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Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

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Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:46 pm

I am taking a second crack at Red Pine's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra. Would anyone else be interested to stumble through it with me?
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Carol on Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:56 pm

Pedestrian wrote:I am taking a second crack at Red Pine's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra. Would anyone else be interested to stumble through it with me?


Yes. Maybe we could work through it along with Norman Fisher's talks about it? They're posted here.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:36 pm

I'm in!
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Dan74 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:30 am

I've just ordered a copy, so once it is here (from Wisconsin), I am in too.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby ed blanco on Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:57 pm

Man. I'm reading the Lotus Sutra with somebody else. That and some more Okamura.
But never let it be said old Ed did not jump over his head. I'm in.
It helps that I just checked the Library here and it has it. Probably brand new and before professor Heine got a hold of it and wrote all over it.
What do we do? Read some and talk? You talk, I follow. :)
Truth is the Lotus is boring me to no end.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Carol on Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:12 pm

ed blanco wrote:What do we do? Read some and talk? You talk, I follow. :)


I read the preface last night & will listen to the first of Fisher's talks today. Then I'll start reading the first chapter. Might have something to say then. :)
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:21 pm

I'll try to do the same.
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Carol on Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:45 pm

For anyone interested in comparative studies, D.T. Suzuki's translation is online here. According to Red Pine's preface Suzuki's translation is of a different Chinese translation from the Sanskrit than Red Pine primarily used. Interesting history in Red Pine's Preface. Helps to get oriented.

Also, Suzuki's great study guide, "Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra".

Contrary to Red Pine, Suzuki sees the sutra as an Ekayana Sutra which was used by both the Yogacara school and the Zen school, while Red Pine repeated refers to it as a Yogacara sutra.

Suzuki says in his Introduction to the Studies:

Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, Introduction, pp. 54-55 wrote:There is one thing in the foregoing account given by Tao-hsiian of the history of the Lankavatara that requires notice: that there was another school in the study of the sutra than the one transmitted by Dharma and Hui-k'e. This was the school of Yogacara idealism. The line of Hui-k'e belonged to the Ekayana school (一乘) of Southern India which was also the one resorted to by Dharma himself when he wanted to discourse on the philosophy of Zen Buddhism. To this Ekayana school belong the Avatarhsaka and the Śraddhotpanna as well as the Lankavatara properly interpreted. But as the latter makes mention of the system of the eight Vijnanas whose central principle is designated as Alayavijnana, it has been used by the Yogacara followers as one of their important authorities.


Maybe more than anyone wanted to know, but I find this stuff interesting, especially the history of Zen and how different schools flowed together and branched apart.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:39 pm

Thanks for that, Carol.

I find this passage from the Preface touching:

Even though the Diamond Sutra replaced the Lankavatara in terms of making the teaching of Zen more accessible to larger audiences, the Lankavatara continued to attract those who appreciated the challenge and the rewards of the more difficult text. One such person was Shen-hsiu, the loser of the poetry contest that made Hui-neng the Sixth Patriarch. He was a great admirer of the Lanka. In fact, he asked to be buried beneath a small hillock he named Mount Lanka, and where his body has remained since his death in 706.


I always identify with the anxious, trying-so-hard Shenxiu/Shen-hsiu when I read that part of the Platform Sutra!

OK, back to the Lanka.
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby ed blanco on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:46 pm

Ok, got the preface done, will read some DT Suzuki as well.
Bodhidharma is more and more fascinating. Now we get Bodhiruchi who might had actually killed him. How many people wanted to kill this poor guy? Reminds me of Socrates, if you know the Truth better keep it to yourself.
The Lanka seems to be not as allegorical as the Lotus. I rather deal with mind than with upaya.
I'll stay with both, though. Confusion is my natural state anyway.
Thank you Carol for the links.
Here is to all of us finding "the two threads that held this sutra together." Red is betting against us, but what does he know!
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby ed blanco on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:50 pm

Pedestrian wrote:Thanks for that, Carol.

