Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mahāyāna Docetism

This is based on Seygort Ruegg, The Buddha’s Nirvāna (p. 263): docetic ‘mode’ of Nirvāna, i.e. tshul bstan pa. Cf. Docetism (from Greek dokein, “to seem”), Christian heresy and one of the earliest Christian sectarian doctrines, affirming that Christ did not have a real or natural body during his life on earth but only an apparent or phantom one. If the Buddha’s appearance in the world was just a show or a phantom, what about people around him? An idea related to this would be the idea of phun sum tshogs pa lnga, particularly that of ’khor phun sum tshogs pa, that is, the idea that disciples around the Buddha were or are endowed with a cluster of excellences. But there were obviously disciples around him who were not at all endowed with a cluster of excellences. What about Devadatta? What about the “Gang of Six” (drug sde), who are known for their notoriety? It is said that the “Gang of Six” were emanations (sprul pa). See the Nyang ral chos ’byung (p. 33) referring to one version of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. No time to check! Were all of his disciples emanations or only some? In the rNying-ma tradition, we come across the idea of rang snang longs spyod rdzogs pa’i sku’i zhing khams, that is, the idea that in that dimension or domain, everyone and everything is the manifestation of the Buddha (i.e. Ur-Buddha Samantabhadra). In other words, there is no gdul bya rang rgyud pa. This idea requires a closer investigation.  

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