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ATC
07 May 12, 16:35
Chapter 22 of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra states:

[I]O good man! The Buddha and Bodhisattva see three categories of killing, which are those of the grades 1) low, 2) medium, and 3) high. Low applies to the class of insects and all kinds of animals, except for the transformation body of the Bodhisattva who may present himself as such. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, through his vows and in certain circumstances, gets born as an animal. This is killing beings of the lowest class. By reason of harming life of the lowest grade, one gains life in the realms of hell, animals or hungry ghosts and suffers from the down most “duhkha” [pain, mental or physical]. Why so? Because these animals have done somewhat of good. Hence, one who harms them receives full karmic returns for his actions. This is killing of the lowest grade. The medium grade of killing concerns killing [beings] from the category of humans up to the class of anagamins. This is middle-grade killing. As a result, one gets born in the realms of hell, animals or hungry ghosts and fully receives the karmic consequences befitting the middle grade of suffering. This is medium-grade killing. Top-rank killing relates to killing one’s father or mother, an arhat, pratyekabudda, or a Bodhisattva of the last established state. This is top-rank killing. In consequence of this, one falls into the greatest Avichi Hell [the most terrible of all the hells] and endures the karmic consequences befitting the highest level of suffering. This is top-grade killing.

O good man! A person who kills an Icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds named above. O good man! All those Brahmins are of the class of the Icchantika. For example, such actions as digging the ground, mowing the grass, felling trees, cutting up corpses, ill-speaking, and lashing do not call forth karmic returns. Killing an icchantika comes within the same category. No karmic results ensue. Why not? Because no Brahmins and no five laws to begin with faith, etc. are involved here [Maybe: no Brahmins are concerned with the "five roots" of faith, vigour, mindfulness, concentration, and Wisdom]. For this reason, killing [of this kind] does not carry one off to hell.

Again in Chapter 40 of the same Sutra it is stated; "O good man! Because the Icchantikas are cut off from the root of good. All beings possess such five roots as faith, etc. But the people of the Icchantika class are eternally cut off from such. Because of this, one may well kill an ant and gain the sin of harming, but the killing of an Icchantika does not [constitute a sin]."
"O World-Honoured One! The icchantika possesses nothing that is good. Is it for this reason that such a person is called an "Icchantika"?
The Buddha said: "It is so, it is so!"
Who are these Icchantikas where killing them does not incur any karmic returns?

[The Buddha] said: A monk, nun, male or female lay disciple may be one. One who having rejected the scriptures with unpleasant speech does not, subsequently, even ask for forgiveness has entered into the path of the Icchantika. Those who have committed the four parajikas and those who have committed the five sins of immediate retribution, who even if they are aware that they have entered into a fearful place do not perceive it as fearful, who do not attach themselves to the side of the true teachings and without making any efforts at all think ‘‘let’s get rid of the true teachings,’’ who proclaim even that that very [teaching] is blame-worthy - they too have entered into the path of the Icchantika. Those who claim ‘‘There is no Buddha, there is no teaching, there is no monastic community’’ are also said to have entered the path of the Icchantika.

The definition of an Icchantika would consist of those who are considered to be spiritual dead such as the skeptics, materialists and the communists. Others who blaspheme the religion and those who do not believe in the Doctrines of the Buddha are also Icchantikas. In short, it would include all non-Buddhists since the Buddhist teachings of no-self, impermanence, Emptiness, stress and suffering are uniquely Buddhist not found in other Faiths.

Is this teaching too extreme?

Element
07 May 12, 19:25
Maybe the Mahayana Tradition takes a more pragmatic approach when it comes to the protection and preservation of the Buddhist teaching and beliefs. And when the religion is under threat, the preservation of it should takes precedent over many other things.
To kill to preserve Buddhism makes no sense at all because Buddhism is the practise of non-killing. How can practising killing preserve the practise of non-killing?

