity is also translated as "clear light" or "luminosity" in Tibetan Buddhist contexts or, "purity" in East Asian contexts.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva

In Buddhism, a bodhisattva or bodhisatva is a person who is on the path towards bodhi ('awakening') or Buddhahood.

Tathāgatagarbha sūtras

Tathāgatagarbha sūtras

The Tathāgatagarbha sūtras are a group of Mahayana sutras that present the concept of the "womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the tathāgata, the buddha. Every sentient being has the possibility to attain Buddhahood because of the tathāgatagarbha.

Bahuvrihi

Bahuvrihi

A bahuvrihi compound is a type of compound word that denotes a referent by specifying a certain characteristic or quality the referent possesses. A bahuvrihi is exocentric, so that the compound is not a hyponym of its head. For instance, a sabretooth (smil-odon) is neither a sabre nor a tooth, but a feline with sabre-like teeth.

Paul Williams (Buddhist studies scholar)

Paul Williams (Buddhist studies scholar)

Paul Williams is Emeritus Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy at the University of Bristol, England. Until his retirement in 2011 he was also director for the University's Centre for Buddhist Studies, and is a former president of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies.

Buddhahood

Buddhahood

In Buddhism, Buddha, "awakened one", is a title for those who are awake, and have attained nirvana and Buddhahood through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma. The title is most commonly used for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, who is often simply known as "the Buddha". Buddhahood is the condition and rank of a buddha "awakened one". This highest spiritual state of being is also termed sammā-sambodhi.

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are one type of standard Chinese character sets of the contemporary written Chinese. The traditional characters had taken shapes since the clerical change and mostly remained in the same structure they took at the introduction of the regular script in the 2nd century. Over the following centuries, traditional characters were regarded as the standard form of printed Chinese characters or literary Chinese throughout the Sinosphere until the middle of the 20th century, before different script reforms initiated by countries using Chinese characters as a writing system.

Pinyin

Pinyin

Hanyu Pinyin, often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally written in Chinese form, to learners already familiar with the Latin alphabet. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones, but pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written in the Latin script, and is also used in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters. The word Hànyǔ literally means "Han language", while Pīnyīn (拼音) means "spelled sounds".

Japanese language

Japanese language

Japanese is spoken natively by about 128 million people, primarily by Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language. Japanese belongs to the Japonic or Japanese-Ryukyuan language family. There have been many attempts to group the Japonic languages with other families such as the Ainu, Austroasiatic, Koreanic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Dharmakāya

Dharmakāya

The dharmakāya is one of the three bodies (trikāya) of a buddha in Mahāyāna Buddhism. The dharmakāya constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (acintya) aspect of a buddha out of which buddhas arise and to which they return after their dissolution. Buddhas are manifestations of the dharmakāya called the nirmāṇakāya, "transformation body".

Indian Sutra sources

Earliest sources

According to Wayman, the idea of the tathagatagarbha is grounded on sayings by the Buddha that there is something called the luminous mind[9] (prabhasvara citta[12]), "which is only adventitiously covered over by defilements (agantukaklesa)"[12] The luminous mind is mentioned in a passage from the Anguttara Nikaya:[36] "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements."[37][note 11] The Mahāsāṃghika school coupled this idea of the luminous mind with the idea of the mulavijnana, the substratum consciousness that serves as the basis consciousness.[9]

From the idea of the luminous mind emerged the idea that the awakened mind is the pure (visuddhi), undefiled mind. In the tathagatagarbha-sutras it is this pure consciousness that is regarded to be the seed from which Buddhahood grows:

When this intrinsically pure consciousness came to be regarded as an element capable of growing into Buddhahood, there was the "embryo (garbha) of the Tathagata (=Buddha)" doctrine, whether or not this term is employed.[9]

Karl Brunnholzl writes that the first probable mention of the term is in the Ekottarika Agama (though here it is used in a different way than in later texts). The passage states:

If someone devotes himself to the Ekottarikagama, Then he has the tathagatagarbha. Even if his body cannot exhaust defilements in this life, In his next life he will attain supreme wisdom.[4]

This tathāgatagarbha idea was the result of an interplay between various strands of Buddhist thought, on the nature of human consciousness and the means of awakening.[38][39][13] Gregory comments on this origin of the Tathagatagarba-doctrine: "The implication of this doctrine [...] is that enlightenment is the natural and true state of the mind."[12]

Avatamsaka Sutra

According to Wayman, the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (1st-3rd century CE) was the next step in the development of the buddha-nature thought after the concept of the luminous mind:

[W]here it is taught that the Buddha's divine knowledge pervades sentient beings, and that its representation in an individual being is the substratum consciousness.[9]

The Avataṃsaka Sūtra does not contain a "singular discussion of the concept",[20] but the idea of "a universal penetration of sentient beings by the wisdom of the Buddha (buddhajñāna)" was complementary to the concept of the Buddha-womb.[20] The basic idea of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra is the unity of the absolute and the relative:

All in One, One in All. The All melts into a single whole. There are no divisions in the totality of reality [...] [I]t views the cosmos as holy, as "one bright pearl," the universal reality of the Buddha. The universal Buddhahood of all reality is the religious message of the Avatamsaka-sutra.[40][note 12]

All levels of reality are related and interpenetrated. This is depicted in the image of Indra's net. This "unity in totality allows every individual entity of the phenomenal world its uniqueness without attributing an inherent nature to anything".[41]

Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra

The Lotus Sutra (Skt: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra), written between 100 BCE and 200 CE, does not use the term buddha-nature, but Japanese scholars of Buddhism suggest that the idea is nevertheless expressed or implied in the text.[42][43] In the sixth century Lotus Sutra commentaries began to argue that the text teaches the concept of buddha-nature and, according to Stephen F. Teiser and Jacqueline Stone, "the Lotus Sutra came to be widely understood as teaching the universality of the buddha-nature."[44] The sutra shares other themes and ideas with the later tathāgatagarbha sūtras like the tathāgatagarbha sūtra and several scholars theorize that it was an influence on these texts.[45][46][47]

The tenth chapter emphasizes, in accordance with the Bodhisattva-ideal of the Mahayana teachings, that everyone can be liberated. All living beings can become a buddha, not only monks and nuns, but also laypeople, śrāvakas, bodhisattvas, and non-human creatures.[45] It also details that all living beings can be a 'teacher of the Dharma'.

The twelfth chapter of the Lotus Sutra details that the potential to become enlightened is universal among all people, even the historical Devadatta has the potential to become a buddha.[48] The story of Devadatta is followed by another story about a dragon princess who is both a nāga and a female, whom the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī proclaims will reach enlightenment immediately, in her present form.

Tathāgatagarbha Sūtras

The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra states that the tathāgatagarbha is like the grain of rice contained inside of the husk of the rice plant
The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra states that the tathāgatagarbha is like the grain of rice contained inside of the husk of the rice plant

There are several major Indian texts which discuss the idea of buddha-nature and they are often termed the tathāgatagarbha sūtras. According to Brunnholzl "the earliest mahayana sutras that are based on and discuss the notion of tathagatagarbha as the buddha potential that is innate in all sentient beings began to appear in written form in the late second and early third century."[4] Their ideas became very influential in East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. The Tathāgatagarbha sūtras include the Tathāgatagarbha sūtra, Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa, Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra, Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, and the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra.[49]

Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra

The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra (200-250 CE) is considered (...) "the earliest expression of this (the tathāgatagarbha doctrine) and the term tathāgatagarbha itself seems to have been coined in this very sutra."[50] It states that one is already or primordially awakened and that all beings already have perfect buddhahood within themselves but do not recognize it because it is covered over by afflictions.[51][52][53][54]

The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra uses nine similes to illustrate the concept:[55]

This [tathāgatagarbha] abides within the shroud of the afflictions, as should be understood through [the following nine] examples: Just like a buddha in a decaying lotus, honey amidst bees, a grain in its husk, gold in filth, a treasure underground, a shoot and so on sprouting from a little fruit, a statue of the Victorious One in a tattered rag, a ruler of humankind in a destitute woman's womb, and a precious image under clay, this [buddha] element abides within all sentient beings, obscured by the defilement of the adventitious poisons.

Another one of these texts, the Ghanavyuha Sutra (as quoted by Longchenpa) states that the tathāgatagarbha is the ground of all things:

... the ultimate universal ground also has always been with the Buddha-Essence (Tathagatagarbha), and this essence in terms of the universal ground has been taught by the Tathagata. The fools who do not know it, because of their habits, see even the universal ground as (having) various happiness and suffering and actions and emotional defilements. Its nature is pure and immaculate, its qualities are as wishing-jewels; there are neither changes nor cessations. Whoever realizes it attains Liberation ...[56]

Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra

The Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra (3rd century CE[57]), also named The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala, centers on the teaching of the tathāgatagarbha as "ultimate soteriological principle".[58] Regarding the tathāgatagarbha, it states:

Lord, the Tathagatagarbha is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. The Tathagatagarbha is not the domain of beings who fall into the belief in a real personality, who adhere to wayward views, whose thoughts are distracted by voidness. Lord, this Tathagatagarbha is the embryo of the Illustrious Dharmadhatu, the embryo of the Dharmakaya, the embryo of the supramundane dharma, the embryo of the intrinsically pure dharma.[59]

In the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra there are two possible states for the tathāgatagarbha:

[E]ither covered by defilements, when it is called only "embryo of the Tathagata"; or free from defilements, when the "embryo of the Tathagata" is no more the "embryo" (potentiality) but the Tathagata (actuality).[5]

The sutra itself states it this way:

This Dharmakaya of the Tathagata when not free from the store of defilement is referred to as the Tathagatagarbha.[60]

Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra

According to the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra (2nd c. CE[61]), tathāgatagarbha has the following fundamental natures:[note 13][note 14]

  • Neither arising nor ceasing - tathāgatagarbha permanently exists in the world, never arises, and therefore is never destroyed or perished.[note 15]
  • Independence - tathāgatagarbha possesses the intrinsic nature of independently existing without relying on other dharmas. Therefore, all worldly phenomena of aggregates, sense-fields, and elements have the nature of arising and ceasing but tathagatagarbha possesses the intrinsic nature of independence. In addition to tathagatagarbha itself, the intrinsic natures of tathagatagarbha also originally exist without increasing and decreasing and do not change owing to the variance of any conditions.[note 16]
  • Non-perceptiveness - tathāgatagarbha is not the perceptive mind; it does not have the perceptual functions of seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing regarding the six external sense-objects which the perceptive mind has and therefore does not have the nature to discriminate goodness or badness either.[note 17]
  • Invariability - the tathāgatagarbha and its fundamental natures have the quality of permanence, eternity, imperishability, or diamond (vajra) nature. These are sustained everlastingly and do not change according to the variance of time and space. The Aṅgulimālīya states: "Permanence is the Buddha-nature," "Eternity is the Buddha-nature," "Invariability is the Buddha-nature," "Non-badness is the Buddha-nature," "Non-damage is the Buddha-nature," "No sickness is the Buddha-nature," "Non-aging is the Buddha-nature,"[note 18]
  • Storability - tathāgatagarbha stores a sentient being's seeds of all phenomena, including the seeds of good, bad, and neutral karmas.

