Sunyata and dependent origination

General forum on Mahayana.

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:34 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Namdrol wrote:"Realizing" emptiness means the mind becomes free from the proliferation of the four extremes [is, isn't, both, neither]. That is not a cognitive event since it [the mind] has now become free from all apprehended characteristics. At this point, the mind has been transcended.

N


So, is there such a thing, in your view, as a "direct cognition of emptiness?"

Or, another way of asking, what is it that "realizes" emptiness if not the mind?


I will answer your first question, according to Santideva:

"The ultimate is beyond the experiential range of the mind,
the mind is conventional."

So no, there cannot be a direct cognition of emptiness, since emptiness is ultimate and the mind is relative.

However when the mind is freed from all characteristics, then that can be considered the realization of emptiness.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:21 pm

Namdrol wrote:
It means you must have a sense organ, an object and a consciousness meeting together.



Thank you.
Can the activity of the mind function as all three of these, as when dreaming?
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:42 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
It means you must have a sense organ, an object and a consciousness meeting together.



Thank you.
Can the activity of the mind function as all three of these, as when dreaming?


There is a mental organ, mental objects (memories) and a mental consciousness.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:48 am

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
It means you must have a sense organ, an object and a consciousness meeting together.



Thank you.
Can the activity of the mind function as all three of these, as when dreaming?


There is a mental organ, mental objects (memories) and a mental consciousness.

N


So then, "yes" ?
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:16 am

Namdrol wrote:So no, there cannot be a direct cognition of emptiness, since emptiness is ultimate and the mind is relative.
However when the mind is freed from all characteristics, then that can be considered the realization of emptiness.


I think you are saying that 'emptiness' (sunyata) has no defining characteristics, so it cannot be an object of cognition.

But this speaks of sunyata as though sunyata were a kind of thing which can be referred to outside of a context where it is describing phenomena.

If we establish that sunyata is not a thing in itself, and we agree that sunyata can only be discussed as a description of phenomena (appearances), then can we say that the emptiness of (at least some) phenomena can be cognized?

For example, if I look at the constellation that is called the Little Dipper, I can see the appearance, but I also perceive directly that there is not really any shape of a dipper (beyond what I imagine) and only see a random group of stars.

So, there are many such examples where one can perceive that the appearance of phenomena and at the same time directly perceive that the appearance is empty of any true (independently arising) reality. In other words, one can experience sunyata in terms of perceiving the emptiness of phenomena.

this phenomena can include the activity of the mind.

So, I suggest that sunyata can be experienced, but it can't be experienced as a thing in and of itself, because it isn't a thing in and of itself.

It has no defining characteristics because it is a defining characteristic.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:18 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
So, I suggest that sunyata can be experienced, but it can't be experienced as a thing in and of itself, because it isn't a thing in and of itself.

It has no defining characteristics because it is a defining characteristic.



One cannot divided a thing and its characteristics. If shunyata is a characteristic of things, all people at all times would cognize emptiness conventionally. Since they do not, we can rule out your proffered solution.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Namdrol wrote: If shunyata is a characteristic of things, all people at all times would cognize emptiness conventionally.


why do you assume that?
This suggests that the way things actually are is always obvious. But we know this is not true.

Perhaps 'characteristic' was the wrong word, because I did not mean it to necessarily suggest a perceivable attribute.

For example, a characteristic of plant life is that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
But before this was explained by science, it was not known because it is not perceivable. Yet, it is the truth.

I used the example of constellations. People use to think that the stars actually formed the shapes we imagine, as if they were on a flat surface, and from this assumption concocted a system of astrology based on this premise and believed it to be scientific.
Of course, we now know that as soon as you see the same set of stars from a different angle, the appearance of the constellation disappears. there really isn't a Big Dipper or Little Dipper shape formed by stars. It is merely an illusion.

Likewise, the reason why the Buddha had to explain sunyata is precisely because it is not obvious.
Ordinarily, our first instincts are to believe what we hear and see. The appearance of phenomena is that they have intrinsic reality. The entire Biblical creation myth is based on this premise. The whole basis for clinging to a notion of "me" and "mine" is based on the erroneous perception of the reality of continuous self, because that is what we experience even though it is not the way things really are.

So, I don't think you can assume that way things actually are is always obvious, much less obvious to everybody!
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:35 pm

Namdrol wrote:
One cannot divided a thing and its characteristics.


that is because, aside from its characteristics there is no "thing". We only impute "thing-ness" to temporary coming together of events.

All i am saying is that we can perceive that "things" are empty of any intrinsic "thing-ness" .
People who create paintings do this all the time.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:55 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Namdrol wrote: If shunyata is a characteristic of things, all people at all times would cognize emptiness conventionally.


why do you assume that?


Here a characteristic (lakṣana) refers to something like heat of a fire, wetness of water etc. If emptiness is a lakṣana, then just as everyone who feels water will feel wetness, everyone who sees any object will see emptiness.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:18 pm

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Namdrol wrote: If shunyata is a characteristic of things, all people at all times would cognize emptiness conventionally.


why do you assume that?


