A Buddha and a Rock: various rock similes

Greetings @irene
I suppose I haven’t viewed that kind of straight physical cause and effect as conditioning. So to look at something similar in humans… lets say a rock falls on my leg and it is crushed and then amputated… I don’t view that as having been subject to conditioning. However, the reactions I may have to all of the circumstances, and situations involved in this - that is how conditioning manifests, (within mind) - so acting on prior conditioning and with the new experience and the action of the mind, memory and prior beliefs and habitual thinking this is how conditioning operates and is modified in the present.

This is different to when saying conditions are present, such as being near an unstable rock, that may fall onto my leg. So the environmental conditions are present for particular physical actions… when these occur, the large amount of possible choices/reactions is how our individual conditioning manifests.

I think this is just my own opinion, extrapolated from exploring the arising of thoughts and feelings - so please don’t take it as definite :smiley:

The “karma that ends karma” has always reminded me of 爲無爲, or the “doing of non-doing”, in Daoism.



Venerable Puññaji is not the first to have compared the Buddha to a rock:

Being a sentient being is synonymous with having a mind. Accordingly, all minds are, without exception, sentient beings, and all sentient beings are, without exception, possessed of mind. Even the rocks, grasses, and trees, are synonymous with the mind, and because they are synonymous with the mind, they are synonymous with the sentient being.
(a paraphrase of Ven Dōgen, I included “rocks” here as my own addition for the sake of the discussion)

What do you think? How does this relate to the mind as understood in early Buddhist texts?

As a rock climber, I bow to the rock.
As a rock climber, I do not kill or hurt the rock.
As a rock climber, I do not steal rock.
As a rock climber, I do not lie to the rock.
As a rock climber, I do not drink on the rock.
As a rock climber, I do not have sexual misconduct with a rock.
After climbing, I bow to the rock.
That is rock Dhamma. That is the mind of the rock.

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The buddha :
Simply , six sensory spheres, dependent on the body with life(metabolism) as its condition.
[kāyaṃ paṭicca saḷāyatanikaṃ jīvitapaccayā’ti- MN121]

The rock:
Simply a Body derived from matter.


Are those sensory spheres, in turn, dependent on anything external?

A rock is “external”.

Just food for thought.

the way i understood it is : The buddha’s(or arahant’s) sensory spheres are only dependant on the body. once they die they will be extinguished like a lamp-flame.

but ours will be rekindled in another body. this is done by kamma. may be that can be thought of as a external agency.

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That usually means a Self. There’s no external agency in Buddhism.

What is reborn is dependant other things too: see AN3.76 SuttaCentral

with metta

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what i was thinking was: kamma is like the charge in the battery that drives the motors. but charging the battery is done by us.

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Could you elaborate on what you meant here? I am interested.

When I mentioned “external” , I was more wondering: “Is the sense object external?”, “Does the sphere as a whole arise from the meeting of external and internal?”

Questions along that line of inquiry.

Some Buddhisms argue that the sense object arises from within the “mind only”.

you mean this world we experience is simply a dream of this mind?

Some Buddhisms argue that with varying degrees of literalness.

can you please give me some links to source texts.

But according to them, depending on what does this mind exist?

It’s not super on-topic for the board, but I’m sure a small aside does no harm, especially since it’s purpose is for education. You can see some of the arguments of the mind-only school if you look for Venerable Vasubandhu’s Vimśatikāvijñaptimātratāsiddhi or Triṃśikāvijñaptimātratāsiddhi. Alternatively, look at the Wikipedia articles for those texts. Another, probably more general search, would be to look up the terms “Cittamātra” or “Yogācāra” on Google or Wikipedia.

AFAIK the “mind-only” schools generally posit a fundamentally unconditioned mind. I know that some early Buddhist sects held the mind to be unconditioned/uncreated, but I don’t know if that perspective is represented in the EBTs, nor do I know of any early sectarian recensions of older Buddhavacana that have the Buddha say anything to that effect.


Whether the sense object, the rock, is internal, external, or internal-external, and how we conceive of these three localities, has relevance to whether or not the paraphrase of Ven Dōgen holds ground. IMO.

Venerable Puññaji’s rock-simile is a little different.


Agreed. The rock has taught one many lessons of life and death. Many lessons about greed, aversion, and delusion. For this reason one can no longer see a rock, any rock, any earth as empty of Dhamma or separate from the Buddha.

:pray::pray::pray:Rock Buddha student

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I don’t know if you intended this association, but reading this my mind went to “the Buddha as the rock” in a very Christian sense. In Christianity as it is interpreted by the Roman Church, the first Pope, Saint Peter, is the “rock” on which the church is built. Excerpt for when Christ himself is that rock. But metaphors are best not taken too literally.

I think the metaphor is also appropriate for the Buddha, as his experience and teaching is the foundation for that dharma which we call the “Buddha’s”.

“Holding tight to the rock” is also a saying in Christianity. I think this is also appropriate for Buddhism. When reflecting on the Triple Gem Refuge, I imagine the stormy sea of transmigration, with the Buddha’s rock unmoving in its centre, unaffected by the waves crashing around it.