What's a "pure tradition"?

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:06 am

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:02 am
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:56 am
Why then is it so difficult to accept the idea of spiritual purity - that pure Buddhist teachings are the teachings of Buddha with nothing added and nothing taken away?
Because all dharma are compounded.
Sure, so that means that all Dharmas depend. Purity is also then a dependent quality and it depends upon certain criteria.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Mantrik » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:51 am

What about the other aspect, Tradition?

What are the characteristics of a Buddhist Tradition?

What makes it Buddhist and what makes it a Tradition?

Purity aside, there are organisations led by people whose behaviour would indicate no bodhicitta or virtue and no contact with a lineage, let alone any link to Shakyamuni apart from using the odd teaching and trappings like a brightly coloured parrot.

So can a Buddhist Tradition be 'New' for example, or must it be rooted in established lineage(s)?

Can adherents of Buddhist Traditions pick and choose which aspects of Buddhism to follow, monastic Vinaya for example?

There are groups run by Buddhists, which may not be 'Traditions' at all, however 'pure' their behaviour and adherence to tenets.
There are Buddhist Traditions with established lineages, Vinaya etc. of course, albeit with taints (impurities in behaviour etc.)


What defines purity of 'Tradition' deserving of the description?
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:56 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:56 am
What is the definition of pure? something that is unmixed with anything else. For example, pure water is water without any additives.

Why then is it so difficult to accept the idea of spiritual purity - that pure Buddhist teachings are the teachings of Buddha with nothing added and nothing taken away? It seems odd to me that people in this thread are projecting all kinds of strange labels onto the idea of purity - orthodoxy, puritanism, claims divorced from reality and a hindrance. Don't people want to practice what Buddha taught and not what Buddha didn't teach? In that case, you would need to find a pure tradition, one that teaches and practices Buddha's teachings unmistakenly with lineage blessings. What's so strange about that?

Also, to say that one tradition is pure is not to say that others are impure. It's not asserting some kind of supremacy. As I said earlier there are criteria to establish whether something is pure or not and we can assess a tradition with those criteria from Nalanda monastery.
But we don't have the pure dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha, what we have is the flavoured Dharma - flavoured by the languages which are or were used to propagate it: Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Japanese, Gandhari etc.. Flavoured by the teachers who have kindly adapted it to the needs of their students, flavoured by students who received and in their turn passed on the teachings, flavoured by the cultures within which those masters and students lived. Even at the time of the first council there was the case of Purâ.na who disagreed over eight minor rules to do with food. He maintained that the Buddha had made allowances permitting food to be prepared, taken indoors and so on. Mahakasypa agreed but said that was only in the time of famine. Purâ.na disagreed that these allowances were only for during a famine. So even then, we had the flavouring of the Dharma starting to happen.

Does it matter that our Dharma is flavoured? I don't think so. Pure grain-spirit will make you drunk (gain realisations) but so will whisky, after its been aged and blended, taking on the particular characteristics of its environment and the barrel it is aged in, and by the skill of the master blender. Gin too (which is going through a bit of a revival right now so I'm told) is impure, flavoured (with some very different combinations of flavours) but will still get you drunk. Some flavours are liked by some people and disliked by others so having the amazing variety through which people can gain realisation is part of the incredible kindness and wisdom of the Budhhas; Shakyamuni and our teachers.

To my way of thinking, we are all indulging in flavoured Dharma (unless of course you have an accurate memory of receiving the teachings from Shakyamuni at the time when the Supreme Nirmanakaya was here to see, listen, talk and debate with).

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:11 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:06 am
Grigoris wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:02 am
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:56 am
Why then is it so difficult to accept the idea of spiritual purity - that pure Buddhist teachings are the teachings of Buddha with nothing added and nothing taken away?
Because all dharma are compounded.
Sure, so that means that all Dharmas depend. Purity is also then a dependent quality and it depends upon certain criteria.
A dependently arising phenomenon based on dependently arising cause and conditions.

