A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:01 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote: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.
Perhaps it is not that the two has been brought together, but rather the entire activity of cognizance has all along never been separated into subject and object.... all along the flow of knowing knows without knower.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:39 am

Acchantika wrote:
I am not (intentionally) equating nirvana with a ground of being.The Dharmakaya fills that role, functionally, as I understand it.
No. Dharmakaya is emptiness. Dharmakaya does not mean a ground of being, and there is no ground of being in Buddhism. See viewtopic.php?f=39&t=4056&start=60

Regarding dharmakaya: http://www.jenchen.org.sg/vol9no3a.htm

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.
Actually I was referring to the second sutra, not Shurangama.
How can that which cannot be pointed to be this or that? I don't understand the justification for qualifying awareness.
Awareness is not a formless substance. Like the word 'weather' is simply a convention for weatherly phenomena: rain, clouds, wind, rain, etc. Awareness/consciousness is simply a convention for the six modes of consciousness that dependently originates (sense organ, objects, etc), see http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... sness.html

and

http://www.leighb.com/mn38.htm

There is actually no 'aware-ness'. There is dependently originated manifestations of cognizance in six modes relatively, which are ultimately empty and non-arising.

This post suggests that awareness arises by 'magic'. Does this explanation agree with your own reason and common sense?
That post is written by me. I own the blog (there is another co-contributor tho, 'PasserBy' who is wiser and more experienced than me).

Awareness dependently originates, and while the appearances cannot be denied, they are empty, therefore magical - appearing without true existence, like a dream.
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?
There is no interaction of subject and object because there is no subject or object.

You need to re-read the part I quoted to you by Archaya Mahayogi. About how Buddhism does not transcend phenomena but simply realizes its empty nature and therefore liberate from grasping at 'true existents'. Nirvana is simpy Samsara (phenomena) rightly seen. As such, we do not and cannot transcend phenomena to find a separate liberation.
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.
I am not mistaken. I have studied Advaita. His use of the term 'Brahma' is synonymous with 'Brahman'. By the way, Archaya lives in an Advaita family and practiced Hinduism for many years before turning Buddhist. He is well aware of Advaita philosophy.

xabir wrote: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.
Firstly, emptiness is the unfindability of an essence, it is not a cognizable object. As Namdrol says recently:

You will never see emptiness in meditation directly for emptiness is a not a thing that can be seen.

.....

When you don't find anything, that not-finding is finding emptiness.

When you don't see anything, that not-seeing is seeing emptiness.


Secondly, there is no duality, but there is no unchanging, independent awareness. The flow of dependently originated activities are self-luminous without a perceiver. In seeing just the seen, no seer. In hearing just the heard, no hearer.
Last edited by xabir on Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:29 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
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?
:namaste:


He also said, in the Dhammapada, "These teachings are like a raft, to be abandoned once you have crossed the flood."

-

Fabricating fantasies is what I hoped to avoid by starting this thread, TMingyur.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:33 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote: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.


Thank you for that post, I found it very helpful.
...
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:57 pm

xabir wrote:Dharmakaya does not mean a ground of being, and there is no ground of being in Buddhism.


I did not mean to suggest that. Phenomena arise and fall within the Dharmakaya. So it fills the same role as a ground of being, but, being unmanifest, is free of independent existence and thus not a ground of being, in the sense you mean.

This post suggests that awareness arises by 'magic'. Does this explanation agree with your own reason and common sense?
That post is written by me. I own the blog (there is another co-contributor tho, 'PasserBy').

Awareness dependently originates, and while the appearances cannot be denied, they are empty, therefore magical - appearing without true existence, like a dream.


Very well. It is simply that the arising of mental objects being due to 'magic' does not agree with my own reason and common sense. So perhaps we simply have different proclivities.

There is no interaction of subject and object because there is no subject or object.


Isn't this nihilistic? Do you not mean that subject and object are non-different?

I am not mistaken. I have studied Advaita. His use of the term 'Brahma' is synonymous with 'Brahman'. By the way, Archaya lives in an Advaita family and practiced Hinduism for many years before turning Buddhist. He is well aware of Advaita philosophy.


