Four Dharma Seals

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weitsicht
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Four Dharma Seals

Post by weitsicht » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:12 am

Taken from the Aro Authenticity Debate viewtopic.php?f=49&t=27652&p=431249&hil ... ls#p431249
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:35 pm
Karma Dorje said it already and so did I: If it conforms to the Four Dharma Seals then it is Dharma. Whether well-spoken or not. Fun or not. Brocaded or not.
What are the Four Dharma Seals?
How can they be depicted?
Who authenticates them??
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:18 am

weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:12 am
Taken from the Aro Authenticity Debate viewtopic.php?f=49&t=27652&p=431249&hil ... ls#p431249
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:35 pm
Karma Dorje said it already and so did I: If it conforms to the Four Dharma Seals then it is Dharma. Whether well-spoken or not. Fun or not. Brocaded or not.
What are the Four Dharma Seals?
How can they be depicted?
Who authenticates them??
https://www.lionsroar.com/buddhism-nuts ... ls-dharma/

Depicted?

What do you mean: who authenticates them?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

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

Simon E.
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Simon E. » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:27 am

And there we have it.

I received a request to desist from the Aro thread or conform to someone else's idea of how to discuss the topic and being an obliging fellow I have and will desist, although the request did not come from a mod.

But I will say this, I would not support even in a passive way a teacher whose teaching contradicted the Four Dharma Seals.

Which is why I have no problem with certain controversial teachers and do have a problem with others.

Of course, the fact that certain teachers do conform to the Four Dharma Seals and teach them eloquently can be obscured if they wear wacky clothes and pretty much do their own thing in terms of style.

And that will be my only contribution to this thread. Guaranteed 100%
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by PeterC » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:38 am

They are commonly depicted like this
IMG_0010.JPG
IMG_0010.JPG (26.26 KiB) Viewed 1108 times

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:22 pm

Let's keep meta-discussion to an absolute minimum please. Thanks.
"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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weitsicht
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by weitsicht » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm

Thanks for the reference, Greg. Good read.

As for the contradiction you mention, Simon, I don't understand. But maybe I don't need to.

Since Dharma expressed through anything else than a conscious stream needs to make use of language or other dualistic means, I think it leaves immediately room for subjectivity, interpretation or opinion. That makes me now totally understand what this whole fuss in the other thread is about.
Hence Authentification impossible. It is left upon one's own scrunity.

Just for those readers who do not want to click to or read Greg's link above. Here are the Four Dharma Seals
(1) All compounded things are impermanent.
(2) All emotions are painful.
(3) All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence.
(4) Nirvana is beyond extremes.

DJKR in the same article: you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism.
beautiful.

I remember a webcast by Yuttadhammo Bhikku, he was asked about a quote in which the Buddha used the "I" about talking of himself. And the user wondered why the Buddha could talk in this dualistic way. So Bhikku was explaining, pity that I don't find this recording, about applying dualistic means of expression to approach nondualistic meaning.
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by PeterC » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:49 pm

weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm

DJKR in the same article: you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism.
beautiful.
If you haven’t read it, DJKR’s book “What makes you not a Buddhist” is about the four dharma seals.
Last edited by Grigoris on Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed metadiscussion

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Simon E. » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:58 pm

weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm
Thanks for the reference, Greg. Good read.

As for the contradiction you mention, Simon, I don't understand. But maybe I don't need to.

Since Dharma expressed through anything else than a conscious stream needs to make use of language or other dualistic means, I think it leaves immediately room for subjectivity, interpretation or opinion. That makes me now totally understand what this whole fuss in the other thread is about.
Hence Authentification impossible. It is left upon one's own scrunity.

Just for those readers who do not want to click to or read Greg's link above. Here are the Four Dharma Seals
(1) All compounded things are impermanent.
(2) All emotions are painful.
(3) All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence.
(4) Nirvana is beyond extremes.

DJKR in the same article: you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism.
beautiful.

I remember a webcast by Yuttadhammo Bhikku, he was asked about a quote in which the Buddha used the "I" about talking of himself. And the user wondered why the Buddha could talk in this dualistic way. So Bhikku was explaining, pity that I don't find this recording, about applying dualistic means of expression to approach nondualistic meaning.
To put it more clearly ( I hope). I would not give a teacher support in any sense if she/he taught that;

Some compounded things are permanent.
Some emotions are free from pain.
Some phenomena have inherent existence
And Nirvana is found in duality.

