Reading a paper: "Bahá’u’lláh and the Luminous Mind: Bahá’í Gloss on a Buddhist Puzzle"

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by Cino, Aug 15, 2022.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    In a recent thread, @Ahanu recommended the following paper by Roland Faber as an example of Baha'is understand Buddhism on a more profound level than "Buddha was a manifestation of God":

    Here is a link to the paper: Baha'u'llah and the Luminous Mind

    It is a rather long treatise at 54 pages in its PDF form.

    In this thread I will post notes and comments as I read; It would be fun if others joined in, particularly those who have some familiarity with either or both the Baha'i Faith and Buddhism.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2022
    RJM likes this.
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Thoughts on Section 1, "Non-Duality"

    • The author does not really define the term "Non-Duality", although he mentions the difficulties reconciling it with Abrahamic traditions, and distinguishes it from Monism, but leaves it at that.
    • It is implied that Non-Duality is a concept common to all schools of Buddhism, which is not the case at all, rather, it is demonstrably a later development.
      • With some effort, Nagarjuna can be read as a non-dual philosopher: his surviving writings are structured as debating notes for addressing competing philosophies, thus they seem to deconstruct any and all points of view, which is indeed a method non-dual teachers sometimes like to use nowadays, but it is not at all clear that Nagarjuna would have understood his notes as a coherent philosophy in its own right rather than a bag of tricks to counter other philosophers. Nagarjuna lived about 700 years after the Buddha.
      • The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, from the Mahayana Buddhist writings, contains the famous quote, "Sariputra, form is not different from emptiness and emptiness is not different from form" - but again, this is found in only one of many early Buddhist schools, in a text composed about 500 years after the Buddha's death, judging from the style (it is evidently a written work, not an oral tradition like the earliest Buddhist texts we have, as it is lacking the mnemonic aids of repetition and meter).
      • Theravada Buddhism, the school practised in South East Asia and Sri Lanka, a very orthodox and conservative school, preserving a very early edition of the Buddhist Canon, and in its roots perhaps predating Mahayana schools, has no notions of non-duality at all, nor does emptiness, the concept central to so much of Mahayana Buddhism, have any special status in Theravada (it is treated as just another mind state, without any special significance attached).
    • The closest we get to a definition of Non-Duality in this section is the Western quote, "The All is One / The One is All". While this can be understood to point to the non-dual, it has a very strong whiff of monism, to me. The equivalent one-liner from Eastern traditions would be, "Not Two, Not Even One", which, while pointing in the same direction, has a distinctly non-monist flavor, at least to me. The author does not make it clear why equating the two concepts of the Non-dual is a valid way to proceed.
    • In summary, Non-Dual thought can be understood as a later development in Buddhism, emerging from the dialogue with orthodox Hindu schools of thought. It was not present in the earliest Buddhist schools we know about. Thus, it can be understood (from the perspective of early and orthodox schools) as one of the very corruptions of the Buddha's message which the Baha'i scriptures decry. To use Non-Dual thought as the foundation for an argument that the Baha'i faith represents a purer form of the Buddha's message seems to me a bet on the wrong horse, from the beginning.
    To me, it is unclear whether the Author, who indeed has an impressive CV in western Theological academia, as Ahanu pointed out, also has a good grasp of Eastern concepts.

    Interesting paper, thanks, @Ahanu! I'm looking forward to what the next sections contain.
     
  3. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    8,934
    Likes Received:
    2,097
    And I look king forward to your next posts
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2022
  4. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    8,934
    Likes Received:
    2,097
    "In other words, it is not enough to conclude from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statement, at one point, that while the Buddha has taught the “unity of God” (the doctrine of taw˙íd), later Buddhism has lost contact to this original teaching (something ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also says about Christianity), wherefore any conversation between Bahá’í and Buddhist conceptuality would basically be irrelevant since the original teachings are now obscured …"

    Mirrors the Islamic attitude to gospel Christianity: The Quran view is the correct one: the Christian scriptures are corrupted.


