Words, characters, syllables & liberation

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Astus
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Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Astus »

[mod note: topic split from here viewtopic.php?p=541014#p541014 ]
jake wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:42 pm
Vimalakirtinirdesa (Kumarajiva's translation) wrote:"Letters all have the mark of liberation. Why is that? Liberation is not inside, not outside, nor in between the two. Letters are also not inside, not outside, nor in between the two. For that reason, Sariputra, liberation is taught without leaving behind letters. Why is that? Because all dharmas have the mark of liberation." (trans. Takagi + Dreitlein, 2011 pp81)
Tricky translation. From the context it is clear that the goddess refers to Sariputra's silence, not writing. Kumarajiva translates as 言說文字 what is akṣaram udāharati (Tib.: yi ger brjod pa), that is "spoken characters".

McRae (BDK ed, p 128):
'Speech and words are entirely the characteristics of emancipation. Why? Emancipation is neither internal, nor external, nor intermediate. Words are also neither internal, nor external, nor intermediate. Therefore, Śāriputra, the explanation of emancipation does not transcend words. Why? All dharmas have the characteristic of emancipation.'

Watson (Motilal Banarsidass ed., p 88):
'Words, writing, all are marks of emancipation. Why? Because emancipation is not internal, not external, and not in between. And words likewise are not internal, not external, and not in between. Therefore, Shariputra, you can speak of emancipation without putting words aside. Why? Because all things that exist are marks of emancipation.'

Thurman:
'All the syllables pronounced by the elder have the nature of liberation. Why? Liberation is neither internal nor external, nor can it be apprehended apart from them. Likewise, syllables are neither internal nor external, nor can they be apprehended anywhere else. Therefore, reverend Śāriputra, do not point to liberation by abandoning speech! Why? The holy liberation is the equality of all things!'
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: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by LastLegend »

Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:18 pm Watson (Motilal Banarsidass ed., p 88):
'Words, writing, all are marks of emancipation. Why? Because emancipation is not internal, not external, and not in between. And words likewise are not internal, not external, and not in between. Therefore, Shariputra, you can speak of emancipation without putting words aside. Why? Because all things that exist are marks of emancipation.'
No contest there. It’s just a personal assumption that people are stuck. Continuous dialogue between my teacher and I revolve around that me asking questions and making a sweep assumption on individuals from here. It’s not that the passage isn’t correct.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

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Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:43 am The problem starts at the very definition of such a term [i.e. 'true nature']. Most seem to skip that problem by delegating the definition to the realm of the mystical and relying on a mythical lineage of transmission of the ineffable, thus all authority on deciding whether one has "seen the nature" lies with whoever is nominated as a representative of that lineage.
The unique point about such religious/spiritual insights is that their attainment/realisation is not something objectively verifiable. Insight is something that has to be attained or realised by the aspirant. There's no really objective measure, like the replication of an experimental setup that produces a result that anyone can then see. That's why the authentication has to be carried out intuitively by a designated lineage holder.

All of this goes against the grain of liberalism; I'm reminded of a passage from Dr. Conze:
as far as worthwhile knowledge is concerned not all men are equal, but...there is a hierarchy of persons, some of whom, through what they are, can know much more than others; that there is a hierarchy also of the levels of reality, some of which are more "real," because more exalted than others; and that the wise men of old have found a wisdom which is true, although it has no empirical basis in observations which can be made by everyone and everybody; and that in fact there is a rare and unordinary faculty in some..by which direct contact with actual reality can be attained through Prajñāpāramitā.
Buddhist Philosophy and its European Parallels.

All such hierarchies (and their associated hierophanies) are vigorously rejected by liberal capitalism.

Malcolm wrote:"Before and after the Buddha passed the heart with the heart. No writing."
:thumbsup:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by LastLegend »

Wayfarer wrote: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:35 am
Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:43 am The problem starts at the very definition of such a term [i.e. 'true nature']. Most seem to skip that problem by delegating the definition to the realm of the mystical and relying on a mythical lineage of transmission of the ineffable, thus all authority on deciding whether one has "seen the nature" lies with whoever is nominated as a representative of that lineage.
The unique point about such religious/spiritual insights is that their attainment/realisation is not something objectively verifiable. Insight is something that has to be attained or realised by the aspirant. There's no really objective measure, like the replication of an experimental setup that produces a result that anyone can then see. That's why the authentication has to be carried out intuitively by a designated lineage holder.

