Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

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Astus
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Astus » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:12 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:In other words, Buddha did not teach Dzogchen. How then can it be a Buddhist practice? Buddha Shakyamuni predicted the appearance of Nagarjuna and Je Tsongkhapa but not Garab Dorje.


The question is rather what kind of history or legendary accounts one accepts. If one takes literally every traditions account of itself, then they are all the best and most authentic. If one takes a modern scholarly perspective, then sectarian legends are irrelevant.
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: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:19 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:Buddha Shakyamuni predicted the appearance of Nagarjuna and Je Tsongkhapa but not Garab Dorje.


Buddha predicted Garab Dorje also, as well as Padmasambhava. Your sectarian bias is showing here, TKF.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:01 pm

Astus wrote:If one takes a modern scholarly perspective, then sectarian legends are irrelevant.


That's too far, isn't it?

From a modern scholarly perspective, ie. the Social Sciences, the legends are more raw material for study.

For the modern scholar, all of it is just more stuff to catalog and analyze.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Astus » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:22 pm

Queequeg wrote:That's too far, isn't it?
From a modern scholarly perspective, ie. the Social Sciences, the legends are more raw material for study.
For the modern scholar, all of it is just more stuff to catalog and analyze.


If one wants to establish a historical sequence, then it does not matter how old a tradition believes itself to be. What one should look for are datable and verifiable evidences. At the same time, it also means that one cannot say anything more than what the evidence can corroborate. So, for instance the Shurangama Sutra can be believed to be 2500 years old, but historically it is datable only to 8th century China. Similarly, Dzogchen may proclaim itself to go back to India, but the earliest texts are 9th century Tibet. To put it another way, who would believe today a person who claims to be the sole representative of an ancient Buddhist lineage nobody has yet heard of and nothing can back up its existence?
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: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:40 pm

Astus,

You're talking about modern scholarly methods, not perspective. I think the perspective is scientific. The methods can be divorced from the perspective with some difficulties, though I think they can only ever be tentative within a religious context.

I'm not sure if lineage accounts are wholly irrelevant in the scholarly approach. To categorically say that legends are worthless goes too far - I think we often find that legends may be accounts of actual historical events. Ashoka was thought to be a legend, for instance, until they found his pillars.

I'm nit picking here and don't disagree with your general point.

As for a new lineage... can the teacher walk on water? Yes? I'll give ear to that.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:03 pm

Astus wrote:
Queequeg wrote:That's too far, isn't it?
From a modern scholarly perspective, ie. the Social Sciences, the legends are more raw material for study.
For the modern scholar, all of it is just more stuff to catalog and analyze.


If one wants to establish a historical sequence, then it does not matter how old a tradition believes itself to be. What one should look for are datable and verifiable evidences. At the same time, it also means that one cannot say anything more than what the evidence can corroborate. So, for instance the Shurangama Sutra can be believed to be 2500 years old, but historically it is datable only to 8th century China. Similarly, Dzogchen may proclaim itself to go back to India, but the earliest texts are 9th century Tibet. To put it another way, who would believe today a person who claims to be the sole representative of an ancient Buddhist lineage nobody has yet heard of and nothing can back up its existence?


In fact, we have independent confirmation of the presence of the Dzogchen tradition in India in the work of Mañjuśrīkīrti who notes an old debate with Śri Simha concerning whether creation stage is actually necessary. We know from ancient Tibetan sources that Vairocana met this teacher.

You might be satisfied with the crippled approach of text criticism, but that is your problem. For you, everything depends on a book which appears at some time.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:43 pm

Given the other possible groups that could have been doing the practice described in the sutra, it seems premature to say it is anti-Dzogchen. I think you need to bring forth a lot more evidence from the sutra that you think exhibits anti-Dzogchen sentiment before you can reasonably suggest that conclusion.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Coëmgenu » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:31 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Astus wrote:The Shurangama Sutra existed in China by around 730, if not earlier. Trisong Detsen, who invited Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra to Tibet, began his rule in 755. According to Sam van Schaik Dzogchen did not exist on its own until the 10th century, and Menngagde works date back only to the 11th century. In other words, not only sky gazing and leap over practices were nowhere around when the sutra appeared, but even Dzogchen has not yet formed.


In other words, Buddha did not teach Dzogchen. How then can it be a Buddhist practice? Buddha Shakyamuni predicted the appearance of Nagarjuna and Je Tsongkhapa but not Garab Dorje.
Do the words need to come out of the Buddha's mouth in exactly so-and-so order, in exactly such-and-such linguistic terminology and phrasing, to be, nonetheless, Buddha's teaching?

