Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Class 16 - Ultimate & Conventional Objects of Refuge Distinguished - Maitreya's Syllogisms

Download PDF's of Class Handouts, Notes, and MP3 Tracks from the 16th class of Spring 2012 term held on Wednesday, May 16. [No class was held on Monday, 5/14.]

DOWNLOAD Handouts - text for Class 16:

Handout 14 - General Meaning's 5 Topics that explain Three Refuge Objects:  #3 -  Difference between a Conventional & Ultimate Refuge, cont.:  Debate re meaning of Conventional Refuge objects per Nagarjuna 's Fundamental Wisdom (Mulamadhyamikakarika) & Asanga's Great Commentary of the Uttaratantra."  4 Syllogisms (Maitreya's Sublime Continuum (Uttaratantra): reasons why a particular object of refuge is Conventional, not Ultimate.  #4 - Meaning of the word 'Jewel' - དཀོན་མཆོག་:  citing points of Gyaltsab Je's Commentary on the (Maitreya's) Uttaratantra verse re I. rarity, II. purity, III. power of Refuge Jewels.

Handout 15 - General Meaning's 5 Topics that explain Three Refuge Objects:  #4 - Meaning of the word 'Jewel' - དཀོན་མཆོག་: citing points of Gyaltsab Je's Commentary on the (Maitreya's) Uttaratantra verse of 6 qualities:, cont.: IV. ornaments of the world, V. foremost and VI . do not change by praise or criticism. #5 - How one should take refuge from viewpoint of common and uncommon vehicles & latter’s 4 superior qualities.  Seven Outstanding Benefits of Taking Refuge. Eight sets of Pratimoksha vows.  “If the merit of taking refuge had a form ...”  Concludes General Meaning’s presentation of Three Objects of Refuge.

ALL SPRING 2012 PDF Handouts are HERE.

Track 1 - Reflections on Guru Devotion

Track 2 - Review Class 15:

I.  Conventional & Ultimate Objects of Refuge.
    Various contextual meanings of Conventional [kun dzob - ཀུན་རྫོབ་] in Buddhist philosophy. 
  • Conventional:  Something that appears one way but exists in a different way.
  • Conventional Truths, e.g.: Objects of our sense consciousnesses appear to exist objectively, from their own side, however, they do not; so their appearance is deceptive. 
  • Conventional Refuge:  Oject of Refuge that appears to some people one way (i.e., as ‘final’), but exists in another way.
II.  Three Final Vehicles & One Final Vehicle [HANDOUT 13] – Q & A

Conventional Refuge – e.g., Hearer Arhats or Solitary Realizer Arhats appear as a Final Goal to proponents of Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika following Scripture & Cittamatra Following Scripture tenets.

  Those Arhats are “Conventional Objects of Refuge” for other tenet systems (i.e., Madhyamika and Cittamatra Following Reasoning) which assert: “those Arhats [& all sentient beings] will eventually attain the state of a Buddha".

A.  Debate mis-assertions based on out of context Nagarjuna & Asanga verses. [HANDOUT 14]

Conventional means that a phenomena appears to exist in a way but actually exists in another.  The connection between Conventional Truth and Conventional Refuge is that they both (deceptively) appear to exist in a way but actually exist in another.

B.  Two Rupakayas are Ultimate Refuges.

A Buddha person is either a Sabhogakāya [actual Buddha emanation] or its emanations, Nirmāṇakāyas.

Track 3 - Questions & Answers re issues such as:
  • Buddhas have different/separate Mental continua:
  • Buddhas do not have Buddha Nature (sentient beings do).
  • Adjectives such as “inseparable”, “indistinguishable”, or “of one nature”, refer to the “qualities” of Buddhas.  Nonetheless, Buddhas have separate mental continua.  Those adjectives do not mean there aren’t different Buddhas with different mind streams.  [E.g., 10 bottles of Perrier: They are indistinguishable but they are different.] 
  • Buddhas’ Emanations in our world must have faults so that sentient beings can perceive them.  However, the faults are a reflection of the sentient beings’ own minds. 
  • And more.
Track 4 - Four Syllogisms indicate which Dharma & Sangha Objects of Refuge are Conventional Objects of Refuge [HANDOUT 14]:
Because [the Dharma] is to be abandoned, deceptive,
And an absence, and because [the Sangha] has fear,
The two types of Dharma and the Arya Assembly
Do not represent stable, foremost refuges.

        -- Maitreya's Uttaratantra (Sublime Continuum)
Syllogism 1Dharma of Scripture, a Conventional Refuge, that like a Raft is abandoned after crossing the river.

