avidya, avarana and vikshepa

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avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby anjali » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:23 am

First, some background. I'm doing a bit of personal research and would like to get some input from the dharmawheel community. The research topic is models for avidya in different traditions. In particular, I would like to present a simplified model of avidya from vedanta and ask if there is an analog or alternative model in the different Buddhist traditions (tibetan/chan/zen/theravada). I will likely post this over on dhammawheel, so I am most interested here in Tibetan/Chan/Zen models for avidya. However, if someone has a theravada perspective, feel free to contribute here. FYI, I'm not interested in debating different models for avidya. I'm interested discovering different models for avidya. For example, what models of avidya do Dzogchen, Mahamudra, and Chan have? Now, on the model.

In the vedanta tradition, avidya is modeled as having two aspects: avarana shakti and vikshepa shakti. Avarana is the active concealing/darkening/dulling power of avidya that keeps the knowledge of one's true nature from arising. Vikshepa is the projecting/distracting power of avidya that results in distracted pursuit of illusory multiplicity. There are further breakdowns of these two shaktis within the vedanta model, but let's start here and see how the thread progresses.

I know that in several Buddhist traditions there are shamatha/vipashyana practices that discuss working with dull and distracted states of mind, but I can't find any discussion that avidya itself has different aspects. So, are there similar notions to avarana and vikshepa (with a buddhist slant of course)? If so, what are they, and are they broken down into other aspects? If not, maybe there is another model for avidya? Looking forward to your replies!
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby viniketa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:56 am

anjali wrote:In the vedanta tradition, avidya is modeled as having two aspects: avarana shakti and vikshepa shakti.


What an interesting topic! There are others much more knowledgeable than I on this, but there are many aspects of 'ignorance' (avidya) found in Buddhist literature. Those spellings seem to be modern Hindi. There is an entry for vikṣepa-śakti in Monier-Williams dictionary (under vikSepa) that seems consistent with what you describe, and I found the following using the vikṣepa spelling (note: in Yogācāra, 'defilements' (kleśa) are considered vidya):

散亂 (Skt. vikṣepa; Tib. rnam par gyeṅ ba) 'distraction,' 'scattering.' One of the twenty secondary defilement elements (隨煩惱) in the doctrine of the Yogācāra school.
http://dictionary.buddhistdoor.com/en/word/5156/viksepa
.

And also this: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vik%E1%B9%A3epa (in French, but with Sanskrit terms). It mentions ajñāna, which is also considered avidya.

There is an Āvaraṇa sutta: http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 1-piya.pdf about 'mental hinderances', also considered avidya. And, the term jñeya-āvaraṇa, also considered a 'covering' ignorance.

In short, there are probably some corresponding terms used in Buddhist literature. I do not know if there is a nice, neat comparison of all these terms somewhere. Maybe in academic literature; maybe someone else will know. Yogācāra literature discusses kleśa in some detail, so additional terms may be found there.

Best wishes for your project.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby Greg » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:38 am

anjali wrote:First, some background. I'm doing a bit of personal research and would like to get some input from the dharmawheel community. The research topic is models for avidya in different traditions. In particular, I would like to present a simplified model of avidya from vedanta and ask if there is an analog or alternative model in the different Buddhist traditions (tibetan/chan/zen/theravada). I will likely post this over on dhammawheel, so I am most interested here in Tibetan/Chan/Zen models for avidya. However, if someone has a theravada perspective, feel free to contribute here. FYI, I'm not interested in debating different models for avidya. I'm interested discovering different models for avidya. For example, what models of avidya do Dzogchen, Mahamudra, and Chan have? Now, on the model.

In the vedanta tradition, avidya is modeled as having two aspects: avarana shakti and vikshepa shakti. Avarana is the active concealing/darkening/dulling power of avidya that keeps the knowledge of one's true nature from arising. Vikshepa is the projecting/distracting power of avidya that results in distracted pursuit of illusory multiplicity. There are further breakdowns of these two shaktis within the vedanta model, but let's start here and see how the thread progresses.

I know that in several Buddhist traditions there are shamatha/vipashyana practices that discuss working with dull and distracted states of mind, but I can't find any discussion that avidya itself has different aspects. So, are there similar notions to avarana and vikshepa (with a buddhist slant of course)? If so, what are they, and are they broken down into other aspects? If not, maybe there is another model for avidya? Looking forward to your replies!


