The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

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Coëmgenu
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The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:14 pm

This is an essay I am currently working on for SuttaCentral.

I thought I would also share it here (lightly adapted for this context), its rather interesting (I hope), and challenges a few dominant tropes concerning "Early Buddhism". The essay is addressed to a predominantly non-Mahāyāna audience, so there might be some redundant information in it.

(EDIT: This essay is a work in progress, all translation work should be taken as tentative.)

Dharmakāya, or 法身 (fǎ shēn), actually makes a few appearances in SA (there is one usage in DA). It appears in: SA 604 (no extant parallel), SA-2 196 (parallel: MN 72), & DA 2 (parallel: DN 16), as well as in a host of the individual Taishō sūtrāṇi that I haven't looked at yet.

That it appears in these places isn't necessarily marking these instances as Mahāyāna influence in the āgama in question as it would seem that belief in the dharmakāya predates "literary" Mahāyāna (i.e. Mahāyānasūtrāṇi). After all, all of the pre-Mahāyāna early sectarian Buddhist schools had some "stance" or another on dharmakāya, the Sarvāstivāda believed that the object of refuge was not the body or form of the Buddha, but instead, believed that the dharmakāya was the true unblemished, unperishing object of refuge, if this quote from the Mahāvibhāṣā is considered at all authoritative as to what exactly "Sarvāstivāda Right View" was concerning the true object of refuge:
Some people say that to take refuge in the Buddha is to take refuge in the body of the Tathāgata, which comprises head, neck, stomach, back, hands and feet. It is explained that the body, born of father and mother, is composed of defiled dharmas, and therefore is not a source of refuge. The refuge is the Buddha's fully accomplished qualities (aśaikṣadharmāḥ) which comprise bodhi and the dharmakāya.
Dhammakāya even appears (once) in the Pāli literature. So some sort of mention of a dharmakāya is definitely a shared feature of multiple Buddhist schools. Furthermore, it was an object of sectarian dissent, as different sects seemed to subtly disagree as to their specific interpretation of what dharmakāya was before the ascendence and triumph of Mahāyāna Trikāya Buddhology in India.

What chiefly concerns us, rather than the emergence of trikāya in the Mahāyāna (as there are several threads here devoted to that already I imagine), is the presence and usage of dharmakāya, as word and concept, in EBTs and early sectarian literature (by this, I refer to, for instance, documents like the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma, etc).

I think it might be appropriate to start with this, SN 22.87:
Alaṃ, vakkali, kiṃ te iminā pūtikāyena diṭṭhena? Yo kho, vakkali, dhammaṃ passati so maṃ passati; yo maṃ passati so dhammaṃ passati. Dhammañhi, vakkali, passanto maṃ passati; maṃ passanto dhammaṃ passati.

Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma.
Or this, the aforementioned instance of dhammakāya in the Pāli Canon, DN 27:
Yassa kho panassa, vāseṭṭha, tathāgate saddhā niviṭṭhā mūlajātā patiṭṭhitā daḷhā asaṃhāriyā samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ, tassetaṃ kallaṃ vacanāya: ‘bhagavatomhi putto oraso mukhato jāto dhammajo dhammanimmito dhammadāyādo’ti. Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgatassa hetaṃ, vāseṭṭha, adhivacanaṃ ‘dhammakāyo’ itipi, ‘brahmakāyo’ itipi, ‘dhammabhūto’ itipi, ‘brahmabhūto’ itipi.
You can't imagine how hard it is to find a proper translation of this passage (I dare you to try to look for one!). Sectarian bias is very real. Suffice to say, although literalism is never the best idea, "dhammakāyo" is "dharmakāya" (dominant opinion in the EBT crowd is that this refers to "learning the teaching", that is, becoming the "collection/body of the teaching"), "dhammabhūto" is "[has] become [the] dharma" (I think), and those two compounds are repeated, with "brahma" in place of "dhamma".

Going back to the first quote, from SN 22.87 (which is an inferred, rather than explicit allusion to dharmakāya), this quote seems very much in-line with the dharmakāya as outlined by the Sarvāstivāda in the Mahāvibhāṣā. One could possibly conceivably argue that the seeds for some kind of conceptual polarity between the flesh-body of the Tathāgata (proto-nirmāṇakāya?) and the liberated and apparently deathless state(?) of the Buddha (proto-dharmakāya?) existed at a relatively earlier stage of historical Buddhism, as evidenced by that very same Sarvāstivādin quote.

Since dharmakāya is a point of divergence in many early schools, as well as between Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna Buddhism, looking at where dharmakāya pops up in EBTs is prudent, both for education into postulated "early" Buddhism, but also in understanding the historical context of early Buddhist sectarianism, as well as the rise of the Early Mahāyāna, I imagine. There are several threads out there about dhammakāya in the Pāli literature, written by individuals much more learned than I, freely available, but if I am able, I would like to attempt to add to that with focus on the āgamāḥ. I hope any mistakes I make will be corrected.

For the sake of introducing another perspective, Paul Williams, in his Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, in Volume II, which concerns itself with "The Early Buddhist Schools and Doctrinal History; Theravāda Doctrine" makes the assertion that:
Students of Buddhist doctrine are generally agreed that the earliest theory of the bodies of the Buddha was a twofold one. The Buddha's physical form - his rūpakāya - was distinguished from the body of his doctrine - his dharmakāya [he cites his, but I do not have access to the full paper]. The one was the actual physical body with which the Buddha was born at Lumbīni, the other was, as Louis de la Vallée Poussin put it, the body of his doctrine, the collection of his teachings, his pravacanakāya.

