Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

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F.munn
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Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by F.munn » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:43 am

This is something I have been confused about for a while. After reading the Tibetan book of the dead and reading about the various peaceful dietes, it suggested to me that they were celestial beings living in some sort of “other world”, outside of samsara, but I’ve also read that Bodhisattvas live within samsara and that they are existent beings that haven’t gone to nirvana yet. I would really appreciate it if someone could help make some sense of all this for me.


Thanks a lot,
Finn :)

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Miroku » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:15 am

F.munn wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:43 am
This is something I have been confused about for a while. After reading the Tibetan book of the dead and reading about the various peaceful dietes, it suggested to me that they were celestial beings living in some sort of “other world”, outside of samsara, but I’ve also read that Bodhisattvas live within samsara and that they are existent beings that haven’t gone to nirvana yet. I would really appreciate it if someone could help make some sense of all this for me.


Thanks a lot,
Finn :)
Chetsang Rinpoche and Dalailama both live in our world and since they are an emanation of Avalokiteshvara ... I guess they do live in this world.

From Bokar Rinpoche's Chenrezig - Lord of Love
Is it a luminous god, soft and compassionate, who, far from the heavens, keeps watch over the fate of beings, as most Tibetan people believe? Is it a simple symbolic image as Westernerssometimes think? Is it still another reality, deeper and richer? First we need to understand that Chenrezig is both an appearance, the divine manifestation as well as an essence, the inner reality, with one not excluding or contradicting the other. The appearance of Chenrezig is the symbol of his essence made manifest. Through this appearance we can approach the essence of Chenrezig. The appearance does not exhaust the essence anymore than the essence negates the apearance. To pretend that Chenrezig only has an existence outside ourselves would be a mistake. But it would also be a mistake to see him only as an abstraction. Grasping the link between the two aspects of the deity (appearance and essence) is necessary in order to understand both his nature and meditation.
It is a hard question. Hope I didn't just confuse you too much. :D I myself am not very sure, but I never really had a problem with the question. So I hope you will spark an interesting discussion.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.

~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Aryjna » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:26 am

A book that clarifies the Inner Tantras (in which the Tibetan book of the dead would fall), as well as everything else, from the Dzogchen/Vajrayana point of view is this: https://shop.shangshungfoundation.com/e ... 91351.html
Without a very good overview, it is difficult to understand how things make sense in all the different vehicles.

Avalokiteshvara is not a bodhisattva on the path to Buddhahood, making his way through infinite lifetimes. He is already a perfect buddha with infinite emanations. This is a Mahayana sutra on Avalokitesvhara: http://www.pacificbuddha.org/wp-content ... -Sutra.pdf

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Karma Dorje » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:34 pm

F.munn wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:43 am
This is something I have been confused about for a while. After reading the Tibetan book of the dead and reading about the various peaceful dietes, it suggested to me that they were celestial beings living in some sort of “other world”, outside of samsara, but I’ve also read that Bodhisattvas live within samsara and that they are existent beings that haven’t gone to nirvana yet. I would really appreciate it if someone could help make some sense of all this for me.


Thanks a lot,
Finn :)
I think the confusion comes through viewing samsara as a place. Samsara is another word for delusion, i.e. taking things that are not real to be real and taking things that are real to be unreal. Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara are completely free from delusion, but their responsive compassion appears in countless forms to samsaric beings that have devotion based on the force of their aspirations. These forms include buddhafields, meditational deities, teachers, doctors, bridges, friends, the inspiration to be of benefit to others in the mind of sentient beings, etc.

From the point of view of Madhyamaka, there were never any existent beings in the first place. In fact, the mistaken notion that oneself is truly existent is the chief delusion of sentient beings. Bodhisattvas appear vividly and clearly to sentient beings like a rainbow or a dream, but they are never confused about their true nature.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 am

Karma Dorje wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:34 pm
I think the confusion comes through viewing samsara as a place.
:thumbsup:
From the point of view of Madhyamaka, there were never any existent beings in the first place. In fact, the mistaken notion that oneself is truly existent is the chief delusion of sentient beings.

Can a distinction be made between 'truly existent' and 'existent'?

I think there is something that is implicit in ancient teachings (including madhyamika) which is the idea of 'degrees of reality'. So the reality of conditioned beings is such that it is dependent on causes and conditions. But that doesn't mean 'non-existent' - it means 'lacking inherent reality' or 'svabhava'. But if this is described as 'non-existent', then that leads to nihilism. 'Truly existent' leads to eternalism. Dependently existent is madhyamika, is it not? So the domain of samsara is not non-existent, but also not 'truly existent'. It has a degree of reality.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by HipsterMonk » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:48 am

"Our realm" is already itself kind of difficult. what other realm is there? show it to me.