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

A Sui dynasty manuscript of the Nirvāṇa Sūtra
A Sui dynasty manuscript of the Nirvāṇa Sūtra

The early buddha-nature concept as expressed in the seminal 'tathagatagarbha sutra' named the Nirvana Sutra is, according to Kevin Trainor, as follows:

Sentient beings are said to possess a sacred nature that is the basis for them becoming buddhas [...] this buddha-nature is in fact our true nature [...] universal and completely unsullied by whatever psychological and karmic state an individual may be in."[3]

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (written 2nd century CE) was very influential in the Chinese reception of the Buddhist teachings.[13] The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra linked the concept of tathāgatagarbha with the buddhadhātu.[14] Kosho Yamamoto points out that the Nirvana Sutra contains a series of equations: "Thus, there comes about the equation of: Buddha Body = Dharmakaya = eternal body = eternal Buddha = Eternity."[63] According to Shimoda Masahiro, the authors of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra were leaders and advocates of stupa worship. The term buddhadhātu originally referred to relics. In the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, it came to be used in place of the concept of tathāgatagārbha. The authors used the teachings of the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra to reshape the worship of the physical relics of the Buddha into worship of the inner Buddha as a principle of salvation.[15] Sasaki, in a review of Shimoda, conveys a key premise of Shimoda's work, namely, that the origins of Mahayana Buddhism and the Nirvana Sutra are entwined.[64]

The buddha-nature is always present, in all times and in all beings. This does not mean that sentient beings are at present endowed with the qualities of a Buddha, but that they will have those qualities in the future.[65] It is obscured from worldly vision by the screening effect of tenacious negative mental afflictions within each being.[note 19] Once these negative mental states have been eliminated, however, the Buddha-dhatu is said to shine forth unimpededly and the Buddha-sphere (Buddha-dhatu/ visaya) can then be consciously "entered into", and therewith deathless Nirvana attained:[66]

[T]he tathagatagarbha is none but Thusness or the Buddha Nature, and is the originally untainted pure mind which lies overspread by, and exists in, the mind of greed and anger of all beings. This bespeaks a Buddha Body that exists in a state of bondage.[67]

According to Sallie B. King, it does not represent a major innovation, and is rather unsystematic,[14] which made it "a fruitful one for later students and commentators, who were obliged to create their own order and bring it to the text".[14] According to King, its most important innovation is the linking of the term buddhadhatu with tathagatagarbha.[14] The sutra presents the buddha-nature or tathagatagarbha as a "Self". The Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra refers to a true self. "The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṅa Sūtra, especially influential in East Asian Buddhist thought, goes so far as to speak of it as our true self (ātman). Its precise metaphysical and ontological status is, however, open to interpretation in the terms of different Mahāyāna philosophical schools; for the Madhyamikas it must be empty of its own existence like everything else; for the Yogacarins, following the Laṅkāvatāra, it can be identified with store consciousness, as the receptacle of the seeds of awakening.[68] Paul Williams states: "[...] it is obvious that the Mahaparinirvana Sutra does not consider it impossible for a Buddhist to affirm an atman provided it is clear what the correct understanding of this concept is, and indeed the sutra clearly sees certain advantages in doing so."[69] but it speaks about buddha-nature in so many different ways, that Chinese scholars created a list of types of buddha-nature that could be found in the text.[14] Paul Williams also notes:

Nevertheless the sutra as it stands is quite clear that while [...] we can speak of [the tathagatagharba] as Self, actually it is not at all a Self, and those who have such Self-notions cannot perceive the tathagatagarbha and thus become enlightened (see Ruegg 1989a: 21-6).[69]

Williams further explains that, while speaking of a Self, the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra does not determine this further than that which "enables sentient beings to become Buddhas."[28]

Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra

The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (compiled 350-400 CE[70]) synthesized the tathagatagarba-doctrine and the ālāya-vijñāna doctrine. The Lankavatara Sutra "assimilates Tathagata-garbha thought to the Yogacara-viewpoint, and this assimilation is further developed in [...] The Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana".[71] According to the Lankavatara Sutra tathāgatagarbha is identical to the ālaya-vijñāna, known prior to awakening as the storehouse-consciousness or 8th consciousness.[72] The ālāya-vijñāna is supposed to contain the pure seed, or tathagatagarbha, from which awakening arises.[12]

The Lankavatara-sutra contains tathagata-garba thought, but also warns against reification of the idea of buddha-nature, and presents it as an aid to attaining awakening:

Is not this Tathagata-garbha taught by the Blessed One the same as the ego-substance taught by the philosophers? The ego as taught by the philosophers is an eternal creator, unqualified, omnipresent, and imperishable.
The Blessed One replied: [...] it is emptiness, reality-limit, Nirvana, being unborn, unqualified, and devoid of will-effort; the reason why the Tathagatas [...] teach the doctrine pointing to the Tathagata-garba is to make the ignorant cast aside their fear when they listen to the teaching of egolessness and to have them realise the state of non-discrimination and imagelessness[73]

According to Alex and Hideko Wayman, the equation of tathagatagarbha and ālāya-vijñāna is innovative:

It is plain that when the Lankavatara-sutra identifies the two terms, this scripture necessarily diverges in the meaning of one or both of the terms from the usage of the term Tathagatagarbha in the earlier Sri-Mala or of the term ālāya-vijñāna in the subsequent Yogacara school.[74][note 20]

Discover more about Indian Sutra sources related topics

Luminous mind

Luminous mind

Luminous mind is a Buddhist term which appears only rarely in the Pali Canon, but is common in the Mahayana sūtras and central to the Buddhist tantras. It is variously translated as "brightly shining mind", or "mind of clear light" while the related term luminosity is also translated as "clear light" or "luminosity" in Tibetan Buddhist contexts or, "purity" in East Asian contexts.

Kleshas (Buddhism)

Kleshas (Buddhism)

Kleshas, in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term kleshas, such as: afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, neurosis etc.

Mahāsāṃghika

Mahāsāṃghika

The Mahāsāṃghika was one of the early Buddhist schools. Interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school lies in the fact that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represent an older redaction overall. Many scholars also look to the Mahāsāṃghika branch for the initial development of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Eight Consciousnesses

Eight Consciousnesses

The Eight Consciousnesses is a classification developed in the tradition of the Yogācāra school of Mahayana Buddhism. They enumerate the five sense consciousnesses, supplemented by the mental consciousness (manovijñāna), the defiled mental consciousness (kliṣṭamanovijñāna), and finally the fundamental store-house consciousness (ālāyavijñāna), which is the basis of the other seven. This eighth consciousness is said to store the impressions (vāsanāḥ) of previous experiences, which form the seeds (bīja) of future karma in this life and in the next after rebirth.

Buddhahood

Buddhahood

In Buddhism, Buddha, "awakened one", is a title for those who are awake, and have attained nirvana and Buddhahood through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma. The title is most commonly used for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, who is often simply known as "the Buddha". Buddhahood is the condition and rank of a buddha "awakened one". This highest spiritual state of being is also termed sammā-sambodhi.

Avatamsaka Sutra

Avatamsaka Sutra

The Avataṃsaka Sūtra or Buddhāvataṃsaka-nāma-mahā­vaipulya-sūtra is one of the most influential Mahāyāna sutras of East Asian Buddhism. In Classical Sanskrit, avataṃsaka means garland, wreath, or any circular ornament, such as an earring. Thus, the title may be rendered in English as A Garland of Buddhas, Buddha Ornaments, or Buddha’s Garland. In Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, the term avataṃsaka means “a great number,” “a multitude,” or “a collection.” This is matched by the Tibetan title of the sutra, which is A Multitude of Buddhas.

Indra's net

Indra's net

Indra's net is a metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of Śūnyatā (emptiness), pratītyasamutpāda, and interpenetration in Buddhist philosophy.

Lotus Sutra

Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most influential and venerated Buddhist Mahāyāna sūtras. It is the main scripture on which the Tiantai, Tendai, Cheontae, and Nichiren schools of Buddhism were established. It is also influential for other East Asian Buddhist schools, such as Zen. According to the British Buddhologist Paul Williams, "For many Buddhists in East Asia since early times, the Lotus Sūtra contains the final teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha—complete and sufficient for salvation." The American Buddhologist Donald S. Lopez Jr. writes that the Lotus Sūtra "is arguably the most famous of all Buddhist texts," presenting "a radical re-vision of both the Buddhist path and of the person of the Buddha."

Jacqueline Stone

Jacqueline Stone

Jacqueline Ilyse Stone is an emeritus Professor of Japanese Religion in the Department of Religion at Princeton University's Department of Religion and a specialist in Japanese Buddhism, particularly Kamakura Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism from medieval to modern times, and deathbed practices in Japan, She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva

In Buddhism, a bodhisattva or bodhisatva is a person who is on the path towards bodhi ('awakening') or Buddhahood.

Devadatta

Devadatta

Devadatta was by tradition a Buddhist monk, cousin and brother-in-law of Gautama Siddhārtha. The accounts of his life vary greatly, but he is generally seen as an evil and divisive figure in Buddhism, who led a breakaway group in the earliest days of the religion.

Longnü

Longnü

Longnü, translated as Dragon Girl, along with Sudhana are considered acolytes of the bodhisattva Guanyin (Avalokiteśvara) in Chinese Buddhism. Her presence in Guanyin's iconography was influenced by tantric sutras celebrating the esoteric Amoghapāśa and Thousand-armed forms of Guanyin, which mention Longnü offering Guanyin a priceless pearl in gratitude for the latter visiting the Dragon King's palace at the bottom of the ocean to teach the inhabitants her salvific dharani.

Indian commentaries

The tathāgatagarbha doctrine was also widely discussed by Indian Mahayana scholars in treatises or commentaries, called śāstra, the most influential of which was the Ratnagotravibhāga (5th century CE).

Ratnagotravibhāga or Uttaratantraśāstra

The Ratnagotravibhāga, also called Uttaratantraśāstra (5th century CE), is an Indian śāstra in which synthesised all the major elements and themes of the tathāgatagārbha theory.[20] It gives an overview of authoritative tathāgatagarbha sutras, mentioning the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra, the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra, Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra, the Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa and the Mahābherīharaka-sūtra.[77] It presents the tathāgatagarbha as "an ultimate, unconditional reality that is simultaneously the inherent, dynamic process towards its complete manifestation".[78] Mundane and enlightened reality are seen as complementary:

Thusness [tathata] defiled is the Tathagatagarbha, and Thusness undefiled is Enlightenment.[5]

In the Ratnagotravibhāga, the tathāgatagarbha is seen as having three specific characteristics: (1) dharmakaya, (2) suchness, and (3) disposition, as well as the general characteristic (4) non-conceptuality.[10]

According to the Ratnagotravibhāga, all sentient beings have "the embryo of the Tathagata" in three senses:[79]

  1. the Tathāgata's dharmakāya permeates all sentient beings;
  2. the Tathāgata's tathatā is omnipresent (avyatibheda);
  3. the Tathāgata's species (gotra, a synonym for tathagatagarbha) occurs in them.

