Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual karma?

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by haha » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:44 am

Let’s suppose someone has done Buddhanusmriti. After sometimes, whenever he hears the name of the Buddha, certain mantel factors will arise without effort. I have remembered that chanting the name of Buddha can purify the vast amount of Karma; it can be explained using buddhist theory as well as non-buddhist theory.

Theravada does not need to purify all karmas. When one becomes Arhants, their all karmas become defunct karma. There will be no cause and condition to mature their past karma after their passing way. For the Mahayana practitioners, it is unavoidable to purify all negative karmas and accumulate positive karmas. Using the Vajrayana method, we can make other karmas to “Immediately effective karma”.

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:06 am

Matt J wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:02 am
I have not heard that. When I practiced Theravada, we were always told that the practice would eliminate residual karmic impressions. Otherwise, what is the point of practice?
Extinction of Karma is the point of practice in Theravada. AFAIK in Theravada, you cannot have something like Vajrasattva-style purification, where karmic fruits ripen in a less severe way due to a practice, much less a blessing... you can just eliminate causes. "Eliminate residual karmic impressions" is not quite the same animal as what i'm talking about.

IIRC the las thing I read on this was Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche's books on Karma, but i'd have to dig out a more detailed explanation. It's not the only place I've seen it said.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Grigoris » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:17 am

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:29 am
As far as I know this is not so in Theravada, Karmic fruits are "set" there, almost like a form of predestination.
If this were true, the infamous murderer Aṅgulimāla would not have merited the intervention of the Buddha & attained Arhatship in one lifetime. But he did

"And what is the cessation of kamma? Whoever touches the release that comes from the cessation of bodily kamma, verbal kamma, & mental kamma: This is called the cessation of kamma.

"And what is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.
1

The second important point touched on in this sutta — how to put an end to pain and suffering — relates to the first. If the cause of present suffering were located exclusively in the past, no one could do anything in the present moment to stop that suffering; the most that could be done would be to endure the suffering while not creating any new kamma leading to future suffering. Although this was the Jain approach to practice, many people at present believe that it is the Buddhist approach as well. Meditation, according to this understanding, is the process of purifying the mind of old kamma by training it to look on with non-reactive equanimity as pain arises. The pain is the result of old kamma, the equanimity adds no new kamma, and thus over time all old kamma can be burned away.

In this sutta, however, the Buddha heaps ridicule on this idea. First he notes that none of the Niganthas have ever come to the end of pain by trying to burn it away in this way; then he notes that they have based their belief in this practice entirely on their faith in their teacher and their approval of his ideas, but neither faith nor approval can act as guarantees of the truth. As he illustrates with his simile of the man shot with an arrow, only a person who has succeeded in going beyond pain would be in a position to speak with authority of the method that actually puts an end to pain. (What is not mentioned in this sutta is the Nigantha idea that the practice of austerities, to succeed completely in burning away old kamma, must culminate in a suicide by starvation. Thus there could be no living person who would be able to vouch for the efficacy of their method.)
More here

Although the Jains, like the Buddhists, teach a doctrine of the moral consequences of actions, the teachings of the two traditions differ in many important details. This discourse points out two of the major points where the Buddhist teaching is distinctive: its understanding of the complexity of the kammic process, and its application of that understanding to the psychology of teaching. The Buddha shows that a simplistic, fatalistic view of the kammic process is logically inconsistent, and also leads to unfortunate results for any person who, with a background of bad kamma, believes in it. The actual complexity of kamma, however, allows for a way in which past evil deeds can be overcome: through refraining from evil now and into the future, and through developing expansive mind-states of good will, compassion, appreciation, & equanimity. In such an expansive mind state, the unavoidable consequences of past evil actions count for next to nothing. The Buddha also shows how his method of teaching is better than that of the Jains in that it actually can help free the mind from debilitating feelings of guilt and remorse, and lead to the overcoming of past kamma.

"Nigantha Nataputta teaches the Dhamma to his disciples in this way, lord: 'All those who take life are destined for a state of deprivation, are destined for hell. All those who steal... All those who indulge in illicit sex... All those who tell lies are destined for a state of deprivation, are destined for hell. Whatever one keeps doing frequently, by that is one led [to a state of rebirth].' That's how Nigantha Nataputta teaches the Dhamma to his disciples."
More here
Actually, in the Pali Canon version of the story, Angulimala goes to the Buddha to complain about the fact that when he does his alms rounds people attack and beat him, hit him and throw things at him; to which the Buddha replies:

"Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!"
"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: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Astus » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:02 am

smcj wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:28 am
“Blessings” are what alters karma.
Blessing is a consequence of faith, it is not an external magical power changing people's karma, but a product of one's own devotion.

