Primordial Amitābha?

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Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:26 am

Greetings all,

In Pure Land Buddhism, is Amitābha considered to be the Primordial Buddha?
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:45 am

It's not a primary teaching in Jodo Shu. In fact, in the few Jodo Shu writings where it is mentioned, Amida is a Reward Body (Sambhogakaya). Amida and Shakyamuni are always presented as separate Buddhas.

In Jodo Shinshu, the Kyogyoshinsho teaches that Amida is the Dharmakaya manifesting as compassionate means. But none of Shinran's writings go the extent of saying that Amida is primordial and Shakyamuni is a manifestation. In Shin writings too, the Buddhas are presented as separate entities.

I may have stumbled across an article at one time that said differently, but after delving into the writings of each of these schools more in depth, I can say that I've never come across anything close to the Nichiren sense of a Primordial Buddha.

EDIT: I take that back regarding Shinran. There's a passage in the Jodo Wasan (Pure Land Japanese-style hymn):
“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.”

But 2 issues with using that for the theory:
1. These hymns are poetry, not doctrine.
2. It could just as easily be a poetic way of saying that Amida's compassion is reflected in the act of Shakyamuni teaching about Amida.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:12 am

Admin_PC wrote:It's not a primary teaching in Jodo Shu. In fact, in the few Jodo Shu writings where it is mentioned, Amida is a Reward Body (Sambhogakaya). Amida and Shakyamuni are always presented as separate Buddhas.

In Jodo Shinshu, the Kyogyoshinsho teaches that Amida is the Dharmakaya manifesting as compassionate means. But none of Shinran's writings go the extent of saying that Amida is primordial and Shakyamuni is a manifestation. In Shin writings too, the Buddhas are presented as separate entities.

I may have stumbled across an article at one time that said differently, but after delving into the writings of each of these schools more in depth, I can say that I've never come across anything close to the Nichiren sense of a Primordial Buddha.

EDIT: I take that back regarding Shinran. There's a passage in the Jodo Wasan (Pure Land Japanese-style hymn):
“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.”

But 2 issues with using that for the theory:
1. These hymns are poetry, not doctrine.
2. It could just as easily be a poetic way of saying that Amida's compassion is reflected in the act of Shakyamuni teaching about Amida.
Interesting. The Nichiren sect inherited the belief in the Primordial Buddha from the larger Lotus tradition in general, and it is shared with the esoteric schools, who call him Mahāvairocana. I too had read that in some school or tradition or sūtra, Amitābha was revealed as the true identity of Shakyamuni and the Primordial Buddha. Must have been some misinformation I picked up somewhere. Or maybe there's some esoteric Pure Land school that I don't know about which shares teachings regarding a Primordial Buddha.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:33 am

I know that's definitely the case in Nichiren, but I think it might be an oversimplification to say it's that way for the others.

I'll tackle it tomorrow when I have time.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:46 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Interesting. The Nichiren sect inherited the belief in the Primordial Buddha from the larger Lotus tradition in general, and it is shared with the esoteric schools, who call him Mahāvairocana. I too had read that in some school or tradition or sūtra, Amitābha was revealed as the true identity of Shakyamuni and the Primordial Buddha. Must have been some misinformation I picked up somewhere. Or maybe there's some esoteric Pure Land school that I don't know about which shares teachings regarding a Primordial Buddha.
Tientai - I checked Swanson and Ng and while I did find mentions of an "Eternal Buddha" that the historical Buddha was said to be a manifestation of, as per the Lotus Sutra, I did not find an explicit mention that all Buddhas were manifestations of this self-same Eternal Buddha. Interestingly, the Sutra on All-embracing Goodness Bodhisattva, that is in the 4 works included in "Tiantai Lotus Texts" from BDK mentions that Shakyamuni had innumerable emanations in the 10 directions, but also mentions (in verse) that Buddha Splendid Virtue will also emanate innumerable Buddhas. It then goes to say that one must also praise each Buddha of the ten directions who each emanate innumerable Buddhas. Emanations are one of the 10 powers of the Tathagata, so the ability to do this should be standard for each Buddha. Maybe someone from Tendai will chime in, but I haven't yet found an explicit statement that all other named Buddhas in the 10 directions are emanations of the eternal Buddha of Shakyamuni (referring to his Dharmakaya aspect).