I find this passage from the Preface touching:

Even though the Diamond Sutra replaced the Lankavatara in terms of making the teaching of Zen more accessible to larger audiences, the Lankavatara continued to attract those who appreciated the challenge and the rewards of the more difficult text. One such person was Shen-hsiu, the loser of the poetry contest that made Hui-neng the Sixth Patriarch. He was a great admirer of the Lanka. In fact, he asked to be buried beneath a small hillock he named Mount Lanka, and where his body has remained since his death in 706.


I always identify with the anxious, trying-so-hard Shenxiu/Shen-hsiu when I read that part of the Platform Sutra!

OK, back to the Lanka.



Me too. I always felt the first verse was right on. No mirror may sound cool but what do I polish then? He felt the same and the whole North School agreed with him. A man of conviction Shenxiu.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Carol on Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:27 pm

I listened to Norman Fisher's first talk on the Lankavatara yesterday. Very helpful. One interesting thing was how difficult it was for those in the audience asking questions to deal with the "all things are projections of mind" -- i.e., the "mind only" school. Really really hard to grok! I think Suzuki's translation might be more helpful "all things are discriminations of mind."

The subtle difference in the English language, I don't know what the Chinese character or Sanscrit word is, but the difference in the English language is that a "projection" originates "here" and is projected "out there", while a "discrimination" originates "out there" and is discriminated "here." So, there is "something" there that mind discriminates as "chair" or "dog" or "mother" and the "chair" or "dog" or "mother" are created in the mind out of the "something" that in itself cannot be grasped.

This helps to avoid the solipsism of does this mean "there's nothing but me" that seemed to be tripping people up.

Really enjoyed Norman's talk.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:38 pm

Thanks. That's helpful. I haven't had a chance to listen to that yet and will try to do so tomorrow morning on my commute. I do have a few notes around here somewhere... um...
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Pedestrian on Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:22 pm

I'm finding myself sitting up and paying attention every time the repository or storehouse consciousness (alaya-vijnana) comes up in relation to the tathagata-garba. Two relevant quotations from Red Pine's commentary thus far:

In its undifferentiated state, the repository consciousness, or alaya-vijnana, is known as the tathagata-garba, or womb of buddhas. The former represents the defiled mind, the latter the mind purified. For buddhas, they are one and the same. For the rest of us, they are different (38 n 65).


[The Buddha says] while consciousness rises and ceases, it possesses an intrinsic quality that remains unaffected by those forms of consciousness tied to the contents he has just now denied [in Buddha's "A statement about X is about no X" list]. Such forms are themselves delusions that can only be said to exist as long as the alaya-vijnana, or repository consciousness, is not transformed into the tathagata-garba, or womb of buddhas (64 n 128).


If I'm understanding this correctly, these delusions that comprise the repository consciousness cease to be delusions when we abandon our differentiation -- at which point the undifferentiated repository consciousness is transformed into the tathagata-garba.

This transformation of respository consciousness into tathagata-garba seems as good a name as any for the awareness of suchness that arises in zazen, at least insofar as I can speak of that awareness. It also reminds me of the "figure/ground reversal" John Tarrant speaks of when writing about his experience with Mu.

I keep reminding myself that these names are just expedient means to demonstrate, as Red Pine notes on p 15, not only that there is no self but also "how we become attached to a self in the first place and how we go from attachment to detachment and thus liberation." Like sitting in that figure/ground reversal Tarrant mentions, recognizing how I attach to a repository consciousness as a self, and letting that attachment go, feels like a very powerful mode of practice for me.

Off to sink my teeth in at during my midday sit....

edited to clarify two points -- ca
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Lotus Sutra sidebar

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:34 pm

ed blanco wrote:Man. I'm reading the Lotus Sutra with somebody else. That and some more Okamura.
But never let it be said old Ed did not jump over his head. I'm in.
It helps that I just checked the Library here and it has it. Probably brand new and before professor Heine got a hold of it and wrote all over it.
What do we do? Read some and talk? You talk, I follow. :)
Truth is the Lotus is boring me to no end.
:O:

Off the topic of the Lanka and about the Lotus, check out Norman Fischer's Everyday Zen Dharma seminars on the Lotus. Carol has already posted their page on the Lankavatara Dharma seminars that they just completed 2 weeks ago.

