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Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

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Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Guo Gu on Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:22 am

hello everyone,

there are many wonderful mahayana scriptures already translated into english, especially those that have influenced chan/son/zen. instead of the teachers providing a reading list, maybe it's good to do a collaboration where any member can suggest some good buddhist scriptures and provide a comment/report or two about it, including what s/he found useful and which translation is clearer (we can start another thread for foundational buddhist scriptures from the agamas/nikayas).

it's the comments/reports that's important and that may inspire other to read buddhist scriptures. there are many reasons to read scriptures:
1) irrespective of the chan/son/zen rhetoric of "not establishing itself on words," it has produced the most amount of words in the buddhist canon in comparison to other schools.
2) not only are key chan/son/zen teachings found in the scriptures, many of the chan/son/zen masters are fluent in the canon: prior to enlightenment linji was an adept in the vinaya; deshan was an exegete in scriptures; huangpo continued to read scriptures after full enlightenment; many of the koans and allusions in chan/son/zen derive from the scriptures.
3) in addition to studying with a good teacher, one's understanding must also be checked against the scriptures (this includes the principles in the vinaya). theory and practice are inseparable.

have fun reading!
guo gu
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:58 pm

Guo Gu wrote:maybe it's good to do a collaboration where any member can suggest some good buddhist scriptures and provide a comment/report or two about it, including what s/he found useful and which translation is clearer.


My two favourites (Buddhism) and best translations for both.
entering the tao of sudden enlightenment
Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

have no additional comment/report about it, but merely suggesting both.
Only comment about both is that these two changed my perspective about practise big time (at the time) and were benficial at giving up creating false ideas about Buddhism/life/whatever itself.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Guo Gu on Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:36 pm

71 views so far and only one comment! :lol2:

fukasetsu, both are great must reads. thanks for starting this thread off! both texts clearly define what the sudden path and sudden enlightenment mean, the cornerstone of chan/son/zen. without clear view (and different traditions of buddhism have different definitions of what constitutes "correct view"), it would be hard to practice without being led astray by one's own ideas and opinions. especially when my sense of this forum is that there are quite a few number of members who don't have access to teachers or have not really established a strong enough teacher-student relationship yet for the teacher to instill that correct view in chan/son/zen.

anyone else on these two texts?

on another matter, what do you all think about the platform scripture? this being a zen forum i take it that you all have read it? or maybe the diamond sutra? or the lotus (which introduced the idea of buddhahood in a single thought and the one vehicle)? maybe some seasoned practitioners/readers can chime in and help the newcomers?

best,
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Kojip on Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:15 pm

Guo Gu wrote:on another matter, what do you all think about the platform scripture? this being a zen forum i take it that you all have read it? or maybe the diamond sutra? or the lotus (which introduced the idea of buddhahood in a single thought and the one vehicle)? maybe some seasoned practitioners/readers can chime in and help the newcomers?

best,
guo gu


Hello Guo Gu


The Platform Sutra and the Diamond sutra were my introduction to Zen after being taught early Suttas. They were read before going to a teacher. They both baffled and encouraged. On the one hand there was the sense that the burden of getting from here to there could be dropped, and at the same time terms like "mind essence" created objects of grasping. It was only later when I was instructed to study the teachings of Chinul that a slightly more helpful understanding of "Sudden Awakening" came to me.

It was Chinul's view (roughly) that some highly developed people realize sudden awaking and have no need for further cultivation. Most people however will have sudden awakening, but due to the momentum of habit energy, further cultivation will be needed. This he called sudden awaken/gradual cultivation. He saw this as the middle way between sudden and gradual, saying that "sudden" can lead to a lax "nothing to do" attitude, while "gradual" can lead to an attitude of awakening being not imminent. Recently I have become aware of practice as an ongoing process of suddenness.

May I ask how you would define what "the sudden path and sudden enlightenment mean" ?




Thank you Richard.

BTW I have tried to read the lotus sutra, but found the imagery and cosmic scale daunting, and did not get far.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Chrisd on Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:22 pm

fukasetsu wrote:
Guo Gu wrote:maybe it's good to do a collaboration where any member can suggest some good buddhist scriptures and provide a comment/report or two about it, including what s/he found useful and which translation is clearer.


My two favourites (Buddhism) and best translations for both.
entering the tao of sudden enlightenment
Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

have no additional comment/report about it, but merely suggesting both.
Only comment about both is that these two changed my perspective about practise big time (at the time) and were benficial at giving up creating false ideas about Buddhism/life/whatever itself.