    "... Instead, we must match the sophistication of the Buddhist conceptuality in a fair Bahá’í conversation with historical and contemporary Buddhism(s); even more so since the sophistication of these Buddhist literatures (for Buddhists) not only reflect historical documents, but scriptures that, in concurrence with Bahá’u’lláh, exhort the power of the Word or Spirit present through them if we do not denigrate them — and we never should"

    Translates: We have to work at trying not to look down on them


    "Serious attempts of Bahá’í investigations into Buddhism are not lacking"

    Translates: Without knowing much about Buddhism at all, Baha'u'llah nevertheless dismissed it from the outset along with all other world religions as outdated and inferior to the Baha'I revelation -- and so now his followers are required to make some sort of show of trying to actually understand it, but from a pre-position of superiority, of course, in order to convince themselves their messenger was indeed infallible.

    Sorry
    Better leave it to wiser minds
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2022
  5. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Thoughts on Section 2, "Why Buddhism".

    The author summarizes most of the problems I see in the first paragraph.

    Given the overwhelming diversity of conceptualizations within and between the existing manifold of religions, a responsible Bahá’íunderstanding of this multiplicity by, at the same time, positing a fundamental agreement of all religions, becomes challenging.

    He identifies the following points of contact between the Baha'i message and Buddhism, as a basis for the unity of the two belief systems:
    • Ultimate Reality (identified as the Dharmakaya) = God
    • Similar ethics
    • The "mystical core of all religions"
    The author goes into greater detail regarding the challenges of reconciling Buddhist and Baha'i teachings:

    Rather than signaling an underlying unity, Buddhist language and spiritual intentions appear to be fundamentally different from that of Westernand Abrahamic categories and inclinations: they do not entertain the concept of God, but rather deny its very meaningfulness; they do not contemplate revelation, but offer methods of enlightenment; they do not aim at a divine world, but suggest the exhaustion of all worlds; they do not express themselves through messages of a Prophet, but encourage the imitation of the experience of the Awakened One; they do not claim immortality for the soul, but the selflessness of pure existence.​

    Again, I notice a very fast-and-loose treatment of the many historical layers of Buddhist schools, quoting Abdul Baha as saying that the Buddha taught Tawheed (the oneness of God) only to have this teaching later obscured, right next to a sentence implying that the Dharmakaya (translated in the paper as "ultimate reality") was just this teaching about the oneness of God (p.61 in the PDF) The crux is, the teachings about the Dharmakaya are a very late development in esoteric Buddhism, and by no means an original teaching which got lost early on.

    Again, I have doubts whether the author has a firm grasp of the chonology of the development of Buddhist thought.

    Further on in the section, the author enumerates four strategies he identified where Baha'i writers have attempted to align Buddhism with the Baha'i faith:

    • Equating Baha'u'llah with Maitreya (the name of the Bodhisattva who will be the next Buddha)
    • Comparing texts to find parallel passages
    • finding resonances with broad spiritual themes common to both the Baha'i faith and Buddhism
    • some rare commentaries by Baha'i believers using Buddhist terminology on Baha'i texts.
    The Maitreya angle seems immediately promising, as it can be read as an actual prophesy (in the sense of foretelling the future) by the historical Buddha. If one goes to the texts in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism where Maitreya (Metteya in Pali) is mentioned, it becomes evident that it is about a plane of existence with very long-lived beings, with life-spans of eighty-thousand years. It does not seem to be about the world of the mid-19th century. To grasp at the detail that this has prophetic character, but at the same time ignore the details of the apparent prophecy, looks like an act of poor reading comprehension to me.

    The discourse (Digha Nikaya 26, "Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta / Discourse About the Wheel Turning Emperor") can be found online here: https://thebuddhaswords.net/dn/dn26.html#content - the "Maitreya prophecy" can be found in section 8 in the numbering of that site, but please note that the narrative continues across all the numbered sections, and the text is intended to be read as a whole, i.e. the prophecy is embedded in the context of the entire discourse.

    The other strategies seem rather generic to me, not addressing any specifically Buddhist teachings, but applicable to any attempt at finding overlap between different religions.

    The section continues with a self-critical passage:

    ... any such attempt (of conducting interreligious dialogure, Cino) to address these challenges will always potentially face resistance from within the Buddhist universe of discourse, namely, whenever the feeling could arise that such an attempt tries to establish superiority over Buddhism by controlling the dialogue or to claim its inclusion in a new universe (such as the Bahá’í universe) that would be perceived to be equal to the erasure of Buddhist identity and existence — a move that would also appear to be counter to Shoghi Effendi’s understanding of the Bahá’í reconciliation of religions.