The Lotus Sutra is about arousing faith in Buddha and the role of skillful means to do so for the purpose of realizing the One Vehicle of manifesting Buddha Knowledge (buddhajnana) in this world. All the fantastic imagery is to stir the imagination of those who need such grandeur to believe in something other than their own egoistic view of reality. If a person is past this kind of egoistic vision, then the imagery is metaphorical and points directly to the nature of mind as our own true nature.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:46 pm

Carol wrote:
Pedestrian wrote:I am taking a second crack at Red Pine's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra. Would anyone else be interested to stumble through it with me?


Yes. Maybe we could work through it along with Norman Fisher's talks about it? They're posted here.

I'm in for a penny and pound. The Sutra of Going Down to Lanka is my favorite Sutra. I've listened to Zoketsu Norman Fischer's Dharma Seminar on the Lanka at least twice and a couple of them three times. Fun while driving. I've read Suzuki's translation and his Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra.

In most ways Red Pine's translation is an improvement over DT Suzuki's, which Suzuki would appreciate, as he himself stated that he felt the limitations of his translation could be overcome in later translations.

Red Pines says that translation is a "performance art" and I agree. I don't think any two translators could ever agree on every word or sentence of a text. So there are some word choices I would not have chosen from Red Pine but as the Lanka teaches very explicitly, the meaning is not in the words and we need to read for the meaning that the words are pointing at without getting hung up on the words. The line in the Zen motto "not established on words" comes from this teaching in the Lankavatara.

Just let me know if I get too pompous about it. :)X

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:08 pm

Pedestrian wrote:I'm finding myself sitting up and paying attention every time the repository or storehouse consciousness (alaya-vijnana) comes up in relation to the tathagata-garba. Two relevant quotations from Red Pine's commentary thus far:

In its undifferentiated state, the repository consciousness, or alaya-vijnana, is known as the tathagata-garba, or womb of buddhas. The former represents the defiled mind, the latter the mind purified. For buddhas, they are one and the same. For the rest of us, they are different (38 n 65).


[The Buddha says] while consciousness rises and ceases, it possesses an intrinsic quality that remains unaffected by those forms of consciousness tied to the contents he has just now denied [in Buddha's "A statement about X is about no X" list]. Such forms are themselves delusions that can only be said to exist as long as the alaya-vijnana, or repository consciousness, is not transformed into the tathagata-garba, or womb of buddhas (64 n 128).



I like to translate Tathagata-garbha as “the Inner Tathagata.” Garbha is usually translated as womb, fetus, germ, or matrix. The shared meaning element is the inner aspect that is root of the manifested aspect. The Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon defines “garbha” as
m. "to conceive"; the womb; the inside, middle, interior of anything, calyx (as of a lotus); "having in the interior, containing, filled with".
Thus, the Tathagata-garbha is the Tathagata in its latent state in the inner sanctum or sanctum sanctorum, the Inner Tathagata latent within each of us. Historically, the teaching of the Tathagata-garbha arose to respond to the idea that people had about the Buddhas and Tathagatas being extra worldly, cosmic, or god-like entities far removed from humankind. The Tathagata-garbha teaching reminds us that each of us has access to our own latent Inner Tathagata and it is this latent inherent Inner Tathagata that awakens and becomes the manifest active Tathagata.

The Lanka always takes the One Vehicle perspective to show how the synthesis of Mahayana teachings works. In this instance, the Lanka is synthesizing the Yogacara’s analysis of the 8 consciousnesses, including the alaya-vijnana, with the Tathagata-garbha teachings. This question of the relationship of the alaya-vijnana and the Inner Tathagata is also taken up in the Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

As DT Suzuki points out, the Yogacara school had a trend of interpretation of the alaya-vijana that was not consistent with the unified vision of the Buddha Dharma, in that this interpretation viewed the alaya-vijnana as pure in itself and that defilements arose in the functioning of the other 7 consciousnesses. However, if the alaya is the basis for the manifestation of all the seeds of karma in successive lives, then the alaya must have a defiled aspect as well as a pure aspect otherwise the seeds of defilement could not be present in the alaya.