What/how did it change the perspective?
If you could post the crucial piece from the sutra, that would be awesome.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby fukasetsu on Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:51 am

Guo Gu wrote:71 views so far and only one comment! :lol2:

I might have clicked it 68 times to check for grammar :lol2:

without clear view (and different traditions of buddhism have different definitions of what constitutes "correct view"), it would be hard to practice without being led astray by one's own ideas and opinions.

If I'd have to put practise in one sentence it might be "not adding superfluous ingredients to the soup" (of mind) I don't "do" (or not do) correct and incorrect view anymore, it has become a part of my practise to not be dependent on memory and anticipation anymore, and especially not creating new memories.
What is known is known 'suddenly' I see no "room" for memory in realization.

on another matter, what do you all think about the platform scripture? this being a zen forum i take it that you all have read it? or maybe the diamond sutra? or the lotus (which introduced the idea of buddhahood in a single thought and the one vehicle)? maybe some seasoned practitioners/readers can chime in and help the newcomers?

I read (studied) all of those and more at the beginning, these days I dont read/study scripture a lot,
but for the past 5 years or so if I do pick up a scripture, the tao of sudden enlightenment is my main piece of choice for Buddhism. Always check back to see if there's something to verify, I never try to understand scripture based on the words anymore. Never been much of a scholar, I tried to be but it isn't my path.
Bless those who have taken up that task though.
I used to have a vast memory for scriptures, the only thing I could say by mind now is the "Sudden Tao" probably, for the DIamond sutra and others, only the "poetic recaps" as I call them.
So not much use other then forwarding some of my favs.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby fukasetsu on Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:03 am

Chrisd wrote:What/how did it change the perspective?
If you could post the crucial piece from the sutra, that would be awesome.


I cant remember Chris, memory lane seems like a vague dream, just like last nights dream.
I dont consider the past, future or anything my own.
As I said the practise of neither memory or anticipations seems to bear fruit :lol2:
Best I can do on the spot is to quote Huang Po.

huang po 1.jpg


Was probably different back then, as I said only have some vague recollections.
Just overall seeing that whatever idea I had was false.

ah wait let me indulge and randomly click a link:

“Virtuous man, all illusory projections of sentient beings arise from the wondrous mind of the Tathagata’s Complete Enlightenment, just like flowers in the sky which come into existence from out of the sky. When the illusory flower vanishes, the nature of the sky is not marred. Likewise, the illusory mind of sentient beings relies on illusory [cultivation] for its extinction. When all illusions are extinguished, the enlightenen mind remains unmoved. Speaking of enlightenment in contrast to illusion is itself an illusion. To say that enlightenment exists is to not have left illusion yet. [However], to say that enlightenment does not exist is also no different. Therefore, the extinction of illusion is called the unmoving [mind of enlightenment].

“Virtuous man, all bodhisattvas and sentient beings in the ,”Dharma Ending Age should separate [themselves] from all illusory projections and deluded realms. [However], when one clings firmly to the mind that separates [from all illusory projections and deluded realms], this mind [should also be taken as] an illusion, and one should separate oneself from it. Because this separation is an illusion, it should also be separated. One should then be free from even this ‘separating from the illusion of separation!’ When there remains nothing to be seperated from, all illusions are eliminated. It is like rubbing two pieces of wood together to obtain fire. When the fire ignites and the wood completely burns, the ashes fly away and the smoke vanishes. Using illusion to remedy illusion is just like this. Yet even though illusions are exhausted, one does not enter annihilation.

“Virtuous man, to know illusion is to depart from it; there is no [need to] contrive expedient means! To depart from illusion is to be enlightened; there are no gradual steps! All bodhisattvas and sentient beings in the Dharma Ending Age who practice accordingly will permanently leave illusions behind.”


Bolded some parts, as I said cant really "recap a mind of the past"
As you can see simply reading this for the 1st time can have an inmense impact giving up trading one idea in for the other, everything is a play of consciousness, all my ideas about enlightenment and what not included.
I just remember it was a huge turning point in my practise, a sense of relief too.
I could give up superfluous philosophy at that time.
Dunno if I explained right, as I said "the so called mind of the so called past" :lol2:
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby fukasetsu on Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:44 am

PS Chris... the "Sudden Tao" was my first introduction to the "non-dwelling" mind
aka "Don't know" mind in Kwan Um and "neti neti" in Advaita...
found out later that a lot of seemingly different concepts, are actually pointing at the same.

