Hi guys,

i thought i would share the following with you:



Açvaghosha's Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahâyâna
tr. by Teitaro Suzuki

"Fifthly, hearing that it is said in the Sûtras 1 that depending on the Tathâgata's womb, there is birth-and-death (samsâra) as well as the attainment of Nirvâna, yet not understanding its purport, ignorant people imagine that depending on the Tathâgata's womb there is a beginning for birth-and-death, and that since there is the beginning, Nirvâna is in turn subject to extinction.

In order that this clinging may be eliminated, be it clearly understood that as the Tathâgata's womb has no beginning, ignorance and birth-and-death depending on it have also no beginning; that it is a view held by the tîrthaka 2 [i.e., the followers of the Vaiçesika]

p. 111

and not taught by the Buddha, to say that there are outside of the three worlds 1 (triloka) some other beings coming into existence; that the Tathâgata's womb has no future [i.e., time of extinction]; and that those who have an insight into it, will eternally destroy the seeds of birth-and-death and attain to Nirvâna which has also no future [i.e., time of extinction].

These four 2 erroneous views have thus arisen from the conception of a personal âtman, and so we have laid down the four refutations as above mentioned. 3"


This last bit sounds rather interesting and i want to gauge some people's responses for what this implies for a "buddhist idea of spiritual progress"


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Comment by Katinka Hesselink on February 20, 2010 at 6:08am
The issue of reincarnation and rebirth in Buddhism is a difficult one, combine it with the doctrine of Sunyata, or emptiness, and you get into an even deeper philosophical mess. Conclusions can go any which way - and in the history of Buddhism they have gone every which way...

So - if you don't want to believe in progress, I'm sure you'll find some Buddhist philosophers to agree with you. More to the point: obsessing over progress is detrimental to real progress anyhow, and you'll find many Buddhist teachers agreeing with that point.

Part of the issue is with what enlightenment IS, and how people think we 'get there'. In practice I'm, like most theosophists, of the 'gradual path' persuasion: I think we need to work right here to get our act together. This will give us a better starting point, karmically, in a future life in which Nirvana (or however you want to call it) may be reached.

From the point of view of the 'direct path' however, this is the 'long way'. Since we all have Buddha Nature (or Atma) alive in us anyhow, the only thing to be 'done' is to realize that - which will bring enlightenment.

For me, what brings the two together is that negative karma in practice makes it very hard to recognize our own, or everyone else's, underlying Divinity (or Buddha nature, or whatever you want to call it).

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