'The compassion and blessings of the Three Jewels are inconceivable, but nevertheless their ability to reach into us depends entirely on our faith and devotion. If you have immense faith and devotion, the compassion and blessings you receive from your teacher and the Three Jewels will be equally immense. If your faith and devotion are just moderate, the compassion and blessings that reach you will also be moderate. If you have only a little faith and devotion, only a little compassion and blessings will reach you. If you have no faith and devotion at all, you will get absolutely nothing. Without faith, even meeting the Buddha himself and being accepted as his disciple would be quite useless'
(Patrul RInpoche: Words of My Perfect Teacher, p 173)

'Whether those blessings enter your being depends not on the object of your devotion but on your own mind. We've all heard the story about the old lady who had incredible faith and devotion toward a dog's tooth, thinking that it was the BUddha's tooth. Though it was just a dog's tooth, she received the Buddha's blessings and attained enlightenment, which was due not to the thooth but entirely to her strong faith and devotion.
The enlightened mind of the buddhas is free of partiality, so whether you receive their blessings or not depends on the strength of your devotion and your dedication to your practice.'

(Penor Rinpoche, in An Ocean of Blessings, p 9)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Astus » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:21 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:06 am
Extinction of Karma is the point of practice in Theravada.
Extinction of greed, anger, and ignorance is the point of any Buddhist path. Removing all past karma, that is a sort of Jain idea, and not a Buddhist one.
AFAIK in Theravada, you cannot have something like Vajrasattva-style purification, where karmic fruits ripen in a less severe way due to a practice, much less a blessing... you can just eliminate causes.
The impact of the result of past actions depends on the present state of mind. Please read the Lonaphala Sutta. At the same time, there is no removal of past karma in Mahayana either, as one cannot just dive into the storehouse consciousness and root out seeds, rather through enlightenment the eight consciousnesses are transformed into the four wisdoms.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Grigoris » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:49 am

Astus wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:21 am
The impact of the result of past actions depends on the present state of mind. Please read the Lonaphala Sutta. At the same time, there is no removal of past karma in Mahayana either, as one cannot just dive into the storehouse consciousness and root out seeds, rather through enlightenment the eight consciousnesses are transformed into the four wisdoms.
cf here.
"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: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by smcj » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:00 pm

Here’s HHK XVII (O.T.) talking about Vajrasattva. I think it’s pertinent to this thread.

Start at 1:04:45 and go at least 4-5 minutes.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n_gsa8ux8Uo
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Queequeg » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:42 pm

Astus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:34 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:38 am
How is that reconciled with the Pure Land principle that the recitation of the Nembutsu is all that is required for rebirth in Sukhavati regardless of one’s acts?
Not even recitation is required according to some, only faith and vows. However, faith and vows are the individual's action (karma) to attain birth. What Amitabha made possible through his vows were the conditions sufficient for attaining birth. So it's like a school that accepts all applicants, but it does not mean non-applicants enter. As it's expressed in Honen's famed stanza (source):

'There is no place where the moonlight
Casts not its cheering ray;
With him who has the seeing eye
Alone that light will stay.'


On the other hand, if one being could actually change the 'karma' of another, then buddhas would have already saved everyone.
Birth in Sukhavati does not equal awakening. Rather, Sukhavati is a pure buddha land (buddhaksetra) where the three poisons are eliminated. Beings born there, depending on their karmic stains, may be ensconced in a calyx for a period during which their evil karma is exhausted, before emerging into the world, born on a lotus flower. Once in the world, they are enveloped in Buddhadharma, facing no obstacles, and are thus able to quickly awaken.

The other-power, in this world, is the 18th vow that beings who call upon Amitabha can attain rebirth in Sukhavati.

