All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

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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Astus
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Astus » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:26 pm

conebeckham wrote:Sakyamuni Buddha wrote so many books, eh? Good thing, too, for his followers, since there were no teachers to teach.
Very good point. Still, they were eventually penned down and preserved as scriptures. And there are some other things: Why do they refer to themselves as books? How can they be placed in a stupa? What was hidden by the Nagas and retrieved by Nagarjuna?
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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LastLegend
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by LastLegend » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:48 pm

I will again expel your fear, and bring prajnaparamita to light.

Mañjuśrī replied, “Because the appearances of sentient beings are empty, there are neither Bodhisattvas seeking anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi nor sentient beings to whom they pronounce the Dharma. Why not? Because I say that, in all dharmas, not a single dharma can be captured.”

Mañjuśrī replied, “Not abiding in dharmas is abiding in prajñā-pāoramitā.”
The Buddha next asked Mañjuśrī, “Why is not abiding in dharmas called abiding in prajñā-pāramitā?”
Mañjuśrī replied, “Not abiding in appearances is abiding in prajñā-pāramitā.”
The Buddha next asked Mañjuśrī, “As one abides in prajñā-pāramitā in this way, do one’s roots of goodness increase or decrease?”
Mañjuśrī replied, “As one abides in prajñā-pāramitā in this way, one’s roots of goodness neither increase nor decrease, all dharmas neither increase nor decrease, and the nature and appearance of prajñā-pāramitā neither increase nor decrease. World-Honored One, practicing prajñā-pāramitā in this way, one neither abandons the dharma of ordinary beings nor grasps the dharma of sages and holy beings. Why not? Because as one practices prajñā-pāramitā, one does not see any dharma that can be grasped or abandoned. Moreover, practicing prajñā-pāramitā in this way, one sees neither saṁsāra to dislike nor nirvāṇa to like. Why not? Because one does not even see saṁsāra, much less dislike it, and because one does not even see nirvāṇa, much less like it. Practicing prajñā-pāramitā in this way, one sees neither afflictions to abandon nor merits to grasp. One’s mind neither increases nor decreases with respect to all dharmas. Why not? Because one sees neither increase nor decrease in the dharma realm. World-Honored One, training in this way is called practicing prajñā-pāramitā.
“World-Honored One, seeing neither birth nor death of dharmas is practicing prajñā-pāramitā. World-Honored One, seeing neither increase nor decrease of dharmas is practicing prajñā-pāramitā. World-Honored One, wishing for nothing and seeing no dharma appearance to seek are practicing prajñā-pāramitā.
“World-Honored One, one sees nothing beautiful or ugly, high or low, to grasp or abandon. Why? Dharmas are neither beautiful nor ugly because they are free from appearances. Dharmas are neither high nor low because they are equal in dharma nature. Dharmas are beyond being grasped or abandoned because they abide in true reality. This is the way to practice prajñā-pāramitā.”
None discriminating nature.

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Queequeg
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:the sūtra makes it clear that the doctrine of the PP must be heard from another.
The doctrine is contained in the sutra, and the sutra is a written text.
Sūtras are not written texts. This idea is at the heart of your misunderstanding. How can the PP, which is inexpressible, beyond thought and concepts be contained in a book?
Because... it is?

Signifier-Signified hair splitting to follow.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by LastLegend » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:00 pm

Clearly spoken above not this way or the other....4 extremes. What else do you need to understand?
None discriminating nature.

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Queequeg
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:03 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Queequeg wrote:The reason I raise this is because it seems that as one advances on the path, a teacher's role is limited...

Even bodhisattvas of the tenth bhumi have teachers.
Indeed. Limited does not equal Nil.

Anyway, the specific context is Zhiyi's meditation manual.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:05 pm

LastLegend wrote:Clearly spoken above not this way or the other....4 extremes. What else do you need to understand?
I need a Yoda translator.

LL, your pleas don't resonate because indulging in this stuff is too fun.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:15 pm

Astus wrote:Even in Tibetan iconography Manjusri holds a book as a representative of the PP teachings.
In Tibetan iconography, Dharma books are a symbol representing the enlightened speech of the Buddha.

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Malcolm
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:23 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Astus wrote:Even in Tibetan iconography Manjusri holds a book as a representative of the PP teachings.
In Tibetan iconography, Dharma books are a symbol representing the enlightened speech of the Buddha.
You have to understand, Astus does not care about lineages.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Taco_Rice » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:25 pm

Astus wrote:What was hidden by the Nagas and retrieved by Nagarjuna?
Vinyl.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:44 pm

Queequeg wrote: Because... it is?
One would assume then that merely by reading the PP sūtra, everyone would comprehend it instantly.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Taco_Rice » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:58 pm

Malcolm wrote:PP sūtra
Childish. :roll: Smh.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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Queequeg
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:05 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Queequeg wrote: Because... it is?
One would assume then that merely by reading the PP sūtra, everyone would comprehend it instantly.
The Sutra text is a written record of the Discourse...

Does everyone who hears the discourse comprehend it instantly?

Having heard it, though, they've formed a bond that will mature into comprehension, maybe sooner, but probably later.

To tie this in with the Tiantai correspondence above, a person who hears (or reads) the Name, Prajna Paramita, would by that be drawn onto the path, irreversibly...
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by conebeckham » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:05 pm

Buddhist traditions that base themselves on the Pali Canon are based on written records of oral teachings.

Buddhist traditions that base themselves on Sanskrit, Prakrit, and other texts of Indic origin--Mahayana Sutras---are said to be written records of oral teachings.