:dontknow:

Abhaya
07 May 12, 19:51
[Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Chapter 40:] "O good man! Because the Icchantikas are cut off from the root of good. All beings possess such five roots as faith, etc. But the people of the Icchantika class are eternally cut off from such. Because of this, one may well kill an ant and gain the sin of harming, but the killing of an Icchantika does not [constitute a sin]."

[...]

The definition of an Icchantika would consist of those who are considered to be spiritual dead such as the skeptics, materialists and the communists. Others who blaspheme the religion and those who do not believe in the Doctrines of the Buddha are also Icchantikas. In short, it would include all non-Buddhists since the Buddhist teachings of no-self, impermanence, Emptiness, stress and suffering are uniquely Buddhist not found in other Faiths.

Is this teaching too extreme?

Definitely.

In fact, to this list can be added Theravada practitioners as well as plenty of Mahayana practitioners who do not uphold the reality of the Eternal Self or Atman expounded by the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which proclaims itself to be THE final teaching of the Buddha, overwriting all others.

The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra is one of those texts that not only contradicts the entire corpus of the Buddha's teachings, but is also internally inconsistent. The tendency to threaten "disbelievers" with punishment of hell and immense suffering is, unfortunately, relatively common in Mahayana literature (though not all), especially so in the extremest of the pseudepigraphic works (inaccurately attributed to the historical Buddha) such as the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (Nirvana Sutra) and Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra), each of which claim to have the final word.

Other Mahayana Sutras are much more reasonable and kind in dealing with the Icchantikas (see Lankavatara Sutra), and many make no reference to them at all (see Heart and Diamond Sutras). The Tathagatagarbha Sutras (of which the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is one), on the other hand, make some extreme claims and even appear to encourage violence at certain instances.

The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra is far too extreme for pardoning and thereby tacitly sanctioning the murder of Icchantikas. This is my opinion as a practitioner of Mahayana.

Esho
07 May 12, 21:26
It is hard to imagine a highly developed mind harboring the intention of killing.

I don't know if the sutta is extreme or not... it is just nonsense.

:(

Element
07 May 12, 21:56
I would propose the writer of the literature, themself, is Icchantika. So, again, it makes no sense, because the writer is proposing they, themself, should be killed :dunce:

Goofaholix
07 May 12, 22:14
Looks like the writers were trying to justify a Buddhist jihad.

The irony is they possibly were vegetarian as well being unwilling to kill the smallest bug.

Lazy Eye
07 May 12, 22:39
Looks like the writers were trying to justify a Buddhist jihad.

Indeed, and it provides a convenient rationale for "Buddhist" state leaders seeking to wage violent warfare with the blessing of scripture -- as has happened on at least a few occasions.

How should Mahayana teachers and practitioners address such problematic passages in the sutras and other literature, given the lack of any authoritative body that can decide such questions?

Aloka
07 May 12, 22:53
How should Mahayana teachers and practitioners address such problematic passages in the sutras and other literature, given the lack of any authoritative body that can decide such questions?


If it doesn't make any sense - then for peace of mind and harmonious living, its probabably best to ignore it !

ATC
08 May 12, 06:54
Originally Posted by Abhaya

In fact, to this list can be added Theravada practitioners as well as plenty of Mahayana practitioners who do not uphold the reality of the Eternal Self or Atman expounded by the Mahaparinirvana Sutra

Interesting, where in the Sutra can I find such inference of the existence of an atman?


Originally Posted by Element

I would propose the writer of the literature, themself, is Icchantika. So, again, it makes no sense, because the writer is proposing they, themself, should be killed

You could be right – Chapter 2 XXII of the Lankavatara-sutra listed two type of icchantika. The Author(s) of the Mahaparinirvana could fall into either of these categories.

