Could someone explain emptiness?

General forum on Mahayana.

Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Music » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:44 pm

I am assuming emptiness isn't taken literally to mean non existence. So is it just another word for dependent origination? Because everything exists in connection to everything else, no object really has any essence, so to speak. Is that what it is?
Music
 
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:43 pm
Location: India

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:24 pm

The chariot analogy for śūnyatā is pertinent.

Is the chariot the same as its parts or different?

If you say the chariot is the same as its parts, you should be able to disassemble the chariot and spread all its parts on the ground, and still have a chariot. Clearly this is not the case.

If it is different from the chariot, we should be able to have a chariot apart from chariot parts, yet this is not so.

What this means epistemologically is that "things" as we perceive them have only imputed existence (prajñapti-sat). That is they are only conventionally real. When we normally perceive things they appear to exist, but they "dissolve under analysis".

Ontologically emptiness is best understood as dependent origination where by virtue of all phenomena arising as a result of causes and conditions they are "empty" or "void" of a self-existence (svabhava).

In that light, you cannot say they do not exist at all, but on the other hand you cannot say they really exist either. Phenomena are all illusory and only conventionally existent. If you refute existence, non-existence (which is relative to existence) likewise becomes untenable and no view can be held either way.

The point of this is to halt grasping unto perceived "marks" (nimitta-grāha) which prompt afflictions (craving and anger), further initiating action (karma) and subsequently the maturated results such as sensation of pain and pleasure and physical existence (projecting karma directs the location of one's rebirth and completion karma the qualities of it). If nimitta-grāha is halted, liberation is attained. Ignorance (avidyā) is twofold: ignorance of results, which produces demeritorious formations (apuṇya-saṃskāra) and ignorance of reality (tattvārtha-avidyā). The former is not understanding the consequences of actions which lead to suffering and carrying out those actions. The latter is what fundamentally perpetuates one's saṃsāra. Halting nimitta-grāha is related to curing ignorance of reality.

However, for bodhisattvas one still voluntarily navigates through saṃsāra for the sake of beings. At higher levels realization of emptiness entails no more perception of "beings" as a result of no longer having defiled perceptions.

This is why you hear seemingly contradictory statements like "bodhisattvas liberating immeasurable beings without any beings being liberated".

When analysis of emptiness is turned on the self it is revealed that "self" or ātman is likewise illusory. Our attachments to an illusory reified identity of "I" leads to "mine" and all the subsequent mundane sufferings, including involuntary rebirth. However, this does not render the individual into some kind of non-existence. On the contrary, emptiness is the cradle of compassion. When the self is dissolved suchness (tathatā) is revealed and all beings, who likewise lack any substantial self, are embraced like a womb embracing the child. This is one aspect of the function of analysing emptiness.

This is perhaps best intellectually understood through simple analysis (yogic realization is another matter). If all phenomena arise due to causes and conditions which likewise arise due to infinite causes and conditions, the analysis finds no "ground" to settle on. There is no first cause because that would violate the observed laws of causality (i.e., everything arises due to causes and conditions). The curtain is pulled back and there is infinity. This also means that given that the past is infinite your rebirths have likewise been infinite, so all beings at some point have been your mother. With such a profound vision of time and space compassion is completely natural and not forced. You see all beings as your mother and treat them accordingly. This is one of the basic practices associated with emptiness analysis. At higher levels bodhisattvas do not perceive beings and hence do not perceive them as their mothers.

It is said that it is only a buddha which completely realizes emptiness. However, even at a basic level like understanding how your daily life is a result of immeasurable beings (the causes and conditions for your present life) can foster an appreciation and gratitude towards both insect and human alike (in our present day concern for the environment is likewise all the more pressing in this light). When attachment to personal identity fades the subsequent result is increased benevolence and compassion towards all beings, which is really quite beautiful. A buddha in a sense embraces all the universe and beings, there being no difference between "self" and "other", hence why beings are said to be "in the womb of the tathāgata".

As Buddhists we hopefully try to emulate that as best we can. It is a gradual multi-life process. This is why aspirations are so important -- they will hopefully mature and direct us towards buddhahood where we will realize emptiness perfectly and flawlessly.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5552
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Queequeg » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:31 pm

Hello Music,

That's my understanding more or less. Its like the two ways of looking at light: wave or particle. Dependent origination is a way of looking at dharmas as composed of causes and conditions. Sunyata on the other hand is a qualitative conclusion of what this all adds up to.

In my view, neither is more true than the other - rather they are ways of considering the single True Aspect (don't know if that's a peculiar term limited to Lotus Buddhism or if its also used in other traditions)

Of course, in practice, there is the caveat that these views are subject to the same views.
Queequeg
 
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm


Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby conebeckham » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:45 pm

When you get down to it, all the analysis and study regarding emptiness, lack of existence, etc., is to lead to one conclusion: conceptual mind can not "know" reality. Any framework, assertion, or theory is incorrect (even this one!)
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2415
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:53 pm

Since one cannot claim that anything exists (vajra sliver reasoning), all that is left is illusion. Things may seem real, if unaware that things lack the identity (atman) imputed by concepts.
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:24 pm

conebeckham wrote:When you get down to it, all the analysis and study regarding emptiness, lack of existence, etc., is to lead to one conclusion: conceptual mind can not "know" reality. Any framework, assertion, or theory is incorrect (even this one!)

Even on an intellectual level: Understanding Right View is paramount, since it is our View that dictates our experience and where we ultimately end up in the spiritual path.

I know I've been quoting from this blog all day, but it's a really good source for understanding Buddhism (and the other wisdom traditions of the world.)

