Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:31 pm

I think Vajrayāna Adi-Buddha and Ālayavijñāna are as close as you'd get to Brahman.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:01 pm

It may be that these end in the same place, but we don't know that until we get there.

In the meantine, we can only go on the method and teaching, if supposedly the method and teaching are the same in Advaita and Mahayana, then why bother with one or the other, just personal preference?

I'm all for being ecumenical and inclusive, but at some point you have to evaluate what you can discern to be true and go with that, I think monism is fundamentally flawed and while some Buddhism seems to inch a bit in that direction, Advaita just embraces it full throttle...to me that's enough to constitute a significant difference.
"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:06 pm

greentara wrote:The Mahayana schools with whom Shankara's Advaita is said to share some similarities are the Madhyamaka and the Yogacara, founded by the Brahmins Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Asanga.

NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth. This is echoed by Ninian Smart, a historian of religion, who notes that the differences between Shankara and Mahayana doctrines are largely a matter of emphasis and background than essence.

"Buddhism and Vedanta should not be viewed as two opposed systems, but one which starts with the Upanishads, finds its indirect support in Buddha, its elaboration in Mahayana Buddhism, its open revival in Gaudapada, (and) which reaches its zenith in Sankara."

Advaita Vedanta borrowed heavily from Madyahmaka/Buddhism.

Shankara composed some works in order to distance Advaita Vedanta from the claims of being a crypto-Buddhism (thanks in part to Gaudapada.) This link summarizes what he refutes: http://www.kamakotimandali.com/blog/index.php?p=1111&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

The rest of the post is Hindu nationalist propaganda.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:16 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
which is seen to have never been apart from the ground of being (GOB).


This term "ground of being" is very similar to the term that you find in the Chittamantrin/ Mind Only School philosophy "mind basis of all".

Here is a portion of the Illuminator Dictionary entry on the topic:

kun gzhi'i rnam par shes pa Alaya consciousness". Translation of the Sanskrit "ālayavijñāna". In the mind-only system and schools that follow its view of consciousness (including the tantras), there are eight consciousnesses— རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་བརྒྱད་ "the eight consciousnesses". The consciousness referred to here is the eighth consciousness. It is in itself unobscured and indeterminate. It is the principal consciousness that is ཀུན་གཞི་ an omni-basis that underlies the rest mind and all of experience. It is also the ཀུན་གཞི་ "overall range" upon which all karmic seeds and other things that ripen in a sentient being's experience are planted.
Because of its functions as the place upon which karmic seeds are planted and kept, its name has been translated as the "store-house consciousness" though in fact the name means that "basis that extends under everything" i.e., the basis underlying everything".


http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=4056&start=100

Malcolm: Buddhism does not propose a truly existent ground of being.....

The term "ground of being" does not exist in any Buddhist text, nor any Dzogchen text. It is a western gloss, one that is inaccurate.

There is a term "kun gzhi" this is understood differently in different Dzogchen cycles and by different Dzogchen masters. So there isn't a one size fits all definition.

In those texts that speak of the so called kun gzhi -- the kun gzhi is complete free from all extremes. Whatever arises from it therefore, also must be free from all extremes. "Being and non-being" are just cognitive errors.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:59 pm

Jainarayan wrote:I think Vajrayāna Adi-Buddha and Ālayavijñāna are as close as you'd get to Brahman.

Except that an adi-buddha is not a formless ground of existence, which phenomena originate from. Samantabhadra for instance, doesn't come out of the pralaya expressed in ignorance, but recognizes phenomena as the nature of mind.

Alayavijnana is a collection of momentary processes, that are impermanent and differentiated into separate mind-streams (i.e dependently originated.)
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:12 pm

Speaking of, does Advaita subscribe to anything like Buddhist - compatible idea(s) about casuality?

This would go a long way to evaluating whether they are the same or different, does Advaita have a concept similar to Dependent origination..or is Brahma still a "first cause"? If it is..that would seem to definitively answer the question.

