Gradual Teaching

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Malcolm
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:52 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Which levels, stages and practices?
Semde, longde, menngagde. Preliminaries, trekcho, togal and its visions. And probably there are others associated with or included in Dzogchen.
The three series are a literary division.

"Preliminaries, trekcho, togal and its visions" are not stages or levels.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Astus
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:The three series are a literary division.
"Preliminaries, trekcho, togal and its visions" are not stages or levels.
So those literary divisions do not mean difference in the teachings, one superior to the other, etc?

If those are not stages/levels, then what? Gradual instructions maybe?
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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Queequeg
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Queequeg » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:56 pm

Astus wrote:the Hosso school (Japanese Dharmalaksana, aka Yogacara)
My understanding is that the Hosso school, (and Kegon), exist in name only. They nominally operate a few famous temples/museums in Kyoto and Nara but don't actually have any adherents. At least, that's what the Abbott of Horyuji seemed to say when I saw a staged debate. The monks you see at places like Horyuji, Todaiji, Yakushiji, etc. are apparently one step removed from being like Mickey and Goofy at Disneyland. Like many of the monks you see at Shaolin-shi, according to some.
Queequeg wrote:Shinran (as little as I know), in contrast to Honen, seems to have more deeply drawn on Tientai theory. Honen's interpretation is literal and seems to push Tientai aside.
I have not seen Shinran actually diverting from Honen's interpretation of what happens in Sukhavati.
My impression of Shin is that its more philosophical and the idea of Pure Land is to an extent treated metaphorically. I recall seeing a slogan on the outside of Nishi Honganji to the effect, "Right now, life is living you." I thought that was a remarkably present minded statement, and exemplifying pretty standard Tientai style reversal logic.

Edit* It was Higashi Honganji - https://www.google.com/maps/@34.9897763 ... 56!6m1!1e1
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

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Astus
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:37 pm

Queequeg wrote:My understanding is that the Hosso school, (and Kegon), exist in name only.
I have no information myself, but this book is by a Hosso priest and it is proper Yogacara.
My impression of Shin is that its more philosophical and the idea of Pure Land is to an extent treated metaphorically.
There are various interpretations, similarly to how some may deny rebirth and still claim to be Buddhists. So perhaps it's better to just stay with the canonical works (Shinran and maybe Rennyo) or identify the sources of various views.
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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Queequeg
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Queequeg » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:23 pm

Astus wrote:
Queequeg wrote:My understanding is that the Hosso school, (and Kegon), exist in name only.
I have no information myself, but this book is by a Hosso priest and it is proper Yogacara.
That may very well have been the guy I saw that I mistakenly identified as the Abbot of Horyuji.
...or identify the sources of various views.
Like 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

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Astus
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:27 pm

Queequeg wrote:Like this?
There is a sermon on that expression on their website. 今、いのちがあなたを生きている It should also be noted that the Japanese uses two words, whereas inochi (命) is the subject and ikiru (生きる) is the predicate. In the sermon it is explained as 今、南無阿弥陀仏が私を生きている i.e. "Now, Namuamidabutsu is living me." That shows probably quite well how it is not some sort of "sudden teaching", but an expression of total relinquishment to Amitabha, very much in line with the general idea of other-power.
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: Gradual Teaching

Post by Queequeg » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:21 pm

Astus wrote:That shows probably quite well how it is not some sort of "sudden teaching", but an expression of total relinquishment to Amitabha, very much in line with the general idea of other-power.
We can parse this out, but that is a peculiar spin on other-power, to the point its hard to discern the line between other and self-power. The immediacy of "now" contrasts with Amitabha's textual description of coming no further into this world than greeting the departed.

I don't read Japanese well, and I don't know enough about Shin to speak knowledgeably, but that way of characterizing what is happening now seems a departure from literal Pure Land.

I am probably wrong.
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

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Malcolm
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:33 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The three series are a literary division.
"Preliminaries, trekcho, togal and its visions" are not stages or levels.
So those literary divisions do not mean difference in the teachings, one superior to the other, etc?

If those are not stages/levels, then what? Gradual instructions maybe?
The three series do not mean that for example, man ngag sde is "superior" to the other two, though in fact it has been interpreted that way. The reality of it is that they focus on different aspects of Dzogchen teachings.

