Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

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jmlee369
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

Matylda wrote: Sun May 19, 2019 3:17 pm
AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 13, 2019 5:53 pm And what is the explanation for it not being practiced?
there was transmission of the texts but no explanaition to practice, or if it was it got lost entirely in E Asia, like Japan or China and Korea. Though Chinese version was shortened by the emperor himslef for too controversial passages in the Hevajra. Anyway there is text there is no lineage of practice, frankly I have no clue why :D
The transmission of explanation and practice did survive in East Asia, it is preserved in the Shingon and Tendai lineages of Japan. The reason why the Chinese lineage was lost was due to the state persecution of Buddhism during the Tang dynasty. I'm not sure what the Hevajra Tantra has to do with any of this.
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AkashicBrother
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by AkashicBrother »

Even though there is no lineage transmission. Do the non-vajrayana schools in east asia still read,study and do at least some pratices using the Mhavairocana tantra or is it just formally in the canon ?
Matylda
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Matylda »

jmlee369 wrote: Sun May 19, 2019 9:58 pm
Matylda wrote: Sun May 19, 2019 3:17 pm
AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 13, 2019 5:53 pm And what is the explanation for it not being practiced?
there was transmission of the texts but no explanaition to practice, or if it was it got lost entirely in E Asia, like Japan or China and Korea. Though Chinese version was shortened by the emperor himslef for too controversial passages in the Hevajra. Anyway there is text there is no lineage of practice, frankly I have no clue why :D
The transmission of explanation and practice did survive in East Asia, it is preserved in the Shingon and Tendai lineages of Japan. The reason why the Chinese lineage was lost was due to the state persecution of Buddhism during the Tang dynasty. I'm not sure what the Hevajra Tantra has to do with any of this.
No i did not say that, of course shingon and tendai practice tantra, in Japan since early IX century until today, there is no doubt about it. What i meant was only about Hevajra in the first place also Chakrasamvara etc. which are included in the canon, however beside the texts the lineage of practice of these particular tantras was not transmitted as far as i know or was lost, but in fact there is no evidence of any practice of these in the EA, before XX century. So in Japan one may find those classical texts translated into Chinese around XI century, but there is no practice of them. By the way Hevajra when translated in China lost some parts of the original text due to emperor's order.
jmlee369
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 20, 2019 2:14 pm Even though there is no lineage transmission. Do the non-vajrayana schools in east asia still read,study and do at least some pratices using the Mhavairocana tantra or is it just formally in the canon ?
The Mahavairocana Tantra is just formlly in the canon for non-Vajrayana schools. They might talk about some key principles of the Tantra briefly when doing overviews of the history of Buddhism, but they cannot study or do any of the practices because they do not have the lineage.
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AkashicBrother
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by AkashicBrother »

jmlee369 wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 2:14 am
AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 20, 2019 2:14 pm Even though there is no lineage transmission. Do the non-vajrayana schools in east asia still read,study and do at least some pratices using the Mhavairocana tantra or is it just formally in the canon ?
The Mahavairocana Tantra is just formlly in the canon for non-Vajrayana schools. They might talk about some key principles of the Tantra briefly when doing overviews of the history of Buddhism, but they cannot study or do any of the practices because they do not have the lineage.
If its in the canon. How they cant even study and discuss the contents of the tantra (even if without ritual practives) ?
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

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)
jmlee369
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

AkashicBrother wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 5:12 am
jmlee369 wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 2:14 am
AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 20, 2019 2:14 pm Even though there is no lineage transmission. Do the non-vajrayana schools in east asia still read,study and do at least some pratices using the Mhavairocana tantra or is it just formally in the canon ?
The Mahavairocana Tantra is just formlly in the canon for non-Vajrayana schools. They might talk about some key principles of the Tantra briefly when doing overviews of the history of Buddhism, but they cannot study or do any of the practices because they do not have the lineage.
If its in the canon. How they cant even study and discuss the contents of the tantra (even if without ritual practives) ?
Because in tantra, the oral lineage of instructions and transmission is important. Tantras do not use language in a literal way, and each word can have many different levels of meaning and significance. These meanings are often transmitted only through oral instructions from master to disciple and never written down. In fact, some tantric texts intentionally include mistakes to prevent people from trying to study or practice the text without the oral instructions. Also, strictly speaking, people who have not received the initiation should not read a tantric text. It is like the Vinaya, in the Mahayana traditions, they say lay people should not read the Vinaya.
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Tatsuo
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Tatsuo »

jmlee369 wrote: Thu May 23, 2019 11:31 am It is like the Vinaya, in the Mahayana traditions, they say lay people should not read the Vinaya.
Just out of curiosity - do you have a quote for this? Who and which tradition says that laypeople shouldn’t read the vinaya? I’ve never heard about this before.

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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

Tatsuo wrote: Thu May 23, 2019 2:33 pm
jmlee369 wrote: Thu May 23, 2019 11:31 am It is like the Vinaya, in the Mahayana traditions, they say lay people should not read the Vinaya.
Just out of curiosity - do you have a quote for this? Who and which tradition says that laypeople shouldn’t read the vinaya? I’ve never heard about this before.
I was also somewhat bewildered but I figured some Venerable somewhere said it. Why make up something so absurd?

I'd be interested to know if @jmlee369 found it in a Mahāyāna sūtra. I have a lot of interest in when the early historical Mahāyānika movement did the first of its various about-phases on whether shrāvaka teachings were worth anyone's time.
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)
jmlee369
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

It is fairly common notion that laypeople should not study vinaya across traditions.