Looked it up and it appears the answer is yes. If this is so, by definition it cannot be the emptiness taught in Buddhism, it seems to me.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:44 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:I think Vajrayāna Adi-Buddha and Ālayavijñāna are as close as you'd get to Brahman.

Except that an adi-buddha is not a formless ground of existence, which phenomena originate from. Samantabhadra for instance, doesn't come out of the pralaya expressed in ignorance, but recognizes phenomena as the nature of mind.

Alayavijnana is a collection of momentary processes, that are impermanent and differentiated into separate mind-streams (i.e dependently originated.)


Yes, that's why I said "as close as you'd get". They're not parallel nor identical. Something diverged from something at some point.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:15 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Speaking of, does Advaita subscribe to Buddhist - compatible idea(s) about casuality?

This would go a long way to evaluating whether they are the same or different, does Advaita have a concept similar to Dependent origination..or is Brahma still a "first cause"? If it is..that would seem to definitively answer the question.

Looked it up and it appears the answer is yes. If this is so, by definition it cannot be the emptiness taught in Buddhism, it seems to me.

It's also not very "nondual", heh.


Brahman if viewed as Aristotle's "unmoved mover" = first cause. But under the veil of māyā everything in the phenomenal world has dependent origin. This is a pretty good description of the varying thoughts even within Advaita; it's not a monolithic philosophy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Conceptualisation The emptiness in Advaita is in the ego-self, not the permanent self. Remember, there are two "selfs" in Advaita. Clearly I'm no scholar, but it seems to me that at some point either Advaita adopted the two selfs or Buddhism dropped one.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:23 pm

Not quite sure what you mean, are there some forms of Advaita that don't see Brahma as prime mover?

The very idea of any kind of first cause, of creation really, seems to be in opposition to some Buddhist concepts of ultimate reality..the universe being "beginningless" not just a cosmological starting point thing, but part of describing emptiness, with the existence of a prime mover, emptiness is absurd, because something that exists inherently cannot be part of the chain of causality, on the other hand if it is part of the chain of causality, then it does not exist inherently...etc.

However, this is all interesting to me because I have to admit, that Advaita does not seem too different to Zhentong to me..maybe there is a subtle difference there someone smarter than me can explain, because it's making my head hurt.
"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:51 pm

In the early Buddhist texts, the criticism of 'eternal unchanging soul' is directed at 'those ascetics' who believed that liberation consisted in being reborn in perpetuity, for an endless period of time. It is associated with the notion that the self is 'like a barren mountain peak', something that exists in itself for all time. That is the 'mistaken view of eternalism'. I don't think that to deny this, is to deny the notion of a 'true self', which can be opposed to 'ego' or 'personality'. Many Zen books I have speak of the true nature, Buddha nature, and even 'true self', and so on, without necessarily committing to 'eternalism'.

In the early texts, the 'two extremes' regarding the nature of self are nihilism - self does not exist - and eternalism - self as self-existent and something that exists for ever. But the denial of eternalism can and often does rebound towards nihilism, in my view. For the purpose of distinguishing authentic and inauthentic ways-of-being, we can talk of 'true nature', but this doesn't necessarily mean the 'true nature' is something objectively existent, something 'out there' that always exists.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:57 pm

Queue True Self, Tathagatagarbha vs. Atman in 3...2...1
"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:58 pm

monktastic, "If one were told that this came out of the mouth of an Advaitin (edit: and one were not already familiar with the term, obviously), one could easily respond "OH, so you mean things have an intrinsic nature? You even have a name for it? I guess you don't have the real emptiness like we do." Beautifully written!
The timeless analogy of wave when the seeker is still egoic and separate, then ocean when ego free and liberated is so apt.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:12 am

I made a sarcastic remark in this thread some weeks ago in trying to make a point about this debate, which I regretted.

