Early Buddhism and Mahayana

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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby conebeckham » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Astus wrote:A knowing/awareness cannot be experienced - only assumed - existing in and of itself. There is always something known, there is always a content of awareness.


Yes, if you are a follower of Madhyamaka.



Or a follower of Sartre. He said the same thing (I paraphrase): "Every Awareness is an awareness of something."

One question is whether a knowing/awareness can "know" itself, and another question is whether an awareness can be without object. Seems to me Chokyi Nyima's statements conform to Madhayamaka as understood by Kagyu lineage in general--relative as mere appearance, without denying appearances--and also the understanding of Yogacara most popular in Kagyu lineage--"Everything is Mind; Mind does not exist" with the gloss or understanding that NonExistence of Mind is meant to deny a sort of Absolute, Truly Existent Mind--while at the same time not denying Buddha Nature --"the unity of emptiness and cognizence."

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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:Yes, if you are a follower of Madhyamaka.


I don't see how an independent awareness could fit into Theravada or Yogacara either. And, as Cone said, in Kagyu.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby daverupa » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:51 pm

Vinnana arises dependent on namarupa, the six sense bases, or the first four khandas, and is nowhere in the Nikayas said to cognize itself.

Additionally, it is not the same vinnana which cognizes sounds and which cognizes sights, so to say that vinnana might cognize itself seems to take it as an existent entity which persists over time, rather than as one aspect of a process.

With respect to the Nikayas, and the Early Buddhism component of the OP, there is always an object for vinnana.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:12 pm

daverupa wrote:Vinnana arises dependent on namarupa, the six sense bases, or the first four khandas, and is nowhere in the Nikayas said to cognize itself.

Additionally, it is not the same vinnana which cognizes sounds and which cognizes sights, so to say that vinnana might cognize itself seems to take it as an existent entity which persists over time, rather than as one aspect of a process.


But if you take self-awareness in a different way, not analysed to the smallest particles, it is quite clear that one is conscious of one's thoughts, otherwise the whole mindfulness practice is impossible.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby daverupa » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:22 pm

Astus wrote:But if you take self-awareness in a different way, not analysed to the smallest particles, it is quite clear that one is conscious of one's thoughts, otherwise the whole mindfulness practice is impossible.


Of course, like so:

MN 18 wrote:Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition there is feeling. What one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one thinks about. What one thinks about, that one mentally proliferates. With what one has mentally proliferated as the source, perceptions and notions [born of] mental proliferation beset a man with respect to past, future, and present mind-objects cognizable through the mind.

...When there is the mind, a mind-object, and mind-consciousness, it is possible to point out the manifestation of contact. When there is the manifestation of contact, it is possible to point out the manifestation of feeling. When there is the manifestation of feeling, it is possible to point out the manifestation of perception. When there is the manifestation of perception, it is possible to point out the manifestation of thinking. When there is the manifestation of thinking, it is possible to point out the manifestation of besetment by perceptions and notions [born of] mental proliferation.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:44 pm

This is a relevant excerpt from my major work in Buddhist Studies that addresses this topic.

The Kotthita Sutta:

Then Ven. Maha Kotthita went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him.

After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

[Maha Kotthita:] "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

.................

[Sariputta:] "The statement, 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?' objectifies non-objectification.The statement, '... is it the case that there is not anything else ... is it the case that there both is & is not anything else ... is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectifies non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes. However far objectification goes, that is how far the six contact media go. With the remainderless fading & stopping of the six contact-media, there comes to be the stopping, the allaying of objectification.


(Kotthita Sutta, AN 4.174, trs Thanissaro, Access to Insight; emphasis added.)

The phrase ‘objectifies non-objectification’ (vadaṃ appapañcaṃ papañceti) is key here. As Thanissaro Bikkhu notes in his commentary, ‘the root of the classifications and perceptions of objectification is the thought, "I am the thinker." This thought forms the motivation for the questions that Ven. Maha Kotthita is presenting here.’ The very action of thinking ‘creates the thinker’, rather than vice versa. In effect, the questioner is asking, ‘is this something I can experience?’ And to do so, tends towards eternalism. To speculate about what lies ‘out of range’, as the Buddha has declared it - to name it, or speculate about it, all amount to ‘objectifying non-objectification’. This is the very kind of activity that leads to papañca (the endless proliferation of ideas), and thereby disputes, debates, vexations, and the ‘writhings, thickets, and tangles of views’ criticized in various dialogs (e.g. MN 72). Whatever the experience is of what is ‘beyond the sense gates’ - or even if it is ‘an experience!’ - it is something one has to discover for oneself. When it is made, this discovery is also co-incident with the complete end of the sense of ‘I and mine’.

