Tathāgata

Tathāgata (Sanskrit: [tɐˈtʰaːɡɐtɐ]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word; Gautama Buddha uses it when referring to himself in the Pāli Canon. The term is often thought to mean either "one who has thus gone" (tathā-gata) or "one who has thus come" (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathāgata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are, however, other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain.[1]

The Buddha is quoted on numerous occasions in the Pali Canon as referring to himself as the Tathāgata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This may be meant to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth and death, i.e. beyond dukkha.

The term Tathāgata has a number of possible meanings.[2]

Translations of
Tathāgata
EnglishOne who has thus gone
SanskritTathāgata
Khmerតថាគត
(tathakut)
Korean여래
(RR: yeorae)
Mongolianᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨᠴᠢᠯᠡᠨ ᠢᠷᠡᠭᠰᠡᠨ Түүнчлэн ирсэн
Tibetanདེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པ་
Thaiตถาคต
VietnameseNhư Lai
Glossary of Buddhism
Tathagata Tsal 02
Tathagata, Lord Buddha amidst clouds and hills in Sikkim, India, 2016

Etymology and interpretation

The word's original significance is not known and there has been speculation about it since at least the time of Buddhaghosa, who gives eight interpretations of the word, each with different etymological support, in his commentary on the Digha Nikaya, the SUMAṄGALAVILĀSINĪ:[1]

  1. He who has arrived in such fashion, i.e. who has worked his way upwards to perfection for the world's good in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas.
  2. He who walked in such fashion, i.e. (a) he who at birth took the seven equal steps in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas or (b) he who in the same way as all previous Buddhas went his way to Buddhahood through the four Jhanas and the Paths.
  3. He who by the path of knowledge has come at the real essentials of things.
  4. He who has won Truth.
  5. He who has discerned Truth.
  6. He who declares Truth.
  7. He whose words and deeds accord.
  8. The great physician whose medicine is all-potent.

Monks, in the world with its devas, Mara and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed and cognized, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind—all that is fully understood by the Tathagata. That is why he is called the Tathagata.(Anguttara Nikaya 4:23)[3]

Modern scholarly opinion generally opines that Sanskrit grammar offers at least two possibilities for breaking up the compound word: either tathā and āgata (via a sandhi rule
ā + ā → ā), or tathā and gata.[4]:381–382 Tathā means "thus" in Sanskrit and Pali, and Buddhist thought takes this to refer to what is called "reality as-it-is" (yathābhūta). This reality is also referred to as "thusness" or "suchness" (tathatā), indicating simply that it (reality) is what it is.

Tathāgata is defined as someone who "knows and sees reality as-it-is" (yathā bhūta ñāna dassana). Gata "gone" is the past passive participle of the verbal root gam "go, travel". Āgata "come" is the past passive participle of the verb meaning "come, arrive". In this interpretation, Tathāgata means literally either “the one who has gone to suchness” or "the one who has arrived at suchness".

Another interpretation, proposed by the scholar Richard Gombrich, is based on the fact that, when used as a suffix in compounds, -gata will often lose its literal meaning and signifies instead "being". Tathāgata would thus mean "one like that", with no motion in either direction.[5]

According to Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, the term has a non-Buddhist origin, and is best understood when compared to its usage in non-Buddhist works such as the Mahabharata.[6] Shcherbatskoy gives the following example from the Mahabharata (Shantiparva, 181.22): "Just as the footprints of birds (flying) in the sky and fish (swimming) in water cannot be seen, Thus (tātha) is going (gati) of those who have realized the Truth."

The French author René Guénon, in an essay distinguishing between Pratyēka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, writes that the former appear outwardly superior to the latter, simply because they are allowed to remain impassible, whereas the latter must in some sense appear to rediscover “a way” or at least recapitulate it, so that others, too, may “go that way,” hence tathā-gata.[7]

The nature of a Tathāgata

Buddha
Beyond all coming and going: the Tathāgata

A number of passages affirm that a Tathāgata is "immeasurable", "inscrutable", "hard to fathom", and "not apprehended".[8]:227 A tathāgata has abandoned that clinging to the skandhas (personality factors) that render citta (the mind) a bounded, measurable entity, and is instead "freed from being reckoned by" all or any of them, even in life. The aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and cognizance that compose personal identity have been seen to be dukkha (a burden), and an enlightened individual is one with "burden dropped".[8]:229The Buddha explains "that for which a monk has a latent tendency, by that is he reckoned, what he does not have a latent tendency for, by that is he not reckoned.[8]:227, SN 3.3.5 These tendencies are ways in which the mind becomes involved in and clings to conditioned phenomena. Without them, an enlightened person cannot be "reckoned" or "named"; he or she is beyond the range of other beings, and cannot be "found" by them, even by gods, or Mara.[8]:230 In one passage, Sariputta states that the mind of the Buddha cannot be "encompassed" even by him.[4]:416–417