    I appreciate the plain words at this point. It is refreshing to see a Baha'i writer not hide behind vaguely relevant quotes from the Baha'i writings, but to speak their own mind.

    The author then decided to pursue the "mutual resonance" strategy, selecting the Luminous Mind as a point of resonance between Buddhist and Baha'i views. This will be the topic of the next section of the paper. I'm really looking forward to it!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2022
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Well, this is the Baha'i section. So while I will speak from what I know about Buddhism, I will not touch upon the Baha'i side of the conversation, not being trained in Baha'i literature and thought. Also, I would consider it a bit impolite (well aware how I lost it myself just a couple of days ago).

    Anyway, @RJM - the serious Christian-Jewish dialogue has had a very similar vibe over the millennia. I think it is inevitable when a tradition emerges from some reform and then enters into dialogue with the older, more orthodox or conservative tradition. This can also be observed in the Buddhist-Hindu (and Jain-Hindu) dialogue... this is tricky territory to navigate. But it is what we are here for, in this interfaith dialogue forum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2022
    RJM likes this.
  7. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    8,934
    Likes Received:
    2,097
    I agree. My bad. It's about Buddhism ... and my knowledge is inadequate
     
  8. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,967
    Likes Received:
    607
    What Shoghi or Abdul Baha or the Bahai House of Justice say is irrelevant. Only what Bahaollah said should be considered, because that is what Bahais consider God's message. Did Bahaollah even know about Buddha?
    I do not think there is anything tricky about it. Jainism is a bit different, Cosmogony and tirthankaras. Hindu sects have their well defined positions. Buddhism, IMHO, is not a clearly defined as it once was.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
  9. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306
    Okay.

    It's hard to say. I stumbled upon a Mahayana text called Mahaparinirana Sutra, and it is dated back to Nagarjuna's lifetime by some scholars. It could be earlier. The precise history of the text is uncertain.

    Here's what it says:

    "Good son, Buddha nature is the ultimate emptiness ,which is 'prajna' itself. [False] emptiness means not to perceive emptiness or non-emptiness. The wise perceive emptiness and non-emptiness, permanence and impermanence, suffering and happiness, self and non-self. What is empty is 'samsara' and what is not empty is great 'nirvana' . . . Perceiving the non-self but not the self is not the Middle Way. The Middle Way is Buddha nature."
    The Middle Way = non-duality
     
  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    The Mahaparinirvana Sutra exists in several versions. It is the account of the Buddha's last days, and of his death. (edited to add: the Mahayana version you refer to is more concerned with general ultimate fate of beings than the specifics of the end of the Buddha's life, as the Theravada text of a similar name. Same theme, very different treatment)

    You reference the Mahayana version, which from its style is commonly understood to be of a later date of composition than the version preserved in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism, a nore conservative school than Mahayana (also the one I received some formal training in at one point).

    Regarding the content of the Sutra, you picked out a teaching on Emptiness, and one on the Middle Way.

    As I wrote previously, Emptiness receives special attention in Mahayana, whereas in Theravada it is simply included in the list of qualities of perception. In both cases, however, it is understood to be closely associated with the property of "not self": phenomena have no inherent "this is me, this is mine, this is my self" quality, in Buddhist teaching. They are empty of Self. Or in Western terms, an indestructible Essence or Soul cannot be found.

    Prajna means "wisdom", it is a fairly straightforward equivalence of words. It is good to know in this context that wisdom occurs in a list of "perfections" or virtues in all Buddhist schools. Mahayana puts great emphasis on the virtue of wisdom, or "Perfection of wisdom" - an entire corpus of literature and commentary arose around it, and it represents one defining aspect of Mahayana setting it apart from the more conservative Theravada, where wisdom is cultivated along with other virtues or "perfections".

    In any case Emptiness or Not-Self are treated in great detail in these later texts, including the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra you cited.

