Talk:Tathāgatagarbha sūtras

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Why is "Doctrine" capitalized here? Mathematical theorems wuch as Maxwell's theorem and physical laws such as Gauss's law conventionally are not capitalized in Wikipedia article titles. Michael Hardy 22:26, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The term 'Template:A' keeps appearing where the original author obviously intended some special character to show.


I removed:

Note: This article needs to be redone by a professional scholar, as it contains vagueness and inaccuracy. To begin with, tathagatagarbha is not directly equivalent to Buddha-nature.

This is a POV remark that is inappropriate for the start of the article. The contributor who added this should either make the changes himself/herself, discuss the changes in the talk page, or use one of the standard template disclaimers. --Decumanus 23:26, 2004 Nov 17 (UTC)


Further refinement is needed for this article

The mention of Yogacara in "The Tathagatagarbha doctrine arose mainly within Mahayanists who were associated to some degree or another with Yogacara studies" should be removed. Though Tathagata-garbha doctrines were convergent at a later stage with Yogacara, resulting in "syncretic" texts like the Lankavatara-sutra and the Ghana-vyuha-sutra, the origins of Tathagata-garbha have no connection with Yogacara. In fact, the origins of the Tathagata-garbha doctrine may not even be Mahayana. Moreover, a distinction should be made between the two meanings of Tathagata-garbha which depend on whetehr one interprets it as a or a baahu-vrihi compound -- in other words, a being may be "tathagata-garbha" (an embryonic Buddha)or have "tathagata-garbha" (contain the embryo of a Buddha). The orgin of the Tathagata-garbha doctrine should possibly be sought in concepts that arose around the presence of the Buddha in a stupa (see various articles by Gregory Schopen which discuss this). Garbha was a technical term for the contents of a stupa. The same context can be seen with the term "Buddha-dhatu" (Buddha-nature) where "dhatu" is a similar concept referring to the enshrined relics. --Stephen Hodge 20:02, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Tathagatagarbha interpretation of shunyata is most certainly a continuation and perfection of the Yogacara criticism of Nagarjuna and MMK. Regardless of where its beginnings lie exactly, there is a very clear relation between Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha views (see "What remains in shunyata" by Gadjin Nagao). Also, the claim that Tathagatagarbha is not Mahayana is completely unfounded, as there is a clear and distinct emphasis on Bodhisattva practice and a strong criticism of "Hinayana" Arhat and Pratyekabuddha practices.

Is "ultimate, pure, ungraspable, irreducible, invulnerable, true and deathless Essence of the Buddha's liberating Reality" comparable to the Hindu Atman?

  • Thanks for your interesting question. There are indeed some similarities or comparabilities between certain elements of Hindu "descriptions" of the Atman and the Buddhist teaching on the Tathagatagarbha or hidden Buddhic Essence (particularly as it is presented in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra). For example, both are said to be unperishing, ungraspable and immortal. But the two doctrines are not identical, as there are also distinctions and divergences: the "Katha Upanishad", for instance, asserts:

"A person the size of the thumb in the Atman always resides within the hearts of men".

The Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra specifically denies this view. The Buddha's Atman cannot be reified, located and measured in such a way. The Buddha's doctrine of the Tathagatagarbha is, it seems to me, more abstract than that of the Atman presented in some Upanishads. Whereas the Upanishadic Self is on occasion described as containing all actions and desires, the Buddhic Atman or Essence is beyond all such things. Is this of help to you? All good wishes. Tony TonyMPNS 08:05, 21 May 2005 (UTC)

Tathagatagarbha is NOT atman[edit]

The Srimala Sutra, a classic of Buddha-nature literature, makes that very clear: "The Tathagata embryo is not a self, a personal identity, a being, or a life". Why then does the article claim that Tathagatagarbha is in fact atman? It should in fact state that it is merely the opinion expressed in the Nirvana Sutras. Not all Buddha-nature sutras agree on the exact meaning of the TG. To present the teaching of one sutra as the accepted consensus is misleading, I think, especially to someone who is ignorant of the larger Mahayana context of this doctrine. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 16:23, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Golden Germ, the World Womb-Egg (Hiranyagarbha)[edit]

"...said to have originated in the primeval waters, as the Golden Germ, the World Womb-Egg (Hiranyagarbha) containing all the other gods in the world..." (drawn from an article of Visvakarman)
It would be sapient to chart the cultural context of garbha as Hiranyagarbha has flowed into Tathagatagarbha.