The preliminaries are for those who have not yet understood what the primordial state is. Tregchö and thogal are inseparable: sometimes however, tregchö is parsed as "sudden" and thögal as "gradual", but this too is in reality misleading.

The long and short of it is that Dzogchen teachings did not fit in the mold of gradual and sudden dichotomy [which is a conversation is only tangentially relevant to Dzogchen due to the conflict in Tibet over Indian and Chinese approaches to Mahāyāna sūtra]. They also do not fit into the mold of ultimate and relative truths. They do not fit into the mold of paths and stages.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by amanitamusc » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:30 am

Where do they fit?

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:32 am

its hard to discern the line between other and self-power
Yes, because other and self are interdependent and do not exist separately.

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:21 am

Queequeg wrote:I don't read Japanese well, and I don't know enough about Shin to speak knowledgeably, but that way of characterizing what is happening now seems a departure from literal Pure Land.
There is a fuller explanation of the slogan: Anniversaries, Founders, Slogans and Visual Media in Shin Buddhism on p 61-64.

"In the English leaflet available at the head temple the meaning of the slogan is explained by dividing it into three stages: Now 1) “‘Now’ is only here while you are reading this leaflet;” 2) Life is living you means that “‘Life’ is constantly, continuously and pervasively in the infinite universe. As conditions emerge, ‘Life’ works as one’s body, mind and spirit.” And finally, 3) “Now, life is living you” is explained as a calling to live one’s life as one is, “regardless if life is going along with [one’s] wish or not—happy or sad.” The constant saying of Amida’s name, the nenbutsu, “is the constant reminder of this calling.”"
(from p 62)
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: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:39 am

Malcolm wrote:The preliminaries are for those who have not yet understood what the primordial state is. Tregchö and thogal are inseparable: sometimes however, tregchö is parsed as "sudden" and thögal as "gradual", but this too is in reality misleading.
So, there is a gradual path for those who have not yet attained understanding. And once there is understanding, one should still follow through tregcho and thogal practices, so again, it seems gradual.
Malcolm wrote:The long and short of it is that Dzogchen teachings did not fit in the mold of gradual and sudden dichotomy [which is a conversation is only tangentially relevant to Dzogchen due to the conflict in Tibet over Indian and Chinese approaches to Mahāyāna sūtra]. They also do not fit into the mold of ultimate and relative truths. They do not fit into the mold of paths and stages.
Sudden means direct access to the ultimate. If there are stages involved in the path, it is necessarily gradual. So, if Dzogchen were just recognising the primordial state, then it would be a sudden method. If preliminaries and follow up practices are also included, it is gradual.
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: Gradual Teaching

Post by MalaBeads » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:01 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:No. "Sudden" does not apply to Dzogchen, neither does "gradual." That's like asking the question, "Is a bar of gold suddenly gold, or gradually gold."
That's like saying Dzogchen lacks the path to liberation, while that is not actually true. In other words, one can get to that bar of gold either through the process of digging, clearing and melting (or something more complicated); or by discovering it in its pure form. The former is the gradual, the latter is the sudden way. It is of no help to say that the gold is already gold regardless of its location or information of its whereabouts.
Astus,

I dont think you "get to" the gold, i think you discover you are the gold. When i read your post, thats the first thing i thought. It may not be correct but i am putting it out there. All the rest is just trying to say this in a way that helps people. In other words, just words. And methods. But all that is left behind when you discover your true nature.

Enough said.

Ciao.
I am well aware of my idiocy. I am also very aware that you too are an idiot. Therein lies our mutuality.

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:06 pm

MalaBeads wrote:I dont think you "get to" the gold, i think you discover you are the gold.
That makes no difference, as finding the gold is just a metaphor for the realisation of the nature of mind/world/reality. One still has to arrive at that discovery.
MalaBeads wrote:But all that is left behind when you discover your true nature.
That discovery should happen at the so called introduction. However, one cannot engage in Dzogchen without that introduction, while at the same time all the teachings and methods come after it. So it doesn't look like as if all that were simply left behind.
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: Gradual Teaching

Post by florin » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:22 pm

Astus,


I am sure this has been said many times before but dzogchen is the path from mind to nature of mind and in that sense is direct and instantaneous.
So all the Dzogchen practices are there to develop capacity to recognise and integrate with the primordial state which is already there and not to develop qualities, abilities and various acomplishments or go through various stages of development since all these aspects are already complete and perfected in the primordial state.
In other words doing dzogchen practices means developing capacity to recognise what is already there.

