Irreversible bodhisattvas

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Sentient Light
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Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Sentient Light » Wed May 29, 2019 5:39 pm

I've been reading this dissertation for the past few weeks and I've finally gotten around to finishing it: https://www.academia.edu/33357666/No_Tu ... Literature

It's an in-depth analysis of Prajnaparamita texts, the various Dasabhumi schemas in the Mahayana canon, some look at Pali texts, etc. in order to discern what is meant by the "ground of non-retrogression." Here are some of my notes...
  • Irreversibility is used in a few different ways in different texts

    The Irreversibility of the Sravakayana texts refers to not backsliding from the path in general

    The irreversibility of the Mahayana texts refers to not falling into the fates of the arhat or the pratyekabuddha, these are two different Sanskrit words (which I don't recall precisely right now)

    The Astasahasrika PPJ references at least two different dasabhumi schemas (where arhatship == bhumi 7) as well as the pancamarga schema (which is determined to be on the late side)

    There appear to be six different dasabhumi schemas found in the Mahayana canon, two of which appear in the Avatamsaka.. The Dasabhumika Sutra/Chapter became the standard model, but another character has arhatship/extinction of the outflows at bhumi 7, in line with the PPJ texts
    Most discussions of irreversibility are about how to avoid becoming an arhat, NOT about how to avoid dropping down the path

    The first bhumi is considered entering the gotra of bodhisattvas, so you will never fall from the path at this point


    It is apparently possible to drop down in bhumis before the 7th/8th, but never lower than the first once it's attained (this is a big one, I think)

    The pancamarga system seems to have begun development in the 1st century BCE, along with rudimentary dasabhumi schemas, and it wasn't until the Abhilam.... I forget the spelling, that Maitreya text that doesn't exist in Chinese, it wasn't until that when the bhumis and pancamarga were attempted to correlate to one another

    It was not until Je Tsongkhapa that the concept of complete irreversibility (tantamount to 8th bhumi in the conventional bhumi schema) was accorded to the first bhumi, with him declaring that they were irreversible bodhisattvas, but simply have not manifested the marks of an irreversible bodhisattva yet

    prediction in the presence of a living Buddha was not a definitive sign of irreversibility in the technical sense, but in a "the Buddha knows all sense", insofar as a bodhisattva can just happen to be alive during the time of a Buddha and get a prediction even at the first bhumi, and can still backslide after this point

    meditative methods to determine if one had received a prediction in the past is only sufficient to infer a prediction, because the methods only reveal the signs of an irreversible bodhisattva (i.e. all irreversible bodhisattvas have received predictions, therefore, if one receives signs of irreversibility, there must have been a previous prediction)

    The bodhisattva career being split into two distinct phases, with the first phase being exactly the same as the path of the sravakas, is confirmed in the APPJ (prior to this, I was simply extrapolating that understanding from the Yogacarabhumisastra, but it's nice to see that it's clearly spelled out somewhere, and is spelled out in the earliest Mahayana text known)
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by 明安 Myoan » Wed May 29, 2019 10:50 pm

Thank you for sharing. Did you find anything specific to non-retrogression in Pure Land schools, it being a special feature of Sukhavati?

:thanks:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Sentient Light » Fri May 31, 2019 6:24 pm

Mönlam Tharchin wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:50 pm
Thank you for sharing. Did you find anything specific to non-retrogression in Pure Land schools, it being a special feature of Sukhavati?

:thanks:
Unfortuantely, there's nothing but a very cursory mention of non-retrogression as a characteristic of Pure Land birth.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Queequeg » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:30 am

:applause:

Thanks for sharing this!
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:40 am

Mönlam Tharchin wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:50 pm
Thank you for sharing. Did you find anything specific to non-retrogression in Pure Land schools, it being a special feature of Sukhavati?