Its like entering a garden where all the obstacles of life are eliminated and all factors are designed to be conducive to awakening - the entire realm is Amitabha's upaya. Its not that self-power is eliminated - rather, self-power is enhanced by the absence of obstacles and limitations.
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: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Astus » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:08 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:00 pm
I think it’s pertinent to this thread.
How so? It is a practice. Furthermore, it is a practice about realising that the actual nature of one's mind is pure. It is not a new idea either. See for instance:

'In meditating on one's mind, there is no mind one can seize, except the mind that comes from one’s perverted thought. The mind, present in such a form rises from one’s false imagination. Like the wind in the sky, which has no foothold. Such a form of the law neither appears, nor disappears. What is sin? What is blessedness? As one’s own mind is void of itself, sin and blessedness have no existence. In like manner all the laws are neither fixed nor going towards destruction. If one repents like this, meditating on his mind, there is no mind he can seize the law also does not dwell in the law. All the laws are emancipation, the truth of extinction, and quiescence. Such an aspect is called the great repentance, the greatly adorned repentance, the repentance of the non-sin aspect, and the destruction of discrimination. He who practices this repentance has the purity of body and mind in the law but free as the flowing water.'
(The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue, tr Bunno Kato, p 223)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Matt J » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:53 pm

I don't know, that's pretty much how it was described. Sadly, I lack the encyclopedic knowledge of a Malcolm as Astus and cannot simply produce quotes on command. But the common analogy was like having a bunch of wood for a fire. You could burn it very slowly, through ethical living, or more quickly, through intensive meditation practice. Eventually, you would burn it all up and attain arhatship. However, you "burned it up" by developing insight.

What makes the Theravadan POV a bit unclear is the lack of any sort of alayavijnana that can carry karmic seeds. Rather, the mind was simply a series of states of consciousness. So of course the underlying theory is not going to be the same, but the practical import seems similar.

Now I bet that these teachers would view a Vajrasattva practice with suspicion given the fetter that binds one into believing in the efficacy of rights and rituals. However, as others are saying here, it is not the rites and rituals that purify, it is the practice that the mind engages in that purifies. So I'm not entirely sure it is inconsistent.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:06 am
Extinction of Karma is the point of practice in Theravada. AFAIK in Theravada, you cannot have something like Vajrasattva-style purification, where karmic fruits ripen in a less severe way due to a practice, much less a blessing... you can just eliminate causes. "Eliminate residual karmic impressions" is not quite the same animal as what i'm talking about.

IIRC the las thing I read on this was Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche's books on Karma, but i'd have to dig out a more detailed explanation. It's not the only place I've seen it said.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:02 pm

haha wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:44 am
Let’s suppose someone has done Buddhanusmriti. After sometimes, whenever he hears the name of the Buddha, certain mantel factors will arise without effort. I have remembered that chanting the name of Buddha can purify the vast amount of Karma; it can be explained using buddhist theory as well as non-buddhist theory.

Theravada does not need to purify all karmas. When one becomes Arhants, their all karmas become defunct karma. There will be no cause and condition to mature their past karma after their passing way. For the Mahayana practitioners, it is unavoidable to purify all negative karmas and accumulate positive karmas. Using the Vajrayana method, we can make other karmas to “Immediately effective karma”.
:good:

Appreciating the lucid words on Pure Land teachings in this thread as well.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Queequeg » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:26 pm

Matt J wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:53 pm
I don't know, that's pretty much how it was described. Sadly, I lack the encyclopedic knowledge of a Malcolm as Astus and cannot simply produce quotes on command. But the common analogy was like having a bunch of wood for a fire. You could burn it very slowly, through ethical living, or more quickly, through intensive meditation practice. Eventually, you would burn it all up and attain arhatship. However, you "burned it up" by developing insight.

What makes the Theravadan POV a bit unclear is the lack of any sort of alayavijnana that can carry karmic seeds. Rather, the mind was simply a series of states of consciousness. So of course the underlying theory is not going to be the same, but the practical import seems similar.

Now I bet that these teachers would view a Vajrasattva practice with suspicion given the fetter that binds one into believing in the efficacy of rights and rituals. However, as others are saying here, it is not the rites and rituals that purify, it is the practice that the mind engages in that purifies. So I'm not entirely sure it is inconsistent.
In Theravada - Bhavanga - translated as "life-continuum". Its a citta that functions to connect thought-moments when no other cittas arise. The way its described it kind of sounds like Alayavijnana.

I don't think this changes anything with regard to nirvana in Theravada - ie. cessation and exhaustion of karma.