I will try and put the same point again, more respectfully. When I first encountered 'Indian Philosophy', the books I found were by Hindu Yogis, notably, Paramahansa Yogananda (which, I think, is the top-selling 'spiritual book' of all time, certainly in the USA) and then The Teachings of Ramana Maharishi. I found Ramana's teaching incredibly moving. But then, like a lot of other people around that time, I also got Zen Mind Beginner's Mind and The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, and I made the judgement that the Buddhist approach was more suitable for my circumstances - not least because there were more actual Buddhists around, and also because of the Soto Zen approach of 'mystical realism' and emphasis on meditation. It seemed a lot more 'do-able' than the Advaita path as I understood it at the time.

But from my perspective, I didn't see a huge conflict between Ramana Maharishi and the Buddhist teachings, in the context of the modern world. Both Advaita and Buddhist teachings accept the notion of the 'cycle of birth and death' to which we are 'bound by ignorance' and from which we are liberated by a kind of cognitive revolution. Contrast the official philosophy of the modern secular world: we are the fortuitous outcome of a random biochemical process which has no intrinsic meaning. Anything 'spiritual', is purely imaginary and cannot be validated by the objective sciences. And so on.

So in the context of the modern world, the contrast between Advaita and Buddhist teachings is, perhaps, counter-balanced by what they have in common. I never wanted to believe that the Buddhist view of no-self simply invalidates all of the Advaita teachings, which are also very profound in their own way. This doesn't mean adopting a mix-and-match approach which tries to blend all of them. And I certainly understand why the traditional Buddhist view is to demarcate the Buddhist teaching from the Advaita teaching, as the Brahmins were the traditional opponents, those who the Buddhists needed to distinguish themselves from. But ultimately I would like to understand them both as 'parts of a larger whole' rather than as opposing views which cancel each other out.

Maybe it's because I'm Libran. :emb:
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:52 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Not quite sure what you mean, are there some forms of Advaita that don't see Brahma as prime mover?


No, no... I was just using the Aristotle reference as a description. Brahman has two forms. Nirguna, without attributes; and saguna, with attributes. Saguna Brahman is what we think of as the anthropomorphic or personal God, i.e. Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, or Devi (Goddess) for the Shaktas. That's maya at work. Brahman, saguna or nirguna is always the first cause.

The very idea of any kind of first cause, of creation really, seems to be in opposition to some Buddhist concepts of ultimate reality..the universe being "beginningless" not just a cosmological starting point thing, but part of describing emptiness, with the existence of a prime mover, emptiness is absurd, because something that exists inherently cannot be part of the chain of causality, on the other hand if it is part of the chain of causality, then it does not exist inherently...etc.


The phenomenal universe has a beginning and an end. In fact, it cycles from infinity to infinity. It is created by Saguna Brahman in the form of a creator God (whoever one's favorite happens to be). But Nirguna Brahman is transcendent, immanent, impersonal, transpersonal. How Nirguna Brahman becomes Saguna Brahman is one for the acharyas; it escapes me. Advaita is actually a very complex concept. Perhaps more complex than it needs to be; so many acharyas and saints have commentated and taught it that it's like "too many cooks spoil the soup".

However, this is all interesting to me because I have to admit, that Advaita does not seem too different to Zhentong to me..maybe there is a subtle difference there someone smarter than me can explain, because it's making my head hurt.



Your head hurts!? I'll show you a headache thinking about it. :mrgreen: It is pretty close to my understanding of zhentong.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:57 am

monktastic wrote:You probably have a better grasp of Advaita than I do


Let's not get crazy. :mrgreen:

When the reflection of Atman falls on avidya (ignorance), atman becomes jīva — a living being with a body and senses. Each jiva feels as if he has his own, unique and distinct Atman, called jivatman. The concept of jiva is true only in the pragmatic level. In the transcendental level, only the one Atman, equal to Brahman, is true.


Sounds to me like: when buddha-nature encounters ignorance, ego manifests. Each ego feels distinct, but this is only the way it looks from the relative level. On the absolute level, only one Buddha-nature, equal to the Dharmadhatu, is true.