The Ratnagotravibhāga equates enlightenment with the nirvāṇa-realm and the dharmakāya.[5] It gives a variety of synonyms for garbha, the most frequently used being gotra and dhatu.[78]

This text also explains the tathāgatagarbha in terms of luminous mind: "The luminous nature of the mind Is unchanging, just like space."[80]

Madhyamaka school

Indian Madhyamaka philosophers interpreted the theory as a description of emptiness and as a non implicative negation. Bhaviveka's Tarkajvala states:

[The expression] "possessing the tathagata heart" is [used] because emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, and so on, exist in the mind streams of all sentient beings. However, it is not something like a permanent and all-pervasive person that is the inner agent. For we find [passages] such as "All phenomena have the nature of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness. What is emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness is the Tathagata."[81]

Candrakirti's Madhyamakāvatārabhāsya states: "One should know that since [the alaya-consciousness] follows the nature of all entities, it is nothing but emptiness that is taught through the term 'alaya-consciousness.'"[81]

Go Lotsawa states that this statement is referencing the tathāgatagarbha doctrine.[81] Candrakirti's Madhyamakāvatārabhāsya also argues, basing itself on the Lankavatara sutra, that "the statement of the emptiness of sentient beings being a buddha adorned with all major and minor marks is of expedient meaning".[81]

Kamalasila's (c. 740-795) Madhyamakaloka associates tathāgatagarbha with luminosity and luminosity with emptiness:

This statement "All sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart" teaches that all are suitable to attain the state of unsurpassable completely perfect awakening since it is held that the term tathāgata expresses that the dharmadhātu, which is characterized by personal and phenomenal identitylessness, is natural luminosity.[82]

Uniquely among Madhyamaka texts, some texts attributed to Nagarjuna, mainly poetic works like the Dharmadhatustava, Cittavajrastava, and Bodhicittavivarana associate the term tathāgatagarbha with the luminous nature of the mind.[80]

Yogacara scholars

According to Brunnholzl, "all early Indian Yogacara masters (such as Asanga, Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, and Asvabhava), if they refer to the term tathāgatagarbha at all, always explain it as nothing but suchness in the sense of twofold identitylessness".[82]

Some later Yogacara scholars spoke of the tathāgatagarbha in more positive terms, such as Jñanasrimitra who in his Sakarasiddhi equates it with the appearances of lucidity (prakasarupa). Likewise, Brunnholzl notes that "Ratnakarasanti generally describes the tathagata heart as being equivalent to naturally luminous mind, nondual self-awareness, and the perfect nature (which he considers to be an implicative negation and not a nonimplicative negation)."[83]

Alaya-vijñana

The Yogacara concept of the alaya-vijñana (store consciousness) also came to be associated by some scholars with the tathāgatagarbha. This can be seen in sutras like the Lankavatara, the Srimaladevi and in the translations of Paramartha.[84] The concept of the ālaya-vijñāna originally meant defiled consciousness: defiled by the workings of the five senses and the mind. It was also seen as the mūla-vijñāna, the base-consciousness or "stream of consciousness" from which awareness and perception spring.[85]

To account for the notion of buddha-nature in all beings, with the Yogacara belief in the Five Categories of Beings, Yogacara scholars in China such as Tz'u-en (慈恩, 632-682) the first patriarch in China, advocated two types of nature: the latent nature found in all beings (理佛性) and the buddha-nature in practice (行佛性). The latter nature was determined by the innate seeds in the alaya.[86]

Trikaya doctrine

Around 300 CE, the Yogacara school systematized the prevalent ideas on the nature of the Buddha in the Trikaya or three-body doctrine. According to this doctrine, Buddhahood has three aspects:[87]

  1. The Nirmana-kaya, or Transformation-body, the earthly manifestation of the Buddha;
  2. The Sambhogakāya, or Enjoyment-body, a subtle body, by which the Buddha appears to bodhisattvas to teach them;
  3. The Dharmakāya, or Dharma-body, the ultimate nature of the Buddha, and the ultimate nature of reality.

They may be described as follows:

The first is the 'Knowledge-body' (Jnana-kaya), the inner nature shared by all Buddhas, their Buddha-ness (buddhata)
[...] The second aspect of the Dharma-body is the 'Self-existent-body' (Svabhavika-kaya). This is the ultimate nature of reality, thusness, emptiness: the non-nature which is the very nature of dharmas, their dharma-ness (dharmata). It is the Tathagata-garbha and bodhicitta hidden within beings, and the transformed 'storehouse-consciousness'.

Discover more about Indian commentaries related topics

Shastra

Shastra

Shastra is a Sanskrit word that means "precept, rules, manual, compendium, book or treatise" in a general sense. The word is generally used as a suffix in the Indian literature context, for technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area of practice.

Ratnagotravibhāga

Ratnagotravibhāga

The Ratnagotravibhāga and its vyākhyā commentary, also known as the Uttaratantraśāstra , are a compendium of the tathāgatagarbha literature. The text was originally composed in Sanskrit, likely between the middle of the third century and no later than 433 CE. Authorship is uncertain, the Tibetan tradition states it was taught by the Bodhisattva Maitreya and transmitted via Asanga, while the Chinese tradition states it was written by a certain Sāramati. Modern scholarship favors Sāramati. The text and its commentary are also preserved in Tibetan and Chinese translations.

Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra

Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra

The Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra is a Mahāyāna Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere and not to Nirvāṇa, and that the Tathāgatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena. The sutra consists mostly of stanzas in verse.

Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa

Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa

The Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa, “Neither Increase nor Decrease Sūtra,” is a short Mahayana text belonging to the tathagatagarbha class of sutras.

Dharmakāya

Dharmakāya

The dharmakāya is one of the three bodies (trikāya) of a buddha in Mahāyāna Buddhism. The dharmakāya constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (acintya) aspect of a buddha out of which buddhas arise and to which they return after their dissolution. Buddhas are manifestations of the dharmakāya called the nirmāṇakāya, "transformation body".

Conceptual proliferation

Conceptual proliferation

In Buddhism, conceptual proliferation or, alternatively, mental proliferation or conceptual elaboration, refers to conceptualization of the world through language and concepts which can then be a cause for suffering to arise. The translation of papañca as conceptual proliferation was first made by Katukurunde Nyanananda Thera in his research monograph Concept and Reality.

Luminous mind

Luminous mind

Luminous mind is a Buddhist term which appears only rarely in the Pali Canon, but is common in the Mahayana sūtras and central to the Buddhist tantras. It is variously translated as "brightly shining mind", or "mind of clear light" while the related term luminosity is also translated as "clear light" or "luminosity" in Tibetan Buddhist contexts or, "purity" in East Asian contexts.

Madhyamaka

Madhyamaka

Mādhyamaka, otherwise known as Śūnyavāda and Niḥsvabhāvavāda, refers to a tradition of Buddhist philosophy and practice founded by the Indian Buddhist monk and philosopher Nāgārjuna. The foundational text of the Mādhyamaka tradition is Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. More broadly, Mādhyamaka also refers to the ultimate nature of phenomena as well as the non-conceptual realization of ultimate reality that is experienced in meditation.

Bhāviveka

Bhāviveka

Bhāviveka, also called Bhāvaviveka, and Bhavya was a sixth-century madhyamaka Buddhist philosopher. Alternative names for this figure also include Bhavyaviveka, Bhāvin, Bhāviviveka, Bhagavadviveka and Bhavya. Bhāviveka is the author of the Madhyamakahrdaya, its auto-commentary the Tarkajvālā and the Prajñāpradīpa.

Chandrakirti

Chandrakirti

Chandrakirti or "Chandra" was a Buddhist scholar of the madhyamaka school and a noted commentator on the works of Nagarjuna and those of his main disciple, Aryadeva. He wrote two influential works on madhyamaka, the Prasannapadā and the Madhyamakāvatāra.

Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel

Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel

gZhon-nu-dpal (1392-1481), also known as 'Gos Lo-tsa-ba was a famous Tibetan historian and scholar, known as the author of the "Blue Annals".

Kamalaśīla

Kamalaśīla

Kamalaśīla was an Indian Buddhist of Nalanda Mahavihara who accompanied Śāntarakṣita (725–788) to Tibet at the request of Trisong Detsen. He is considered one of the most important Madhyamaka authors of late Indian Buddhism although little is known about his life aside from details left in Tibetan sources. Tibetan sources refer to him, Santaraksita and Jñānagarbha as rang rgyud shar gsum meaning the “three eastern Svātantrikas” indicating their origins from Eastern India.

Chinese Buddhism

The tathāgatagarbha idea was extremely influential in the development of East Asian Buddhism.[38] When Buddhism was introduced to China, in the 1st century CE, Buddhism was understood through comparisons of its teachings to Chinese terms and ways of thinking. Chinese Buddhist thinkers like Zhi Mindu, Zhidun, and Huiyuan (d. 433) interpreted Buddhist concepts in terms of the Chinese neo-daoist philosophy called 'dark learning' (xuanxue).[16] This tendency was only later countered by the work of Chinese Madhyamaka scholar-translators like Kumarajiva.

The buddha nature idea was introduced into China with the translation of the Mahaparanirvana sutra in the early fifth century and this text became the central source of buddha-nature doctrine in Chinese Buddhism.[18] Based on their understanding of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra some Chinese Buddhists supposed that the teaching of the buddha-nature was, as stated by that sutra, the final Buddhist teaching, and that there is an essential truth above sunyata and the two truths.[88] This idea was interpreted as being similar to the ideas of Dao and Principle (Li) in Chinese philosophy.

Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana was very influential in the development of Chinese Buddhism [13] said to have been translated by Paramartha (499-569). While the text is traditionally attributed to Aśvaghoṣa, no Sanskrit version of the text is extant. The earliest known versions are written in Chinese, and contemporary scholars believe that the text is a Chinese composition.[89][90]

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana offers a synthesis of Chinese buddhist thinking.[91] It sees the buddha-nature doctrine as a cosmological theory, in contrast to the Indo-Tibetan tradition, where the soteriological aspect is emphasized.[92] It described the "One Mind" which "includes in itself all states of being of the phenomenal and transcendental world".[92] It tried to harmonize the ideas of the tathāgatagarbha and ālāya-vijñāna:

In the words of the Awakening of Faith — which summarizes the essentials of Mahayana — self and world, mind and suchness, are integrally one. Everything is a carrier of that a priori enlightenment; all incipient enlightenment is predicated on it. The mystery of existence is, then, not, "How may we overcome alienation?" The challenge is, rather, "Why do we think we are lost in the first place?"[13]

In Awakening of Faith the 'one mind' has two aspects, namely tathata, suchness, the things as they are, and samsara, the cycle of birth and death.[91] This text was in line with an essay by Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty (reign 502-549 CE), in which he postulated a pure essence, the enlightened mind, trapped in darkness, which is ignorance. By this ignorance the pure mind is trapped in samsara. This resembles the tathāgatagarba and the idea of the defilement of the luminous mind.[91] In a commentary on this essay Shen Yue stated that insight into this true essence is awakened by stopping the thoughts - a point of view which is also being found in the Platform Sutra of Huineng.[91]

The joining together of these different ideas supported the notion of the ekayāna, the one vehicle: absolute oneness, all-pervading Buddha-wisdom and original enlightenment as a holistic whole. This synthesis was a reflection of the unity which was attained in China with the united Song dynasty.[93]

In Chinese Yogacara and Madhyamaka

By the 6th century CE buddha nature had been well established in Chinese Buddhism and a wide variety of theories developed to explain it.[18] One influential figure who wrote about buddha nature was Ching-ying Hui-yuan (523-592 CE), a Chinese Yogacarin who argued for a kind of idealism which held that: "All dharmas without exception originate and are formed from the true[-mind], and other than the true[-mind], there exists absolutely nothing which can give rise to false thoughts."[18]

Ching-ying Hui-yuan equated this 'true mind' with the alaya-vijñana, the tathāgatagarbha and "Buddha-nature" (fóxìng) and held that it was an essence, a true consciousness and a metaphysical principle that ensured that all sentient beings will reach enlightenment.[18] According to Ming-Wood Liu "Hui-yuan's interpretation of the buddha-nature doctrine represents the culmination of a long process of transformation of the "Buddha-nature" from a basically practical to an ontological concept."[18]

The Chinese Yogacara school was also split on the relationship between the tathāgatagarbha and ālayavijñāna. Fa-shang (495-580), representing the southern Yogacara, asserted that they were separate, that the alaya was illusiory and impure while buddha-nature was the ultimate source of all phenomenal reality.[17] In the northern school meanwhile, it was held that the alaya and buddha-nature were the same pure support for all phenomena.[17] In the sixth and seventh centuries, the Yogacara theory became associated with a substantialist non-dual metaphysics which saw buddha nature as an eternal ground. This idea was promoted by figures like Fazang and Ratnamati.[16]

In contrast with the Chinese Yogacara view, the Chinese Madhyamaka scholar Jizang (549–623 CE) sought to remove all ontological connotations of the term as a metaphysical reality and saw buddha nature as being synonymous with terms like "tathata," "dharmadhatu," "ekayana," "wisdom, '' "ultimate reality," "middle way" and also the wisdom that contemplates dependent origination.[18] In formulating his view, Jizang was influenced by the earlier Chinese Madhyamaka thinker Sengzhao (384–414 CE) who was a key figure in outlining an understanding of emptiness which was based on the Indian sources and not on Daoist concepts which previous Chinese Buddhists had used.[16] Jizang used the compound "Middle Way-buddha-nature" (zhongdao foxing 中道佛 性) to refer to his view.[94] Jizang was also one of the first Chinese philosophers to famously argue that plants and insentient objects have buddha-nature, which he also termed true reality and universal principle (dao).[94]

In the 20th century, the influential Chinese master Yin Shun drew on Chinese Madhyamaka to argue against any Yogacara influenced view that buddha-nature was an underlying permanent ground of reality and instead supported the view that buddha-nature teachings are just an expedient means.[16] Yin Shun, drawing on his study of Indian Madhyamaka promoted the emptiness of all things as the ultimate Buddhist truth, and argued that the buddha-nature teaching was a provisional teaching taught in order to ease the fear of some Buddhists regarding emptiness as well as to attract those people who have an affinity to the idea of a Self or Brahman.[16] Later after taking up the Buddhist path, they would be introduced to the truth of emptiness.[16]

In Tiantai

In the Tiantai school, the primary figure is the scholar Zhiyi. According to Paul L. Swanson, none of Zhiyi's works discuss buddha- nature explicitly at length however. Yet it is still an important concept in his philosophy, which is seen as synonymous with the ekayana principle outlined in the Lotus Sutra.[6] Swanson argues that for Zhiyi, buddha-nature is:

an active threefold process which involves the way reality is, the wisdom to see reality as it is, and the practice required to attain this wisdom. Buddha Nature is threefold: the three aspects of reality, wisdom, and practice are interdependent--one aspect does not make any sense without the others.[6]

Buddha-nature for Zhiyi therefore has three aspects which he bases on passages from the Lotus sutra and the Nirvana sutra:[6]

  1. The direct cause of attaining Buddhahood, the innate potential in all sentient beings to become Buddhas, which is the aspect of 'true nature', the way things are.
  2. The complete cause of attaining Buddhahood, which is the aspect of wisdom that illuminates the true nature and the goal of practice.
  3. The conditional causes of attaining Buddhahood, which is the aspect of the practices and activities that lead to Buddhahood.

The later Tiantai scholar Zhanran would expand the Tiantai view of buddha-nature, which he saw as synonymous with suchness, to argue for the idea that insentient rocks and plants also have buddha-nature.[95]

In Chan Buddhism

In Chan Buddhism, buddha-nature tends to be seen as the (non-substantial) essential nature of all beings. But the Zen tradition also emphasizes that buddha-nature is śūnyatā, the absence of an independent and substantial "self".[13] In the East Mountain Teaching of early Chan, buddha-nature was equated with the nature of mind, while later on any identification with a reificationable term or object was rejected.[11] This is reflected in the recorded sayings of Chan master Mazu Daoyi (709–788), who first stated that "Mind is Buddha," but later stated "Neither mind nor Buddha."[note 21]

Chan masters from Huineng (7th-century China),[97] Chinul (12th century Korea),[98] Hakuin Ekaku (18th-century Japan)[99] to Hsu Yun (20th-century China),[100] have taught that the process of awakening begins with the light of the mind turning around to recognize its own true nature, so that the 8th consciousness, ālayavijñāna, also known as the tathāgatagarbha, is transformed into the "bright mirror wisdom". According to D.T. Suzuki, the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra presents the Chan/Zen Buddhist view of the tathāgatagarbha:

[The Buddha said,] Now, Mahāmati, what is perfect knowledge? It is realised when one casts aside the discriminating notions of form, name, reality, and character; it is the inner realisation by noble wisdom. This perfect knowledge, Mahāmati, is the essence of the Tathāgata-garbha.[101]

When this active transformation is complete, the other seven consciousnesses are also transformed. The 7th consciousness of delusive discrimination becomes transformed into the "equality wisdom". The 6th consciousness of thinking sense becomes transformed into the "profound observing wisdom", and the 1st to 5th consciousnesses of the five sensory senses become transformed into the "all-performing wisdom".

The influential Chan patriarch Guifeng Zongmi (780–841) interpreted buddha-nature as "empty tranquil awareness" (k'ung-chi chih), which he took from the Ho-tse school of Chan.[17] Following the Srimala sutra, he interpreted the theory of emptiness as presented in the Prajñaparamita sutras as provisional and saw buddha-nature as the definitive teaching of Buddhism.[16]

According to Heng-Ching Shih, the teaching of the universal buddha-nature does not intend to assert the existence of substantial, entity-like self endowed with excellent features of a Buddha. Rather, buddha-nature simply represents the potentiality to be realized in the future.[7]

Hsing Yun, forty-eighth patriarch of the Linji school, equates the buddha-nature with the dharmakāya in line with pronouncements in key tathāgatagarbha sūtras. He defines these two as:

the inherent nature that exists in all beings. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, enlightenment is a process of uncovering this inherent nature … The Buddha nature [is] identical with transcendental reality. The unity of the Buddha with everything that exists.[102][103]

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East Asian Buddhism

East Asian Buddhism

East Asian Buddhism or East Asian Mahayana is a collective term for the schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism that developed across East Asia which follow the Chinese Buddhist canon. These include the various forms of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Buddhism in East Asia. East Asian Buddhists constitute the numerically largest body of Buddhist traditions in the world, numbering over half of the world's Buddhists.

East Asian Mādhyamaka

East Asian Mādhyamaka

East Asian Madhyamaka refers to the Buddhist tradition in East Asia which represents the Indian Madhyamaka (Chung-kuan) system of thought. In Chinese Buddhism, these are often referred to as the Sānlùn school, also known as the "emptiness school", although they may not have been an independent sect. The three principal texts of the school are the Middle Treatise, the Twelve Gate Treatise, and the Hundred Treatise. They were first transmitted to China during the early 5th century by the Buddhist monk Kumārajīva (344−413) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The school and its texts were later transmitted to Korea and Japan. The leading thinkers of this tradition are Kumārajīva's disciple Sēngzhào, and the later Jízàng. Their major doctrines include emptiness (k'ung), the middle way (chung-tao), the twofold truth (erh-t'i) and "the refutation of erroneous views as the illumination of right views" (p'o-hsieh-hsien-cheng).

Kumārajīva

Kumārajīva

Kumārajīva was a Buddhist monk, scholar, missionary and translator from the Kingdom of Kucha. Kumārajīva is seen as one of the greatest translators of Chinese Buddhism. According to Lu Cheng, Kumarajiva's translations are "unparalleled either in terms of translation technique or degree of fidelity".

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra or Nirvana Sutra is Mahāyāna Buddhist sutra of the Buddha-nature genre. Its precise date of origin is uncertain, but its early form may have developed in or by the second century CE. The original Sanskrit text is not extant except for a small number of fragments, but it survives in Chinese and Tibetan translation.

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana

Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna is a text of Mahayana Buddhism. Though attributed to the Indian master Aśvaghoṣa, no Sanskrit version of it exists and it is now widely regarded by scholars as a Chinese composition.

Paramartha

Paramartha

Paramārtha was an Indian monk from Ujjain, who is best known for his prolific Chinese translations of Buddhist texts during the Six Dynasties era. He is known as one of the four great translators in Chinese Buddhist history and is also known for the various oral commentaries he gave on his translations which were written down by his disciples. Some of Paramārtha's influential translations include Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośa, Asaṅga’s Mahāyānasaṃgraha, and Dignāga's Ālambanaparīkṣā & Hastavālaprakaraṇa.

Aśvaghoṣa

Aśvaghoṣa

Aśvaghoṣa, also transliterated Ashvaghosha, c. 80 – c. 150 CE) was a Sarvāstivāda or Mahasanghika Buddhist philosopher, dramatist, poet and orator from India. He was born in Saketa in northern India which is also known as Ayodhya. He is believed to have been the first Sanskrit dramatist, and is considered the greatest Indian poet prior to Kālidāsa. It seems probable that he was the contemporary and spiritual adviser of Kanishka in the first century of our era. He was the most famous in a group of Buddhist court writers, whose epics rivalled the contemporary Ramayana. Whereas much of Buddhist literature prior to the time of Aśvaghoṣa had been composed in Pāli and Prakrit, Aśvaghoṣa wrote in Classical Sanskrit.

Emperor Wu of Liang

Emperor Wu of Liang

Emperor Wu of Liang, personal name Xiao Yan (蕭衍), courtesy name Shuda (叔達), childhood name Lian'er (練兒), was the founding emperor of the Chinese Liang dynasty, during the Northern and Southern dynasties period. His reign, until its end, was one of the most stable and prosperous among the Southern dynasties. He came from the same Xiao clan of Lanling (蘭陵蕭氏) that ruled the preceding Southern Qi dynasty, but from a different branch.

