mind/matter dichotomy

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mind/matter dichotomy

Postby dakini_boi » Thu May 17, 2012 5:05 pm

Malcolm wrote:The contradiction between sutra and tantra on the one hand, and Dzogchen on the other, concerning the difference/non-difference between mind and matter is not an important contradiction.


This is an intriguing point that Malcolm has made a few times lately. I had never heard it put in quite that way. I'm wondering, Malcolm, if you could give a short explanation of the sutra, tantra and dzogchen view on mind/matter. I would have thought that even in sutra, and definitely in tantra, because the nature of both mind and matter is emptiness, there would be no such dichotomy.
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 17, 2012 5:44 pm

dakini_boi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The contradiction between sutra and tantra on the one hand, and Dzogchen on the other, concerning the difference/non-difference between mind and matter is not an important contradiction.


This is an intriguing point that Malcolm has made a few times lately. I had never heard it put in quite that way. I'm wondering, Malcolm, if you could give a short explanation of the sutra, tantra and dzogchen view on mind/matter. I would have thought that even in sutra, and definitely in tantra, because the nature of both mind and matter is emptiness, there would be no such dichotomy.


If you elevate everything to the ultimate level, even "...matter is unconditioned without anything missing", as it says in the Yum Chenmo, the sutra of Perfect Wisdom in 100,000 lines.

But the Buddhist scholastics from Sarvastivada up to Dharmakirti have always maintained a hard division between mind and matter, between nāma on the one hand and rūpa on the other. For example, in the account of the twelve links in the Vibhanga, the Pali Abhidharma compendium, when discussing the twelve nidanas, it even leaves off the rūpa in the nidana of nāmarūpa, running ignorance, formations, consciousness, name, etc.

The Yogacara school attempts to supercede this dualism through asserting that everything is fundamentally a projection of the mind -- in fact the 15th century Lamdre Master Khyentse Wangchuk states, there is no dualism of mind and matter because everything is mind.

As we know, Madhyamaka adopts the conventional truth either according to the Sautrantika system, or the Yogacara system. But since it's own perspective is grounded in the Prajñāpāramitasūtras, it regards distinctions such as mind and matter to be merely conventional designations that do have any real basis apart from imputation.

But we can see that this division is well preserved in Buddhist tantric literature (as well as Hindu tantric literature) when we find for example that the mind is described as a rider of a horse, vāyu. This is because both forms of tantra, Buddhist as well as Hindu, are concerned with the mechanics of the body for understanding how to gain realization through our embodiment through the practice of various kinds of yoga.

Granted, this is sometimes is found in Dzogchen literature as well. But when we examine that actual system of Dzogchen according to the ancient Dzogchen tantras, we find that in fact even consciousness itself is generated phsyiologically in the body by a vāyu. I have yet to find in an original Dzogchen tantra the common Buddhist term khams drug, sadadhātu i.e. earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness. I may yet find it, but at least the Valby KWIC tool does not in fact list it in the 83 or so important Dzogchen tantras that he converted into searchable text files. It also does not list every instance of thod rgal in the Dzogchen tantras as well so its look up routines are not completely infallible. But there are hundreds of references to the five elements ('byung lnga, pañcabhutani).

I have been also examining the Mdzod phug lately, Bon "Abhidharma" and cosmology, is largely freed from the constraints of Buddhist conservatism, has very interesting things to say about the five elements and so on, and when is a text clearly influenced by Dzogchen. A kind of Dzogchen Abhidharma. One of the reasons why I started looking into this text is that the Rigpa Rangshar tantra contains a very breif mention of a primordial egg cosmology which accounts for the formation of the world, similar to the Vedas and Bon:

Now, to demonstrate the ignorance of the object of delusion: delusion is deluded by the forgoing. The field is prior to the formation of the world; a so called “wish-fulfilling tree” grows, a tree growing from the blessing of the youthful vase body of the buddha, born from warmth and moisture which arose from an egg. The Sahāloka formed from the mind disturbing the so-called self-originated wisdom in that. That is called the ignorance of the field of delusion.

M
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby trevor » Thu May 17, 2012 7:30 pm

While we're at it...