  • Lindtner, Christian (1999). 'From Brahmanism to Buddhism'. Asian Philosophy, Volume 9, Issue 1 March 1999. Source: [1] (accessed: March 7, 2009)

The womb of sentience/sapience
B9 hummingbird hovering (talkcontribs) 07:28, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

moved section: "Texts"[edit]

I have moved this section, which is quite short, from the end of the article, where it did not seem to make any conclusion to it, to near the beginning. This seems to enhance coherence, since these texts are subsequently mentioned again in the article. Moonsell (talk) 23:23, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Ridiculously biased view[edit]

Hey, how about more emphasis on the orthodox view? This is wikipedia for god's sake. Tathāgatagarbha refers to the POTENTIAL to become a Buddha like milk can become butter. Thigle (talk) 23:20, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Whose "orthodox view " ? Any presentation should be based on an accurate reporting of what the Tathagata-garbha group of texts say -- these are ambivalent, some supporting the view presented predominantly in the article while others, equally valid, clearly do NOt view the tathagata-garbha as a mere potential. Thus it is not said that milk can BECOME butter, but that the butter pre-exists in the milk as butter but concealed by the excess, as it were, of milk.

-- अनाम गुमनाम 03:02, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Anam Gumnam speaks correctly. The early Tathagatagarbha sutras (such as the Tathagatagarbha Sutra itself) do not at all say that the Tathagatagarbha is ONLY a potential (although it certainly bears the power within itself to transform a being into a Buddha, annd so to that extent it is a potency or force of potential transformation); rather, those early, foundational texts speak (certainly the Nirvana Sutra does, as does the Angulimaliya Sutra) of a Buddhic presence within each being which is already Awakened and only needs to be 'unwrapped', as it were, from the surrounding 'klesas' (mental and moral afflictions). As Anam Gumnam has pointed out, the image of the milk is an interesting one: in the early versions of the Nirvana Sutra, butter is said to be the inherent essence of the milk, already there, already existing - but it is not yet visible. There are also innumerable references in that same sutra to a very real Essence that is uncreated and deathless existing in every living being. It always strikes me that the people on Wikipedia (as elsewhere) who complain most about an 'uninformed presentation' of the tathagatagarbha doctrine (i.e. a cataphatic one) are nearly always persons who reveal themselves to have a very limited knowledge-base regarding the primary tathagatagarbha sutras (for example, I would like to bet that User Thigle has never, ever, read the Mahayana Angulimaliya Sutra - a very important scripture in this context). I can say from previous observation over the years that User Anam Gumnam has more knowledge of these primary texts than all of us who have recently commented (including myself) put together. Regards - Suddha (talk) 04:46, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
I think the only sources that claim Tathagatagarbha is just a "potential" which is obscured, has been scholarship. Sadly, scholars often spend very little time reading the sutras themselves, and instead tend to rely on the writings of their peers. The outcome of this is that oftentimes their theories contradict the sutras they are attempting to understand. However, for awhile now, scholarship has been coming to terms with the fact that such a representation of Tathagatagarbha is not upheld by the Tathagatagarbha sutras themselves. Finally, their conclusion is realigning with what Buddhist traditions have been saying all along. Someone should be keeping score of the number of major doctrinal misperceptions and corrections that have been necessary in Buddhology. Tengu800 12:45, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Excellent points, Tengu. There is a huge mismatch, as you suggest, between what Western scholars started saying about the tathagatagarbha doctrine back in the 1970s and 1980s (when these texts began to break surface in a major way in the West), and what the sutras themselves actually teach. It was evident that when the tathagatagarbha sutras started to become somewhat better known in the 1970s