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John Marder
26 Jan 14, 12:41
Hi. The Lifespan Chapter of the Lotus sutra famously includes the 'revelation' that Shakyamuni Buddha first attained enlightenment an immeasurably long time ago in the past, rather than under the Bodhi Tree in the lifetime of his that we are familiar with.

I'm interested to know how salient this is for people amongst us and how we might interpret it . Also whether people consider other Buddhist scriptures to adopt the same interpretation ( whatever that may be) albeit using a different metaphor ( if that is what it is) or even if the same revelation re the Buddhas initial enlightenment is found anywhere else in the teachings.

I hope that makes sense. Would be grateful for any thoughts:hands:

Aloka
26 Jan 14, 12:55
Hi John,

Please could you always include a URL link to any texts that you refer to/want to discuss in your posts.

Here's one I found for the Lotus Sutra. There are 27 chapters listed and I have no idea which one is ''the lifespan chapter''.

http://reluctant-messenger.com/lotus_sutra_01.htm

Kind regards,

Aloka :hands:

Aloka
26 Jan 14, 17:50
I've been looking up information about your Soka Gakkai beliefs recently and discovered that the teachings of Nirichen and the Lotus Sutra are regarded as representing absolute truth and Nirichen is considered to be the supreme Buddha.

Also that repeated chanting of 'Nyam-Myo-ho Rengye kyo' from the Lotus sutra is considered to solve just about anything.

Is that true and do Soka Gakkai also regard all other forms of Buddhism as false ?

John Marder
26 Jan 14, 17:52
Sorry Aloka. But thanks for providing the link. In this translation, it is the 15th Chapter I'm talking about.
The revalation is made in the 2nd paragraph

Aloka
26 Jan 14, 17:55
Sorry Aloka. But thanks for providing the link. In this translation, it is the 15th Chapter I'm talking about.
The revalation is made in the 2nd paragraph

Thanks John. Please check #3 because I think we were writing our last posts around the same time.

John Marder
26 Jan 14, 18:24
Hi Aloka, Regarding your 2nd post. The first two findings you've made are , for orthodox Nichiren Buddhists ( at least ones from the Soka Gakai) are pretty much true. The last one concerning other Buddhist teachings is not really the case, in that the view taken is that other Buddhist teachings are seen as provisional, leading to the truth in the Lotus Sutra.

The conclusion about chanting 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo' can solve just about anything, is rather too much of a sweeping statement for me to deal with right here and now. The subject deserves more respect than that but I will be happy to explain why I have been chanting it for 33 years. You may want to advise me about how I can do that on BWB; which forum if any?

On a personal note, suffice to say I am not an orthodox Soka Gakai member. People reading here should not think I represent the views of that teaching. However, I have found many of the teachings and the practice of Nichiren and Tien Tai incredibly useful for me and Soka Gakai members are the friends with whom I meet up in the real world.:hands:

John Marder
26 Jan 14, 18:29
Putting all the above aside if I may( though please feel free to address those things too), I hope folk will consider the questions from my initial post. I am a genuine seeker of truth, understanding and enlightenment, I promise that.

Aloka
26 Jan 14, 18:48
The conclusion about chanting 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo' can solve just about anything, is rather too much of a sweeping statement for me to deal with right here and now. The subject deserves more respect than that but I will be happy to explain why I have been chanting it for 33 years. You may want to advise me about how I can do that on BWB; which forum if any?

Hi John,

No need for a separate thread, my comment about the mantra was also partly connected to an impression I had several years ago of a friend's ex- boyfriend who was involved with Nirichen beliefs.

Anyway, apologies for the diversion, lets return to #1 again...:topic:


The Lifespan Chapter of the Lotus sutra famously includes the 'revelation' that Shakyamuni Buddha first attained enlightenment an immeasurably long time ago in the past, rather than under the Bodhi Tree in the lifetime of his that we are familiar with.

This is from the passage in Ch 15 that you're refering to:



The Lord, considering that the Bodhisattvas repeated their prayer up to three times, addressed them thus: Listen then, young men of good family. The force of a strong resolve which I assumed is such, young men of good family, that this world, including gods, men, and demons, acknowledges: Now has the Lord Sakyamuni, after going out from the home of the Sakyas, arrived at supreme, perfect enlightenment, on the summit of the terrace of enlightenment at the town of Gaya.

But, young men of good family, the truth is that many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons ago I have arrived at supreme, perfect enlightenment.