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/search/label/Alex%20Weith

The suggestions that I have received were to acquire 'right view'. The mind needs to acquire some form of conceptual model that allows it to accept the possibility of its own non-abiding ungraspable empty nature. Right view is therefore required to facilitate the shift of perspective from "I am Awareness, everything is in me" to "nothing whatsoever is me or mine, all dharmas are empty".

A good start would be Walpola Rahula's classic "What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada". It can be completed by "The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master" by Ven. Yin-shun. A great autoritative summary of the Mahayana path. Then, based on a solid understanding of the core insights of Buddhism, Dakpo Tashi Namgyal's "Clarifying the Natural State" (if still in print, or anything from the same great 16th century yogi) will be the best introduction to the Mahamudra and indirectly to the the sem-de series of Dzogchen.

The logical progression is therefore:

- Advaita Vedanta
- Pali Buddhism
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Mahamudra, Dzogchen

If we skip Pali and Mahayana Buddhism and jump directly to Mahamudra or Dzogchen, the risk is to interpret Mahamudra or Dzogchen as a Buddhist version of pop-neo-advaita, equating emptiness and rigpa with awareness.

This is very common nowadays and some Western lamas seem to encourage this trend to water-down the Dzogchen teachings, as always in order to appeal to a larger public. Business is business.


.............
Lotus_Bitch
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:29 pm

SSJ3Gogeta wrote:Since one cannot claim that anything exists (vajra sliver reasoning), all that is left is illusion. Things may seem real, if unaware that things lack the identity (atman) imputed by concepts.

Saying things are an illusion is more akin to Hinduism. A lot of translators for some reason translate in those terms (though not all of them do this.) How it should be looked at is illusion-like (or it is like an illusion.)

Another great article from the Awakening To Reality" blog. It's a long article:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/search/label/Acharya%20Mahayogi%20Shridhar%20Rana%20Rinpoche

Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta
Posted by: An Eternal Now
Comments: Thusness/Passerby recommended me this article, saying it is very good. (Comments continued in the comments section)

Article:

http://www.byomakusuma.org/MadhyamikaBu ... fault.aspx

Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta

(A Paradigm Shift)

Ācārya Dharma Vajra (Sridhar SJB Rana)

Published: Buddhist Himalaya

Many famous Hindu Indian scholars like Radha Krishnan, Svami Vivekananda and Nepalese scholars like Mr. Chudanath Bhattarai, Svami Prapannacharya have written that Buddhism is a reaction, a reformation of Hinduism. The Buddha tried to reform some of the malpractices within Hinduism, that is all. He never wanted to create a new religion. In short, according to these scholars, Buddhism is correct Hinduism without any malpractice and evils and what is now called Hinduism is malpractice and distorted form of the Veda-s.

There are three problems with this interpretation of the Buddha’s teaching. One is that if these authors really believe that the Buddha came to reform evils, malpractice and wrong interpretation of the Veda-s then why are they themselves still following these evils and malpractices and not practicing the Buddha’s teachings, the reformed form of the Veda-s? How warped and distorted are the minds of people who with one breath proclaim the Buddha as the great reformer of Hinduism and then turn around and call Buddhism (what Buddha taught) wrong. Some of these scholars have even gone to the extent of claiming that although the Buddha actually only wanted to reform the Veda-s, his disciples misunderstood him and created a new religion. How illogical to believe that the Buddha’s own disciples did not understand him whereas Hindu Svami-s and Pandita-s 2000 years later really do understand the his message.

The second problem with this interpretation is that it implies that the Buddha was a Hindu. Simply because Suddhodana was a king and therefore called a Ksatriya is absolutely no proof that he was a Hindu. If the Buddha was really a Hindu why did he not call himself the great Brahmin or Mahabrahman like the great Ksatriya Vishvamitra.? It is strange to call the Buddha a proponent of Brahmanism when he called himself the great Sramana or Mahasramana. Although a lot of research remains to be done about Sramanism, it can certainly be said that a Sramana is not a Brahmana. Sramanism is itself as old as Brahmanism. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, also called himself a Sramana. If the Buddha was merely reforming the Veda-s, why did he not call himself a Neo-Vedic, Neo-Brahman or a true Brahman i.e. Mahabrahmana? Why did he call himself a Mahasramana?

I would like to ask those scholars and their followers these questions. Nowhere in the Hindu Shastras are Sramana considered as part of the Vedic fold. And the Buddha called himself a Mahasramana. It was the custom of India from ancient times to call kings Ksatriyas be they of the Sramana or of the Brahmana group, and even if Suddhodana was of the Brahmin school (of which there is absolutely no proof), the Buddha certainly did not seem to have taken after Brahmanism but rather after Sramanism. Sramanism cannot be called Brahmanism by any historical standard. The third problem is that the teachings found in Buddhism do not in any way appear as a reformation of Hinduism. Anyone who has studied Buddhism (if I am not talking about prejudiced Hindu oriented scholars) can see that there is a major paradigm shift between Hinduism and Buddhism, in fact, between all other religious systems and Buddhism. A paradigm shift cannot and should not be misconstrued as a reform. Reforms are changes brought about within the same paradigm. Paradigm shifts are changes in the very foundations. The very basics are completely different. In such cases, it is completely confused thinking to state that one paradigm is a reformation of another paradigm. So Sramanism is a system of religion based on a completely different paradigm to Hinduism and as such it would be a gross error to say Buddhism is a reformation of Vedic Hinduism. It is not a reformation, but a shift in paradigm. Even if the Vedic paradigm was the older, they are still different paradigms. But it is even questionable whether the Vedic paradigm is really older than the Sramana paradigm. After all, although Buddhism began with Shakyamuni, Sramanism is much older, and according to the findings of the Indus Valley civilization, was in the Indian sub-continent even before Brahmanism.

