Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:
I rejected the statement primarily because it is unreasonable, because it is in clear conflict with what other sūtras (everyone agrees are authentic Mahāyāna sūtras) as well as the Mūlasarvastivada Vinaya say about garlic and so on.

Whether sūtra in question is an authentic sūtra or not is a very distant secondary consideration for me.


Alright. Although, earlier you said with regard to negative effects of garlic "No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever." Well, the Surangama is a sutra and it mentions it, so to say "No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever" isn't true. You could say it's unreasonable, because it is in clear conflict with what other sūtras say, but even if that is the case, it's still a sutra nonetheless. You can call it crazy and ridiculous, but you can't call it not a sutra. Chan masters are used to being called crazy and ridiculous, that's nothing new. :rolling:
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:27 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
I rejected the statement primarily because it is unreasonable, because it is in clear conflict with what other sūtras (everyone agrees are authentic Mahāyāna sūtras) as well as the Mūlasarvastivada Vinaya say about garlic and so on.

Whether sūtra in question is an authentic sūtra or not is a very distant secondary consideration for me.


Alright. Although, earlier you said with regard to negative effects of garlic "No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever." Well, the Surangama is a sutra and it mentions it, so to say "No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever" isn't true. You could say it's unreasonable, because it is in clear conflict with what other sūtras say, but even if that is the case, it's still a sutra nonetheless. You can call it crazy and ridiculous, but you can't call it not a sutra. Chan masters are used to being called crazy and ridiculous, that's nothing new. :rolling:



What I said exactly was:

There is no Indian sūtra of confirmed provenance that makes similar claims about garlic attracting ghosts (rather the opposite is the fact) or rebirth in hell. This therefore can be understood as a Chinese cultural idea in a sūtra without an Indian origin.

While indeed the Lankāvatāra tells us to avoid garlic and so on, there is no mention of spirits and so no.


You see, I was very precise in what I was delineating.

I also said:

I am sorry, but there is no mention of negative mental effects of garlic in any authentic Mahāyāna sutra.


The latter statement is to understood in the light of the former, since I already laid out what I consider to be "authentic", i.e. a Mahāyāna sūtra of confirmed Indian origin. Neither the Brahamjala Sūtra, nor the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, nor the Sūtra in Forty-Eight Chapters can be considered authentic Indian texts. We can also toss in the Vajrasamadhi Sūtra for good measure.

If the teachings in these texts conform to what we know to be taught in authentic sūtras, then those teachings can be accepted — but if there are teachings in those texts which do not conform, then those teachings should be ignored, such as the idea that garlic will send one to hell for eating it.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby plwk » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:53 pm

...the Sūtra in Forty-Eight Chapters...
Forty-Two you mean?
And whilst we are at it, this may interest some...

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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:56 pm

plwk wrote:
...the Sūtra in Forty-Eight Chapters...
Forty-Two you mean?
And whilst we are at it, this may interest some...


Yes.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:

What I said exactly was:

There is no Indian sūtra of confirmed provenance that makes similar claims about garlic attracting ghosts (rather the opposite is the fact) or rebirth in hell. This therefore can be understood as a Chinese cultural idea in a sūtra without an Indian origin.

While indeed the Lankāvatāra tells us to avoid garlic and so on, there is no mention of spirits and so no.


You see, I was very precise in what I was delineating.

I also said:

I am sorry, but there is no mention of negative mental effects of garlic in any authentic Mahāyāna sutra.




The Surangama is a sutra and it says these things, whether you think it's unreasonable or not, whether you think it should be followed or not, isn't relevant to the question of whether or not garlic is mentioned in the sutras. It clearly is.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:33 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:

What I said exactly was:

There is no Indian sūtra of confirmed provenance that makes similar claims about garlic attracting ghosts (rather the opposite is the fact) or rebirth in hell. This therefore can be understood as a Chinese cultural idea in a sūtra without an Indian origin.

