Emptiness within Yogacara...

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Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby remm » Tue May 03, 2011 10:36 am

Hello everyone,

In regards to the notion of emptiness as expressed in the doctrines of Yogacara, once one is able to transform the basis (Āśrayaparāvṛtti) and cut off the imagined nature and bring about the Amalavijñāna (as expressed by Paramartha and Sthiramati), how does this 'immaculate mind' differ from the concept of Atman as seen within Hinduism?

With the later development of the Tathāgatagarbha, it seems almost synonymous with concepts of Atman and Brahman as expressed within the Chandogya Upanisad. In the sense that all living things are endowed with the essence of Brahman.

Also, the idea of Tathāgatagarbha where one manifests the Buddha-nature, this is equivalent to seeing the "true face" as expressed by many Ch`an masters, correct? So, seeing this "true mind" means that the mind must ultimately be real and therefore have some sort of intrinsic reality. So then this seems to come into conflict with the Madhyamaka doctrines where all things lack inherent nature. So in regards to Ch`an Buddhism whose main doctrine relies upon the notion of the Tathāgatagarbha, how do Ch`an Buddhists understand the Diamond Sutra, a sutra which advocates the lacking of all intrinsic material/immaterial things? Or is it the case that in order to understand the notions of Tathāgatagarbha, one has to really understand emptiness as all things (including the mind), to lack inherent nature?
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby remm » Tue May 03, 2011 11:02 am

Hmm...actually, a member here (Dexing) had written to me:

It is like mistaking a rope for a snake. The rope is the basis for the imagined snake. If there was no rope, no imagination of a snake would arise. Emptiness in this sense refers to the non-being of the snake, which is merely the appearance of a rope.

But, you must then see through the existence of the rope as well. The snake is that which is not existent in any way. The rope is only conventionally existent. Both are ultimately empty.

This can be applied to the imagined nature (snake) imputed upon the dependent nature (rope). When the latter is made free of the former, a realization of the original perfected nature takes place, and the conventionally established 8-fold consciousness is transformed into original 4-fold Wisdom.

That original wisdom may be equated with that often spoken about "luminous mind", or Tathāgatagarbha. But it is not a "mind" as in the 8-fold consciousness, with the aggregates and so on.

The transformation of consciousness into wisdom is like melting ice into water. The original nature of both, the H20, is never more or less present. There is simply a qualitative change, as one realizes the form of a dragon— in an ice sculpture— is only imagined (imagined nature), dependent upon the ice (consciousness/ dependent nature) which was only conventionally appearing. There was only water (wisdom/ emptiness/ perfected nature) all along.

Perhaps not the best analogy, but it expresses the meaning that wisdom is original and not produced by transforming consciousness.

Consciousness is the level of ordinary beings, where actions are led by volition, one of the aggregates. Being "volitional action", they create karmic debts which bind them to cyclic existence. Whereas the actions of a Buddha are led by pure wisdom and are spontaneous, not "volitional".

So in regards to your story from the Perfect Enlightenment Sūtra, this is saying the same thing. If the Tathāgatagarbha is not understood through emptiness, then one equates it with a mind like the 8-fold consciousness. In fact, it just becomes an object of consciousness (an idea) which would be false, and subject to change. This is not the way it is.

If one truly sees the Tathāgatagarbha, then it means they have understood emptiness. Having thus understood it, the basis for defilements and such would be cut off forever. It is like one who believes there is a snake and acts irrationally, when in fact there is only a rope. Once one sees the rope for what it is, then the image of a snake will never again appear.

Of course, in Yogācāra, we must take a step further and see that even the rope is only conventionally existing. Then the rope will never again appear either. We are then left with the originally bright luminous mind endowed with the 4-fold wisdom, and can function spontaneously from there to liberate all living beings.


So if we take the snake to be the imagined nature, and the rope to be the dependent nature... once the latter is free from the former, you are left with the perfected nature which is the fourfold wisdom, correct? But then... this fourfold wisdom, how is it suppose to be understood, through emptiness as well? Ah! I'm confused...

Then really the 'true mind' has to be understood through emptiness the way that the Madhymakas convey Ultimate Reality then? Arising through pratityasamutpada and is conventionally existing?
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby Astus » Tue May 03, 2011 12:51 pm

In Yogacara, according to the Mahayanasamgraha and others, the first step is realising that all phenomena are only consciousness and the next step is realising that "only consciousness" is illusion too. Chan is not strictly bound by tathagatagarbha teachings as it is clearly presented by the Niutou school (disappeared long ago) that based itself purely on madhyamaka doctrines. Also, "seeing nature" doesn't mean finding something existent or non-existent. Here are two cases from the Platform Sutra:

On Shenhui (ch. 8)

One day the Master addressed the assembly as follows: "I have a thing. It has no head or tail, no name or label, no back or front. Do you all know what it is?"
Shen Hui stepped forward and said, "It is the root source of all Buddhas, Shen Hui's Buddha nature!"
The Master said, "I just told you that it had no name or label, and you immediately call it the root-source of all Buddhas. Go and build a thatched hut over your head! You're nothing but a follower who pursues knowledge and interpretation."