It is the purpose of this paper to show how Brahmanism and Buddhism are built on two totally different paradigms even though they share the same language. It is this sharing of the same language that has fooled most scholars, especially Hindu biased scholars who have therefore failed to be sensitive to the fact that these are two completely different paradigms with very little in common except the same cultural background, and their language, metaphor, analogy, and words. But as we shall see, the same analogies etc. express two different conceptual structures (paradigms). When we compare the Advaita Vedanta, especially as interpreted by Shankara and Madhyamika, be it the Svatantrika form of Bhabya or the Prasangika form of Candrakirti, the sharing of the same language, culture and analogies while talking about two different paradigms becomes obvious. Because of the use of the same language structure (be it Pali or Sanskrit) and the same analogies to express two different paradigms, many Vedantins or scholars of Buddhism with Vedantic backgrounds have been fooled into thinking that Buddhist Madhyamika is a re-interpretation of the Hindu Vedanta. Many think Buddhism is the negative way to the same goal (via negativa) and Hindu Vedanta the positive way (via positiva). One uses negation and the other affirmation but the Shunyata of Buddhism is a negative way of talking about the Brahma of the Vedanta.

The issue here is not via negativa or via positiva at all but rather two different paradigms, or two different goals based on two different paradigms, or two diametrically opposed answers to the burning issue of mankind developed out of diametrically opposed paradigms. In fact, the Buddha, after long years of Brahmanic as well as Sramanic meditation, found the concept of Brahma (an ultimately real, unchanging, eternal substratum to this ephemeral transient world) not only inadequate to solve the basic issue of humanity i.e. sorrow (dukha) and questioned the very existence of such an eternal substratum; but also declared that a search for such an imagined (Skt. Parikalpita Atma) Brahman was a form of escapism and therefore not really spiritual but spiritual materialism.

Since the concept of Brahma, the truly existent (Skt. paramartha sat) is the very foundation of Hinduism (as a matter of fact some form of an eternal ultimate reality whether it is called God or Nature is the basis of all other religious systems); when Buddhism denies such an ultimate reality (Skt. paramartha satta) in any form, it cuts at the very jugular veins of Hinduism. Therefore it cannot be ontologically, epistemologically, and soteriologically said that Buddhism reforms Hinduism.

The affirmation of a ground (Skt. asraya) which is really existent (Skt. paramartha sat) and the denial that such an existent (Skt. satta) can be found anywhere, within or without, immanent or transcendent, are two diametrically opposed paradigms- not simply variation or reformations of each other. The Webster Dictionary defines re-form: to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuse. The example I have given above of an eternal base without which Hinduism in its own language would be atheistic (Skt. nastik) and the denial (without any implied affirmation) (Skt. prasajya pratisheda) of such an eternally existing unchanging base by Buddhism cannot be said to be a reformation but a deconstruction of the very roots of the Hindu thesis. That is why Buddhism is not a reformation of Hinduism but a paradigm shift from the paradigms on which Hinduism is based.

Many Hindu scholars believe that without an ultimate eternal reality, there can be no liberation from the changing, transient Samsara; therefore even though the Buddha denied the ultimate reality, he could have meant only conceptually really existing reality, not the eternal ultimate reality which is beyond concepts. Otherwise, there cannot be liberation. The fault with this kind of thinking is that it is measuring the thesis (which is no thesis) of the Buddha (or interpreting the Buddha) from within the Hindu paradigm. Remaining within the Hindu paradigm, an eternal ultimate reality is a necessity (a necessary dead end as the Buddha saw it) for the soteriological purpose i.e. for liberation. Since according to the Buddha there is no Brahma - such a concept being merely an acquired fabrication (Skt: parikalpana) learned from wrong (Skt: mithya) scriptures, hankering after, searching for such a Brahma is a dead end which leads nowhere, let alone liberation. The Buddhist paradigm, if understood correctly, does not require an eternal something or other for liberation. In Buddhism liberation is not realizing such a ground but rather a letting go of all grounds i.e. realizing groundless. In fact holding on to any ground is ignorance, according to Buddhism.

So in the Buddhist paradigm, it is not only not necessary to have an eternal ground for liberation, but in fact the belief in such a ground itself is part of the dynamics of ignorance. We move here to another to major difference within the two paradigms. In Hinduism liberation occurs when this illusory Samsara is completely relinquished and it vanishes; what remains is the eternal Brahma, which is the same as liberation. Since the thesis is that Samsara is merely an illusion, when it vanishes through knowledge, if there were no eternal Brahma remaining, it would be a disaster. So in the Hindu paradigm (or according to Buddhism all paradigms based on ignorance), an eternal unchanging, independent, really existing substratum (Skt. mahavastu) is a necessity for liberation, else one would fall into nihilism. But since the Buddhist paradigm is totally different, the question posed by Hindu scholars: “How can there be liberation if a Brahma does not remain after the illusory Samsara vanishes in Gyana?” is a non question with no relevance in the Buddhist paradigm and its Enlightenment or Nirvana.

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.

To Buddhism, any system or paradigm which propagates such an unproven and improvable dream as an eternal substance or ultimate reality, be it Hinduism or any other ‘ism’, is propagating spiritual materialism and not true spirituality. To Hinduism such a Brahma is the summum bonum of its search goal, the peak of the Hindu thesis. The Hindu paradigm would collapse without it. Since Buddhism denies thus, it cannot be said honestly that the Buddha merely meant to reform Hinduism. As I have said, it is a totally different paradigm. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism are all variations of the same paradigm. So truly speaking, you could speak of them as reformations of each other. But Buddhism has a totally different paradigm from any of these, not merely from Vedic- Hinduism.