Syllogism 2Arya Bodhisattva’s Direct Realization of Emptiness, is a Conventional Refuge, i.e., Deceptive (due to dependence on “Ignorance’s Imprints”).

IMPRINTS of IGNORANCE:  Arya Bodhisattvas on Path of Seeing, having seen Emptiness directly, take on a special body in their next rebirths.  The causes of their rebirths are: (i)  Imprints of Ignorance, (ii) Wishes (to be born to benefit beings), (iii) Compassion & (iv) Special Prayers.

Ordinary Rebirth (of non-Arya Bodhisattvas and other sentient beings):  Involves Four of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination:  (1) Ignorance and its Delusions trigger actions which leave (2) Karmic imprints (a compositional factor) in our mental continua. At the time of death, the links of (3) Attachment and (4) Grasping activate the Karmic potential for rebirth.

Arya Bodhisattva Rebirth: The Four Links of Twelve Links of Dependent Origination that trigger Ordinary Rebirth are replaced for Arya Bodhisattvas:

    Ordinary Beings                                               Arya Bodhisattvas

(1) Ignorance [its Delusions trigger                      (1) Imprints of Ignorance
actions which leave Karmic Imprints
in mental continua.

(2) Karma (a compositional factor)                      (2) Wish to be reborn for the
                                                                               benefit of sentient beings.

At death, two links activate Karmic potential for rebirth:

(3) Attachment                                                  (3) Compassion
(4) Grasping                                                       (4) Pure Prayers

Arya Bodhisattvas are still under the control of Imprints of Ignorance, hence:
Arya Bodhisattvas' wisdom that directly realizes selflessness is not an Ultimate Refuge because it is a deceptive phenomenon due to depending on the Imprints of Ignorance.
Syllogism 3Hinayana Nirvana without Remainder is not an Ultimate Refuge because it is merely an absence/elimination of the Truth of Suffering & the Truth of Origin.

   A Hearer Arhat –- having eliminated the afflictive obstructions –- is rid of the Truth of Suffering and its Origins

Syllogism 4. Hearer Arhats are not Ultimate Refuges because they have fear of the Cognitive Obstructions to Omniscience.

The Four Syllogisms indicate which Dharma & Sangha Objects of Refuge are Conventional Objects of Refuge, i.e.:
(i) (Generally) Dharma of Scripture; and Dharma of (2) Arya Paths and (3) Arya Cessations in the continua of Sentient Beings; and (4) Arya Sangha who have not yet attained enlightenment.
Track 5Delineating Dharma of Scriptures that are Ultimate from those that are Conventional Refuges:

I.  [Per Gyaltseb Je] Dharma of Scripture that are not Ultimate Objects of Refuge (per he Uttaratantra) does not refer to the words that were actually spoken by the Buddha [literally, that "pertained to the Buddha's continuum"] because these are Ultimate Objects of Refuge. The Dharma of Scripture that are not Ultimate Refuge refers to “the teachings of the Buddha that appear to sentient beings’ ear or mental consciousness.”
  1. Words actually spoken by the Buddha are Ultimate Refuges.  
  2. Words we hear later or read are Conventional Refuges.
II.  Debates.
  • Does the teaching of the Buddha still exist?  
  • Do the words of the Buddha still exist? 
  • Special qualities of Buddha’s speech.
  • Refuges Left Behind upon attaining Buddhahood?
III.  Buddha Jewel endowed with Three Kayas is the only Ultimate Refuge

A.  Distinguishing Resultant Dharmakāya and from just the Dharmakāya
  • The Resultant Dharmakāya is impermanent, and refers to the Buddha’s Mental Consciousness or Jñānakāya
  • Over-arching category of Dharmakāya includes both the Jñānakāya and the Svabhāvikakāya [permanent phenomena, i.e., Cessations & Emptiness].
  • Etymology & Qualities of the Three Jewels (དཀོན་མཆོག་གསུམ་)
B.  Qualities of Three Jewels:  1) Rare, 2) Free of Defilement, 3) Powerful, 4) Ornaments of world, 5) Foremost, 6) Unchanging.
According to Gyaltsab Je's Commentary on the Uttaratantra, this teaches that the Three Jewels are the perfect refuge. Thus, we should not rely on other refuges such as worldly deities, etc.

NOTES of Class 16 (May 16) rough draft transcript of class offered for what it's worth.  

If any of the LINKS don't work, please leave a COMMENT or notify us by E-Mail.
This is the 16th class of the Spring 2012 term Perfection of Wisdom course
which addresses Refuge, the 3rd sub-topic of the 2nd Topic
(Mahayana Practice Instructions) of Chapter 1 of Maitreya's
Ornament for Clear Realizations - Abhisamayalamkara.

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