While indeed the Lankāvatāra tells us to avoid garlic and so on, there is no mention of spirits and so no.


You see, I was very precise in what I was delineating.

I also said:

I am sorry, but there is no mention of negative mental effects of garlic in any authentic Mahāyāna sutra.




The Surangama is a sutra and it says these things, whether you think it's unreasonable or not, whether you think it should be followed or not, isn't relevant to the question of whether or not garlic is mentioned in the sutras. It clearly is.


I never said that garlic was not mentioned in the sūtras. You are now misrepresenting what I have said, which is obvious to anyone.

You basically have defaulted to the position that any text that calls itself a sūtra should be accepted as such, whether or not it was spoken by the Buddha. This ludicrous. If you wish to accept that it is valid Buddhavacana, that is fine with me. But I do not accept it as such, and while there may be a good many things of merit in that text, the bit about garlic is absurd.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Simon E. » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:43 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:

What I said exactly was:

There is no Indian sūtra of confirmed provenance that makes similar claims about garlic attracting ghosts (rather the opposite is the fact) or rebirth in hell. This therefore can be understood as a Chinese cultural idea in a sūtra without an Indian origin.

While indeed the Lankāvatāra tells us to avoid garlic and so on, there is no mention of spirits and so no.


You see, I was very precise in what I was delineating.

I also said:

I am sorry, but there is no mention of negative mental effects of garlic in any authentic Mahāyāna sutra.




The Surangama is a sutra and it says these things, whether you think it's unreasonable or not, whether you think it should be followed or not, isn't relevant to the question of whether or not garlic is mentioned in the sutras. It clearly is.


By your reckoning any literary work that styles itself or is styled by convention a 'sutra' must be a sutra...By those lights Alan Ginsberg's 'Sunflower Sutra' must be a sutra, and the contents of that poem can therefore be described as occurring in a sutra..

The Sunflower Sutra has at least the advantage of having a known provenance.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The other he mentions is the effect it has on the mind. He does not mention all of the reasons in this short talk.


No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever. If there is a problem with alliums, it is purely because of the breath, and the idea that it stimulates sexual desire. The latter however seems a little iffy. Even if it does, who would want you reeking of garlic?


You didn't say this? Could have fooled me. Your name is Malcom right?...

You basically have defaulted to the position that any text that calls itself a sūtra should be accepted as such


False. You are now misrepresenting what I have said, which is obvious to anyone. It is simply a fact that this sutra is already accepted as such in Chan Buddhism. To say it's not a sutra, is patently false. To say the sugranama does not mention, what it clearly mentions, is also patently false. As well as ridiculous.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:56 pm

Simon E. wrote:
By your reckoning any literary work that styles itself or is styled by convention a 'sutra' must be a sutra...By those lights Alan Ginsberg's 'Sunflower Sutra' must be a sutra, and the contents of that poem can therefore be described as occurring in a sutra..

The Sunflower Sutra has at least the advantage of having a known provenance.


Is the sunflower sutra a text of the Chinese Canon? No. Does Chan Buddhism already consider it a valid sutra? No. The idea that this sutra is a valid sutra...is not even close to being "By my reckoning".
Last edited by seeker242 on Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:57 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
The other he mentions is the effect it has on the mind. He does not mention all of the reasons in this short talk.


No such effects are mentioned in any sūtra what so ever. If there is a problem with alliums, it is purely because of the breath, and the idea that it stimulates sexual desire. The latter however seems a little iffy. Even if it does, who would want you reeking of garlic?


You didn't say this? Could have fooled me. Your name is Malcom right?...

You basically have defaulted to the position that any text that calls itself a sūtra should be accepted as such


False. You are now misrepresenting what I have said, which is obvious to anyone. It is simply a fact that this sutra is already accepted as such in Chan Buddhism. To say it's not a sutra, is patently false. To say the sugranama does not mention, what it clearly mentions, is also patently false. As well as ridiculous.