Doesn't really sound like something you can rely on.
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:48 am

Bristollad wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:56 am
But we don't have the pure dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha, what we have is the flavoured Dharma - flavoured by the languages which are or were used to propagate it: Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Japanese, Gandhari etc.. Flavoured by the teachers who have kindly adapted it to the needs of their students, flavoured by students who received and in their turn passed on the teachings, flavoured by the cultures within which those masters and students lived. Even at the time of the first council there was the case of Purâ.na who disagreed over eight minor rules to do with food. He maintained that the Buddha had made allowances permitting food to be prepared, taken indoors and so on. Mahakasypa agreed but said that was only in the time of famine. Purâ.na disagreed that these allowances were only for during a famine. So even then, we had the flavouring of the Dharma starting to happen.
I think we do have the pure Dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha, it has survived to the present day due to the kindness of our lineage Gurus, but surely Buddha is also emanating in these present times, teaching the Dharma? He didn't just retired 2,700 years ago! I suppose we have to trust that Ananda remembered the teachings as perfectly as is claimed so that we have the actual words of Buddha, but even so there must be contemporary emanations of Buddha who are teaching pure Dharma - unless our karma is exhausted.
Does it matter that our Dharma is flavoured? I don't think so. Pure grain-spirit will make you drunk (gain realisations) but so will whisky, after its been aged and blended, taking on the particular characteristics of its environment and the barrel it is aged in, and by the skill of the master blender. Gin too (which is going through a bit of a revival right now so I'm told) is impure, flavoured (with some very different combinations of flavours) but will still get you drunk.
I don't believe that Dharma is flavoured - the essential meaning of Dharma has to be in accordance with the transmission of Buddha. There may be dispensable cultural elements, but Dharma cannot be transmitted except through words, through language, so this isn't really flavouring as long as care has been taken to ensure that the Sutras and Tantras have been correctly translated from Pali or from Sanskrit. If there is misinterpretation or mistranslation then there is distortion in the message which is dangerous. There may be different presentations of Dharma which may be seen as flavouring but even though there may be different flavours of gin, it has to be gin and not something else! Similarly with Dharma.
To my way of thinking, we are all indulging in flavoured Dharma (unless of course you have an accurate memory of receiving the teachings from Shakyamuni at the time when the Supreme Nirmanakaya was here to see, listen, talk and debate with).
Ananda did, apparently. We have to trust the transmission.
Some flavours are liked by some people and disliked by others so having the amazing variety through which people can gain realisation is part of the incredible kindness and wisdom of the Budhhas; Shakyamuni and our teachers.
Thanks, I love this! Yes, it's the great kindness and skill of Buddha that we have so many different presentations to choose from.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:49 am

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:11 am
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:06 am
Grigoris wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:02 am
Because all dharma are compounded.
Sure, so that means that all Dharmas depend. Purity is also then a dependent quality and it depends upon certain criteria.
A dependently arising phenomenon based on dependently arising cause and conditions.

Doesn't really sound like something you can rely on.
Buddha's image and Buddha's speech are dependent related but completely reliable.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:45 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:49 am
Buddha's image
Depends on who created it and why.
Buddha's speech are dependent related but completely reliable.
Yup. But we did not have the good karma to hear it.
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"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."
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:02 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:48 am
Ananda did, apparently. We have to trust the transmission.
Actually, Ananda did not hear all the teachings at the time they were given - for instance Buddha's first teaching. He had to rely on the memory of others discussing that teaching, fortunately one of the 5 original ascetics was there at the 1st council and confirmed that Ananda's account was correct.

What distinguishes a correct presentation from an incorrect presentation of the Dharma? For me, it's its ability to bring temporal benefit and the lasting happiness to its trainees. Ultimately, the written records of the teachings are validated by whether or not they support or hinder the trainees' realisations on the path. In that sense, a "pure tradition" will be one that supports its followers in the attainment of enlightenment and has nothing to do history, lineage or texts.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:07 pm

Kadampa itself is also a re-presentation of the teachings and was newly developed by Atisha. I think everybody accepts this new development from Atisha.
I don’t think Atisha invented anything. He imported Mahayana that was already present in India.