All of this goes against the grain of liberalism; I'm reminded of a passage from Dr. Conze:
as far as worthwhile knowledge is concerned not all men are equal, but...there is a hierarchy of persons, some of whom, through what they are, can know much more than others; that there is a hierarchy also of the levels of reality, some of which are more "real," because more exalted than others; and that the wise men of old have found a wisdom which is true, although it has no empirical basis in observations which can be made by everyone and everybody; and that in fact there is a rare and unordinary faculty in some..by which direct contact with actual reality can be attained through Prajñāpāramitā.
Buddhist Philosophy and its European Parallels.

All such hierarchies (and their associated hierophanies) are vigorously rejected by liberal capitalism.

Malcolm wrote:"Before and after the Buddha passed the heart with the heart. No writing."
:thumbsup:
If my assumption is correct, most people on here are familiar with a clear state. We are pretty equal here as peer in that respect, but some might have samadhi some still struggle (like myself). That’s for each individual to know. I am running a risk of being a loud mouth on internet and trouble can seek me.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Malcolm »

Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:18 pm akṣaram udāharati (Tib.: yi ger brjod pa), that is "spoken characters".
Expressed in syllables.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Malcolm »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:47 pm
Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:18 pm akṣaram udāharati (Tib.: yi ger brjod pa), that is "spoken characters".
Expressed in syllables.
Just to add a note, a syllable is different than a "character."
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Astus »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:13 pm Just to add a note, a syllable is different than a "character."
It was meant as an approximation of the Chinese translation.
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: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Malcolm »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:25 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:13 pm Just to add a note, a syllable is different than a "character."
It was meant as an approximation of the Chinese translation.
You gave the Sanskrit and the Tibetan. There are no "characters" in either language.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Astus »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:20 pmYou gave the Sanskrit and the Tibetan. There are no "characters" in either language.
It was intended as further reference to clarify what was translated as "letters" in Jake's post. The Vimalakirti Sutra has 言說文字 that consists of "spoken" (yanshou 言說) and "character" (wenzi 文字), and the latter is "literature/writing" (wen 文) plus "letter/character/word" (zi 字). This was simply translated as "letter" in the quote. Furthermore, in the quote from Kukai's work "letter" is a translation for zi 字, what Giebel renders as "sign" (in Shingon Texts, p 85). But clearly there is a difference here, as the Vimalakirt Sutra actually talks of speech, while Kukai really means writing.
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: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Malcolm »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:54 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:20 pmYou gave the Sanskrit and the Tibetan. There are no "characters" in either language.
It was intended as further reference to clarify what was translated as "letters" in Jake's post. The Vimalakirti Sutra has 言說文字 that consists of "spoken" (yanshou 言說) and "character" (wenzi 文字), and the latter is "literature/writing" (wen 文) plus "letter/character/word" (zi 字). This was simply translated as "letter" in the quote. Furthermore, in the quote from Kukai's work "letter" is a translation for zi 字, what Giebel renders as "sign" (in Shingon Texts, p 85). But clearly there is a difference here, as the Vimalakirt Sutra actually talks of speech, while Kukai really means writing.
Indeed, but a syllable is neither a letter nor a character.
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Caoimhghín »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:04 pm
Astus wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:54 pm
Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:20 pmYou gave the Sanskrit and the Tibetan. There are no "characters" in either language.
It was intended as further reference to clarify what was translated as "letters" in Jake's post. The Vimalakirti Sutra has 言說文字 that consists of "spoken" (yanshou 言說) and "character" (wenzi 文字), and the latter is "literature/writing" (wen 文) plus "letter/character/word" (zi 字). This was simply translated as "letter" in the quote. Furthermore, in the quote from Kukai's work "letter" is a translation for zi 字, what Giebel renders as "sign" (in Shingon Texts, p 85). But clearly there is a difference here, as the Vimalakirt Sutra actually talks of speech, while Kukai really means writing.
Indeed, but a syllable is neither a letter nor a character.
I'm not going to quote out of it, because it's possibly a restricted text, but look at what the Vairocanasūtra uses for "bīja" when describing its mantras: 字. So it seems that while syllables mightn't be 'characters,' they might be as well in certain contexts. Similarly, monosyllabic mantric utterances are represented by one "character" of siddhaṁ script, or whichever other script you are using. So there actually are characters in Sanskrit, inasmuch that Sanskrit is written down. This one is "vu:" वु.
Last edited by Caoimhghín on Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by humble.student »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:35 am
Malcolm wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:04 pm
Astus wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:54 pm

