Mind versus Self?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:26 pm

A hurdle that many face, I think, is that if the question finally boils down to, "what is mind?"
then that is actually an erroneous question. It does not make sense.
The reason why it does not make sense is that while many factors can come together
resulting in the experience of mind,
mind itself is not a thing.
As my background is in fine arts, I like to use the analogy of "what is art?"
which is a question that comes up frequently.
Many things can be considered art,
but you can't say "art is_____" and then try to define it that way.
What we have, logically speaking, is a road that goes in one direction but not the other way.
And the reason why you can't establish "what is art" , or pertaining to this topic, "what is mind"
is that art and mind are abstract categorical concepts to begin with.
They are concept words, and the problem that occurs is that
if you begin with the abstract concept, the word,
and then try to identify things that define what you think that word means,
you end up with a sort of witch-hunt for definitions,
and then appearances become the definitions of mind because of one's own imputations.
It's like if you are hunting for a witch, but you have never seen one and nobody knows what they look like
then anything you decide, quite arbitrarily, becomes a characteristic of that abstract concept.

This is why, although the human brain provides all of the circuitry needed
for the processing of light, of the vibration of air molecules against the ear drum and so on,
and even provides the fabric from which memories are sewn together,
so that a costume of "me" is ready to be worn,
and the "experience" of something we merely call "mind" can be experienced,
....that is all it can do--and it's a lot... let's give the brain the credit that is due,
but that's all it can do.
it can't "wear" that costume
and it can't "see" that light
and it can't "hear" that sound.
The Heart Sutra explains this.

The "materialist" view, of course, is that the physical brain can and does wear, and see and hear.
But how is that any different from the idea that rocks and rivers have feelings?
Because that's all the brain is, really, an environment of minerals and pathways,
locked inside of a dark little calcium box
perched up on the end of a neck.
.
.
.
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Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby jeeprs » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:06 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:A hurdle that many face, I think, is that if the question finally boils down to, "what is mind?"
then that is actually an erroneous question. It does not make sense.


I perfectly agree. Furthermore once you realize that this is an impossible question, you realize that many assumptions that you have about the nature of things are likewise based on circular arguments that are self-referential.

That said, it might be useful to reflect on the 'Nature of Mind' as given in the W Y Evanz-Wentz' edition of the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation:

The Nature of Mind
That which is commonly called Mind is of intuitive Wisdom
Although the One Mind is, it has no existence
Being the source of all the bliss of Nirvāna and of all the sorrow of Samsara, it is cherished like the Elevan Yanas
Certain heretics call it ‘The Ego’
By the Hinayana, it is called The Essentiality of the Doctrines’
By the Yogācāra it is called Wisdom
Some call it ‘The Means of Attaining the Other Shore of Wisdom’
Some call it ‘The Buddha Essence’
Some call it ‘The Great Symbol’
Some call it ‘The Sole Seed’
Some call it ‘The Potentiality of Truth’
Some call it ‘The All-Foundation’
Other names, in ordinary language, are also given to it.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y., S. Padma, et al. (1954). The Tibetan book of the great liberation : or, the method of realizing Nirvana through knowing the mind ; London, Oxford University Press.

The discerning reader will no doubt recognize the various definitions here as references to the views of the Brahmins ('certain heretics') as well as various other major Buddhist schools and teachings. I am particularly interested in the line which says: "Although the One Mind is, it has no existence. It is similar to a the verse in the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra which says:

It is not existent--even the Victorious Ones do not see it.
It is not nonexistent--it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby undefineable » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:56 pm

ground wrote:
undefineable wrote:To put it more clearly, can you explain exactly what quantum particles and gravity are? Every explanation collapses into the level below it (e.g. brain is neurons/neurons are cells/cells are molecules etc.), one (popularised) analogy being a tower of turtles, but what exactly supports the whole tower?

Why? I do not need to "explain exactly what quantum particles and gravity are" when I enter a bakery to buy bread. Even if "Every explanation collapses into the level below it" I still enter the bakery to buy bread if I want to have bread. The same holds true when I refer you to anatomy, physiology and neurology.