As far as I know, there's nothing like that in the first recorded teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Canon.


:hands:

Trilaksana
26 Jan 14, 22:30
It may be a metaphor of some type but I'm really not sure. In Mahayana Buddhism the term Buddha isn't always used to refer to the historical man. Sometimes it's used to refer to Buddha-nature which according to Mahayana Buddhism exists in all things. This passage may in admittedly a strange way be referring to the idea that this Buddha nature has always existed. But I'm not sure. I'm unfamiliar with the usually interpretation of that passage.

Aloka
26 Jan 14, 22:42
It may be a metaphor of some type but I'm really not sure. In Mahayana Buddhism the term Buddha isn't always used to refer to the historical man. Sometimes it's used to refer to Buddha-nature which according to Mahayana Buddhism exists in all things.

Hi Trilaksana, I'm not sure what you mean by Buddha nature existing in all "things".

In Tibetan Buddhism its called: "Unrealised enlightened mind, the essential nature of all sentient beings." (sangs-rgyas-kyi-khams/rigs)

srivijaya
27 Jan 14, 08:40
Hi. The Lifespan Chapter of the Lotus sutra famously includes the 'revelation' that Shakyamuni Buddha first attained enlightenment an immeasurably long time ago in the past, rather than under the Bodhi Tree in the lifetime of his that we are familiar with.

I'm interested to know how salient this is for people amongst us and how we might interpret it .

Hi John,
It's not salient for me and if you asked me for an interpretation, I would just say it's mythology which developed over time to accord the Buddha a super-divine status. I don't mean this in a negative or dismissive way, it just has no relevance to the Buddhism I practice - so I may be completely wrong. In any case, if it inspires others to practice, then that's a good thing.

John Marder
27 Jan 14, 22:17
Hi thanks all. I will just share my own interpretation as you probably realise it is an important teaching for me.

Completely in contrast to Srivajayas interpretation that it is a promoting a super-divine Buddha, I interpret it ( as suggested by Trilaksana) as a metaphor, not for a 'Buddha person' at all but for the eternal existence of this 'Buddha nature', whether realised or not, as the essential nature of what we/ the universe are.

Also it might be helpful to know the context of the story in which the revelation was made. In the previous chapter countless Bodhisattvas emerged from the earth while Shakyamuni and another Buddha, Many Treasures, and loads of fantastical super-divine emanations of Shakyamuni were having this ceremony in the air.

Bodhisattva Miatreya and all these other cosmic Buddhas were a bit put out by these Bodhisattvas emerging from the earth and the fact that Sakyamuni seemed very 'matey' with them. Maitrya said 'who are these Bodhisattvas' and Shakyamuni said that that he had been teaching them since he first became enilghtened and then the question was asked, how could this be? So that is when the revelation was made.

For those of us who are inspired by this, of course it is a metaphor for the eternal ( since way back when) Buddha nature which is universal ( in all things including ordinary people of the earth).
I know on one level it is a bed time story but you might also see it as having something profound about it.

I do agree with Aloka (I think?) that if you believe in Buddha nature, then it has to be realised. Of course that is what Buddhism is about I guess.

Still hoping other people might contribute here. I first came across this chapter some time before I even knew about Nichiren Buddhism so I'm assuming it is quite widely talked about..
Many thanks and deep respect

Aloka
27 Jan 14, 22:33
I know on one level it is a bed time story but you might also see it as having something profound about it.


Sorry, but I'm afraid I don't find it profound at all and it has no relevance to my study and practice, so basically I agree with what srivijaya said.

'Different strokes for different folks' as the saying goes ;D

John Marder
27 Jan 14, 22:51
'Different strokes for different folks' as the saying goes

Yes and without boundaries too..... Open minds and pure hearts:shake:

Trilaksana
28 Jan 14, 03:01
Hi Trilaksana, I'm not sure what you mean by Buddha nature existing in all "things".

In Tibetan Buddhism its called: "Unrealised enlightened mind, the essential nature of all sentient beings." (sangs-rgyas-kyi-khams/rigs)

According to Dogen


Therefore, the very impermanency of grass and tree, thicket and forest is the Buddha nature. The very impermanency of men and things, body and mind, is the Buddha nature. Nature and lands, mountains and rivers, are impermanent because they are the Buddha nature. Supreme and complete enlightenment, because it is impermanent, is the Buddha nature.[20]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C5%8Dgen

Trilaksana
28 Jan 14, 03:08
And from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki.



