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Thread: There is No-Self ... or is there?

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  1. #1

    There is No-Self ... or is there?

    I had sent a few questions to Jundo. He asked me to post them along with his answers here. This is one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    ... we are constantly told that one of the key tenets of Buddhism is the idea of anatman, no-Self. Yet some of the Mahayana sutras in the tathagatagarbha and Yogacara traditions seem to put for a notion that there IS indeed some element that is unchanging. In the former case, the idea of the Buddha-nature being a "seed" that always exists, waiting to bloom.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Well, you are exactly right. At certain points in Mahayana history, and in certain Sutras such as the Mahaparinirvana, a great Cosmic Self was claimed by some of those sutra authors ... maybe called the Dharmakaya Buddha, or Tathagatagarbha. Some feel that it was the creeping influence of Hinduism and "Bhrahma" as the Great Cosmic One that crept back into Buddhism.

    This is a big topic, and I must head to bed now. I want to say a bit more.
    UPDATE (2yrs later...6/24/2014): see
    Last edited by Kaishin; 06-24-2014 at 08:48 PM. Reason: added link to update

  2. #2
    Hi All,

    Sorry to revive a 2-year-old thread, but I just stumbled on an exceptionally relevant article at:

    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Hi All,

    Sorry to revive a 2-year-old thread, but I just stumbled on an exceptionally relevant article at:

    Hi Kaishin,

    Let me give a little background on what that article is about.

    A few years ago, a small group of scholars in Japan (actually, really two scholars) who were sometimes called by the misleading name of "critical buddhists", argued that Zen and other corners of Mahayana Buddhism had deviated from the early Buddhist teachings by an emphasis on "Original Enlightenment". To make a long story short, many others scholars basically shot the more extreme of their assertions full of holes, and the "critical buddhists" are not widely accepted these days among Mahayana historians,

    Here is a quick Wiki summary of Original Enlightenment (Hongaku) ...

    Here is a much longer scholarly article reviewing the most detailed book on the topic (of which your article was part, I believe) if you wish to read in detail.

    A lot of the criticism of "Original Enlightenment" is based on two misunderstandings. First, that one is talking about some kind of original "Atman" that the Buddha rejected when, in fact, Zen Original Enlightenment as a realization of Emptiness is not a realization of Atman; Second, "Original Enlightenment" does not mean we reject that need to Practice and have some Realization in order to realize that we are so (it is not an excuse to sit on the sofa and do nothing).

    I would not recommend pursuing the readings except for real Buddhist history and philosophy wonks who might be interested. The whole debate is something of a tempest in an empty teapot.

    Gassho, J

  4. #4
    Thanks, Jundo, for the additional info! Looks like most of it is for academes I'm satisfied with the explanation of tathagathagarba as a "positive" way of speaking about emptiness.
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  5. #5
    Thank you for letting me find this thread (by adding new posts).
    It's all too early for me to understand this, but I really enjoyed reading the teachings.
    I could not explain or grasp it logically, but it "feels right".


  6. #6
    Well, you are welcome! I've found that the Einstein quote is true: "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" But that's okay
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  7. #7
    Hello all,

    well I spent the day swimming round in 'the tempest in the tea pot' as Jundo aptly describes it because I'm a philosophy enthusiast (hope that doesn't make me a wonk).

    I really enjoyed reading Hakamaya Noriaki's essay on 'Critical Philosophy Versus Topical Philosophy' because I didn't understand the issues from bits and bobs I've read before and his polemical style brought back 'happy' () memories of a past life in academia and how heated the discussions become.

    here is the link

    I wish I could say 'of course none of this debate matters' - and part of me feels this is so - but I'm not entirely convinced because I do question within myself whether I've too readily taken on board a number of metaphysical assumptions without really questioning whether this is 'faith' based/ experience based or just going with the flow of acceptance?

    I don't think I would still be participating in zazen if I didn't feel that the 'words' ring true - feel authentic - are actualized in practice - but if Zen is about great faith and great doubt then I do experience both in equal measure.

    Sometimes I feel I'm afraid to ask the questions that rumble in the back of my mind concerning Zen - or maybe it's simply I've lcome to a realisation that it's a waste of precious time (for me) to keep ruminating on questions that can't be factually answered no matter what method of enquiry is employed and that the time is better spent sitting. (Is sitting a method of enquiry? ....)

    Just some thoughts,


    Last edited by willow; 06-26-2014 at 11:45 PM.

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