We can say that it is accepted by some Chan masters as authentic and we can at the same time deny it is authentic, which is to say it is not a sutra spoken by the Buddha, nor a sutra which he gave permission to one his disciples to speak, nor did he confer his blessings upon anyone to speak it.

We can therefore also understand that some Chan masters will assert various things said in that sūtra and feel under no obligation to take them or it seriously on such subjects since we do not accept the sūtra in question is authentic and since it conflicts with what authentic sūtras say on the subject, in this case, of consuming garlic.

Now I think we have reached this point in the discussion:

Image

I have nothing further to add for the time being.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:
We can say that it is accepted by some Chan masters as authentic and we can at the same time deny it is authentic, which is to say it is not a sutra spoken by the Buddha, nor a sutra which he gave permission to one his disciples to speak, nor did he confer his blessings upon anyone to speak it.

We can therefore also understand that some Chan masters will assert various things said in that sūtra and feel under no obligation to take them or it seriously since we do not accept the sūtra in question is authentic.


Sure, because you are a Tibetan Buddhist, not a Chan one. The exact same thing can be said about Theravada Buddhists not accepting Tibetan sutras. Obviously, Theravada Buddhists feel no need to obligation to take things like Buddha Nature seriously. Why, because they don't accept those sutras as authentic words of the Buddha. Does that make those Buddha nature sutras invalid or inauthentic for everyone else? Of course not...To assert that it does would be ridiculous.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:15 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
We can say that it is accepted by some Chan masters as authentic and we can at the same time deny it is authentic, which is to say it is not a sutra spoken by the Buddha, nor a sutra which he gave permission to one his disciples to speak, nor did he confer his blessings upon anyone to speak it.

We can therefore also understand that some Chan masters will assert various things said in that sūtra and feel under no obligation to take them or it seriously since we do not accept the sūtra in question is authentic.


Sure, because you are a Tibetan Buddhist, not a Chan one. The exact same thing can be said about Theravada Buddhists not accepting Tibetan sutras. Obviously, Theravada Buddhists feel no need to obligation to take things like Buddha Nature seriously. Why, because they don't accept those sutras as authentic words of the Buddha. Does that make those Buddha nature sutras invalid or inauthentic for everyone else? Of course not...To assert that it does would be ridiculous.


The difference is that both Tibetan Buddhists and Chan Buddhists are followers of Mahāyāna. We both generally accept the same Dharma, we both generally accept that same set of Mahāyāna sūtras which can be confirmed to be of Indian origin. The differences in the basic sūtras we both accept are trivial.

There are a few sūtras in the Chinese canon which were not translated into Tibetan because even during the 8th and early ninth century there was uncertainty as to their validity. Many Mahāyāna sūtras were translated into Tibetan first from Chinese sources and only later were revised with respect to Sanskrit manuscripts.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Simon E. » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:26 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
By your reckoning any literary work that styles itself or is styled by convention a 'sutra' must be a sutra...By those lights Alan Ginsberg's 'Sunflower Sutra' must be a sutra, and the contents of that poem can therefore be described as occurring in a sutra..

The Sunflower Sutra has at least the advantage of having a known provenance.


Is the sunflower sutra a text of the Chinese Canon? No. Does Chan Buddhism already consider it a valid sutra? No. The idea that this sutra is a valid sutra...is not even close to being "By my reckoning".



I suggest that you may possibly have missed the point of my analogy...
But not to worry.

The gist of my responses is that the OP does not have to grapple with the meaning of a text far from universally accepted as authentic, as interpreted by a controversial teacher.
There are sutras galore that are universally accepted, and commentaries on them by universally respected teachers..
Enough for a lifetimes study.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:
seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
We can say that it is accepted by some Chan masters as authentic and we can at the same time deny it is authentic, which is to say it is not a sutra spoken by the Buddha, nor a sutra which he gave permission to one his disciples to speak, nor did he confer his blessings upon anyone to speak it.