Shingon - Reading the Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra, page 4 makes the claim that bodhisattvas are not emanations of (Maha)Vairocana, but that he will appear as one to teach the mantra path.

The Sūtra of the Dharma Procedure to Visualize Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, in another way: “Śākyamuni Buddha is called Vairocana, who is everywhere, and whose abode is called eternal silent radiance. It is formed by the eternity pāramitā and established by the true-self pāramitā; it is where the purity pāramitā ends all appearances of existence, and where the bliss pāramitā never abides in the appearances of one’s body and mind” (T09n0277, 0392c15–19)

The Sūtra of Achieving a Clear Understanding of the Mahāyāna (in 2 fascicles) 大乘同性經 (T16n0673) says "Thus, good man, a Tathāgata’s ineffable body, dharma body, wisdom body, unequaled body, peerless body, Vairocana body, sky body, endless body, indestructible body, boundless body, ultimate reality body, no-falsity body, and no-analogy body are called His truth body."

Shingon.org says "In General Buddhism, it is said that Buddhism was taught by the Buddha Sakyamuni. The Shingon Tradition however teaches that it was the dharmakaya Buddha, the Tathagata Mahavairocana, and not Íakyamuni, who taught the Shingon teachings.

Mahayana Buddhism teaches that there are three bodies (kayas) or modes of manifestation of the principal of enlightenment in the world:
1. the Dharmakaya (hosshin)
2. the Sambhogakaya (hojin)
3. the Nirmanakaya (ojin)
In other words, there are three way in which we may view the Buddha, The Enlightened One. The follower should always remember that these three are one truth, or in the words of the Shingon Tradition, "the three bodies are one (sanjin soku itsu)."

The dharmakaya is that aspect of the Buddha which has eternal and unchanging existence. This is the foundation of being of all things in the universe. It is also the underlying foundation of being of the two other bodies of the Buddha. In the Shingon Tradition, the dharmakaya Buddha is given the name "Mahavairocana.""

In the BDK book called "Shingon Texts"
"According to the Necklace Sutra (cf.
T. 24: 1015c, 1019c–1020a), Vairocana is the Dharma body as
[truth-]prin ciple, Rocana corresponds to the Dharma body as wisdom,
and Shåkya[muni] is called the transformation body."

and

"The Self-enjoyment Buddha brings forth from his heart
innumerable bodhisattvas, all of identical nature, namely,
adamantine nature. They receive initiation to their duties
and positions from the Tathågata Vairocana, and these bodhisattvas
each expound a gateway to the three mysteries, which
they o›er to Vairocana and All the Tathågatas and then
request empowerment and instructions."

and

"This is expedient means constituting the end, the Lord of the
Mind Mahåvairocana Tathågata, the intrinsic wisdom of the dharma -
dhåtu, the eternally quiescent and fundamental dharmakåya. It is
the complete essence of the [lotus] flower dais, it transcends the petals,
and moreover it is not of the realm of thought or speech. Only Buddhas
and solely Buddhas can realize this. With this expedient, all images
that appear are identical to great emptiness. The central dais of the
heart is empty space possessing all forms. It is the causeless dharma
kåyamanifesting forms. In other words, this is the universal ocean
assembly of the maöala of the empowered world in the ten directions.
It is not a place beyond reach. Everywhere it is united with
the dharmadhåtu. This is entirely the form body of one essence of
the Tathågata Mahåvairocana. Since it is endowed with all virtues,
it is the Buddha. All Buddhas are the being (sattva) Mahåvairocana.
All beings are Vairocana. Gods, råksasas, demons, and spirits too
are features of the dharmakåya."

and

"When people transmit this teaching, they should present
o›erings such as caityas and be endowed with the virtues of the
arhats. How much more should they have faith and practice! Such
people are white lotuses among people. They are relics of the dharma
kåya. They combine the four bodies of Vairocana, that is, they
are identical to the innate and pure five wisdoms of all Buddhas.
The nine consciousnesses of my nature arise from the two forms
of karma resulting from the past, are nondual, and have the same
nature. The great being (mahåsattva) [Mahåvairocana] of Shingon
has the three mysteries alike and is like deep space. If the
dharmadhåtu is a palace, the site of the practice is the Land
Adorned with Mysteries. If there is a main deity with six elements,
then living beings are the main deity. If the main deity and the
yogin are fundamentally equal, then I realize the origin. I am the
ancient Buddha."