Now it seems to me that many people in the dialogue we are having here are basically asserting 'there is nothing else'.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:06 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Yes, if you are a follower of Madhyamaka.


I don't see how an independent awareness could fit into... Yogacara either.


There exists a detailed defense of reflexive cognition in Ratnakarashanti's Madhyamakālaṃkara, not to mention the fact that epistemologists like Dharmakirti extensively advance the idea.

Further in secret mantra it is a stated that the wisdom of a tathāgata is a reflexive cognition, not only is it a reflexive cognition but it does not operate through sense organs.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby conebeckham » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Yes, if you are a follower of Madhyamaka.


I don't see how an independent awareness could fit into... Yogacara either.


There exists a detailed defense of reflexive cognition in Ratnakarashanti's Madhyamakālaṃkara, not to mention the fact that epistemologists like Dharmakirti extensively defend the idea.

Further in secret mantra it is a stated that the wisdom of a tathāgata is a reflexive cognition, not only is it a reflexive cognition but it does not operate through sense organs.


It doesn't operate through the mental consciousness, either, if I recall, as that is transformed into a wisdom....??
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:19 pm

conebeckham wrote:
It doesn't operate through the mental consciousness, either, if I recall, as that is transformed into a wisdom....??


Sense organs means all six.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:There exists a detailed defense of reflexive cognition in Ratnakarashanti's Madhyamakālaṃkara, not to mention the fact that epistemologists like Dharmakirti extensively advance the idea.

Further in secret mantra it is a stated that the wisdom of a tathāgata is a reflexive cognition, not only is it a reflexive cognition but it does not operate through sense organs.


I know only Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalamkara and there self-awareness is a conventional phenomanon, and it's his way of explaining consciousness only. Also, self-awareness is not necessarily the same as an independent awareness. so I'm not sure why you brought in the topic of reflexive cognition.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby anjali » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:42 am

Astus wrote:I know only Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalamkara and there self-awareness is a conventional phenomanon, and it's his way of explaining consciousness only. Also, self-awareness is not necessarily the same as an independent awareness. so I'm not sure why you brought in the topic of reflexive cognition.


In an earlier post in this thread, I posted a link to this online paper, Self-Awareness without a Self: Buddhism and the Reflexivity of Awareness. From the paper,
In the first section of the paper, I will give a brief sketch of reflexivist accounts of self-awareness, using the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakirti as my example. In the next section, I will examine reductionism as it relates to accounts of the self. I will then, in the third section, argue that a reductionist account of persons an account for the unique features of first-person contents and our deep and multi-layered sense of self. Before I begin, however, I should make clear that my aim here is not to prove the truth of reductionism, but only to show that the view is compatible with a reflexivist account of self-awareness.
---
Theories of self-awareness developed in the Indian and Western traditions fall into tow broad catgories: reflectionist or other-illumination (paraprakasha) theories and reflexivist or self-illumination (svaprakasa) theories. According to reflectionist theories, self-awareness is the product of a second-order awareness taking a distinct, first-order awareness as its intentional object. In the Indian tradition, both Naiyayikas and some Madhyamikas held reflectionist theories of self-awareness. ... In contrast, reflexivists hold that conscious states simultaneously disclose both the object of consciousness and (aspects of) the conscious state itself. Thus, when a subject is aware of an object he or she is also (perhaps tacitly or pre-reflectively) aware of his or her own experience.

Perhaps it will be of some use in the discussion. Or not.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Sherab » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:50 am

Malcolm wrote:The core of the conditioned is unconditioned.

So the core of the compounded is uncompounded, the core of the born is unborn, the core of the transcended is untranscended?

If yes, then it simply means what is experienced as conditioned is really unconditioned, what is experienced as compounded is really uncompounded, what is experienced as born is really unborn, and what is experience as transcended is really untranscended. That would simply mean that there is no conditioned, no compounded, no born, no transcended. And that would simply mean that all that is experienced is nothing but an illusion, a hallucination.