and 1980s, a lot of Western Buddhists and scholars were rather caught on the hop: they could not believe that such 'essentialist' teachings could truly be part of non-Self / Emptiness Buddhism. So they had to try to explain them away: 'oh, they really are only positive words about the same old Buddhist notions that we've always had - a mere dressing-up of familiar Buddhist concepts of Emptiness and Conditioned Co-arising in an attractively positive vocabulary', or 'Oh, these teachings are only metaphorical - they simply express a way of encouraging people to think that they too can become Buddhas - they can reach that goal - but certainly they don't have Enlightenment within them already, here and now', etc., etc. To be fair, though, not only Westerners expressed such views: the Gelukpas of Tibet have always argued that the tathagatagarbha is not any kind of essence, but is merely a 'potential' and nothing more - and indeed is only a second-level doctrine (not Highest Truth). This, of course, constitutes an egregious and shocking contradiction of what the sutras themselves state again and again and again (e.g. 'The essence of the self is the subtle Tathagatagarbha'; 'the tathagatagarbha is the Buddha'; 'The Buddha Nature is not impermanent, not non-bliss, not non-Self, not impure' - Nirvana Sutra). But there are none so blind as those who refuse to see what is plainly before their eyes, or those who are excessively and blindingly attached (yes, attached - even Buddhists can be perversely attached!) to a twisted form of ideation (reading 'white' as 'black', etc.). Fortunately, as you indicate, Tengu, things are perhaps beginning to change now, with scholars like Stephen Hodge, Professor Shimoda and even Professor Paul Williams acknowledging that the cataphatic, 'positive' approach of the tathagatagarbha sutras is more than just verbal decoration, more than just skin deep: it really represents a step forward into a different envisioning of what the Dharma can be and can mean. Best wishes - Suddha (talk) 13:09, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't know why you guys keep talking about these "tathagatagarbha sutras". The article refers to the tathagatagarbha doctrine as a whole. If you want to RENAME this article "tathagatagarbha sutras" go for it. The tathagatagarbha doctrine as you guys posit, is not compatible with Mādhyamaka or Yogacara. But such a simple point is obviously too much for your brains to compute. Bottomline either a) rename the article b) make it more unbiased. Is this article about the tathagatagarbha sutras or tathagatagarbha doctrine? Anyway why is such a marginal view represented in the buddhism main article. This is why wikipedia is a total joke. Read a real Sakya loppon's comments here. He goes by Namdrol: (talk) 18:18, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
In Tibetan Buddhism, according to the Sakya school, tathāgatagarbha is the union of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelugpa school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they lack inherent existence; according to the Jonang school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience, etc, when adventitious obscurations are removed. In Nyingma, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to union of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. There is only one Indian commentary on this issue -- the Uttaratantra and its commentary by Asanga. In Chinese Buddhism it is interpreted more literally, in texts such as Awakening of Faith in Mahāyāna, and in some currents of Sino-Japanese Buddhism it is indistinguishable from Advaita. The Chinese had no experience with Hindus, really, and did not guard as well as the Tibetans against eternalism creeping into their Buddhism.Thigle (talk) 18:43, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps we talk about the Tathagatagarbha sutras because they are the primary sources for the Tathagatagarbha doctrine. For example, much of the Tathagatagarbha doctrine of the Zen school is drawn from the Lankavatara Sutra and the Surangama Sutra, both of which contain Tathagatagarbha teachings. As far as I have seen, the East Asian interpretations of Tathagatagarbha are quite in line with the basic teachings of the Tathagatagarbha sutras. It seems very condescending to regard the Chinese as naive, falling prey to "creeping Hinduism." The ancient Chinese