    The Middle Way is probably a teaching going back to Gautama Buddha himself, the historical Buddha. In its oldest discernible form, it meant not to go into extreme asceticism nor into extreme debauchery, but to maintain a balance in one's lifestyle as a homess wandering spiritual seeker. It also carried the connotation of a skeptical balance beteween metaphysical speculation and materialist empiricism. In these older forms, the teaching of the Middle Way has no obvious implications of Non-Dual views. But there are certainly very old texts like the Atthaka Vagga which can be read as a non-dual pointing aid.

    Later on, the Middle Way teaching was definitely developed into a more standalone philosophy, by Nagarjuna and others after him.

    So the problem I see for Baha'i apologists regarding Buddhism remains the insurmountable (to my understanding) discrepancy of claiming on one hand that original teachings were lost or corrupted, on the other hand selecting demonstrably late developments in Buddhist thought as points of agreement. You can't have both and remain consistent in your claims, I feel.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
    Leveller and RJM like this.
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Thoughts on Section 3, "The Luminous Mind" (part one)

    The author sets out with the following assertion:

    The concept of the Luminous Mind is a central Buddhist signification of ultimate Reality, Westerners would say: God; but also of the essence of human existence, Westerners might say: the soul; and the essence of cosmic reality, Westerners might say: the infinite worlds of God—all in one.

    To me, this is an incorrect overgeneralization of Buddhist doctrines across the different schools. In fact, Buddhist schools, existing and long vanished ones, have hotly debated this very idea for millennia, literally thousands of years, and the debate continues. The view presented above is most emphatically not accepted even by all present Buddhist schools. For example, Theravada Buddism, which is the school present in most Buddhist majority countries in Southeast Asia as well as Sri Lanka, i.e. a very substantial part of the Buddhists worldwide, would reject the above view. To them only Nirvana represents anything approaching the ultimate, everything else being dependent on conditions. More about Nirvana in a later post.

    Before I proceed, I'd like to point out some potential traps in terminology, and give definitions which I hope will provide a better understanding of the Buddhist view of these terms:

    • Mind: Citta (pronounced with a "ch") - distinct from consciousness, this is also sometimes translated as "heart", which actually resonates closely with the Western concept of the same name, including connotations of conscience, sentience, or awareness but not cognitive planning or thinking. This is absolutely not the same as "waking consciousness" or "conscious thought", as the citta is present in sleep, even deep dreamless sleep, as well as deep meditative states. Rather, it is a part of one's personality which can be trained by spiritual discipline, purified, strenghended, made pliable and flexible, in a kind of spiritual analogon to physical training and care for the body, where physical training and nutrition enable the athlete to perform feats of endurance or strength, and spiritual discipline enables the citta to perform feats of a mental nature, such as concentration or investigation: maintaining mental states over extended periods of time, profoundly penetrating the intricacies and workings of sensate reality, etc.
    • Consciousness: Vijñana or Viññana (Pali) - the recognition, distinction, or discernment which completes a perception by one of the sense organs. Again, this is not the same as "waking consciousness" or "conscious thought". Briefly glancing at a flower makes the onlooker "conscious" of the flower; perceptions in a dream also involve this type of consciousness. Thinking a thought makes the person conscious of the thought, but vijñana does not produce the thought. It is worth the effort to really get into how very different this analysis is from the western "conscious homunculus in the skull" model of consciousness. It can be said that phenomena gain consciousness upon perception.
    • Ultimate Reality - as mentioned, this is a major point of contention among Buddhist schools. One way of speaking which all of them might be on board with (not sure) would be to say that Ultimate Reality must not depend on any conditions (otherwise it would not be ultimate), thus, cannot be causal or caused.
    • Self / True Self vs Not-Self / Non-Self - atman vs anatman - another major point of contention among Buddhist schools. The Pali Canon preserved by Theravada presents a Buddha who would not commit to saying that there either was or wasn't a "true self", an essence or soul, that kind of concept: it was irrelevant to his quest for release from suffering, though he constantly remarked how dependent phenomena are devoid or empty of such an essence. Other schools have constructed a great number of arguments trying to explore whether there might be some essential Self, and if so, what it might be and how it would relate to other Buddhist teachings, accepted by all schools, about fundamental aspects of reality, such as the impermanence of phenomena, or the Noble Truth of suffering.
    With that out of the way, let me briefly summarize what I understand about the luminous mind, the pabhassara citta: It is the well-trained, well-cultivated, purified heart or conscience (in the Western spiritual sense).