We can therefore also understand that some Chan masters will assert various things said in that sūtra and feel under no obligation to take them or it seriously since we do not accept the sūtra in question is authentic.


Sure, because you are a Tibetan Buddhist, not a Chan one. The exact same thing can be said about Theravada Buddhists not accepting Tibetan sutras. Obviously, Theravada Buddhists feel no need to obligation to take things like Buddha Nature seriously. Why, because they don't accept those sutras as authentic words of the Buddha. Does that make those Buddha nature sutras invalid or inauthentic for everyone else? Of course not...To assert that it does would be ridiculous.


The difference is that both Tibetan Buddhists and Chan Buddhists are followers of Mahāyāna. We both generally accept the same Dharma, we both generally accept that same set of Mahāyāna sūtras which can be confirmed to be of Indian origin. The differences in the basic sūtras we both accept are trivial.

There are a few sūtras in the Chinese canon which were not translated into Tibetan because even during the 8th and early ninth century there was uncertainty as to their validity. Many Mahāyāna sūtras were translated into Tibetan first from Chinese sources and only later were revised with respect to Sanskrit manuscripts.


Alright, but my point was that just because Tibetans don't accept it as valid, doesn't mean it's invalid. No one sect or tradition has a monopoly over what is or is not Mahayana. Things like vegetarianism are a good example of that. Chan Buddhists abstain from eating meat and Tibetans don't. That doesn't invalidate chan buddhisms stance on eating meat nor does it render it not Mahayana.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Simon E. » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:37 pm

TheSynergist wrote:I recently stumbled across Master Hsuan's commentary on the Shurangama Sutra, which contained this gem:

People who eat pungent plants and also cultivate samadhi will not be protected by the Bodhisattvas, gods, immortals, or good spirits of the ten directions. Who is referred to here? Whoever eats the five pungent plants. If you eat them, it's referring to you. If I eat them, it's referring to me. The text leaves the matter open. Why don't dharma protectors and good spirits guard such people? Because they smell too bad.


He goes on...

When their lives end, these people will join the retinue of demon kings. This refers to people who eat the five pungent plants. Because they eat such things, the gods, immortals, Bodhisattvas, and good spirits do not protect them. Therefore, the demon kings who possess great power can have their way with them. The demon king appears as a Buddha and speaks demonic dharma to them, praising sexual desire, anger, and stupidity. Having been confused by the demons, these people lose their proper knowledge and proper views and any real wisdom. Instead, they harbor deviant knowledge and deviant views.


And also...

Ananda, have you been listening? Those who cultivate for Bodhi, anybody on the path to Bodhi, should never eat the five pungent plants. You definitely must stop eating onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and chives. If you eat these things, you can end up in the company of the demon kings. If you don't eat these things, you can join the Buddha's retinue. This is the first of the gradual stages of cultivation. This is the first step of progress for a cultivator of the Way.

In cultivation, one must get rid of the causes which aid in the creation of bad karma. The five pungent plants are one cause which aids the demon kings. You should not regard them as unimportant. The five pungent plants make you turbid and confused. They make you impure, and your impurity puts you together with the retinue of demon kings, for the more impure one is, the better they like it.


This is all from:http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama7/shurangama7.asp

Now I respect the good work that the Master has done to teach/popularize Buddhism in the USA and the world. I just cannot help but find these statement in the commentary about the 5 pungent plants so preposterous that they're hard to take seriously. I also realize that Master Hsuan Hua has also made some controversial statements about homosexuality, divorce, and Tibetans that have been discussed elsewhere on this forum. All things considered, I cannot help but think that Master Hsuan Hua was excessively preoccupied with literalism and traditionalism, although he probably was motivated by genuine compassion and meant well.

Two questions:
1) Do you think it's a good idea to abstain from the five pungent plants?
2) To what extent do you find it possible to respect a Master while still strongly disagreeing with him on some points?