interpretations of Tathagatagarbha teachings were after all more accurate to the original Tathagatagarbha texts than was western scholarship for decades, and this point should not be ignored. In the view taken in Chinese Buddhism and Zen, even a pig has the same nature as a buddha, and cultivation is not a gradual process of accumulating the qualities of a buddha, but rather letting go of attachments so as to see what was there all along. As for Gelugpa teachings, the Gelug school never really adopted the Tathagatagarbha outlook as far as I have seen, except for perhaps in certain contexts of practice. This probably had something to do with Je Tsongkhapa's own outlook which was closer to that of the Yogacara texts. It was probably also related to the issues facing Tibetan Buddhism during this time, and the specific emphases that were needed. In any case, the Gelug school is circa 14th century at earliest, around 1000 years after the first Tathagatagarbha sutras were circulating in India, and 800-900 years after they were circulating in China.
As for your assertion that Tathagatagarbha is incompatible with Madhyamaka and Yogacara, this is your own interpretation of these doctrines. Personally, I don't think that these doctrines are fundamentally different in any way. It is notable that the Tathagatagarbha sutras themselves never say that this is something essentially different, just the highest exposition of the same truths. For example, in works such as the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Tathagatagarbha is positively identified with many other Mahayana concepts which were viewed as the ultimate in prior teachings, such as Prajnaparamita, the Surangama Samadhi, the Vajrasamadhi, true nature of the mind, etc. Also, your use of Gelugpa, Nyingmapa, etc., explanations is assuming that these views are mutually incompatible with the explanations given in the Tathagatagarbha sutras themselves, which is not established. The same goes for your view that Chinese Buddhism is adopting views that are the same as those of Advaita Vedanta. For example, the Lankavatara Sutra explicitly teaches that this "Self" is not the same as the Self taught by Hindu philosophers. Tengu800 21:32, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
You are plainly saying that you don't want to have a broad overview, and want the entry solely defined to Tathagatagarbha sutras. Why can't all viewpoints be discussed impartially? This is what is wrong with wikipedia. The purpose of wikipedia is to give a brief overview of everything, not to fight doctrinal battles. Thigle (talk) 22:47, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
When did I plainly say that I don't want a broad overview? You merely asked why the Tathagatagarbha sutras are so important, and I answered you: because they are the basic primary source materials establishing the Tathagatagarbha doctrine. You came here accusing others of being "ridiculous", "biased", and not following the "orthodox" view (I guess "orthodox" = "Tibetan"), and now you are complaining that viewpoints can't be discussed impartially? Tengu800 23:44, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually the orthodox view is by Asanga. How come Asanga is not mentioned in this article, except for what I contributed??? You guys are a total joke. Uttaratantra is the only Indian commentary on the tathāgatagarbha sutras we have we have. By not even referencing it, you guys are either biased on uneducated. The rūpakāya is clearly presented in Uttaratantra as a result of efforts and aspiration. Thigle (talk) 00:13, 9 May 2011 (UTC)Thigle (talk) 23:51, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Who says that Asanga represents the "orthodox" view? Since when is he the Tathagatagarbha authority? I don't think any scholars of Tathagatagarbha literature would consider him to have such a role. Again, you seem to be taking very late Tibetan views of Tathagatagarbha doctrine as the source of Tathagatagarbha "orthodoxy." Could you produce a reference from academia citing Asanga as an authority on "orthodox" Tathagatagarbha doctrine? Tengu800 01:05, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
You are a funny guy. Thigle (talk) 01:28, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
I'll take that as a "no." Tengu800 10:57, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Why was this article renamed?[edit]