Take for instance the Heart Sutra. It is very unlikely that the Buddha himself said exactly those words in exactly that order, but Avalokiteśvara delivers Buddhavacana nonetheless, from a wide variety of sources, and condenses them into a succinct composite statement built from long but textually disparate Prajñāpāramitā Buddhavacana that was spoken by the Buddha (Buddha willing ;) ), in so-and-so order and such-and-such terminology/phrasing, it is simply put in a new order for the purposes of expounding the heart of the wisdom-perfection teachings.

Is the Heart Sutra not Buddhavacana? I would say it is, despite not being said by the Buddha in exactly that phrasing originally.

The same could be true of Dzogchen teachings.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:20 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Astus wrote:The Shurangama Sutra existed in China by around 730, if not earlier. Trisong Detsen, who invited Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra to Tibet, began his rule in 755. According to Sam van Schaik Dzogchen did not exist on its own until the 10th century, and Menngagde works date back only to the 11th century. In other words, not only sky gazing and leap over practices were nowhere around when the sutra appeared, but even Dzogchen has not yet formed.


In other words, Buddha did not teach Dzogchen. How then can it be a Buddhist practice? Buddha Shakyamuni predicted the appearance of Nagarjuna and Je Tsongkhapa but not Garab Dorje.
Do the words need to come out of the Buddha's mouth in exactly so-and-so order, in exactly such-and-such linguistic terminology and phrasing, to be, nonetheless, Buddha's teaching?

Take for instance the Heart Sutra. It is very unlikely that the Buddha himself said exactly those words in exactly that order, but Avalokiteśvara delivers Buddhavacana nonetheless, from a wide variety of sources, and condenses them into a succinct composite statement built from long but textually disparate Prajñāpāramitā Buddhavacana that was spoken by the Buddha (Buddha willing ;) ), in so-and-so order and such-and-such terminology/phrasing, it is simply put in a new order for the purposes of expounding the heart of the wisdom-perfection teachings.

Is the Heart Sutra not Buddhavacana? I would say it is, despite not being said by the Buddha in exactly that phrasing originally.

The same could be true of Dzogchen teachings.


Poor TKF does not understand the principle of the direct teachings, teaching through permission (like the Heart Sutra), teaching through blessings, and so on.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:46 am

DGA wrote:I would like to :stirthepot: a bit with this discussion, but in a way that should be relevant and useful to some practitioners, not a cause for :guns:

I have noticed something curious when reading the 2009 translation of the Surangama Sutra (Buddhist Text Society). I am referring to the Chinese text of this name that is of central importance to Chinese Buddhism, but is not typically canonical elsewhere because, as scholars have consistently demonstrated, it is a late composition of Chinese origin. I would like to suggest that it may be, at least in part, a rebuttal to Dzogchen practice.

For example, in the discussion of the Aggregate of Form early in the sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni gives the following example to Ananda:

Surangama Sutra, p 90 wrote:a clear-sighted person looks up at a clear sky, where nothing but empty space is to be seen. Suppose that, for no particular reason, this person happens to stare, without moving his eyes, until they are stressed to the point that he sees in the empty air a disordered display of flowers, along with various other images...


Here, it appears that an unsympathetic description of Namkha Arted, a well-known Dzogchen practice, is given as an example to demonstrate the emptiness of the form aggregate. The ignorance of the person who sees these "flowers in the sky" becomes a leitmotif throughout the text after this. Whomever is gazing at the sky in this way is consistently wrong from the perspective of this sutra.

It may be that the authors or compilers of the Surangama Sutra picked the "flowers in the sky" example at random, or chose it because they felt it was effective. I find this plausible instead: the authors of this text intended to Dzogchen practice as a cause for error rather than enlightenment, and to advance a different practice (the mandala and dharani in this text) as a far superior one. Put differently, there is reason to suspect that the Surangama Sutra is an anti-Dzogchen intervention--that a dismissal of Dzogchen is the rationale for the practice it advocates.

Scholars and practitioners with superior knowledge of the source texts and classical languages, and the textual history at hand, are positioned to substantiate this idea, or to disprove it. I would be interested in finding out whether this interpretation holds up to critical scrutiny by those who know better than me.