The Blessed One said:

Again, Mahāmati, how is it that the Icchantika never awaken the desire for emancipation? It is because they have abandoned all the stock of merit, and because they cherish certain vows for all beings since beginningless time. What is meant by abandoning all the stock of merit? It refers to [those Buddhists] who have abandoned the Bodhisattva collection [of the canonical texts], making the false accusation that they are not in conformity with the sutras, the codes of morality, and the emancipation. By this they have forsaken all the stock of merit and will not enter into Nirvana.

Secondly again, Mahāmati, there are Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who, on account of their original vows made for all beings, saying, "So long as they do not attain Nirvana, I will not attain it myself," keep themselves away from Nirvana. This, Mahāmati, is the reason of their not entering into Nirvana, and because of this they go on the way of the Icchantika.

Again, Mahāmati said; Who, Blessed One, would never enter Nirvana?

The Blessed One replied: Knowing that all things are in Nirvana itself from the very beginning, the Bodhisattva-Icchantika would never enter Nirvana. But those Icchantikas who have forsaken all the stock of merit [finally] do. Those Icchantikas, Mahāmati, who have forsaken all the stock of merit might someday be influenced by the power of the Tathagatas and be induced at any moment to foster the stock of merit. Why? Because, Mahāmati, no beings are left aside by the Tathagatas. For this reason, Mahāmati, it is the Bodhisattva-Icchantika who never enters into Nirvana.

Abhaya
08 May 12, 15:17
Interesting, where in the Sutra can I find such inference of the existence of an atman?

Practically everywhere, but most notably in Chapter 3.



Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Chapter 3: On Grief

"Even though he has said that all phenomena [dharmas] are devoid of the Self, it is not that they are completely/ truly devoid of the Self. What is this Self? Any phenomenon [dharma] that is true [satya], real [tattva], eternal [nitya], sovereign/ autonomous/ self-governing [aisvarya], and whose ground/ foundation is unchanging [asraya-aviparinama], is termed ’the Self’ [atman]. This is as in the case of the great Doctor who well understands the milk medicine. The same is the case with the Tathagata. For the sake of beings, he says "there is the Self in all things" O you the four classes! Learn Dharma thus!"

http://www.nirvanasutra.net/nirvanasutraa3.htm


I wonder if the allowance of killing in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra could be for the same reason as in the Bhagavad Gita, which also posits the existence of an immortal Atman that exists eternally after death. The authors of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra and other Tathagatagarbha Sutras were likely responding to Madhyamaka. Whoever wrote the Mahaparinirvana Sutra may have been sympathetic to Advaita Vedanta, which was taking root in India.

Contrary to the claims of the Nirvana Sutra, the historical Buddha would never condone killing and did not endorse belief in an Atman. Most of Mahayana agrees.

ATC
09 May 12, 05:30
Originally Posted by Abhaya

Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Chapter 3: On Grief

"Even though he has said that all phenomena [dharmas] are devoid of the Self, it is not that they are completely/ truly devoid of the Self. What is this Self? Any phenomenon [dharma] that is true [satya], real [tattva], eternal [nitya], sovereign/ autonomous/ self-governing [aisvarya], and whose ground/ foundation is unchanging [asraya-aviparinama], is termed ’the Self’ [atman]. This is as in the case of the great Doctor who well understands the milk medicine. The same is the case with the Tathagata. For the sake of beings, he says "there is the Self in all things" O you the four classes! Learn Dharma thus!"

My take is that the whole of chapter 3 is about the expedient methods that should be employed dependent on the ‘ills’ of the non-Buddhist whom one is preaching to. What you have extracted above is what a non-Buddhist would conventionally consider and understood what the ‘Self’ meant to them. It does not mean that the sutra teaches the doctrine of Atman. It is just an expedient method to be employed if it necessary to do so when the dharma is preached to a non Buddhist.

Of course, ‘Do not kill’ to the Theravada tradition and also to most Mahayanists would be a ‘blanket cover’ to mean just that – ‘Do not kill’.