Liang dynasty

Liang dynasty

The Liang dynasty, alternatively known as the Southern Liang in historiography, was an imperial dynasty of China and the third of the four Southern dynasties during the Northern and Southern dynasties period. It was preceded by the Southern Qi dynasty and succeeded by the Chen dynasty. The rump state of Western Liang existed until it was conquered in 587 by the Sui dynasty.

Huineng

Huineng

Dajian Huineng (traditional Chinese: 大鑒惠能; pinyin: Dàjiàn Huìnéng; Wade–Giles: Ta4-chien4; Japanese: Daikan Enō; Korean: Hyeneung); (February 27, 638 – August 28, 713), also commonly known as the Sixth Patriarch or Sixth Ancestor of Chan (traditional Chinese: 禪宗六祖), is a semi-legendary but central figure in the early history of Chinese Chan Buddhism. According to tradition he was an uneducated layman who suddenly attained awakening upon hearing the Diamond Sutra. Despite his lack of formal training, he demonstrated his understanding to the fifth patriarch, Daman Hongren, who then supposedly chose Huineng as his true successor instead of his publicly known selection of Yuquan Shenxiu.

Ekayāna

Ekayāna

Ekayāna is a Sanskrit word that can mean "one path" or "one vehicle". It is used both in the Upanishads and the Mahāyāna sūtras.

Hongaku

Hongaku

Hongaku is an East Asian Buddhist doctrine often translated as "inherent", "innate", "intrinsic" or "original" enlightenment and is the view that all sentient beings already are enlightened or awakened in some way. It is closely tied with the concept of Buddha-nature.

Korean Buddhism

In the Korean Vajrasamādhi Sūtra (685 CE), the tathāgatagarbha is presented as being possessed of two elements, one essential, immutable, changeless and still, the other active and salvational:

This "dharma of the one mind", which is the "original tathagatagarbha", is said to be "calm and motionless" ... The Vajrasamadhi's analysis of tathagatagarbha also recalls a distinction the Awakening of Faith makes between the calm, unchanging essence of the mind and its active, adaptable function [...] The tathagatagarbha is equated with the "original edge of reality" (bhutakoti) that is beyond all distinctions - the equivalent of original enlightenment, or the essence. But tathagatagarbha is also the active functioning of that original enlightenment - 'the inspirational power of that fundamental faculty' .... The tathagatagarbha is thus both the 'original edge of reality' that is beyond cultivation (= essence) as well as the specific types of wisdom and mystical talents that are the byproducts of enlightenment (= function).[104]

Japanese Buddhism

A Japanese Kamakura period reliquary topped with a cintamani (a "wish fulfilling jewel"). Buddha nature texts often use the metaphor of a hidden jewel (buddha-nature) which all beings have, but are unaware of.
A Japanese Kamakura period reliquary topped with a cintamani (a "wish fulfilling jewel"). Buddha nature texts often use the metaphor of a hidden jewel (buddha-nature) which all beings have, but are unaware of.

Nichiren Buddhism

Nichiren (1222–1282) was a Buddhist monk who taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment, and the chanting of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō as the essential practice of the teaching. Nichiren Buddhism includes various schools with diverging interpretations of Nichiren's teachings.

Nichiren Buddhism views the buddha-nature as "The inner potential for attaining Buddhahood", common to all people.[105] Based on the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren maintained that "all living being possess the Buddha nature",[106] being the inherent potential to attain Buddhahood: "The Buddha nature refers to the potential for attaining Buddhahood, a state of awakening filled with compassion and wisdom."[107]

The emphasis in Nichiren Buddhism is on "revealing the Buddha nature" - or attaining Buddhahood – in this lifetime [108] through chanting the name of the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra: "[T]the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo."[109]

The potential for Buddhahood exists in the whole spectrum of the Ten Worlds of life, and this means that all people, including evil doers, have buddha-nature,[110] which remains as a dormant possibility or a theoretical potential in the field of emptiness or non-substantiality until it is materialized in reality through Buddhist practice.

In his letter "Opening the Eyes of Wooden and painted Images" [111] Nichiren explains that insentient matter (such as trees, mandalas, images, statues) also possess the Buddha nature, because they serve as objects of worship. This view regards the buddha-nature as the original nature of all manifestations of life – sentient and insentient – through their interconnectedness:

This concept of the enlightenment of plants in turn derives from the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, which teaches that all life—insentient and sentient—possesses the Buddha nature.[112]

Zen Buddhism

The founder of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism, Dōgen Zenji, held that buddha-nature (busshō 仏性) was simply the true nature of reality and Being. This true nature was just impermanence, becoming and 'vast emptiness'. Because he saw the whole universe as an expression of buddha-nature, he held that even grass and trees are buddha-nature.

Therefore, the very impermanency of grass and tree, thicket and forest is the Buddha nature. The very impermanency of men and things, body and mind, is the Buddha nature. Nature and lands, mountains and rivers, are impermanent because they are the Buddha nature. Supreme and complete enlightenment, because it is impermanent, is the Buddha nature.[113]

The founder of Sanbō Kyōdan lineage of Zen Buddhism, Yasutani Haku'un Roshi, also defined buddha-nature in terms of the emptiness and impermanence of all dharmas:

Everything by its very nature is subject to the process of infinite transformation - this is its Buddha- or Dharma-nature. What is the substance of this Buddha- or Dharma-nature? In Buddhism it is called ku (shunyata). Now, ku is not mere emptiness. It is that which is living, dynamic, devoid of mass, unfixed, beyond individuality or personality--the matrix of all phenomena.[114]

A famous reference to buddha-nature in the Zen-tradition is the Mu-koan:

A monk asked Zhaozhou Congshen, a Chinese Zen master (known as Jōshū in Japanese), "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?" Zhaozhou answered, "It does not." ( Chinese, mu in Japanese)[115]

Shin Buddhism

The founder of the Jōdo Shinshū of Pure Land Buddhism, Shinran, equated buddha-Nature with shinjin.[116]

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Kamakura period

Kamakura period

The Kamakura period is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo after the conclusion of the Genpei War, which saw the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan.

Reliquary

Reliquary

A reliquary is a container for relics. A portable reliquary may be called a fereter, and a chapel in which it is housed a feretory.

Cintamani

Cintamani

Cintāmaṇi, also spelled as Chintamani, is a wish-fulfilling jewel within both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, said by some to be the equivalent of the philosopher's stone in Western alchemy. It is one of several Mani Jewel images found in Buddhist scripture.

Nichiren

Nichiren

Nichiren was a Japanese Buddhist priest and philosopher of the Kamakura period.

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華経) are Japanese words chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism. In English, they mean "Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra" or "Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra".

Nichiren Buddhism

Nichiren Buddhism

Nichiren Buddhism, also known as Hokkeshū is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–1282) and is one of the Kamakura period schools. Its teachings derive from some 300–400 extant letters and treatises either authored by or attributed to Nichiren.

Hakuun Yasutani

Hakuun Yasutani

Hakuun Yasutani was a Sōtō rōshi, the founder of the Sanbo Kyodan organization of Japanese Zen.

Mu (negative)

Mu (negative)

The Japanese and Korean term mu or Chinese wu, meaning "not have; without", is a key word in Buddhism, especially Zen traditions.

Jōdo Shinshū

Jōdo Shinshū

Jōdo Shinshū , also known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran.

Pure Land Buddhism

Pure Land Buddhism

Pure Land Buddhism is a broad branch of Mahayana Buddhism focused on achieving rebirth in a Buddha's Buddha-field or Pure Land. It is one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. According to Charles B. Jones "Pure Land is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Japan and Korea." In Chinese Buddhism, the tradition is sometimes called a zōng (school) in an institutional sense, but historically it was most commonly described as a "dharma-gate", referring to a method of Buddhist practice. In Japanese Buddhism, the term more commonly refers to specific institutions. In Tibetan Buddhism, prayers and practices which aim at rebirth in a Buddha-field are a popular religious orientation, especially among laypersons.

Shinran

Shinran

Shinran was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian period and lived during the Kamakura period. Shinran was a pupil of Hōnen and the founder of what ultimately became the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Shinjin

Shinjin

In Shin Buddhism, Shinjin (信心) was originally the Japanese word for the Buddhist concept of citta-prasāda, but now carries a more popular related meaning of faith or entrusting. According to Ueda, "shinjin is the mind of Amida Buddha given to and realized in a person. Shinran interprets shin (信) to mean truth, reality, sincerity; jin (心) means mind. When shinjin is realized, Amida's mind and the practitioners mind of blind passions become one."

Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhist scholastics, there are two main camps of interpreting buddha-nature. There are those who argue that tathāgatagarbha is just emptiness (described either as dharmadhatu, the nature of phenomena, or a nonimplicative negation) and there are those who see it as the union of the mind's emptiness and luminosity (which includes the buddha qualities).[117]

The Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism favors what is called the rangtong interpretation of Prasaṅgika Madhyamaka philosophy.[118] They thus interpret buddha-nature as an expedient term for the emptiness of inherent existence. Other schools, especially the Jonang,[119] and Kagyu have tended to accept the shentong, "other-empty", Madhyamaka philosophy, which discerns an Absolute which "is empty of adventitious defilements which are intrinsically other than it, but is not empty of its own inherent existence".[120]

These interpretations of the tathagatagarbha-teachings has been a matter of intensive debates in Tibet.[121]

Nyingma

In the Nyingma school doctrines on buddha-nature are generally marked by the tendency to align the idea with Dzogchen views as well as with Prasangika Madhyamaka, beginning with the work of Rongzom (1042–1136) and continuing into the work of Longchenpa (1308–1364) and Mipham (1846–1912).[122] Mipham Rinpoche, the most authoritative figure in modern Nyingma, adopted a view of buddha-nature as the unity of appearance and emptiness, relating it to the descriptions of the Ground in Dzogchen as outlined by Longchenpa. This ground is said to be primordially pure (ka dag) and spontaneously present (Ihun grub).[123]

Germano writes that Dzogchen "represents the most sophisticated interpretation of the so-called "Buddha nature" tradition within the context of Indo-Tibetan thought".[124]

The 19th/20th-century Nyingma scholar, Shechen Gyaltsap Gyurme Pema Namgyal, sees the buddha-nature as ultimate truth,[125] nirvana, which is constituted of profundity, primordial peace and radiance:

Buddha-nature is immaculate. It is profound, serene, unfabricated suchness, an uncompounded expanse of luminosity; nonarising, unceasing, primordial peace, spontaneously present nirvana.[126]

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche sees an identity between the buddha-nature, dharmadhātu (essence of all phenomena and the noumenon) and the Three Vajras, saying:

Dharmadhatu is adorned with dharmakaya, which is endowed with dharmadhatu wisdom. This is a brief but very profound statement, because "dharmadhatu" also refers to sugata-garbha or buddha nature. Buddha nature is all-encompassing ... This buddha nature is present just as the shining sun is present in the sky. It is indivisible from the three vajras [i.e. the Buddha's Body, Speech and Mind] of the awakened state, which do not perish or change.[127]

The Nyingma meditation masters, Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, emphasise that the essential nature of the mind (the buddha-nature) is not a blankness, but is characterized by wonderful qualities and a non-conceptual perfection that is already present and complete, it's just obscured and we fail to recognize it.[128]