But if I am right, then this insight is consequential for some practitioners. Specifically:

There are some Dzogchen practitioners who are interested in boxing Dzogchen into the protocols and categories of normative Chinese Buddhism. What if one of the central texts of Chinese Buddhism is explicitly anti-Dzogchen? (it would be worth considering the question of whether Dzogchen can be delimited by any set of traditional norms and practices, Chinese or Tibetan or otherwise...)

It points out a potential obstacle to dialogue between Chinese Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhist practitioners generally, and Dzogchen practitioners specifically.

For historians: it suggests that Dzogchen may have been more highly diffused and significant in the period of the Surangama Sutra's composition in China than one might assume. I think this is an interesting possibility.


I do not think that Mahayana sutras are that kind of "carefully planned propaganda" as you seem to suggest. Their arising or appearing is not at all like that. Reality is unfathomable, in this view the whole Shurangama sutra was contained in that episode of Ananda and the brothel girl. This mentioned episode exists in the Sravakayana literature too. That episode was/is a complex reality, then it gradually became manifest in a more detailed fashion. Reality is multifaceted, the Deva-realms and Sambhogakaya realms exist, as do all other realms. This means that an event can be seen from many different perspectives. An event takes place simultaneously in these different levels of reality. Shurangama sutra and other sutras of that category are not "a later composition", as is the fashionable (and erroneous) view these days.
And by the way I also think that Atiyoga existed much earlier than generally thought. It existed even in the Roman Empire, before the Common Era, as one of the minor religions or spiritual systems in Rome.
"Flowers in the sky" more likely refers to some Hindu practice. Or it may have been a common experience of children imitating the yogis that they have seen.
Last edited by Aemilius on Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:04 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Sādhaka » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:52 am

Shurangama Sutra is not in the Tibetan canon.

Surangama Samadhi Sutra however is.

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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:58 am

Coëmgenu wrote: Do the words need to come out of the Buddha's mouth in exactly so-and-so order, in exactly such-and-such linguistic terminology and phrasing, to be, nonetheless, Buddha's teaching?

Take for instance the Heart Sutra. It is very unlikely that the Buddha himself said exactly those words in exactly that order, but Avalokiteśvara delivers Buddhavacana nonetheless, from a wide variety of sources, and condenses them into a succinct composite statement built from long but textually disparate Prajñāpāramitā Buddhavacana that was spoken by the Buddha (Buddha willing ;) ), in so-and-so order and such-and-such terminology/phrasing, it is simply put in a new order for the purposes of expounding the heart of the wisdom-perfection teachings.

Is the Heart Sutra not Buddhavacana? I would say it is, despite not being said by the Buddha in exactly that phrasing originally.

The same could be true of Dzogchen teachings.


Yes, the words of the Heart Sutra come from Avalokiteshvara's mouth but they actually came from Buddha's heart. I understand well that we can teach from blessings and I have some small experience of this myself but where things are doctrinally wrong and contrary to the teachings of Sutra and Tantra that Buddha gave, both in the form of the emanation body Buddha Shakyamuni and the enjoyment body aspect as Buddha Vajradhara, Heruka, Yamantaka and so forth, they are not the word of Buddha no matter how much someone assert that they are. The Heart Sutra is perfectly aligned with the longer Perfection of Wisdom Sutra but when people claim they can attain enlightenment by meditating on the clarity of the mind which is only a conventional truth or that generation stage of HYT is not necessary, these heresies which are clearly contrary to Buddha's teachings in the Perfection of Wisdom and the Tantras are clearly not the word of Buddha. Buddha taught a path to enlightenment, either to the small enlightenment of a Hearer, the middling enlightenment of a Solitary Realizer or the great enlightenment of a Buddha - he did not teach sudden enlightenment, a 'non-path' or the abandonment of conceptual minds as a path to enlightenment.

We must be very careful where we source our teachings from; we cannot believe anything simply because the Teacher says it is the word of Buddha or the real meaning of Buddha's teaching. However, it's a free world and people are free to believe and practise what they want.

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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:27 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:The Heart Sutra is perfectly aligned with the longer Perfection of Wisdom Sutra but when people claim they can attain enlightenment by meditating on the clarity of the mind which is only a conventional truth or that generation stage of HYT is not necessary, these heresies which are clearly contrary to Buddha's teachings in the Perfection of Wisdom and the Tantras are clearly not the word of Buddha.


That necessity of HYT, generation stage, etc. might be the opinion of one or two traditions (Gelug, and Sakya?), but nobody else. So it is a bit strong to call most of Mahayana lineages heresies.

