A Historical-Metaphorical Approach to Buddhist Scriptures

Does this acronym stand for “defilements and delusions”?

Desire Aversion and Delusion, I believe @alaber? :slightly_smiling_face:

with metta

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Please keep in mind that, if I interpreted the Mahayana sutras literalistically, I probably wouldn’t be posting here.

It doesn’t bother me when Theravadins claim the Mahayana sutras aren’t historical accounts, because I don’t insist upon their literal historicity either.

I apply the same historical-metaphorical approach, as explained above, to both the Pali and the Mahayana scriptures.

As the Buddha would describe it, the scriptures are a raft to the other shore, rather than the shore itself.

DADs stands for unecessary-Desires, Aversions/fears/ill-wills and Delusions

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As a Mahayana Buddhist, I certainly think that the spiritual value of a scripture doesn’t depend on literal factuality, especially when it describes events that are said to have occurred eons before the Big Bang.

The story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva in The Infinite Life Sutra, for example, is patterned after the life of the historical Buddha. Dharmakara is said to be a king who, like Shakyamuni, renounced his throne to pursue the life of a monk.

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida, then, is a metaphorical narrative for the timeless reality of Dharma-body itself, the eternal Buddha:

When the Larger Sutra states that Dharmakara made The Forty-Eight Vows and attained Buddhahood some ten kalpas ago, it describes the transcendental activity of Thusness (Dharma-body) in terms of causality. On the other hand, when Shinran states in his Wasan,

Since Amida became a Buddha
Ten kalpas have passed. So (the Sutra) says.
But He seems to be an old Buddha
Older than the immeasurable mote-dot kalpas (Jodo Wasan 55).

and also, when he states that Amida is the ‘Buddha from the eternal past’ (ibid. 88), he shows us the eternal presence of Amida Buddha.

Just because a descriptive concept came along after the composition of EBTs doesn’t mean it’s invalid. We know about neurotransmitters and electrons nowadays, for example. Dharmakaya isn’t a “self floating out there.” Have you never had the experience of seeing a tree, or leaves swirling in the breeze, or a rock, or whatever, that seemed to be pointing the way to a clearer perspective, perhaps (though not necessarily) with a peculiar “enhanced light”? That’s what dharmakaya is. It may be an entirely subjective illusion, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way when it happens. Progress in ways to talk about reality and mind didn’t stop at the Paranibbana.

Now, the Triyana-- that’s just stupid. :grinning:

So what is that do you think? It’s ‘soul’ or something like that?

With metta

No, the opposite. More like reality as it is, without the notion of “essence” that human brains seem to want to add to everything. Emptiness, I guess, though that’s a slippery word.

This is a bit of a non sequitur, did you mean trikāya? As it is, you have an exposition of your own views on the dharmakāya followed by a random complaint about the “three vehicles”. Was that intended? :smirk: :angel:

Dang, I hate when I do that. Yes, you’re right, of course, I meant “three bodies,” not “three vehicles.” Sorry about that! Kinda ruined the humor, didn’t it?

What you are actually describing here is saṃbhogakāya, likely, which makes me question your critique of trikāya. In fact, I think most of what I quoted above, particularly “enhanced light”, as a turn of phrase, how you use it here, amounts to essentially a “folkish trikāya” that one could possibly encounter on DharmaWheel, and I do not mean that as an insult at all.

The dharmakāya does not “point”, this is the function of the saṃbhogakāya, to “point” to dharmakāya.

The trikāya is compared to the sun and it’s illumination. Dharmakāya is the sun, saṃbhogakāya is the illumination from the sun (hence why the saṃbhogakāya has an “appearance”), and when that illumination meets with an object and finds its way to one’s eye, that is nirmāṇakāya. At least that is how it is sometimes explained. I will find a source shortly to better substantiate this than just my word: [section forthcoming]

Of course none of this, including the Mahāyāna dharmakāya, is expicitly substantiated in the literature this forum is designed to address.

That being said, it helps to know what one criticizes, unless your post was an endeavour of humour alone! :yum:

The Dharmakaya is Nirvana itself when seen as an all-pervading reality, giving all beings the potential for enlightenment.

The Meaning of “Dhammakaya” in Pali Buddhism

Another thing worth mentioning is that, while the literal descriptions of the Pure Land sutras might seem like a Buddhist heaven, this is only a upaya or skillful means for describing the indescribable realm of Nirvana.

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs.

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors?

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, and therefore referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonethless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased relatives in the next world.

It is also a very exhausting use of a rhetorical magic wand. It leads me to wonder… Now, you keep saying this:

I think we all get it by now. Is this a thread where you simply intend to give Witness to your faith? Or is it a mini-blog?


As explained above, it’s not just the Mahayana scriptures, but the Pali scriptures as well, which are meant to be read in more than a strictly literalistic fashion:

Since Mahayana Buddhism is the largest stream of Buddhism in the world, it might be helpful for all Buddhists, regardless of school or sect, to learn about the basic concepts of Mahayana Buddhism.

Oh, come on, you’re still spamming us with this poor paper?
We already wrote that EBT is not Pali Buddhism, and that paper is just bad!
Are you here to convert people to Mahayana?
Seriously, you’re not even engaging in EBT discussions

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Dhamma: The cosmic principle of truth, lawfulness, and virtue discovered, fathomed, and taught by the Buddha; the Buddha’s teaching as an expression of that principle; the teaching that leads to enlightenment and liberation.

As far as I know, Bhikkhu Bodhi is not a Mahayana Buddhist.

If there are 84,000 paths to enlightenment, that includes Theravada Buddhism. I therefore have no intention whatsoever of converting Theravadins to Mahayana Buddhism.

There is nothing wrong with Buddhists better understanding the teachings and concepts of each other’s respective schools and sects.

Furthermore, this is the Water Cooler section of the forum, in which a wide array of topics can be discussed.

Absolutely beside the point. I was criticizing that you continue to insinuate that ‘Dhammakaya’ is an all-Buddhist principle and ‘justify’ it with a poor paper. To make it clear ‘Dhammakaya’ is not an EBT concept, and it would be nice if you finally acknowledged that instead of pretending that it is.

I know ‘as a Mahayana Buddhist’ you believe that. But that is completely irrelevant. Your belief doesn’t make this word magically appear in the old texts.

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Well, in the EBT there are not. There are neither 84.000 suttas nor ‘84.000 paths to enlightenment’. This again is a late Buddhist concept, based on one single mention of 84.000 dhamma in the relatively late Thag17.3. Instead of throwing these numbers and concepts around as if they should be clear to anyone it would be nice to see the curiosity to ask “Who knows where this concept of 84.000 comes from?” Which was btw already discussed here: On the meaning of 84,000