I'm not really sure how to take these as a whole. I can still read it as saying all sentient beings have the same empty nature and can realize the Dharma body (upon becoming a Buddha) that is identical with the dharma realm and the Dharma body that is referred to by Vairocana.

FWIW - yes, there is a branch of Shingon that equates Amida with Mahavairocana:
https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/b ... s_2013.pdf

Maybe a Shingon teacher will chime in.
Otherwise, for further reading, I'd suggest:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=154

Other esoteric schools - There are so many threads on this:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=4181
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=23708
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=5174
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p304598
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... =40#p48555

There is also esoteric Pure Land, but they only seem to have released information on their Mudras publicly (have the book, haven't met a teacher).

Overall - As I said, for Pure Land, it's really not a huge portion of the teaching. According to standard Mahayana, all Buddhas have 3 bodies: Transformation body, Reward body, and formless Dharma body of emptiness. Worrying about who's a manifestation/emanation of whom (or what) isn't really high on my priority list for practice. Understanding that stuff isn't a requirement for the Pure Land path and none of the masters spends a lot of time on this.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by DGA » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:00 pm

Coëmgenu wrote: The Nichiren sect inherited the belief in the Primordial Buddha from the larger Lotus tradition in general, and it is shared with the esoteric schools, who call him Mahāvairocana.
This may be a subject for one or two different threads, but here goes anyway.

I'd like to see how the Primordial Buddha concept as presented in the various Nichiren schools is in continuity from, say, Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi).

Are you certain that the esoteric schools such as Shingon-shu understand Mahavairocana in the same way that Nichiren understood Shakyamuni as the Primordial Buddha?

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:38 pm

DGA wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote: The Nichiren sect inherited the belief in the Primordial Buddha from the larger Lotus tradition in general, and it is shared with the esoteric schools, who call him Mahāvairocana.
This may be a subject for one or two different threads, but here goes anyway.

I'd like to see how the Primordial Buddha concept as presented in the various Nichiren schools is in continuity from, say, Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi).

Are you certain that the esoteric schools such as Shingon-shu understand Mahavairocana in the same way that Nichiren understood Shakyamuni as the Primordial Buddha?
No. But they both believe in an existent-after-death Tathāgata that is identical to Dharmakāya and who is the true identity of Shakyamuni, to the best of my knowledge. This is a redundant statement on the Nichiren side of things because it is tantamount to saying "Shakyamuni is the true identity of Shakyamuni", but you get what I mean if I am explaining it right, hopefully. And both have a tradition of the phemoninal world as being interrelated to the Buddhafield of the Primordial, but beyond that, there can be any number of differences it seems.

For instance some Tibetans have a tradition of seeing the world as the "body of Mahāvairocana" in a certain way, and this body is either seen as or not seen as, or is or not is, pure or impure depending on the source I've encountered. Malcolm talks about this in a more informed way than I am capable of in the Primordial Buddha thread.

It isn't identical to the Primordial Buddha of the East Asian Lotus tradition. Similarly, there is also differences in how East Asian Lotus traditions conceive of the Pure Land of the Primordial Buddha that also already came up in the "Primordial Buddha" thread. In short, the Primordial Buddha's of different schools seem to share a general "Primordial" nature, but there are different traditions of explaining the specificities of exactly what and how they are supposed to be or not be.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by DGA » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:47 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
DGA wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote: The Nichiren sect inherited the belief in the Primordial Buddha from the larger Lotus tradition in general, and it is shared with the esoteric schools, who call him Mahāvairocana.
This may be a subject for one or two different threads, but here goes anyway.

I'd like to see how the Primordial Buddha concept as presented in the various Nichiren schools is in continuity from, say, Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi).

Are you certain that the esoteric schools such as Shingon-shu understand Mahavairocana in the same way that Nichiren understood Shakyamuni as the Primordial Buddha?
No. But they both believe in an existent-after-death Tathāgata that is identical to Dharmakāya and who is the true identity of Shakyamuni, to the best of my knowledge.
Any Tathagata is identical to the Dharmakaya, because there is only one Dharmakaya, and all three kayas are inseparable. Wherever there is a Buddha, there are all three kayas. This is true of Shakyamuni or any other Buddha. Are you certain that Zhiyi posits Shakyamuni is a Primordial Buddha, as Nichiren does? Or is this unique to Nichiren's presentation of the Dharma?
And both have a tradition of the phemoninal world as being interrelated to the Buddhafield of the Primordial, but beyond that, there can be any number of differences it seems.
A Buddhafield is a Buddhafield. What's a "Buddhafield of the Primordial"? is that distinct from any other Buddhafield?