Abhaya
09 May 12, 14:43
Yes, chapter 3 covers expedient means. However, looking at the pattern in which Atman is taught in chapter 3 (and chapters 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, etc.), the Mahaparinirvana Sutra considers anatman a lesser truth than Atman. A few more examples in case the last one wasn't clear:



Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Chapter 3: On Grief

“Non-Self is Samsara, the Self is the Tathagata; impermanence is the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, the Eternal is the Tathagata’s Dharmakaya; suffering is all tirthikas, Bliss is Nirvana; the impure is all compounded [samskrta] dharmas , the Pure is the true Dharma that the Buddha and Bodhisattvas have. This is called non-perversion/ non-inversion. By not being inverted [in one’s views], one will know [both] the letter and the meaning. If one desires to be freed from the four perverse/ inverted [views - catur-viparita-drsti], one should know the Eternal, Blissful, the Self and the Pure in this manner.”


O you Bhiksus! Do not abide in the thought of the non-Eternal, Suffering, non-Self, and the not-Pure and be in the situation of those people who take stones, bits of wood, and gravel to be the true gem. You must study well the Way, how to act, wherever you go, and “meditate on the Self, the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure”. Know that the outer forms of the four items which you have learnt up to now are inversions and that anyone who desires to practise the Way should act like the wise man who deftly gets hold of the gem. This refers to the so-called thought of Self, and that of the Eternal, Bliss, and Pure."


“"There is no self, no man, no being, no life, no nurturing, no knowing, none that does, and none that receives." O Bhiksus! Know that what the tirthikas say is like the case of a worm that eats upon [a piece of] wood, from which, by chance, there appears what looks like a letter. Because of this, the Tathagata teaches and says no-self. This is to adjust beings and because he is aware of the occasion. Such non-self is, as occasion arises, spoken of, and it is [also] said that there is the Self. This is as in the case of the learned Doctor, who knows well the medicinal and non-medicinal qualities of milk. It is not as with common mortals, who might measure the size of their own self. Common mortals and the ignorant may measure the size of their own self and say, ’It is like the size of a thumb, like a mustard seed, or like the size of a mote.’ When the Tathagata speaks of Self, in no case are things thus. That is why he says: ’All things have no Self.’”

http://www.nirvanasutra.net/nirvanasutraa3.htm


Here, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra suggests that the Buddha teaches non-self to the puthujjana (common man, uninstructed worldling) because otherwise, he will misunderstand and get carried away with false notions of self. However, to the learned adept, the Buddha, knowing exactly which medicine to administer and exactly when and to whom it is appropriate to administer it, teaches Atman. This suggests that Atman is the ultimate truth, and anatman is expedient means.

Compare this to the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna encourages Arjuna to fight in the war, as death does not mean the end of the Atman. Thus arises the excuse to kill (as in the case of killing the Icchantikas).

Abhaya
09 May 12, 14:57
An additional two excerpts from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra on the Self:



Chapter 4: On Long Life

The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, on gaining sarpirmanda, lets all the innumerable beings gain the unsurpassed manna of Dharma. The Eternity, Bliss, Self, and Purity of the Tathagata thus come about [appear, are realised]. The Tathagata is one who is eternal and unchanging. This is not in the manner in which common mortals and the ignorant of the world say that Brahma is eternal. This eternality is always with the Tathagata and not with whatever else.




Chapter 7: On the Four Aspects

"What are the six tastes? Suffering is the taste of vinegar; the non-Eternal that of salt; non-Self that of bitterness; Bliss has the taste of sweetness; Self is of pungent taste; and the Eternal is light in taste. In secular life, too, there are three tastes, which are: 1) non-Eternal, 2) non-Self, and 3) non-Bliss. Illusion is the fuel, and Wisdom is the fire. By this means, we gain the meal of Nirvana. This is the Eternal, Bliss, and Self. All of my disciples taste these as sweet."


"Also, emancipation is not possessed of atmatmiya [fixation on self and what belongs to self]. Such emancipation is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is Dharma."