In the Yogācāra, it is said that there are two obstacles/obscurations/veils to omniscience, emotional (kleśa-āvaraṇa) and cognitive (jñeya-āvaraṇa). Have a look at this http://books.google.com/books?id=IeiwsT-XqwQC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=yogacara+avarana&source=bl&ots=3K3uyviA8I&sig=OlcQkhRg2AIFZvRobxa9mXmmoIA&hl=en#v=onepage&q=yogacara%20avarana&f=false
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby Leo Rivers » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:50 pm

This paper on the two hindrances ia found here:

http://www.acmuller.net/articles/reinterpretations_of_the_hindrances.html


And this is the table of contents:

The Yogācāra Two Hindrances and Their Reinterpretations in East Asia

Charles Muller, Toyo Gakuen University

[JIABS 27-1, 2004, pp. 207-235. The version of the paper contained in the print version passed through one more stage of proofreading, and thus may have minor differences in some passages.]
Table of Contents
1. The Basic Yogācāra Teaching of the Hindrances
2. Wonhyo's Research on the Two Hindrances
3. The Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith
4. The Esoteric Aspect of the Hindrances in the Ijangui
5. The Two Hindrances in the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment
6. Zongmi's Analysis of the Hindrances
7. Conclusions
Acknowledgments
Bibliography

:cheers:
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby anjali » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:23 pm

Thank you all for your replies. Leo, thank you for the excellent Muller reference on the two hindrances. I look forward to reading it in more detail. I happened to stumble across an online copy of one of the bibliographic references mentioned in that article: Swanson, Paul L. "Chih-I's Interpretation of jñeyāvaraṇa: An Application of the Three-Fold Truth Concept.". You may already have the link, but just in case you don't, here it is: http://nanzan-u.academia.edu/PaulSwanson/Papers/1608937/Chih-i_and_jneyavarana.

I find the klesa-jneya-avarana model very interesting. What little reading I've done on the model so far, I see it is the basis for differentiating arhats from buddhas and bodhisattvas.
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby Greg » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:05 pm

The passage to which I linked in Buddhist Phenomelogy also discusses them in relation to avidya in particular, and how it originally seems to have encompassed both avaranas but then came to be associated particularly with jneya avarana as Buddhism got more "intellective."

Regarding Dzogchen, the scenario is different. Malcolm has discussed the nature of avidya and how it relates to other things in various places. I tried to turn up something relevant for you but did not manage to in the time I have.
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby anjali » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:42 pm

Greg wrote:The passage to which I linked in Buddhist Phenomelogy also discusses them in relation to avidya in particular, and how it originally seems to have encompassed both avaranas but then came to be associated particularly with jneya avarana as Buddhism got more "intellective."

Regarding Dzogchen, the scenario is different. Malcolm has discussed the nature of avidya and how it relates to other things in various places. I tried to turn up something relevant for you but did not manage to in the time I have.


Greg, I thought your link was very informative. Thanks. Since avidya means not knowing, it sort of makes sense that avidya would be primarily associated with cognitive obscuration. In the link you provided, it says, "Avidya eventually comes to be glossed as the more radical of the two avaranas, namely the jneyavarana (jneya + avarana, obscuration by what is [mistakenly] known)." From my readings, there seem to be two aspects of cognitive obscuration. One is a passive unknowing and the other is an active misconstruing.

Regarding the Dzogchen model of ignorance. I think I have found a succinct presentation of the Dzogchen model. It is from a paper entitled, The First Four Themes of Klong chen pa’s Tshig don bcu gcig pa, by Daniel Scheidegger. The paper can be found online here: http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ret/pdf/ret_16_02.pdf. Here is the relevant excerpt (pp. 59, 60):

The term “ignorance” (ma rig pa) leads us to the second door of the Spontaneously Perfect Precious Mode Of Being (lhun grub rin po che’i gnas lugs), namely the door of the going astray of sentient beings into samsara (sems can ‘khor bar ‘khrul pa’i sgo). Actually, the Second Theme of the Tshig don bcu gcig pa, focuses entirely on a set of threefold ignorance as cause, and a concomitant set of fourfold conditions:

    1. The ignorance of undivided identity (bdag nyid gcig pa’i ma rig pa),
    2. the simultaneously produced ignorance (lhan cig skyes pa’i ma rig pa), and
    3. the conceptual ignorance (kun tu brtags pa’i ma rig pa).
1. The first one is called “ignorance of undivided identity“, because basically, ignorance does not differ from Awareness (rig pa). Thus, it simply represents the lack of such an understanding.