Both of these bodies of the Buddha were thought of as being in some sense "visible." On the other hand, the rūpakāya was seen simply with the ordinary eye of flesh (maṁsacakṣu); on the other hand, to understand the Buddha's doctrine [he means _dharma_ here, we can assume] - specifically to maintain the disciplinary rules and to realize the four noble truths (i.e., to be enlightened) - was to "see the dharmakāya," a vision which involved the opening of one's eye of wisdom (prajñācakṣu).

With the death and parinirvāṇa of the Buddha, however, certain problems arose. The body of the Buddha's teachings - his dharmakāya - presented no difficulties, it was gathered together at the first Buddhist council where the sutta and vinaya were recited, and so was preserved and passed on to the community of monks. The Buddha's physical rūpakāya, however, passed away and was seen no more. Some groups, to be sure, identified the rūpakāya with the Buddha's relics and, as we shall see, there arose several ways in which, in some manner, it was thought possible still to have a vision of the Buddha's physical form. But inescapably the parinirvāṇa principally signified the dissolution of the Buddha's physical form, and even his relics, made over to the lay kings, were dispersed and eventually spread throughout the cosmos "like a mustard seed", so small as to be invisible.

Given this situation, at least two groups in early Buddhism appear to have chosen to identity the dharmakāya exclusively with the whole of the Buddha. First, there were certain elitist monks who, at least in some Pāli canonical texts, show little concern for the relics of the Buddha which they leave to the laity; instead, as inheritors of the Buddha's teachings, they claim that "he who sees the Dharma sees the Buddha." Second, in curious alliance with them perhaps, we find followers of the early Perfection of Wisdom school [prajñāpāramitā, he might be referring to Madhyamaka here]. Indeed in the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra those who would adhere to the Tathāgata through his form-body (rūpakāya) rather than through his dharma-body are labeled "foolish" and "ignorant," "for a Tathāgata cannot be seen from his form-body."

Along with such views, there arose in some circles a veritable denigration of the vision of the Buddha's physical body, even in his own lifetime. A story in the Karmavibhangopadeśa makes this clear: Two bhikṣus set out to visit the Buddha in Ayodhya, but in order to get there they have to cross a great forest. They walk and walk; thirst comes upon them. Finally they come across some water. One of the monks drinks, but the other declares that he will not violate the dharma and vinaya by partaking of nonfiltered water which contain life. And significantly, he adds: "The Dharma of the Buddha is his body; if I uphold the Dharma, I will see the Blessed One himself." As a result of his strict adherence to the rule, however, he dies of thirst and is reborn among the gods. His companion travels on and finally arrives in Ayodhya, where he is granted an audience with the Blessed One. There he finds that his friend, as a deity, has already arrived and had his vision of the Buddha's dharmakāya. But to him, because he drank unfiltered water, the Buddha shows only the body which he received from his parents (mātāpitṛsambhavam śārīram), that is, his physical rūpakāya. The Buddha adds in his explanation that although the monk "saw the body which I received from my parents, he did not see me."
(301-302)

This is just one academics opinion, and not an academic who necessarily studies and is informed by EBT and related scholarship. There are a lot of claims about early Buddhism and Theravāda being made. I should point out that current EBT orthodoxy rejects Williams's work (on the grounds that it applies to "later sectarian periods", not "Early Buddhism", take that claim how you will.)


____________

Moving on to the actual discussion of the parallels, interestingly, none of the instances of 法身 are rendered directly into the English as "dharmakāya" or "the dharmakāya", in the English translations of the Pāli hosted at SuttaCentral, and this is for a simple reason: dhammakāya seems to never appear in the Pāli when 法身 appears in the Chinese āgama text. This is a very interesting feature.

It should be noted that SA & SA-2 are both Sarvāstivāda literature retrieved by Ven Fǎxiǎn from Sri Lanka between 337 & 422 AD from Abhayagirivihāra, which means that potentially, the Sarvāstivādins had possession of older Buddhavacana that already stressed dharmakāya a great deal more than Pāli literature at a rather early stage. It is possible that the translators artificially inserted 法身 into the text, but if they were going to do that, why not insert a complete trikāya into the EBTs? It is far more likely that Śrāvakayāna already believed in the dharmakāya of the Buddha, rather than current trends in thought in EBT studies, which frames dharmakāya as Mahāyāna innovation.

The DA instance of 法身 is Dharmaguptaka literature. The parallel, DN 16, mentions the body very frequently, but the word "dhammakāya" seems to not occur in it, based on my cursory search.

It is possible that 法身 is translating something other than dharmakāya from the projected Sanskrit or Prākrit original here, but that seems unlikely. In addition, my methodology for generating these statistics ("So and so appears X times here, this and that do not appear here") is via using SuttaCentral's search feature and Command+F, which is hardly an exhaustive methodology to say the least. If someone else wants to replicate this and see if they can produce any more accurate insights that is highly encouraged.

With this in mind I would like to try to look at the places listed at the start of this thread where 法身 can be found in the āgamāḥ:
___________
SA 604 (no parallel): this is a very sprawling āgama full of verse-sections. Translating this whole thing would be quite beyond me at the moment, especially given that it lacks parallels!

It starts pretty standard:
如是我聞:
Like this I heard:

一時,佛住王舍城迦蘭陀竹園。
One time, Buddha dwelt [in] Rājagṛha [at] Karanda Venuvana.

