External Things and Consciousness Only

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External Things and Consciousness Only

Postby Aemilius » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
If we are asking whether Amitabha's Pure Realm can be mapped by NASA, the answer is probably no, but this is not because it doesn't exist. It just doesn't exist in the same way. If this is hard to understand, then consider the fact that while a brain exists in space, thoughts only exist in time. So, even though thinking is connected with brain activity, if you cut open a brain, you will not see any thoughts or memories. So, just as the physical brain and thoughts exist in different ways, Amitabha's Pure Land exists, but not in a way that NASA can gather data on it.


In the teachings of Maitreya/Asanga it is said that among the three Natures (Three Svabhava) what ordinary beings see is the Parikalpita, or the Imaginary nature, this includes the six realms and their beings; Bodhisattvas on the first seven bhumis and the eight kinds of noble persons of the Sravaka path see the Paratantra, or the Dependent nature; Bodhisattvas on the pure bhumis ( 8., 9., and 10. bhumi) and Buddhas see the Parinishpanna, or the Truly existent nature.
Thus it depends on what kind of people there are in the NASA, if their consciousness is on the level of hell realms, or the level of pretas, or animals, etc... then they will find an according level of beings and realms in Space.
Theoretically it is not impossible to find deva realms and pure buddha fields by scientific means, although at present it seems a possibility that it is very far and distant.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:52 pm

Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
If we are asking whether Amitabha's Pure Realm can be mapped by NASA, the answer is probably no, but this is not because it doesn't exist. It just doesn't exist in the same way. If this is hard to understand, then consider the fact that while a brain exists in space, thoughts only exist in time. So, even though thinking is connected with brain activity, if you cut open a brain, you will not see any thoughts or memories. So, just as the physical brain and thoughts exist in different ways, Amitabha's Pure Land exists, but not in a way that NASA can gather data on it.


In the teachings of Maitreya/Asanga it is said that among the three Natures (Three Svabhava) what ordinary beings see is the Parikalpita, or the Imaginary nature, this includes the six realms and their beings; Bodhisattvas on the first seven bhumis and the eight kinds of noble persons of the Sravaka path see the Paratantra, or the Dependent nature; Bodhisattvas on the pure bhumis ( 8., 9., and 10. bhumi) and Buddhas see the Parinishpanna, or the Truly existent nature.


Huh? This is not Yogacara teachings at all. All sentinel beings have dependent nature, those with karmic imprints in it, have imaginary nature. By removing the karmic imprints on the dependent nature, it transforms into Perfected Nature. Hence the Perfected Nature is dependent nature with the absence of imagined nature. Perfected Nature and dependent nature are not different consciousness.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:59 am

Please see for example the Trimshika Karika of Vasubandhu, which is a traditional presentation of yogachara teachings, or other works of Vasubandhu. They are available in Steven Anacker's Seven Works of Vasubandhu.
The mentioned works of Maitreya/Asanga also exist, they are called Five Works of Maitreya, four of which have been taught and commented on by Venerable Thrangu Rimpoche, and published by Namo Buddha publications. The yogachara view is explained especially in Dharmadharmata Vibhaga , also in the other works of Bodhisattava Maitreya. An important yogachara source is ofcourse the Lankavatara sutra.
What you say is correct, but yogachara has different facets and aspects to it. It does illustrate and describe different levels of accomplishment, this is present in the Lankavatara Sutra too.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:03 pm

Aemilius wrote:Please see for example the Trimshika Karika of Vasubandhu, which is a traditional presentation of yogachara teachings, or other works of Vasubandhu. They are available in Steven Anacker's Seven Works of Vasubandhu.
The mentioned works of Maitreya/Asanga also exist, they are called Five Works of Maitreya, four of which have been taught and commented on by Venerable Thrangu Rimpoche, and published by Namo Buddha publications. The yogachara view is explained especially in Dharmadharmata Vibhaga , also in the other works of Bodhisattava Maitreya. An important yogachara source is ofcourse the Lankavatara sutra.