    The author of the paper presents what he calls a "highly paradoxical puzzle", quoting from a text form the Anguttara Nikaya (a section of the Pali Canon, that very conservative collection of Buddhist scriptures I have mentioned here):

    Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements.
    Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements.

    The author emphasizes how enigmatic this contradiction is and refers to the commentary for explanation.

    The full text of this sutta, which is short (the Anguttara is a collection of short teachings by the Buddha, ordered by topic), reads a follows. Note how this is originally an orally transmitted tradition: the repetitions and single-word differences are memory aids, and in the Pali, it has a distinctive rhythm to it.

    “Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements.”
    “Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements.”
    “Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn’t discern that as it has come to be, which is why I tell you that—for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person—there is no development of the mind.”
    “Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it has come to be, which is why I tell you that—for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones—there is development of the mind.”

    Anguttara Nikaya 1:50-53

    As far as I am concerned, the enigma fully resolves when the text is read in full, in context. In Western terms: your heart, you conscience, can be clear or weighed down. It is possible to learn what to do to clear up one's conscience, to train and develop one's spiritual heart and let it shine (a lot like Jesus' teaching about not putting one's lamp under a basket: by "training" to act inethically and spiritually pure ways, Matthew 5:15-16). This is, in fact, also the conclusion the author reaches, though he constantly invokes the paradox of these statements, and by going via commentaries and some arguments about the fundamental purity of the citta. Had he only read on to the following two verses, he could have spared himself a lot effort :)

    In subsequent paragraphs, he draws parallels between later developments of this teaching abouty the luminous mind/heart, hermetic "as above so below" teachings, True/No Self, the Tathagathagarbha ("Buddha-Nature") teachings, and Yogacara and Dzogchen schools and teachings. This paragraph (top of p.66) is, to someone familiar with all these concepts, a dizzying roller-coaster ride through basically the entire history of Buddhist thought. In Western terms, this one paragraph invokes Moses, Elija, the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel, all of Paul, all of the Heretics, selected sentences by Jesus, and all of the Apocalypse of John, the Church Fathers, St. Ignatius, the Reformers (all of them), Arthurian romance, western Enlightenment, the Romantics... all in one big sweep. Very scenic and inspiring, but I want to scream, "not so fast! You are skipping over all the best bits!" :) But then, this is the vibe I get off the majority of texts by Baha'i writers: in their enthusiasm for the big picture, and their faith in continuous revelation, zooming over vast historic distances is second nature to them. Not my thing, I like to look deeply into the small detail, but I absolutely don't want to begrudge them their faith. (I feel this bears repeating: for all my critique of this paper, I am enjoying the ride a lot, and I can appreciate the sincere joy the author had in putting it together).

    I'll pick up on p.66 in a follow-up post, this one is long enough already.
    Edited for spelling and clarification.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
    Leveller likes this.
  12. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306


    It appears the interpretation of the luminous mind that is more in line with Baha'i thought is related to tathagatagarbha doctrine. Some scholars of early Buddhism believe Mahayana developed from the Mahāsāṃghika, an early Buddhist school of thought, which they say is the origin for the key doctrine (called tathagatagarbha) found in another key Mahayana text called the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra. This thought was rejected by Theravada.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
  13. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,967
    Likes Received:
    607
    Everything is in line with Bahai thought, even if Buddha denied existence of soul and never talking of any Supreme God. Buddha is my guru and I know what exactly he meant.

    Tathagatagarbha idea is a later idea and does not belong to Buddha. Have you read the Wikipedia article on it. I quote:

    "The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra (200-250 CE) is considered (...) "the earliest expression of this (the tathāgatagarbha doctrine) and the term tathāgatagarbha itself seems to have been coined in this very sutra."
    "The term first appears in several sutras which are associated with the Gupta period (c. 4th–6th centuries CE)."
    "According to Wayman, the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (1st-3rd century CE) was the next step in the development of the buddha-nature thought after the concept of the luminous mind:"
    "The Lotus Sutra (Skt: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra), written between 100 BCE and 200 CE, does not use the term buddha-nature, but Japanese scholars of Buddhism suggest that the idea is nevertheless expressed or implied in the text."
    "According to Brunnholzl "the earliest mahayana sutras that are based on and discuss the notion of tathagatagarbha as the buddha potential that is innate in all sentient beings began to appear in written form in the late second and early third century."
    "The Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra (3rd century CE), also named The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala, centers on the teaching of the tathāgatagarbha as "ultimate soteriological principle"
    "The Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (written 2nd century CE) was very influential in the Chinese reception of the Buddhist teachings."
    "The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (compiled 350-400 CE) synthesized the tathagatagarba-doctrine and the ālāya-vijñāna doctrine."
     
