Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

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Stephen18
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Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Stephen18 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:22 pm

Are Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada exactly the same thing?

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:22 pm

Are Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada exactly the same thing?
No- but people use them as synonyms.

I can't really explain the differences because alot of it is so esoteric and just beyond my level of education.

So, I'm not an expert- but I can share this:

The Vijnanavada say that the parts are real, but not the whole.

Also, the yogacara of Paramarta is different from the yogacara of Xuanzang.
Paramarta spread yogacara first and tried to combine yogacara with the buddha-nature theory. Xuanzang, on the other hand held the view that certain beings did not have the necessary seeds to become buddha (or only had the seeds to become a prateyaka-buddha).
Even before that like 5th or 6th century there was different interpretations of vasubhandu- one of the reasons xuanzang went to india was to try to find the correct interpretation.

Even Wonchuk and Guiji had different interpretations of Xuanzang- but Wonchuk was sort of trying to reconcile the different interpretations.

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:13 am

Hopefully a more educated member can add something

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:37 pm

Are Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada exactly the same thing?

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Astus » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:46 am

Stephen18 wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:22 pm
Are Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada exactly the same thing?
It depends on who you read. These and other terms can refer to the same thing, but some (as far as I can tell, mostly modern Tibetan Buddhists) differentiate between Cittamatra (a supposed group of unspecified people who believe that there is an ultimate mind, but practically it is mostly just the object of Madhyamaka criticism) and Yogacara (the teachings of Asanga (Maitreya) and Vasubandhu). So it's better to be specific regarding what treatise and what author one refers to then just use ambiguous terms.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:46 am

'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:03 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:46 am
Some articles on Gregory Wonderwheel’s blog.
Awesome resource. Thank you!

I've been wrestling with that vertigo he mentions. LOL, though not as acute. Its nice to have a diagnosis!
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: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Bristollad » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:06 pm

In Chinese Buddhism, a distinction is made - read Chinese Buddhism sources to understand. In Tibetan Buddhism, no real difference is seen. Take your pick which approach works best for you.

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:18 pm

Bristollad wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:06 pm
In Chinese Buddhism, a distinction is made - read Chinese Buddhism sources to understand. In Tibetan Buddhism, no real difference is seen. Take your pick which approach works best for you.
You make it sound like a casual decision, like deciding between red or blue skivvies in the morning.

From what this Wonderwheel fella describes, its a much more substantive difference.

But then, this is the first I'm hearing of it.
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: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:21 am

Bristollad wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:06 pm
In Chinese Buddhism, a distinction is made - read Chinese Buddhism sources to understand. In Tibetan Buddhism, no real difference is seen. Take your pick which approach works best for you.
So what is the difference between mind only and dharma characteristic ?

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Astus » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:57 am

Bristollad wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:06 pm
In Chinese Buddhism, a distinction is made - read Chinese Buddhism sources to understand.
Fazang argued against Xuanzang where he claimed to represent weixin 唯心 and the other weishi 唯識 (see: Buddhist Phenomenology, p 386-387). See more on Fazang's case against Yogacara in A Huayan Paradigm For The Classification Of Mahāyāna Teachings: The Origin And Meaning Of Faxiangzong And Faxingzong.
In Tibetan Buddhism, no real difference is seen.
Mostly, but not exactly. See e.g.: The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, p 230-232.

The critical difference (between Cittamatra and Yogacara, or Cittamatra and Shentong, etc., the terms can vary) to be considered according to Mipham is whether one takes the mind as ultimately real or not.

"If the Cittamātrins’ final standpoint is the assertion that this consciousness is only a substantially existent entity inasmuch as it is the cause for all conventional phenomena appearing, and that apart from this assertion they are not claiming that it exists substantially as a truly existing entity in ultimate truth, then they are not at all in contradiction with the Mādhyamika tradition. On the other hand, if they were to assert that it is truly existent in ultimate truth, they would be contradicting the Mādhyamika approach. It seems, therefore, that it is just this particular point that needs to be examined as a source of contention (or otherwise) for the Mādhyamikas."
(A Feast of the Nectar of the Supreme Vehicle, ch 7)

It should also be noted that in China and Tibet there were different schools of thought debating each other: Huayan vs. Weishi, and Rime vs. Gelug.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Bristollad » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:23 am

I’m coming from a Gelug viewpoint whereby Shentong is not understood to be synonymous with Yogacara. You follow your teachers and their teachings. If your teacher sees an important distinction for your practise between Chittamatra and Yogacara, then you work with that. Mine don’t. When you have fully mastered their approach, you might fruitfully compare with other approaches and decide otherwise but I’m not there yet :smile:

This difference seems strongly highlighted in Chinese Buddhism. For my teachers it’s a non-topic, they don’t see it. Of course, for them Shentong at best is a provisional view and at worst, just incorrect.

A quick peek at Wonderwheel’s website leaves me with the impression he’s knowledgeable about Chinese Buddhism but not about Tibetan Buddhism and seems to be pushing the old idea that Tibetan Buddhism is only about analytical debate and conceptual proliferation. Not true for Gelupas, who definitely do enjoy a good debate, never mind other less debate focussed traditions.

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:01 pm

Restating what I get so far:

In East Asian, the difference hinges on the transmission of Ekayana that came first, and then Yogacara that came later.