Speaking in the context of Nyingma, Dzogchen Ponlop expresses the view that there exists within vajrayana Buddhism the doctrine that we are already buddha: '... in the vajrayana, we are buddha right now, in this very moment'[129] and that it is legitimate to have 'vajra pride' in our buddha mind and the already present qualities of enlightenment with which it is replete:

Vajra pride refers to our pride and confidence in the absolute nature of our mind as buddha: primordially, originally pure, awake and full of the qualities of enlightenment.[130]

Kagyu

According to Brunnholzl,

Virtually all Kagyu masters hold the teaching on buddha nature to be of definitive meaning and deny that the tathagata heart is just sheer emptiness or a nonimplicative negation. Though the Kagyu approach has certain similarities with Dolpopa's view, it is generally less absolute than the latter's and shows several significant differences, such as not claiming that the buddha qualities exist in their full-blown form even in confused sentient beings and not making such an absolute distinction between the two realities as Dolpopa does (the exception is Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, who largely follows Taranatha and Dolpopa but at times blends their positions with the Third Karmapa's view).[131]

In Kagyu the view of the Third Karmapa is generally seen as the most authoritative. This is the view that buddha-nature is "mind's luminous ultimate nature or nondual wisdom, which is the basis of everything in samsara and nirvana."[132] Thrangu Rinpoche sees the Buddha-nature as the indivisible oneness of wisdom and emptiness:

The union of wisdom and emptiness is the essence of Buddha-hood or what is called Buddha-nature (Skt. Tathagata-garbha) because it contains the very seed, the potential of Buddhahood. It resides in each and every being and because of this essential nature, this heart nature, there is the possibility of reaching Buddhahood.[133]

Sakya

Sakya Pandita (1182–1251) sees the buddha-nature as the dharmadhatu free from all reference points, and states that the teaching that buddha-nature exists in all beings is of expedient meaning and that its basis is emptiness, citing Candrakirti's Madhyamakāvatārabhāsya.[134] The Sakya scholar Rongtön meanwhile, argued that buddha-nature is suchness, with stains, or emptiness of the mind with stains.[135]

Sakya scholar Buton Rinchen Drub (1290–1364), like the Gelugpas, held that the buddha-nature teachings were of expedient meaning and that the naturally abiding disposition is nothing but emptiness, however unlike them, his view was that the basis for these teachings is the alaya-vijñana and also that buddha-nature is the dharmakaya of a buddha but "never exists in the great mass of sentient beings".[131]

According to Brunnholzl, in the works of the influential Sakya scholar Gorampa Sonam Senge (1429–1489), buddha-nature is

nondual unity of minds lucidity and emptiness or awareness and emptiness free from all reference points. It is not mere emptiness because sheer emptiness cannot be the basis of both samsára and nirvána. However, it is not mere lucidity either because this lucidity is a conditioned entity and the tathágata heart is unconditioned.[135]

Sakya Chokden meanwhile argues that the ultimate buddha-nature is "minds natural luminosity free from all extremes of reference points, which is the sphere of personally experienced wisdom and an implicative negation."[136]

Jonang

The Jonang school, whose foremost historical figure was the Tibetan scholar-monk Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361), sees the buddha-nature as the very ground of the Buddha himself, as the "permanent indwelling of the Buddha in the basal state".[137] According to Brunnholzl, Dolpopa, basing himself on certain tathāgatagarbha sutras, argued that the buddha-nature is "ultimately really established, everlasting, eternal, permanent, immutable (therzug), and being beyond dependent origination."[131] This is the foundation of what is called the Shentong view.

The Buddhist tantric scripture entitled Chanting the Names of Mañjuśrī (Mañjuśrī-nāma-saṅgīti), repeatedly exalts, as portrayed by Dolpopa, not the non-Self but the Self, and applies the following terms to this ultimate reality : 'The Buddha-Self, the beginningless Self, the solid Self, the diamond Self'. These terms are applied in a manner which reflects the cataphatic approach to Buddhism, typical of much of Dolpopa's writings.[138]

Cyrus Stearns writes that Dolpopa's attitude to the 'third turning of the wheel' doctrines (i.e. the buddha-nature teachings) is that they "are the final definitive statements on the nature of ultimate reality, the primordial ground or substratum beyond the chain of dependent origination, and which is only empty of other, relative phenomena."[139]

Gelug

An early Tibetan translator, Ngok Lotsawa (1050–1109) argues in his commentary to the Uttaratantra that buddha-nature is a non-implicative negation, which is to say that it is emptiness, as a total negation of inherent existence (svabhava) that does not imply that anything is left un-negated (in terms of its svabhava). Another early figure, Chaba Chokyi Senge also argued that buddha-nature was a non-implicative negation.[140] The Kadampa tradition generally followed Ngok Lotsawa by holding that Buddha- nature was a nonimplicative negation. The Gelug school, which sees itself as a continuation of the Kadampas, also hold this view, while also holding, as Chaba did, that buddha-nature teachings are of expedient meaning.[140]

Kedrub Jé Geleg Balsang (1385–1438), one of the main disciples of Tsongkhapa, defined the tathāgatagarbha thus:

It is the emptiness of mind's being empty of being really established that is called "the naturally pure true nature of the mind." The naturally pure true nature of the mind in its phase of not being free from adventitious stains is called "sugata heart" or "naturally abiding disposition."[140]

Brunnholzl states that the view of Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen (1364–1432) is "that the tathàgata heart is the state of a being in whom mind's emptiness is obscured, while buddhas by definition do not possess this tathàgata heart."[140]

The 14th Dalai Lama sees the buddha-nature as the "original clear light of mind", but points out that it ultimately does not exist independently, because, like all other phenomena, it is of the nature of emptiness:

Once one pronounces the words "emptiness" and "absolute", one has the impression of speaking of the same thing, in fact of the absolute. If emptiness must be explained through the use of just one of these two terms, there will be confusion. I must say this; otherwise you might think that the innate original clear light as absolute truth really exists.[141]

Rimé movement

The Rimé movement is an ecumenical movement in Tibet which started as an attempt to reconcile the various Tibetan schools in the 19th century. In contrast to the Gelugpa, which adheres to the rang stong, "self-empty", or Prasaṅgika point of view,[142] the Rimé movement supports shen tong (gzhan tong), "other-empty", an essential nature which is "pure radiant non-dual consciousness".[119] Jamgon Kongtrul says about the two systems:

Madhyamika philosophies have no differences in realising as 'Shunyata', all phenomena that we experience on a relative level. They have no differences also, in reaching the meditative state where all extremes (ideas) completely dissolve. Their difference lies in the words they use to describe the Dharmata. Shentong describes the Dharmata, the mind of Buddha, as 'ultimately real'; while Rangtong philosophers fear that if it is described that way, people might understand it as the concept of 'soul' or 'Atma'. The Shentong philosopher believes that there is a more serious possibility of misunderstanding in describing the Enlightened State as 'unreal' and 'void'. Kongtrul finds the Rangtong way of presentation the best to dissolve concepts and the Shentong way the best to describe the experience.[143]

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Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Bhutan, where it is the dominant religion. It is also in majority regions surrounding the Himalayas ,in much of Central Asia, in the Southern Siberian regions such as Tuva, and in Mongolia.

Dharmadhatu

Dharmadhatu

Dharmadhatu (Sanskrit) is the 'dimension', 'realm' or 'sphere' (dhātu) of the Dharma or Absolute Reality.

Gelug

Gelug

The Gelug is the newest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), a Tibetan philosopher, tantric yogi and lama and further expanded and developed by his disciples.

Jonang

Jonang

The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school. The Jonang school’s main practice comes from the Kalachakra cycle.

Kagyu

Kagyu

The Kagyu school, also transliterated as Kagyü, or Kagyud, which translates to "Oral Lineage" or "Whispered Transmission" school, is one of the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Kagyu lineages trace themselves back to the 11th century Indian Mahasiddhas Naropa, Maitripa and the yogini Niguma, via their student Marpa Lotsawa (1012–1097), who brought their teachings to Tibet. Marpa's student Milarepa was also an influential poet and teacher.

Nyingma

Nyingma

Nyingma is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also often referred to as Ngangyur, "order of the ancient translations". The Nyingma school is founded on the first lineages and translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan in the eighth century, during the reign of King Trisong Detsen.

Dzogchen

Dzogchen

Dzogchen, also known as atiyoga, is a tradition of teachings in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism aimed at discovering and continuing in the ultimate ground of existence. The primordial ground is said to have the qualities of purity, spontaneity and compassion. The goal of Dzogchen is knowledge of this basis, this knowledge is called rigpa . There are numerous spiritual practices taught in the various Dzogchen systems for awakening rigpa.

Svatantrika–Prasaṅgika distinction

Svatantrika–Prasaṅgika distinction

The Svātantrika–Prāsaṅgika distinction is a doctrinal distinction made within Tibetan Buddhism between two stances regarding the use of logic and the meaning of conventional truth within the presentation of Madhyamaka.

Madhyamaka

Madhyamaka

Mādhyamaka, otherwise known as Śūnyavāda and Niḥsvabhāvavāda, refers to a tradition of Buddhist philosophy and practice founded by the Indian Buddhist monk and philosopher Nāgārjuna. The foundational text of the Mādhyamaka tradition is Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. More broadly, Mādhyamaka also refers to the ultimate nature of phenomena as well as the non-conceptual realization of ultimate reality that is experienced in meditation.

Longchenpa

Longchenpa

Longchen Rabjam Drimé Özer, commonly abbreviated to Longchenpa was a Tibetan scholar-yogi of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. According to tibetologist David Germano, Longchenpa's work led to the dominance of the Longchen Nyingthig lineage of Dzogchen over the other Dzogchen traditions. He is also responsible for the scholastic systematization of Dzogchen thought within the context of the wider Tibetan Vajrayana tradition of philosophy which was highly developed at the time among the Sarma schools. Germano also notes that Longchenpa's work is "generally taken to be the definitive expression of the Great Perfection with its precise terminological distinctions, systematic scope, and integration with the normative Buddhist scholasticism that became dominant in Tibet during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries."

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was a Buddhist master of the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages who lived at Nagi Gompa hermitage in Nepal. Urgyen Rinpoche was considered one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of his time.

Modern scholarship

Modern scholarship points to the various possible interpretations of buddha-nature as either an essential self, as Sunyata, or as the inherent possibility of awakening.