The Buddha and Sariputta, in similar passages, when confronted with speculation as to the status of an arahant after death, bring their interlocutors to admit that they cannot even apprehend an arahant that is alive.[8]:235 As Sariputta puts it, his questioner Yamaka "can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life."[9] These passages imply that condition of the arahant, both before and after parinirvana, lies beyond the domain where the descriptive powers of ordinary language are at home; that is, the world of the skandhas and the greed, hatred, and delusion that are "blown out" with nirvana.[10]:226

In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, an ascetic named Vaccha questions the Buddha on a variety of metaphysical issues. When Vaccha asks about the status of a tathagata after death, the Buddha asks him in which direction a fire goes when it has gone out. Vaccha replies that the question "does not fit the case ... For the fire that depended on fuel ... when that fuel has all gone, and it can get no other, being thus without nutriment, it is said to be extinct." The Buddha then explains: "In exactly the same way ..., all form by which one could predicate the existence of the saint, all that form has been abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future. The saint ... who has been released from what is styled form is deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, like the mighty ocean."[10]:225 The same is then said of the other aggregates. A variety of similar passages make it clear that the metaphor "gone out, he cannot be defined" (atthangato so na pamanam eti) refers equally to liberation in life.[11]:91, 95 In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta itself, it is clear that the Buddha is the subject of the metaphor, and the Buddha has already "uprooted" or "annihilated" the five aggregates.[11]:95 In Sn 1074, it is stated that the sage cannot be "reckoned" because he is freed from the category "name" or, more generally, concepts. The absence of this precludes the possibility of reckoning or articulating a state of affairs; "name" here refers to the concepts or apperceptions that make propositions possible.[11]:94

Nagarjuna expressed this understanding in the nirvana chapter of his Mulamadhyamakakarika: "It is not assumed that the Blessed One exists after death. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither. It is not assumed that even a living Blessed One exists. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither."[10]:230

Speaking within the context of Mahayana Buddhism (specifically the Perfection of Wisdom sutras), Edward Conze writes that the term 'tathagata' denotes inherent true selfhood within the human being:

Just as tathata designates true reality in general, so the word which developed into "Tathagata" designated the true self, the true reality within man.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Chalmers, Robert. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1898. pp.103-115
  2. ^ Tathāgata तथागत. tathAgata. (accessed: January 19, 2016)
  3. ^ Anguttara Nikaya 4:23, trans. Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi
  4. ^ a b Bhikkhu Bodhi, In the Buddha's Words. Wisdom Publications, 2005
  5. ^ Jayarava, (27 February 2009). "Philological odds and ends I", jayarava.blogspot.com, . Retrieved 2012-10-03
  6. ^ Florin Giripescu Sutton (1991),Existence and Enlightenment in the Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra: A Study in the Ontology and Epistemology of the Yogācāra School of Mahāyāna Buddhism, p.104
  7. ^ Guénon, René (2001). "32 Ascending & Descending Realization". In Fohr, Samuel D. (ed.). Initiation and Spiritual Realization. Translated by Fohr, Henry D. Ghent, NY: Sophia Perennis. pp. 172–173.
  8. ^ a b c d e Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press 1995
  9. ^ Yamaka Sutta, [1].
  10. ^ a b c Tyson Anderson, Kalupahana on Nirvana. Philosophy East and West, April 1990, 40(2)
  11. ^ a b c Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007
  12. ^ Edward Conze, The Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1994, p. xix

External links

Abhidharmadīpa

The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Anuyoga

Anuyoga (Skt. अनुयोग 'further yoga') is the designation of the second of the three Inner Tantras according to the ninefold division of practice used by the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. As with the other yanas, Anuyoga represents both a scriptural division as well as a specific emphasis of both view and practice.

Bhaisajyaguru

Bhaiṣajyaguru (Sanskrit: भैषज्यगुरु, Chinese: 藥師佛, Japanese: 薬師仏, Korean: 약사불, Standard Tibetan: སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་བླ), formally Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja ("Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light"; Chinese: 藥師琉璃光(王)如來, Japanese: 薬師瑠璃光如来, Korean: 약사유리광여래), is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Commonly referred to as the "Medicine Buddha", he is described as a doctor who cures dukkha (suffering) using the medicine of his teachings.