Here’s Suzuki’s comment on this point from his Studies..
More will be said about the difference between the Lankavatara's position and that of the Yogacara as regards the doctrine of Cittamatra when the subject is treated later on more specifically. As far as the idealistic way of looking at the world is concerned, both systems have something in common; especially the Lankavata may be interpreted more or less consistently by means of the Yogacara psychology, and indeed this has been frequently attempted by scholars. But as is the case with Asvaghosha's Awakening of Faith, the Lankavatara differs from the Yogacara in one important point, i.e., that while the latter maintains that the Alaya is absolutely pure and has nothing to do with defilements and evil passions, the Lankavatara and Asvaghosha maintain the view that the Tathagata-garbha or the Alaya is the storage of the impure as well as the pure, that it is both immanent and transcendental, both relative and absolute.


So I have to take issue with Red Pine’s comment about the alaya-vijnana and Tathagata-garbha stating that “The former represents the defiled mind, the latter the mind purified.” As stated it is too simplistic of a dichotomy. The alaya as the “storehouse” is the storehouse of both the pure and impure seeds of karma, but the alaya itself is inherently neither pure nor impure, and this undifferentiated field of the alaya is the “purity” that transcends being “pure or impure” and is the same with the Inner Tathagata.

So there is no actual “transformation” but it is called transformation because how we view it is transformed.

Pedestrian wrote:This transformation of respository consciousness into tathagata-garba seems as good a name as any for the awareness of suchness that arises in zazen, at least insofar as I can speak of that awareness.


I agree exactly. In Zen, the transformed aspect of the alaya-vijnana is called the Great Perfect Mirror Knowing (or Wisdom, jnana) which is exactly the awareness of suchness (tathata) when the latent Inner Tathagata manifests as the active Tathagata.

_/|\_
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Carol on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:54 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:Here’s Suzuki’s comment on this point from his Studies..
More will be said about the difference between the Lankavatara's position and that of the Yogacara as regards the doctrine of Cittamatra when the subject is treated later on more specifically.


What is the doctrine of Cittamatra? According to the wisdom library it is synonymous with the Yogacara school?
[url]CITTAMATRA (Skt. = "Mind Only"; Tib. semtsampa). School (more accurately, group of schools) of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy stressing the fundamental role of consciousness (citta) in creating our experience of reality. Also known as YOGACARA.[/url]
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: Lotus Sutra sidebar

Postby ed blanco on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:30 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:
ed blanco wrote:Man. I'm reading the Lotus Sutra with somebody else. That and some more Okamura.
But never let it be said old Ed did not jump over his head. I'm in.
It helps that I just checked the Library here and it has it. Probably brand new and before professor Heine got a hold of it and wrote all over it.
What do we do? Read some and talk? You talk, I follow. :)
Truth is the Lotus is boring me to no end.
:O:

Off the topic of the Lanka and about the Lotus, check out Norman Fischer's Everyday Zen Dharma seminars on the Lotus. Carol has already posted their page on the Lankavatara Dharma seminars that they just completed 2 weeks ago.

The Lotus Sutra is about arousing faith in Buddha and the role of skillful means to do so for the purpose of realizing the One Vehicle of manifesting Buddha Knowledge (buddhajnana) in this world. All the fantastic imagery is to stir the imagination of those who need such grandeur to believe in something other than their own egoistic view of reality. If a person is past this kind of egoistic vision, then the imagery is metaphorical and points directly to the nature of mind as our own true nature.

_/|\_
Gregory


Thank you Gregory! I will pursue it; being bored by it is not that daunting. I v'e been known to plow throug really dull stuff before. Besides the STORIES OF THE LOTUS SUTRA also by Gene Reeves is helping a lot.
The Lanka is already much more promesing but I will stay the road on both. Red has acheived a writing voice I find captivating in his narrative books like ZEN BAGGAGE. He writes the sutras more scientifically but every now and then he shows up too. It is all a good time, and more importantly good practice.
In gassho,
Ed B
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Re: Reading Red Pine's Lankavatara Sutra

Postby ed blanco on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:33 pm

Carol, Gregory, Nonin et all.
This is like walking into an unsupervised candy store .
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