爾時,世尊晨朝著衣持鉢,共諸比丘僧入城乞食,如偈所說:
At that time, [the] Bhagavān [in the?] early morning grasped [his] robe [and] held [his] alms-bowl, altogether [the] myriad monk saṃgha entered [the] city [to] beg [for] food, thus [this] gāthā's meaning (?) [was] explained:
The āgama appears, me not having looked through it exhaustively, to be a series of gāthā and verses in its entirety, given and spoken by different people. The specific gāthā that interests us is here, please forgive my tentativeness here, I promise my contributions will have more merit when there is a parallel available to use as a guide:
「時,諸臣白王言:『何故於此布施供養皆悉勝前?』
Then, the statesman (it seems to indicate this statesman to be Śuddhodana??? This might be an oddity of one of the resources I consulted) said: "What reason, in this way, to give (dāna) support more than before?"
_Attempted clarification: Then, the statesman said "Why donate (more?)?"_

王曰:『聽吾所說心中所以:
The King said: "Listen to what I say, [what I have?] in mind thus:

『如來之體身, 法身性清淨,
[The] Tathāgata's substantial body (rūpakāya?), the dharmakāya[:] characterized [as?] calm [and] peaceful,
Attempted clarification: The Tathāgata's rūpakāya (and?) dharmakāya (are?) characterized as calm and peaceful,

彼悉能奉持, 是故供養勝。
that knowledge enables(?) practice(?), therefore [perform?] pūjana (or dāna) more.

法燈常存 世, 滅此愚癡冥,
Dharma lamp/light constantly endures, destroy this ignorance (moha) profound (or: "destroy this hell of profound ignorance"?),

皆由從彼來, 是故供養勝。
[still looking at this section, difficult vocabulary], therefore [perform?] pūjana (or dāna) more.
The next section: 如大海之水, 牛跡所不容, 如是佛智海, 餘人不能持。is giving me a lot of trouble. It seems that if there is to be any instruction of detail to be found in this text, it is here, as there is a simile involving the ocean, a bull or ox, and the Buddha's wisdom, as well as an instruction to not grasp, it seems, does anyone have any ideas as to the end of this gāthā while I try to piece together what it could mean?
_________
SA-2 196 (parallel: MN 72):"the conversion of Vacchagotta," as it were. He is famous for asking the Buddha the "hard questions" that so often vex those newly exposed to Buddhist teachings (and which reveal more profound underlying possibilities for future (mis)interpretation of Dharma post-"original Buddhism"), namely, "Does anattā mean there is no self?", "Is the world eternal?", and most importantly, because it largely conditions how to "consider" Nibbāna: "Does the Buddha persist after the death of his body?" Is the Buddha "awake"? We call him the "Awakened One".

The 法身 in question occurs near the end of the āgama, and the term is uttered by Vacchagotta in his praise and revelation of the Tathāgata and the Buddhadharma.

Here is the relevant ending of the sutta-parallel, beginning at the analogy of the tree and the town, wherein the term _dharmakāya_ is found in the āgama:
When this was said, the wanderer Vacchagotta said to the Blessed One: "Master Gotama, it is as if there were a great sala tree not far from a village or town: From inconstancy, its branches and leaves would wear away, its bark would wear away, its sapwood would wear away, so that on a later occasion—divested of branches, leaves, bark, & sapwood—it would stand as pure heartwood. In the same way, Master Gotama’s words are divested of branches, leaves, bark, & sapwood and stand as pure heartwood.

“Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or were to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama—through many lines of reasoning—made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life.”
From the āgama:
犢子即言:「譬如去於城邑聚落不遠,平博之處有娑羅林,
Vacchagotta promptly spoke: "Analogy thus[:] going to a settlement not far, calm [and] peaceful this place has a sāla tree grove/forest,

是娑羅林已百千年,枝葉悉墮,唯貞實在。
this sāla tree grove after one hundred millennium, [its] branches all fallen, only resolutely the seeds/nuts/fruits remain*** (or: "only resoluteness/chastity [is] true/actual"?).

汝今瞿曇,亦復如是,已斷一切煩惱結縛,
You[,] here-and-now Gautama, [are] also as such, [has] stopped completely all kleśāḥ [and] fetters,

四倒邪惑,皆悉滅盡,唯有堅固真法身在。
[has stopped] four retrograding demonic confusions, all entirely [has] destroyed all [of them], only solid true Dharmakāya remains***.

瞿曇!當知我今緣務,將欲還歸。」
Gautama! [You?] should know my present causal preoccupations (lit. "karmic business" ???), will wish to return [to those preoccupations?].

***this character could be interpreted as "lives"
Very interesting. As I was looking at the last line, I had it rendered at one point as something like:
Gautama! One should know ātman [in the] here-and-now [that is] the conditioned, [one] will desire to return backward.
:shock: Then I had it like this:
瞿曇!當知我今緣務,將欲還歸。」
Gautama! [One who?] should know ātman [in the] here-and-now [of] fated affairs (karma and causality?), will wish to return [here, to saṃsāra?].
And I'm still not 100% as to what is being said in this last line. Oh dear...

緣務 is giving me the most trouble here. It seems to mean a business or preoccupation with pratyaya? Where does Vacchagotta return to?

__________
DA 2 (parallel: DN 16, T 9): the nikāya parallel offers in-and-of-itself a wealth of possibilities to explore native Pāli contexts for the usage of _kāya_, as intersecting with [other threads here](https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/ka ... ntext/4216), some compounds including: kāyasaṅkhārā, kāye kāyānupassī (discussed recently [here](https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/ka ... -body/5605)), parakāye, gandhabbakāyaṃ, asurakāyā, tāvatiṃsakāyaṃ, & vas­sūpa­nāyi­kāya. Missing in our account of Pāli kāya-compounds is a convenient dhammakāyaṃ or dhammakāyassa to point the way to a parallel for the Chinese 法身 that occurs in the āgama.

Interestingly enough, 法身 is also missing from the independent Taishō sūtra T 9 (CBETA: T01n0009_001, pseudo-Dīrghāgama), though in it, 身 (kāya) shows up a comparable amount of times as to in the Pāli. A look at each of the contexts of 身 in T 9 will be a part of this essay project once the main sections discussing 法身 are finished.

