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Can Sutra Mahamudra Be Justified

Can Sutra Mahamudra Be Justified

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Published by Guhyaprajñāmitra
Can Sutra Mahamudra be justified?
Can Sutra Mahamudra be justified?

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Published by: Guhyaprajñāmitra on Sep 18, 2009
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Can
siitra mahiimudrii
be justified on the basis
of
MaitrIpa's
Aprati~thanavada?l
Klaus-Dieter
Mathes,
Hamburg
General remarksThe term
satra mahiimudrii
is a controversial one, suggesting
as
it does that thepractice and realization of
mahiimudrii
is possible outside the Tantras, namelyon the basis
of
the Siitras. Such an approach
was
propagated by sGam po pa(1079-1153) but criticized by Sa skya
Pa~c;Iita
(1182-1251), who maintainedthat there
is
no conventional expression for
mahiimudrii
in the
piiramitii
tradition, and that the wisdom of
mahiimudrii
can only be a wisdom arisen from empowerment. 'Gos Lo tsa ba gZon nu dpal (1392-1481), however, defendssGam po pa's
mahiimudrii
by pointing out that it has Indian origins, in thepersons
of
JfianakIrti and Maitrlpa (ca. 1007 -
ca.
1085)2
(together with thelatter's disciple Sahajavajra,
11th
cent.).3 Kon sprul Blo gros mtha' yas (1813-1899) thus distinguishes in his
Ses bya kun khyab mdzod
(vol.
3,
375f.) besidesthe generally accepted
mantra mahiimudrii,
a
satra mahiimudrii
and an essence
mahiimudrii. Mantra mahiimudrii
is transmitted according to the methodstaught by the Mantrayana, and this involves Tantric empowerment. Essence
mahiimudrii
leads to the sudden or instantaneous realization
of
one's naturalmind
(tha mal
gyi
ses pa). Satra mahiimudrii
is
defined in the following way:
1
The present article was made possible through a research project financed by theGerman Research Council (DFG). I am grateful
to
Prof. Harunaga Isaacson for havingread this paper before it was published. Improvements to my English by Philip
H.
Pierce (Nepal Research Centre, Kathmandu) are gratefully acknowledged.
2
Tatz 1994: 65. On the life
of
MaitrIpa, see Tatz 1987: 695-711.
3
See Mathes
in print
a.
B.
Kellner,
H.
Krasser,
H.
Lasic, M.T. Much,
H.
Tauscher (eds.),
Prama~lakfrti~.
Papers dedicated to Ernst Steinkellner on the occasion
of
his 70th birthday.
Part
2.
(Wiener Studien zurTibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 70.2) Wien 2007,
pp.
545-566.
 
546Klaus-Dieter MathesVis-a-vis the objective part
of
ni~prapaiica
and luminosity, which is in accordancewith the Sutra tradition, the subjective part enters into equipoise with the aid of
amanasikiira
pith-instructions.
4
In other words, not to fabricate anything by "not becoming mentally engaged"
(amanasikara)
is the only way mind can approach emptiness or reality, which
is
characterized by "being free from mental fabrications"
(ni~prapafica).
gZonnu dpal finds this practice described in Sahajavajra's commentary onMaitrIpa's
Tattvadasaka
and thus characterizes this commentary in his
BlueAnnals
as
follows:
In essence it is the
piiramitiis,
it is in accordance with the [Way of] Mantras, and itsname is
mahiimudrii.
5
In the
Tattvadasakarfka,
phenomena are not only ascertained
as
being empty,but also experienced
as
luminosity in a
samadhi
which realizes reality
as
it is
(yathabhatasamadhi).
The latter
is
made possible by pith-instructions, and
Tattvadasaka
2cd implies that this is supreme Madhyamaka adorned with pithinstructions whose main purpose
is
to enable a direct experience of emptiness
as
luminosity on a path that unites
samatha
with a particular form
of
vipasyana.
6
It is well known that Maitrlpa favours the Madhyamaka "tenet
of
not abiding in any phenomena"
( S a r v a d h a r m a p r a t i ~ t h a n a v a d a ) 
over the inferiorMadhyamaka "tenet of non-duality [in the sense of everything being] like anillusion" (Mayopamadvayavada).7 A literal translation of Skt.
sarvadhar-
m a p r a t i ~ r h a n a
would be "not being grounded in all phenomena," which meansthat phenomena should not
be
reified in any conceivable way. This
is
very clearfrom the
Sekanirdesapafijika
of Ramapala (one
of
the four main disciples ofMaitrIpa),8 who glosses
aprati~rhana
as
"not to reify [anything]" and "not
to
become mentally engaged.,,9 In the corresponding root text,
Sekanirdesa,
10
4
Kon sprul Blo gros mtha' yas:
Ses bya kun khyab mdzod,
vol.
3,
375,18-20:
mdo lugsdan mthun
pa'i
spros bral 'od gsal gyi
yulla
/
yul can yid
la
mi byed
pa'i
gdams pasmiiam par 'jog pa dan /
5
gZon nu dpal:
Deb ther snon
po
847, vol. 2, 18-19:
no bo pha rol tu phyin
pa
/
snagsdan rjes su mthun pa min phyag rgya chen po.
6
For a detailed discussion
of
the
Tattvadasaka
see Mathes 2006: 209-223.
7
See Tatz 1994: 67.
8
See Roerich 1949-53: 842.
9
SNPS(C)'
fol. 18a4;
SNPS(Pe),
fol. 15b6-7:
sarvasminn
...
aprati~rhiinaam
aamanasikiiro
'niiropa/:l
a
C omits.The Tibetan translation (SNP
T,
fol. 334b4) differs slightly:
"aprati~rhiina
[means] not
 