For example, there is a restriction on Vinaya study material provided by Sravasti Abbey, this Korean master mentions it here with the standard reasoning that it is to prevent laypeople from criticising the sangha, and I have seen at CTTB that the rooms where the Vinaya texts are kept and taught have a sign on the door saying it is off-limits to laypeople. There was a revision to the Geshe-ma curriculum because as novice nuns, they were not allowed to study the full vinaya, and this was a sticking point in whether the degree could be conferred or not (see here and here)

I believe this comes from the Vinaya prohibition about laypeople attending the pratimoksha recitation, I had looked up the specific rule regarding this previously but cannot find it now. Basically, the Mahayana vinaya lineages interpreted more broadly. There is a related discussion here from Theravada community.
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Caoimhghín »

If vinaya prohibitions like this are found in the Theravāda tradition, they are not observed in my experience. Much for the better. At the Scarborough Vihara in Canada for instance vinaya study is woven into sutta study and Pāli lessons, which anyone can attend.
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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AkashicBrother
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by AkashicBrother »

jmlee369 wrote: Thu May 23, 2019 11:31 am
AkashicBrother wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 5:12 am
jmlee369 wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 2:14 am

The Mahavairocana Tantra is just formlly in the canon for non-Vajrayana schools. They might talk about some key principles of the Tantra briefly when doing overviews of the history of Buddhism, but they cannot study or do any of the practices because they do not have the lineage.
If its in the canon. How they cant even study and discuss the contents of the tantra (even if without ritual practives) ?
Because in tantra, the oral lineage of instructions and transmission is important. Tantras do not use language in a literal way, and each word can have many different levels of meaning and significance. These meanings are often transmitted only through oral instructions from master to disciple and never written down. In fact, some tantric texts intentionally include mistakes to prevent people from trying to study or practice the text without the oral instructions. Also, strictly speaking, people who have not received the initiation should not read a tantric text. It is like the Vinaya, in the Mahayana traditions, they say lay people should not read the Vinaya.
my impression is that nowadays japanese buddhism practices (in contrast to tibetan buddhism, which has much more tantra esoterism) are very open and general mahayana could easily adopt some tantras and i see no reason why the japanese would block such tantras teaching for other schools.

Then again, if the mahavairocana tantra is part of the east mahayana canon. there is no reason to not study it academically in non-vajrayana schools (even lay people and non-buddhist westerners have already done that). but i agree that the mystical ritual practices will probalby not be practiced because the lost lineage.
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Lobsang Chojor »

AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 27, 2019 3:23 pm my impression is that nowadays japanese buddhism practices (in contrast to tibetan buddhism, which has much more tantra esoterism) are very open and general mahayana could easily adopt some tantras and i see no reason why the japanese would block such tantras teaching for other schools.
Why would they bring tantras into the lineage if they can't practice them? Tantras aren't line sutras, even within Japanese Buddhism they're kept secret.
Then again, if the mahavairocana tantra is part of the east mahayana canon. there is no reason to not study it academically in non-vajrayana schools (even lay people and non-buddhist westerners have already done that). but i agree that the mystical ritual practices will probalby not be practiced because the lost lineage.
There's no advantage to studying the tantra without the practice lineage though.
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ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ
jmlee369
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by jmlee369 »

AkashicBrother wrote: Mon May 27, 2019 3:23 pm
jmlee369 wrote: Thu May 23, 2019 11:31 am
AkashicBrother wrote: Tue May 21, 2019 5:12 am

If its in the canon. How they cant even study and discuss the contents of the tantra (even if without ritual practives) ?
Because in tantra, the oral lineage of instructions and transmission is important. Tantras do not use language in a literal way, and each word can have many different levels of meaning and significance. These meanings are often transmitted only through oral instructions from master to disciple and never written down. In fact, some tantric texts intentionally include mistakes to prevent people from trying to study or practice the text without the oral instructions. Also, strictly speaking, people who have not received the initiation should not read a tantric text. It is like the Vinaya, in the Mahayana traditions, they say lay people should not read the Vinaya.
my impression is that nowadays japanese buddhism practices (in contrast to tibetan buddhism, which has much more tantra esoterism) are very open and general mahayana could easily adopt some tantras and i see no reason why the japanese would block such tantras teaching for other schools.

Then again, if the mahavairocana tantra is part of the east mahayana canon. there is no reason to not study it academically in non-vajrayana schools (even lay people and non-buddhist westerners have already done that). but i agree that the mystical ritual practices will probalby not be practiced because the lost lineage.
Anyone can try to study the sutra academically, but they will completely miss the true meaning of the text, because the literal meaning is not the true meaning.

As for the Japanese Buddhist practices, actually it is much more difficult for a person to receive the esoteric teachings of tantra from a Shingon or Tendai lineage, compared to Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhist initiations are very easy to come by, but for Shingon or Tendai, you must go through their ordination training and become a priest to receive the same level of initiation. Not only that, Shingon and Tendai have been much more secretive in their rituals, for example they hide mudras under their robes when performing rituals in public, unlike the Tibetans.
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Re: Why there is no Mahavairocana Tantra in General Mahayana?

Post by Pema Rigdzin »

It seems that some people in this thread are using the words "tantra" and "sutra" interchangeably, when they're not. They're two different kinds of text. It's not a requirement that one receive any kind of transmission to read sutra, and they're written in generally straightforward language; this isn't to say there's not sometimes a lot to unpack, or that they're always easy to understand. But tantras belong to the category of Vajrayana, and one is neither permitted to read them, nor qualified to practice or understand their contents, without empowerment & reading transmission at a minimum; and generally one won't be able to make heads or tails of what they're saying with explanation from a qualified guru.
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