More to come. If you think you have found errors in any translations here, please point them out. I am only an amatuer.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 6 times in total.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:22 pm

And now the rebuttal.

There is a belief that 法身 is a late accrual to the āgama texts in question by several scholars of EBTs ("Early Buddhist Texts").

This is on, though, IMO, very flimsy ground.

We know that SA & SA-2, which are called 雜阿含經 (zá ā hán jīng) & 別譯雜阿含經 (bié yì zá ā hán jīng) in non-EBT-studies contexts, are likely two parallel translations and developments of the same single Sarvāstivāda Saṃyuktāgama text retrieved by Ven Fǎxiǎn.

別譯雜阿含經 made its way into China from Central Asia (and was likely in Ghāndārī at one point, citation coming) and 雜阿含經 stayed in India before entering China and being translated.

There is a dominant belief in EBT studies, particularly championed by Choong Mun-keat (see Choong Mun-keat's The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, page 153 for an example of EBT academics altering Buddhavacana**** based on the SF hypothesis I am about to explain), that a certain Sanskrit fragmentary Saṃyuktāgama is definitively and absolutely the original source text of the Sarvāstivāda Saṃyuktāgama retrieved by Ven Fǎxiǎn from Sri Lanka between 337 & 422 AD that is believed to be the ur-text of the present SA & SA-2 recensions of Sarvāstivāda Buddhavacana, from India & Central Asia respectively. This would involve the SF recension being postulated to constitute, in theoretical reconstructed fullness, a much, much, larger body of Buddhavacana than what is currently accounted for (this needs to be addressed by those who champion this claim), to account for the sheer larger amounts of Chinese āgamāḥ that do not seem to be later accruals. In light of this, SF, or an extant document like it (in Sanskrit), is being suggested to be this very same ur-text.

****I can actually understand why this sort of practice can be reasonable and necessary in preserving Dharma texts, as indeed spelling mistakes and errors of manuscript transmission do, on occasions, arise. However, when this is done, a note should be make of it, especially when the allegations of manuscript error are as tentative as the SF hypothesis.

Suffice to say, although it is certainly a possibility, it is a huge and unscholarly assumption, IMO.

It seems to be built upon the misconception among some in the field of EBT studies that the Sarvāstivāda only retained one recension of "sutta-layer" Buddhavacana (à la Theravāda) despite their relative geographical dispersion compared to the Early (proto-)Theravāda (Theravāda's island-caused geographical isolation = one recension, the spread-out Sarvāstivāda demonstrably had multiple recensions of Buddhavacana, and that makes sense tbh).

The fact that later in Buddhist sectarianism, we have Central Asian Sarvāstivādins using an older stage of SA-2/BZA and the Sourtherly Sarvāstivādins using ancestors of SA/ZA (source: Bingenheimer, I will get the paper and page in a second), seems to point to me, that the fact that two communities shared a Sarvāstivāda vinaya does not necessarily mean that they had the exact same suttas and sutta-recensions, particularly due to the geographical range of the historical Sarvāstivāda, and also assuming that Early Buddhist Sectarianism ("EBS"? Is that a "thing"?) was predicated on divisions of vinaya, not sutta and sutta-interpretation (or sutta-recension?) necessarily.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:26 pm

I forgot to actually say why the rebuttal was a rebuttal:

If the rather extraordinary claim that the Sanskrit SF recension is the same document as retrieved by Ven Faxian from Sri Lanka is true: then that means that the Chinese translations of it were definitely doctored to include "dharmakāya", as it is completely absent from the Sanskrit SF recension.

This, IMO, is not an issue because the SF recension is not the same recension as the SA & SA-2, and thus one cannot be edited because the other has different content, as the two constitute "different rememberings" of the Buddha's ministries which have equal merit, until it is actually proven that SF is the ur-text of SA & SA-2.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by DNS » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:28 am

Interesting. I've been recently reading up on some of the EBT and early Buddhism. Do you know when the Mahāsāṃghikas adopted the Dharmakāya? They are a very early school, originating right after the pre-sectarian period.

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:51 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Do you know when the Mahāsāṃghikas adopted the Dharmakāya?
It would seem that attestations we have available of the Mahāsāṃghika have them identifying the dharmakāya with the whole of the Buddha, rather than the rūpakāya. I need to track down a citation for that though, since I found it on wikipedia. Wikipedia, apparently, lists "Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. pp. 59-60".

I'll try to see if I can find a source text from the historical Mahāsāṃghika that substantiates the claim.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:30 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Interesting. I've been recently reading up on some of the EBT and early Buddhism. Do you know when the Mahāsāṃghikas adopted the Dharmakāya? They are a very early school, originating right after the pre-sectarian period.
Also, another perspective that should have representation:

The above is predicated on a primarily archaeological perspective that deals with extant manuscripts as-they-are to argue that the text-critical method is ignoring a certain amount of complicated literature that challenges the convergence-theory that informs (rightly) many of the methods utilized in text-critical studies of early Buddhism.

Now that I have spoken mildly critically of it, I should defend the merits of the text-critical approach. The text-critical approach is essentially interested in finding shared literature and common parallels between what are otherwise collections of Buddhavacana that are preserved in the context of sectarian Buddhism. No literary documents survive that contain Buddhavacana from presectarian Buddhism. That being said, if many sectarian schools have a similar recension of a discourse, it is likely to be unchanged and "original", as these sects are unlikely to develop "new" Buddhavacana that agrees with itself across sectarian lines.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:53 pm

[quote=Coëmgenu]No literary documents survive that contain Buddhavacana from presectarian Buddhism.[/quote]I accidentally put my foot in my mouth.

No original documents with Buddhavacana survive from pre-sectarian Buddhism, not "we have no pre-sectarian teachings".
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:00 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:pre-sectarian Buddhism
Pre-sectarian Buddhism is a myth, just like the unicorn, often mentioned, never found.

