What's a "pure tradition"?

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

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:55 am

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:41 am

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?
No, this is incorrect. The teachings are pure because they lead to the result of liberation and enlightenment and they come from enlightened wisdom and compassion but they are not necessarily understandable. If they were, why did great Teachers like Maitreya, Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti have to produce commentaries to the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, for example? As times become more degenerate and wisdom declines we need help to understand the real meaning of Buddha’s teachings and they need to be represented in a form suitable for people of that time. That’s why the Kadampa tradition began for example, because Atisha needed to provide his Tibetan students with a presentation of Buddha’s teachings that was suitable for their ability to understand. You’re not taking away from the original meaning of Buddha’s teachings, you’re making it clear. Without such explanations it’s not possible to see how to enter, progress along and complete the path to enlightenment.
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.
I agree, so in that case we need to create more causes to understand by increasing our wisdom, increasing our merit and purifying negative karma so that our mind gradually becomes more clear.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by falseacademic » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:18 am

'One of the points of the lamrim teachings regarding the Guru as Buddha is that 'appearances are deceptive and our own opinions are unreliable' so although we need to check the reliability of a Teacher before accepting them as our root Guru, we need to understand that our Guru will appear to have faults but we understand these to be the projections of a faulty mind'....... 'If a Guru engages in misconduct, we can use the Dharma to judge whether their actions are correct or not.'

If 'appearances are deceptive and our own opinions unreliable', and are told that if our Guru appears to have faults that... 'we understand these to be the projection of a faulty mind', then we leave ourselves at the mercy of groupthink. 'If our Guru engages in misconduct, we can use Dharma to judge whether their actions are correct or not'.

This is fine until the groupthink then seeks to avoid criticism of the Guru's or teacher's actions as being the result of having wrong views. Basically, it is your fault if you see the Guru in anything but pure.

One Buddhist group claims to adhere to a set of rules which are there to maintain purity. There is a clause which indicates that when an ordained teacher breaks ordination vows, he or she can no longer teach within that tradition, yet it is generally known this rule has no meaning. When discussing this with members of that group I am told that purification can overcome this obstacle. Surely, when this rule was originally written, the group must have been aware that to maintain purity, this rule was necessary and had its basis in the Dharma.

Purity was described earlier as being, 'nothing added and nothing taken away'.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:38 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:55 am
No, this is incorrect. The teachings are pure because they lead to the result of liberation and enlightenment and they come from enlightened wisdom and compassion but they are not necessarily understandable.
The teachings may have been pure, but we were not there to receive them.
If they were, why did great Teachers like Maitreya, Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti have to produce commentaries to the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, for example?
The teachers do not write commentaries on the teachings, they write commentaries on the record of the teachings.
As times become more degenerate and wisdom declines we need help to understand the real meaning of Buddha’s teachings and they need to be represented in a form suitable for people of that time. That’s why the Kadampa tradition began for example, because Atisha needed to provide his Tibetan students with a presentation of Buddha’s teachings that was suitable for their ability to understand.
You will find that the Buddha's teachings arrived (and were practiced) in Tibet well before Atsiha arrived on the scene.
You’re not taking away from the original meaning of Buddha’s teachings, you’re making it clear. Without such explanations it’s not possible to see how to enter, progress along and complete the path to enlightenment.
You really don't get it do you?

Let me spell it out to you one more time:

1. We did not receive the Buddha's teachings because we were not around when the Buddha was teaching.
2. We received records of the teachings, so already the (non-existent) purity is lost.
3. Reading explanations distances one from the original teaching, as generally explanations are interpretations. This detracts from the (non-existent) initial purity, not adds.
4. Ergo: there is no such thing as a pure tradition.
"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: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:23 am

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:38 am
Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:55 am
No, this is incorrect. The teachings are pure because they lead to the result of liberation and enlightenment and they come from enlightened wisdom and compassion but they are not necessarily understandable.
The teachings may have been pure, but we were not there to receive them.
If they were, why did great Teachers like Maitreya, Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti have to produce commentaries to the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, for example?
The teachers do not write commentaries on the teachings, they write commentaries on the record of the teachings.
As times become more degenerate and wisdom declines we need help to understand the real meaning of Buddha’s teachings and they need to be represented in a form suitable for people of that time. That’s why the Kadampa tradition began for example, because Atisha needed to provide his Tibetan students with a presentation of Buddha’s teachings that was suitable for their ability to understand.
You will find that the Buddha's teachings arrived (and were practiced) in Tibet well before Atsiha arrived on the scene.
You’re not taking away from the original meaning of Buddha’s teachings, you’re making it clear. Without such explanations it’s not possible to see how to enter, progress along and complete the path to enlightenment.
You really don't get it do you?