Here a characteristic (lakṣana) refers to something like heat of a fire, wetness of water etc. If emptiness is a lakṣana, then just as everyone who feels water will feel wetness, everyone who sees any object will see emptiness.



thank you for clarifying that.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:13 pm

So, sunyata is not a characteristic of things per se, the way that heat is an inseparable characteristic of fire.
So, describing the 'emptiness" of a "thing" would be as absurd as discussing how dry wetness is.
I think, however, this does not suggest that sunyata cannot be perceived,
Because sunyata does describe the truth about phenomena, and I am going to go with a wild guess that
truth is perceivable even if it is merely the truth about the situation of things and not about the things themselves.

Actually, I think part of the confusion may arise from the process of beginning with a thing and then trying to sort of, deconstruct it.

We start by saying "this table has no inherent existence" and then look for its 'emptiness' or, can I say, 'sunyataness"? --which of course has no characteristics. This is a mistaken way to go about it, I think.
It would be more accurate to say,
"there is nothing inherently existent that can be called a table" and in so doing, sunyata is, if not perceived then at least, directly understood. I would call that direct understanding an experience.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:31 pm

That understanding, is, indeed, an "experience." But it is still a mental event, related to mind. It is conceptual.

The realization of the Aryas is not conceptual.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2421
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:36 pm

conebeckham wrote:That understanding, is, indeed, an "experience." But it is still a mental event, related to mind. It is conceptual.

The realization of the Aryas is not conceptual.


Hmmmm...there are many things we perceive through the senses but there is no intentional awareness, or at least not until the sensation is interrupted. For example, if you were sitting at the computer and suddenly you notice that you had no sensation in your legs you would be aware that a moment ago you were feeling something, you just weren't aware of it.

Or, if a subliminal message were flashed on a TV screen, you would perceive the message without knowing it.

Also, some people act purely on intuition, without labeling their thoughts or actively conceptualizing them in any way.
And then, there is spontaneous response. And there is a skill which is developed by Kung Fu masters which goes beyond merely a fast reflex time, in which they respond instantly because they have put all conceptualization aside.

So, what exactly do you mean by 'conceptual'?

I am not disagreeing, by the way, but I am looking for ways to accurately describe some of these ideas.

thanks.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:02 pm

I'm not disagreeing either, and I find this thread quite interesting.

I don't think any of the sense consciousnesses are "intentional," actually. And even the Mental consciousness, I would say, is not "intentional" per se. As for why we suddenly perceive one thing, then another, or focus on, for instance, the numbness in our legs, which had been there for a while, though we just noticed it...well, I think it may have to do with the Afflicted Consciousness, or 7th Consciousness. Perhaps someone else can clarify this.
In any case, our "perceptions," and even our "intuitions," or thoughts which accompany "spontaneous actions," "arise" in the mental consciousness, in a sense, and that is all we have to work with. All "knowing" occurs there, in my understanding.

Experiencing "emptiness" in a nonconceptual way, which is what Shantideva refers to, as Namdrol quoted, does not and cannot occur in the mental consciousness. It is not a "knowing."
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2421
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:04 pm

In other words, "Conceptualization" is not the coarse level of "mulling it over," which you claim some have "put aside."

Instead, it's the entire contents of the mental consciousness, I think. Mental images of perceptions, intuitions, etc.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2421
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:13 pm

conebeckham wrote:In other words, "Conceptualization" is not the coarse level of "mulling it over," which you claim some have "put aside."

Instead, it's the entire contents of the mental consciousness, I think. Mental images of perceptions, intuitions, etc.


Here, when we say non-conceptual, we do not mean a mind in which there is an absence of thought.

When consciousness is freed from signs and characteristics, this is called the realization of emptiness. An non-conceptual mind may still indeed be trapped by signs and characteristics. Thus, the Bodhittavivarana states:


Abiding in the mind without objects
has the characteristic of space;
that meditation of space is
held to be the meditation of emptiness.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:19 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, what exactly do you mean by 'conceptual'?

Conceptual = vikalpa.
Non-conceptual = nirvikalpa.

According to Kamalaśīla śamatha is non-conceptual (nirvikalpa), vipaśyanā is conceptual (savikalpa), and the resultant gnosis realized through correct vipaśyanā is non-conceptual (nirvikalpajñāna).

All the best,

Geoff
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:20 pm

Namdrol, if, as Shantideva says, the "realization" is beyond mind, I can understand how the presence or absence of thoughts as contents of consciosness makes no difference. Is it not, then, the very Space-like" nature of consciousness, which may or may not contain the clouds of thoughts, at any given moment, and, if so, how is this "beyond mind?"
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2421
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Jnana » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:21 pm

Namdrol wrote:When consciousness is freed from signs and characteristics, this is called the realization of emptiness. An non-conceptual mind may still indeed be trapped by signs and characteristics.

Indeed.
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:27 pm

conebeckham wrote:Namdrol, if, as Shantideva says, the "realization" is beyond mind, I can understand how the presence or absence of thoughts as contents of consciosness makes no difference. Is it not, then, the very Space-like" nature of consciousness, which may or may not contain the clouds of thoughts, at any given moment, and, if so, how is this "beyond mind?"


Shantideva said the ultimate is beyond the range of the mind because mind is relative. Also signs and characteristics are relative. In order to realize emptiness one must go beyond signs, beyond mind.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10159
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

PreviousNext

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests

>