Doubtless the shared reality of 'brain' is useful in many ways and -as such- does not need to explain brain's 'ultimate nature'. You will have seen that most of the posts on this thread already agree with you as to the unfindability of mind and self etc.. :focus:
ground wrote:"There is no agreement" means that from my perspective philosophy is not required. As far as definition is concerned I did not suggest a definition. Obviously you are interested in a definition. Maybe Google may be of help? Or Wiki? :sage:

If philosophy is not required by science, then it's hard to see how philosophical claims can be made on its behalf, still less how such claims can be seen as helping to define it. Where the boundary between reasonable conclusion and wild speculation lies I wouldn't like to say, but it's probably a safe bet to say, for example, that if physical objects typically move downwards then there's going to be a physical reason ('gravity') for them to do so. Any more than that is hearsay.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby greentara » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:42 pm

Astus wrote:What is obvious, however, is that Tolle believes that the Hindu's atman is the same as buddha-nature, something that is not accepted in Buddhism.

Astus, I'm not really interested in Tolle but......"Dr. Kosho Yamamoto, who translated the entire Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra into English, tells of how the Buddha speaks in that scripture of doctrines previously not articulated. Now, in order to correct people’s misunderstanding of the Dharma, the Buddha - according to Yamamoto - tells of how He speaks of the positive qualities of nirvana, which includes the self:


He [i.e. the Buddha] says that he is now ready to speak about the undisclosed teachings. Men abide in upside-down thoughts. So he will now speak of the affirmative attributes of Nirvana, which are none other than the Eternal, Bliss, the Self and the Pure.[16]

The Zen Buddhist master, Sekkei Harada, likewise speaks of a true Self in his explications of Zen Buddhism. This true Self is found when one "forgets the ego-self".[17] Harada states that the doctrine of "no-self" really means awakening to a self that is without any limits and thus invisible: "No-self means to awaken to a Self that is so vast and limitless that it cannot be seen."[18] Harada concludes his reflections on Zen Buddhism by speaking of the need for an almost passionate encounter with the "person" of the essential True Self"
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added quote for sake of continuity
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:02 pm

greentara,

Buddha-nature as a self is a skilful means. How can we tell? The five aggregates are not the self and there is no self possessing them outside of the skandhas either. Besides that there is no possibility for any self. This is the teaching of no-self in Buddhism since the beginning. Misinterpreting the buddha-nature as an ultimate self is as wrong as taking emptiness to be nothingness, the extremes that are the clear marks of wrong views. The correct view, dependent origination, refutes both eternalism and annihilationism.
"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: Mind versus Self?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:39 pm

Okay, this is a question of mine that has yet to be answered: let's say that Tathagatagarbha is "Self". What is the Tathagatagarbha, or what is it about the Tathagatagarbha, that makes it capable of being referred to as something that defines an individual (as a "Self")? I mean the skhanda are obviously not the "Self" because they are ultimately empty, lacking solidity, shared by all minds, insubstantial, impermanent, etc... What is it about the Tathagatagarbha, or what is the Tathagatagarbha so that it can be defined as a "Self"? What is it that makes it definable as a "Self"?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby songhill » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:37 pm

Astus wrote:greentara,

Buddha-nature as a self is a skilful means. How can we tell? The five aggregates are not the self and there is no self possessing them outside of the skandhas either. Besides that there is no possibility for any self. This is the teaching of no-self in Buddhism since the beginning. Misinterpreting the buddha-nature as an ultimate self is as wrong as taking emptiness to be nothingness, the extremes that are the clear marks of wrong views. The correct view, dependent origination, refutes both eternalism and annihilationism.


Where does it say in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra that Buddha-nature is upaya or skillful means? MPN says, in fact:

"Again good sons! Just as all rivers flow to the sea, all Sutras and all forms of meditation lead ultimately to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. Why? Because it expounds in the most excellent manner [the doctrine that all sentient beings] possess the Buddha-nature."


For the person who has realized and experienced this nature it is certainly not upaya. It's what makes a Buddha a Buddha.
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:46 pm

songhill wrote:Where does it say in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra that Buddha-nature is upaya or skillful means? MPN says, in fact:

"Again good sons! Just as all rivers flow to the sea, all Sutras and all forms of meditation lead ultimately to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. Why? Because it expounds in the most excellent manner [the doctrine that all sentient beings] possess the Buddha-nature."