Wonderwheel quotes Suzuki who I think summarized it succinctly by characterizing Mind-Only as ontological in nature, and Consciousness-Only as etymological in nature. That matches up with my tentative understanding.

More specifically, in the Ekayana view, Yogacara is an upaya that is one of many. I'm not sure that Yogacara offers a contextualization of Ekayana except to suggest its just wrong. This would match my understanding of traditions that fall in the Yogacara side of the divide as categorizing Ekayana teachings as provisional.

Wonderwheel does slip into some sectarianism, but overall, I'm not sure much can be taken away on his observations about Tibetan Buddhism except that he observes the use of terminology doesn't match up.

The difference between Mind-Only and Consciousness-Only in East Asia, IMO, imply different goals in practice.

For me this is quite eye opening and makes sense of a lot of disagreements I've found myself in over the years. I don't know if it would be exaggerating to suggest that this points to the crux of the difference between Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism.
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: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:44 pm

“It is important to recognize that one has to be cautious about essentializing either Madhyamaka or Yogācāra, in the sense of reducing either to a closed, fixed set of doctrines, ideas, talking points, or inviolable commitments. Both exhibit remarkable diversity across the works of their key authors.”—Dan Lusthaus, “Xuanzang and Kuiji on Madhyamaka”
“Similarly [for] Yogācāra…there are actually vast differences between the putative founders, Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, and even between Vasubandhu’s earlier and later writings, and additional conflicting interpretations and divergences promulgated by Sthiramati, Dharmapāla, Vinītadeva, etc.”—Dan Lusthaus, “Xuanzang and Kuiji on Madhyamaka”
There are sort of two threads of yogacara- one would be coming from the visionary tradition and another coming from responses to abhidharma.
Master Yin Shun said that is was two responses, a meditative and a philosophical response to Abhidhamma.
“The problem of trying to treat Yogācāra thought as univocal and homogenous is compounded by the lack of agreement between the Chinese and Tibetan traditions on whom to consider to be the authors of various seminal Yogācāra texts.”--Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology. p. 7
One example would be the Yogācārabhūmi. In the Chinese version, the author is said to be Maitreya, but in the Sanskrit and Tibetan versions, it is said to be Asaṅga.
“Additionally, the presentations of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra offered by the much later doxographers often get many positions wrong. Earlier teachings are distorted in the name of freezing messy and complex diversities into a manageable set of comprehensible (and memorizable) teachings by assigning them to niches that edify pre-assumed and preferred hierarchical relations. Fitting things together neatly and vindicating one’s own school had precedence over getting the details right in terms of conforming to the actual statements found in the texts that the doxographers pretend to encapsulate and represent. Doxographical classification is heavily agenda-driven.”—Dan Lusthaus, “Xuanzang and Kuiji on Madhyamaka”
“[The] argument essentially turns…on the question of whether Yogācāra is primarily making an epistemological point (that all we have access to is mental representation) or an ontological one (that mental representation is all that exists).” Paul Griffiths. On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem. 1986, p. 82-83

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Astus » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:17 pm

Instead of looking for ontology and epistemology - interpretations that I doubt any of the authors had in mind - all of them should rather be seen in terms of soteriology, i.e. how they guide one to liberation. As for the mind and its nature, McLeod makes this important point:

'Despite the prevalence of interpretations to the contrary, “appearances are mind” does not mean that everything that happens in the world somehow takes place in your mind, that everything that appears exists in your head or brain, or that what arises in your experience is “only” mental or psychological. All views that substantiate appearances even as mental objects are inaccurate. Equally, to say “appearances are mind” does not mean that what does arise in experience does not really exist, is not real, or is just a hallucination. Views that try to deny the validity of experience are also inaccurate.
Perhaps the confusion begins with the word mind. In English, it usually denotes the intellect or related phenomena. In Buddhism, mind means “what experiences.” Kalu Rinpoche used to say that mind means experiencing. When you are given the pointing-out instruction “What is mind?” you are actually being asked, “What is experience?”'

(Wake Up to Your Life, p 370-371)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by smcj » Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:47 am

In Tibetan Dharma Cittamatra and Yogacara are usually synonyms. However some authors will use Yogacara as a synonym for Shentong. Plus they don’t necessarily highlight the unusual usage.

I find that needlessly confusing and very unfortunate.
:crying:
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:28 am

Perhaps the confusion begins with the word mind. In English, it usually denotes the intellect or related phenomena. In Buddhism, mind means “what experiences.” Kalu Rinpoche used to say that mind means experiencing. When you are given the pointing-out instruction “What is mind?” you are actually being asked, “What is experience?”'
The correct translation of which is "being".
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Astus » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:14 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:28 am
The correct translation of which is "being".
The correct translation of what? Also, what sense of being, as a noun or as a verb, as existence, essence, or entity?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:53 am

Whatever is being translated as both or either ‘mind’ or ‘experience’ in the context of the passage I quoted.

‘Being’ as in ‘human being’. It is a declension of the verb ‘to be’, so, a verb, although also acts as a noun.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Cittamatra, Yogacara and Vijnanavada the same thing?

Post by smcj » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:44 am

I like “happening” as verb and noun.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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