Right?
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:18 pm

smcj wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:07 pm
Kadampa itself is also a re-presentation of the teachings and was newly developed by Atisha. I think everybody accepts this new development from Atisha.
I don’t think Atisha invented anything. He imported Mahayana that was already present in India.

Right?
He did, he presented Buddha's teachings in a new way. He took the seventy topics of Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations and invented a practical presentation, lamrim. This was a new development. Later this was fully explained by Je Tsongkhapa in his various treatises on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and in Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Mantrik » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:13 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:48 am
I suppose we have to trust that Ananda remembered the teachings as perfectly as is claimed so that we have the actual words of Buddha, but even so there must be contemporary emanations of Buddha who are teaching pure Dharma - unless our karma is exhausted.
Who has the qualities to recognise these people as emanations of Buddha(s)?

Depending on the story told, poor old Vajrapani, for example, gets to be an emanation of different Buddhas and has emanations as Dharmapalas etc. Does that make his emanations second-hand, I wonder.

Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri have already taken human form, it seems, so I'm grabbing Khyung if that's OK with everyone. ;)

We see many claims being made from China to the UK that this or that teacher is a 'living Buddha', sometimes by the teachers, sometimes by the followers they have led to believe it to be so, or possibly through an established method of authentication.

I can see a book in this: 'When Living Buddhas Collide'!
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:58 pm

kirtu wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:26 am
Ah, no, not just. OTOH it is sort of "just" a form of upaya.

A better way of thinking about it is the Drikung assertion, bordering on eternalism of sorts, that virtue is real. Deity Yoga, for example, is really pure in terms of accumulating merit and wisdom and purifying the impure aggregates and impure mind of the meditator. I think Garchen Rinpoche went so far as to say that this forumulation is unique to the Drikung (although I have heard similar statements with my Nyingma teachers and in Sakya there is a famous teaching that almost directly says this as well - I will not otherwise discuss this last one publicly -).

Upaya, but higher forms of upaya, that when engaged from the lower paths has a purifying "effect/result". And this is true for all forms of Buddhadharma as well.
Could you possibly elaborate on the notion of virtue being real? I cannot really relate it to the deity yoga example you are giving.
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by DGA » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:52 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:18 pm
smcj wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:07 pm
Kadampa itself is also a re-presentation of the teachings and was newly developed by Atisha. I think everybody accepts this new development from Atisha.
I don’t think Atisha invented anything. He imported Mahayana that was already present in India.

Right?
He did, he presented Buddha's teachings in a new way. He took the seventy topics of Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations and invented a practical presentation, lamrim. This was a new development. Later this was fully explained by Je Tsongkhapa in his various treatises on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and in Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation
I think it's more accurate to say that Atisha's lamrim represented a new format in which to present the teachings. I don't know of any particular innovations in the teachings themselves.

We can discuss the question of whether and to what extent Gampopa's lamrim or Tsongkhapa's lamrim introduce innovations into the teachings, I suppose, if we understand innovations to be impurities.

An unsympathetic person would ask: if innovations in the teachings of the Buddha are impurities, and masters such as Tsongkhapa have introduced innovations, then did masters such as Tsongkhapa introduce impurities into the teachings of the Buddha?

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:27 pm

An unsympathetic person would ask: if innovations in the teachings of the Buddha are impurities, and masters such as Tsongkhapa have introduced innovations, then did masters such as Tsongkhapa introduce impurities into the teachings of the Buddha?
If a master is enlightened he can add or alter. Gompopa evidently had an innovative version of Mahamudra.

It’s still coming from enlightenment. It doesn’t have to be Gotama’s enlightenment.
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by kirtu » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:48 pm

passel wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:54 am
kirtu wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:26 am
passel wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:44 pm
Purity is just an assertion, right?
Ah, no, not just. OTOH it is sort of "just" a form of upaya.