Going back to the business about the esoteric schools: is there any evidence that Mahavairocana is understood as a cipher for Shakyamuni as a Primordial Buddha?

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by DGA » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:51 pm

for myself: the concept of "primordial Buddha" is redundant. Buddhahood is always already primordial, and always right now. No limitations, therefore temporal descriptors are meaningless.

It's true that Shakyamuni Buddha claims to have a really, really long lifespan in the Lotus Sutra. Does it necessarily follow that Shakyamuni is the only accessible or extant Buddha of this moment?

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:55 pm

I think all accounts agree on Dharmakaya being the fundamental nature (Buddha Nature) of all sentient beings. The various arguments seem to come down to whether this is some Brahman-like entity (which is kind of how the Nichiren interpretation comes off) or whether it is individuated. I would think the Madhyamaka answer would be "neither".

Malcolm had some good quotes in some of those threads:
Malcolm wrote:There is nothing to discuss — the dharmakāya is beyond names, words and concepts [and images]. Ideas like "...according to Nichiren, the various Buddhas of the various schools are actually the Eternal Buddha of the Lotus Sutra" are completely relative. The dharmakāya is no more "Śākyamuni" than it is "Vairocana" or "Samantabhadra", etc.
Malcolm wrote:
Enochian wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Many people these days in Zen understand terms like "One Mind" exactly in the same sense as Advaita. Which is why we see cross-over teachers like Adyashanti and so on.
How is this different than what you said about all Buddhas sharing the same one mind?

Also, since according to Mādhyamaka philosophy, there is actually NO difference between a Buddha and a sentient being, wouldn't EVERYONE share the same one mind?
As for your first question: all Buddhas share the same realization. In this sense they "share" the same mind. The wisdom of a Buddha is free from being one or many. Since the dharmakāya is free from all extremes, it does not make sense to assert that Buddhas have differentiated mind streams. Their omniscience is identical because, to put it into relative terms, their minds and the object of their realization, emptiness free from extremes, have merged since Buddhas are in a constant state of equipoise on reality.

In terms of Madhyamaka, Buddhas and sentient beings are the same in so far as neither are ultimately established. Conventionally speaking, however, sentient beings have not abandoned everything to be abandoned and realized everything to be realized, but Buddhas have. That constitutes the difference between buddhas and sentient beings.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:58 pm

DGA wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
DGA wrote:
This may be a subject for one or two different threads, but here goes anyway.

I'd like to see how the Primordial Buddha concept as presented in the various Nichiren schools is in continuity from, say, Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi).

Are you certain that the esoteric schools such as Shingon-shu understand Mahavairocana in the same way that Nichiren understood Shakyamuni as the Primordial Buddha?
No. But they both believe in an existent-after-death Tathāgata that is identical to Dharmakāya and who is the true identity of Shakyamuni, to the best of my knowledge.
Any Tathagata is identical to the Dharmakaya, because there is only one Dharmakaya, and all three kayas are inseparable. Wherever there is a Buddha, there are all three kayas. This is true of Shakyamuni or any other Buddha. Are you certain that Zhiyi posits Shakyamuni is a Primordial Buddha, as Nichiren does? Or is this unique to Nichiren's presentation of the Dharma?
And both have a tradition of the phemoninal world as being interrelated to the Buddhafield of the Primordial, but beyond that, there can be any number of differences it seems.
A Buddhafield is a Buddhafield. What's a "Buddhafield of the Primordial"? is that distinct from any other Buddhafield?