"Tathagatagarbha doctrine" is not the same subject as "Tathagatagarbha Sutras." The new title does not use IAST diacritics correctly either. The addition of controversial material or debatable material in the intro rather than a more appropriate section below, is also problematic. Tengu800 12:25, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

What is the controversial material? There are two references to actual academic works by Professor Paul Williams, who is used throughout the Buddhism pages. That is about as NON-controversial as it gets. If you want me to provide full quotes here I will. Also keep in mind there are two different articles....the "Buddha-nature" article and this one. LhunGrub (talk) 15:20, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree with you, Tengu800. I, too, was surprised and perplexed as to why the article, 'Tathagatagarbha Doctrine', should be restricted to the 'tathagatagarbha sutras' rubric. Also, emphasising the Gelukpa interpretation of the Buddha-nature /tathagatagarbha in the Intro of the 'Buddha-nature' article is not entirely appropriate, as the Gelukpa 'take' on this subject is something of a minority viewpoint (their idea that even the Buddha-nature or TG has no inherent reality to it is, in a sense, an extreme view that would not be shared by many Buddhists from other Tibetan or Chinese Buddhist traditions). I also agree with your implicit feeling, Tengu, that the article should be restored to its former form and title. Best wishes. Suddha (talk) 12:35, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Fixed some of your objections. LhunGrub (talk) 15:20, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Thank you, LhunGrub, for addressing some of the concerns. I think it would be better if we defined in the Intro what the 'unique model' of Buddha nature is - i.e. that it is 'the unconditioned and deathless Buddhic essence of all beings'. In fact, I've added something along those lines to the Intro. Additionally, I think it might be more accurate to write that these sutras present 'the original vision of Buddha nature' (rather than 'a unique model' - as though these seminal sutras came later and somehow missed the point of the Buddha-nature concept!): in a sense, what came after the TG sutras can be viewed, on occasion (certainly in the Gelugpa 'explication' of these ideas), as a deviation from the doctrines clearly enunciated in those first Buddha-nature sutras. I don't know what Tengu feels about this? Best wishes. Suddha (talk) 00:44, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Don't forget that the meat of the entry follows the lead. That explains exactly what these texts are. Just scroll down.LhunGrub (talk) 01:36, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Thanks again, LhunGrub, for your comments. I think the article is OK now (more or less). Let's see what other editors think. All the best. Suddha (talk) 01:44, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
As I mention on the Buddha-nature discussion page, I revised that entry to avoid extreme redundancy with this entry.LhunGrub (talk) 02:47, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the Wiki-links - that certainly is a useful improvement. Suddha (talk) 02:50, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

This situation is still very confusing. For example, if this page is about Tathagatagarbha sutras while the other page is about the Tathagatagarbha doctrine, then why does the other page have "Buddha-nature" as its title, rather than Tathagatagarbha? These terms are more or less synonymous, but the relationship between these pages becomes ambiguous due to the inconsistent naming. Additionally, this page contains much material about Tathagatagarbha doctrines and regional interpretations of the doctrine, rather than material relating directly to the sutras. A lot of work is still required, and I will be willing to do some of that. One of the problems that these changes currently face, however, is that redirects are blocking renaming to more appropriate titles. Tengu800 17:12, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

I fixed one of your objections. Check Buddha-nature. By the way, I totally disagree with your assessment of this page. This page always was primarily about the Tathagatagarbha Sutras. For God's sake, every other sentence mentions a specific sutra title. It should have been renamed to the current title long ago. LhunGrub (talk) 20:12, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
The problem is not so much the rename, but the inconsistency and incompleteness of the changes. For example, if I type in "buddha-nature", I get the Buddha-nature page. If I type in tathagatagarbha, I get the "Tathagatagarbha Sutras" page. I don't completely disagree with having a name change here, but more that the change was done (1) not following naming standards, and (2) without making the necessary changes to go along with this, as well as (3) the addition of marginalization and judgement of the subject in the introduction where such material does not belong. Tengu800 02:32, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
(1) Ok I fixed all the redirects. Now try typing in "tathagatagarbha". (2) I have no idea what you mean by marginalization and judgement. Wikipedia is supposed to adhere to academic historical facts by professors and NPOV. To say that France was invaded by the Germans during World War II is NOT a marginalization or judgement of France. It is an academic historical fact upheld by scholars.LhunGrub (talk) 04:46, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

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