IIRC, Mahayana goes further than Theravada in the sense that Mahayana also contemplates the elimination of Fundamental Ignorance, which is different than the elimination of ordinary ignorance and karma, and the arising of luminescent wisdom.
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: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Astus » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:22 pm

Matt J wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:53 pm
lack of any sort of alayavijnana that can carry karmic seeds. Rather, the mind was simply a series of states of consciousness.
The idea of seeds (bija) is a Sautrantika one, while the alayavijnana (not identical to bhavanga-citta) is a Yogacara concept. Other schools had other explanations.

Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw (The Workings of Kamma, p 15, n 56) refers to this passage in the Visuddhimagga (XX.96, ATI ed, p 658):

'There is no heap or store of unarisen mentality-materiality [existing] prior to its arising. When it arises, it does not come from any heap or store; and when it ceases, it does not go in any direction. There is nowhere any depository in the way of a heap or store or hoard of what has ceased. But just as there is no store, prior to its arising, of the sound that arises when a lute is played, nor does it come from any store when it arises, nor does it go in any direction when it ceases, nor does it persist as a store when it has ceased (cf. S IV 197), but on the contrary, not having been, it is brought into being owing to the lute, the lute’s neck, and the man’s appropriate effort, and having been, it vanishes—so too all material and immaterial states, not having been, are brought into being, and having been, they vanish.'
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:31 am

Astus wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:02 am
smcj wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:28 am
“Blessings” are what alters karma.
Blessing is a consequence of faith, it is not an external magical power changing people's karma, but a product of one's own devotion.

'The compassion and blessings of the Three Jewels are inconceivable, but nevertheless their ability to reach into us depends entirely on our faith and devotion. If you have immense faith and devotion, the compassion and blessings you receive from your teacher and the Three Jewels will be equally immense. If your faith and devotion are just moderate, the compassion and blessings that reach you will also be moderate. If you have only a little faith and devotion, only a little compassion and blessings will reach you. If you have no faith and devotion at all, you will get absolutely nothing. Without faith, even meeting the Buddha himself and being accepted as his disciple would be quite useless'
(Patrul RInpoche: Words of My Perfect Teacher, p 173)
What is being described here is the importance of doing our part in the process of receiving blessings. The deities do not have the power of unilateral action.
'Whether those blessings enter your being depends not on the object of your devotion but on your own mind. We've all heard the story about the old lady who had incredible faith and devotion toward a dog's tooth, thinking that it was the BUddha's tooth. Though it was just a dog's tooth, she received the Buddha's blessings and attained enlightenment, which was due not to the thooth but entirely to her strong faith and devotion.
The enlightened mind of the buddhas is free of partiality, so whether you receive their blessings or not depends on the strength of your devotion and your dedication to your practice
'
(Penor Rinpoche, in An Ocean of Blessings, p 9)
(underlining mine)
What is being spoken of in here is the omnipresence and availability of blessings.


Both citations are fully supportive of receiving blessings.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clases with the concept of individual karm

Post by Matt J » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:41 am

Thanks. I found this from Gethin:
The bare notion of bhavaṅga consciousness is not unfamiliar to students of Theravāda Buddhism. It has been discussed briefly by a number of writers over the years. However, as with many other basic conceptions of Buddhist thought, if one searches for a straightforward account of just what is said in the Pāli sources, one soon discovers that what is written in the secondary sources is inadequate, at times contradictory and certainly incomplete. Existing discussions of bhavaṅga largely confine themselves to the way bhavaṅga functions in the Abhidhamma theory of the process of consciousness (citta-vīthi). It is pointed out how bhavaṅga is the state in which the mind is said to rest when no active consciousness process is occurring: thus bhavaṅga is one’s state of mind when nothing appears to be going on, such as when one is in a state of deep dreamless
sleep, and also momentarily between each active consciousness process. This is about as far as one can go before running into problems.
https://www.academia.edu/24142507/Bhava ... Abhidhamma

It's interesting because on the reasons that I left Theravada was that they kept talking about experiencing gaps in consciousness, which struck me as odd and oxymoronic.

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:26 pm
In Theravada - Bhavanga - translated as "life-continuum". Its a citta that functions to connect thought-moments when no other cittas arise. The way its described it kind of sounds like Alayavijnana.

I don't think this changes anything with regard to nirvana in Theravada - ie. cessation and exhaustion of karma.