:thanks:
I always found this passage in the Astasahasrika very interesting:
It is again another mark of irreversibility if a Bodhisattva, on
seeing in his dreams the beings that are in the hells, reflects that “Thus will
I act that in my Buddha-field, after I have won full enlightenment, there should
be no states of woe at all!” This also should be known as a mark which shows that
an irreversible Bodhisattva has become so pure that he can never again be reborn
[against his will] in the states of woe. And how could one know that there would
be no states of woe in the Buddha-field of that Bodhisattva? If a Bodhisattva, on
seeing in his dreams the beings reborn in the hells, as animals, or as Pretas, sets
up mindfulness and determines to bring about a Buddha-field without such states
of woe, then that should be known as the mark which shows that he has become
so pure that he can never again be reborn in the states of woe.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by 明安 Myoan » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:27 am

:twothumbsup:

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Caoimhghín » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:10 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 5:39 pm
The Dasabhumika Sutra/Chapter became the standard model, but another character has arhatship/extinction of the outflows at bhumi 7, in line with the PPJ texts
I believe that Abhisamayālaṁkāra is the same with regards to the 7th bhūmi. AFAIK stages 7-10 are the abodes of mahāsattvas, but I can't remember where I read this.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Sentient Light » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:39 pm

Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:10 pm
Sentient Light wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 5:39 pm
The Dasabhumika Sutra/Chapter became the standard model, but another character has arhatship/extinction of the outflows at bhumi 7, in line with the PPJ texts
I believe that Abhisamayālaṁkāra is the same with regards to the 7th bhūmi. AFAIK stages 7-10 are the abodes of mahāsattvas, but I can't remember where I read this.
The article mentions taht the Abhisamayalamkara agrees with this (IIRC anyway). I notice my notes don't mention what the Dasabhumika model actually is, but it differs in that the mahasattva abodes are defined as 8-10 instead of starting at 7.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Caoimhghín » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:29 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:39 pm
Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:10 pm
Sentient Light wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 5:39 pm
The Dasabhumika Sutra/Chapter became the standard model, but another character has arhatship/extinction of the outflows at bhumi 7, in line with the PPJ texts
I believe that Abhisamayālaṁkāra is the same with regards to the 7th bhūmi. AFAIK stages 7-10 are the abodes of mahāsattvas, but I can't remember where I read this.
The article mentions taht the Abhisamayalamkara agrees with this (IIRC anyway). I notice my notes don't mention what the Dasabhumika model actually is, but it differs in that the mahasattva abodes are defined as 8-10 instead of starting at 7.
Yes. I should also point out that, if I am remembering the 7-10 stage definition right from the above, that it did not apply to the arhat, being stuck in a temporary limbo between 6 and 7. I'll need to find where I was reading this now.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Caoimhghín » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:22 pm

Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:29 pm
Sentient Light wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:39 pm
Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:10 pm


I believe that Abhisamayālaṁkāra is the same with regards to the 7th bhūmi. AFAIK stages 7-10 are the abodes of mahāsattvas, but I can't remember where I read this.
The article mentions taht the Abhisamayalamkara agrees with this (IIRC anyway). I notice my notes don't mention what the Dasabhumika model actually is, but it differs in that the mahasattva abodes are defined as 8-10 instead of starting at 7.
Yes. I should also point out that, if I am remembering the 7-10 stage definition right from the above, that it did not apply to the arhat, being stuck in a temporary limbo between 6 and 7. I'll need to find where I was reading this now.
This isn't where I learned this originally from, it's something that I found off a Google search, but it seems a Peter Harvey shares the version of daśabhūmika narrative I had learned somewhere, with mahāsattvāḥ at 7-10.
At the seventh stage, the Bodhisattva goes beyond being reborn according to karma, and becomes a "Great Being" (Mahāsattva), a heavenly saviour being who, by his perfection of skilful means, magically projects himself into many worlds so as to teach and help beings in appropriate ways. Knowing that saṁsāra is not ultimately different from nirvāṇa, he attains "nirvāṇa without standstill (see p. 113)."
(Peter Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, 124)

On p. 122 the author cites the Daśabhūmikasūtra & the Bodhisattvabhūmi division of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra as his sources, so it could be in either one of those. I've definitely not read the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra and am all the poorer for it. Following the (see p.113) citation just leads to a clarification that "without standstill" is how he is translating apratiṣṭhita.