"Moreover, emancipation is termed that which severs all conditioned phenomena [samskrta-dharmas], gives rise to all untainted [anasrava], wholseome qualities / phenomena and eliminates the various paths/ approaches, that is to say, Self, non-Self, not-Self and not non-Self. It merely severs attachment and does not sever the view of the Self/ the seeing of the Self/ the vision of the Self [atma-drsti]. The view of the Self is termed the 'Buddha-dhatu' [Buddha-Nature]. The Buddha-dhatu is true emancipation, and true emancipation is the Tathagata."


Again, here the Buddha of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra makes reference to lower self-view and higher realization of the True Self. This is a large part of what fuels the Advaita Vedantists' re-appropriation of the Buddha's teachings to mean that Atman is a reality.

Personally, I find it odd.

To kill a being, regardless of the rationale (that they are non-believers, that the soul will continue to exist after death and thus they are given the opportunity of a more fortunate rebirth down the line, etc.), is a karmic offense.

ATC
09 May 12, 16:21
This suggests that Atman is the ultimate truth, and anatman is expedient means.

Compare this to the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna encourages Arjuna to fight in the war, as death does not mean the end of the Atman. Thus arises the excuse to kill

In any Buddhist teachings, to suggest that Atman is taught as an Ultimate Truth is quite unthinkable. It can only be a Conventional Truth used as an expedient mean. In Ultimate Truth there is no such Atman or Anatman to speak of.

One need not resort to the use of the teaching of Atman as an excuse to commit the act of killing.

If one look at the Mahayana teaching of Emptiness, in this case an Ultimate Truth, one can find argument as follows: “How can one kill another person when all is empty and without a self? Since living being [sattva] does not exist, neither does the sin of murder. And since the sin of murder does not exist, there is no longer any reason to forbid it. In the act of killing given that the five aggregates are characteristically empty, similar to the visions of dreams or reflections in a mirror, one commits no wrongdoing”.

Of course such argument can be dangerous if accepted by one who is not spiritually advance and have not truly realized the teaching of non-duality and emptiness as it could lead such person to live a way of life of extreme determinism.

Abhaya
09 May 12, 17:25
In any Buddhist teachings, to suggest that Atman is taught as an Ultimate Truth is quite unthinkable. It can only be a Conventional Truth used as an expedient mean. In Ultimate Truth there is no such Atman or Anatman to speak of.


Agreed. Therefore, it should be apparent that the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra was not spoken by the Buddha. Again, I say this as a practitioner of Mahayana, not as an outside critic.



One need not resort to the use of the teaching of Atman as an excuse to commit the act of killing.

If one look at the Mahayana teaching of Emptiness, in this case an Ultimate Truth, one can find argument as follows: “How can one kill another person when all is empty and without a self? Since living being [sattva] does not exist, neither does the sin of murder. And since the sin of murder does not exist, there is no longer any reason to forbid it. In the act of killing given that the five aggregates are characteristically empty, similar to the visions of dreams or reflections in a mirror, one commits no wrongdoing”.

Of course such argument can be dangerous if accepted by one who is not spiritually advance and have not truly realized the teaching of non-duality and emptiness as it could lead such person to live a way of life of extreme determinism.

This is not the accepted argument given a deeper understanding of emptiness. In no case is a being outright denied. It is svabhava (self-nature, something being/existing by its own nature) that has no bearing. Svabhava is sunyata's target, not sattva. Therefore, things are said to neither exist by their own nature (sassatavada), nor to utterly not exist (ucchedavada).

The quote you've given above (which seems to be lifted from the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesa, another text of questionable authenticity and merit) appears to reify emptiness, and even worse, to make it into a nihilistic doctrine. This is unfortunately a common mistake.

Emptiness in no way permits the killing of beings. In actuality, emptiness is not nearly as complicated and abstract as these textual add-ons make it seem.