IIRC, Mahayana goes further than Theravada in the sense that Mahayana also contemplates the elimination of Fundamental Ignorance, which is different than the elimination of ordinary ignorance and karma, and the arising of luminescent wisdom.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by haha » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:38 am

It may be useful here while talking about karma.
There are two ways of seeing the event of Buddha Shakyamuni passing away in Kushinagar. One is from the point of view of the shravakas, the listeners to the teachings, and the other is from the point of the vast-minded Mahayana practitioners....

When the Buddha was still practicing on the paths, still requiring training, he took many rebirths and there’s a description of 500 rebirths in pure forms and 500 rebirths in impure forms. These 500 impure births were in non-human forms, and one of them was a rebirth as a very large ape. At that time, there were hunters who were after all the forest animals. As all the animals were running away from the hunters, this large ape, who was a previous life of the Buddha, saw a stream. He put his feet on one margin, reached out over the stream and, putting his arms on the other margin, formed a bridge so that the deer and the other forest creatures could cross over and escape the hunters. After all the animals had passed over, the ape looked back and saw there was one tiny baby creature that was still hopping along, so he waited until this last animal had crossed over. All this traffic of animals with very sharp hooves, like deer and so forth running over him, had eaten away the ape’s back, causing it a great deal of damage. His body was in a terrible state and was of no more use, and so he let go, fell into the stream and died.

Later, when the Buddha was reborn as Shakyamuni, he had many, many disciples whom he led to various states of realization and attainment. When the Buddha was about to pass away, he noticed there was this one non-Buddhist left who still had the karma to be a disciple of his and attain realizations. So the Buddha blessed his life span to be one month longer in order to be able to teach this last disciple. After this one month extension of his life, he went to Kushinagar and passed away. The reason for this was that this last disciple was that baby forest creature that had been left behind after all the other animals had crossed the stream, and who still had the karma to pass over the bridge of the Buddha, the ape. So he still had the karma to be a disciple of the Buddha and this account came about because of that.

Examples of the Laws of Karma

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:06 am

Queequeg wrote:In Theravada - Bhavanga - translated as "life-continuum". Its a citta that functions to connect thought-moments when no other cittas arise.
I’m a bit dubious about that. Have you encountered William Waldron’s book The Buddhist Unconscious? It’s a dense academic book, but one of the themes it lays out, is the development of such ideas over the course of centuries. ‘This is the story of fifth century CE India, when the Yogacarin Buddhists tested the awareness of unawareness, and became aware of human unawareness to an extraordinary degree. They not only explicitly differentiated this dimension of mental processes from conscious cognitive processes, but also offered reasoned arguments on behalf of this dimension of mind. ‘ Waldron details how it was inability to explain the continuity between lives that was the motivation for the development of the Alayavijnana, for which I don’t think there’s an analogy in Theravada.

Compare to Bikkhu Thanisarro’s comments on The Pabhassara Sutta which indicates the Theravada view.
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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:12 am

Astus wrote:just as there is no store, prior to its arising, of the sound that arises when a lute is played, nor does it come from any store when it arises, nor does it go in any direction when it ceases, nor does it persist as a store when it has ceased (cf. S IV 197), but on the contrary, not having been, it is brought into being owing to the lute, the lute’s neck, and the man’s appropriate effort, and having been, it vanishes—so too all material and immaterial states, not having been, are brought into being, and having been, they vanish.'
At risk of complicating the issue even further - one could argue that, so long as a lute string is maintained at a particular tension, then it will always produce a sound at a certain pitch, regardless of whether any particular lute exists, or not. So whilst it is true that the sound produced by a particular lute will cease once that lute is put away, there will always be a real potential for such note to be sounded when a lute-string is plucked, as the same conditions will always give rise to the same effects. (Apologies if my Platonism is showing :emb: .)
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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Astus » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:31 am

smcj wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:31 am
Both citations are fully supportive of receiving blessings.
Sure, receiving blessings is one of the primary methods in Vajrayana. The point is, however, that blessings do not come from an external source.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Theravadan critique - absolving karma through Bodhisattvas (other power?) clashes with the concept of individual kar

Post by Astus » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:36 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:12 am
the same conditions will always give rise to the same effects.
However, conditions change, hence effects change. Furthermore, the lute simile is used for the entire set of nama-rupa, and there is nothing beyond nama-rupa. This absence of a substratum beyond nama-rupa is one of the key points of the referenced section, and in relation to karma it's meant to demonstrate the lack of any karma carrier.
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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