Malcolm wrote:A more important contradiction between sutra, tantra and Dzogchen is that the latter is a vehicle beyond cause and result, whereas both sutra and tantra are vehicles of cause and result.


Could you please explain this a bit more? It has something to do with accumulating merit and wisdom?
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby Jnana » Thu May 17, 2012 7:37 pm

Malcolm wrote:As we know, Madhyamaka adopts the conventional truth either according to the Sautrantika system, or the Yogacara system. But since it's own perspective is grounded in the Prajñāpāramitasūtras, it regards distinctions such as mind and matter to be merely conventional designations that do have any real basis apart from imputation.

Don't you mean to say "merely conventional designations that do not have any real basis apart from imputation"?
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu May 17, 2012 9:24 pm

trevor wrote:While we're at it...

Malcolm wrote:A more important contradiction between sutra, tantra and Dzogchen is that the latter is a vehicle beyond cause and result, whereas both sutra and tantra are vehicles of cause and result.


Could you please explain this a bit more? It has something to do with accumulating merit and wisdom?


Malcolm put it like this when I went overboard last time (which I will in this post somewhat) but this is his brief and to the point explanation:
Malcolm wrote:Buddhahood is an innate quality:

“Oh Vajradhara you must listen! Since buddhahood is unconditioned, there is no buddhahood through fabricated dharmas. The three kāyas of buddhahood are present as the kāya of prajñā. Since there are no material signs in the the kāya of prajñā, it is unaffected by the consequences of karma. Since this impure deluded appearance arises as buddhahood, there is no need to purify karma and traces.”
-- The Tantra of Buddhahood as an Intrinsic Attribute


Dzogchen isn't a causal vehicle because it is your true nature, present timelessly, completely unborn, unadulterated, unobstructed. Through misunderstanding, an individual is posited to exist and then under the guise of that ignorance the conceptual individual attempts to make it's way back to the truth of his/her own true nature. The lower vehicles give credence to this misconception and allow it to objectify the 'natural state' and causally work towards achieving this truth (in time) which is impossible. This is because the process is predicated on a misnomer (in relation to other misnomers), and being that the individual is such, the individual can attain nothing, and never will. Only upon the 'seeing-through' of the illusion does the truth become self-evident, and it is then seen that the truth was always and ever-present.

Dzogchen avoids this predicament by directly introducing the aspirant to his/her true nature, and from there the only (effortless) task is to remain in that knowledge(rig pa), which is simultaneously the base, path and fruit.

"This (Dzogpa Chenpo) is the only resultant yāna and it is the summit of all the yānas. Except for this one, other yānas are accompanied by accepting and rejecting, defending and negating, and are created by mind. They are the stairs (leading) to this yāna. All the different tenets, divisions of yānas and the paths and stages - by accomplishing the great confidence in this realization - will be perfected in the equalness state without efforts."
- Mipham Namgyal


"Dzogpa Chenpo is the fortress of view, it's paths and stages are completed instantly. It is not comparable to the lower yānas."
- Garab Dorje


"A qualm: Surely if everyone who exists acts without action then whatever practices are done in the lower eight paths must be without purpose?
The Dzogchen reply is that everything that is practiced in those paths is made up by thoughts, and their practitioners never achieve the stage of acting without action, without thoughts. Dzogchen never pursues them, but all their acheivements, like sambhogakāya or dharmakāya or purification of knowledge are naturally present in Dzogchen Buddhahood. The reason for this is that all existing things are like illusions coming from the natural state. Therefore there is not any misview, as everything is liberated into the natural state."
- Lopon Tenzin Namdak


"The actual essence, pristine rig pa,
cannot be improved upon, so virtue is profitless,
and it cannot be impaired, so vice is harmless;
in it's absence of karma there is no ripening of pleasure or pain;
in it's absence of judgement, no preference for samsara or nirvana;
in it's absence of articulation, it has no dimension;
in it's absence of past and future, rebirth is an empty notion;
who is there to transmigrate? And how to wander?
What is karma and how can it mature?
Contemplate the reality that is like the clear sky!