Read almost of the above before but I don't think I saw the same conclusion as you did in your previous interpretation. If you can, could you please quote the actual verse that make you conclude the following:

In the teachings of Maitreya/Asanga it is said that among the three Natures (Three Svabhava) what ordinary beings see is the Parikalpita, or the Imaginary nature, this includes the six realms and their beings; Bodhisattvas on the first seven bhumis and the eight kinds of noble persons of the Sravaka path see the Paratantra, or the Dependent nature; Bodhisattvas on the pure bhumis ( 8., 9., and 10. bhumi) and Buddhas see the Parinishpanna, or the Truly existent nature.


Then I will see what I can make out of it....
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Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:06 am

Kai wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Please see for example the Trimshika Karika of Vasubandhu, which is a traditional presentation of yogachara teachings, or other works of Vasubandhu. They are available in Steven Anacker's Seven Works of Vasubandhu.
The mentioned works of Maitreya/Asanga also exist, they are called Five Works of Maitreya, four of which have been taught and commented on by Venerable Thrangu Rimpoche, and published by Namo Buddha publications. The yogachara view is explained especially in Dharmadharmata Vibhaga , also in the other works of Bodhisattava Maitreya. An important yogachara source is ofcourse the Lankavatara sutra.


Read almost of the above before but I don't think I saw the same conclusion as you did in your previous interpretation. If you can, could you please quote the actual verse that make you conclude the following:

In the teachings of Maitreya/Asanga it is said that among the three Natures (Three Svabhava) what ordinary beings see is the Parikalpita, or the Imaginary nature, this includes the six realms and their beings; Bodhisattvas on the first seven bhumis and the eight kinds of noble persons of the Sravaka path see the Paratantra, or the Dependent nature; Bodhisattvas on the pure bhumis ( 8., 9., and 10. bhumi) and Buddhas see the Parinishpanna, or the Truly existent nature.


Then I will see what I can make out of it....


After the beginning in Trimshika there is a line :" Its devolvement takes place in a saintly state" , it is explained by Anacker in a footnote, which makes it more clear, i.e. that the person now sees what is truly there ( the dependent nature).
In the same book there is Commentary on the Separation of the Middle from the Extremes in which there is an explanation of the Noble Eightfold Path, on page 236 in Anacker's book, which ties up the Path with the three Natures in a threefold truth of the eightfold Path.
There is a slightly different explanation of the same verse in Thrangu Rimpoche's Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes , a commentary on the same work of Maitreya, where Thrangu Rimpoche ties up the three Natures with three Phases of the Noble Path.
I couldn't now find anything where it is expressed more accurately, I'm still sure I've heard it said in some public teaching or oral explanation.
I hope this is helpful.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:20 pm

Aemilius wrote:After the beginning in Trimshika there is a line :" Its devolvement takes place in a saintly state" , it is explained by Anacker in a footnote, which makes it more clear, i.e. that the person now sees what is truly there ( the dependent nature).
In the same book there is Commentary on the Separation of the Middle from the Extremes in which there is an explanation of the Noble Eightfold Path, on page 236 in Anacker's book, which ties up the Path with the three Natures in a threefold truth of the eightfold Path.
There is a slightly different explanation of the same verse in Thrangu Rimpoche's Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes , a commentary on the same work of Maitreya, where Thrangu Rimpoche ties up the three Natures with three Phases of the Noble Path.
I couldn't now find anything where it is expressed more accurately, I'm still sure I've heard it said in some public teaching or oral explanation.
I hope this is helpful.


Thanks, will look them up but from my common understanding of classical Yogacara, the transformation of consciousness go in this way. Below 7th Bhumi, the sentinel beings still retains their alaya vijnana (Defiled dependent nature or imagined nature), from 8th to 10th Bhumis, it transformed into vipaka vijnana and above that, it becomes the pure Amala Consciousness (Perfected nature/ dependent nature without imagined nature). There is no separate external objects as Yogacarins believe that external objects and consciousness are different and yet inseparable.

I'm not very certain how it presented in the Tibetan tradition but will look it up.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:58 am

Kai wrote:
Aemilius wrote:After the beginning in Trimshika there is a line :" Its devolvement takes place in a saintly state" , it is explained by Anacker in a footnote, which makes it more clear, i.e. that the person now sees what is truly there ( the dependent nature).
In the same book there is Commentary on the Separation of the Middle from the Extremes in which there is an explanation of the Noble Eightfold Path, on page 236 in Anacker's book, which ties up the Path with the three Natures in a threefold truth of the eightfold Path.
There is a slightly different explanation of the same verse in Thrangu Rimpoche's Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes , a commentary on the same work of Maitreya, where Thrangu Rimpoche ties up the three Natures with three Phases of the Noble Path.
I couldn't now find anything where it is expressed more accurately, I'm still sure I've heard it said in some public teaching or oral explanation.
I hope this is helpful.