Essential self

Shenpen Hookham, Oxford Buddhist scholar and Tibetan lama of the Shentong tradition writes of the buddha-nature or "true self" as something real and permanent, and already present within the being as uncompounded enlightenment. She calls it "the Buddha within", and comments:

In scriptural terms, there can be no real objection to referring to Buddha, Buddhajnana [Buddha Awareness/ Buddha Knowledge], Nirvana and so forth as the True Self, unless the concept of Buddha and so forth being propounded can be shown to be impermanent, suffering, compounded, or imperfect in some way ... in Shentong terms, the non-self is about what is not the case, and the Self of the Third Dharmachakra [i.e. the Buddha-nature doctrine] is about what truly IS.[144]

Buddhist scholar and chronicler, Merv Fowler, writes that the buddha-nature really is present as an essence within each being. Fowler comments:

The teaching that Buddha-nature is the hidden essence within all sentient beings is the main message of the tathagatagarbha literature, the earliest of which is the Tathagatagarbha Sutra. This short sutra says that all living beings are in essence identical to the Buddha regardless of their defilements or their continuing transmigration from life to life... As in the earlier traditions, there is present the idea that enlightenment, or nirvana, is not something which has to be achieved, it is something which is already there... In a way, it means that everyone is really a Buddha now.[145]

Sunyata

According to Heng-Ching Shih, the tathāgatagarbha/buddha-nature does not represent a substantial self (ātman). Rather, it is a positive language expression of emptiness (śūnyatā), which emphasizes the potentiality to realize Buddhahood through Buddhist practices. The intention of the teaching of tathāgatagarbha/buddha-nature is soteriological rather than theoretical.[7]

Paul Williams puts forward the Madhyamaka interpretation of the buddha-nature as emptiness in the following terms:

… if one is a Madhyamika then that which enables sentient beings to become buddhas must be the very factor that enables the minds of sentient beings to change into the minds of Buddhas. That which enables things to change is their simple absence of inherent existence, their emptiness. Thus the tathagatagarbha becomes emptiness itself, but specifically emptiness when applied to the mental continuum.[146]

Critical Buddhist interpretation

Several contemporary Japanese Buddhist scholars, headed under the label Critical Buddhism (hihan bukkyō, 批判仏教), have been critical of buddha-nature thought. According to Matsumoto Shirõ and Hakamaya Noriaki of Komazawa University, essentialist conceptions of buddha-nature are at odds with the fundamental Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination and non-self (anātman).[147][148] The Buddha nature doctrines which they label as dhātuvāda ("substantialism,"sometimes rendered "locus theory" or "topicalism") and "generative monism" is not Buddhism at all.[149] As defined by Matsumoto, this "locus" theory or dhātuvāda which he rejects as un-buddhist is: "It is the theory that the single (eka, sama) existent "locus" (dhatu) or basis is the cause that produces the manifold phenomena or "super-loci" (dharmah)."[150] Matsumoto further argues that: "Tathagatagarbha thought was a Buddhist version of Hindu monism, formed by the influence of Hinduism gradually introduced into Buddhism, especially after the rise of Mahayana Buddhism."[150] Other Japanese scholars responded to this view leading to a lively debate in Japan. Takasaki Jikido, a well known authority on tathagathagarbha thought, accepted that Buddha nature theories are similar to Upanishadic theories and that dhātuvāda is an accurate expression of the structure of these doctrines, but argues that the Buddha nature texts are aware of this and that Buddha nature is not necessarily un-Buddhist or anti-Buddhist.[8][150] Likewise, Hirakawa Akira, sees buddha-nature as the potential to attain Buddhahood which is not static but ever changing and argues that "dhātu" does not necessarily mean substratum (he points to some Agamas which identify dhatu with pratitya-samutpada).[8]

Western scholars have reacted in different ways to this idea. Sallie B. King objects to their view, seeing the buddha-nature as a metaphor for the potential in all beings to attain Buddhahood, rather than as an ontological reality.[151] Robert H. Sharf notes that the worries of the Critical Buddhists is nothing new, for "the early tathāgatagarbha scriptures betray a similar anxiety, as they tacitly acknowledge that the doctrine is close to, if not identical with, the heretical ātmavāda teachings of the non- Buddhists."[149] He also notes how the Nirvāṇa-sūtra "tacitly concedes the non-Buddhist roots of the tathāgatagarbha idea."[149] Sharf also has pointed out how certain Southern Chan masters were concerned with other interpretations of Buddha nature, showing how the tendency to critique certain views of Buddha nature is not new in East Asian Buddhism.[149]

Peter N. Gregory has also argued that at least some East Asian interpretations of Buddha nature are equivalent to what Critical Buddhists call dhātuvāda, especially the work of Tsung-mi, who "emphasizes the underlying ontological ground on which all phenomenal appearances (hsiang) are based, which he variously refers to as the nature (hsing), the one mind (i-hsin)...".[152] According to Dan Lusthaus, certain Chinese Buddhist ideologies which became dominant in the 8th century promoted the idea of an "underlying metaphysical substratum" or "underlying, invariant, universal metaphysical 'source'" and thus do seem to be a kind of dhātuvāda. According to Lusthaus "in early T'ang China (7th–8th century) there was a deliberate attempt to divorce Chinese Buddhism from developments in India." Lusthaus notes that the Huayen thinker Fa-tsang was influential in this theological trend who promoted the idea that true Buddhism was about comprehending the "One Mind that alone is the ground of reality" (wei- hsin).[153]

Paul Williams too has criticised this view, saying that Critical Buddhism is too narrow in its definition of what constitutes Buddhism. According to Williams, "We should abandon any simplistic identification of Buddhism with a straightforward not-Self definition".[154]

Multiple meanings

Sutton agrees with Williams' critique on the narrowness of any single interpretation. In discussing the inadequacy of modern scholarship on buddha-nature, Sutton states, "One is impressed by the fact that these authors, as a rule, tend to opt for a single meaning disregarding all other possible meanings which are embraced in turn by other texts".[155] He goes on to point out that the term tathāgatagarbha has up to six possible connotations. Of these, he says the three most important are:

  1. an underlying ontological reality or essential nature (tathāgata-tathatā-'vyatireka) which is functionally equivalent to a self (ātman) in an Upanishadic sense,
  2. the dharmakāya which penetrates all beings (sarva-sattveṣu dharma-kāya-parispharaṇa), which is functionally equivalent to brahman in an Upanishadic sense
  3. the womb or matrix of Buddhahood existing in all beings (tathāgata-gotra-saṃbhava), which provides beings with the possibility of awakening.[156][157]

Of these three, Sutton claims that only the third connotation has any soteriological significance, while the other two posit buddha-nature as an ontological reality and essential nature behind all phenomena.[158]

Discover more about Modern scholarship related topics

Critical Buddhism

Critical Buddhism

Critical Buddhism was a trend in Japanese Buddhist scholarship, associated primarily with the works of Hakamaya Noriaki (袴谷憲昭) and Matsumoto Shirō (松本史朗).

Komazawa University

Komazawa University

Komazawa University , abbreviated as 駒大 Komadai, is one of the oldest universities in Japan. Its history starts in 1592, when a seminary was established to be a center of learning for the young monks of the Sōtō sect, one of the two main Zen Buddhist traditions in Japan.

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta is a Hindu sādhanā, a path of spiritual discipline and experience, and the oldest extant tradition of the orthodox Hindu school Vedānta. The term Advaita refers to the idea that Brahman alone is ultimately real, while the transient phenomenal world is an illusory appearance (maya) of Brahman. In this view, (jiv)Ātman, the experiencing self, and Ātman-Brahman, the highest Self and Absolute Reality, is non-different. The jivatman or individual self is a mere reflection or limitation of singular Ātman in a multitude of apparent individual bodies.

Hinduism

Hinduism

Hinduism is an Indian religion or dharma, a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the world's third-largest, with over 1.2–1.35 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma, a modern usage, which refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts. Another endonym is Vaidika dharma, the dharma related to the Vedas.

Mahayana

Mahayana

Mahāyāna is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India and is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism. Mahāyāna accepts the main scriptures and teachings of early Buddhism, but also recognizes various doctrines and texts which are not accepted by Theravada Buddhism as original. These include the Mahāyāna Sūtras and its emphasis on the bodhisattva path and Prajñāpāramitā. Vajrayāna or Mantra traditions are a subset of Mahāyāna, which make use of numerous tantric methods considered to be faster and more powerful at achieving Buddhahood by Vajrayānists.

Pratītyasamutpāda

Pratītyasamutpāda

Pratītyasamutpāda, commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key doctrine in Buddhism shared by all schools of Buddhism. It states that all dharmas (phenomena) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: "if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist". The basic principle is that all things arise in dependence upon other things.

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra or Nirvana Sutra is Mahāyāna Buddhist sutra of the Buddha-nature genre. Its precise date of origin is uncertain, but its early form may have developed in or by the second century CE. The original Sanskrit text is not extant except for a small number of fragments, but it survives in Chinese and Tibetan translation.

Guifeng Zongmi

Guifeng Zongmi

Guifeng Zongmi was a Tang dynasty Buddhist scholar and bhikkhu, installed as fifth patriarch of the Huayan school as well as a patriarch of the Heze school of Southern Chan Buddhism. He wrote a number of works on the contemporary situation of Tang Buddhism, which also discussed Taoism and Confucianism. He also wrote critical analyses of Chan and Huayan, as well as numerous scriptural exegeses.

Dan Lusthaus

Dan Lusthaus

Dan Lusthaus is an American writer on Buddhism. He is a graduate of Temple University's Department of Religion, and is a specialist in Yogācāra. The author of several articles and books on the topic, Lusthaus has taught at UCLA, Florida State University, the University of Missouri, and in the Autumn of 2020 he was an Associate in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University.

Chinese Buddhism

Chinese Buddhism

Chinese Buddhism or Han Buddhism is a Chinese form of Mahayana Buddhism which has shaped Chinese culture in a wide variety of areas including art, politics, literature, philosophy, medicine and material culture. Chinese Buddhism is the largest institutionalized religion in Mainland China. Currently, there are an estimated 185 to 250 million Chinese Buddhists in the People's Republic of China. It is also a major religion in Taiwan and among the Chinese Diaspora.

Fazang

Fazang

Fazang (643–712) was the third of the five patriarchs of the Huayan school of Mahayana Buddhism, of which he is traditionally considered the founder. He was an important and influential philosopher, so much so that it has been claimed that he “was in fact the real creator of what is now known as Hua-yen”. Fazang’s ancestors came from Sogdia, a major center for trade along the Silk Road, but he was born in the Tang capital of Chang'an, where his family had become culturally Chinese.

Brahman

Brahman

In Hinduism, Brahman connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, infinite, eternal truth, consciousness and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept refers to the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.

Source: "Buddha-nature", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha-nature.

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See also
Notes
  1. ^ The image of the moon as the Buddha-nature comes from the Platform Sutra. Dogen treats this metaphor in Shobogenzo 43, Tsuki ("On the Moon as One’s Excellent Nature"). Compare also:
    • A Zen master, Ryokan, lived a life of simplicity in his hut near the mountains. When he was away one night, a thief broke in only to find nothing worth stealing.
      Just then, Ryokan returned. “You have travelled far to visit me,” he told the burglar. “I cannot let you return empty handed. Here are my clothes, please accept them as my gift.”
      The baffled thief took the clothes and vanished.
      Naked now, the master gazed at the moon. “Poor man,” he sighed, “How I wish I could give him this glorious moon.” (Zen Story: Steal the Moon)
    • "Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don’t worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going." (Seung Sahn, Clear Mind Is Like The Full Moon)
    • According to McRae (2003, p. 61-65), in the famous story of the verse-contest in the Platform Sutra, the two verses are actually complementary:

      The body is the bodhi tree.
      The mind is like a bright mirror's stand.
      At all times we must strive to polish it
      and must not let dust collect.