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Karma Dorje » Sat Aug 25, 2018 3:08 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 am
Karma Dorje wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:34 pm
I think the confusion comes through viewing samsara as a place.
:thumbsup:
From the point of view of Madhyamaka, there were never any existent beings in the first place. In fact, the mistaken notion that oneself is truly existent is the chief delusion of sentient beings.

Can a distinction be made between 'truly existent' and 'existent'?

I think there is something that is implicit in ancient teachings (including madhyamika) which is the idea of 'degrees of reality'. So the reality of conditioned beings is such that it is dependent on causes and conditions. But that doesn't mean 'non-existent' - it means 'lacking inherent reality' or 'svabhava'. But if this is described as 'non-existent', then that leads to nihilism. 'Truly existent' leads to eternalism. Dependently existent is madhyamika, is it not? So the domain of samsara is not non-existent, but also not 'truly existent'. It has a degree of reality.
It's not non-existent because it is vivid and clear and appears in any way whatsoever. It is not existent, because there is nothing one can grasp.

Samsara is not a domain in the same way that dream is not a domain. It can be experienced vividly, but it is never becomes what it appears to be. It is simply a fever dream brought on by the three poisons. The degree of reality accorded to samsara is the same we would accord any collective hallucination.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:15 am

The duality of "inside samsara" ("our realm") and "outside samsara" only occurs to us as unenlightened beings.
For Avalokiteshvara, all dualities are inseparable manifestations of one emptiness.

It's kind of like, if you are at the movies, sitting up close to the screen, whatever is projected fills up your whole field of vision,
you become absorbed in the action of the movie, the heroes vs. the villains, laughing, crying, gripping your seat in fear because you are totally swept away by the moment.
If you sit way back in the last row, you see the same movie, but you also see all the seats and other people, the exit lights. The film occurs within the context of the building. Even your response to what you watch may be different.
If you run the movie projector, you see the movie light being projected from projector through a tiny window. Before the digital age, you had to change reels of film, and maybe you also manage the movie house or whatever. The same film runs every day. To you, it's just another movie. You aren't swept away by the moment at all. Maybe you are thinking about having to sweep up popcorn!

So, it's still the same movie. Likewise, Samsara. But the enlightened being regards samsara as pure illusion.
Living here or there doesn't apply at that point.
And what does "living" mean? A flow of consciousness?
Something that is both infinite while at the same time no more "real" than what we can imagine.
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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by kirtu » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:56 am

F.munn wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:43 am
This is something I have been confused about for a while. After reading the Tibetan book of the dead and reading about the various peaceful dietes, it suggested to me that they were celestial beings living in some sort of “other world”, outside of samsara, but I’ve also read that Bodhisattvas live within samsara and that they are existent beings that haven’t gone to nirvana yet. I would really appreciate it if someone could help make some sense of all this for me.
For another take, there is a well-known academic practitioner who mused that the Buddhas and Arya Bodhisattvas live in our minds (he's not a native English speaker and he was using English when he went down this line). He took this tack when talking about a specific argument advanced by one of the founding Drikung Kagyu teachers.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Emmet » Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:25 pm

Bodhisattvas such as Avalokitesvara are archetypes; exemplars of a particular virtue. They exist only in your mind.

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:32 pm

Emmet wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:25 pm
Bodhisattvas such as Avalokitesvara are archetypes; exemplars of a particular virtue. They exist only in your mind.
Are you sure?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Emmet » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:10 pm

Are you sure?
No, I'm not sure of anything. Everything I believe is merely a hypothesis; a mental construct subject to revision based upon new information. Shunryu Suzuki roshi once said that strictly speaking, there are no enlightened individuals; only enlightened activity. Empirically, I believe that can be extrapolated to bodhisattvas; I've met several people engaged in bodhisattvic activity who could be thus be construed as being bodhisattvas, but I've never met anyone with eleven heads and a thousand arms.

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Norwegian » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:44 pm

Emmet wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:10 pm
Are you sure?
But I've never met anyone with eleven heads and a thousand arms.
That's because you are an ordinary sentient being. Avalokiteshvara is at the level of sambhogakaya, and for you to see Avalokiteshvara as he is in that form, you need to be realized. To reduce Avalokiteshvara, Tara, Manjushri, and so on to the level of mere archetypes is a massive mistake.