There were factions in the Sangha right from the beginning.
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: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:pre-sectarian Buddhism
Pre-sectarian Buddhism is a myth, just like the unicorn, often mentioned, never found.

There were factions in the Sangha right from the beginning.
Indeed, but rather than challenging the entire premise of a lot of peoples' worldviews (and unnecessarily, perhaps, affecting their faith in Buddhism, if the argumentation is severe enough and well-executed enough), I am just trying to point out that many EBTs already speak of a dharmakāya, and it is clear that it is not always just "the collection of the teachings".

Like I said earlier though, this essay is addressed to a prodominantly non-Mahāyāna audience, so there will be some redundancies that wouldn't need mentioning to someone interested in and informed about what is reconstructable about the history of early Mahāyāna. I thought it might just interesting to have it here though anyways and as well, because I find that EBT-studies is so often used to point out anything not found in the Pāli Canon as "not an EBT", and any time that EBTs disagree, the Pāli or what "agrees most" with the Pāli is almost always given precedence (as evidenced by the SF hypothesis being used to edit Sarvāstivāda texts to conform with an "EBT orthodoxy"). This essay is mostly to challenge that tendency and to expose one particular misconception: that the dharmakāya is a Mahāyāna "innovation".
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by DNS » Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:08 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:pre-sectarian Buddhism
Pre-sectarian Buddhism is a myth, just like the unicorn, often mentioned, never found.

There were factions in the Sangha right from the beginning.
The Buddhist "Holy Grail."

Some of us like looking for it anyway. :tongue:
Coëmgenu wrote: This essay is mostly to challenge that tendency and to expose one particular misconception: that the dharmakāya is a Mahāyāna "innovation".
Yes, exactly. The more research I did into early Buddhism, the more I realized it is not so simplistic as Theravada=early; Mahayana=later; it is much more complicated than that. The Mahāsāṃghikas were likely around prior to Theravadins. And the Mahāsāṃghika is the likely precursor to Mahayana.

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:11 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:pre-sectarian Buddhism
Pre-sectarian Buddhism is a myth, just like the unicorn, often mentioned, never found.

There were factions in the Sangha right from the beginning.
Indeed, but rather than challenging the entire premise of a lot of peoples' worldviews (and unnecessarily, perhaps, affecting their faith in Buddhism, if the argumentation is severe enough and well-executed enough), I am just trying to point out that many EBTs already speak of a dharmakāya, and it is clear that it is not always just "the collection of the teachings".

Like I said earlier though, this essay is addressed to a prodominantly non-Mahāyāna audience, so there will be some redundancies that wouldn't need mentioning to someone interested in and informed about what is reconstructable about the history of early Mahāyāna. I thought it might just interesting to have it here though anyways and as well, because I find that EBT-studies is so often used to point out anything not found in the Pāli Canon as "not an EBT", and any time that EBTs disagree, the Pāli or what "agrees most" with the Pāli is almost always given precedence (as evidenced by the SF hypothesis being used to edit Sarvāstivāda texts to conform with an "EBT orthodoxy"). This essay is mostly to challenge that tendency and to expose one particular misconception: that the dharmakāya is a Mahāyāna "innovation".
At a recent translators conference, Jan Nattier gave an excellent talk about the fact that everything we have, Pali canon included, is a translation and that this process of translation began during the Buddha's time. There are no original texts, everything we have is a translation from another language.
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: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:At a recent translators conference, Jan Nattier gave an excellent talk about the fact that everything we have, Pali canon included, is a translation and that this process of translation began during the Buddha's time. There are no original texts, everything we have is a translation from another language.
Indeed, all earliest extant Buddhist literature, Buddhavacana included, comes from transmissions of Buddhavacana preserved along sectarian lines with particular interpretations and orthodoxies in mind.

That being said, there is also a smaller body of literature (sūtrāṇi & āgamāḥ) from within the "sectarian literature" (as Buddhist history in EBT studies, it seems, for better for worse, is marked by the notion of a older theoretical "Great Unified Teaching" stage of Buddhadharma-history, which becomes hidden under sectarian misinterpretations over time) which does display a certain amount of convergence that is not as apparent certain other bodies of literature (such as different schools' Abhidharmāḥ).

I was discussing a similar matter to this, that is: how exactly we go about treating this body of apparent "EBTs", on SuttaCentral a while ago, and I hope I am not violating any forum policy of DharmaWheel's by quoting something from over there that deals with some of the complicated "fuzzy edges" reconstructed EBT-based Dharma-orthodoxies may well have, contrary to public narratives about EBTs and "Early Buddhism":
The EA actually preserves some āgamāḥ which clearly expound Mahāyāna teachings, from EA 27.5:
聞如是: 一時,佛在舍衛國祇樹給孤獨 園。
Heard thus truly: one time, Buddha dwelt [at] Śrāvastī [in] Jetavana.

爾時,彌勒菩薩至如來所,頭面禮足,在 一面坐。
At that-time, Maitreya Bodhisattva came [to the] Tathāgata's location, head facing [downward] bowing [from the] foot [i.e. prostrating or hiding his feet], [then] beside [the Buddha] [to] one side sat.

爾時,彌勒菩薩白世尊言:
At that-time, Maitreya Bodhisattva addressed [the] Bhagavān saying:

「菩薩摩訶薩成就幾法,而行檀波羅蜜,
"[Do] Bodhisattvāḥ Mahāsattvāḥ accomplish myriad dharmāḥ, and perform dānapāramitā,

具足六 波羅蜜,疾成無上正真之道?」
possess [the] path [of] six pāramitāḥ, swiftly accomplish nothing higher correctly [and] truly[,] [the] path?