Thanks, will look them up but from my common understanding of classical Yogacara, the transformation of consciousness go in this way. Below 7th Bhumi, the sentinel beings still retains their alaya vijnana (Defiled dependent nature or imagined nature), from 8th to 10th Bhumis, it transformed into vipaka vijnana and above that, it becomes the pure Amala Consciousness (Perfected nature/ dependent nature without imagined nature). There is no separate external objects as Yogacarins believe that external objects and consciousness are different and yet inseparable.

I'm not very certain how it presented in the Tibetan tradition but will look it up.


There is an other translation of Trimshika provided by a Zen centre belonging to the Roshi Philip Kapleau lineage, it is easier to read than Anacker's, I couldn't find it now, maybe you have a better computer ?!
I'm not speaking of a specifically "tibetan" understanding of the Yogachara, one has to read the Trimshika several tens of times before you understand it at all. What is destroyed or devolved in attaining the true path is the Klesha-cosciousness, or Defiled-cosciousness, it is never said in Trimshika or elsewhere that Alaya gets destroyed here!
Trimshika speaks of three transformations of consciousness.
Mind-consciousness is a mental event (caitta) that lasts for a lifetime and is peculiar to the class of beings that you are born into. It is attained when you attain birth in a class of beings.
Alaya lasts even longer, it lasts as long as the universe lasts.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Astus » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:06 am

From the interdependent self-nature
Comes discrimination arising from conditions;
The perfection of the fruit comes from
Always being apart from the former nature.

(Trimsika, 21)

The imagined nature is the elephant;
The other-dependent nature is the visual percept;
The non-existence of the elephant therein
Is explained to be the consummate.

(Trisvabhava nirdesa, 28)
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:25 pm

Aemilius wrote:I'm not speaking of a specifically "tibetan" understanding of the Yogachara, one has to read the Trimshika several tens of times before you understand it at all. What is destroyed or devolved in attaining the true path is the Klesha-cosciousness, or Defiled-cosciousness, it is never said in Trimshika or elsewhere that Alaya gets destroyed here!
Trimshika speaks of three transformations of consciousness.


Just in case, you misunderstood my words, Transforming is not destroyed...........

Alaya lasts even longer, it lasts as long as the universe lasts.


Nah, it lasts till you reach 8th Bhumi as I presented above........
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:56 am

Kai wrote:
Aemilius wrote:I'm not speaking of a specifically "tibetan" understanding of the Yogachara, one has to read the Trimshika several tens of times before you understand it at all. What is destroyed or devolved in attaining the true path is the Klesha-cosciousness, or Defiled-cosciousness, it is never said in Trimshika or elsewhere that Alaya gets destroyed here!
Trimshika speaks of three transformations of consciousness.


Just in case, you misunderstood my words, Transforming is not destroyed...........

Alaya lasts even longer, it lasts as long as the universe lasts.


Nah, it lasts till you reach 8th Bhumi as I presented above........


Yes and no, according to Lankavatara and Trimshika there is no universe any longer when you abide in the mind-only.
What is it that appears for Bodhisattvas of the pure bhumis and for the Buddhas, when they seem to be present in some world or other? What creates this world, if not Alaya ?
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:31 pm

Aemilius wrote: Yes and no, according to Lankavatara and Trimshika there is no universe any longer when you abide in the mind-only.
What is it that appears for Bodhisattvas of the pure bhumis and for the Buddhas, when they seem to be present in some world or other? What creates this world, if not Alaya ?


Yogacara never stated that Alaya creates the universe. In fact, it states that Mental objects are not separated from physical objects. And nowhere does it state that when the universe is destroyed, the alaya consciousness will cease to exist.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:40 am

If I may -

It may be helpful to admit that there are a number of lines of thought in the so-called Yogacara, and there are often differences.
So, rather than stating broad over generalized points like "Yogacara states XXX", or "Yogacara does not claim that YYYY", it may be more useful to indicate an actual text, and restrict the claims or negations to that text alone. Even single authors often changed their point of view across later texts.
Then, rather than just "This is correct, what you said is wrong", you may be able to get a more take on how things pan out over the course of several centuries of Yogacara thought.
Just a suggestion.