It was intended as further reference to clarify what was translated as "letters" in Jake's post. The Vimalakirti Sutra has 言說文字 that consists of "spoken" (yanshou 言說) and "character" (wenzi 文字), and the latter is "literature/writing" (wen 文) plus "letter/character/word" (zi 字). This was simply translated as "letter" in the quote. Furthermore, in the quote from Kukai's work "letter" is a translation for zi 字, what Giebel renders as "sign" (in Shingon Texts, p 85). But clearly there is a difference here, as the Vimalakirt Sutra actually talks of speech, while Kukai really means writing.
Indeed, but a syllable is neither a letter nor a character.
I'm not going to quote out of it, because it's possibly a restricted text, but look at what the Vairocanasūtra uses for "bīja" when describing its mantras: 字. So it seems that while syllables mightn't be 'characters,' they might be as well in certain contexts. Similarly, monosyllabic mantric utterances are represented by one "character" of siddhaṁ script, or whichever other script you are using.
Syllables are neither letters nor characters, but characters 字 are indeed syllables...
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Caoimhghín »

humble.student wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:40 am Syllables are neither letters nor characters, but characters 字 are indeed syllables...
They can actually be both. This is a syllable: बो. It is also a letter and a character.

I should contextualize myself a bit instead of just asserting.

When we see "comb," we could say, "That is a C, and an O, and an M," etc., or we could say "That is 'comb,'" and simply say what the letters spell. In this case, "comb" is both a syllable and a series of four letters/characters. In the case of the English word "I," the first person pronoun, it is both a character and a syllable, much like the indefinite article, "a."

In most of the writing systems Sanskrit is commonly in, each character is more or less syllabic.

बु द्धं श र णं ग च्छा मि
bu ddhaṁ śa ra ṇaṁ ga cchā mi
Last edited by Caoimhghín on Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by Malcolm »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:41 am
humble.student wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:40 am Syllables are neither letters nor characters, but characters 字 are indeed syllables...
They can actually be both. This is a syllable: बो. It is also a letter and a character.
Akṣara means unalterable, as you know, and refers to a unit of sound.

We translate this term as "syllable" as a convention, because a syllable is a unit of pronunciation.

The written character for an akṣara is incidental, and can take any form, such as A, 𑀅, आ, ཨ, etc.

When we see a phrase like "akṣaram udāharati (Tib.: yi ger brjod pa)" we have to understand we are taking about units of speech, not units of writing.
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Re: Words, characters, syllables & liberation

Post by SteRo »

Astus wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:18 pm [mod note: topic split from here viewtopic.php?p=541014#p541014 ]
jake wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:42 pm
Vimalakirtinirdesa (Kumarajiva's translation) wrote:"... For that reason, Sariputra, liberation is taught without leaving behind letters. ..." (trans. Takagi + Dreitlein, 2011 pp81)
...

McRae (BDK ed, p 128):
'...Therefore, Śāriputra, the explanation of emancipation does not transcend words. ...'

Watson (Motilal Banarsidass ed., p 88):
'...Therefore, Shariputra, you can speak of emancipation without putting words aside. ...'

Thurman:
'... Therefore, reverend Śāriputra, do not point to liberation by abandoning speech! ...'
Teaching liberation is the business of Buddha exclusively - regardless of words being used or not.
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