Bhaiṣajyaguru's original name and title was rāja (King), but Xuanzang translated it as Tathāgata (Buddha). Subsequent translations and commentaries followed Xuanzang in describing him as a Buddha. The image of Bhaiṣajyaguru is usually expressed with a canonical Buddha-like form holding a gallipot and, in some versions, possessing blue skin. Though also considered to be a guardian of the East, in most cases Akshobhya is given that role. As an exceptional case, the honzon of Mount Kōya's Kongōbu Temple was changed from Akshobhya to Bhaiṣajyaguru.

Buddha-nature

Buddha-nature or Buddha Principle refers to several related terms, most notably tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu. Tathāgatagarbha means "the womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the "thus-gone" (tathagata), or "containing a tathagata", while buddhadhātu literally means "Buddha-realm" or "Buddha-substrate".Tathāgatagarbha has a wide range of (sometimes conflicting) meanings in Indian and later East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Debates on what the term means continues to be a major part of Mahayana Buddhist scholastics.

For example, the Tibetan scholar Go Lotsawa outlined four meanings of the term Tathāgatagarbha as used by Indian Buddhist scholars generally: (1) As an emptiness that is a nonimplicative negation, (2) the luminous nature of the mind, (3) alaya-vijñana (store-consciousness), (4) all bodhisattvas and sentient beings.

Buddha footprint

The footprint of the Buddha is an imprint of Gautama Buddha's foot or both feet. There are two forms: natural, as found in stone or rock, and those made artificially. Many of the "natural" ones are acknowledged not to be genuine footprints of the Buddha, but rather replicas or representations of them, which can be considered cetiya (Buddhist relics) and also an early aniconic and symbolic representation of the Buddha.

Buddhism in Venezuela

Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.

However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.

There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.

Guhyasamāja Tantra

The Guhyasamāja Tantra (Sanskrit: Guhyasamājatantra; Tibetan: Gsang ’dus rtsa rgyud (Toh 442); Tantra of the Secret Community) is one of the most important scriptures of Tantric Buddhism. In its fullest form, it consists of seventeen chapters, though a separate "explanatory tantra" (vyākhyātantra) known as the Later Tantra (Sanskrit: Guhyasamāja Uttaratantra; Tibetan: Rgyud phyi ma. (Toh 443)) is sometimes considered to be its eighteenth chapter. Many scholars believe that the original core of the work consisted of the first twelve chapters, with chapters thirteen to seventeen being added later as explanatory material.

In India, it was classified as a Yoga or Mahāyoga Tantra. In Tibet it is considered an Unexcelled Yoga Tantra (rnal ’byor bla med rgyud). It develops traditions found in earlier scriptures such as the Compendium of Reality (Sanskrit: Sarva-tathāgata-tattva-saṃgraha; De bzhin gshegs pa thams

cad kyi de kho na nyid bsdus pa (Toh 479)) but is focused to a greater extent on the antinomian aspects characteristic of the later Buddhist Tantras. Naropa and Aryadeva considered the Compendium of Reality to be a root tantra in relation to the Guhyasamaja Tantra. The Guhyasamaja Tantra survives in Sanskrit manuscripts and in Tibetan and Chinese translation.

The Guhyasiddhi of Padmavajra, a work associated with the Guhyasamaja tradition, prescribes acting as a Saiva guru and initiating members into Shaiva Siddhanta scriptures and mandalas. Statues and pictures were also created to beautify the radical methodology.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (महापरिनिर्वाण सूत्र, traditional Chinese: 大般涅槃經; pinyin: Dàbānnièpán-jīng; Japanese: Daihatsunehan-gyō, Tibetan: མྱང་འདས་ཀྱི་མདོ་) or Nirvana Sutra is a Tathāgatagarbha sūtra of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its precise date of origin is uncertain, but its early form may have developed in or by the second century CE. The original Sanskrit text is not extant except for a small number of fragments, but it survives in Chinese and Tibetan translation. It was translated into Chinese twice from two apparently substantially different source texts, with the 421 CE translation of Dharmakṣema being about four times longer than the 416 translation of Faxian. The two versions also differ in their teachings on Buddha-nature: Dharmakṣema's indicates all sentient beings have the potential to attain Buddhahood, but Faxian's states some will never attain Buddhahood. Ultimately, Dharmakṣema's version was far more popular in East Asia and his version of the text had a strong impact on East Asian Buddhism.