Buddha taught a path to enlightenment, either to the small enlightenment of a Hearer, the middling enlightenment of a Solitary Realizer or the great enlightenment of a Buddha - he did not teach sudden enlightenment, a 'non-path' or the abandonment of conceptual minds as a path to enlightenment.


According to the whole of East Asian Mahayana and some groups of Tibetan Mahayana the Buddha did teach sudden enlightenment, etc. So it seems that view you represent is rather in the minority.
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: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:59 pm

Astus wrote:
That necessity of HYT, generation stage, etc. might be the opinion of one or two traditions (Gelug, and Sakya?), but nobody else. So it is a bit strong to call most of Mahayana lineages heresies.


Really? I'm frankly gobsmacked as there's no enlightenment without HYT. It's not an opinion, it's the teaching of Buddha Vajradhara as the main causes of the form body and the truth body of a Buddha come as a result of completion stage meditations, which depends upon the practice of generation stage. No HYT, no enlightenment. Even Mahamudra realisations are completion stage realisations so if someone is claiming to practise Mahamudra without practising HYT, I'd have to doubt the validity of their practice.

You're now making me wonder what kind of path to enlightenment most people think they are following if what you say is true.

According to the whole of East Asian Mahayana and some groups of Tibetan Mahayana the Buddha did teach sudden enlightenment, etc. So it seems that view you represent is rather in the minority.


I'm happy to be in the minority - it's normally a good thing. Again, this is rather surprising to me as there is no enlightenment without causes and a graduated path.

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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:24 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:Really? I'm frankly gobsmacked as there's no enlightenment without HYT. It's not an opinion, it's the teaching of Buddha Vajradhara as the main causes of the form body and the truth body of a Buddha come as a result of completion stage meditations, which depends upon the practice of generation stage. No HYT, no enlightenment. Even Mahamudra realisations are completion stage realisations so if someone is claiming to practise Mahamudra without practising HYT, I'd have to doubt the validity of their practice.

TKF your blatant sectarianism is showing again, it is embarrassing for gelugs online as this is how people perceive us. The Buddha Taught that tantra was only for those with the highest capacity.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:44 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:there's no enlightenment without HYT. It's not an opinion, it's the teaching of Buddha Vajradhara ... No HYT, no enlightenment.


Then let's just say it is not a teaching others accept as definitive, just as you do not accept their teachings as definitive.
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: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:49 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
I'm happy to be in the minority - it's normally a good thing. Again, this is rather surprising to me as there is no enlightenment without causes and a graduated path.


Sadly, in this lifetime you will never understand the result that does not arise from cause, will never hear the intimate instruction that does not arise from scripture, nor realize the buddhahood that does not come from mind.

However, every time you see those six little syllables in my sig, it is planting a cause for your eventual liberation through Dzogchen teachings.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Coëmgenu » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:22 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
I'm happy to be in the minority - it's normally a good thing. Again, this is rather surprising to me as there is no enlightenment without causes and a graduated path.


Sadly, in this lifetime you will never understand the result that does not arise from cause, will never hear the intimate instruction that does not arise from scripture, nor realize the buddhahood that does not come from mind.

However, every time you see those six little syllables in my sig, it is planting a cause for your eventual liberation through Dzogchen teachings.
Those symbols actually appear as boxes with X's in them on my computer. I guess I don't get the subliminal benefits. :stirthepot: :P :sage:
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:30 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
I'm happy to be in the minority - it's normally a good thing. Again, this is rather surprising to me as there is no enlightenment without causes and a graduated path.


Sadly, in this lifetime you will never understand the result that does not arise from cause, will never hear the intimate instruction that does not arise from scripture, nor realize the buddhahood that does not come from mind.

However, every time you see those six little syllables in my sig, it is planting a cause for your eventual liberation through Dzogchen teachings.
Those symbols actually appear as boxes with X's in them on my computer. I guess I don't get the subliminal benefits. :stirthepot: :P :sage:



Nope, you need to install a Tibetan web font.
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Re: Surangama Sutra as an anti-Dzogchen intervention

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:29 pm

Astus wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:there's no enlightenment without HYT. It's not an opinion, it's the teaching of Buddha Vajradhara ... No HYT, no enlightenment.


Then let's just say it is not a teaching others accept as definitive, just as you do not accept their teachings as definitive.


That's fine, everyone is free to believe what they want to and to follow whatever path they wish.


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