Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

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Yuren
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Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:57 pm

A dispute arose in Chinese Buddhism with regard to whether insentient beings possess a Buddha nature, but the view that Buddhahood exists as a potential in all things and phenomena prevailed in China. This idea also became widespread in Japan. (See also enlightenment of plants.)
I am very interested in this teaching of "Buddha-nature of insentient beings" - my question is, is it exclusive to China (and by extension, Korea & Japan)?Is there anything close to this teaching to be found in any school of Tibetan Buddhism or in any Indian text?

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Aryjna
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Aryjna » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:10 pm

Rocks are insentient beings. It doesn't seem like the question applies at all in their case. There must be some more context on the matter.

Yuren
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:30 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:10 pm
Rocks are insentient beings. It doesn't seem like the question applies at all in their case. There must be some more context on the matter.
Yes. And rocks have Buddha-nature according to that view. The view was/is not a fringe view in China.
Last edited by Yuren on Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:42 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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passel
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by passel » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:38 pm

I’d bet it would be because rocks don’t have minds. Isn’t though the buddha nature of the insentient just a function of their having the 3 marks?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

Yuren
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:44 pm

I just found the answer to my own question, it seems it is indeed an innovation that is uniquely Chinese, at least if we believe Robert H. Sharf:
the extension of buddha-nature to the insentient was a distinctively
Chinese innovation. It is, in short, a conveniently discrete and perhaps paradigmatic
specimen of "sinification."
Taken from: http://www.buddhism.org/?p=988

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passel
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by passel » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:32 pm

Academic treatments of Tung-shan/ Dongshan Liangje usually get into it; he’s usually credited w bringing that doctrine into zen
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Aryjna
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Aryjna » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:46 pm

In the relative a rock is a rock, it cannot attain buddhahood as a sentient being can. So perhaps rocks having buddha nature is meant in a slightly different sense.

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passel
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by passel » Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:15 pm

To Dogen, rocks ARE the buddha nature- although that seems to be his particular enrichment of that doctrine
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Tenma » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:44 am

Don't confuse Shintoism with Buddhism. While Shintoism believes that everything(your table, chair, tree, rock, mountain, robe, bucket, pot, road, etc.) has a kami(spirit/"god") and is considered alive. Abandon any old possessions, and the belief is that the spirit of this object will come back to haunt you. Shinto ideas are not to be confused with Buddhism nor Jainism where living things are alive(while Jains have plants and microscopic life added on to this category as well).

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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:33 am

Not kami. This is a wholly different teaching that came from China. Might have been conflated in Japan later.
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

Yuren
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:34 am

passel wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:15 pm
To Dogen, rocks ARE the buddha nature- although that seems to be his particular enrichment of that doctrine
Yeah, I love that. - But the more I research it, the more it seems that doctrine cannot be traced to the Indian roots.
Which is a big problem for those who want to LARP as orthodox (ie. completely consistent with earlier Indian Buddhism).
It seems that those views have a more Sinitic source - I am not really sure where to trace it to, but I suspect the Zhuangzi:
Master Tung-kuo asked Chuang Tzu, "This thing called the Way-where does it exist?"
Chuang Tzu said, "There's no place it doesn't exist."
"Come," said Master Tung-kuo, "you must be more specific!"
"It is in the ant."
"As low a thing as that?"
"It is in the panic grass."
"But that's lower still!"
"It is in the tiles and shards."
"How can it be so low?"
"It is in the piss and shit."

Yuren
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:35 am

Tenma wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:44 am
Don't confuse Shintoism with Buddhism. While Shintoism believes that everything(your table, chair, tree, rock, mountain, robe, bucket, pot, road, etc.) has a kami(spirit/"god") and is considered alive. Abandon any old possessions, and the belief is that the spirit of this object will come back to haunt you. Shinto ideas are not to be confused with Buddhism nor Jainism where living things are alive(while Jains have plants and microscopic life added on to this category as well).
So are you implying this is just my "confusion" and not a big part of Chinese Buddhist history including Tiantai masters like Zhanran? Seriously?