This leads us naturally to the concept of the Two Truths (Skt. satyadvaya). Both Hindu Vedanta and Madhyamika Buddhism (and for that matter all forms of Buddhism) use this concept to clarify its paradigm. But again the same words point at two different paradigms. First of all the concept of the Two Truths clearly stated as in Buddhism comes into Hinduism only after Sankaracharya (7th / 8th century) whereas the Buddha himself used these words. But even though Sankara copied the use of these words from Buddhism and also copied many other conceptual words from Nagarjuna to elucidate his Vedantic paradigm, the paradigm that he tries to clarify with these words is different. In many places these conceptual wordings and analogies are forced to produce the meaning that is required for the Veantic paradigm. In the Vedantic context, the Relative Truth (Skt. samvritti satya) is that this Samsara is an illusion and the Ultimate Truth (Skt. paramartha satya) is that there is an ultimately existing thing (Skt. paramartha satta) transcending / immanent in this world. The relative truth will vanish like a mist and the transcendent and immanent Brahma will appear as the only Truth, the world being false. To sum it up, the Vedantic Ultimate Truth is the existence of an ultimate existence or ultimate reality. Reality here is used as something which exists (Skt. satta).

However, the Buddhist Ultimate Truth is the absence of any such satta i.e. ultimately existing thing or ultimate reality. That is the significance of Shunyata - absence of any real, independent, unchanging existence (Skt. svabhava). And that fact is the Ultimate Truth of Buddhism, which is diametrically opposite to the Ultimate Truth of the Hindu Brahma. So Shunyata can never be a negative way of describing the Atman - Brahma of Hinduism as Vinoba Bhave and such scholars would have us believe. The meaning of Shunyata found in Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen or Mahamudra is the same as the Prasangika emptiness of Chandrakirti i.e. unfindability of any true existence or simply unfindability. Some writers of DzogChen and Mahamudra or Tantra think that the emptiness of Nagarjuna is different from the emptiness found in these systems. But I would like to ask them whether their emptiness is findable or unfindable; whether or not the significance of emptiness in these systems is also not the fact of unfindability.

Some Shentong scholars seem to imply that the Shentong system is talking about a different emptiness. They say that the Buddha Nature is not empty of qualities, therefore the Buddha Nature is not merely empty, it also has qualities. First of all the whole statement is irrelevant. Qualities are not the question and the Buddha Nature being empty of quality or not is not the issue. The Buddha Nature is empty of real existence (Skt. svabhava). Because it is empty of real existence, it has qualities. As Arya Nagarjuna has said in his Mulamadhyamika Karika: “All things are possible (including qualities) because they are empty.” Therefore the whole Shentong / Rangtong issue is superfluous. However, in Shentong, the Buddha Nature is also empty and emptiness means unfindability. In short, the unfindability of any true existence is the Ultimate Truth in Buddhism, and is diametrically opposed to the concept of a truly existing thing called Brahma, the ultimate truth in Hinduism.

Now let’s examine the Relative Truth (Skt. samvritti satya). In Hinduism, the Relative Truth is the fact that this world is an illusion (Skt. maya), it has no existence. In Buddhism, Samsara is interdependently arising. It has relative existence (Skt. samvritti satta) according to Tsong Khapa or it appears conventionally according to Gorampa Senge and Mipham. It is like an illusion (Skt. mayavat). Like all illusions, it appears interdependently based on various causes and conditions (Skt. hetu-pratyaya). It may be like an illusion but it is the only thing we have, there is nothing behind it or beyond it which can be called an ultimate thing or reality. The Ultimate Reality or Truth or fact in the Buddhist sense is the mode of existence of this illusion like Samsara i.e. (Skt. nihsvabhava) empty of real existence. So here too we find two different parameters to two different paradigms.

Now let us investigate some of the words used by both paradigms. One word that has created great confusion is ‘non-dualism’. First of all Hindu Vedanta is ‘Advaita’ and the Madhyamika Buddhism ‘Advaya’. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably by both systems, their meanings are as used in the two paradigms differ. In Hindu Vedanta, non-dualism (advaita) means one without a second (Skt: dvitiyam nasti, Chandogya Upanishad). What is the meaning of this? That there is only Brahma which really exists, nothing else really exists. In other words - the world does not exist at all, it is only an illusion. The true English word for this is ‘monism’ according to the Webster Dictionary: the view that there is only one kind of ultimate substance. Since, as we have seen already that there is no such kind of ultimate substance in Madhyamika Buddhism the meaning of non-dualism (advaya) cannot be like in Hinduism. The Madhyamika scriptures very clearly defines advaya as ‘dvaya anta mukta’ i.e. free from the two extremes. The extremes are ‘eternalism’ into which the Hindu Vedantic Brahma falls and ‘nihilism’ into which many materialistic systems like Charvak fall. But it goes deeper. Non-dual knowledge (Skt. advaya gyana) is the state of mind which is soteriologically free from grasping at the two extremes of knowing in terms of ‘is’ and ‘is not’ and ontologically free from being ‘existing’ or ‘non-existing’. ‘Advaita Gyana’ is however the knowledge of the one and only truly existing substance or reality called Brahma in Hinduism. It could also be called by any other name. Even if the Brahma is defined as beyond ‘is’ and ‘is not’ as in the Yogavasistha, it is only a roundabout way of saying that there is an ultimate reality, Brahma, which is beyond concepts of ‘existing’ and ‘non-existing’ and therefore it still falls within Eternalism. There is also the use of ‘free from existence and non-existence’ in Buddhism and ‘beyond existence and non-existence’ in Hinduism. ‘Beyond’ implies a third something which is neither, but ‘free’ does not necessarily imply a third something which is neither. Some Shentongpas define the Buddha Nature (Skt. Tathagatagarbha) exactly like the Brahma of the Vedanta without realizing it and even claim it to be a higher mediator’s view which is not accessible to lower class logicians etc.