Peace,
The Synergist


Just to remind ourselves, this is the OP.

My own reply would be 1 ) I think abstaining from the ' five pungent plants ' has no relevance outside of certain schools. To which I do not belong.
and 2 ) I feel no need to respect anyone simply because others dub them ' master '.
Neither do I feel any need to criticise them..
I simply do not move in those circles.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:54 pm

seeker242 wrote:Alright, but my point was that just because Tibetans don't accept it as valid, doesn't mean it's invalid. No one sect or tradition has a monopoly over what is or is not Mahayana. Things like vegetarianism are a good example of that. Chan Buddhists abstain from eating meat and Tibetans don't. That doesn't invalidate chan buddhisms stance on eating meat nor does it render it not Mahayana.


It has already been pointed out to you that the status of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is not certain even within Chinese Buddhism and it has been subject to much controversy, unlike say the Prajñāpāramita or the Lankāvatāra sūtras.

That Tibetans eat meat is a Tibetan cultural thing. It has nothing to do with the Dharma and there is really no justification for meat-eating that can be found in Mahāyāna sutras. Avoidance of eating meat is well known in Mahāyāna sutras such as the Mahāparinivana, Lankāvatāra, and so on. Many Tibetan Buddhists have been and are vegetarian.

In general, if one is following common Mahāyāna one should not eat meat unless one is ill. On the other hand, there is no Mahāyāna vow not to eat meat which is connected with the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha mentions the faults of eating meat in many sūtras, but never made it a vow that one should not.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:14 pm

Idk, even without any academic analysis, the statement is wonky, because in most other sources Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are presented as having qualities that would preclude them from rejecting beings due to stinkiness. Shrug. Unless it's canonical in Chan that enlightened beings have a big issue with bad breath, the statement seems hard to accept on it's own merits.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby seeker242 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:14 pm

Malcolm wrote:On the other hand, there is no Mahāyāna vow not to eat meat which is connected with the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha mentions the faults of eating meat in many sūtras, but never made it a vow that one should not.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. That isn't true. It's only true after you dismiss the sutras that prohibit it. You dismiss sutras based on your own traditions acceptance or non acceptance of them. But like I said before, Tibetans don't have a monopoly over Mayahana. No Korean Buddhist would ever say such a thing. Why? Because the sutras clearly prohibit it.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:20 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:On the other hand, there is no Mahāyāna vow not to eat meat which is connected with the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha mentions the faults of eating meat in many sūtras, but never made it a vow that one should not.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. That isn't true. It's only true after you dismiss the sutras that prohibit it. You dismiss sutras based on your own traditions acceptance or non acceptance of them. But like I said before, Tibetans don't have a monopoly over Mayahana. No Korean Buddhist would ever say such a thing. Why? Because the sutras clearly prohibit it.


There is no vow against eating meat. Even if the Buddha says we should not eat meat, there is nevertheless no bodhisattva vow prohibiting it, not in the tradition of Manjushri, not in the tradition of Maitreya and not even in your Brahmajala Sutra.
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Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:26 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:On the other hand, there is no Mahāyāna vow not to eat meat which is connected with the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha mentions the faults of eating meat in many sūtras, but never made it a vow that one should not.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. That isn't true. It's only true after you dismiss the sutras that prohibit it. You dismiss sutras based on your own traditions acceptance or non acceptance of them. But like I said before, Tibetans don't have a monopoly over Mayahana. No Korean Buddhist would ever say such a thing. Why? Because the sutras clearly prohibit it.


How many lay East Asian Buddhists do you think obstain from pungent herbs based on this sort of thinking, or on reference to the Suragama sutra bits that mention it? For how many Chan influenced groups is it a common practice to abstain from onions, garlic etc. For lay people?
May the eyes of living beings be gladdened by skies made splendid by clouds
that lightnings garland, while on earth below, the peacocks dance with joy as
showers of rain, falling gently, approach.

-The Door Of Happiness


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