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by amanitamusc » Wed Aug 29, 2018 3:53 pm

Norwegian wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:44 pm
Emmet wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:10 pm
Are you sure?
But I've never met anyone with eleven heads and a thousand arms.
That's because you are an ordinary sentient being. Avalokiteshvara is at the level of sambhogakaya, and for you to see Avalokiteshvara as he is in that form, you need to be realized. To reduce Avalokiteshvara, Tara, Manjushri, and so on to the level of mere archetypes is a massive mistake.
Also rude . :zzz:

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:42 pm

amanitamusc wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 3:53 pm
Also rude . :zzz:
To who?

To Avalokitesvara? I can't imagine that the embodiment of compassion would consider anyone rude.
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: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:00 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 am
Dependently existent is madhyamika, is it not? So the domain of samsara is not non-existent, but also not 'truly existent'. It has a degree of reality.
Saying "it has a degree of reality" is problematic because it does not put dualism to rest. I think the correct terminology is "Middle Way".
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: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:19 pm

Emmet wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:10 pm
...but I've never met anyone with eleven heads and a thousand arms.
You may well have met them, but did not have the capacity to see them.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Norwegian » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:55 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 am
Dependently existent is madhyamika, is it not? So the domain of samsara is not non-existent, but also not 'truly existent'. It has a degree of reality.
"Dependent existents" is refuted as wrong view in Madhyamaka.

To begin with, the Buddha taught the following [all citations below translated by Malcolm some years ago]:

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one."

Then, following the above, from Nagarjuna's MMK, with commentary by Buddhapalita:

"Explanation: Do not grasp misguided [views]!

Whoever [follows] a view of self-existence, dependent existence,
existents or non-existents,
they do not see the truth
in the Buddha's doctrine.

Someone like that, who [has a] view of self existence, dependent existence, existents and non-existents, they do not see the truth in the profound [dependent origination] as the supreme teaching of the Buddha. We, in the correct way, see the non existence of the self-existence of things which appear because the sun of dependent origination arose. Therefore since we see the truth, liberation can be accepted only for us. If it is asked what is the reason for this, thus:

Because the Bhagavan, showing existents and non-existents,
also negates
both 'is' and 'is not'
in the Katyayana Oral Instruction.

Why? Because the Bhagavan, knowledgeable in the truth of the ultimate, always demonstrating [what is] existent and non-existent, correctly determines both 'is' and 'is not' in the 'Katyayana Oral Instruction' Sutra. Therefore, whoever follows a view for existence or non-existence in existents, because the truth is not seen by them, also liberation cannot be accepted for them. As we do not grasp to 'it is' [or] 'it is not' as conventionally determined, [liberation] is not unacceptable [for us].

If seeing existents and non-existents is seeing the truth, because the truth would never be seen,
[seeing existents and non-existents] is not [seeing] the truth. Therefor, the non-existence of the
self-existence of things is the truth, by seeing only that, will there be liberation."


Unfortunately the translation of Buddhapalita's commentary* is still not yet published, despite it being planned translated (the site of the commentary translation is now defunct). So I guess we will have to wait some more for that one...

(* See here: viewtopic.php?t=17795)

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Re: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:37 pm

Norwegian wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:55 pm
"Dependent existents" is refuted as wrong view in Madhyamaka.
Would it be acceptable to say, "dependently arisen"?
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: Do Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, live in our realm, or do they live outside of samsara?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:29 pm

Norwegian wrote:"Dependent existents" is refuted as wrong view in Madhyamaka.
So, you're arguing that Buddhism doesn't teach dependent origination?
But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one."
Quite right - that is in accordance with the point I'm making.

'Things' (i.e. 'the world') is neither really existent (which is eternalism) or really non-existent (which is nihilism). Things/the world have a degree of reality. But you can't simply say 'they're unreal' otherwise you're falling into nihilism, which is an extremely easy thing to do.
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:00 pm
Saying "it has a degree of reality" is problematic because it does not put dualism to rest. I think the correct terminology is "Middle Way".
'A degree of reality' is the nearest approximation in the current English lexicon. A poisonous snake is actually poisonous, and not knowing that might have fatal consequences - even if, like anything else, the snake is 'ultimately non-existent'. This is why 'The Two Truths' is important.

Question: in the Sanskrit terms 'abhidharma' and 'abhijñā ', what is the meaning of the particle, 'abhi'?
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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