2. The second one points to the assumption that Awareness and ignorance arise simultanously (lhan cig skyes pa) in this first outer stirring of the ground. Another interpretation of the term “simultaneous” suggests the synchronism of the first ignorance which stands for the subject-side, i.e., consciousness, and the second one which arises in this phase of self appearance as its object in the form of the Five lights (‘od lnga).

3. The third one comes after the two kinds of ignorance mentioned above and represents the conceptual misapprehension of the self-appearance of the ground. Ignorance is accompanied by four conditions (rkyen bzhi) which arise together with it:

    1. The causal condition (rgyu’i rkyen), i.e., the threefold ignorance itself.
    2. The object-condition (dmigs pa’i rkyen), i.e., the outer arising of the Five Lights (‘od lnga).
    3. The dominant condition (bdag po’i rkyen), i.e., the apprehension of these lights by the “Self” (bdag).
    4. The simultaneous condition (mtshungs pa’i rkyen) finally, expresses the synchronism of the three conditions mentioned above.
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby viniketa » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:48 am

First, I should correct my typo in my post above, which should read: (note: in Yogācāra, 'defilements' (kleśa) are considered avidya).

Thank you all for your posts, but especially for the link to the Paul Swanson article. Once again, those time-space relationals (prepositions, in English) prove problematic. Not taking jñeyāvaraṇa as a tatpuruṣa explains the widely varying interpretations of this 'covering' avidya that I've encountered.

:namaste:
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby anjali » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:29 pm

viniketa wrote:First, I should correct my typo in my post above, which should read: (note: in Yogācāra, 'defilements' (kleśa) are considered avidya).

Thank you all for your posts, but especially for the link to the Paul Swanson article. Once again, those time-space relationals (prepositions, in English) prove problematic. Not taking jñeyāvaraṇa as a tatpuruṣa explains the widely varying interpretations of this 'covering' avidya that I've encountered.

:namaste:


Yeah, that prepositional thing can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings/debates. I found the analysis of jneyavarana as both "obstacle to knowledge" and "obstacle of knowledge" in the Chih-I article to be very informative and helpful. I like the synthesis he develops. It would seem that both aspects are needed in a complete model of ignorance. In the Tibetan tradition this two-fold aspect seems to be identified as coemergent ignorance (obstacle to knowledge) and cognitive ignorance (obstacle of knowledge). A lot of information can be found by doing a google search on these terms. I don't own the book yet, but there seems to be a very readable discussion of these basic categories of ignorance in a book by Dzogchen Ponlop called Penetrating Wisdom: The Aspiration of Samantabhadra. I'd still like to find out more on the Chan/Zen model to see how it evolved, and also the Theravada model--which I haven't researched at all just yet.
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Re: avidya, avarana and vikshepa

Postby viniketa » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:10 am

anjali wrote:I'd still like to find out more on the Chan/Zen model to see how it evolved, and also the Theravada model--which I haven't researched at all just yet.


Just guessing, but I'd say you'll find shades of Chih-I's interpretation in Chan & Zen. Theravada is another story. I'd be surprised if you find much of any emphasis on the idea of (correct) knowing as a 'covering' avidya in Theravada, though I could be wrong. I nosed around a bit just to re-acquaint myself with Pali terms and Pali Abhidhamma and found these (related to 5 hindrances):