On Huai Jang (ch. 7)

Dhyana Master Huai Jang was the son of the Tu family in Chin Chou. He first visited National Master An of Sung Mountain, who told him to go to Ts'ao Hsi to pay homage. When he arrived, he bowed, and the Master asked him, "What has come?"
He replied, "Sung Shan."
The Master said, "What thing is it and how does it come?"
He replied, "To say that it is like a thing is to miss the point."
The Master said, "Then can there still be that which is cultivated and certified?"
He replied, "Cultivation and certification are not absent, but there can be no defilement."
The Master said, "It is just the lack of defilement of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. You are like that, and I am like that, too.


And two koans:

Mazu's story

A monk asked: "Why do you teach that Mind is no other than Buddha?"
"In order to make a child stop its crying."
"When the crying is stopped, what would you say?"
"Neither Mind nor Buddha."
"What teaching would you give to him who is not in these two groups?"
"I will say, 'It is not a something.'
"If you unexpectedly interview a person who is in it what would you do?" finally, asked the monk.
"I will let him realize the great Tao."


Nanquan's (Nansen) story:

A monk asked Nansen, "Is there any Dharma that has not been preached to the people?"
Nansen answered, "There is."
"What is the truth that has not been taught?" asked the monk.
Nansen said, "It is not mind; it is not Buddha; it is not things."
"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: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby remm » Tue May 03, 2011 11:20 pm

Thank you Astus! That has helped greatly. :anjali:
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby adinatha » Wed May 04, 2011 12:13 am

In the rope snake analogy, the object is the rope, the image in the mind is the snake. When image of a rope replaced the image of snake in the mind, you recognize the snake didn't come or go. It was always really the rope.

This is comparing how objects appear in the mind generally. Everything appearing in the mind is the snake, not coming or going. What's really there is buddha, the rope.

There's nothing else to do with this analogy.
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby remm » Wed May 04, 2011 12:49 am

adinatha wrote:In the rope snake analogy, the object is the rope, the image in the mind is the snake. When image of a rope replaced the image of snake in the mind, you recognize the snake didn't come or go. It was always really the rope.

This is comparing how objects appear in the mind generally. Everything appearing in the mind is the snake, not coming or going. What's really there is buddha, the rope.

There's nothing else to do with this analogy.


But, you must then see through the existence of the rope as well. The snake is that which is not existent in any way. The rope is only conventionally existent. Both are ultimately empty.

There is simply a qualitative change, as one realizes the form of a dragon— in an ice sculpture— is only imagined (imagined nature), dependent upon the ice (consciousness/ dependent nature) which was only conventionally appearing. There was only water (wisdom/ emptiness/ perfected nature) all along.


From my understanding, dependent nature has two modes. One where it is defiled by the imagined nature, and once free from the imagined nature it becomes the perfected nature. Hence, Dexing said that there's simply a 'qualitative change' from defiled to perfected. This perfected nature is one's true mind and later can be equated to the Tathagatagarbha.
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby remm » Wed May 04, 2011 1:19 am

Astus,
Also, "seeing nature" doesn't mean finding something existent or non-existent.


Sorry, do you think you can elaborate on this? I'm not quite sure what you mean.

According to the Śrī-mālādevī Siṃhanāda sūtra, the Tathāgatagarbha is void of all defilement stores, which are apart from knowledge which does not lead to liberation. The Tathāgatagarbha is said to be a substratum which is permament, steadfast, and eternal. This consciousness is intrinsically pure, never defiled, and yet its apparent defilement is the cause of samsara and bondage.

Doesn't this mean that there is something in 'existence' that needs to be actualized?
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Re: Emptiness within Yogacara...

Postby Astus » Wed May 04, 2011 12:13 pm

remm wrote:According to the Śrī-mālādevī Siṃhanāda sūtra, the Tathāgatagarbha is void of all defilement stores, which are apart from knowledge which does not lead to liberation. The Tathāgatagarbha is said to be a substratum which is permament, steadfast, and eternal. This consciousness is intrinsically pure, never defiled, and yet its apparent defilement is the cause of samsara and bondage.

Doesn't this mean that there is something in 'existence' that needs to be actualized?


'Existence' is grasping a thought, 'non-existence' is rejecting a thought. Neither grasping nor rejecting, that is buddha-nature. Then we can also find instructions in Chan that say there's nothing to find and all is empty, also instructions saying that the one knowing and acting is the true mind. They're all pointers to attain realisation. Realisation simply means being free from attachment to thoughts and emotions. The nature of mind is originally pure because it is empty, it displays perfect function so it is complete with the powers of a buddha. It is possible to talk like that in Zen but that's only for entertainment. That's why there isn't a clear philosophical system in Zen, so the maxim "separate transmission outside scriptures, not based on words and letters, directly points to one's mind, to become buddha by seeing nature" (教外別傳 不立文字 直指人心 見性成佛). Thus you can use virtually any teaching to explain Zen. It is embodying the bodhisattva ideal of using whatever skilful means that is necessary to liberate beings. Of course, if we look into the teachings of a single school or a teacher we are able to pinpoint their doctrines.
"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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