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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:35 am

I have understood it to be axiomatic to Yogachara that both perceing consciousnesses and the perceived objects are mind, or just mind, Cittamatra. It is ofcourse difficult to break through one's ingrained habitual tendencies that believe in the existence of an outer world. Therefore one has to read the yogachara texts, like Lankavatara sutra, several times, or tens of times, before you actually understand what they say. I have never heard of a Yogachara that believes in the objective existence of matter & material objects! That sounds quite fantastic to me. If you insist I will naturally find quotations to support my understanding.
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:44 am

Aemilius wrote:I have understood it to be axiomatic to Yogachara that both perceing consciousnesses and the perceived objects are mind, or just mind, Cittamatra.


That statement is fairly axiomatic for the later period, around Dharmapala and others. (This is the default position for much of East Asian Faxiang / Vijnaptimatra due to Kuiji et al, and also for the Tibetans due to the lateness of their sources.) But strictly, this is probably best called "Vijnaptimatra", and not "Yogacara" (or even "Cittamatra").

But, how about the Maulibhumi of the Yogacarabhumi sastra? Can't get much more axiomatic Yogacara than that, no? It doesn't yet have the position that "both perceiving consciousness and the perceived objects are mind". This is what may be best called "Yogacara", it is eponymous after all.

It is of course difficult to break through one's ingrained habitual tendencies that believe in the existence of an outer world. Therefore one has to read the yogachara texts, like Lankavatara sutra, several times, or tens of times, before you actually understand what they say.


Well, for most of the Yogacara tradition, such as that through Maitreyanatha, Asanga and Vasubandhu to begin with, the Lankavatara is not a main text.
In fact, many would clearly point out that the Lankavatara is a kind of Tathagatagarbha synthesis with Alayavijnana thought. So, usually not considered as very "representative".

I have never heard of a Yogachara that believes in the objective existence of matter & material objects! That sounds quite fantastic to me.


Have you read the Maulibhumi?

If you insist I will naturally find quotations to support my understanding.


And this is my point. If one wants to make a claim to support an understanding, that is not a problem. The problem is when one extends the range of this claim beyond the text that is quoted, and into the "Yogacara" in general. When it is well known that there are a number of streams of Yogacara thought, even in the early and classical period, when many different theses are given.

I'm not saying one quotation here negates another quotation here. I'm saying that the first quotation cannot be extended into a range that includes the second, eg. "The Yogacara states that <insert pet theory here>".

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Kai » Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:13 am

Huifeng wrote:Well, for most of the Yogacara tradition, such as that through Maitreyanatha, Asanga and Vasubandhu to begin with, the Lankavatara is not a main text.
In fact, many would clearly point out that the Lankavatara is a kind of Tathagatagarbha synthesis with Alayavijnana thought. So, usually not considered as very "representative".


I recalled that Asanga in fact reject the synthesis between Tathagatagarbha and Alayavijnana. In His teachings, Alayavijnana contains pure and impure karmic seeds but the former is not Buddha nature and that development came much latter with the rise and gain in popularity of the Lotus Sutra.

Have you read the Maulibhumi?


Have it been translated into English yet?
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:55 am

Huifeng wrote:
Aemilius wrote:I have understood it to be axiomatic to Yogachara that both perceing consciousnesses and the perceived objects are mind, or just mind, Cittamatra.


That statement is fairly axiomatic for the later period, around Dharmapala and others. (This is the default position for much of East Asian Faxiang / Vijnaptimatra due to Kuiji et al, and also for the Tibetans due to the lateness of their sources.) But strictly, this is probably best called "Vijnaptimatra", and not "Yogacara" (or even "Cittamatra").

But, how about the Maulibhumi of the Yogacarabhumi sastra? Can't get much more axiomatic Yogacara than that, no? It doesn't yet have the position that "both perceiving consciousness and the perceived objects are mind". This is what may be best called "Yogacara", it is eponymous after all.

