A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

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A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:31 am

I have a confusion I was hoping someone here could help me undo.

Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby LastLegend » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:28 am

I used to think about it alot. Now I don't even know what it is. Or care about what it is because it is not in my domain of experience.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:55 am

Acchantika wrote:I have a confusion I was hoping someone here could help me undo.

Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?
Shunyata is not the same as Awareness.

Awareness is the lucid, alive, vivid, clear, intelligent, knowing, revealing/illuminating quality of experience or mind.

Emptiness is about the unlocatability, unfindability, ungraspability, dependent origination of all experiences and therefore the lack of an independent essence. Awareness is by nature empty, but awareness is not the same as emptiness. These two are inseperable but not the same.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:29 am

xabir wrote:
Acchantika wrote:I have a confusion I was hoping someone here could help me undo.

Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?
Shunyata is not the same as Awareness.

Awareness is the lucid, alive, vivid, clear, intelligent, knowing, revealing/illuminating quality of experience or mind.

Emptiness is about the unlocatability, unfindability, ungraspability, dependent origination of all experiences and therefore the lack of an independent essence. Awareness is by nature empty, but awareness is not the same as emptiness. These two are inseperable but not the same.


Thanks for your reply.

Considering, as you say, that awareness is empty of self-essence, we must conclude then that it is a further unreality to be extinguished.

Extinguishing awareness, how are we to recognize emptiness, and by virtue of what?
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby LastLegend » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:33 am

Acchantika wrote:Extinguishing awareness, how are we to recognize emptiness, and by virtue of what?


Realize enlightenment.
:anjali:
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:37 am

LastLegend wrote:I used to think about it alot. Now I don't even know what it is. Or care about what it is because it is not in my domain of experience.


According to my understanding of Buddhism, there is nothing in my domain of experience that is not emptiness.

Nor can anything within my domain of experience come about at all without awareness, since experience is dependent on awareness.

So, in my domain of experience, there is only emptiness and awareness, therefore, I care very much about what they are all about.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:45 am

LastLegend wrote:
Acchantika wrote:Extinguishing awareness, how are we to recognize emptiness, and by virtue of what?


Realize enlightenment.
:anjali:


I'm trying my best, believe me. ;)

If awareness mediates realisation, and all dependents are extinguished in enlightenment, then by virtue of what is enlightenment realised?
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby LastLegend » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:54 am

I cannot tell you anything about emptiness for I still suffer.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby ram peswani » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:24 am

Acchantika wrote:I have a confusion I was hoping someone here could help me undo.

Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?



Is Emptiness inherently aware?
Shunyata in my experience is another name of Emptiness.
All creation, all that our senses experience and beyond (including awarenss) are birth childern of Shunya.
They have been thrown out of womb of mother Shunya and have their separate existence.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:50 am

Acchantika wrote:Thanks for your reply.

Considering, as you say, that awareness is empty of self-essence, we must conclude then that it is a further unreality to be extinguished.

Extinguishing awareness, how are we to recognize emptiness, and by virtue of what?
This is a wrong understanding. We do not extinguish awareness. Also it is 'not an illusion but like an illusion'.

Perhaps this should help you understand:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... 20Rinpoche

First of all, to the Buddha and Nagarjuna, Samsara is not an illusion but like an illusion. There is a quantum leap in the meaning of these two statements. Secondly, because it is only ‘like an illusion’ i.e. interdependently arisen like all illusions, it does not and cannot vanish, so Nirvana is not when Samsara vanishes like mist and the Brahma arises like the sun out of the mist but rather when seeing that the true nature of Samsara is itself Nirvana. So whereas Brahma and Samsara are two different entities, one real and the other unreal, one existing and the other non-existing, Samsara and Nirvana in Buddhism are one and not two. Nirvana is the nature of Samsara or in Nagarjuna’s words shunyata is the nature of Samsara. It is the realization of the nature of Samsara as empty which cuts at the very root of ignorance and results in knowledge not of another thing beyond Samsara but of the way Samsara itself actually exists (Skt. vastusthiti), knowledge of Tathata (as it-is-ness) the Yathabhuta (as it really is) of Samsara itself. It is this knowledge that liberates from wrong conceptual experience of Samsara to the unconditioned experience of Samsara itself. That is what is meant by the indivisibility of Samsara and Nirvana (Skt. Samsara nirvana abhinnata, Tib: Khor de yer me). The mind being Samsara in the context of DzogChen, Mahamudra and Anuttara Tantra. Samsara would be substituted by dualistic mind. The Hindu paradigm is world denying, affirming the Brahma. The Buddhist paradigm does not deny the world; it only rectifies our wrong vision (Skt. mithya drsti) of the world. It does not give a dream beyond or separate transcendence from Samsara. Because such a dream is part of the dynamics of ignorance, to present such a dream would be only to perpetuate ignorance.
Last edited by xabir on Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:51 am

Acchantika wrote:
LastLegend wrote:I used to think about it alot. Now I don't even know what it is. Or care about what it is because it is not in my domain of experience.


According to my understanding of Buddhism, there is nothing in my domain of experience that is not emptiness.

Nor can anything within my domain of experience come about at all without awareness, since experience is dependent on awareness.

So, in my domain of experience, there is only emptiness and awareness, therefore, I care very much about what they are all about.
You should not see awareness as something different from experience. Awareness is simply the self-luminous essence of experience. It is not an observer. There is no observer apart from experience.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:50 pm

xabir wrote:Perhaps this should help you understand:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... 20Rinpoche



Thank you for the link.

At one point, it is stated:

"Buddha denied the ultimate reality...which is no thesis...in short, the unfindability of any true existence is the Ultimate Truth in Buddhism"

However, the Buddha said,

"There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed."

- Udana 80-81

Does this not refer to an ultimate reality? While something unborn cannot have affirmative attributes and so cannot be said to be 'real' and 'findable', surely it cannot be said to be 'unfindable' and 'unreal' either, being beyond both extremes. I believe taking an extreme view is something the Buddha avoided.

Although I appreciate the link, I feel it is difficult to comment further on it without derailing the topic as I feel the author wildly misrepresents Buddhism, Hinduism and Advaita philosophy, which are the three main topics of the post, resulting in a lot of confusion and eliminating any meaningful credibility, in my opinion.

However, in the sample you quoted, Dzogchen is mentioned - this tradition seems to be quite open in its affirmation of awareness as the ultimate nature of the mind, for example, in a text attributed to its founder:

"This self-originated primordial awareness has not been created by anything--amazing!
It does not experience birth nor does there exist a cause for its death--amazing!
Although it is evidently visible, yet there is no one there who sees it--amazing!"


and

"This immediate intrinsic awareness is insubstantial and lucidly clear:
Just this is the highest pinnacle of all views.
It is all encompassing, free of everything, and without any conceptions whatsoever:
Just this is the highest pinnacle among all meditations.
It is un-fabricated and inexpressible in worldly terms:"

- Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness

This description seems to correlate with the Buddha's above notion of the Unborn.

If awareness is the intrinsic, ultimate nature of mind, how can the ultimate nature of mind be both awareness and emptiness, or are they simply the same? If they are the same, then does that not imply that the intrinsic nature of reality is, therefore, awareness? If not, how is this duality amended? Or is this perspective unique to Dzogchen and not present throughout Buddhism? This is were my confusion lies.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:53 pm

LastLegend wrote:I cannot tell you anything about emptiness for I still suffer.


Thank you for your input, in any case. I can tell you lots about emptiness, even though I do not know it, and perhaps this is precisely why I suffer.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:59 pm

xabir wrote:You should not see awareness as something different from experience. Awareness is simply the self-luminous essence of experience. It is not an observer. There is no observer apart from experience.


If experience is conditional and thus empty of self-essence, then how can it have an essence which is self-luminous? What is luminous? Is it not emptiness which is luminous, and this luminosity is awareness?

I do not wish to posit an observer of any kind.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:17 pm

Acchantika wrote:However, the Buddha said,

"There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed."
- Udana 80-81

Does this not refer to an ultimate reality? While something unborn cannot have affirmative attributes and so cannot be said to be 'real' and 'findable', surely it cannot be said to be 'unfindable' and 'unreal' either, being beyond both extremes. I believe taking an extreme view is something the Buddha avoided.
Nibbana, the name of the sutta - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html , means cessation.

There are only two types of cessation:

“Bhikkhus, there are these two Nibbana-elements. What are the two? The Nibbana-element with residue left and the Nibbana-element with no residue left.

“What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate, and delusion in him that is called the Nibbana-element with residue left.

“Now what, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with no residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant… completely released through final knowledge. For him, here in this very life, all that is experienced, not being delighted in, will be extinguished. That, bhikkhus, is called the Nibbana-element with no residue left."

The cessation-element is what is being talked. It is not however a true self, a ground of being, and it is also empty of inherent existence. Nowhere will you see in the pali suttas which you quote from, that the Buddha equates nirvana with a ground of being. The Buddha has also at other instances explicitly rejected the view of a ground of being, or the view that nirvana is an unconditioned ground of being: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... ha-on.html

The Prajnaparamita sutra makes it clear: "Nirvāṇa is an illusion. Even if there is anything greater than Nirvāṇa, that too will be only an illusion."
Although I appreciate the link, I feel it is difficult to comment further on it without derailing the topic as I feel the author wildly misrepresents Buddhism, Hinduism and Advaita philosophy, which are the three main topics of the post, resulting in a lot of confusion and eliminating any meaningful credibility, in my opinion.
Actually it represents it well. (And I have studied Advaita before)
However, in the sample you quoted, Dzogchen is mentioned - this tradition seems to be quite open in its affirmation of awareness as the ultimate nature of the mind, for example, in a text attributed to its founder:

"This self-originated primordial awareness has not been created by anything--amazing!
It does not experience birth nor does there exist a cause for its death--amazing!
Although it is evidently visible, yet there is no one there who sees it--amazing!"

and

"This immediate intrinsic awareness is insubstantial and lucidly clear:
Just this is the highest pinnacle of all views.
It is all encompassing, free of everything, and without any conceptions whatsoever:
Just this is the highest pinnacle among all meditations.
It is un-fabricated and inexpressible in worldly terms:"
- Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness

This description seems to correlate with the Buddha's above notion of the Unborn.

If awareness is the intrinsic, ultimate nature of mind, how can the ultimate nature of mind be both awareness and emptiness, or are they simply the same? If they are the same, then does that not imply that the intrinsic nature of reality is, therefore, awareness? If not, how is this duality amended? Or is this perspective unique to Dzogchen and not present throughout Buddhism? This is were my confusion lies.
Because awareness is empty, it is unborn. It is not unborn due to having an independent and unchanging existence. You should read my post on the different perspectives on Unborn: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... harma.html

Luminosity is utterly unestablished in Dzogchen. You should post Dzogchen questions in the Dzogchen forum as they are much more well equipped to reply you on that. But here is a start, by our forummer Namdrol:

http://www.atikosha.org/2010/11/rigpa-ii.html
Last edited by xabir on Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:21 pm

Acchantika wrote:
xabir wrote:You should not see awareness as something different from experience. Awareness is simply the self-luminous essence of experience. It is not an observer. There is no observer apart from experience.


If experience is conditional and thus empty of self-essence, then how can it have an essence which is self-luminous? What is luminous? Is it not emptiness which is luminous, and this luminosity is awareness?

I do not wish to posit an observer of any kind.
When I mean essence I don't mean an inherent essence... more like the quality of that experience. There is nothing inherent about luminosity.

There is no 'what' that is luminous. Luminosity is empty and therefore cannot be established as having an independent existence. Luminosity is not an entity or a knower.

Basically, all experiences are self-luminous. The process itself knows and rolls without a knower. In the seeing just the seen, no seer, in hearing just the heard, no hearer.

You may not posit a separate knower, but you believe in an ultimate unchanging awareness that is inseparable from the known. This is what I mean by knower.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:15 am

xabir wrote:Nowhere will you see in the pali suttas which you quote from, that the Buddha equates nirvana with a ground of being. The Buddha has also at other instances explicitly rejected the view of a ground of being, or the view that nirvana is an unconditioned ground of being: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... ha-on.html


Perhaps I quoted the Buddha out of context then. I appreciate your correction

I am not (intentionally) equating nirvana with a ground of being.The Dharmakaya fills that role, functionally, as I understand it.