[The passage in question then goes on to explore the other five pāramitāḥ and have the Buddha agree with Maitreya Bodhisattva's questioning of if the Buddha approves of practice of the six pāramitāḥ (dāna, śīla, kṣānti, vīrya, dhyāna, & prajñāpāramitā) as a path to awakening.]
If we take āgamāḥ like this at face value, it implies that Mahāyāna and Bodhisattvayāna are far older than believed to be. However, there is essentially unanimous consensus among those informed concerning Buddhist textual criticism that āgamāḥ like the one I just quoted above (although there are other more problematic and less clear-cut cases, such as the āgama-parallel of the Paccayasutta) are Mahāyāna accruals, not original literature from the same layer as the rest of the āgama-material.

Because of this, there is a small deal of controversy within the EBT subcommunity of Buddhist textual criticism, as to if the āgamāḥ and nikāyā together constitute a coherent body of literature or if they are ultimately incoherent (i.e. sectarian) and cannot be used to reliably reconstruct a common Ur-tradition of "Early Buddhism".

A proponent of the alleged (partial, I am phrasing this far stronger than he would ever) incoherence between the āgamāḥ and the nikāyā is Ven Thích Minh Châu, his text The Chinese Madhyama Āgama and the Pāli Majjhima Nikāya is a good text for exploring this presented perspective.

This perspective is disagreed with by proponent of what we could call "EBT coherency", namely our own Ven Sujato and Ven Brahmali, whose text I will now quote, namely, The Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts, from page 84:
4.3.5 Claiims of incoherence

Scholarship has not succeeded in finding consequential contradictions within the EBTs.

An important challenge to our contention that the EBTs are coherent comes from those who have argued that Buddhism contains fundamental teachings that are hard to reconcile. Probably the most important of these arguments is the claim that Buddhism, specifically the Buddhism of the Pali sources, gives contradictory accounts of the goal of the Buddhist practice, including contradictory accounts of the path of meditation that leads to these goals.

This is not the place to assess these claims in detail, but a few general remarks seem called for. A major problem with these claims, here exemplified by those of Griffiths, is that they often do not distinguish between EBT and non-EBT material. Griffiths says, “The canonical and commentarial literature will be treated here as a unity … because the thrust of this paper is structural and philosophical rather than historical, and for such purposes differentiation between canon and commentary is of small importance.”

This is assuming a point that needs to be proved. In the absence of such proof, it is not possible to ascertain the coherence of the EBTs, or the lack thereof, by relying on non-EBTs. The EBTs need to be considered on their own merits.

Another problem with Griffith’s proposition is his reliance on a very limited number of texts from the EBTs. His main reference is to the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. However, in establishing any point about the EBTs one needs to consider the literature as a whole. It is our contention that the problems identified by Griffiths and others fall away once this is done.
This addresses an academic named Griffiths, whose work I cannot access, and does not specifically address Ven Thích Minh Châu's work.

Another proponent EBT coherency, Ven Ānalayo, has however specifically addressed Ven Thích Minh Châu's work from a perspective informed by EBT coherency. His paper, in response to Ven Thích Minh Châu, is available freely online if one googles "The Chinese Madhyama-ågama and the Påli Majjhima-Nikåya – In the Footsteps of Thich Minh Chau Ānalayo".
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:53 pm

I guess what I am saying is that there is no original literature. There is no ur-text. There is no single canon and there never was. Buddhism has no GUT (Great Unified Teaching). Searching for one is an eminently Christian pastime.

Coëmgenu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:At a recent translators conference, Jan Nattier gave an excellent talk about the fact that everything we have, Pali canon included, is a translation and that this process of translation began during the Buddha's time. There are no original texts, everything we have is a translation from another language.
Indeed, all earliest extant Buddhist literature, Buddhavacana included, comes from transmissions of Buddhavacana preserved along sectarian lines with particular interpretations and orthodoxies in mind.

That being said, there is also a smaller body of literature (sūtrāṇi & āgamāḥ) from within the "sectarian literature" (as Buddhist history in EBT studies, it seems, for better for worse, is marked by the notion of a older theoretical "Great Unified Teaching" stage of Buddhadharma-history, which becomes hidden under sectarian misinterpretations over time) which does display a certain amount of convergence that is not as apparent certain other bodies of literature (such as different schools' Abhidharmāḥ).

I was discussing a similar matter to this, that is: how exactly we go about treating this body of apparent "EBTs", on SuttaCentral a while ago, and I hope I am not violating any forum policy of DharmaWheels by quoting something from over there that deals with some of the complicated "fuzzy edges" reconstructed EBT-based Dharma-orthodoxies may well have, contrary to public narratives about EBTs and "Early Buddhism":
The EA actually preserves some āgamāḥ which clearly expound Mahāyāna teachings, from EA 27.5:
聞如是: 一時,佛在舍衛國祇樹給孤獨 園。
Heard thus truly: one time, Buddha dwelt [at] Śrāvastī [in] Jetavana.

爾時,彌勒菩薩至如來所,頭面禮足,在 一面坐。
At that-time, Maitreya Bodhisattva came [to the] Tathāgata's location, head facing [downward] bowing [from the] foot [i.e. prostrating or hiding his feet], [then] beside [the Buddha] [to] one side sat.

爾時,彌勒菩薩白世尊言:
At that-time, Maitreya Bodhisattva addressed [the] Bhagavān saying:

「菩薩摩訶薩成就幾法,而行檀波羅蜜,
"[Do] Bodhisattvāḥ Mahāsattvāḥ accomplish myriad dharmāḥ, and perform dānapāramitā,

具足六 波羅蜜,疾成無上正真之道?」
possess [the] path [of] six pāramitāḥ, swiftly accomplish nothing higher correctly [and] truly[,] [the] path?