It is of course difficult to break through one's ingrained habitual tendencies that believe in the existence of an outer world. Therefore one has to read the yogachara texts, like Lankavatara sutra, several times, or tens of times, before you actually understand what they say.


Well, for most of the Yogacara tradition, such as that through Maitreyanatha, Asanga and Vasubandhu to begin with, the Lankavatara is not a main text.
In fact, many would clearly point out that the Lankavatara is a kind of Tathagatagarbha synthesis with Alayavijnana thought. So, usually not considered as very "representative".

I have never heard of a Yogachara that believes in the objective existence of matter & material objects! That sounds quite fantastic to me.


Have you read the Maulibhumi?

If you insist I will naturally find quotations to support my understanding.


And this is my point. If one wants to make a claim to support an understanding, that is not a problem. The problem is when one extends the range of this claim beyond the text that is quoted, and into the "Yogacara" in general. When it is well known that there are a number of streams of Yogacara thought, even in the early and classical period, when many different theses are given.

I'm not saying one quotation here negates another quotation here. I'm saying that the first quotation cannot be extended into a range that includes the second, eg. "The Yogacara states that <insert pet theory here>".

~~ Huifeng


When I read through the Pali suttas some thirty years ago, I found several instances indicative of mind only views, one of the more famous is when Tathagata Shakyamuni says: " Bhikkhus, the whole universe is contained within this small body". I think it is certain that mind only view belongs to the original teachings of Shakyamuni.
Dharma is both words and meaning, or words and experience. After intellectual understanding come the levels of one's personal experience. Much of the cittamatra views are unnecessary when you are still on the level of a beginner, we do not wish to cause unnecessary strife, it is alright to practice generosity, meditation and morality and to refrain from disputes.
When you do attain dhyana and samadhi there are different realisations that become natural, like the Maya-like, or Illusory-samadhi, Shunyata-samadhi, etc...
The general thrust of the whole Mahayana is that matter is without self, this is also said in the Pali suttas for that matter.
If you insist in grasping at material existence you will most likely continue on that same path, and you will interpret the sutras and shastras in that manner. You will find new translations and new editions of the suttas/sutras that we have seen springing up now adays, and in the course of history also. I wonder why this question assumes so much importance ?
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Re: Is Pure Land "Buddhism" contradictory to Buddhism?

Postby Huifeng » Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:17 am

Kai wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Well, for most of the Yogacara tradition, such as that through Maitreyanatha, Asanga and Vasubandhu to begin with, the Lankavatara is not a main text.
In fact, many would clearly point out that the Lankavatara is a kind of Tathagatagarbha synthesis with Alayavijnana thought. So, usually not considered as very "representative".


I recalled that Asanga in fact reject the synthesis between Tathagatagarbha and Alayavijnana. In His teachings, Alayavijnana contains pure and impure karmic seeds but the former is not Buddha nature and that development came much latter with the rise and gain in popularity of the Lotus Sutra.

Have you read the Maulibhumi?


Have it been translated into English yet?


Hi Kai,

Yes.
And, only tiny parts of it.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: External Things and Consciousness Only

Postby himalayanspirit » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:41 am

What do the Arhats and PratyekaBuddhas see?
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Re: External Things and Consciousness Only

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:00 pm

himalayanspirit wrote:What do the Arhats and PratyekaBuddhas see?


Here is what Maitreya/Asanga's Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata says:

The Alaya Consciousness

15.What appear to be outer, perceivable in common,
Are perceiving awareness; they are not referents
Existing as something extrinsic to consciousness,
Precisely because they are common experience.


The Other Consciousnesses

16.The counterpart is the one in which what is perceived
Is not shared in common. Here awareness' referent
Is the minds and so on associated with others.
These do not comprise an object of mutual exchange
For perceiving awareness not resting nor resting poised,
Because, for those not resting in equipoise,
It is but their own conceptions which appear;
And because, for those who are resting in equipoise,
It is its faithful reflection that appears
As the object encountered during samadhi absorption.


(Thrangu Rimpoche's commentary goes on for many pages)
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Re: External Things and Consciousness Only

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:04 pm

Aemilius wrote:(Thrangu Rimpoche's commentary goes on for many pages)

I'll bet. Nice quotes.
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