Saved me a lot of time chasing after shiny Buddhist words all of the time.
Chasing around one ungraspable {by mind} thingy to the next, always in vain.
The "Sudden Tao" is my go to piece, I used to finish book after book, scripture after scripture
but that didnt work out.
A teacher once asked me "did you understand any of it" (about a piece)
I said yes, he said "you haven't payed attention then, go read it again"

Hence I'm reading about 1-3 pieces for years now. :lol2:

Not much to collect these days.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Guo Gu on Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:56 am

Kojip wrote: The Platform Sutra and the Diamond sutra were my introduction to Zen after being taught early Suttas. They were read before going to a teacher. They both baffled and encouraged. On the one hand there was the sense that the burden of getting from here to there could be dropped, and at the same time terms like "mind essence" created objects of grasping. It was only later when I was instructed to study the teachings of Chinul that a slightly more helpful understanding of "Sudden Awakening" came to me.


yes, anything can be objects of attachment. your post here is like a sign post that will save some from making that mistake.

Kojip wrote: It was Chinul's view (roughly) that some highly developed people realize sudden awaking and have no need for further cultivation. Most people however will have sudden awakening, but due to the momentum of habit energy, further cultivation will be needed. This he called sudden awaken/gradual cultivation. He saw this as the middle way between sudden and gradual, saying that "sudden" can lead to a lax "nothing to do" attitude, while "gradual" can lead to an attitude of awakening being not imminent. Recently I have become aware of practice as an ongoing process of suddenness.


excellent! for those interested, chinul's writing--both abridged and long versions--are translated by robert buswell (available on amazon).

Kojip wrote: I have tried to read the lotus sutra, but found the imagery and cosmic scale daunting, and did not get far.


it's just full of fun stories (there's actually no contents to the sutra, just one analogy or metaphor after another :lol2: ). my suggestion is not to read it trying to analyze the stories and images. these metaphors have a wonderful way of weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of our attitude toward practice, a way to being, if we allow ourselves to enjoy them as stories... where correct views are naturally understood.

my view of sudden = :hide:

let others share their understandings.... which leads to fuka's comment:

fukasetsu wrote: part of my practise to not be dependent on memory and anticipation anymore, and especially not creating new memories... the practise of neither memory or anticipations seems to bear fruit... I said cant really recap a mind of the past...


much of what you say is good and i'm sure it was useful for you then. and i know you didn't solicit my suggestion, but here it goes anyway: may i crack you over the head so this way it's faster for you to not retain memories? :lol2:

fuka, memory does not obstruct. attachment does. what was useful for you then when you read those texts (for example, the complete enlightenment passages you cited above) and what you got out of it--maybe no retainment of memory as non-attachment?--has now led to you know what. ;) so exercise your wisdom and :ninja:

carry on, folks! :hide:
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby fukasetsu on Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:45 am

Guo Gu wrote:much of what you say is good and i'm sure it was useful for you then. and i know you didn't solicit my suggestion, but here it goes anyway: may i crack you over the head so this way it's faster for you to not retain memories? :lol2:


:lol2:

I have no problem retaining associative memories Sir Guo Gu, as they just 'naturally' arise due to conditions and are temporary, I just no longer have an identification to them (nor do I not) when a memory arises, I just see the memory, I do not delude in the concept of having a past (nor do I not)
Hard to communicate anyway.

fuka, memory does not obstruct. attachment does.

I'm aware of that, good point.

what was useful for you then when you read those texts (for example, the complete enlightenment passages you cited above) and what you got out of it--maybe no retainment of memory as non-attachment?--has now led to you know what. ;) so exercise your wisdom and :ninja:

carry on, folks! :hide:

I don't make an effort of not creating new memories, it's just a spontaneous 'fruit' from practise.
But I have to say that I like it.
There's more to it from my part but that's a detailed 'personal' tale, some conditioned traces are due to 'general memory' and not specific ones, the attachment part comes with identity.
So memory itself is no issue, nor do I label them as good or bad memories, I observe them like I would watch a movie, or the sky, or something "alienated"
Nevertheless some obstructions still linger eventhough the attachment is solved (at least on a conscious frontal lobe whatever thingy level) due to this I had to fine tume my own dharma, as I quoted the other day, best to practise your own dharma badly then someone elses well.
There's "general" dharma ofcourse, but 'individual' kleshas/karmic root thingies or whatever require a specific key to unlock the door. Hence I fine tune my dharma/sadhana accordingly, or did.
The no memory part happens automatically. Basically memory only happens when needed, it just follows conditions, I never randomly remember anything or day dream away.
It helped me face what needed to be faced, yet with memory and anticipation, it is not always so.
Hope it makes sense.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:39 pm

Oh Gawd – homework :lol2:

OK, I undertake to study the Treatise On Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment and report back.