Going back to the business about the esoteric schools: is there any evidence that Mahavairocana is understood as a cipher for Shakyamuni as a Primordial Buddha?
Shakyamuni, as well as all over Buddhas, are an emanation of Mahāvairocana in the Mahāyānabrahmajālasūtra:
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha, am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; on a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.
To the best of my knowledge this is also what is believed in Tiāntái, however the Primordial Buddha is simply Shakyamuni who emanates himself rather than Mahāvairocana who emanates Shakyamuni. I may be wrong though. This is an area of Buddhism that I find very confusing.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:09 pm

That Primordial Buddha thread has a lot of good stuff from Malcolm:
There is no primordial buddha, since there was never a beginning. However, there have always been the three kāyas, since they too are without beginning and there is only one dharmakāya of the buddhas. So, we can say euphemistically that the dharmakāya is the primordial buddha in the sense that the dharmakāya is the nature of reality to be realized, and whether it is realized or not, reality is always there to be realized.
Quoting Chandrakirti:
As for the ādibuddha, some claim it does exist because a buddhahood without gathering accumulations is not reasonable; if there is no other buddha, the gathering accumulations itself is not reasonable; and because of beginninglessness, a single buddha is also not reasonable. Also many buddhas are not asserted because the dharmakāya is undifferentiated within the immaculate dhātu. Therefore, from the perspective of the dharmakāya, the time of full awakening and the time of being are not at odds. Therefore, from the perspective of the dharmakāya, it is also reasonable to present an ādibuddha, because ultimate nature of the dharmakāya is single."
Malcolm wrote:It is a false criticism, because Mahāvairocana is the nature of the five elements and is present through their presence in everyone and everything. In Shingon, the dharmakāya is imminent in all phenomena.
Malcolm wrote:You don't get it. We live inside of the body of Mahavairocana. There are no budhafields not included in Mahavairocana's body. We live in a world system which is contained in the palm of his hand, Kusumatalagarbha-alamkara. From that point of view, the goings on in our own little Sahaloka are but trifles.
Malcolm wrote:The point is that all worlds and buddhafields, pure or impure, are contained within the body of the mahāsambhogakāya.
Malcolm wrote:We can call the dharmakāya the primordial buddha if we like, but the dharmakāya does not exist inside of time, so it is not really "primordial."
Malcolm wrote:Yes, the realization of the dharmakāya comes before the manifestation of the two rūpakāyas.

So, yes, there is no being who is a true "First Buddha."
Funny, his descriptions never make me feel like I'm out of my depth, they seem to easily make sense of this whole issue.

*note 1: "ādibuddha" literally translates to "Primordial Buddha"
*note 2: 本佛 is defined as Primordial Buddha. 本 can me "root", "origin", "source", "foundation", "base"... but it can also mean "present" as in "current". 本日 = "today".
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:21 pm

Admin_PC wrote:Funny, his descriptions never make me feel like I'm out of my depth, they seem to easily make sense of this whole issue.
I think that's because Malcolm is just making general statements about Mahāyāna Buddhism that ideally we should all be familiar with. Its interesting to note that there wasn't actually any conflict in the original thread, just miscommunication and misunderstood intent, all of the absurd ad-hominem posts that the moderators removed from that thread aside. I'm going out on a limb, but I'm sure that Malcolm would agree that these are not especially profound or novel revelations. This is all in the Buddhavacana. The only difference is that there is a tradition of using the name "Mahāvairocana" in some traditions and a tradition of using the name/concept "Shakyamuni" in others. Similarly there is a tradition of calling the world "body of Mahāvairocana" in some traditions and a tradition of calling the world "Pure Land of the Buddha" in others. There doesn't need to be a big kerfuffle as long as we all know words are upāya. That being said, because words are upāya, no one has any business asserting the "correctness" of their mere words over the mere words of another if the same idea is being expressed and the same idea or meaning is agreed upon.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:50 pm

Just for clarification -

本佛 in Nichiren is the Triple Bodied Buddha in which all three bodies do not have a beginning (or end). "Primordial Buddha" is a term I use for convenience because most people don't read Chinese. The fact that he is called Shakyamuni is, to an extent, incident to his appearance as the Sage of the Sakya Clan. It is invoked to identify Gotama as a manifestation of the 本佛.

This is a sketchy translation of Zhiyi's Confessional Samadhi, but it gives an idea of how he viewed Shakyamuni Buddha:

https://web.archive.org/web/20070222150 ... textD6.htm
(tientai.net is down, but luckily we have the waybackmachine!)
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships the Original Teacher, the Buddha Sakyamuni.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships the Buddha of the Past, Abundant Treasures.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships the Emanations of the Buddhas in the Ten Directions:

With all one’s heart, one reverently worships eastward to the Buddha Virtue of Goodness & all the Buddhas in the east.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships southeastward to the Buddha Virtue Without Lament & all the Buddhas in the southeast.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships southward to the Buddha Sandal Virtue & all the Buddhas in the south.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships southwestward to the Buddha Offering Treasure & all the Buddhas in the southwest.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships westward to the Buddha Limitless Brilliance & all the Buddhas in the west.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships northwestward to the Buddha Blossom of Virtue & all the Buddhas in the northwest.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships northward to the Buddha Signs of Virtue & all the Buddhas in the north.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships northeastward to the Buddha Practicing the Three Vehicles & all the Buddhas in the northeast.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships upward to the Buddha Spreading Many Virtues & to all the Buddhas up above.
With all one’s heart, one reverently worships downward to the Buddha Brilliant Virtue & to all the Buddhas below.
Based on the Lotus Sutra, the emanations are understood to be emanations of Shakyamuni who gather from the ten directions.

There is a better translation of this ritual in Sources of the Chinese Tradition published by Columbia.

Sorry to interject.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:05 am

The footnote in that link is pretty interesting there:
1. Emanations of The Buddhas of the Ten Directions: In the 11th Chapter (The Treasure Tower) Sakyamuni tells the assembly that because of the original vow of Buddha Abundant Treasures, the Buddha who is expounding The Lotus Sutra must first reassemble in one place all the Buddhas who are presently expounding The Lotus Sutra in the ten directions as His Emanations; only then can the Tower be opened and the Buddha Abundant Treasures be revealed. Sakyamuni assembles his countless Emanations (calling on the Buddha from the east first, Virtue of Goodness) and the Tower opens, revealing the Buddha Abundant Treasures. Abundant Treasures (the ‘Whole Body’) is the original Buddha (Dharmakaya) whereas Sakyamuni represents the manifestation of the Buddha (Nirmanakaya). The Buddha-Emanations of the Ten Directions (the ‘Parts of the Body’) represent the virtues & wisdom attained by the Buddha & are the Body of Reward (Sambhoga-Kaya). The names of the Buddhas of the Ten Directions are described in the 5th Chapter (‘Easy Practices’, i.e. Worship of the Buddhas) of Nagarjuna’s Discourse on the Ten Stages. The Buddhas Virtue of Goodness (of the east) and Sandal Virtue (south) are cited in The Sutra on the Observation of the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Queequeg » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:12 am

That footnote is interesting, though I always took the site's author with a grain of salt. I wished he had provided sources for his statements. I might have more on that view. I'll take a look around.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:30 am

An interesting etymological side note:
From the service, Taisho 1941, the Buddha in the west is 無量明佛 (translated as "Limitless Brilliance"). The first 2 characters (無量) are the same that is used for Amitayus (無量壽). The third character 明 is used for the Buddhist term "vidya". The name shows up in a few sutras talking about names of various Buddhas, including the Sutra of the Names of the Thousand Buddhas of the Current Age/Kalpa (現在賢劫千佛名經). The character 光 is usually used for "light" in the Amitabha sense.

Doesn't add anything to the discussion, but I thought it was interesting. :)
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:06 am

Queequeg wrote:That footnote is interesting, though I always took the site's author with a grain of salt. I wished he had provided sources for his statements. I might have more on that view. I'll take a look around.
So the "5th Chapter (‘Easy Practices’, i.e. Worship of the Buddhas) of Nagarjuna’s Discourse on the Ten Stages" that he mentions, actually refers to Chapter 9 in Volume 5 of that work. Amida's considered a separate Buddha from the 10 Buddhas mentioned in that section (which are in the repentance service). Nagarjuna goes off and devotes like 5 pages to Amida and then goes back to giving Buddha Names to venerate, starting with about 3 pages on the 7 Buddhas of this Sahaloka (plus future Buddha Maitreya). Then some more Buddhas and about 3 pages worth of Bodhisattvas.

I tried to track down Taisho mentions of the Buddha Abundant Treasures (多寶佛) to see if there's any credence to the quote and I'm not finding too much - at least not in 1941 & 1942 - the 2 Lotus Repentance Samadhi related texts or any of the other Zhiyi texts (1911-1951). He shows up in the 2 mentioned, plus 1923 (諸法無諍三昧法門) and 1944 (禮法華經儀式), but nothing that would make me think that Zhiyi's writings contained the idea described in the footnote.