If something exists, it has its own true nature, its Buddha nature. In the Pari-nirvana Sutra, Buddha says, "Everything has Buddha nature," but Dogen reads it in this way: "Everything is Buddha nature." There is a difference. If you say, "Everything has Buddha nature," it means Buddha nature is in each existence, so Buddha nature and each existence are different. But when you say, "Everything is Buddha nature," it means everything is Buddha nature itself. When there is no Buddha nature, there is nothing at all. Something apart from Buddha nature is just a delusion. It may exist in
your mind, but such things actually do not exist

http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/zenmind.pdf page 48

Aloka
28 Jan 14, 05:03
Thanks, Trilaksana.

I guess there must be some differences between the concepts in TB & Zen.


In the Pari-nirvana Sutra, Buddha says, "Everything has Buddha nature,"

I'm assuming that's a Mahayana sutra being refered to because there's no "Buddha Nature" mentioned by the Buddha in the Pali Canon.


Thanissaro Bhikkhu has an article "Freedom from Buddha Nature"

excerpt:



The idea of innate natures slipped into the Buddhist tradition in later centuries, when the principle of freedom was forgotten. Past bad kamma was seen as so totally deterministic that there seemed no way around it unless you assumed either an innate Buddha in the mind that could overpower it, or an external Buddha who would save you from it. But when you understand the principle of freedom — that past kamma doesn't totally shape the present, and that present kamma can always be free to choose the skillful alternative — you realize that the idea of innate natures is unnecessary: excess baggage on the path.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/freedomfrombuddhanature.html



With kind regards,

Aloka :hands:

PS


Yes and without boundaries too.....

Just for general clarification, when I originally named the website Buddhism "Without Boundaries" it meant without the boundaries of traditions and superstitions, not "anything goes".

;D

John Marder
29 Jan 14, 18:31
according to Dogen.... The very impermanence of men and things, body and mind is the Buddha Nature
This accords very closely with Tien Tai's ' earthly Desires are enlightenment'
I agree that it is closer to the true meaning of that teaching to say that 'everything is Buddha Nature' than 'everything has Buddha Nature'.

i'm assuming that the (Pari- Nirvana Sutra) is mahayana.....
Yes. I think It is purported to have been taught by Shayamuni after the Lotus Sutra and just before he died..... But of course all that is open to serious question as we know.

Aloka. I hope you didn't think I was behaving like 'anything goes'. If so, please say and I will check myself more closely.

I genuinely didn't know that Theravada Buddhists didn't recognise an innate Buddha Nature. This has been a big education for me and I will and I will try to consider the matter from that point of view because I want to understand all this stuff

Aloka
29 Jan 14, 20:34
Aloka. I hope you didn't think I was behaving like 'anything goes'. If so, please say and I will check myself more closely.

No of course I didn't John !

It was just an opportunity for me to make a general comment for other people looking in.





i'm assuming that the (Pari- Nirvana Sutra) is mahayana.....

Yes. I think It is purported to have been taught by Shayamuni after the Lotus Sutra and just before he died..... But of course all that is open to serious question as we know.


If you read the very long "Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha " in the Pali Canon, you will find that the Buddha doesn't say anything about "Buddha Nature."

He also states in verse 32 of the section " The blessed one's deadly sickness"



I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html





:hands:

Aloka
30 Jan 14, 07:41
A comment taken from a question and answer session with Ajahn Sumedho (former abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK)



...The "I am" is a perception - isn't it? - and "God" is a perception. They're conventionally valid for communication and so forth, but as a practice, if you don't let go of perception then you tend to still have the illusion - an illusoriness coming from a belief in the perception of the overself, or God or the Oneness or Buddha Nature, or the divine substance or the divine essence, or something like that.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Sumedho_Question_Time.htm



Finally, I think this Zen story is worth noting concerning ideas about everything having buddha nature:





How Grass and Trees Become Enlightened

One day a fifty-year-old student of enlightenment said to Shinkan: "I have studied the Tendai school of thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened. To me this seems very strange."

"Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?" asked Shinkan. "The question is how you yourself can become so. Did you even consider that?"

"I never thought of it that way," marveled the old man.

"Then go home and think it over," finished Shinkan.

http://www.101zenstories.com/index.php?story=46



That's all from me, have a good day. :flower: