Early Buddhism and Mahayana

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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby smcj » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:48 pm

The question on the table is whether the knowing quality of the mind can turn back on itself (self-reflexive knowing)?

Short answer: no. But there is a scenario where the coverings are removed which allows for it to express itself, like the clouds burning off and revealing the sun.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:15 pm

anjali wrote:
Astus wrote:So, when you say that knowing knows itself, emptiness and radiance, that is actually the Huayan model. Although logically to say that knowing includes (knows) knowing is nothing but stating that knowing is knowing.


The question on the table is whether the knowing quality of the mind can turn back on itself (self-reflexive knowing)? To hijack a zen phrase, is it possible to "turn the light and illuminate back?" From the perspective of self-reflexive knowing, this can be interpreted as taking the light of one's awareness and turning it back on itself. There are folks who say this can be done, and describe it as a singular experience.



The omniscience of the a buddha is self-knowing, as I mentioned before.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby oushi » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:22 pm

That which is know, can also be unknown, thus it is not ultimate.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:40 pm

oushi wrote:That which is know, can also be unknown, thus it is not ultimate.


Trivial and untrue.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Koji » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:When you have relinquished all traces for rebirth, automatically the twelve āyatanas will cease at the break up of the body. This is classic "hināyāna" nirvana. Peter Harvey's books suggests that after the eradication of affliction there is a tiny shred of evidence in the Nikayas that Buddha suggests that there is a which vinnana/vijñāna survives in a now unconditioned state (i.e. a state unconditioned by affliction) and that this is nirvana intended by the Buddha. He nevertheless insists that this continuum is not to be referred to as a self, and that Buddha would find it inappropriate to do so.


There is also that odd ayantana:

There is, monks, that ayantana wherein there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air ... and so on. (Udana VIII, i).


And speaking of Peter and the attâ:

"As will be shown below, though, the early sources used by the Theravâda are bereft of any such explicit denial. The idea that Buddhism, 'denies the self', though, has become a commonplace of Religious Studies” (Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, p. 7).
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby oushi » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:03 pm

Malcolm wrote:
oushi wrote:That which is know, can also be unknown, thus it is not ultimate.


Trivial and untrue.

I thought you can do better than that. It is very simple, thus difficult to refute. Probably that's why you went straight to trivializing it. Knowing cannot be ultimate simply because it can be unknown.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:16 pm

Koji wrote:
Malcolm wrote:When you have relinquished all traces for rebirth, automatically the twelve āyatanas will cease at the break up of the body. This is classic "hināyāna" nirvana. Peter Harvey's books suggests that after the eradication of affliction there is a tiny shred of evidence in the Nikayas that Buddha suggests that there is a which vinnana/vijñāna survives in a now unconditioned state (i.e. a state unconditioned by affliction) and that this is nirvana intended by the Buddha. He nevertheless insists that this continuum is not to be referred to as a self, and that Buddha would find it inappropriate to do so.


There is also that odd ayantana:

There is, monks, that ayantana wherein there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air ... and so on. (Udana VIII, i).


And speaking of Peter and the attâ:

"As will be shown below, though, the early sources used by the Theravâda are bereft of any such explicit denial. The idea that Buddhism, 'denies the self', though, has become a commonplace of Religious Studies” (Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, p. 7).


Correct, but you have to read the last chapter, where he gives his conclusion. It all basically boils down to what Nāgārjuna says, sometimes Buddha said self, sometimes he said not self, and one needs to understand the context. When the self is used a prajñāpti, a designation, then this is acceptable. When trying to discern the nature of things, it is not acceptable.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:29 pm

oushi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
oushi wrote:That which is know, can also be unknown, thus it is not ultimate.


Trivial and untrue.

I thought you can do better than that. It is very simple, thus difficult to refute. Probably that's why you went straight to trivializing it. Knowing cannot be ultimate simply because it can be unknown.


Omniscience is irreversible, that is why your statement is trivial and untrue.
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby oushi » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:Omniscience is irreversible, that is why your statement is trivial and untrue.

All-knowing is always available since it is present through unknowability of all dharmas. Because dharmas are imperceptible, omniscience is free from knowing.
Simply speaking, there is nothing that can be known.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:08 pm

oushi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Omniscience is irreversible, that is why your statement is trivial and untrue.

All-knowing is always available since it is present through unknowability of all dharmas. Because dharmas are imperceptible, omniscience is free from knowing.
Simply speaking, there is nothing that can be known.



Umm, that is really not how omniscience is described, you are entitled to whatever you like to think.
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there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby oushi » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:you are entitled to whatever you like to think

That's given for all of us.
Malcolm wrote:Umm, that is really not how omniscience is described

This is precisely how it is described in prajnaparamita for example. You may disagree, and try to know what's in my pocket, but you will have a hard time succeeding. Same goes for all past, present, and future Buddhas.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby anjali » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:37 pm

Malcolm wrote:
anjali wrote:
Astus wrote:So, when you say that knowing knows itself, emptiness and radiance, that is actually the Huayan model. Although logically to say that knowing includes (knows) knowing is nothing but stating that knowing is knowing.


The question on the table is whether the knowing quality of the mind can turn back on itself (self-reflexive knowing)? To hijack a zen phrase, is it possible to "turn the light and illuminate back?" From the perspective of self-reflexive knowing, this can be interpreted as taking the light of one's awareness and turning it back on itself. There are folks who say this can be done, and describe it as a singular experience.



The omniscience of the a buddha is self-knowing, as I mentioned before.

I'm in the "self-knowing" camp as well. It's somewhat of a mystery to me why people out-right reject such an experience is possible when we have the testimony of those who say it is. Perhaps people are uncomfortable with entertaining such a possibility because it seems to hint at a self. Which of course it doesn't at all.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby anjali » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:39 pm

smcj wrote:
The question on the table is whether the knowing quality of the mind can turn back on itself (self-reflexive knowing)?