Interestingly: there's a whole separate section in 1941 that's a little different than the above:
南無十方佛。南無十方法。南無十方僧
Namo Buddhas of the 10 directions. Namo Dharma of the 10 directions. Namo Sangha of the 10 directions.
南無釋迦牟尼佛 南無多寶佛 南無釋迦牟尼分身佛 
Namo Shakyamuni Buddha. Namo Abundant Treasures Buddha. Namo emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha.
南無妙法蓮華經 南無文殊師利菩薩 南無普賢菩薩
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Namo Manjusri Bodhisattva. Namo Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by jikai » Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:08 am

Hi everyone, hopefully I'm not derailing anything here, but I made similar comments to a similar PM wayback, and as it was asked how Tendai/ Tiantai views these things, I thought I'd add some info here. My apologies if it is off topic.

How does Tendai usually teach these concepts?

These are quite complex questions but I'll try to deal with them as simply as I can. We all know that Tendai is a very broad school, and that a number of ideas exist under the umbrella of 'Tendai'. However, it is possible to speak from what might be called the orthodox or atleast 'base-line' position. This is the position agreed to on Hieizan as a standard, and taught at Gyoin, Taisho University, and the Eizan Gakuin. With this in mind, I will try to keep my answers as close to my understanding of that position as I can. Again, please keep in mind that I have limited sources to hand, and this is a very complex set of questions.

In order to start this off on the right foot, I'd like to make a note of clarrification. Zhiyi/Tendai Daishi referred to the Buddha of the Lotus Sutra (specifically of the 本門/16th ch.) at times as both the 久遠實成 or Kuon Jitsujo [Enlightened since the infinite past- carrying the connotation of 'Eternal'] and as 本佛 Hon Butsu [Original Buddha- in the sense of the foundation from which all others spring]. The reason I make this point clear is because Tendai Daishi's use of these terms means that while at times they over-lap, on other occasions they are mean't to highlight slightly different concepts. What makes the whole situation just a tad more confusing is that Tendai Daishi Zhiyi also uses the term 本佛 as a short hand for what we might like to think of as the beginnings of Original Enlightenment ideas.

Zhiyi's practice based works (His three famous Meditation manuals, the 小止観、摩訶止観、六妙法門 次第禅門 are noticeably, and purposely vague regarding these questions. In these texts Tendai Daishi does treat references to the Dharmakaya, when he references the idea at all, as being contemplative in nature. In other words, the Dharmakaya is ultimate truth, is indivisible with the Dharmadhatu, is to be thought of as enlightenment itself. This is to be expected because of the nature of the texts.

However, in the Fahua Xuanyi 法華玄義 and the Weimo Lueshu 維摩經略疏 (Commentary on the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra), Tendai Daishi makes his position on these questions quite clear. In the former if my memory is correct, he specifically states that the Dharmakaya is Vairocana 毘盧遮那, the Sambhogakaya is Locana, and the Nirmanakaya is Shakyamuni. In the former, He tells us that the revelation of the beginningless life-span of The Buddha in ch. 16 of The Lotus Sutra, reveals that this is ultimately in essence a preachment of the Dharmakaya, and that the wise see the Dharmakaya preach it. That in the sense that many in the assembly understand the Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra to be 'literally' the Buddha that attained enlightenment more kalpas ago than if one were to grind all of the worlds to dust, it is a preaching by the Sambhogakaya. And that for those who see it as a preaching by 'The Shakyamuni' it is a preaching by the Nirmanakaya. In other words, Tendai Daishi draws direct parallels between the Dharmakaya and the 'true' 'eternal' Buddha of the Lotus Sutra. He also clearly makes reference to the Dharmakaya as being Vairocana.

This was built upon and solidified by later Tiantai figures, notably Guanding 灌頂 and Zhanran 明楽大師・荊溪・湛然, to a slightly different effect by Siming Zhili 四明知禮. So these identifications are quite uniformly accepted accross early Tiantai thought. By the time Japanese Tendai starts to make its own advancements in this field, it presents itself largely undisputed. And this is partly why Dengyo Daishi Saicho 伝教大師・ 最澄 was so successful with his suggestion of the Bodhisattva Precepts of the Brahmajala Sutra 梵網経 as a replacement for the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya 四分律 (The Brahmajala being preached by Vairocana), and why he/ earlier Tiantai Masters made the suggestion to begin with. Once Taimitsu comes into the arena, the identification between Vairocana/Dainichi Nyorai, and the Eternal Buddha of the Lotus Sutra, was a given. The idea has been a particularly crucial point of doctirne inasmuch as it so nicely unifies the Bodhisattva Precepts, with the Lotus Sutra, and the Mikkyo.