Perhaps it is most apt now to talk about two other words used commonly by both paradigms: ‘Nisprapanca’ (Tib: thro-me) and ‘Avikalpa’ (Tib: Tog- me). ‘Nisprapanca’ means non-fabricated and ‘Avikalpa’ means non-conceptual. In the context of Hinduism, it is the Brahma (the ultimate reality, the ultimate real, the ultimate existing) which is beyond concepts and non-fabricated. It also means a non-fabricated and non-conceptual knowledge of that Brahma. When I am using ‘Ultimate Reality’ as a synonym for the Brahma, I am using reality to mean something that exists as per the Webster’s Dictionary. I am aware that reality also connotes ‘fact’ i.e. truth and with such a meaning could be used in Buddhism to mean Ultimate Fact/Truth. But as one of its connotations is ‘existing’, it is hazardous to use the words ‘Ultimate Reality’ in any Buddhist context and it is always safer to use the words ‘Ultimate Truth’ instead. Some English translations of Dzogchen, Mahamudra etc. have used the words ‘Ultimate Reality’ for Co-emergent Wisdom (Skt. sahaja jnana / Tathagatagarbha) rather indiscriminately without the authors even realizing that the use of such lax wording brings them not only dangerously close to Vedantins of one form or another, but also they are actually using Buddhist texts to validate the Vedantic thesis. If some of them object that their ‘Ultimate Reality’ is empty while the Hindu ‘Ultimate Reality’ is not; the Hindus can ask, “then how is it an Ultimate Reality in the sense of Ultimate Existing”? To avoid this confusion, it is safer and semantically closer to the Buddhist paradigm to use only ‘Ultimate Truth’.

Now coming back to ‘Nisprapanca’ and ‘Avikalpa’, as for Buddhism, the first verse of Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamikakarika makes it clear that it is the ‘pratityasamutpada’ i.e. the interdependent origination which is nisprapanca and beyond concepts and it is the wisdom that realizes this that is ‘Nisprapanca’ and ‘Avikalpa’. No Hindu Vedantin would agree that the Brahma is interdependent origination or interdependently originated. The same can be said of words like ‘acintya’ (inconceivable), ‘anupamya’ (inexpressible) or ‘apratistha’ (non-established) etc. for which we need not write separately. This naturally leads us to three crucial words and concepts used in the two paradigms: Emptiness, (Skt. Shunyata), Interdependent Origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada) and Brahma (the infinite, eternal, unchanging, truly existing, non-conceptual, unfabricated reality). Many Hindu writers from the 5th/6th centuries onwards until today have tried to show that the Brahma and Shunyata mean the same thing. The Yogavasistha (7th/8th century) has even very explicitly stated that the Brahma and Shunya are the same reality (Chapter 3/5/5-6). Modern authors like Dr. Radhakrishnan, Svami Vivekananda and Vinova Bhave have also tried to show that they mean the same reality. Je Tsong Khapa says in his ‘Pratityasamutpada Stuti Subhasita Hridaya’ - “whatever is dependent on conditioned is empty of real existence”. This statement makes it clear that dependent origination and Shunyata are two labels for the same condition - two sides of the same coin. Now I would like to ask these Hindu authors “Is Brahma (which according to them is the same as Shunya), dependently originated or origination?” Even here in the two words there is a difference. The Brahma can never be a dependent origination because it is a really existing thing. I am sure no Hindu would like to say this of the unchanging eternal independent Brahma. On the other hand, the significance of Shunyata is ‘dependant origination’ or ‘nisvabhava’ (non real existence). The Tathagatarbha, Mahamudra, Rigpa (Vidya) etc. cannot also be empty but not nisvabhava. Such as definition of Shunya (as not nisvabhava) would not only contradict the entire Buddhist paradigm but also would force such so-called Buddhist writers to fall into the ‘all-embracing’ arms of the Vedantin Brahma. If Rigpa, Mahamudra etc. is described without the correct emptiness, then such words as Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Rigpa, Tathagatagarbha are only new names given to the ancient concept of Brahma as found in the Upanishads (some of which are up to 600 years older than the Buddha). Such misconceptions of Ultimate Realities come not from Buddhist but actually from the Hindu Brahma in the garb of Buddhist scholar monks.

Some Buddhist writers give lame excuses about meditative experiences and theory being different. I would like to reiterate that such a meditative experience is not Buddhist but Hindu because it fits perfectly with the Hindu theory of reality. If meditative experiences are going to be different from the theory on which they are based, that would be tantamount to saying that the base has no relation to the path and fruit, or that path is one and the actual experience of the fruit (meditative experience) is another. At least the Hindu base-path-fruit is more consistent. They do not begin with non-real existence and end up with some kind of subtle existence. The Buddhist meditation experience must coincide with its base (basic paradigm). Yes, there is a shift from conceptual to non-conceptual during meditation, but that does not necessitate a shift from non-real existence to real existence. If reality is conceptually non-real existent, it does not become real existent non-conceptually. The true Buddhist meditative experience is ‘non real existence’ not ‘real existence’. Some may say that ‘non real existence’ is only a concept. But the same can be said of ‘real existence’. Since Brahma is ‘real existence’ by itself, independent etc. it cannot be a synonym for Shunyata. Some Shentong Buddhist writers who have not studied Hindu philosophy well enough try to give invalid excuses by implying that the Atma/Brahma of Hinduism is imagined, fabricated, whereas the Shentong Tathagatagarbha is non-conceptual (eg. Jamgon Kongtro Lordo Thaye - Gaining Certainly About The View; 5.2.4.2.). If one has read the Vedanta Shastra, one finds that the Atma (self) of the Hindu is also free from mental elaborations, like the Tathagatagarbha. So the crux of the different lies in Emptiness, not in non-elaboration, non conceptual, luminous etc. The Atma of the Vedanta is also not accessible to inferior logicians and not negated by logic because it is uncreated, unconditioned, self existing, self-luminous and beyond concepts. So just stating that the Hindu Atman is fabricated and our Tathagatagarbha is not, does not really solve anything. The Atma is what remains after everything else that is not it, has been negated. Last of all, the Atman is not the ego (Ahamkar, Tib. ngak dzin) which is what the Shentong logic negates.

Another word that has confounded many Hindu Svamis is ‘unborn’ (Skt. ajat), ‘unproduced’ (Skt. anutpada). In the context of the Hindu Vedanta, it means that there is this Ultimate Reality called the Brahma which is unborn i.e. never produced by anything or at any time, which means it always was. A thing or ‘super thing’ even a ‘non-thing’ that always existed and was never ever produced at any period in time which is separate from this born, illusory Samsara. In the Buddhist context, it is the true nature of Samsara itself which although relatively appears to be ‘born’, ultimately is never born. Advayavajra in his Tatvaratnavali says, “The world is unborn says the Buddha”. As Buddha Ekaputra Tantra (Tib. sangye tse tsig tantra) says, the base of DzogChen is the Samsara itself stirred from its depth. Since the Samsara stirred from its depth is interdependently originated, i.e. not really originated i.e. unborn and since Samsara is only relatively an interdependently originated thing but ultimately neither a thing nor a non-thing (bhava or abhava) that truly exists, the use of the word ‘unborn’ for Brahma (which is definitely not Samsara) and for Samsara itself in Buddhism are diametrically opposed. The true meaning of unborn (anutpada) is dependently originated (pratityasamutpanna), which is as already mentioned, the meaning of a nisvabhava (non-real existence) or Shunyata (emptiness). None of these can be a synonym for Brahma or anything that has kind of ultimate real existence, even if it is called Tathagatagarbha. There is no acceptance of an Ultimate Existence in any Buddhist Sutra. It is interesting that an exact word for Ultimate Existence (Skt. paramartha satta) in Tibetan Buddhism is very rarely used. It shows how non-Buddhist the whole concept is. One has to differentiate between existence (Skt. satta) and truth (Skt. satya) although they are so close and come from the same root in Sanskrit. Even in the Ratnagotra there is one single sentence (Skt. Yad yatra tat tena shunyam iti samanupasyati yat punartravasistam bhavati tad sad ihasthiti yathabhutam prajanati): “whatever is not found, know that to be empty by that itself, if something remains, know that to exist as it is).” This statement is straight out of the Vaibhasika Sutras of the Theravada (Sunnatavagga) and Sautrantika Abhidharma Samuccaya. It seems to imply an affirming negative. First of all, this statement contradicts the rest of the Ratnagotravibhaga if it is taken as the ultimate meaning in the Sutra (as the Shentongpas have done). Secondly, since it is a statement of the Vaibhasika school (stating that an ultimate unit of the consciousness and matter remains), it cannot be superior to the Rangtong Madhyamika. Thirdly, its interpretation as what remains is the ultimately existing Tathagatagarbha contradicts not only the interpretation that is found in other Buddhist sutras as “itar etar shunyata” (emptiness of what is different from it) but also the Shentong interpretation of Tathagatagarbha contradicts all the other definitions of the Tathagatagarbha found in the Ratnagotravibhaga itself.

This brings us to the word ‘Nitya’ i.e. eternal or permanent. The Hindu use of the word ‘Nitya’ for its ultimate existing reality, viz. Brahma is ‘Kutastha Nitya’ i.e. something remaining or existing unchangingly eternal, i.e. something statically eternal. Whatever the word ‘Nitya’ is used for, the Ultimate Truth in Buddhism, the Great Pandita Shantarakshita has made it very clear in his Tatvasamgraha that the Buddhist ‘Nitya’ (permanent) is ‘parinami nitya’ i.e. changing, transforming, eternal, in another words dynamically eternal. The Buddhist ‘Nitya’ is more accurately translated in English as eternal continuum rather than just eternal. I would like to remind some western translators of Nyingma and Kagyu texts that it is either the view of Shantarakshita’s Svatantrika Madhyamika or the Prasangika view that is given during the instruction of ‘Yeshe Lama’ as the correct view of DzogChen.

Now finally I would like to show how the same analogies are used in the Vedantic Hinduism and Buddhist Madhyamika to illustrate different thesis. The most famous analogy in both Vedanta and Madhyamika is that of the snake seen in the rope. In Vedanta you have the famous Sanskrit verse ‘rajjau sarpa bhramanaropa tadvat Brahmani jagataropa’ i.e. as a snake is imputed / superimposed upon a piece of rope so is the Samsara imposed upon the Brahma. Only the rope or the Brahma is real the snake, Samsara is unreal and does not exist at all. They are only illusions. If one studies this analogy, one realizes that it is not such an accurate analogy. The rope is not eternal like Brahma. Furthermore the rope is not unconditioned (Skt. asamskrita) like Brahma, so it is not really a good example or the proof of a truly existing independent Brahma. It is a forced analogy, and rightly so, because it is a Buddhist analogy squeezed to give a Vedantic meaning.