      Bodhi originally has no tree.
      The mirror has no stand.
      The Buddha-nature is always clear and pure.
      Where is there room for dust?

      According to McRae, "T]he verse attributed to Shenxiu [does refer] to a constant practice of cleaning the mirror [...] Huineng's verse(s) apply the rhetoric of emptiness to undercut the substantiality of the terms of that formulation. However, the basic meaning of the first proposition still remains."

      See also Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (2008), p.19-20 and p.63 on the mirror verses:
      Now while the verse of the Sixth Patriarch is the true understanding, the paradox for us is that we have to practice with the verse that was not accepted: we do have to polish the mirror; we do have to be aware of our thoughts and actions; we do have to be aware of our false reactions to life."
  2. ^ Buddha-dhatu, mind, tathagatagarbha, Dharma-dhatu, suchness (tathata).[2]
  3. ^ Sanskrit; Jp. Busshō, "buddha-nature".
  4. ^ Enlightened one, a/the Buddha
  5. ^ Kevin Trainor: "a sacred nature that is the basis for [beings'] becoming buddhas."[3]
  6. ^ According to Wayman & Wayman, the term garbha takes on various meanings, depending on its context. They transalte a passage from the Sri-mala-sutra as follows: "Lord, this Tathagatagarbha is the Illustrious Dharmadhatu-womb, neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. Is the dharmakaya-embryo, not the domain of beings who fall into the belief in a real personality. Is the supramundane dharma-center, not the domain of beings who adhere to wayward views. Is the intrinsically pure dharma-center, not the domain of beings who deviate from voidness".[25]
  7. ^ In Sanskrit grammar a tatpuruṣa (तत्पुरुष) compound is a dependent determinative compound, i.e. a compound XY meaning a type of Y which is related to X in a way corresponding to one of the grammatical cases of X.
  8. ^ A bahuvrihi compound (from Sanskrit बहुव्रीहि, bahuvrīhi, literally meaning "much rice" but denoting a rich man) is a type of compound that denotes a referent by specifying a certain characteristic or quality the referent possesses.
  9. ^ In the Maraparinirvana Sutra the term tathagatagarbha replaces the term buddhadhatu, which originally referred to relics. Worship of the physical relics of the Buddha was reshaped into worship of the inner Buddha.[15]
  10. ^ For the various equivalents of the Sanskrit term "tathāgatagarbha" in other languages (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese), see Glossary of Buddhism, "tathagatagarbha"
  11. ^ Harvey mentions AN 1.10: "Monks, this mind (citta) is brightly shining (pabhassara), but it is defiled by defilements which arrive". AN 1.49-52 gives a similar statement
  12. ^ Each part of the world reflects the totality of the cosmos:
    quote
  13. ^ Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra (央掘魔羅經) Vol. 2: "Those who preach the Dharma should praise tathagatagarbha for its natures of permanency and reality. If one does not preach this way, then because one abandons tathagatagarbha, one should not sit on the lion throne, similar to that a caṇḍāla (旃陀羅) should not ride a king's elephant. All Buddhas pursue the arising of tathagatagarbha with various expedient methods but fail because non-arising is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the unreality of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because reality is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the impermanence of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because permanence is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the non-eternity of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because eternity is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the variability of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because invariability is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue no silence of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because silence is the Buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the badness of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because non-badness is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the damage of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because non-damage is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the sickness of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because no sickness is the uddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the aging of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because non-aging is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the defilement of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because undefilement is the buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity."
  14. ^ Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra Vol. 2: "At that time, Aṅgulimālīya says the following verses: 'Tathagatagarbha manifests in the various worlds without knowing, evil views, and mistaken views; one should not be afraid while hearing the Buddha's correct Dharma that no-self will be attained after abandoning oneself. Tathagatagarbha is dissociated from arrogance, body, and life; the broad definition of tathagatagarbha is the world. One should bear the above concepts and be patient."
  15. ^ Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra Vol. 2: "All Buddhas pursue the arising of tathagatagarbha with various expedient methods but fail because non-arising is the Buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity."
  16. ^ Taishō Tripiṭaka Meeting of Father and Son Sūtra (父子合集經): "The king of gandharvas makes offerings for listening to the great pure Dharma. This Dharma exists in the reality and its original intrinsic natures do not increase or decrease; if one is attached to the phenomenon and discriminates it, then tathagatagarbha is not attainable. This Dharma is neither real nor empty. Due to the emptiness of its dharma-nature, the Buddha does not say anything."
  17. ^ The Sutra Explaining Undefiled Praise (說無垢稱經): "The Dharma does not have the nature of discrimination because it is dissociated with the mental consciousness."
  18. ^ Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra Vol. 2: "All Buddhas pursue the impermanence of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because permanence is the Buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the non-eternity of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because eternity is the Buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity. All Buddhas pursue the variability of tathagatagarbha's intrinsic nature with various expedient methods but fail because invariability is the Buddha-nature; it manifests with countless wondrous appearances, purity, and solemnity." "Tathagatagarbha neither ages nor dies."[62]
  19. ^ The most notable of which are greed 貪, hatred 嗔, delusion 癡, and pride 慢
  20. ^ In the Seminal Heart series of Dzogchen a distinction is made between kun gzhi, c.q. ālaya, "the base of it all", the samsaric basis of consciousness, of all the samsaric appearances; and gzhi, "the nirvanic basis known as the ground."[75] Sam van Schaik: "....the Seminal Heart distinction between two types of basis, the nirvanic basis known as the ground (gzhi) and the samsaric basis of consciousness, the ālaya (kun gzhi).[75] Philip Kapleau, in "The Three Pillars of Zen", drawing from Harada roshi, discerns a "Pure Consciousness" or "Formless Self" underlying the ālāya-vijñāna.[76] This 9th consciousness was also mentioned by Paramārtha, a 6th century Indian translator working in China.[2]
  21. ^ Compare Mazu's "Mind is Buddha" versus "No mind, no Buddha": "When Ch'an Master Fa-ch'ang of Ta-mei Mountain went to see the Patriarch for the first time, he asked, "What is Buddha?"
    The Patriarch replied, "Mind is Buddha." [On hearing this] Fa-ch'ang had great awakening.
    Later he went to live on Ta-mei mountain. When the Patriarch heard that he was residing on the mountain, he sent one of his monks to go there and ask Fa-ch'ang, "What did the Venerable obtain when he saw Ma-tsu, so that he has come to live on this mountain?"
    Fach'ang said, "Ma-tsu told me that mind is Buddha; so I came to live here."
    The monk said, "Ma-tsu's teaching has changed recently."
    Fa-ch'ang asked, "What is the difference?"
    The monk said, "Nowadays he also says, 'Neither mind nor Buddha."'
    Fa-ch'ang said, "That old man still hasn't stopped confusing people. You can have 'neither mind nor Buddha,' I only care for 'mind is Buddha."'
    The monk returned to the Patriarch and reported what has happened. "The plum is ripe." said the Patriarch."[96]
References
  1. ^ Bielefeldt (2015), p. 153.
  2. ^ a b Lusthaus 1998, p. 84.
  3. ^ a b Trainor 2004, p. 207.
  4. ^ a b c Brunnholzl 2014, p. 3.
  5. ^ a b c d Wayman 1990, p. 45.
  6. ^ a b c d Swanson, Paul L, T'ien-t'ai Chih-i's Concept of Threefold Buddha Nature-A Synergy of Reality, Wisdom, and Practice
  7. ^ a b c Heng-Ching Shih, The Significance Of 'Tathagatagarbha' -- A Positive Expression Of 'Sunyata'
  8. ^ a b c Swanson, Paul L. "Why They Say Zen is Not Buddhism: Recent Japanese Critiques of Buddha-Nature" (PDF). TheZenSite.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wayman 1990, p. 42.
  10. ^ a b c d e Brunnholzl 2014, p. 54.
  11. ^ a b Sharf 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e Gregory 1991, p. 288-289.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Lai 2003, p. .
  14. ^ a b c d e f King 1991, p. 14.
  15. ^ a b c Jikido 2000, p. 73.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hurley, Scott, The doctrinal transformation of twentieth-century Chinese Buddhism: Master Yinshun's interpretation of the tathagatagarbha doctrine, Contemporary Buddhism, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2004.
  17. ^ a b c d Kim 2007.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Liu, Ming-Wood (April 1985). "The Yogaacaaraa and Maadhyamika Interpretation of the buddha-nature Concept in Chinese Buddhism". Philosophy East and West. University of Hawaii Press. 35 (2): 171–192. doi:10.2307/1399049. JSTOR 1399049.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o King 1991, p. 4.
  20. ^ a b c d e Brown 1994, p. 44.
  21. ^ a b c d Zimmermann 2002, p. 45.
  22. ^ Brandon, G. S. F., ed. (1972). A Dictionary of Buddhism. (NB: with an "Introduction" by T. O. Ling.) New York, NY, USA: Charles Scribner's Sons. [I]SBN 684-12763-6 (trade cloth) p.240
  23. ^ a b c Wayman 1990, p. viii-ix.
  24. ^ Lopez 2001, p. 263.
  25. ^ a b Wayman 1990, p. ix.
  26. ^ King 1991, p. 48.
  27. ^ a b c d e Brown 1994, p. 45.
  28. ^ a b Williams (2008), p. 108.
  29. ^ Zimmermann 2002, p. 40.
  30. ^ Zimmermann 2002, p. 41.
  31. ^ a b c Zimmermann 2002, p. 44.
  32. ^ a b Williams (2008), p. 104.
  33. ^ Williams (2008), p. 105.
  34. ^ a b King 1991, p. 5.
  35. ^ a b Shirō 1997, p. 169.
  36. ^ Harvey 1995, p. 56.
  37. ^ Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. (1995). Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous, (Anguttara Nikaya 1.49-52)
  38. ^ a b Williams 2000, p. 161.
  39. ^ Lusthaus 1998, p. .
  40. ^ Dumoulin 2005a, p. 46-47.
  41. ^ Dumoulin 2005a, p. 47.
  42. ^ Hirakawa quoted in: Shiro, Matsumoto (1997). "The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture". In Hubbard, Jamie; Swanson, Paul Loren (eds.). Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm Over Critical Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. p. 393.
  43. ^ Nakamura, Hajime (1999), Indian Buddhism: A Survey With Bibliographical Notes, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, p. 190
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Further reading
General
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1992), A history of Buddhist philosophy. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
  • Sallie, B. King: Buddha Nature, State University of New York Press 1991, ISBN 0-7914-0428-5
China
Tibet
  • Brunnholzl, Karl (2009), Luminous Heart: The Third Karmapa on Consciousness, Wisdom, and Buddha Nature. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-318-8
  • Hookham, S.K. (1991), The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, SUNY Press
Japan
  • Harada, Sekkei (2008), The essence of Zen. The Teachings of Sekkei Harada, Wisdom Publications
Critical Buddhism
  • Hubbard, Jamie; Swanson, Paul Loren, eds. (1997), Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm over Critical Buddhism, University of Hawai'i Press
External links

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