Short answer: no. But there is a scenario where the coverings are removed which allows for it to express itself, like the clouds burning off and revealing the sun.


What prevents the knowing quality of the mind from turning back on itself?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby futerko » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:53 pm

Malcolm wrote: But rang bzhin gsal ba which is the sambhogakāya in Dzogchen teachings is definitely not all appearances and is not dependent origination.


I'm struggling to reconcile this comment with,

Malcolm wrote:As the Buddha pointed out, there is nothing outside of the twelve āyatanas.


are you distinguishing two different systems here, or that within the twelve āyatanas there are something other than dependently originated appearances?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:57 pm

Anjali wrote:What prevents the knowing quality of the mind from turning back on itself?


I think the answer is that 'self-knowedge' in that sense, is the process of the mind coming to realize its own true nature. There are all kinds of barriers and obstacles to that on the conscious as well as deeper levels. That is why I think that 'realizing emptiness' is a transformation in consciousness. That is the meaning of paravritti in my view. And what prevents that, are all the many hindrances, obstacles and attachments that are challenges in the practice.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby smcj » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:16 pm

What prevents the knowing quality of the mind from turning back on itself?

What prevents the seeing part of your your retina from seeing itself?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:23 pm

There's a really interesting passage in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad about this idea. Here the sage Yājñavalkya has been challenged to 'show what the Ātman is'. He responds:

"You tell me that I have to point out the Self as if it is a cow or a horse. Not possible! It is not an object like a horse or a cow. I cannot say, 'here is the Ātman; here is the Self'. It is not possible because you cannot see the seer of seeing. The seer can see that which is other than the Seer, or the act of seeing. An object outside the seer can be beheld by the seer. How can the seer see himself? How is it possible? You cannot see the seer of seeing. You cannot hear the hearer of hearing. You cannot think the Thinker of thinking. You cannot understand the Understander of understanding. That is the Ātman."

Nobody can know the Ātman inasmuch as the Ātman is the Knower of all things. So, no question regarding the Ātman can be put, such as "What is the Ātman?' 'Show it to me', etc. You cannot show the Ātman because the Shower is the Ātman; the Experiencer is the Ātman; the Seer is the Ātman; the Functioner in every respect through the senses or the mind or the intellect is the Ātman. As the basic Residue of Reality in every individual is the Ātman, how can we go behind It and say, 'This is the Ātman?' Therefore, the question is impertinent and inadmissible. The reason is clear. It is the Self. It is not an object.


Source

I think the Buddhist challenge to that assertion is something like: Why do you say the Ātman is something of which nothing can be spoken, and then go on to talk incessantly about it? So I think the Buddha actually interprets this very passage more scrupulously than the Brahmins who composed it.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Sherab » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:47 am

Malcolm wrote:It depends on what you mean by nondual. There are three kinds of non dualism. One is cognitive non dualism, i.e., everything is consciousness, for, like example Yogacara. The second is ontological nondualism, i.e. everything is brahman, god, etc. The third is epistemic nondualism, i.e., being, non-being and so on cannot be found on analysis and therefore do not ultimately exist.

The indivisibility of the conditioned and the unconditioned is based on the third. We have only experience of conditioned phenomena. Unconditioned phenomena like space are known purely through inference since they have no characteristics of their own to speak of. When we analyze phenomena, what do we discover? We discover suchness, an unconditioned state, the state free from extremes. That unconditioned state cannot be discovered apart from conditioned phenomena, therefore, we can say with confidence that the conditioned and the unconditioned are nondual. The trick is which version of nonduality you are invoking. This nonduality of the conditioned and unconditioned cannot apply to the first two nondualities for various reasons.

Bummer. My examples only addressed the first two form of nonduality that you listed.

Let me addressed the third form of nonduality in another way to make the point of the inappropriateness of using the terms conditioned and unconditioned or any other similar pairs in such a discussion.

By definition, conditioned and unconditioned are mutually exclusive. in other words, what is in set A is not in the set of Not A. Therefore this gives rise to the problems of understanding statements like 'the nature of the conditioned is unconditioned'. The nature of A cannot be separated from A. So to say that the nature of the conditioned is unconditioned means that the conditioned has been wrongly labelled as conditioned. It should have been labelled as unconditioned. So effectively, one is forced into one of the extreme position, namely unconditioned. Taking this a step further, if something is unconditioned, it is uncaused. If it is uncaused it is permanent. If it is permanent, it is non-functional. So if the nature of the conditioned is unconditioned, then by right, there should not even be appearances/illusions as there should not be anything functioning of anything.

My view is that we are all stuck in ancient way of thinking when addressing the nature of all things, and that gives rise to the inability to come to a consensus on what is the ultimate. That is why I prefer to think in terms of conservation principles. For example, energy can take many forms, yet energy as a whole is conserved. Similarly, we can think of the ultimate as that which is conserved while the relative is merely the various forms of the ultimate.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby anjali » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:26 am

smcj wrote:
What prevents the knowing quality of the mind from turning back on itself?

What prevents the seeing part of your your retina from seeing itself?

That's the apparent conundrum, isn't it. The analogy with the retina is inapplicable if one takes the view that self-reflexive knowing is direct and unmediated (no instrument of perception required).

[EDIT] In an effort to steer this back around to the OP, I've read that self-reflexive knowing was first taken and developed by the Yogacarans. I would be curious to know if this was ever mentioned explicitly in the Nikayas or Mahayana prior to Yogacara.
Last edited by anjali on Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:34 am

oushi wrote:This is precisely how it is described in prajnaparamita for example.


Sorry, but no.
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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