Can buddha nature be proved?

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nichiren-123
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Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:44 pm

So I've been thinking about various buddhist doctrines:
Suffering, Cause and Effect, impermenance, non-self, emptiness, interpenetration, non-duality and buddha nature.

Now all of these concepts make sense to me except for buddha nature. After all, how can we have an essential nature if we are ultimately empty and impermanent, with no reality as any single thing?

So how can I work myself out of this?

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Malcolm
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:05 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:44 pm

Now all of these concepts make sense to me except for buddha nature. After all, how can we have an essential nature if we are ultimately empty and impermanent, with no reality as any single thing?
That is our nature. Nāgārjuna said:
Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, so too the world has no nature.
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by pael » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:40 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:05 pm


That is our nature. Nāgārjuna said:
Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, so too the world has no nature.
What is nature? What does it mean?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:47 pm

The terms used to describe buddha-nature are relative to deluded nature, X contrasted with Y so we can begin to approach the teaching which is an expedient. Since afflictions have causes and can come together, they can also cease to be caused and come apart. What is left over when afflictions have ceased? Well when all terms and ideas have becoming as their bounds (like "yellow" is relative to other colors), how does one describe no further becoming? And when all terms and ideas are based on the delusion of "me in here somewhere seeing world out there", how can you describe what the removal of that delusion is like? It is ultimately something to find out for oneself, not prove beforehand from a basis of multifaceted delusion.

A way to approach the idea of buddha-nature is to see the flexibility of identity, how every concrete idea we have about ourselves and the world is really dependent on other things.

I hope that made remote sense :shrug:

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:52 pm

pael wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:40 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:05 pm


That is our nature. Nāgārjuna said:
Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, so too the world has no nature.
What is nature? What does it mean?
Nature means something unchanging within us. I think what malcolm means is that nothing has a nature, which, ipso facto, means that no-nature is the nature of all things.
However, in the nirvana sutra we hear that the buddha nature is an "uncreated, unbegotten, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolate, indestructible, steadfast and unshakeable, eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings." (http://www.nirvanasutra.net/basicteachings.htm)
And this is seems directly opposed to the no-nature (i.e. emptiness) doctrine???

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:57 pm

Notice all those terms are negative, saying what the "nature" is not: created, become, tainted, etc. Take a stained white cloth. Because its nature is white it can become white again. Our situation is we see only the stains, think that's all there is and that our true nature is merely a different colored stain we must apply to the cloth. Where the analogy falls short is there's no thing called mind which is stained by afflictions, yet clearly there is not nothing either, as awakening is not annihilation. I tried to get at that in the other post.

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:06 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:57 pm
Notice all those terms are negative, saying what the "nature" is not: created, become, tainted, etc. Take a stained white cloth. Because its nature is white it can become white again. Our situation is we see only the stains, think that's all there is and that our true nature is merely a different colored stain we must apply to the cloth. Where the analogy falls short is there's no thing called mind which is stained by afflictions, yet clearly there is not nothing either, as awakening is not annihilation. I tried to get at that in the other post.
OK, so this is how I'm understanding you:
If you strip away all impermanent phenomena then what you are left with is only what is permanent. Whatever is permanent is nirvana or buddha and from the perspective of a person, what is permanent about an individual is their buddha-nature - whatever that may be...

Is that right?

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Malcolm
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:18 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:52 pm
pael wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:40 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:05 pm


That is our nature. Nāgārjuna said:

What is nature? What does it mean?
Nature means something unchanging within us. I think what malcolm means is that nothing has a nature, which, ipso facto, means that no-nature is the nature of all things.
However, in the nirvana sutra we hear that the buddha nature is an "uncreated, unbegotten, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolate, indestructible, steadfast and unshakeable, eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings." (http://www.nirvanasutra.net/basicteachings.htm)
And this is seems directly opposed to the no-nature (i.e. emptiness) doctrine???
Emptiness is all of these things: uncreated, unbegotten, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolate, indestructible, steadfast and unshakeable, eternal.
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:18 pm

The removal or addition of phenomena does not alter the nature of the mind, only the appearance of delusion. That is, in clinging, beings experience samsara. In ceasing to cling, beings experience liberation. This is only possible because the mind was free from the outset. Otherwise the mind would have to be built up brick by brick, term by term, and the whole project would simply fall apart eventually. If the mind were a kind of hole made by emptying out ideas, that hole too would get filled eventually. That's what happens to all compounded phenomena. It's just that since beings tend to cling, language which negates clinging is used to unbind them.