It is quite possible that there are just competing path schemata, different strands of marga mysticism. Where did you find your account of mahāsattvāḥ at 8-10? I haven't even started reading the large dissertation you linked us to in the OP to be honest. I suppose I should start there.

I also recall reading something about Venerable Tsongkhapa having a pudgalamarga schema that places the liberation of the arhat at bhūmi 7 but his realization at bhūmi 6, requiring bodhicitta to advance, but I don't even know where I'd go to see if that was correct or not.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Seeker12 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:46 pm

In case it's interesting, I'll just put these here without commentary, from the Dashabhumika Sutra part of the Avatamsaka.

Regarding the 6th/7th Bhumis:

Moon of Liberation said, "From what stage do enlightening beings arrive at extinction?

Diamond Matrix said, "They arrive at extinction from the sixth stage. In the seventh stage they enter and emerge from extinction in each mental instant, but they may not be said to actually experience extinction. Because of that they are said to have inconceivable physical, verbal, and mental action. It is a marvel how enlightening beings abide in ultimate reality without actually experiencing extinction. Just as a person with good knowledge of the characteristics of the waters of the ocean, educated, wise, and intelligent, with consideration relevant to every point, when on board a ship in the ocean becomes familiar with the winds and the currents and is unscathed by the ocean waters, in the same way enlightening beings in the seventh stage, having entered the ocean of omniscience of the great vehicle on board the vessel of the transcendent ways, abide in the sphere of ultimate reality, the limit of existence, yet do not experience extinction, and are not affected by the ills of thoughts of complete ultimate extinction of the compounded.

Having attained this power and support of knowledge, by means of great awareness in which concentration, knowledge, and power are developed, by the power of skill in means and wisdom, they also show the face of mundane existence, while their minds are gone to nirvana. They are also surrounded by a great company, yet they have attained to constant detachment of mind. They undertake birth in the world by willpower for the sake of the development of beings, but they are not stained by the ills of the world. They also become tranquil, extremely calm and serene, yet by expedient means they 'burn', without, however, being burned by burning. They are born in the knowledge of buddhas and leave the stages of listeners and individual illuminates. While they come to reach the storehouse of the realm of buddha-knowledge, yet they appear to have entered the realm of demons. Though they have completely transcended the paths of the four demons, yet they show the sphere of operation of demons. They appear to practice the ways of non-Buddhists, yet their minds have not abandoned Buddhism. They appear to follow all worldly occupations, yet they attain to the way of transcendence of the world. They acquire adornments surpassing those of all creatures, human, celestial, or fabulous, but they do not take their attention off delight in the way of the enlightened.

And from the 8th Bhumi:

... as soon as enlightening beings attain the eighth stage, Immovability, they attain the profound abode of enlightening beings, which is hard to know, unadulterated, ungraspable by any notion, unoriginated, measureless, unconquerable by any listeners or individual illuminates, aloof, facing total detachment. Just as when a monk with spiritual powers and ultimate control of the mind has, through successive stages, reached the ninth level of attainment, extinction, he becomes free of all stirring cogitation and flowing thoughts, in the same way enlightening beings, as soon as they attain the eighth stage, Immovability, become freed from all efforts and attain the state of effortlessness, freed from physical, verbal, and mental striving, freed from stirring cogitation and flowing thoughts, and become stabilized in the natural state of development.

It is as if a person in a dream saw himself in a great torrent, he then would make great effort, eagerly striving to get out, and because of that great effort and striving he would wake up, and as soon as he woke up he would be freed from all that effort and striving. In the same way the enlightening beings, seeing the mortal being in the four torrents, desiring to come to the rescue, exert great efforts and striving for awakening of all-knowledge, acting with great vigor; as soon as they reach the stage of Immovability, they become free from all efforts.