Buddhist traditions of Eastern Asia, with a corpus of texts in Chinese, Japanese, etc., all claim to be based on the words of the Buddhas.

Vajrayana traditions, a subset of Mahayana Buddhist traditions, whether Tibetan or East Asian, claim to be based on the Tantras, spoken by Buddhas, and/or on hidden teachings which in turn were based on the Tantras. Tantras are claimed to be written records of oral transmissions.

The "shastras" and commentaries by various masters and individuals subsequent to Buddha Sakyamuni may not be primarily oral transmissions. But I know of no Buddhist tradition which relies only on shastras and commentaries, to the exclusion of the Buddhavacana.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Malcolm
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:13 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Queequeg wrote: Because... it is?
One would assume then that merely by reading the PP sūtra, everyone would comprehend it instantly.
The Sutra text is a written record of the Discourse...

Does everyone who hears the discourse comprehend it instantly?

Having heard it, though, they've formed a bond that will mature into comprehension, maybe sooner, but probably later.

To tie this in with the Tiantai correspondence above, a person who hears (or reads) the Name, Prajna Paramita, would by that be drawn onto the path, irreversibly...
As I have pointed out before: the three prajñās or wisdoms are hearing, reflection and meditation, not reading, reflection and meditation.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:
As I have pointed out before: the three prajñās or wisdoms are hearing, reflection and meditation, not reading, reflection and meditation.
Well, there clearly is no consensus on this.

Reading is Hearing!
No its not.
Reading is Hearing!
No its not.
Reading is Hearing!
No its not.
ETC.

Let me tell you, I hear you! I hear you, brother. I hear you in my heart. Even though I'm reading your words, I assure you, I hear you.

I'm going go read something more edifying. Maybe I'll hear the wisdom in my heart. Even though my heart has no ears.

Hey Ya
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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Malcolm
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:29 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
As I have pointed out before: the three prajñās or wisdoms are hearing, reflection and meditation, not reading, reflection and meditation.
Well, there clearly is no consensus on this.

Śruta means hearing.
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: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Queequeg wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
As I have pointed out before: the three prajñās or wisdoms are hearing, reflection and meditation, not reading, reflection and meditation.
Well, there clearly is no consensus on this.

Śruta means hearing.
WORDS MEAN WHAT THEY MEAN!

I HEAR YOU, MALCOLM.
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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Taco_Rice
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Taco_Rice » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:46 pm

Queequeg wrote:WORDS MEAN WHAT THEY MEAN!

I HEAR YOU, MALCOLM.
You're going to break the Queequeg, Malcolm. Lay off.

:shock:
Malcolm wrote:Śruta means hearing.
http://text-to-speech.imtranslator.net/

Type in "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form," and "Mike" will teach you a line of Sutra.

;) :thumbsup:

But seriously, the Sutras were memorized oral compositions that were constructed in a way to facilitate that memorization process. Essentially, the person or people reciting the Sutra acted as a medium of dissemination among other things, since AFAIK the written word wasn't trusted at the time and literacy itself was a rare, specialized skill. Today, anyone who is able to participate in this online conversation is able to read, (presumably,) and if we want to be pedantic about things, all it takes in order for one to "hear" any Sutra is to simply read it aloud. It's kind of a loophole in that wall of pedantry with gaps hundreds of miles wide. Like a huge, unguarded opening at the shallow part of a river where we can all easily cross to the other side to the shore of awakening, if you will...
Matt J wrote:
If you don’t find a teacher soon, you’ll live this life in vain. It’s true, you have the buddha-nature. But the help of a teacher you’ll never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn’t need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you’re so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you’ll understand.
I suppose it is possible if you have extremely high capacity, but it is also possible that I'll win the lottery. Does that mean I should just stick to playing the lottery and avoid getting a job?
To my knowledge, it isn't uncommon for great teachers and enlightened masters to have gone from teacher to teacher and eventually gone into isolation to study and meditate on their own, where they attained some kind of enlightenment without the direct supervision of what we can playfully call a "helicopter teacher" hovering over them. Obviously, different Buddhist traditions have different doctrines and approaches to practice and some put more emphasis on direct interaction with a teacher. I would guess that some of the need for this emphasis on a teacher might stem from how common literacy was in the society where a given tradition developed, but I think Queequeg is right that, on some points agreement may not be possible due to these underlying differences in our respective traditions. The Tibetan tradition is very guru oriented, AFAIK, so it doesn't make much sense arguing with adherents of those lineages since doing so means cutting away at those traditions themselves.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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Astus
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Astus » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:10 pm

tomamundsen wrote:In Tibetan iconography, Dharma books are a symbol representing the enlightened speech of the Buddha.
Good to know. Then writing and speech are truly inseparable.

"Since they maintain they have no need of written words, they should not speak either, because written words are merely the marks of spoken language."
(Platform Sutra, ch 10, tr BTTS)
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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Queen Elizabeth II
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Re: All Buddhist traditions are oral traditions. Or...?

Post by Queen Elizabeth II » Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:Śruta means hearing.
True enough, yet in many modern Indian languages a person of great learning is called a bahuśruta, "one who has heard much" (e.g. Hindi बहुश्रुत and Gujarati બહુશ્રુત), no matter if he got that learning by reading books or by sitting at the feet of his guru. Is there any reason why in a Buddhist context the meaning of śruta should be strictly limited to things heard and that learning acquired by reading would not count as prajñā?

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