ATC
10 May 12, 08:02
Originally Posted by Abhaya

Therefore, it should be apparent that the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra was not spoken by the Buddha.

The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra may contain teachings that are contradictory and against mainstream Buddhist thoughts and teachings. One can always put aside those parts that one do not agreed on, unless of course, one sees the whole Sutra as totally devoid of any Buddhist thoughts. Ultimately, whether one considered it to be the spoken word of the Buddha is each individual choose and decision to make. Just as some fundamentalist Buddhists would always takes the Pali Suttas as the one and only true spoken words of the Buddha which would implies all Mahayana Canons to be non-Buddhists. In any case, Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Text has being in existence for more than 2000 years, has being part of the Mahayana Buddhist Canons and I believe will be so for a long time to come.


It is svabhava (self-nature, something being/existing by its own nature) that has no bearing. Svabhava is sunyata's target, not sattva.

Svabhava may be the target of the teaching of emptiness, but in actual practice on the realization of doctrine of emptiness, one will need to come to the realization of the emptiness of sattva first. This is also the main objective of the Theravada tradition in its teaching and practice of no-self. It is from this starting point that one then goes on to the contemplation on the emptiness of all external things. This would then lead one to the realization of the non-duality of objects and subjects. There are many more steps from here to take before one reach the final realization on the emptiness of all emptiness where the whole concept of emptiness is itself done away with.

Abhaya
10 May 12, 15:21
The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra may contain teachings that are contradictory and against mainstream Buddhist thoughts and teachings. One can always put aside those parts that one do not agreed on, unless of course, one sees the whole Sutra as totally devoid of any Buddhist thoughts. Ultimately, whether one considered it to be the spoken word of the Buddha is each individual choose and decision to make. Just as some fundamentalist Buddhists would always takes the Pali Suttas as the one and only true spoken words of the Buddha which would implies all Mahayana Canons to be non-Buddhists. In any case, Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Text has being in existence for more than 2000 years, has being part of the Mahayana Buddhist Canons and I believe will be so for a long time to come.


Certainly those parts on killing Icchantikas and on Atman should be discarded. The abundance of these sections of text is telling. Their setting aside would subtantially shorten an already excessively long sutra.


Svabhava may be the target of the teaching of emptiness, but in actual practice on the realization of doctrine of emptiness, one will need to come to the realization of the emptiness of sattva first. This is also the main objective of the Theravada tradition in its teaching and practice of no-self. It is from this starting point that one then goes on to the contemplation on the emptiness of all external things. This would then lead one to the realization of the non-duality of objects and subjects. There are many more steps from here to take before one reach the final realization on the emptiness of all emptiness where the whole concept of emptiness is itself done away with.


This sounds misguided. The Buddha, of both the Pali Canon and the Sutras, both in Theravada and Mahayana, did not teach NO-self, but rather non-self, not-self. A being is empty of self, but this does not mean that a being does not exist at all. This is a gross misunderstanding that the Buddha anticipated.



Ananda Sutta (SN 44.10)

"Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

"No, lord."

"And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.010.than.html


Emptiness is not taught as the annihilation/non-existence of self. There remains a mortal being, dependent on causes and conditions. Even Nagarjuna made this clear.



Mulamadhyamakakarika - Nagarjuna

Whatever comes into being dependent on another
Is not identical to that thing.
Nor is it different from it.
Therefore it is neither nonexistent in time nor permanent.

(MMK 18.10)

Commentary by Jay Garfield:

So from the standpoint of Madhyamika philosophy, when we ask of a phenomenon, Does it exist?, we must always pay careful attention to the sense of the word "exist" that is at work. We might mean exist inherently, that is, in virtue of being a substance independent of its attributes, in virtue of having an essence, and so forth, or we might mean exist conventionally, that is to exist dependently, to be the conventional referent of a term, but not to have any independent existence. No phenomenon, Nagarjuna will argue, exists in the first sense. But that does not entail that all phenomena are nonexistent tout court. Rather, to the degree that anything exists, it exists in the latter sense, that is, nominally, or conventionally. It will be important to keep this ambiguity in "exists" in mind throughout the text, particularly in order to see the subtle interplay between the two truths and the way in which the doctrine of the emptiness of emptiness resolves apparent paradoxes in the account.