In the Shurangama sutra excerpts in that link, I see the Buddha expressing wrong ideas about awareness - specifically, criticising those who objectify it as either an ultimate ground or property that things can 'posess'. This is not a denial of what is being suggested.

Because awareness is empty, it is unborn. It is not unborn due to having an independent and unchanging existence.


How can that which cannot be pointed to be this or that? I don't understand the justification for qualifying awareness.



This post suggests that awareness arises by 'magic'. Does this explanation agree with your own reason and common sense?

How does self-luminosity arise from the interaction between subject and object? Is it (the self-luminosity) meaningful, or simply another phenomena to be transcended?

I feel the author wildly misrepresents ... Advaita philosophy.
Actually it represents it well. (And I have studied Advaita before)


Respectfully, you are mistaken. The entry defines Advaita as monism, claiming they are directly equatable. They are utterly distinct, although this misinterpretation is common, despite never being found in the original texts. It also posits the Ultimate reality in Advaita to be 'Brahma'. It is in fact 'Brahman, and this is not a minor difference. The article is a charge against monism, and has nothing whatseover to do with Advaita. But I am not defending Advaita.

xabir wrote:There is nothing inherent about luminosity [...]

You may not posit a separate knower, but you believe in an ultimate unchanging awareness that is inseparable from the known. This is what I mean by knower.


Not exactly. I am trying to understand if emptiness is an ultimate unchanging awareness that is not objective, i.e., cannot be objectified as either a known object or knowing subject. This seems to me to be distinct from eternalism, where awareness is a something-or-other that has these qualities.

If this is not the case, then direct apprehension of emptiness is dualistic, because it must require awareness of emptiness. If it is dualistic, it is illusory and of no value.

Or is apprehension of emptiness awareness reflecting on its own empty nature? Because then you have an awareness (which is empty) reflecting (which is empty) on emptiness (which is empty). This seems to be utterly nihilistic.

So I don't understand how to avoid eternalism (by having an unchanging awareness) and nihilism (by having an empty, impermanent awareness).

But I am not as fixed in any belief as I may appear to be. Promise.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby ground » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:00 am

Acchantika wrote:Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?


"Shunyata" is just a thought comparable to the thought "the horn of a hare".

But since this is so it stimulates all sorts of fabricating phantasies.

Kind regards
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:33 am

TMingyur wrote:
Acchantika wrote:Is Shunyata Awareness, or, is Awareness simply Shunya?

Another way of phrasing it may be, is Emptiness inherently aware?


"Shunyata" is just a thought comparable to the thought "the horn of a hare".

But since this is so it stimulates all sorts of fabricating phantasies.

Kind regards
The Buddha expounded 9 (that I personally know of) teachings (Sutta) in the Pali Canon on the subject of Shunyata, was the Buddha merely stimulating "fabricating phantasies"? Did the Buddha spend all those teachings merely outlining an ephemeral thought? Does TMingyur not have a clue about what he is talking about?
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:12 am

Shunya (shunyata, frequently translated as "emptiness") is not a thing in itself.
It is a word that describes, ultimately, the way things are,
meaning that things have no self-arising essence, or possess qualities which are not relative to other conditioned things.
So, for example, a rock doesn't happen due to from some self-existing or independently arising rockness.

Awareness, usually requires something to be aware of even if there is no "me" conceptualized,
or intentionally active as one who is being aware.
If you are asking whether shunyata applies to awareness,
it is my understanding that generally, awareness is conditional,
because there is an awareness of something, even if it is just the experience of being aware that one is aware.
Then awareness itself becomes the object,
but at that point, there is no difference between
"the one who is being aware" and "the awareness (that one is aware of)"
and so any trace of the duality of subject-object
simply no longer applies to the situation.
The duality is rendered obsolete.

So, it isn't so much that any kind of one-sided awareness is attained,
but rather, there is awareness that is not conditional,
that does not rely on "me" being aware of "that"
because the two have been brought together,
because activity of the mind is looking at itself.

it's like ice cubes in a glass of water, the ice cubes melt,
and they were already water to begin with.
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