I hope I'm not terribly off base here. It's early in the morning! :)

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:18 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:52 pm
pael wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:40 pm

What is nature? What does it mean?
Nature means something unchanging within us. I think what malcolm means is that nothing has a nature, which, ipso facto, means that no-nature is the nature of all things.
However, in the nirvana sutra we hear that the buddha nature is an "uncreated, unbegotten, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolate, indestructible, steadfast and unshakeable, eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings." (http://www.nirvanasutra.net/basicteachings.htm)
And this is seems directly opposed to the no-nature (i.e. emptiness) doctrine???
Emptiness is all of these things: uncreated, unbegotten, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolate, indestructible, steadfast and unshakeable, eternal.
Good point.

I'm gonna play devil's advocate and ask you how the "eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings." i.e. the source of all phenomena can be emptiness?

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:45 pm

Iirc, the Lions Roar asks something like " if there were no Buddha nature, what would desire freedom from the afflictions"?
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by TharpaChodron » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:18 am

“THE SENSE OF openness people experience when they simply rest their minds is known in Buddhist terms as emptiness, which is probably one of the most misunderstood words in Buddhist philosophy. It’s hard enough for Buddhists to understand the term, but Western readers have an even more difficult time, because many of the early translators of Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist texts interpreted emptiness as “the Void” or nothingness—mistakenly equating emptiness with the idea that nothing at all exists. Nothing could be further from the truth the Buddha sought to describe.

While the Buddha did teach that the nature of the mind—in fact, the nature of all phenomena—is emptiness, he didn’t mean that their nature was truly empty, like a vacuum. He said it was emptiness, which in the Tibetan language is made up of two words: tongpa-nyi. The word tongpa means “empty,” but only in the sense of something beyond our ability to perceive with our senses and our capacity to conceptualize. Maybe a better translation would be “inconceivable” or “unnamable.” The word nyi, meanwhile, doesn’t have any particular meaning in everyday Tibetan conversation. But when added to another word it conveys a sense of[…]”

Excerpt From: Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Eric Swanson & Daniel Goleman. “The Joy of Living.” Crown, 2007-03-06. iBooks.


I'm not entirely sure if this quote is relevant, but I think it may be. If emptiness and Buddhanature are described in this way, does it make more sense. Is Buddhanature also emptiness ultimately? :juggling:

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:28 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:39 pm

I'm gonna play devil's advocate and ask you how the "eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings." i.e. the source of all phenomena can be emptiness?

Nāgārjuna again:
For those whom emptiness possible, everything is possible;
for those whom emptiness is impossible, everything is impossible.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by PuerAzaelis » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:35 am

pael wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:40 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:05 pm

That is our nature. Nāgārjuna said:
Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, so too the world has no nature.
What is nature? What does it mean?
As for a Buddha empty of nature,
To declare that, upon transcendence,
He exists or does not exist
Would not make any sense.

MMK 22.14
And nobody in all of Oz. No Wizard that there is or was.

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Sherab
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Sherab » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:28 am

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:28 am
Nāgārjuna again:

For those whom emptiness possible, everything is possible;
for those whom emptiness is impossible, everything is impossible.
I think this cannot be taken as an absolutely true statement. Why? Because that would mean that it is possible for a Buddha to become a deluded sentient being again. In other words, the recognition of things-as-they-are can unravel and be lost.

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by takso » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:40 am

Buddha nature is absolute liberation from imprisonment:

‘Life itself is prison,
The instincts are prisons,
The senses are prisons,
Superstition is prison,
Sacred institutions are prisons,
Teachers are prisons,
Holy things are prisons,
Goodness is prison,
Views are prisons,
Purity is the highest prison,
Voidness is not prison,
Freedom is salvation from prison.’
 
~ Buddhadāsa ~
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Bristollad » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:26 am

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... dha-nature

Maybe reading this can give you some pointers.

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:52 pm

Sherab wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:28 am
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:28 am
Nāgārjuna again:

For those whom emptiness possible, everything is possible;
for those whom emptiness is impossible, everything is impossible.
I think this cannot be taken as an absolutely true statement. Why? Because that would mean that it is possible for a Buddha to become a deluded sentient being again. In other words, the recognition of things-as-they-are can unravel and be lost.
Nothing is gained or built up through awakening. It is the nature of afflictions which one awakens to and is thereby freed from the confusion of "becoming" through repeated births. In this way, a buddha cannot become deluded again because the basis of delusion was not in something called the mind but in delusion itself. It's like finally seeing the sun for yourself. A hundred people could tell you it's purple or a disco ball but you wouldn't ever believe them again. It would take no effort not to believe them. Mind is undeluded, so it does not need to be made that way.

I interpret Nagarjuna as saying in emptiness, things do not have a fixed, enduring essence, svabhava. If they did, there would be no basis for change or liberation or the path, hence nothing is possible. Such a view of karma for instance, that it is immutable, leads to fatalism. It is a kind of mistake but one with consequences if followed.