It will take several days. My return, that is :lol2:

m
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby clyde on Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:43 pm

Guo Go; Interesting discussion. Here, I can tell you which books I’ve read and consider “Zen scriptures”.

This one has been on my bookshelf for 40+ years and I’ve read and studied it many times:
The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind, translated by John Blofeld
http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Teaching-Huan ... 802150926/

This is another one I read and studied many times:
The Sutra of Hui-Neng: Grand Master of Zen
http://www.amazon.com/The-Sutra-Hui-Nen ... 1570623481

which includes Hui-Neng’s Commentary on the Diamond Sutra.

And I’ve read a few translations and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra.

I would say those are the “Zen scriptures”, the core texts, I’ve read and studied the most. But I don’t know that I would recommend them to newcomers as these texts will appeal to only a few.

And there are other Zen and Mahayana texts that I’ve read and studied, and keep on my bookshelf. Those are also personal preferences; that is, I resonated with these texts, was inspired by these texts, and my understanding of the texts changed over time with each re-reading, re-studying. Now, I read much less and prefer a more embodied expression.

clyde


p.s: Thank you, Guo Go for recommending the pamphlet, The Six Paramitas, A Commentary by Chan Master Sheng Yen (http://chancenter.org/cmc/publications/free-literature/).
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Chrisd on Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:44 pm

Michaeljc wrote:Oh Gawd – homework :lol2:

OK, I undertake to study the Treatise On Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment and report back.

It will take several days. My return, that is :lol2:

m


Alright.
It's on. :ninja:
Incominggggg(soon, but not too soon)
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:44 pm

There is a problem. It can take a lifetime to fully relate to any one of these texts. How the heck can one deal with several? Skim. Ha! :blush:
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Pedestrian on Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:45 pm

Of course it can take a lifetime! What doesn't? So you read one sentence, and then another, make lunch, and then another, sleep, and then another, go to work, and then another....

At least that's my approach. Along with at-least daily zazen, the precepts, participation in sangha events, and dokusan, studying sutras and other texts is a regular part of my practice. I've found Red Pine's commentaries in his translations to the Heart, Diamond, Lankavatara, and Platform sutras to be invaluable, as well as Norman Fischer's online dharma talks on the same. I've also deeply appreciated the commentaries and translations by Dan Leighton, Robert Thurman, and J.C. & Thomas Cleary of Hongzhi, Hakuin, Dahui and other Zen masters. Finally, I return to the entire Moon in a Dewdrop collection of Dogen's writings again and again, for the glossary, readings, notes... you name it.

I try to read 30-60 minutes most days if possible, often going back over particular texts or passages repeatedly (as others have noted above, skimming does nothing for me), and each time I deepen my relationship to, practice with, and gratitude for these texts as a result. In particular, I want to give Red Pine a big hug of thanks.

As for the problem of reading Zen texts, Dan Leighton wrote, "From the Buddhist context all words -- and all beings -- are verbs, in dynamic activity." He also wrote, "All these fancy Zen words are about something so close that you cannot see it. It is like trying to see your own eyeballs." I try to keep those two sentences handy, even though they are mere sentences. ;)
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby another_being on Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:07 pm

Faith Mind Inscription / Hsin-hsin Ming -- there is a translation online by Richard B. Clarke that I like.

Bodhidharma's Outline of Practice and Sermons -- Red Pine's translations are online.

Hui Neng's Platform Sutra -- Red Pine's and one translated by C. Humphreys and Wong Mou-Lam is here:
http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/huineng/content.html

The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra also are essential as the above.

I read only some of the Lankavatara Sutra a couple of years ago and should look into it again. The Vimalakirti Sutra was very rewarding. Half-way through Master Dogen's Shobogenzo and taking my time with it. It is a joy.

The Transmission of Light / Denkoroku by Master Keizan, translated by T. Cleary was wonderful and I want to read it again.

Andy Ferguson's Zen's Chinese Heritage is an astounding collection of wisdom.