There are 'Buddhist' groups that teach at least one of the above. 'Dark Zen' being one example of such a group.
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Mantrik » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:20 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:58 pm
weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm
Thanks for the reference, Greg. Good read.

As for the contradiction you mention, Simon, I don't understand. But maybe I don't need to.

Since Dharma expressed through anything else than a conscious stream needs to make use of language or other dualistic means, I think it leaves immediately room for subjectivity, interpretation or opinion. That makes me now totally understand what this whole fuss in the other thread is about.
Hence Authentification impossible. It is left upon one's own scrunity.

Just for those readers who do not want to click to or read Greg's link above. Here are the Four Dharma Seals
(1) All compounded things are impermanent.
(2) All emotions are painful.
(3) All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence.
(4) Nirvana is beyond extremes.

DJKR in the same article: you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism.
beautiful.

I remember a webcast by Yuttadhammo Bhikku, he was asked about a quote in which the Buddha used the "I" about talking of himself. And the user wondered why the Buddha could talk in this dualistic way. So Bhikku was explaining, pity that I don't find this recording, about applying dualistic means of expression to approach nondualistic meaning.
To put it more clearly ( I hope). I would not give a teacher support in any sense if she/he taught that;

Some compounded things are permanent.
Some emotions are free from pain.
Some phenomena have inherent existence
And Nirvana is found in duality.

There are 'Buddhist' groups that teach at least one of the above. 'Dark Zen' being one example of such a group.
Blimey, they've not been mentioned for a while.

Seems pretty clear to me, too.

In my innocence I think 'well spoken' as a phrase would mean in accordance with the 4 Dharma Seals. The opposite is ill-spoken, aDharmic, and to be rejected.

You used a term entirely correctly, to speak against is to 'contra dict', and teachers whose teachings and actions contradict the Dharma are to be avoided and people considering following them advised of 'caveat emptor'.

Odd that people are all saying much the same thing and yet can argue for hours over it.
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Simon E. » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:55 pm

Odd indeed. :smile:

'Dark Zen' is very much still around, although under a number of names. It's founder still turns up on Buddhist forums under different nicks, I don't think he has graced this forum with his presence for a while....
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Jeff H » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:03 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:18 am
weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:12 am
What are the Four Dharma Seals?
https://www.lionsroar.com/buddhism-nuts ... ls-dharma/
I didn't read the Aro thread, but I just want to say I really liked this DKR article. It's so nice to hear the basics unpacked simply and profoundly. Not to mention this little gem within it, about the three turnings:
DKR wrote:The Buddha taught three different approaches on three separate occasions. These are known as The Three Turnings of the Wheel, but they can be summed up in a single phrase: “Mind; there is no mind; mind is luminosity.”

The first, “Mind,” refers to the first set of teachings and shows that the Buddha taught that there is a “mind.” This was to dispel the nihilistic view that there is no heaven, no hell, no cause and effect. Then, when the Buddha said, “There is no mind,” he meant that mind is just a concept and that there is no such thing as a truly existing mind. Finally, when he said, “Mind is luminous,” he was referring to buddhanature, the undeluded or primordially existing wisdom.

The great commentator Nagarjuna said that the purpose of the first turning was to get rid of non-virtue. Where does the non-virtue come from? It comes from being either eternalist or nihilist. So in order to put an end to non-virtuous deeds and thoughts, the Buddha gave his first teaching. The second turning of the Dharma-wheel, when the Buddha spoke about emptiness, was presented in order to dispel clinging to a “truly existent self” and to “truly existent phenomena.” Finally, the teachings of the third turning were given to dispel all views, even the view of no-self. The Buddha’s three sets of teaching do not seek to introduce something new; their purpose is simply to clear away confusion.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:12 pm

weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:12 am
Taken from the Aro Authenticity Debate viewtopic.php?f=49&t=27652&p=431249&hil ... ls#p431249
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:35 pm
Karma Dorje said it already and so did I: If it conforms to the Four Dharma Seals then it is Dharma. Whether well-spoken or not. Fun or not. Brocaded or not.
What are the Four Dharma Seals?
How can they be depicted?
Who authenticates them??
Hinayāna scriptures do not talk about the four "seals" at all. They do have a regular list of three itemse which excludes nirvana:

All formations ('du byed, samskara) are impermanent.
All formations are suffering.
All phenomena lack a self.