Page 90 of The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way


A being is empty of own-being (svabhava). This does not make it non-existent. A self exists conventionally. To speak of NO-self is misleading.

Emptiness of emptiness is something that must be understood from the very beginning, lest one falls into one of the two extremes, as is too often the case.



Mulamadhyamakakarika - Nagarjuna

Emptiness is proclaimed by the victorious one as the refutation of all viewpoints;
But those who hold "emptiness" as a viewpoint - the true perceivers have called those "incurable" (asadhya).

(MMK 13.8)

http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html


To reify emptiness is something that should be avoided at all steps. Emptiness is never an excuse to kill. Emptiness does not deny karma. Emptiness does not deny morality. Emptiness does not deny a conventional being.

Statements like these from the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra are among those that must be discarded:



Chapter 8: On the Four Dependables

"Non-grasping of the meaning relates to what is stated in the sutras saying that all can be snuffed out, all is non-eternal, all is suffering, all is void, and all is selfless. This is non-grasping of the meaning. How so? Because such a person is not able to grasp the intended meaning, only the appearance of [literal] meaning. This causes all beings to fall into Avichi Hell. Why? Because of attachment, as a result of which a person does not grasp the meaning.


Chapter 12: On the Tathagatha-Dhatu

Common mortals play with words and dispute, betraying their own ignorance as to the Tathagata's undisclosed store. When it comes to the question of suffering, the ignorant say that the body is non-eternal and all is suffering. Also, they do not know that there is also the nature of Bliss in the body. If the Eternal is alluded to, common mortals say that all bodies are non-eternal, like unfired tiles. One with Wisdom discriminates things and does not say that all is non-eternal. Why not? Because man possesses the seed of the Buddha-Nature. When non-Self is talked about, common mortals say that there cannot be Self in the Buddhist teaching. One who is wise should know that non-Self is a temporary existence and is not true. Knowing thus, one should not have any doubt. When the hidden Tathagatagarbha is stated as being empty and quiet, common mortals will think of ceasing and extinction. “One who is wise knows that the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging.”


Chapter 16: On the Bodhisattva

"O good man! For example, we deposit a bright gem in muddy water. But by virtue of the gem, the water of itself becomes clear. But even this, if placed in mud, cannot make the mud clear. The same with this all-wonderful Great Nirvana Sutra. If placed in the defiled water of people guilty of the five deadly sins and those who have committed the four grave offences too, it can indeed still call forth Bodhichitta. But in the mud of the icchantika, even after 100 thousand million years, the water cannot become clear and it cannot call forth Bodhichitta. Why not? Because this icchantika has totally annihilated the root of good and is not worth that much. The man could listen to this Great Nirvana Sutra for 100 thousand million years, and yet there could be no giving rise to the Bodhichitta [inside him]. Why not? Because he has no good mind.


At one instant, the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra says that all beings have Buddha Nature, and at the next, denies that and all other redeeming qualities to Icchantikas. No Bodhisattva or Buddha would make this dehumanizing proclamation.

ATC
11 May 12, 07:44
Originally Posted by Abhaya

This sounds misguided. The Buddha, of both the Pali Canon and the Sutras, both in Theravada and Mahayana, did not teach NO-self, but rather non-self, not-self. A being is empty of self, but this does not mean that a being does not exist at all. This is a gross misunderstanding that the Buddha anticipated.

The term ‘no-self’ that was used in my earlier post was meant as an Ontological assertion and is certainly not used as a denial of an existence of a physical self. To do so would be quite illogical and odd.