As for Buddhism, the rope stands for interdependent origination (pratityasamutpada) for which it is a good example being itself interdependently arisen from pieces of jute etc., and the snake imputed upon it stands for real existence, which is imposed on the interdependently existing rope appearance. Here it is the rope that is the true mode of existence of Samsara (unlike the snake representing Samsara in Vedanta) and the snake is our ignorance imputing Samsara as really existing instead of experiencing it as interdependently arisen. This interdependence or emptiness is ‘parinami nitya’ i.e. an eternal continuum and this is applicable to all phenomena. Of course, this interdependence is the Conventional Truth whereas nisvabhavata which is synonymous to emptiness is the Ultimate Truth in Madhyamika. Although interdependence is itself conditioned, in reality it is unborn and empty; its true nature is unconditioned. But this is not an unconditioned reality like Brahma but an unconditioned truth i.e. the fact that all things are in reality empty, unborn, uncreated. Likewise the mirror reflection analogy is used to show that just like images which have no existence at all appear and disappear on the permanent surface of the mirror so too Samsara which is an illusory reflection on the mirror of Brahma appears on the surface of the Brahma and disappears there. In Buddhism this metaphor is used to show that Samsara is interdependently arisen like the reflection on the mirror. The mirror is only one of the causes and conditions and no more real than the other causes and conditions for the appearance of the reflection of Samsara. Here too the mirror is a very poor metaphor for the Brahma, being itself interdependently arisen like the reflection on it. Actually such analogies are good examples for interdependent origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada) and not for some eternal Brahma. The mirror Brahma metaphor is only a forced one. The same can be said of the moon on the pond analogy and the rainbow in the sky analogy.

In conclusion, I would like to sum it up by stating that Buddhism (especially Mahayana / Vajrayana) is not a reformulation of Hinduism or a negative way of expressing what Hinduism as formulated. Hinduism and Buddhism share a common culture and therefore tend to use the same or similar words. They do share certain concepts like Karma and re-incarnation, although their interpretations differ. The Hindu concepts of Karma and therefore reincarnation tend to be rather linear whereas the Buddhist concept is linked with interdependent origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada). The Theravada concept of interdependent origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada) is also rather linear but the Mahayana / Vajrayana concept is more non-linear, multi-dimentional, multi-leveled, interdependent, inter-latched. But all similarities to Hinduism end there. The Shunyata of the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Candrakirti is by no accounts a negative way of describing the Brahma of the Upanishads – Samkara - Vidhyaranya groups.


I would like to dedicate this article for the long lives of Ven. H. E. Urgyen Tulku, H. E. Chobgye Trichen, H. H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche and Ven. Karma Thinley Rinpoche and to the 17th century Siddha Vajracharya Surat Vajra of Nepal, Tache Baha. May his lineage be re- instated.
Lotus_Bitch
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:37 pm

That website is absolute nonsense. No wonder you are confused.

First off, we have a Sakya Loppon on this forum, who explicitly said that "like an illusion" is a "poor understanding":

Malcolm wrote:All traditions are of buddhism are working towards the same goal, freedom from afflictions that are the cause of suffering. Some buddhist traditions, from Mahayāna on up, also aim at omniscience.

Omniscience is not as scary as it sounds. A Buddhas omniscience is predicated on the fact that all objects of knowledge, including buddhahood itself, are completely illusory.

This is also the view of Dzogchen i.e. everything, including buddhahood, etc., is completely equivalent to an illusion; not "like an illusion", as some people in Mahāyāna with a poor understanding hedge -- completely equivalent.
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:15 pm

SSJ3Gogeta wrote:That website is absolute nonsense. No wonder you are confused.

First off, we have a Sakya Loppon on this forum, who explicitly said that "like an illusion" is a "poor understanding":

Malcolm wrote:All traditions are of buddhism are working towards the same goal, freedom from afflictions that are the cause of suffering. Some buddhist traditions, from Mahayāna on up, also aim at omniscience.

Omniscience is not as scary as it sounds. A Buddhas omniscience is predicated on the fact that all objects of knowledge, including buddhahood itself, are completely illusory.

This is also the view of Dzogchen i.e. everything, including buddhahood, etc., is completely equivalent to an illusion; not "like an illusion", as some people in Mahāyāna with a poor understanding hedge -- completely equivalent.

Damn, I really am confused. Thanks for posting this (Malcolm isn't a Loppon for nothing.) Do you think it completely undermines the whole article? I'm guessing the answer would be yes, huh?

Also, I beg to differ that the blog is complete nonsense. It has a bunch of articles from different traditions and different masters (some of ChNN's stuff is on there) and from people in the real world who has direct insight into Buddhas teachings. Though, not everyone would agree, but whatevs.

Can you post a link to the thread you quoted from?
Lotus_Bitch
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:17 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:Also, I beg to differ that the blog is complete nonsense. It has a bunch of articles from different traditions and different masters (some of ChNN's stuff is on there) and from people in the real world who has direct insight into Buddhas teachings. Though, not everyone would agree, but whatevs.



The articles written by the 2 website owners are deluded nonsense.

Of course the articles written by real masters are fine.
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:22 pm

SSJ3Gogeta wrote:
Lotus_Bitch wrote:Also, I beg to differ that the blog is complete nonsense. It has a bunch of articles from different traditions and different masters (some of ChNN's stuff is on there) and from people in the real world who has direct insight into Buddhas teachings. Though, not everyone would agree, but whatevs.