When emptiness is possible, things are not fixed: beings can be freed from suffering, and there is no self to defend any longer. It's just that this freedom is empty as well: it is not a new composite experience that can come apart again. Why? Because beings are not gaining a new nature, but recognizing that all of their natures and qualities, down to the most convincing sense of objects, world, self, are in fact only appearances without a substance to be found, no safe place to abide. But in believing and acting otherwise, beings have endured eons of suffering.

Bokar Rinpoche said something like form is the luminosity of the mind, and a sense of "I" is its emptiness. Chew on that for a while :crazy:

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Sherab
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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Sherab » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:01 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:52 pm
Sherab wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:28 am
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:28 am
Nāgārjuna again:

For those whom emptiness possible, everything is possible;
for those whom emptiness is impossible, everything is impossible.
I think this cannot be taken as an absolutely true statement. Why? Because that would mean that it is possible for a Buddha to become a deluded sentient being again. In other words, the recognition of things-as-they-are can unravel and be lost.
Nothing is gained or built up through awakening. It is the nature of afflictions which one awakens to and is thereby freed from the confusion of "becoming" through repeated births. In this way, a buddha cannot become deluded again because the basis of delusion was not in something called the mind but in delusion itself. It's like finally seeing the sun for yourself. A hundred people could tell you it's purple or a disco ball but you wouldn't ever believe them again. It would take no effort not to believe them. Mind is undeluded, so it does not need to be made that way.

I interpret Nagarjuna as saying in emptiness, things do not have a fixed, enduring essence, svabhava. If they did, there would be no basis for change or liberation or the path, hence nothing is possible. Such a view of karma for instance, that it is immutable, leads to fatalism. It is a kind of mistake but one with consequences if followed.

When emptiness is possible, things are not fixed: beings can be freed from suffering, and there is no self to defend any longer. It's just that this freedom is empty as well: it is not a new composite experience that can come apart again. Why? Because beings are not gaining a new nature, but recognizing that all of their natures and qualities, down to the most convincing sense of objects, world, self, are in fact only appearances without a substance to be found, no safe place to abide. But in believing and acting otherwise, beings have endured eons of suffering.

Bokar Rinpoche said something like form is the luminosity of the mind, and a sense of "I" is its emptiness. Chew on that for a while :crazy:
When you said that you interpreted Nagarjuna as saying "in emptiness, things do not have a fixed, enduring essence, svabhava", you are in fact already qualifying Nagarjuna's statement. It is therefore, no longer an absolutely true statement that applies in any instances of anything.

If you argue that the statement "in emptiness, things do not have a fixed, enduring essence, svabhava" applies to any instances of anything and is therefore absolutely true, then you are implicitly defining "things" to refer to any instances of anything. If so, you will then have to exclude the instance of recognition of things as they are and the recognition itself from this definition of things, if you wish for the instance of recognition of things and the recognition itself to be not subjected to change. This of course assumes that emptiness implies change.

You could also argue that emptiness does not imply change but implies illusion, then you will have to hold that the instance of recognition or/and the recognition itself is/are not real. If so, you can never distinguish the state of buddhahood from the state of sentient beings.

Alternatively, you have to argue that said instance and recognition are not things, in which case, the statement in question too is no longer an unqualified true statement.

I think Malcolm understood my argument and therefore did not respond to my post.

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Re: Can buddha nature be proved?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:52 am

Thanks, Sherab. I know it takes time to read long posts and compose thoughtful replies like you have. :thumbsup:

This is maybe not the answer you're looking for, but in another thread I said that my view of Nagarjuna, to frame my response, is that he first and foremost is a Buddhist. His purpose is to save beings, not to find and describe absolute truth. In the case of his Verses on the Middle Way, he repeatedly negates svabhava to lead beings away from the principle cause of delusion and suffering.
you are in fact already qualifying Nagarjuna's statement
Yes, I'm interpreting Nagarjuna so we can talk about it. If you're hoping for something more academic or sutra-based, Malcolm's your guy. Though I doubt he'd agree that you've managed to disprove Nagarjuna's thinking. Regrettably I'm not as well versed on Nagarjuna as you and he are, so I'm keeping things a bit broad. If that's not what you're after, feel free to disregard my questions :smile:

For the rest of your post, that appearances are empty, including the teachings, does not negate their appearance. Clearly, here we are, you and I, understanding each other more or less. If I understood your post, you've eloquently shown the emptiness or interdependence of teachings as well. In the same way, suffering and buddhas being empty of self does not negate their appearance or experienced reality by deluded beings. I'd argue all Buddhist teachings have this aim, to save beings, not to find Truth. To interpret emptiness to mean there is therefore no awakening is a form of nihilism which the Buddha rejected, if I'm not mistaken.

Are you proposing that appearances are not empty, e.g. there is some Truth which is not empty? Or that emptiness is itself a view that does not lead to liberation? I'm also curious what your view is on how appearance and emptiness relate to each other, given your post.

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