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January 08, 2013


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Ungern Sternberg :

Nagarjuna the great proponent of the emptiness doctrine said this about the âtman:

"People who understand the meaning (artha) of the Buddhist doctrine and know the designation (prajñapti) say that the âtman exists. People who do not understand the meaning of the Buddhist doctrine and do not know the designation say that the âtman does not exist" (T. 1509, vol XXV, 253c ~ Maha-prajnaparamita-shastra, trans. Lamotte).

Ungern Sternberg:

The Zennist is the main blog that proves, with scriptural evidence, that the Pali canon is pro-Self and that the self-deniers are deluded. There are a lot of pro-Self blogs.

No, the original Zen order (Lanka School) does not deny the self insofar as the Sutra that Bodhidharma transmitted (Lankavatara Sutra) is pro-Self.

"Those who propound the doctrine of No Self are to be shunned in the religous rites of the monks, and not to be spoken to, for they are offenders of the Buddhist doctrines, having embraced the dual views of being and non-Being" (Lankavatara Sutra, trans. Florin Giripescu Sutton).

"The clear Self has been soiled by primal and adventitious defilements and (therefore) is regarded like a soiled garmet which have been washed off" (Lankavatara Sutra, ibid).

Enjoyed the read. I too was insulted, threatened with being banned, and had my posts censored by a certain Greek fellow on the very same forum for holding views contrary to the nihilistic Atman-denying materialists that call themselves Buddhists.

While I haven't read much else of your blog, I notice that it is about Zen (or I'd imagine by its name.) Does Zen usually deny the Atman? Does Zen-related sutras like the Lankavatara or Zen literature in general usually deny the Atman? How does the emptiness doctrine you often hear of relate to the Atman?

If you can assist me with any of these inquiries I'd be much obliged.


Like with war there is a lot of fog in Buddhism. People can waste their entire lives in Buddhism not learning anything about Buddhism. It's obvious to me that Asians, generally, understand the need to realize pure Mind, as demanding as it is. Western Buddhists don't understand the need, so its a waste of time to study their interpretation of Buddhism. Next time you are with your teacher, ask the teacher what pure Mind looks like. :)

Zenmar--Thanks for the fast reply! You may have hit the nail on the head when you said (in a previous post) that the Asian Buddhist may benefit more from your teaching than the Western-born Zen student. Sometimes Western teachers don't even read or teach the Sutras, except for reciting the Heart Sutra and the meal gatha. But...what I always have in mind is that Zen saying: "If the student equals the teacher, the lineage falls." That's a sobering thought, but we need to keep advancing and enhancing and deepening the understanding.

I broached the topic of empty religious forms very early on with my current teacher, because I knew I had to get that out on the table right away: I wasn't able to adopt a foreign cultural religious form and a whole new set of beliefs. Standing up and saying words and putting on special clothing, even chanting and study--at my age, I knew that fantasies of form weren't going to work for me. If I was stuck between cultures I needed to deal with that; if I felt that I was doomed to be a lonely outsider with no first-hand understanding of anything, I needed to deal right there, with that. I'm taking it day by day...

I will say this--and it's kind of a defense of my Eastern friends--when we get together, no matter the occasion, we talk about The Practice, or what we learned in class or barriers and hindrances. One of the frustrating things about my church experience was when we got together in the group socials (always noisy, and constantly eating) they wanted to talk about their kids' college choices or the new deck they were adding on! It was like, spiritual matters were for listening to sermons or for Bible study class!

Fortunately I got my credit card situation squared away and my "one-cent" copy of The Sutra of Perfect Enilghtenment is now on it's way!! Again, thanks for the tip.

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