The articles written by the 2 website owners are deluded nonsense.

Of course the articles written by real masters are fine.

I personally don't agree, but I don't care to defend anyone here.

Can you post the thread you quoted Malcolm from, please?
Lotus_Bitch
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:28 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:The logical progression is therefore:

- Advaita Vedanta
- Pali Buddhism
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Mahamudra, Dzogchen

If we skip Pali and Mahayana Buddhism and jump directly to Mahamudra or Dzogchen, the risk is to interpret Mahamudra or Dzogchen as a Buddhist version of pop-neo-advaita, equating emptiness and rigpa with awareness.

This is very common nowadays and some Western lamas seem to encourage this trend to water-down the Dzogchen teachings, as always in order to appeal to a larger public. Business is business.


What utter rubbish. And now they are presenting themselves as Dzogchen authorities. This is new.
Last edited by SSJ3Gogeta on Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:31 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:So you gonna post a lnk to that thread or what?


Seriously you can't use google or the search engine?

viewtopic.php?f=69&t=5370&start=80

This explains a lot about you.
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Jikan » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:43 am

Music wrote:I am assuming emptiness isn't taken literally to mean non existence. So is it just another word for dependent origination? Because everything exists in connection to everything else, no object really has any essence, so to speak. Is that what it is?


To get back to your question: yes, it makes a great deal of sense to think of emptiness in terms of dependent origination, and yes, if you think of it in terms of interconnection and essenceless-ness, then you're off to a very good start.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4275
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:49 am

empty = illusory / dependently originated / lacks identity (atman)
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:25 am

You've understood it, Music.

The knowledge that appearances arise unfailingly in dependence,
And the knowledge that they are empty and beyond all assertions—
As long as these two appear to you as separate,
There can be no realization of the Buddha’s wisdom.

Yet when they arise at once, not each in turn but both together,
Then through merely seeing unfailing dependent origination
Certainty is born, and all modes of misapprehension fall apart—
That is when discernment of the view has reached perfection.

When you know that appearances dispel the extreme of existence,
While the extreme of nothingness is eliminated by emptiness,
And you also come to know how emptiness arises as cause and effect,
Then you will be immune to any view entailing clinging to extremes.


http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... s#_ftnref3
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
User avatar
Konchog1
 
Posts: 1221
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby SSJ3Gogeta » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:35 am

Tsongkhapa is the worst person to cite when it comes to emptiness.

Karl Brunnhölzl says "In fact, the peculiar Gelugpa version of Madhaymaka is a minority position in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, since its uncommon features are neither found in any Indian text nor accepted by any of the other Tibetan schoools."

There is a reason why scholars like Sam van Schaik say "Tsongkhapa's own personal interpretation of the philosophy of the Madhyamaka."
SSJ3Gogeta
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:26 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:34 am

SSJ3Gogeta wrote:Tsongkhapa is the worst person to cite when it comes to emptiness.

Karl Brunnhölzl says "In fact, the peculiar Gelugpa version of Madhaymaka is a minority position in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, since its uncommon features are neither found in any Indian text nor accepted by any of the other Tibetan schoools."

There is a reason why scholars like Sam van Schaik say "Tsongkhapa's own personal interpretation of the philosophy of the Madhyamaka."
Just it's because it's unique doesn't mean it's wrong.

Or did the Earth start revolving around the Sun in the 1500s?

I'm not suggesting Tsongkhapa is right, but rather I ask you to please disprove Tsongkhapa's beliefs with reasoning and quotations from scripture, not to attempt to disprove them with an ad populum fallacy.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
User avatar
Konchog1
 
Posts: 1221
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Could someone explain emptiness?

Postby xabir » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:34 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:
conebeckham wrote:When you get down to it, all the analysis and study regarding emptiness, lack of existence, etc., is to lead to one conclusion: conceptual mind can not "know" reality. Any framework, assertion, or theory is incorrect (even this one!)

Even on an intellectual level: Understanding Right View is paramount, since it is our View that dictates our experience and where we ultimately end up in the spiritual path.

I know I've been quoting from this blog all day, but it's a really good source for understanding Buddhism (and the other wisdom traditions of the world.)

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/search/label/Alex%20Weith

The suggestions that I have received were to acquire 'right view'. The mind needs to acquire some form of conceptual model that allows it to accept the possibility of its own non-abiding ungraspable empty nature. Right view is therefore required to facilitate the shift of perspective from "I am Awareness, everything is in me" to "nothing whatsoever is me or mine, all dharmas are empty".

A good start would be Walpola Rahula's classic "What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada". It can be completed by "The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master" by Ven. Yin-shun. A great autoritative summary of the Mahayana path. Then, based on a solid understanding of the core insights of Buddhism, Dakpo Tashi Namgyal's "Clarifying the Natural State" (if still in print, or anything from the same great 16th century yogi) will be the best introduction to the Mahamudra and indirectly to the the sem-de series of Dzogchen.

The logical progression is therefore:

- Advaita Vedanta
- Pali Buddhism
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Mahamudra, Dzogchen

If we skip Pali and Mahayana Buddhism and jump directly to Mahamudra or Dzogchen, the risk is to interpret Mahamudra or Dzogchen as a Buddhist version of pop-neo-advaita, equating emptiness and rigpa with awareness.

This is very common nowadays and some Western lamas seem to encourage this trend to water-down the Dzogchen teachings, as always in order to appeal to a larger public. Business is business.


.............
This linear progression (as stated by the Zen priest Alex Weith) is not exactly necessary, but it is necessary to have right view. I've seen too many advaitins-in-dzogchen-drag.
xabir
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:14 pm

Next

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

>