And since, in a non-dual state, the experiencer is the experienced, the experiencer must also be an illusion. So we could all be merely part of a computer simulation such as The Matrix and the Buddha is part of that as well. Or the Hindu belief that we are all the dream of the God Brahma is correct and Buddha is also part of the dream.

And that would be a problem.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:57 am

anjali wrote:In an earlier post in this thread, I posted a link to this online paper, Self-Awareness without a Self: Buddhism and the Reflexivity of Awareness ...

MacKenzie's thesis "Self-Awareness: Issues in Classical Indian and Contemporary Western Philosophy" is here:
http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/11792/uhm_phd_4444_r.pdf
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:02 am

So the core of the compounded is uncompounded, the core of the born is unborn, the core of the transcended is untranscended?


I think that is a reification.

Isn't the Madhyamika view that from the viewpoint of ultimate truth, conditioned and unconditioned are not separate but from the viewpoint of conventional truth, they are. To deny the difference from the viewpoint of conditioned truth is to mistake the relative for the absolute. In other words from the viewpoint of the uninformed worldling, which is all of us, there is a profound difference between the realms. Denying that difference is mistaking the relative for the absolute.

I reckon the big difficulty in all this is the lack in modern thinking of 'modal metaphysics' and therefore 'levels of being'. Western thinking doesn't accomodate 'levels' - something either exists or it doesn't. But implicit in Buddhist philosophy, is the mode of being of the tathagatha, and the mode of being of the ordinary person. There's nothing to map that against in modern philosophy in my opinion.
Last edited by Wayfarer on Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Sherab » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:03 am

Astus wrote:I know only Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalamkara and there self-awareness is a conventional phenomanon, and it's his way of explaining consciousness only. Also, self-awareness is not necessarily the same as an independent awareness. so I'm not sure why you brought in the topic of reflexive cognition.

My view is that reflexivity has to be the nature of any form of awareness. Otherwise, there is no possibility of an awareness being an awareness. In other words, for awareness to be aware, it has be aware that it is aware.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby anjali » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:10 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
anjali wrote:In an earlier post in this thread, I posted a link to this online paper, Self-Awareness without a Self: Buddhism and the Reflexivity of Awareness ...

MacKenzie's thesis "Self-Awareness: Issues in Classical Indian and Contemporary Western Philosophy" is here:
http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/11792/uhm_phd_4444_r.pdf


To add to this, for those interested, also check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's page on Mind in Indian Buddhist Philosophy, which fairly succinctly covers reflexivist thinking as well in section 7.3 Reflexive Awareness and Intentionality.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Sherab » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:14 am

jeeprs wrote:
So the core of the compounded is uncompounded, the core of the born is unborn, the core of the transcended is untranscended?


I think that is a reification.

Isn't the Madhyamika view that from the viewpoint of ultimate truth, conditioned and unconditioned are not separate but from the viewpoint of conventional truth, they are. To deny the difference from the viewpoint of conditioned truth is to mistake the relative for the absolute. In other words from the viewpoint of the uninformed worldling, which is all of us, there is a profound difference between the realms. Denying that difference is mistaking the relative for the absolute.

I reckon the big difficulty in all this is the lack in modern thinking of 'modal metaphysics' and therefore 'levels of being'. Western thinking doesn't accomodate 'levels' - something either exists or it doesn't. But implicit in Buddhist philosophy, is the mode of being of the tathagatha, and the mode of being of the ordinary person. There's nothing to map that against in modern philosophy in my opinion.

Actually I was trying to make the point that the conclusion is not that simple.
At the end of the day, there is really no two truths, but only one. The problem is how to move from the two truths to the one truth without falling into any one extreme position of the pair of mutually exclusive positions such as existence and non-existence, transcendence and non-transcendence, conditioned and unconditioned, etc.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:37 am

Indeed it is.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:49 am

Sherab wrote:At the end of the day, there is really no two truths, but only one.

I'm not so sure that there is even one.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby smcj » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:29 am

Or a follower of Sartre. He said the same thing (I paraphrase): "Every Awareness is an awareness of something."

Yes, his entire philosophy is based on the idea mind cannot take itself as an object. He elaborates quite a lot on the ramifications. Mind is incomplete and looking for completion. He sees male/female relations, work, all sorts of stuff through that basic paradigm.

What was the translation of Mahamudra again?
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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