In its earliest usage in Mahāyāna Sūtras, the so called "four seals" were termed the four summaries of the Dharma (chos kyi mdo bzhi), and took the following form:

All formations are impermanent.
All formations are suffering.
All phenomena lack a self.
Nirvana is peaceful.


The term the "four seals" comes from the Korean Master Won Chuk's commentary on the Samdhinirmocana Sūtra. He identifies several sources for them, but specifically, the Mahāyānasutrālaṃkāra is the source for the term phyag rgya. However the term "seal" is not a direct translation, and in my opinion has lead to some confusion.

The term dharmoddānacatuṣṭayaṃ was translated into Chinese, from there into Tibetan as chos kyi phyag rgya bzhi in Wong Chuk's treatise. When translated directly from Sanskrit to Tibetan, it is chos kyi sdom ni rnam pa bzhi, i.e. the four constraints of the Dharma.

In reality, we have two terms used in Mahāyāna texts: 1) the four summaries of the Dharma and the four constraints of the Dharma, that latter coming from Mahāyānasutrālaṃkāra.

In my opinion, the term "four constraints" is more useful than "four seals," 1) because it shows us not how this or that teaching should be authenticated as a Dharma teachings with some seal of imprimatur, but rather, within what constraints a Dharma teaching should fall. 2) "Constraint" more accurately reflects the underlying original meaning of the term uddāna because it is derived from Sanskrit-->English, rather than the Sanskrit-->Chinese-->Tibetan-->English. Also, constraint/restraint is a widely accepted usage for translating the term sdom pa in this context.

Going forward, I suggest that we drop the usage "four seals of the Dharma" since it is misleading and not accurate.

Finally, in some presentations the second constraint is listed as "All that is contaminated is suffering," but surprisingly, it is very uncommon in this list which is mentioned through out Mahāyāna sūtras in many places. The reading above is the most common in the Sūtras. In one or two places you see "empty" attached to the third constraint, as in "All phenomena are empty and without a self."
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Quay » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm

Thank you for the explanation of where the word seals came from in this context. I had no idea came through such a long journey through several languages. Constraint does seem to be a much better word. I have to think about this for a bit myself.
"Knowledge is as infinite as the stars in the sky;
There is no end to all the subjects one could study.
It is better to grasp straight away their very essence--
The unchanging fortress of the Dharmakaya."

– Longchenpa.

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Malcolm
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:00 pm

Quay wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm
Thank you for the explanation of where the word seals came from in this context. I had no idea came through such a long journey through several languages. Constraint does seem to be a much better word. I have to think about this for a bit myself.
Neither did I until I looked it up in the bKa' 'gyur and bstan 'gyur last night. There are all kinds of received ideas we do not question.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Quay
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Quay » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:00 pm
... There are all kinds of received ideas we do not question.
No kidding! Or as it is put today, #Truth.

And in the context of the thread I try to keep in mind the many versions of the last reported words of Shakyamuni Buddha. To me they all say that in the end everyone has to figure it out for yourself and it will require some work.
"Knowledge is as infinite as the stars in the sky;
There is no end to all the subjects one could study.
It is better to grasp straight away their very essence--
The unchanging fortress of the Dharmakaya."

– Longchenpa.

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Fa Dao
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Fa Dao » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:12 pm
weitsicht wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:12 am
Taken from the Aro Authenticity Debate viewtopic.php?f=49&t=27652&p=431249&hil ... ls#p431249
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:35 pm
Karma Dorje said it already and so did I: If it conforms to the Four Dharma Seals then it is Dharma. Whether well-spoken or not. Fun or not. Brocaded or not.
What are the Four Dharma Seals?
How can they be depicted?
Who authenticates them??
Hinayāna scriptures do not talk about the four "seals" at all. They do have a regular list of three itemse which excludes nirvana:

All formations ('du byed, samskara) are impermanent.
All formations are suffering.
All phenomena lack a self.