Constantly deconstructing, investigating keenly,
not even the slightest substance can be found;
and in the undivided moment of nondual perception
we abide in the natural state of perfection."
- Longchenpa


"The Great Perfection does not require analysis or cultivation. Rather, it is merely a matter of recognizing, as your own nature, this very wakefulness of natural knowing that is self-existing and spontaneously present throughout samsara and nirvana. This recognizing is unlike the rigid clinging of intellectual or conceptual meditation training - as in the lower vehicles, which involves hope and fear, permissions and prohibitions concerning what to accept and reject - that is like a deer being caught in a hunter's trap. It is also unlike the lower sections of tantra in which the practitioners of Secret Mantra, in all the gradual stages of the path, engage in mental effort and conceptual involvement, as in the practices of the development stage, completion stage, and so on, which all require mental discrimination. These perspectives may each have their individual view, meditation, and fruition, but they are entirely different from the Great Perfection's fresh essence of primordial pure awareness, which is unchanging throughout the three times.

So, unless you perfect the great strength of such awareness, you will not attain the kayas and wisdoms of ultimate fruition - the result having captured the natural state of awareness withing the basic space of primordial purity, which is the place of liberation of the entirety of samsara and nirvana. This difference, as vast as heaven, is therefore of utmost importance. According to the king of views, our Dzogchen tradition - whether expressions of thought movement occur, remain, or dissolve, the essence does not change but remains a fresh, basic state of naturalness. No matter the variety of samsaric or nirvanic displays that may arise, there is nothing else to be attained apart from or superior to the unchanging essence suffused with awareness, which transcends being liberated, even though the labels "buddha" or "fruition" may be given to it. Since this essence has never been tainted by confusion, it is free from the seeds for taking rebirth within the worlds comprised of the three realms, the six classes of beings, and the four modes of rebirth.

Consequently, both samsara and nirvana are merely words and mind-made labels that to not possess a shred of real existence, not even as much as an atom - just like the space in a container is not really separate [from that outside of it]. Through personal experience you must realize this actuality. Primordial purity (kadag) means that the basic nature of awareness belongs to neither samsara or nirvana, and therefore it's identity is primordially pure. No type of virtuous karmic cause and effect improves this primordial purity, nor does any type of unvirtuous karmic cause and effect worsen it. In short, this wakefulness of self-existing knowing is not imporoved upon - not even one speck - by any amount of relative conceptual virtue belonging to the view, meditation, and conduct of the nine gradual vehicles. Also, it is not harmed in the slightest, even though one accumulates a tremendous amount of relative or superficial negative misdeeds, including the ten unvirtuous actions and the five actions with immediate consequences. This primordially pure identity of awareness can neither be improved nor harmed by anything whatsoever. All types of cause and effect from wholesome and unwholesome actions appear as expressions - just like the apparitions conjured by a magician. Realize that they are all unreal and empty, a magical display, and you will transcend the practices of cause and effect, which demand effort...."
- Drubwang Shakya Shri Jñāna
Last edited by asunthatneversets on Thu May 17, 2012 9:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 17, 2012 9:26 pm

Jnana wrote:
Malcolm wrote:As we know, Madhyamaka adopts the conventional truth either according to the Sautrantika system, or the Yogacara system. But since it's own perspective is grounded in the Prajñāpāramitasūtras, it regards distinctions such as mind and matter to be merely conventional designations that do have any real basis apart from imputation.

Don't you mean to say "merely conventional designations that do not have any real basis apart from imputation"?



Yup.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby dakini_boi » Mon May 21, 2012 6:22 pm

Malcolm wrote: I have yet to find in an original Dzogchen tantra the common Buddhist term khams drug, sadadhātu i.e. earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness.


What school is the sadadhatu mostly found it? Is it also part of samkhya philosophy?
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Re: mind/matter dichotomy

Postby dakini_boi » Mon May 21, 2012 6:25 pm

On a related note, Malcolm - you also mentioned how Dzogchen does away with the division between sentient and nonsentient. I can see how this follows from the matter/mind division, but are there explicit descriptions in the Dzogchen literature of the idea that "everything is alive," or something like that?
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