Middle Way

The Middle Way or Middle Path (Pali: Majjhimāpaṭipadā; Sanskrit: Madhyamāpratipada; Tibetan: དབུ་མའི་ལམ།, THL: Umélam; traditional Chinese: 中道; ; Vietnamese: Trung đạo; Thai: มัชฌิมาปฏิปทา) is the term that Gautama Buddha used to describe the character of the Noble Eightfold Path he discovered that leads to liberation.

Nyorai

The Japanese word Nyorai (如来, thusly come) is the translation of the Sanskrit and Pali word Tathagata, the term the historical Buddha used most often to refer to himself. Among his Japanese honorifics, it is the one expressing the highest degree of respect. Although originally applied only to Buddha himself, with the advent of Mahayana Buddhism Tathāgata (and therefore Nyorai) came to be used for all those who have achieved enlightenment, entities which occupy the highest of the four ranks of the Japanese Buddhist pantheon. Their rank is accordingly called the Nyorai-bu (如来部, or Nyorai category).

Prajnaparamita

Prajñāpāramitā means "the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom" in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Prajñāpāramitā refers to this perfected way of seeing the nature of reality, as well as to a particular body of sutras and to the personification of the concept in the Bodhisattva known as the "Great Mother" (Tibetan: Yum Chenmo). The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā "wisdom" with pāramitā "perfection". Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is generally associated with the doctrine of emptiness (Shunyata) or 'lack of Svabhava' (essence) and the works of Nagarjuna. Its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva path.

According to Edward Conze, the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras are "a collection of about forty texts ... composed somewhere around Indian subcontinent between approximately 100 BC and AD 600." Some Prajnāpāramitā sūtras are thought to be among the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras.One of the important features of the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras is anutpada (unborn, no origin).

Punna

Pūrṇa Maitrāyanīputra (Sanskrit; Pali: Puṇṇa Mantānīputta, Chinese: 富楼那弥多罗尼子; pinyin: fùlóunàmíduōluónízǐ), also simply known as Pūrṇa (Sanskrit; Pali: Puṇṇa), was an arhat and one of the ten principal disciples of Gautama Buddha.

Rulaizong

Rulaizong (simplified Chinese: 佛教如来宗; traditional Chinese: 佛教如來宗; pinyin: Fójiào Rúláizōng; Zhuyin Fuhao: ㄈㄛˊ ㄐㄧㄠˋ ㄖㄨˊ ㄌㄞˊ ㄗㄨㄥ; literally, The Tathāgata Sect of Buddhism) is a controversial religious organization originating in Taiwan which was established by Miaochan. It claims itself as a sect of Buddhism. According to the official website of Rulaizong, in 2015, the organization had more than 90,000 followers.

Tathāgatagarbha sūtras

The Tathāgatagarbha sūtras are a group of Mahayana sutras that present the concept of the "womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the tathāgata, the buddha. Every sentient being has the possibility to attain Buddhahood because of the tathāgatagarbha.

This concept originated in India but was a major influence in the development of East Asian Buddhism, where it was equated with the concept of Buddhadhātu, "buddha-element" or "buddha-nature".

The Tathāgatagarbha sūtras include the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra, Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra, Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra and the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra. Related ideas are in found in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra and Avataṃsaka Sūtra. Another major text, the Awakening of Faith, was originally composed in China, while the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra was considerably extended in China.

Tathātā

Tathātā (Sanskrit: तथाता, romanized: tathātā; Pali: तथता, romanized: tathatā; Tibetan: དེ་བཞིན་ཉིད་; Chinese: 真如) is variously translated as "thusness" or "suchness". It is a central concept in Mahayana Buddhism having a particular significance in Chan Buddhism as well. The synonym dharmatā is also often used.While alive the Buddha referred to himself as the Tathāgata, which can mean either "One who has thus come" or "One who has thus gone", and interpreted correctly can be read as "One who has arrived at suchness".

Zu Lai Temple

The Zu Lai Temple (in Chinese, 如來寺, in Portuguese, "Templo Zu Lai", lit. Tathāgata Temple) is a Buddhist temple in Cotia, Brazil. It is the largest Buddhist temple in South America with 10,000 square meters of constructed area, inside an area of approximately 150,000 square meters.

It has a partnership with Fo Guang Shan, practicing the Mahāyāna branch of Buddhism. The Zu Lai Temple states as its main objective the cultural and religious dissemination of the Buddhist Tradition, whilst trying to reach to the general population the teachings of traditional buddhist education, culture and meditation.

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