I wish I had put it that succintly. Yes, that's pretty much it.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:01 am

I know what you're talking about, Jewish mysticism also has this concept of what God "was" before being manifest, it still seems to not work with dependent origination.
"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:07 am

jeeprs wrote:But from my perspective, I didn't see a huge conflict between Ramana Maharishi and the Buddhist teachings, in the context of the modern world. Both Advaita and Buddhist teachings accept the notion of the 'cycle of birth and death' to which we are 'bound by ignorance' and from which we are liberated by a kind of cognitive revolution. ...

So in the context of the modern world, the contrast between Advaita and Buddhist teachings is, perhaps, counter-balanced by what they have in common. I never wanted to believe that the Buddhist view of no-self simply invalidates all of the Advaita teachings, which are also very profound in their own way. This doesn't mean adopting a mix-and-match approach which tries to blend all of them. And I certainly understand why the traditional Buddhist view is to demarcate the Buddhist teaching from the Advaita teaching, as the Brahmins were the traditional opponents, those who the Buddhists needed to distinguish themselves from. But ultimately I would like to understand them both as 'parts of a larger whole' rather than as opposing views which cancel each other out.

Maybe it's because I'm Libran. :emb:


I'll let you in on a little secret... your average garden-variety Hindu doesn't know Advaita from Vishishtadvaita from Achintya BhedAbheda. Thinking about it doesn't change whether it is true or not. Modern Hinduism is Puranic, not Vedic, and therefore technically tantric Hinduism. I figure I'll live the best life I can and do the best I can to reach enlightenment or moksha and then I'll know what actually happens. Perhaps Buddhism is correct in not dwelling on these subjects, and the Buddha was correct in refusing to discuss them, and skirt the issue. They can throw you off.
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:42 am

It can indeed throw you off. But one of the books - I'm a very bookish person, in case that isn't obvious already - that influenced me, was called The Heretical Imperative by a sociologist called Peter Berger. The thrust of this book is that the original meaning of the word 'heresy' is actually derived from 'having an opinion'. So according to the early Church, to have any kind of view, to have an opinion of any kind, was to be an heretic. You simply turn up, and submit. That is the only thing that saves you.

Berger points out that in our modern situation, we have to make a choice when it comes to religious or spiritual ideas - we have to have an opinion - hence 'heretical imperative'. One of the primary religious choices he sees is between 'Jerusalem and Benares'. That is his way of describing the choice between Biblical or Eastern spirituality. It appears I have already made that choice. (In fact I remember the exact moment it happened, it was a conversion experience in its own right).

But even having made that choice, then I have had to weigh up a lot of further choices. I think I have decided pretty definitively for the Buddhist path as distinct from any other. I have been to the Science and Non-duality Conference a couple of times. There are always a fair number of kind of modern Advaita teachers speaking at that conference. But there is a sprinkling of Buddhists also. And I always find those are the ones that resonate with me, even if I respect the other teachers that are there. So, again, I have made that choice. But I still don't see an impassable gulf between the various non-dualist schools.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:26 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I know what you're talking about, Jewish mysticism also has this concept of what God "was" before being manifest, it still seems to not work with dependent origination.


Oh? What exactly is the difference between shunyata and ain soph?
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:59 am

"But as He wished to create
there was not a where?
All was infinitely He,
Be He Blessed!

The light He condensed
sideways
thus was space made
an empty void.

In space days and measures
came into being.
So the world was created.

This void was needed
for the world’s sake,
so that it may be
put into place.

Don’t strain to understand
the void!
It is a mystery - not to be realized
until the future
is the now.



Now
speaking of the void
we must say two things
- opposites -
is-ness and is-not-ness.

Void means absence of G-d
for the world space’s sake.
But in truth’s deepest truth
G-d is still there.
Without His giving life
Nothing is is-ing.

Thus we speak of the void.
There is no way to realize
the void before the future
is come to be now"
The above poem was written by Nachman of Brazlav( the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov) There is a strong Buddhist feel to the writings. You have to remember first there is the great awakening and then you have to find the confining/limiting words to tell others of your extraordinary breakthrough. So the sage can't really explain it, he can only point the way. Please don't get bogged down in semantics.
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