    Cino likes this.
  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    If I remember correctly, Mahasamgika was one of the two schools which emerged from the schism after the second Buddhist Council (approx. 300-200 BCE) the other being Sthaviravada, which is basically the same word as Theravada, but was an ancestor school of the modern Theravada, as there were more schisms down the line.

    The reason for the schism after the second Buddhist Council is no longer known, but the scholars I have read seem to think that it was about matters of the monastic code, rather than doctrinal concepts like Tathagatagarbha. The vinaya, or monastic code, of the Mahasamgika school is preserved in Chinese translation, and it is shorter (has fewer rules) than the corresponding Theravadan one. It is possible that the Mahasamgikas were not willing to adopt new rules discussed at the council, making them the more conservative one!

    Unfortunately, the Sutra corpus of the Mahasamgika school is not well-preserved.

    I think it is fair to say that Mahayana can be traced back to many aspects of the Mahasamgika school - but so can Theravada! And vice-versa, the Sthaviravada school was the ancestor of some schools which ended up merging into modern-day Mahayana. The schools were not particularly hostile towards each other, reports by traveling Chinese monks reveal that in the first millennium, it was common for monks of different schools to share a monastery or have monasteries in close proximity, or teach at the same university. So there was most likely "cross-pollination".

    I maintain that teachings like the Tathagatagarbha are, from the very "feel" of the teaching, and the sophistication of the language they are presented in, and the philosophical depth they go to - are later developments in Buddhism. All early texts have very "hands-on" flavor, are focused on the wandering ascetic rather than the settled-down monastery-dweller, and, most importantly, tend not to be esoteric at all, in the sense that no secret initiations are necessary to access the correct meanings of the teachings. In fact, early texts portray the Buddha to have taught "with an open fist" (not concealing anything in a closed fist). Teachings which require extensive text study, access to libraries or initiated masters, have the character of later development.

    As you say, the points of overlap with Baha'i concepts are more evident in the later Buddhist material than the early one, and I would agree.

    But I haven't finished reading the paper yet!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
    Aupmanyav and Ahanu like this.
  15. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    3,472
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    :)

    He was also a nice guy who was always very polite to followers of other paths ;)
     
    RJM likes this.
  16. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306
  17. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306
    And from Alex Wayman's article "The Mahasamghika and Tathagatagarbha":

    ". . . If the Srimalasutra [Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra] is associated with the Mahasamghika school, should it not be named in the canon of that school? Indeed it should, and indeed is included by Paramartha (mid-sixth cent.) in the Mahayana canon of the Mahasamghika sect, as Bareau explicitly reports.

    . . . If the Mahasamghika sect is to be implicated in the Tathagatagarbha doctrine, should there not be some passage in a recognized Mahasarighika scripture that can be reasonably identified with this doctrine? Indeed there should be. The most well-known extant work of the Mahasamghika is the Mahavastu, which contains the passage, 'Lion's Roar', p. 43, addressed to the mother of a Buddha: "Today, O queen, you will give birth to a good youth (sukumara) of immortal embryo {amara-garbha), who destroys old age and illness, celebrated and beneficial in heaven and on earth, a benefactor of gods and men." 8 Notice the contrast of the word sukumdra ('very delicate', perhaps 'easily dying' 9 ) with amaragarbha ('immortal embryo'), easily identifiable with the Tathagatagarbha which is taken as an immortal element in sentient beings, themselves mortal.