Let me spell it out to you one more time:

1. We did not receive the Buddha's teachings because we were not around when the Buddha was teaching.
2. We received records of the teachings, so already the (non-existent) purity is lost.
3. Reading explanations distances one from the original teaching, as generally explanations are interpretations. This detracts from the (non-existent) initial purity, not adds.
4. Ergo: there is no such thing as a pure tradition.
I don't think you understand lineage, but it's okay. I know when I'm flogging a dead horse.
Your big assumption is that there are no emanations of Buddha teaching today, and that without having been around at the time of the historical Buddha we cannot have pure teachings but I think that's incorrect. It's like assuming that all enlightened beings have gone into retirement after Buddha taught 2,700 years ago.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:30 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:23 am
Your big assumption is that there are no emanations of Buddha teaching today, and that without having been around at the time of the historical Buddha we cannot have pure teachings but I think that's incorrect.
I said nothing of the sort. You are talking about commentaries and explanations, not me.
"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: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:47 pm

Actually, I've heard it said that the Buddha himself made the Dharma impure - the pure Dharma is not capable of being shared. Even what was first taught was simply a finger pointing at the moon, a raft to the other side because we are not able to experience the other side without being there for ourselves.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:50 pm

Ya know, the whole point of the precious human rebirth teaching is to make the point that we have access to teachings that are alive and fully capable of leading us to enlightenment in this life. So I f you guys want to dismiss that idea by saying all the teachings we have are impure I think you’re just shooting yourselves in the foot/feet.

But you go do what you want.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:15 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:50 pm
Ya know, the whole point of the precious human rebirth teaching is to make the point that we have access to teachings that are alive and fully capable of leading us to enlightenment in this life. So I f you guys want to dismiss that idea by saying all the teachings we have are impure I think you’re just shooting yourselves in the foot/feet.

But you go do what you want.
And I think you misunderstand too. No-one is saying there are not effective teachings available today, "alive and fully capable of leading us to enlightenment in this life." The problem is labelling these as somehow pure with nothing added or taken away.

Every teaching I've ever received has not been pure - its been adapted, modified, shortened or lengthened, certain points added or dropped or with certain parts emphasised and other parts glossed over. And I'm very grateful for that. That is part of the skill of a good teacher, to adapt the teachings to the audience, to the individual student.

One of the reasons the Buddha is described as a good doctor is because, like a good doctor, the medicine he prescribes is based on the illness the patient is suffering from, not based which medicine he has a special liking for. Similarly, it's useful to remember that what is the exact right medicine for one patient might be absolute poison for another.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:50 pm

Yup, it's that time again.

This is the last time I am cleaning this thread...

Next time the lock down will be permanent.
"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: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:54 pm

One of the reasons the Buddha is described as a good doctor is because, like a good doctor, the medicine he prescribes is based on the illness the patient is suffering from, not based which medicine he has a special liking for. Similarly, it's useful to remember that what is the exact right medicine for one patient might be absolute poison for another.
Sooo....
If there are enlightened masters alive today, and...
If you receive teachings from such as master, then...
You have just received 100# pure Dharma.

Isn’t that the premise?
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:12 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:54 pm
One of the reasons the Buddha is described as a good doctor is because, like a good doctor, the medicine he prescribes is based on the illness the patient is suffering from, not based which medicine he has a special liking for. Similarly, it's useful to remember that what is the exact right medicine for one patient might be absolute poison for another.
Sooo....
If there are enlightened masters alive today, and...
If you receive teachings from such as master, then...
You have just received 100# pure Dharma.

Isn’t that the premise?
Exactly, they aren't second hand teachings from centuries ago but a living, pure lineage.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:42 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:12 pm
smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:54 pm
One of the reasons the Buddha is described as a good doctor is because, like a good doctor, the medicine he prescribes is based on the illness the patient is suffering from, not based which medicine he has a special liking for. Similarly, it's useful to remember that what is the exact right medicine for one patient might be absolute poison for another.
Sooo....
If there are enlightened masters alive today, and...
If you receive teachings from such as master, then...
You have just received 100# pure Dharma.

Isn’t that the premise?
Exactly, they aren't second hand teachings from centuries ago but a living, pure lineage.
Okay, I give up. If you two still don't get why describing something as pure lineage | pure tradition is problematical, I'll leave you to you to it. You enjoy your pure vodka and I'll enjoy my blended whisky and we'll hopefully all get drunk on the realisations.

Last thought: if you want to talk about pure lineage or pure Dharma then paradoxically you are establishing impure lineage, impure Dharma. My position is that there Dharma and there is non-Dharma, that's it. It is either Dharma or it isn't, whether it comes from a terma discovered behind a toilet in Kalimpong last week or has been passed down within a tradition for a 1000 years, with a claim to being recited on Vulture Peak by Mahapajapati herself with the Buddha's approval.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:11 pm

You enjoy your pure vodka and I'll enjoy my blended whisky and we'll hopefully all get drunk on the realisations.
I prefer a car analogy. You seem to think the only authentic pure Ford is a prototype Model T that Henry himself made by hand. I think a 2019 Mustang GT is every bit as pure a Ford as a Model T—and a lot more fun to drive!
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:30 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:12 pm
Exactly, they aren't second hand teachings from centuries ago but a living, pure lineage.
As soon as they hit your ear they are second hand. Even if they are coming directly from the mouth of a living Buddha.
"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: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Bristollad » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:56 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:11 pm
You seem to think the only authentic pure Ford is a prototype Model T that Henry himself made by hand. I think a 2019 Mustang GT is every bit as pure a Ford as a Model T—and a lot more fun to drive!
Bristollad wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:42 pm
It is either Dharma or it isn't, whether it comes from a terma discovered behind a toilet in Kalimpong last week or has been passed down within a tradition for a 1000 years, with a claim to being recited on Vulture Peak by Mahapajapati herself with the Buddha's approval.
Nope, modern’s fine, ancient’s fine, it’s either Dharma or its not. And that’s determined by its efficacy, not by some measure of purity.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by DGA » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:42 am

smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:54 pm
Sooo....
If there are enlightened masters alive today, and...
If you receive teachings from such as master, then...
You have just received 100# pure Dharma.

Isn’t that the premise?
This is uncontroversial in many Mahayana traditions. Maybe most of 'em. I would swap out "pure" for "authentic," though.

I anticipate someone starting a new thread, "What's an authentic tradition?"

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by DGA » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:44 am

Bristollad wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:56 pm
smcj wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:11 pm
You seem to think the only authentic pure Ford is a prototype Model T that Henry himself made by hand. I think a 2019 Mustang GT is every bit as pure a Ford as a Model T—and a lot more fun to drive!
Bristollad wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:42 pm
It is either Dharma or it isn't, whether it comes from a terma discovered behind a toilet in Kalimpong last week or has been passed down within a tradition for a 1000 years, with a claim to being recited on Vulture Peak by Mahapajapati herself with the Buddha's approval.
Nope, modern’s fine, ancient’s fine, it’s either Dharma or its not. And that’s determined by its efficacy, not by some measure of purity.
:good:

In this context: Purity is an idea we have about something. In contrast, efficacy is observable. I may imagine my practice is pure, but I can see for myself if it works.

Imaginings aren't particularly helpful.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by smcj » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:02 am


I anticipate someone starting a new thread, "What's an authentic tradition?"
I thought that was what we were discussing! :rolling:

Check out 1:06:00 to 1:13:00 in this video for a rap on purity (as opposed to authenticity).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_gsa8ux8Uo

Kinda hard for Vajrasattva to do much if his purity doesn’t beat out our obscurations. :shrug:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by jmlee369 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:47 am

I would like to just say a few general things.

Regarding dharma teachers, yes, the emanations of buddhas and bodhisattvas are countless. However, in sutras such as the Lotus Face Sutra and the Ratnakuta Sutra, Buddha uses the analogy of the worms inside the lion's body to describe the destruction of the dharma. The Buddha said to Ananda in the Lotus Face Sutra: "Ananda, there is nothing other than those evil bhikshus within my dharma that are like poisonous thorns who can destroy my teachings, who will destroy the collections of Buddhadharmas that I have gathered over three great eons' accumulation and practice of great effort." The Buddha said similar things to Kasyapa in the Ratnakuta. In then Shurangama Sutra, it says that in the degenerate age, "there will be as many deviant teachers propounding their methods as there are sands in the Ganges" Just because a person is said to be teaching dharma, is no guarantee of purity or their status as an emanation.

Regarding the Vinaya, it is much more vast and profound than a mere list of rules contained in the Pratimoksha sutra. The Vinaya explains the origins for each rule, provides guidelines for developing and maintaining a harmonious community, provides instructions on resolving conflicts, instructions on developing proper conduct and comportment, and many other principles. Shariputra was first inspired to follow the dharma not through any teaching, but from seeing the dignified way in which Assaji was walking. For Gandenpas, let us not forget that one of the four great deeds of Lama Tsongkhapa's life was the teaching of the Namtsedeng commentary on Vinaya for three months. Of the countless activities of this great master, why was this chosen as one of the four great deeds? Because the Vinaya is the lifeblood that will sustain the proper dharma in this world.

Je Rinpoche himself writes in his commentary to the bodhisattva precepts:
The fact is that even if you have not already received [the prātimokṣa] as an actual member of the seven prātimokṣa classes, the bodhisattva vow can be created. However, if you are a suitable basis for prātimokṣa [i.e., a human being] you should take the prātimokṣa in some form, be it lay or monastic, beforehand. Otherwise you will transgress the order of the Jina's teaching. By analogy, you may take the monk's vow without having taken the novice vow, and it will be created, but it is wrong in practice.
Some of the "It is not a basis" party argue: "It is an obstruction to the creation [of the bodhisattva vow], because if you fail to avoid the attitude of 'my own welfare, ' the bodhisattva vow will not be created. At the same time it is an obstruction to its maintenance, because if the bodhisattva vow-holder should generate the attitude of 'my own welfare,' that vow will fail."

This makes the mistake of failing to distinguish the prātimokṣa vow from the lesser-vehicle attitude. In creating the bodhisattva vow you must relinquish the lesser-vehicle attitude, but you need not relinquish the prātimokṣa vow. If someone holding the greater-vehicle vow should generate a lesser-vehicle attitude, he will fail in the Greater Vehicle but without relinquishing the prātimokṣa. The reasons for this are as follows: (1) The prātimokṣa is shared by both vehicles. (2) That [inferior] attitude is not, strictly speaking, a cause for relinquishing the prātimokṣa. And (3) the prātimokṣa vow-holder who receives the higher vow becomes a basis for the good fortune [of achieving buddhahood]. Therefore, to give up the lower vow on the grounds that you are maintaining the higher vow, cutting the root of the Jina's dispensation, is a great hailstorm to their crop of benefit and pleasure for many generations; it is a misconception that entirely misconstrues the quintessence of the higher as well as the lower texts, so put it far away.

In order to prevent such misconception from arising, the noble Teaching on the Three Vows says: "Therefore you should comply with the prātimokṣa taught here. Kasyapa, beings who fail to comply with the prātimokṣa are beings who fail to comply with the powers and confidence of the Buddha. Any beings who fail to comply with the powers and confidence of the Buddha are beings who fail to comply with the awakening of buddhas of the past, the future, and the present. The karmic maturation of that does not approach a hundredth part of the suffering experienced in hell by as m any sentient beings as inhabit a universe system of a thousand-million worlds. It does not match a thousandth, a hundred-thousandth, a million-millionth, or any number, fraction, calculation, example, or comparison. Desiring to avoid such suffering and unhappiness, you should avoid such behavior on the part of monks by a thousand miles. If the mention of it is to be avoided, what of regarding and heeding it? They should be avoided."