The Tao Te Ching is one I read from time to time and I like Stephen Mitchell's translation which is available online too.

Seung Sahn's The Whole World is a Single Flower: 365 Koans for Everyday Life is one I keep reading.

Their benefits reveal themselves on multiple levels and in greater depth over time and with repeated readings. All of these seem to me to be essential, though perhaps just one would suffice for a lifetime.

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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Guo Gu on Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:17 pm

fukasetsu wrote:
Guo Gu wrote:much of what you say is good and i'm sure it was useful for you then. and i know you didn't solicit my suggestion, but here it goes anyway: may i crack you over the head so this way it's faster for you to not retain memories? :lol2:


:lol2:

I have no problem retaining associative memories Sir Guo Gu, as they just 'naturally' arise due to conditions and are temporary, I just no longer have an identification to them (nor do I not) when a memory arises, I just see the memory, I do not delude in the concept of having a past (nor do I not)
Hard to communicate anyway.

fuka, memory does not obstruct. attachment does.

I'm aware of that, good point.

what was useful for you then when you read those texts (for example, the complete enlightenment passages you cited above) and what you got out of it--maybe no retainment of memory as non-attachment?--has now led to you know what. ;) so exercise your wisdom and :ninja:

carry on, folks! :hide:

I don't make an effort of not creating new memories, it's just a spontaneous 'fruit' from practise.
But I have to say that I like it.
There's more to it from my part but that's a detailed 'personal' tale, some conditioned traces are due to 'general memory' and not specific ones, the attachment part comes with identity.
So memory itself is no issue, nor do I label them as good or bad memories, I observe them like I would watch a movie, or the sky, or something "alienated"
Nevertheless some obstructions still linger eventhough the attachment is solved (at least on a conscious frontal lobe whatever thingy level) due to this I had to fine tume my own dharma, as I quoted the other day, best to practise your own dharma badly then someone elses well.
There's "general" dharma ofcourse, but 'individual' kleshas/karmic root thingies or whatever require a specific key to unlock the door. Hence I fine tune my dharma/sadhana accordingly, or did.
The no memory part happens automatically. Basically memory only happens when needed, it just follows conditions, I never randomly remember anything or day dream away.
It helped me face what needed to be faced, yet with memory and anticipation, it is not always so.
Hope it makes sense.


very well then. just checking. glad this "wind" didn't get to you. ;)
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby Guo Gu on Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:21 pm

clyde wrote:Guo Go; Interesting discussion. Here, I can tell you which books I’ve read and consider “Zen scriptures”.

This one has been on my bookshelf for 40+ years and I’ve read and studied it many times:
The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind, translated by John Blofeld
http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Teaching-Huan ... 802150926/



clyde, this text is excellent. it's also a fine translation.

Pedestrian wrote: As for the problem of reading Zen texts, Dan Leighton wrote, "From the Buddhist context all words -- and all beings -- are verbs, in dynamic activity." He also wrote, "All these fancy Zen words are about something so close that you cannot see it. It is like trying to see your own eyeballs." I try to keep those two sentences handy, even though they are mere sentences. ;)


that's a nice way of putting it. :)

thanks, another_being for the list of readings. which part of vimalakirti did you find rewarding? just curious.
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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby ed blanco on Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:38 pm

As for the problem of reading Zen texts, Dan Leighton wrote, "From the Buddhist context all words -- and all beings -- are verbs, in dynamic activity." He also wrote, "All these fancy Zen words are about something so close that you cannot see it. It is like trying to see your own eyeballs." I try to keep those two sentences handy, even though they are mere sentences. ;)


Thanks Pedestrian, I exhaled reading this after the OP.

Nontheless, I'll play, FIU's main library is 100 yeards from here so I'll go there and browse. :O:
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IN SPEECH YOU HEAR ITS SILENCE

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Re: Key Mahayana Scriptures with comments

Postby another_being on Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:40 pm

Guo Gu wrote:
thanks, another_being for the list of readings. which part of vimalakirti did you find rewarding? just curious.


On a surface level, Vimalakirti, like Hui-neng's enlightenment story, shows that the layman is as much open and available as the monastic. On another level, I had thought the Bodhisattva Manjusri as metaphorically the highest seat, but Vimalakirti's potent silence pointed to that ____ before wisdom. A revelation, and none other than a human being.

:Namaste:
"Some people think they are enlightened, some people think they are not enlightened." -- Denko
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