Yuren
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:50 am

Yuren wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:34 am
passel wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:15 pm
To Dogen, rocks ARE the buddha nature- although that seems to be his particular enrichment of that doctrine
Yeah, I love that. - But the more I research it, the more it seems that doctrine cannot be traced to the Indian roots.
Which is a big problem for those who want to LARP as orthodox (ie. completely consistent with earlier Indian Buddhism).
It seems that those views have a more Sinitic source - I am not really sure where to trace it to, but I suspect the Zhuangzi:
Master Tung-kuo asked Chuang Tzu, "This thing called the Way-where does it exist?"
Chuang Tzu said, "There's no place it doesn't exist."
"Come," said Master Tung-kuo, "you must be more specific!"
"It is in the ant."
"As low a thing as that?"
"It is in the panic grass."
"But that's lower still!"
"It is in the tiles and shards."
"How can it be so low?"
"It is in the piss and shit."
Actually, I was perhaps a bit too hasty when I said "cannot be traced to the Indian roots".
I'd love to be proven wrong. Here's my attempt to prove myself wrong, quoting the Nirvana Sutra:
Even though he has said that all phenomena [dharmas] are devoid of the Self, it is not that
they are completely/ truly devoid of the Self. What is this Self? Any phenomenon [dharma] that
is true [satya], real [tattva], eternal [nitya], sovereign/ autonomous/ self-governing [aisvarya], and
whose ground/ foundation is unchanging [asraya-aviparinama] , is termed 'the Self [atman]. This
is as in the case of the great Doctor who well understands the milk medicine. The same is the
case with the Tathagata. For the sake of beings, he says "there is the Self in all things" O you
the four classes! Learn Dharma thus!"

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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by PeterC » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:15 am

Yuren wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:50 am
Actually, I was perhaps a bit too hasty when I said "cannot be traced to the Indian roots".
I'd love to be proven wrong. Here's my attempt to prove myself wrong, quoting the Nirvana Sutra:
Even though he has said that all phenomena [dharmas] are devoid of the Self, it is not that
they are completely/ truly devoid of the Self. What is this Self? Any phenomenon [dharma] that
is true [satya], real [tattva], eternal [nitya], sovereign/ autonomous/ self-governing [aisvarya], and
whose ground/ foundation is unchanging [asraya-aviparinama] , is termed 'the Self [atman]. This
is as in the case of the great Doctor who well understands the milk medicine. The same is the
case with the Tathagata. For the sake of beings, he says "there is the Self in all things" O you
the four classes! Learn Dharma thus!"
Which part of the Nirvana sutra are you citing there - is it one of the parts that can be traced to an Indian source or a part that is believed to have been added later by a translator? (I'm not sufficiently familiar with it to know myself)

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:23 am

When Venerable Dōgen says that rocks, trees, various things, have Buddha-nature, he says it is because they are synonymous with mind. He further points out that mind is synonymous with the sentient being.

Whose mind? Surely not the rock's.

IMO

Further: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=27075

If you are interested.
如無為、如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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passel
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by passel » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:21 am

Yeah- no Indian antecedent for that doctrine, it’s a Chinese development. So you’ll have to either abandon orthodoxy or redefine it.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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passel
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by passel » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:24 am

I’m pretty sure you can find a pdf copy of an academic anthology called Zen Masters- there’s an essay on Dongshan in there that should tell you all about the development of that doctrine and give you leads to follow if you want to learn more
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:53 am

Rocks are totally enlightened! 無念,無心!

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:59 pm

Rocks can be emanations of Buddha but rocks do not possess Buddha nature because they do not possess minds, thus they cannot be enlightened.

ItsRaining
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Re: Buddhahood of Insentient Beings Exclusively East-Asian?

Post by ItsRaining » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:50 pm

Hopefully the local Tendai monastic Jikai could drop in and comment on this.

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