    . . . Is there some way of associating the Srimalasutra with the Mahavastu? The way the 'Lion's Roar', p. 19, does it, is to take the four career-phases of Bodhisattvas mentioned at the beginning of the Mahavastu, namely the 'natural career-phase' (prakrti-carya), the 'aspiration career-phase' (pranidhana-carya), the 'conforming career-phase' (anuloma-carya), and the 'nonregressing career-phase' (anivartana-carya); and to combine these with the traditional divisions of the Srimalasutra . . .

    . . . Is there any other evidence of affiliation of the Srimalasutra with the Mahdvastu? Perhaps the most important one is the Mahdvastu passage (confer, 'Lion's Roar', p. 33) in the words of Maha-Katya- yana that the Jataka tales start from the Eighth Stage, in which stage the Bodhisattvas renounce all they possess, are regarded as Samyaksambuddhas, and thereafter do not regress. This shows the Mahdvastu position that the fourth career-phase called 'nonregres- sing' is meant to cover the last three of the ten Bodhisattva Stages; and this directly ties in with scriptural words of the Srimalasutra ('Lion's Roar', pp. 75-76), beginning, "Lord, the good son of the family or good daughter of the family by renouncing his body, thus obtaining the body of a Buddha, is equal to the uttermost limit of samsdra; . . . " The Tathagatagarbha treatise Ratnagotra- vibhdga (on I, 2) quotes the Dhdranisvarardjasutra to show the arising of the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Samgha) as the basis for the last three Bodhisattva states, thus Sakyamuni under the Bodhi tree as the Eighth Stage
    ."


     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
  18. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306
    The term might have been coined earlier?

    "Possibly the first appearance of the term tathāgatagarbha (though not in the sense in which it is used in the tathāgatagarbha sūtras) has been traced to the Mahāsaṃghika Ekottarikāgama (the Chinese recension of the Aṅguttara Nikāya): 'If someone devotes himself to the Ekottarikāgama / Then he has the tathāgatagarbha. / Even if his body cannot exhaust defilements in this life / In his next life he will attain supreme wisdom.' The term is also used once in the Gaṇḍavyūhasūtra (which is dated prior to the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra) as an epithet of Sudhana, without further explanation. Furthermore, the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra in One Hundred Fifty Lines (Adhyardhaśatikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra) contains the sentence 'all sentient beings possess the tathāgatagarbhabecause their entire being is that of the great bodhisattva Samantabhadra.'"
    -Karl Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part​
     
  19. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    306
    It is hard to read through these various articles on the subject. Too many Buddhist schools to keep up with. I have to keep asking myself as a person studying it for the first time, "Wait, what did they believe again?" Then . . . the writer throws another Buddhist school of thought at you. :confused:
     
    Cino and RJM like this.
  20. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,967
    Likes Received:
    607
    That was very common in India, and Buddhism and Jainism were not separate religions from Hinduism at that time. They were known as 'Matas' (opinions). Only the Charvaks were abrasive (more like Aupmanyav, who is frequently designated as a 'Charvak' in some forums. :)). There were debates between the followers of different 'Matas' all the time. We delight in (civil) debates.

    Saha NaAvavatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu l Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai l
    Tejasvi NaAvadheetam-Astu l Maa Vidvishaavahai l Shaanti: Shaanti: Shaanti: ll

    May the Lord protect us both (the contestants); May the Lord nourishes us both; Let both of us perform brilliant actions together; The learning of both of us may be bright; Let us not hate each other. Peace, Peace, Peace.
    (Taittiriya Upanishad)

    @Ahanu , The 'Arrow parable' describes Buddha.
    Acinteyya (Pali) is a Buddhist term that is commonly translated as imponderable or incomprehensible. They denote four issues that should not be thought about, since this distracts from practice, and hinders the attainment of liberation. Buddha said contemplation on them vexes mind and may cause madness.

    "Speculation about [the origin, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about (SN 56.41 develops this speculation as the ten indeterminate)." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acinteyya

    Also "Kesamutti Sutta": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesamutti_Sutta

    Thus, the Buddha named ten specific sources whose knowledge should not be immediately viewed as truthful without further investigation to avoid fallacies:
    Oral history, Tradition, News sources,Scriptures or other official texts, Suppositional reasoning, Philosophical dogmatism, Common sense, One's own opinions, Experts, Authorities or one's own teacher.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2022
    Cino likes this.

Share This Page