[The passage in question then goes on to explore the other five pāramitāḥ and have the Buddha agree with Maitreya Bodhisattva's questioning of if the Buddha approves of practice of the six pāramitāḥ (dāna, śīla, kṣānti, vīrya, dhyāna, & prajñāpāramitā) as a path to awakening.]
If we take āgamāḥ like this at face value, it implies that Mahāyāna and Bodhisattvayāna are far older than believed to be. However, there is essentially unanimous consensus among those informed concerning Buddhist textual criticism that āgamāḥ like the one I just quoted above (although there are other more problematic and less clear-cut cases, such as the āgama-parallel of the Paccayasutta) are Mahāyāna accruals, not original literature from the same layer as the rest of the āgama-material.

Because of this, there is a small deal of controversy within the EBT subcommunity of Buddhist textual criticism, as to if the āgamāḥ and nikāyā together constitute a coherent body of literature or if they are ultimately incoherent (i.e. sectarian) and cannot be used to reliably reconstruct a common Ur-tradition of "Early Buddhism".

A proponent of the alleged (partial, I am phrasing this far stronger than he would ever) incoherence between the āgamāḥ and the nikāyā is Ven Thích Minh Châu, his text The Chinese Madhyama Āgama and the Pāli Majjhima Nikāya is a good text for exploring this presented perspective.

This perspective is disagreed with by proponent of what we could call "EBT coherency", namely our own Ven Sujato and Ven Brahmali, whose text I will now quote, namely, The Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts, from page 84:
4.3.5 Claiims of incoherence

Scholarship has not succeeded in finding consequential contradictions within the EBTs.

An important challenge to our contention that the EBTs are coherent comes from those who have argued that Buddhism contains fundamental teachings that are hard to reconcile. Probably the most important of these arguments is the claim that Buddhism, specifically the Buddhism of the Pali sources, gives contradictory accounts of the goal of the Buddhist practice, including contradictory accounts of the path of meditation that leads to these goals.

This is not the place to assess these claims in detail, but a few general remarks seem called for. A major problem with these claims, here exemplified by those of Griffiths, is that they often do not distinguish between EBT and non-EBT material. Griffiths says, “The canonical and commentarial literature will be treated here as a unity … because the thrust of this paper is structural and philosophical rather than historical, and for such purposes differentiation between canon and commentary is of small importance.”

This is assuming a point that needs to be proved. In the absence of such proof, it is not possible to ascertain the coherence of the EBTs, or the lack thereof, by relying on non-EBTs. The EBTs need to be considered on their own merits.

Another problem with Griffith’s proposition is his reliance on a very limited number of texts from the EBTs. His main reference is to the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. However, in establishing any point about the EBTs one needs to consider the literature as a whole. It is our contention that the problems identified by Griffiths and others fall away once this is done.
This addresses an academic named Griffiths, whose work I cannot access, and does not specifically address Ven Thích Minh Châu's work.

Another proponent EBT coherency, Ven Ānalayo, has however specifically addressed Ven Thích Minh Châu's work from a perspective informed by EBT coherency. His paper, in response to Ven Thích Minh Châu, is available freely online if one googles "The Chinese Madhyama-ågama and the Påli Majjhima-Nikåya – In the Footsteps of Thich Minh Chau Ānalayo".
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: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:14 pm

Malcolm wrote:I guess what I am saying is that there is no original literature. There is no ur-text. There is no single canon and there never was. Buddhism has no GUT (Great Unified Teaching). Searching for one is an eminently Christian pastime.
And this is something that is readily acknowledged in EBT studies, in my experience, but only selectively so.

Proponents of EBTs and related scholastic ventures are very ready to point out that "schisms" in "Early Buddhism" do not follow the common mould the West expects from its Christian heritage: schisms over points of doctrine and doctrinal interpretation.

For context: almost all schisms in early Christian history are doctrinal schisms over the correct way to conceptualize the divine and human aspects of Jesus Christ. It began first with dehumanizing tendencies (Docetism, Eutychianism) which rejected Jesus Christ's humanity, and later heresies were produced from the opposite extreme: doubting the divinity of Jesus Christ and framing him as an "ascended master" or just a regular monotheistic prophet (Arianism, Psilanthropism, etc). These are all "conceptual" schisms, or schisms over Christology/Theology.

Instead we have schisms over Vinaya-adaption, monastic practice, and preservation of vinaya observance. It seems that having an "orthodoxy" ("one true teaching") was simply less of a concern. Serious wrong views, we can rest assure, would have been dealt with, but schisms in "Early Buddhism" do not occur over points of doctrine or even points of interpretation of doctrine until a much later period.

Why then do we assume that there was indeed "one true teaching" that served as the ur-teaching for all Buddhisms, and why do we assume the Buddhisms produced by the alleged ur-teaching are necessarily inferior?

It seem the notion of an early Buddhism that does not "schism" over points of doctrine and an early Buddhism that has "one true teaching" are not readily compatible with one-another, unless one wants to argue that Buddhism stayed unschismed with "one teaching" for an extremely unlikely long time (which would contradict much historical evidence for sectarianism).
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Malcolm
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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:16 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:I guess what I am saying is that there is no original literature. There is no ur-text. There is no single canon and there never was. Buddhism has no GUT (Great Unified Teaching). Searching for one is an eminently Christian pastime.
And this is something that is readily acknowledged in EBT studies, in my experience, but only selectively so.

Proponents of EBTs and related scholastic ventures are very ready to point out that "schisms" in "Early Buddhism" do not follow the common mould the West expects from its Christian heritage: schisms over points of doctrine and doctrinal interpretation.