For the person who has realized and experienced this nature it is certainly not upaya. It's what makes a Buddha a Buddha.


I didn't say it is stated in the MPNS.

Can you define what the buddha-nature is and what is its relation to the five skandhas and eighteen dhatus?
"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: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby songhill » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:28 pm

Astus wrote:
songhill wrote:Where does it say in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra that Buddha-nature is upaya or skillful means? MPN says, in fact:

"Again good sons! Just as all rivers flow to the sea, all Sutras and all forms of meditation lead ultimately to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. Why? Because it expounds in the most excellent manner [the doctrine that all sentient beings] possess the Buddha-nature."


For the person who has realized and experienced this nature it is certainly not upaya. It's what makes a Buddha a Buddha.


I didn't say it is stated in the MPNS.

Can you define what the buddha-nature is and what is its relation to the five skandhas and eighteen dhatus?


Strictly speaking, BN is not, satisfactorily, definable because it is inconceivable. But this may help.

O good man! Buddha-Nature is birthlessness and deathlessness; it is not going, not coming. It is not past, not future, and not present. It is not something that arises out of a cause; it is not the making of any cause. It is not something made; it is not a maker. It is not any outer form, nor is it not any form; it is not something with a name, nor is it something with no name; it is no name and no matter. It is not long, not short. It is not something that has come out [arisen] in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, and the 12 spheres. Hence, we say eternal.
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Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:32 pm

Can one believe in dependent origination and still believe in some "true self" that exists beneath or outside the aggregates? They seem mutually exclusive to me. Any self that exists of and within itself, true or otherwise, would need to exist in its own state, without the help of other things to come into being.

Saying that such a thing "is", while also asserting dependent origination seems absurd.

Pointing at one or two Sutra that go against the grain seems unconvincing for an idea that is in opposition to core Buddhist concepts...

The more I follow discussions like these, the more I see why people refute the eternalist/true self stuff, it simply doesn't work with everything else.

From the Prasangika wiki entry, I think quotes Tsongkhapa:

"Emptiness a mere absence of impossible modes of existence. So, if one were to describe emptiness as the presence of some quality (essencelessness, selflessness, tao, the ultimate nature which exists 'out there somewhere,' etc) it linguistically contradicts the nature of the object. Emptiness is the simple absence of inherent existence, true existence, occult entities, inherent identities, etc as having any role in the arising or existence of any object or phenomenon. It is not the presence of some other quality which is being affirmed in the place of the absence of those modes of existence.[11]"
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Mind versus Self?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:48 pm

Again I see my question has been ignored. It is constantly ignored mainly because to answer it would be to admit that Tathagatagarbha cannot be taken as an object for defining the individual. Why? Because it is expansive, boundless, eternal, without centre, lacking any point of reference, all inclusive, pure bliss, without/lacking an experiencing subject, beyond dualism, etc... Whether you write it with a capital "S" or a small "s" Tathagatagarba does not fulifil the role a few here are trying to impress on it. It just takes the slightest peek at ones true nature to verify this beyond any doubt.

May all sentient beings awaken to their Buddha Nature within this lifetime, abolishing ignorance and wrong view once and for all, thus achieving full enlightenment.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:56 pm

songhill wrote:Strictly speaking, BN is not, satisfactorily, definable because it is inconceivable. But this may help.

O good man! Buddha-Nature is birthlessness and deathlessness; it is not going, not coming. It is not past, not future, and not present. It is not something that arises out of a cause; it is not the making of any cause. It is not something made; it is not a maker. It is not any outer form, nor is it not any form; it is not something with a name, nor is it something with no name; it is no name and no matter. It is not long, not short. It is not something that has come out [arisen] in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, and the 12 spheres. Hence, we say eternal.


There's another word for that definition in Buddhism: emptiness. The very lack of any substance, self, essence, being.
"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: Mind versus Self?