In these enlightening beings no actions based on views, passions, or intentions are manifest. Just as in the Brahma heaven no afflictions of the realm of desire are acted on, in the same way enlightening beings in this stage of Immovability do not carry on action of mind, intellect, or consciousness...
Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.

Uttaratantra Shastra

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Caoimhghín
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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:58 am

From what I got of the above, it seems that that literature also technically announces nirvāṇa at the 7th as well.

In the seventh stage they enter and emerge from extinction in each mental instant, but they may not be said to actually experience extinction. Because of that they are said to have inconceivable physical, verbal, and mental action. It is a marvel how enlightening beings abide in ultimate reality without actually experiencing extinction. Just as a person with good knowledge of the characteristics of the waters of the ocean, educated, wise, and intelligent, with consideration relevant to every point, when on board a ship in the ocean becomes familiar with the winds and the currents and is unscathed by the ocean waters, in the same way enlightening beings in the seventh stage, having entered the ocean of omniscience of the great vehicle on board the vessel of the transcendent ways, abide in the sphere of ultimate reality, the limit of existence, yet do not experience extinction, and are not affected by the ills of thoughts of complete ultimate extinction of the compounded.

If the English translation made a differentiation between nirvāṇa and parinirvāṇa, instead of just "extinction," that would be clear. My understand of the above is that the 7-stagers enter nirvāṇa but do not remain constantly, dwell constantly, or exist in it constantly, and do not enter parinirvāṇa, which is standard Mahāyāna that I think we'll all find recognizable concerning non-abiding extinguishment. How this differs from Buddhahood is, of course, a fine point, given that Buddhas do not remain constantly 'within' this nirvāṇa, so to speak, either. The difference is, of course, given in other literature as effluents and ignorance on such a subtle level that even fathoming it would likely be enlightenment itself.

It seems this subtle ignorance is the only differentiating factor, really, IMO but I am open to being wrong. This is all just trivia I've picked up, all of this higher bhūmi speculation. While there is certainly value in all schemata mapping the 'holy life,' I only really consider the material at the very beginning, the outset even, or before that relevant to me personally.

What in the description of the 8th stage were you pointing at?

Clearly's translation is a bit 'idiomatic.' I don't know how used to it you are because I don't know you, so if you don't already know, Cleary translates something in the description of the 8th bhūmi as "the profound abode of enlightening beings," and this idiomatic rendering of the Chinese would make it seem that they are attaining the stage of Buddhas, the 'beings' who are 'enlightening' others, but this is a product of Cleary's translation.

Cleary translates bodhisattva as 'enlightening being.' So this is the 'ground of bodhisattvas' that is being described in the text, if you didn't know.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Irreversible bodhisattvas

Post by emptiness_guan » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:14 pm

The Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom by Nagarjuna states that „patient endurance of the absence of notions is the ground of non-retrogression.” (無生忍法即是阿鞞跋致地, source: T25n1509_027 大智度論 第27卷).

The word “notion” refers to that which causes the perception of entities. That which causes the perception of entities are notions of entities. The notion of self is a notion of an entity. The notion of a body is a notion of an entity. The notion of a person is a notion of an entity. The word “notion” also refers to that which causes the perception of inherent existence. That which causes the perception of inherent existence is the notion of inherent existence. The word “notion” therefore refers to the notion of inherent existence as well as all notions of entities.

To endure patiently the absence of notions is to endure patiently the absence of the notion of inherent existence and the absence of all notions of entities. To endure patiently the absence of notions is to withstand from moment to moment the fierceness of the arising of the notion of inherent existence and the fierceness of the arising of all notions of entities. To cultivate endurance in such a way is to remain unmoved in the presence of the six dusts. To cultivate endurance in such a way is to cultivate “patient endurance of the absence of notions.”

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