A better way of thinking about it is the Drikung assertion, bordering on eternalism of sorts, that virtue is real. Deity Yoga, for example, is really pure in terms of accumulating merit and wisdom and purifying the impure aggregates and impure mind of the meditator. I think Garchen Rinpoche went so far as to say that this forumulation is unique to the Drikung (although I have heard similar statements with my Nyingma teachers and in Sakya there is a famous teaching that almost directly says this as well - I will not otherwise discuss this last one publicly -).

Upaya, but higher forms of upaya, that when engaged from the lower paths has a purifying "effect/result". And this is true for all forms of Buddhadharma as well.

Kirt
Do any of those hold that a thing’s purity is distinct from its emptiness
I'd have to say yes, but guardedly. It will also depend on the tradition. I'm certain that Sakya lamas would say no and then essentially teach that the effect of certain practices are a result of their purity and kind of dance around "inherent purity" without using those terms. Some Drikung lamas and some Nyingma lamas in my experience have no trouble invoking what they seem to regard as inherent purity wrt practice (but note this is still a dependent arising because the result does depend on causes and conditions).

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:39 am

DGA wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:52 pm

I think it's more accurate to say that Atisha's lamrim represented a new format in which to present the teachings. I don't know of any particular innovations in the teachings themselves.
I agree, it's a new presentation. When it comes to the substance of the teachings, we cannot have innovations. But I think it's possible to have an innovative presentation that makes the teachings simpler, clearer and more practical.
An unsympathetic person would ask: if innovations in the teachings of the Buddha are impurities, and masters such as Tsongkhapa have introduced innovations, then did masters such as Tsongkhapa introduce impurities into the teachings of the Buddha?
I would say no. People will disagree, but I think Tsongkhapa introduced clarifications, not innovations, and therefore made the teachings more clear and practical.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:40 am

Some Drikung lamas and some Nyingma lamas in my experience have no trouble invoking what they seem to regard as inherent purity wrt practice (but note this is still a dependent arising because the result does depend on causes and conditions).
The Uttaratantra addresses this directly in Ch 4. The Buddha Nature is not produced by virtue. Virtue simply is simply a contributory cause for creating a condition where the inherent Buddha Nature can find free expression.

How a practitioner can access the positive qualities of Buddha Nature to create that virtue I haven’t read about yet.
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:18 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:39 am
I would say no. People will disagree, but I think Tsongkhapa introduced clarifications, not innovations, and therefore made the teachings more clear and practical.
How can you clarify something that is pure? I mean, didn't you just say the Buddha's words are pure?

Quite clearly you have no idea what you are talking about, that is why you keep falling into contradictions.

This is a common problem for people reading from cue cards, rather than speaking from experience.
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"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."
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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:31 am

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:18 am
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:39 am
I would say no. People will disagree, but I think Tsongkhapa introduced clarifications, not innovations, and therefore made the teachings more clear and practical.
How can you clarify something that is pure? I mean, didn't you just say the Buddha's words are pure?

Quite clearly you have no idea what you are talking about, that is why you keep falling into contradictions.

This is a common problem for people reading from cue cards, rather than speaking from experience.
Buddha’s teachings are pure but we don’t understand them without a clear explanation because we suffer from ignorance. Sometimes the explanations in books and from some teachers are unclear, sometimes it’s our own mind that’s unclear. The clarity of the teaching doesn’t exist from its own side.

You don’t know my mind or my experience, so why make a pointless ad-hominem attack rather than addressing the substance of the thread?

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:41 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:31 am
Buddha’s teachings are pure but we don’t understand them without a clear explanation. Sometimes the explanations are unclear, sometimes it’s our own mind that’s unclear.
If they are pure, then they do not need explanation/clarification. When you add an explanation then you are adding another hue to the original meaning, this takes you further away from the original meaning, how can this lead to understanding?

If our own mind is unclear then an explanation is not going to clarify it, as it is our own mind that is the problem, not the teaching.

Again you are falling into contradictions.

It is unavoidable that you fall into contradictions, because your initial premise is false. It is based on a lack of understanding. This is not an ad hom, this is reality.
"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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