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:17 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Again I see my question has been ignored. It is constantly ignored mainly because to answer it would be to admit that Tathagatagarbha cannot be taken as an object for defining the individual. Why? Because it is expansive, boundless, eternal, without centre, lacking any point of reference, all inclusive, pure bliss, without/lacking an experiencing subject, beyond dualism, etc... Whether you write it with a capital "S" or a small "s" Tathagatagarba does not fulifil the role a few here are trying to impress on it. It just takes the slightest peek at ones true nature to verify this beyond any doubt.

May all sentient beings awaken to their Buddha Nature within this lifetime, abolishing ignorance and wrong view once and for all, thus achieving full enlightenment.
:namaste:


Your question was answered up above.
If you read Songhills qoute it states BN is not form(an individual object)

BN is the term to discribe Enlightenment that is undercover of defilements.
Buddha Nature is the Buddha that is undercover of the "i"(me)(5 aggregates)
Buddha Nature is the postitve qualities of the Dharmakaya Buddha.
Self in the Nirvana Sutra speaks for itself.(I cant speak for it cause I dont have my sutra with me)
peace and love
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:21 pm

Astus wrote:
songhill wrote:Strictly speaking, BN is not, satisfactorily, definable because it is inconceivable. But this may help.

O good man! Buddha-Nature is birthlessness and deathlessness; it is not going, not coming. It is not past, not future, and not present. It is not something that arises out of a cause; it is not the making of any cause. It is not something made; it is not a maker. It is not any outer form, nor is it not any form; it is not something with a name, nor is it something with no name; it is no name and no matter. It is not long, not short. It is not something that has come out [arisen] in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, and the 12 spheres. Hence, we say eternal.


There's another word for that definition in Buddhism: emptiness. The very lack of any substance, self, essence, being.



Empty of other not empty of itself.
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:41 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:
Astus wrote:
songhill wrote:Strictly speaking, BN is not, satisfactorily, definable because it is inconceivable. But this may help.

O good man! Buddha-Nature is birthlessness and deathlessness; it is not going, not coming. It is not past, not future, and not present. It is not something that arises out of a cause; it is not the making of any cause. It is not something made; it is not a maker. It is not any outer form, nor is it not any form; it is not something with a name, nor is it something with no name; it is no name and no matter. It is not long, not short. It is not something that has come out [arisen] in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, and the 12 spheres. Hence, we say eternal.


There's another word for that definition in Buddhism: emptiness. The very lack of any substance, self, essence, being.



Empty of other not empty of itself.


As mentioned in the Tsongkhapa quote..emptiness is a non-affirming negation..i.e. it does not presuppose something else in place of what is negated.

Is there any mainstream, accepted Buddhist doctrine that claims something other than this about emptiness? If so I would love to read an actual philosophical explanation of this "substantial emptiness".

You guys should stop skirting around Greg's question I think though, if this thing "is" in an inherent sense, then why cannot you define some characteristic of it?

The whole concept of emptiness is that of inherent existence being empty, a "true self" by definition has inherent existence, and is therefore absurd when placed in the context of emptiness.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:45 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:Empty of other not empty of itself.


What is itself?
"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: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:48 pm

Astus wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Empty of other not empty of itself.


What is itself?

itself means, if you reduce something down to its core, there is some single element of which something ultimately is.
.
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Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:58 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Astus wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Empty of other not empty of itself.


What is itself?

itself means, if you reduce something down to its core, there is some single element of which something ultimately is.
.
.
.


It seems that emptiness and dependent origination preclude this notion of "ultimately is". Isn't this essentially the same statement of "I am" in Vedanta?

In either case, why is it that we cannot find anything of this "ultimately is", surely if it ultimately is it has some defining characteristics?
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Eckhart Tolle on christmas

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:59 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Astus wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Empty of other not empty of itself.


What is itself?

itself means, if you reduce something down to its core, there is some single element of which something ultimately is.


Then what is the single element called buddha-nature?
"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: Mind versus Self?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:00 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:If you read Songhills qoute it states BN is not form(an individual object)
I didn't ask what it is not, I asked what it is. Actually I asked what it is that allows it to be used as a point of reference for a self. It is not candy floss, does not answer my question.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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