Can
sutra mahiimudrii
be justified on the basis
of
MaitrIpa's
A p r a t i ~ ! h a n a v a d a ? 
547
stanza 29cd, MaitrIpa informs
us
that
mahiimudrii
is also known
as
"[thepractice of] not abiding
(aprati~thiina)
in anything."ll In other words, the yoginsimply refrains from projecting wrong notions (such
as
an independentexistence or characteristic signs) onto anything arisen in dependence, whether
skandhas, dhiitus
or
iiyatanas.
12
Philosophically, this amounts to the PrasaIigikaattitude
of
not postulating any position
of
one's own, and in fact, for
'Ba'
ra barGyal mtshan dpalbzaIi (1310-1391), the
A p r a t i ~ t h a n a - M a d h y a m a k a 
is
identical with PrasaIigika.
13
The practice of not becoming mentally engaged
(amanasikiira)
is describedin such
sutras
as
the
Jiiiiniilokiila1flkiira
(see below) and the
Nirvikalpapravesa
dhiira1Jf.
In the latter, the Bodhisattva abandons all wrong projections onto reality by not becoming mentally engaged. For Sahajavajra
amanasikiira
does notmean that one does not see any objects
as
a result
of
having closed one's eyes.
It
is rather that one does not focus on a putative own-being of entities
as
a result
of
analysis or the pith-instructions of one's guru.
14
In his
Amanasikiiriidhiira,
MaitrIpa gives the following
mahiimudrii-interpretation
of
amanasikiira:
The letter
a
stands for luminosity, and
manasikiira
for blessing from within
(sviidhi
~thiina)Y
It
is both
a
and
manasikiira,
so we get
amanasikiira.
16
Through this,namely by [operating with] the words
amanasikiira
and so
forth,17
one arrives at theexpression
"a
blessing from within [that is] inconceivable luminosity" [i.e.,] anawareness which is a non-dual continuity in which inseparable emptiness and compassion are united as a pair.
18
to reify [anything], in virtue
of
not becoming mentally engaged."
(rab tu mi gnas
pa
ni
yid
la byed
pa med pas
sgror gdags
pa med
pa'
0
/)
10
Or also
Sekanin:taya,
as it
is
referred to in the
Tattvaratniivalf(TRAs21,14).
11
SNs 36,11 (SN 29cd):
sarvasminn
aprati~thiinal?'t
mahiimudreti kfrtyate /
12
SNPS(C)'
fol. 18a4;
SNPS(Pe),
fol. 15b6:
sarvasminn iti pratftyasamutpaannaaskandha-dhiitviiyataniidau...
a
Pe omits
13
Mimaki 1982: 34.
14
See Mathes 2005:
15
and 19-20.
15
For the meaning
of
sviidhi~thiina
in the
Tattvadasaka
and its
tfkii,
see Mathes 2006:212.
16
This means that
a-manasikiira
is taken here
as
a
karmadhiiraya
compound.
17
I.e., luminosity and blessing from within.
18
AMAs 142,17-20:
a iti prabhiisvarapadarrt
/
manasikara iti
sviidhi~thiinapadam
as
eiisau manasikiiras eety amanasikiiraJ:t.f eteniimanasikiiriidipadair acintyaprabhiisva
rasviidhi~thiinapada1?'t
sunyatiikarw;iibhinnayuganaddhiidvayaviihisal?'tvedal'tam iipiidi-

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