The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary. Chipstead, 1921-1925. wrote:Nīvaraṇa (nt. occasionally m.) [Sk. *nivāraṇa, nis+ varaṇa of vṛ (vṛṇoti), see nibbuta & cp. nivāraṇa] an obstacle, hindrance, only as tt. applied to obstacles in an ethical sense & usually enumd or referred to in a set of 5 (as pañca nīvaraṇāni and pañca āvaraṇāni), viz. kāmacchanda, (abhijjhā -- )vyāpāda, thīna -- middha, uddhaccakukkucca, vicikicchā i. e. sensuality, ill -- will, torpor of mind or body, worry, wavering (cp. Dhs. trsl. p. 310): D i.73 (˚e, acc. pl.), 246; ii.83, 300; iii.49 sq., 101, 234, 278; S ii.23; iii.149; v.60, 84 sq., 93 sq., 145, 160, 226, 327, 439; M i.60, 144, 276; iii.4, 295; A i.3, 161; iii.16, 63, 230 sq.; 386; iv.457; v.16, 195, 322; Sn 17; Nd1 13; Nd2 379; Ps i.31, 129, 163; Pug 68; Dhs 1059, 1136, 1495; Vbh 199, 244, 378; Nett 11, 13, 94; Vism 146, 189; DA i.213; Sdhp 459, 493 and passim. <-> Other enumns are occasionally found e. g. 10 at S v.110; 8 at M i.360 sq.; 6 at Dhs 1152.

appaṭivedha non-intelligence, ignorance

Kilesa (and klesa) [from kilissati] 1. stain, soil, impurity, fig. affliction; in a moral sense, depravity, lust. Its occurrence in the Piṭakas is rare; in later works, very frequent, where it is approx. tantamount to our terms lower, or unregenerate nature, sinful desires, vices, passions.
1. Kilesa as obstacle (see ˚āvaraṇa, ˚ -- sampayutta, ˚ -- vippayutta, ˚pahāna) Ps i.33; Sdhp 455; bhikkhu

Upadhi : -- The upadhis were later systematized into a set of 10, which are given at Nd2 157 as follows: 5 taṇhɔ upadhis (taṇhā, diṭṭhi, kilesa, kamma, duccarita), āhār-- upadhi, paṭigh˚, catasso upādinnā dhātuyo u. (viz. kāma, diṭṭhi, sīlabbata, attavāda; see D iii.230), cha ajjhattikāni āyatanāni u., cha viññāṇa-- kāyā u. Another modified classification see at Brethren p. 398.

aññāṇa wrong k., false view, ignorance, untruth

Ajānana (˚-- ) (nt.) [a + jānana] not knowing, ignorance

Aññāta - not known

Āvaraṇa - shutting off, barring out, withstanding; nt. hindrance, obstruction

Kiñcana (adj. -- nt.) [kiŋ+cana, equal to kiŋ+ci, indef. pron.] only in neg. sentences: something, anything. From the freq. context in the older texts it has assumed the moral implication of something that sticks or adheres to the character of a man, and which he must get rid of, if he wants to attain to a higher moral condition. <-> Def. as the 3 impurities of character (rāga, dosa, moha) at D iii.217; M i.298; S iv.297; Vbh 368; Nd2 206b (adding māna, diṭṭhi, kilesa, duccarita); as obstruction (palibujjhana), consisting in rāga, etc. at DhA iii.258 (on Dh 200). Khīṇa -- saŋsāro na c'atthi kiñcanaŋ "he has destroyed saŋsāra and there is no obstruction (for him)" Th 1, 306. n'āhaŋ kassaci kiñcanaŋ tasmiŋ na ca mama katthaci kiñcanaŋ n'atthi "I am not part of anything (i. e. associated with anything), and herein for me there is no attachment to anything" A ii.177.<-> akiñcana (adj.) having nothing Miln 220. -- In special sense "being without a moral stain," def. at Nd2 5 as not having the above (3 or 7) impurities. Thus freq. an attribute of an Arahant: "yassa pure ca pacchā ca majjhe ca n'atthi kiñcanaŋ akiñcanaŋ anādānaŋ tam ahaŋ brūmi brāhmaṇan" Dh 421=Sn 645, cf. Th i. 537; kāme akiñcano "not attached to kāma" as Ep. of a khīṇāsava A v.232 sq.=253 sq. Often combd with anādāna: Dh 421; Sn 620, 645, 1094. -- Akiñcano kāmabhave asatto "having nothing and not attached to the world of rebirths" Vin i.36; Sn 176, 1059; -- akiñcanaŋ nânupatanti dukkhā "ill does not befall him who has nothing" S i.23. -- sakiñcana (adj.) full of worldly attachment Sn 620=DA 246.
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/


And these interesting links:

http://www.abhidhamma.com/txt_52_Cetasikas_survey.pdf

http://www.vipassanahawaii.org/article_th3.php

http://www.abhidhamma.com/txt_Immoral_M ... in_Mon.pdf

Let us know how the research goes!

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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