For context: almost all schisms in early Christian history are doctrinal schisms over the correct way to conceptualize the divine and human aspects of Jesus Christ. It began first with dehumanizing tendencies (Docetism,
Eutychianism) which rejected Jesus Christ's humanity, and later heresies were produced from the opposite extreme:
doubting the divinity of Jesus Christ and framing him as an "ascended master" or just a regular monotheistic prophet (Arianism, Psilanthropism, etc). These are all "conceptual" schisms, or schisms over Christology/Theology.


Instead we have schisms over Vinaya-adaption, monastic practice, and preservation of vinaya observance. It seems that having an "orthodoxy" ("one true teaching") was simply less of a concern. Serious wrong views, we can rest assure, would have been dealt with, but schisms in "Early Buddhism" do not occur over points of doctrine or even points of interpretation of doctrine until a much later period.

Why then do we assume that there was indeed "one true teaching" that served as the ur-teaching for all Buddhisms, and why do we assume the Buddhisms produced by the alleged ur-teaching are necessarily inferior?

It seem the notion of an early Buddhism that does not "schism" over points of doctrine and an early Buddhism that has "one true teaching" are not readily compatible with one-another, unless one wants to argue that Buddhism stayed unschismed with "one teaching" for an extremely unlikely long time (which would contradict much historical evidence for sectarianism).
Devadatta is a perfect example of schism that happens during the life of the Buddha.
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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Coëmgenu
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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:00 am

Malmcolm wrote:Devadatta is a perfect example of schism that happens during the life of the Buddha.
Indeed, and what were among the chief things he did, aside from attempted assassination of the Buddha? I believe he tried to change monastic practice of the time, did he not?
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:41 am

...at least two groups in early Buddhism appear to have chosen to identity the dharmakāya exclusively with the whole of the Buddha. First, there were certain elitist monks who, at least in some Pāli canonical texts, show little concern for the relics of the Buddha which they leave to the laity; instead, as inheritors of the Buddha's teachings, they claim that "he who sees the Dharma sees the Buddha." Second, in curious alliance with them perhaps, we find followers of the early Perfection of Wisdom school [prajñāpāramitā, he might be referring to Madhyamaka here]. Indeed in the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra those who would adhere to the Tathāgata through his form-body (rūpakāya) rather than through his dharma-body are labeled "foolish" and "ignorant," "for a Tathāgata cannot be seen from his form-body."
The teaching 'He who sees the Dhamma sees Me' was, I thought, common to many or all Buddhist schools (Vakkali Sutta). It clearly differentiates between 'the vile body' and 'the body of dhamma'.

I think you can see an incipient dualism in such distinctions, nonetheless, in the sense of a differentiation between the 'mere' physical form and the 'real' dharma, which sits rather uncomfortably with some other elements of Buddhist dogma (or so it seems to me).

Do you know that the (somewhat controversial) Thai Dhammakaya school teaches something very similar?
According to Paul Williams, in some respects the teachings of the Dhammakaya Movement resemble the Buddha-nature and Trikaya doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism. He sees the Dhammakaya Movement as having developed independently of the Mahayana tathagatagarbha tradition, but as achieving very similar results in their understanding of Buddhism.[111] According to Williams,

[Dhammakaya] meditations involve the realization, when the mind reaches its purest state, of an unconditioned "Dhamma Body" (dhammakaya) in the form of a luminous, radiant and clear Buddha figure free of all defilements and situated within the body of the practitioner. Nirvana is the true Self, and this is also the dhammakaya." [112]
(Wikipedia entry on Dhammakaya Movement).
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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CedarTree
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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by CedarTree » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:46 pm

These are such cool discussions to stumble upon.

Can't wait to see your finished product!

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Coëmgenu
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Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:07 pm

Wayfarer wrote:Do you know that the (somewhat controversial) Thai Dhammakaya school teaches something very similar?
According to Paul Williams, in some respects the teachings of the Dhammakaya Movement resemble the Buddha-nature and Trikaya doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism. He sees the Dhammakaya Movement as having developed independently of the Mahayana tathagatagarbha tradition, but as achieving very similar results in their understanding of Buddhism.[111] According to Williams,

[Dhammakaya] meditations involve the realization, when the mind reaches its purest state, of an unconditioned "Dhamma Body" (dhammakaya) in the form of a luminous, radiant and clear Buddha figure free of all defilements and situated within the body of the practitioner. Nirvana is the true Self, and this is also the dhammakaya." [112]
(Wikipedia entry on Dhammakaya Movement).
This is an accurate description of their practice, but descriptions and surface appearances can be deceiving.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

Anonymous X
Posts: 813
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am
Location: Bangkok

Re: The Dharmakāya in Early Buddhist Texts

Post by Anonymous X » Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:50 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Wayfarer wrote:Do you know that the (somewhat controversial) Thai Dhammakaya school teaches something very similar?
According to Paul Williams, in some respects the teachings of the Dhammakaya Movement resemble the Buddha-nature and Trikaya doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism. He sees the Dhammakaya Movement as having developed independently of the Mahayana tathagatagarbha tradition, but as achieving very similar results in their understanding of Buddhism.[111] According to Williams,

[Dhammakaya] meditations involve the realization, when the mind reaches its purest state, of an unconditioned "Dhamma Body" (dhammakaya) in the form of a luminous, radiant and clear Buddha figure free of all defilements and situated within the body of the practitioner. Nirvana is the true Self, and this is also the dhammakaya." [112]
(Wikipedia entry on Dhammakaya Movement).
This is an accurate description of their practice, but descriptions and surface appearances can be deceiving.
Currently, here in Thailand, the authorities have been chasing the abbot for months on embezzlement, money laundering, and receiving stolen property. There is a nation-wide hunt for him. This is part of a highly politicized situation involving Wat Dhammakaya and their position in both Buddhist and government circles.

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