There is no context where Brahma, the creative principle, is synomous with Brahman. Brahman has no attributes, thus is not a property or substance, thus the statment "All is Brahman" is not monism, which posits reality as being constituted by a single property or substance. I do not consider arguments from authority to be meaningful.

Firstly, emptiness is the unfindability of an essence, it is not a cognizable object. As Namdrol says recently:

You will never see emptiness in meditation directly for emptiness is a not a thing that can be seen.

.....

When you don't find anything, that not-finding is finding emptiness.

When you don't see anything, that not-seeing is seeing emptiness.


I do not see nor find anything during deep sleep, have I realised emptiness? What's the difference?

The flow of dependently originated activities are self-luminous without a perceiver.


Okay. I will try and work towards better understanding this statement. Thank you for your explanation.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby xabir » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:14 pm

Acchantika wrote:
xabir wrote:Dharmakaya does not mean a ground of being, and there is no ground of being in Buddhism.


I did not mean to suggest that. Phenomena arise and fall within the Dharmakaya. So it fills the same role as a ground of being, but, being unmanifest, is free of independent existence and thus not a ground of being, in the sense you mean.
It is not an unmanifest substance in which phenomena arise from and return to. It is the substancelessness of all phenomena that is why all manifestations are unmanifest/non-arising... the true ultimate body of the Buddha is non-arising, empty, because of dependent origination. Emptiness is the true nature of all phenomena.
Very well. It is simply that the arising of mental objects being due to 'magic' does not agree with my own reason and common sense. So perhaps we simply have different proclivities.
When I say magic, I don't mean they arise without causes. Everything arise due to dependent origination.

But because they are empty of inherent existence, and yet appear, they are like a magical display, like a dream.
Isn't this nihilistic? Do you not mean that subject and object are non-different?
There is no perceiving subject, and no perceived object. There is in seeing just the seen, in hearing just the heard. The process of of seeing, hearing, rolls and knows... without knower.
There is no context where Brahma, the creative principle, is synomous with Brahman. Brahman has no attributes, thus is not a property or substance, thus the statment "All is Brahman" is not monism, which posits reality as being constituted by a single property or substance. I do not consider arguments from authority to be meaningful.
Yes I am aware of this. He should have used the term 'Brahman' but he understands what that means, as I said he is simply using the terms synonymously.
I do not see nor find anything during deep sleep, have I realised emptiness? What's the difference?
This is not what is meant here.

You need to first investigate, and then realize, how all phenomena are essenceless. Emptiness is not talking about the absence of phenomena or appearance, but the fact that there is no inherent existence in what dependently originates. Also, that there is no 'self' in or apart from the five aggregates - 'self', like the label 'weather' is simply a convention for a conglomerate of everchanging and ungraspable activities. These two, emptiness of self and emptiness of objects constitutes the twofold emptinesses. Generally, you have to realize the emptiness of self before emptiness of objects: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... sites.html
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Jnana » Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:49 pm

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?

It would be helpful if you could specify which Mahāyāna school and tradition you wish to discuss. According to Indian Mādhyamaka, mind (citta), mentation (manas), consciousness (vijñāna), reflexive awareness (svasaṃvedana), gnosis (jñāna), etc., are all conventional designations which aren't ultimately established. Thus, these dharmas are conventional and emptiness is ultimate. But the two truths are not separate. Therefore we speak of the union of awareness and emptiness, the union of appearance and emptiness, the union of luminous-clarity and emptiness, and so on. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra:

    Thus, there is no mind in the mind, but the nature of the mind is luminous-clarity (prabhāsvarā).

The Jñānālokālaṃkāra Sūtra:

    Mañjuśrī, enlightenment by its nature consists of luminous-clarity, because the mind's nature is luminously clear. Why is it so designated? The mind's nature is detached from any inner defilement and is like the nature of space, while encompassing space through its identical characteristics. For all these reasons it is designated as being luminous-clarity.

Each exegetical school (Yogācāra, Mādhyamaka) and commentarial tradition (Tiantai, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug, etc.) has their own way of articulating and explaining the relationship between the two truths, and so if you wish to discuss this in detail it's necessary to focus on one exegetical system at a time. Moreover, citing passages from the Pāli Nikāyas and debating Advaita Vedānta will be more of a distraction than anything else, as neither the Pāli Nikāyas nor the Advaita Vedānta tenets are considered definitive by any Mahāyāna tradition.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:38 pm

Jnana wrote:
    Mañjuśrī, enlightenment by its nature consists of luminous-clarity, because the mind's nature is luminously clear. Why is it so designated? The mind's nature is detached from any inner defilement and is like the nature of space, while encompassing space through its identical characteristics. For all these reasons it is designated as being luminous-clarity.



This is why the Chinese gloss of prabhasvara is interesting -- they generally gloss it as "pure".

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:41 pm

xabir wrote:[The Dharmakaya] is not an unmanifest substance in which phenomena arise from and return to.


I don't disagree, assuming the keyword here is "substance".

You need to first investigate, and then realize, how all phenomena are essenceless. Emptiness is not talking about the absence of phenomena or appearance, but the fact that there is no inherent existence in what dependently originates. Also, that there is no 'self' in or apart from the five aggregates - 'self', like the label 'weather' is simply a convention for a conglomerate of everchanging and ungraspable activities.


I am not talking so much about the emptiness of objects. Nor am I equating what I call 'awareness' to a 'self'.

A phenomenon is an object of mind. Awareness, as far as I can tell, is not an object of mind. Thus, it cannot be considered essenceless from the statement 'all phenomena are essenceless', nor the reasoning that brought me to that conclusion. I can "get rid" of fixed objects, a fixed self, and so on, but I cannot "get rid" of this awareness. The flow of dependent arising appears to something, which doesn't appear at all.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:49 pm

Acchantika wrote:A phenomenon is an object of mind. Awareness, as far as I can tell, is not an object of mind. Thus, it cannot be considered essenceless from the statement 'all phenomena are essenceless', nor the reasoning that brought me to that conclusion. I can "get rid" of fixed objects, a fixed self, and so on, but I cannot "get rid" of this awareness. The flow of dependent arising appears to something, which doesn't appear at all.


What you are talking about is called "clarity". The mind can take it's own awareness as an object.Indeed, in all Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation, this is precisely what is taken as the object. You may not be able to "get rid" of this clarity, but you will never find it or be able to say "This is it, this is not it". This clarity is also dependently originated since the mind is dependently originated. There is no awareness or clarity seperate from the mind. The characteristic of the mind is clarity. The essence of the mind is emptiness. These two are non-dual, and that is the nature of the mind i.e. inseperable clarity and emptiness.

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Jnana » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:53 pm

Namdrol wrote:This is why the Chinese gloss of prabhasvara is interesting -- they generally gloss it as "pure".

Yeah, there are a number of Sanskrit terms with closely related meanings, e.g. prabhāsvara, vyavadāna, viśuddhi, etc., when occurring in compound words together with prakṛti.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:17 pm

Jnana 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?

It would be helpful if you could specify which Mahāyāna school and tradition you wish to discuss.


I appreciate that, I just wanted to know what people on this forum thought, within the context of Mahayana. I am not trying to be awkward, just honest.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:22 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Acchantika wrote:A phenomenon is an object of mind. Awareness, as far as I can tell, is not an object of mind. Thus, it cannot be considered essenceless from the statement 'all phenomena are essenceless', nor the reasoning that brought me to that conclusion. I can "get rid" of fixed objects, a fixed self, and so on, but I cannot "get rid" of this awareness. The flow of dependent arising appears to something, which doesn't appear at all.


What you are talking about is called "clarity". The mind can take it's own awareness as an object.Indeed, in all Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation, this is precisely what is taken as the object. You may not be able to "get rid" of this clarity, but you will never find it or be able to say "This is it, this is not it". This clarity is also dependently originated since the mind is dependently originated. There is no awareness or clarity seperate from the mind. The characteristic of the mind is clarity. The essence of the mind is emptiness. These two are non-dual, and that is the nature of the mind i.e. inseperable clarity and emptiness.

N


Thank you, that is a very lucid explanation.

So, I am assuming that it is incorrect to apply this to all phenomena, i.e., the characteristic of clarity is unique to sentient beings?
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:31 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Thank you, that is a very lucid explanation.

So, I am assuming that it is incorrect to apply this to all phenomena, i.e., the characteristic of clarity is unique to sentient beings?


Yes, the characteristic of clarity is unique to a sentient being's mind. The mahasiddha Virupa stated that "The mind is like space, the difference [between them] is that the mind is aware."

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby sangyey » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:19 am

In ordinary mind terms is this clarity an aspect of mindfulness or is it vigilance? I have been trying to find this answer for some time because I read on Dr. Berzin's site that in meditation clarity making is a function of mindfulness and you use vigilance to ensure that but in the Pai tradition they have the terms sati referring to mindfulness and sampajanna referring to clear comphrension. Maybe I can answer my own question in that the Pali tradition and Nalanda tradition are different but in Nalanda tradition they still utilize the four foundations of mindfulness so I am a bit confused and still have doubts about what is correct.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:49 pm

sangyey wrote:In ordinary mind terms is this clarity an aspect of mindfulness or is it vigilance?


Niether -- it is an instant of reflexive knowing devoid of the external object that is known. It is what allows us to perceive any object by adopting that object's aspect. When we learn to identify that reflexive knowing in itself, that is called "resting in clarity" and that is the essence of shamatha practice.

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby sangyey » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:42 pm

Thank you. When I first received shamatha instructions my teacher first taught with an object and then upholding the qualities of resting and clarity without an object so that makes sense now in how those qualities could just become the focus. I still have doubt about the specific differences of the functions of mindfulness and vigilance. From my own understanding mindfulness 'remembering' can be taken to remember an object or the teachings and vigilance is what 'checks' on the quality of the mind perhaps in the context of meditation if the mindfulness is not functioning properly in that there is laxity and excitement because mindfulness has forgotten the aspects or the teachings on clarity and stability or as an example in daily life say the mind is being distracted by various objects while walking down the street vigilance would know that this is not a good quality mind and mindfulness (and vigilance) would then cooperate by remembering Shantideva's stanza in his chapter on vigilance ' Never will I allow my gaze to wander all around but with a focusd mind will go with eyes cast down.' Is this the correct usage of mindfulness (remembering) and vigilance (check on quality of mind/body/speech/good quality of what the mind is remembering to do based on the teachings? This makes sense to me if correct but I do still have doubt.

Namdrol, also it seems to me from what you wrote is that then the clarity is not a part of the mindfulness but rather you would use mindfulness to remember clarity or the teachings on clarity and vigilance would check the mind to see if that in fact is taking place or not.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby sangyey » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:32 pm

I actually did some research on Dr. Berzin's site which was very helpful. I even came across attention (yid-la Byed-pa) which I did not know before. There is quite a bit of terminology surrounding this area. Probably will be good to study and reflect on it more.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:26 am

Sangyey, perhaps a bit of reading on "Lo Rig" (basically categorizations of different mental states and factors along with their functions) would probably very helpful to you as an initial study. Though more or less presented from a Sautantrika point of view, it is helpful to be able to see the different ways the mind functions etc.

As to mindfulness, it relies on memory: remembering what you are doing, instructions etc; bringing it back to mind. Vigilance is more being clearly and sharply aware and watchful of what is happening in your mind etc.
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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Postby sangyey » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:40 am

Thank you for the advice Mudra. I am a little confused right now as I am searching on the Internet between attention and vigilance. Initially from reading Shantideva's chapter on vigilant introspection I thought that it would be the vigilance that checks what to adopt and what to discard. But after looking at some things on attention it appears that first being aware of what is going on initially and using the attention to analyze if it is an action to be adopted or discarded would be attention and not vigilance. Then it seems if you analyzed with proper attention you would employ mindfulness to direct the mind towards that appropriate action and the vigilance would check to make sure the mindfulness is in fact doing that. I am confused because the title of Shantideva's fifth chapter is vigilant introspection but in HH Dalai Lama's commentary the word attentiveness is used. I know that attention, mindfulness, and vigilance are all different mental factors.
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