In its earliest usage in Mahāyāna Sūtras, the so called "four seals" were termed the four summaries of the Dharma (chos kyi mdo bzhi), and took the following form:

All formations are impermanent.
All formations are suffering.
All phenomena lack a self.
Nirvana is peaceful.


The term the "four seals" comes from the Korean Master Won Chuk's commentary on the Samdhinirmocana Sūtra. He identifies several sources for them, but specifically, the Mahāyānasutrālaṃkāra is the source for the term phyag rgya. However the term "seal" is not a direct translation, and in my opinion has lead to some confusion.

The term dharmoddānacatuṣṭayaṃ was translated into Chinese, from there into Tibetan as chos kyi phyag rgya bzhi in Wong Chuk's treatise. When translated directly from Sanskrit to Tibetan, it is chos kyi sdom ni rnam pa bzhi, i.e. the four constraints of the Dharma.

In reality, we have two terms used in Mahāyāna texts: 1) the four summaries of the Dharma and the four constraints of the Dharma, that latter coming from Mahāyānasutrālaṃkāra.

In my opinion, the term "four constraints" is more useful than "four seals," 1) because it shows us not how this or that teaching should be authenticated as a Dharma teachings with some seal of imprimatur, but rather, within what constraints a Dharma teaching should fall. 2) "Constraint" more accurately reflects the underlying original meaning of the term uddāna because it is derived from Sanskrit-->English, rather than the Sanskrit-->Chinese-->Tibetan-->English. Also, constraint/restraint is a widely accepted usage for translating the term sdom pa in this context.

Going forward, I suggest that we drop the usage "four seals of the Dharma" since it is misleading and not accurate.

Finally, in some presentations the second constraint is listed as "All that is contaminated is suffering," but surprisingly, it is very uncommon in this list which is mentioned through out Mahāyāna sūtras in many places. The reading above is the most common in the Sūtras. In one or two places you see "empty" attached to the third constraint, as in "All phenomena are empty and without a self."
wow...holy shit...this is actually incredibly groundbreaking stuff Malcolm...perhaps you should think of writing an article for a major Buddhist journal just on this? Sometimes its a good thing to shake the orthodxy tree and see what falls out eh?
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:36 pm

No no no
Annica/Anitya
anatta/Anatman
dukkha/duhkha
Nibbana/nirvana

Emotion has nothing to do with it. All phenomena ultimately fail. Only in seeing beyond the phenomena can you see beyond its failure.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

Simon E.
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:05 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:36 pm
No no no
Annica/Anitya
anatta/Anatman
dukkha/duhkha
Nibbana/nirvana

Emotion has nothing to do with it. All phenomena ultimately fail. Only in seeing beyond the phenomena can you see beyond its failure.
I am unclear what point you are making..Who or what is this addressed to?
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:38 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:00 pm
Quay wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm
Thank you for the explanation of where the word seals came from in this context. I had no idea came through such a long journey through several languages. Constraint does seem to be a much better word. I have to think about this for a bit myself.
Neither did I until I looked it up in the bKa' 'gyur and bstan 'gyur last night. There are all kinds of received ideas we do not question.
The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism lists 三印 ("the three seals") as a translation of tridṛṣṭinamittamudrā (or phyag rgya gsum) specifically in the case of T 262.9.15b7 (妙法蓮華經, Ven Kumārajīva translation). Very interesting.

It should be noted that these "three seals" from T262 include nirvana but exclude suffering.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

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Malcolm
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Re: Four Dharma Seals

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:06 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:34 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:00 pm
Quay wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm
Thank you for the explanation of where the word seals came from in this context. I had no idea came through such a long journey through several languages. Constraint does seem to be a much better word. I have to think about this for a bit myself.
Neither did I until I looked it up in the bKa' 'gyur and bstan 'gyur last night. There are all kinds of received ideas we do not question.
The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism lists 三印 ("the three seals") as a translation of tridṛṣṭinamittamudrā specifically in the case of T 262.9.15b7 (妙法蓮華經, Ven Kumārajīva translation). Very interesting.
Sounds like a reconstruction to me.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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