And the Questioning of Subahu Tantra says:

All crops depend on the earth
Two grow without problem;
Good white factors depend upon ethics,
Watered by compassion for their growth.
All the pure ethics of the prātimokṣa
That I the Jina have spoken as vinaya,
Should be taken to heart by lay tantrics,
Except for the signs and the ceremonies.

What this says is that excepting the monastic signs, ceremonial acts, and unshared precepts, what the disciplinary code teaches that one should accept and reject should be taken to heart even by lay tantrics. What need to mention monastic tantrics and holders of the bodhisattva vow?

The great scholar Jñānaśrīmitra, crest jewel of Kashmiri sugatas, has forbidden such misconceived doubts with several emphatic statements. From his Consistency of Ethics, Vows, and Pledges:

First basing yourself as a monastic,
Maintain the paths of tantra and the perfections;
If you later become confused by them,
Maintain the vow of the auditors', etc.,
From the treatises of the disciplinary code,
The prātimokṣa, and the rainy season retreat.
When you cannot keep a majority
Of the trainings taught in it,
Eliminate those that contradict
Holding the bodhisattva vow,
And carry on.

And:

Having rejected the monastic vow,
Neither the tantric vow nor that
Of the perfections will be held.

And:

The most distinguished intellectuals
Are bodhisattva monks;
Being skilled in means, they do not dream
Of transgressing in any way.

With such statements he explains the matter in detail. In various scriptures as well, statements are made concerning universal monarchs, great heroes who, remaining in the home life, have long trained themselves in the bodhisattva career, who then leave home to go forth to the monastic life, eager for ordination. Therefore those who maintain the better vehicle must hold the prātimokṣa generally, and the monastic vows within it, to be especially dear.
The underlined text in the following is Asanga writing in the Bodhisattvabhūmi, the commentary is Je Rinpoche.
1.2 Not training in the shared precepts.
Not training for the sake of others ' faith.
The bodhisattva trains himself as do the auditors--not refusing to conform by distinguishing himself from them --according to what has been legislated by the Lord as trainings in the prātimokṣa, the source work, and in other vinaya texts such as the Vibhanga that are commentaries to it, to be reprehensible by precept (which means, those [rules] not reprehensible by nature, in order to guard the thought of others. He renounces whatever the auditors renounce.

In order that those previously without faith may have faith, and those previously faithful may develop it further, there are precepts for not drinking alcohol, abstinence from eating at the wrong time and so forth, as well as [not] digging the soil, making a fire, etc. You must train yourself in these as do the auditors, for if you fail to do so, not only does a fault develop contradicting the prātimokṣa --a misdeed also develops contradicting the bodhisattva vow.
9. The defeat of rejecting prātimokṣa. Two points.
9.1 The object who is made to understand: someone astutely training in prātimokṣa and the ethics of the disciplinary code.
9.2 He is made to understand by telling him that he will be purified by only generating the thought and reciting the Greater Vehicle. One says, "Why should you keep pure the ethics of monastic discipline? Generate the thought of full awakening and read the Greater Vehicle, and all misbehavior of body, speech, and mind that has developed because of defilement will be purified."

The old translation [of the SS] has, "Turn away from prātimokṣa and the generation of the thought, and apply yourself to reciting the Greater Vehicle." The version that appears in the new translation and in the AG scripture is correct, however, for the great commentary to the BCA declares, "The third comes from teaching someone else to reject the vow of prātimokṣa training and to purify himself only by generating the thought of and reciting the Greater Vehicle."
Therefore, to claim that true Vinaya is simply the attitude of renunciation is, I think, not in accordance with the intent of Je Rinpoche.

Edit: the quotations are from Mark Tatz's "Asanga's Chapter on Ethics With the Commentary of Tsong-Kha-Pa, The Basic Path to Awakening,
The Complete Bodhisattva"

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Re: What's a "pure tradition"?

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:37 am

Something else to beware of is how easily 'the quest for doctrinal purity' can morph into heresy-hunting. This is not to say that outer forms cannot be corrupted.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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