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Astus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:50 pm

alpha wrote:I am sure this has been said many times before but dzogchen is the path from mind to nature of mind and in that sense is direct and instantaneous.
Buddhism teaches moving from ignorance to knowledge, so in that sense it would all be sudden.
So all the Dzogchen practices are there to develop capacity to recognise and integrate with the primordial state which is already there and not to develop qualities, abilities and various acomplishments or go through various stages of development since all these aspects are already complete and perfected in the primordial state.
In other words doing dzogchen practices means developing capacity to recognise what is already there.
From the practical perspective it makes no difference at all whether one develops new abilities or lets hidden abilities surface. In both cases it means that one gradually gains new abilities, the only difference is a mostly irrelevant theoretical concept behind it that at best can serve as inspiration.
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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Malcolm
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Malcolm » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:44 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The preliminaries are for those who have not yet understood what the primordial state is. Tregchö and thogal are inseparable: sometimes however, tregchö is parsed as "sudden" and thögal as "gradual", but this too is in reality misleading.
So, there is a gradual path for those who have not yet attained understanding. And once there is understanding, one should still follow through tregcho and thogal practices, so again, it seems gradual.
Dzogchen is not a "path" in the sense that one goes from here to there, as alpha pointed out to you. There is no path like "first train in śamatha, then train in vipaśyāna; first train on path of accumulation, then application, then seeing, etc., first do creation, then do completion," etc.

Tregchö and thogal are not "practices" in the sense that one is making effort to generate a result from some cause. Tregchö and thögal are how one continues in the confidence of liberation, or as CHNN parses it, how one continues in the state.
Malcolm wrote:The long and short of it is that Dzogchen teachings did not fit in the mold of gradual and sudden dichotomy [which is a conversation is only tangentially relevant to Dzogchen due to the conflict in Tibet over Indian and Chinese approaches to Mahāyāna sūtra]. They also do not fit into the mold of ultimate and relative truths. They do not fit into the mold of paths and stages.
Sudden means direct access to the ultimate. If there are stages involved in the path, it is necessarily gradual. So, if Dzogchen were just recognising the primordial state, then it would be a sudden method. If preliminaries and follow up practices are also included, it is gradual.
"Ultimate and relative" have no meaning in Dzogchen. Dzogchen is not "a method of directly accessing the ultimate," if it were, it would be Chan. Because this is so, Dzogchen is not a "sudden" system. One does not need to have realized emptiness in order to have knowledge [rig pa] of their primordial state [thog ma'i gzhi, a.k.a. original basis]. There is no need to gather accumulations and so on.

To the extent that there are stages in Dzogchen, there is only one stage and everyone is already on it. The Rig pa rang shar tantra likens it to being on a lake. No matter where you go on a lake, you never leave the lake.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Queequeg
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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Queequeg » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:38 pm

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

That's not perfect, but my impression of Dzogchen is along these lines. A realized being points out to you the real contours of reality, and you may not understand what you're seeing, but you can't un-see it. In time, as you see, you become more and more comfortable and accustomed to looking at reality, correctly, as it was pointed out, and that wisdom in turn will necessarily, naturally manifest.

If that is correct, that's actually more or less what I understand as Sudden. The apparent idea that Sudden means some sort of Eureka! moment in Zen is maybe sudden with a lower case s in a descriptive sense, but not what I understand as Sudden in teachings such as Tientai and the Lotus Sutra. In that teaching, reality is shown to you, in the case of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha reveals his True Body to the Assembly, and in later generations after his passing, one sees the Body by hearing the Lotus Sutra; subsequently, we strive to perfect wisdom in what was already fully revealed. This is captured in the term "adhimukti" that is a major theme throughout the Lotus.
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

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by florin » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:05 pm

Queequeg wrote: That's not perfect, but my impression of Dzogchen is along these lines. A realized being points out to you the real contours of reality, and you may not understand what you're seeing, but you can't un-see it.
No realized being or guru can point out to you the nature of reality.

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Re: Gradual Teaching

Post by Queequeg » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:17 pm

I see. Point out the primordial state?
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

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