The discourse from the Ananda Sutta is on one of the four Inexpressibles which the Bless one remain silent on. To said ‘Yes’ to the view that there is a self would lead one to the belief of an eternalist. Alternately, to said ‘Yes’ to the view that there is no-self would lead one on to the path to annihilationism. Both are extreme forms of wrong view and would make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. As Buddhists, I believe, one should be well aware such danger.

That said, yes, the term ‘no-self’ in my earlier passage should be replaced with the term “Not-self”. As Thanissaro Bhikkhu has stated in his article The Not-self Strategy; “If one uses the concept of not-self to dis-identify oneself from all phenomena, one would goes beyond the reach of all suffering & stress.” It would be the appropriate term to use.

Thanks for your other quotes and advices

Gnosis Cupitor
31 May 12, 18:11
Have you guys ever considered 'having' to violate the first precept? Remember that the Buddhas Teachings were a guide, no doctrine that had to be followed to a T, he was a very logical man. Consider these situations...

Global war on a scale never seen before, the arab spring is over, and a powerful, strong union between the muslim nations is formed. Once again, as in it's beginning, they start a full scale war in the name of Allah, to conquer the world and forcibly convert it. Year after year we fight them, but we have no way of beating them, they come into asia, into europe, burning every piece of literature that is not in accordance to Islam (Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, everyone, etc.), and there is no stopping them with peaceful demonstrations, those are simply replied to with gunshots into the crowd, with no remorse. Now a platoon of Mujihadeen enter your neighborhood, you hear the battle raging throughout your entire city, and they come to your door. Your whole family is hiding the best they can, you've all been practicing Buddhists your entire lives. The men come in, banging the door open widely, causing your thirteen and fifteen year old daughters to yelp/squeak, they see them, and only smile that evil smile, you all know what I am talking about...


I don't care if you change this scenario around with Aliens, Nazis, etc. The scenario is just that, a scenario. The real question is. What would you do? And are you really 'sinning'? Are you blameless for fighting back something so massive, or against people so intent on the destruction of entire peoples and cultures? The monk who killed himself was considered blameless, he was in a tremendous amount of pain, his practice was going nowhere, The Buddha was a very logical man. The same can be said for this scenario, but the monk is an entire people, and the sickness is a war, and his practice, the belief of non-killing, the uselessness of peaceful talks and non-violent protests. How would you react? Buddhism itself on a whole is threatened, your family, your way of life.

Personally, if anyone were to try and hurt my family, I would do everything in my power to defend them, I would swing my fists, or shoot my gun, but the lives of my family, are worth much more over that of those murderers. Situations like that have happened with the Nazis, there simply was no way of a peaceful protest or non-violant action. Try telling a jew from that time, that it was wrong for him to organise a military front against the S.S. who had taken his family and gased them.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was a logical man. There is absolutely no reason to kill, except for one, self defense against an enemy bent on your destruction, with no remorse, and no way of talking to them. Those enemies exist today, they are psociopaths, and Islamic Extremists. Talk, and talk all you want, but in the end, it's your life they want, your families lives, and even your way of life they want destroyed, your happiness and those of your loved ones.

Dave The Seeker
31 May 12, 23:38
For one to be in a position to kill or be killed is a result of ones own past Karma.
The life one is in, the situation one is in, is caused by past actions. Be it in this or a previous existence.

Here is an explanation by a teacher from FPMT:

Take for example the effects of killing:
1. Full maturation: rebirth in a suffering realm, such as a being in a hell.
2. Result similar to the effect: when reborn again as a human being one will have a short life, whether due to illness, accident, or violence.
3. Result similar to the cause: when reborn as a human being one will have the propensity to kill. This perpetuates a vicious circle.
4. Environmental result: when reborn as a human being one will be reborn in a place where results 2 & 3 are likely to occur, such as in a border region between two warring countries.

This is where Mindfulness of actions, for a Buddhist especially, should come into play.
How far are you "setting your Enlightenment backwards"?