BUT, having said all of that, one of the key doctrines which developed within Tendai, particularly signifcant to Taimitsu was the concept that Shakyamuni and Dainichi Nyorai were one and the same Buddha. Strictly speaking, this meant that Mahāvairocana 大日如來 was understood to be the dharmakāya 法身 of Śhākyamuni Buddha 釋迦牟尼. However, it came to mean something quite more than that. That isn't mean't in the sense that all Buddhas are simply manifestations of the Dharmakaya, it is the suggestion in some sense that there is the Shakyamuni that spoke all of the sutras (other than the 円教・Lotus Sutra), and the Shakyamuni revealed as eternal in the Lotus Sutra. This was in some sense a concession to the fact that Tendai is a Lotus Sutra school, and that one way or another, there would always be some discomfort with the idea of reducing the Teacher of The Lotus Sutra, to the Buddha of the Esoteric Tantras. This means that within Tendai today, both Shakyamuni and Dainichi Nyorai are identified with each other in such a way that they are considered simply different names with the same connotation. Tendai temples therefore often have either Dainichi Nyorai or Shaka Nyorai as their Honzon, with the implication that the other is immediately implied.

There are of course a number of scriptural references given to make these connections. Off of the top of my head, reference is made to the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue (Capping Sutra to The Lotus Sutra)觀普賢菩薩行法經 (declares that “Shakyamuni Buddha is called Vairocana (Dainichi Nyorai) Who Pervades All Places,and his dwelling place is called Eternally Tranquil Light, the place which is composed of permanency-paramita, and stabilized by self-paramita, the place where purity-paramita extinguishes the aspect of existence, where bliss-paramita does not abide in the aspect of one's body and mind, and where the aspects of all laws cannot be seen as either existing or nonexisting, the place of tranquil emancipation or prajna-paramita. Because these forms are based on permanent law, thus you must now meditate on the buddhas in all directions.” (釋迦牟尼名毘盧遮那遍一切處。其佛住處名常寂 光。常波羅蜜所攝成處。我波羅蜜所安立處。淨波羅蜜滅16有相處。17樂波羅蜜不住身心
相處。不見有無諸法相處。如寂解脱。乃至 般若波羅蜜。是色常住法故。如是應當觀十 画像方佛). Another example I can think of is the 'Four Joyous Actions' 四安楽行 of the Lotus Sutra (the first three anyway)[身安樂行, 口安樂行, 意安樂行{ 誓願安樂行}] being identified with the Sanmitsu三密 [身・口・意] and thus the claim that they are both teachings of the Dharmakaya.

There were notable exceptions though. Genshin 源信・恵心僧都 for example, mentions (I will check the reference if anyone is interested) that 'he has heard it said' [implies that it is not his opinion but...] that the Dharmakaya is Vairocana 毘盧遮那, the Sambhogakaya is Amitayus, and the Nirmanakaya is Shakyamuni. Although my knowledge of Mainland Pure Land developments is not all that developed, it is my understanding that similar schemes were suggested by Pure Land Masters. As a sidenote, the conflation of Mahavairocana and Vairocana in East Asian Buddhism adds to the confusion in this debate.


Long story short, the understanding I've outlined (too) simply here, is the orthodox line within Tendai, and remains so to this day. On my desk here at work, I have a textbook that we used at Gyoin called the 'Doctrines of The Tendai Sect' 天台宗の教義 which was published by a Professor at Taisho University in the Tendai Studies Department. It contains a chapter called "The Teacher of the Perfect Teachings 円教(Lotus Teachings, and the Trikaya" in which the above ideas are summarised. There is also another chapter entitled "Vairocana and Shakyamuni 大日と釈迦" which points out that the identification between the two was such that they came to be considered one and the same. I hope that has been somewhat helpful to someone? If I have written something unintelligible please let me know.

Gassho,
Jikai.
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Re: Primordial Amitābha?

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:29 am

Thanks so much! :anjali: :anjali: :anjali:
I learned a lot, it was a very helpful post.
If you manage to find the source of Genshin's info, I'd appreciate it, but if not don't stress over it.
Really appreciate the input.
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