Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:02 pm

rachmiel wrote:I understand that brahman is beyond human conceiving, and that any attempt to do so is doomed to frustration/failure.

Advaita agrees with this. But it maintains that brahman is *real* -- the only real, in fact -- and that it is all there is.

So did Buddha say: It makes no sense to even talk about this ultimate stuff, since I can never know. In effect: I'm a-brahman-gnostic.

Or did he *know* and choose not to reveal his knowledge because he deemed it counterproductive to his goal of ending human suffering?

In other words, does Buddhism say there is no ultimate, no brahman ... or that it is of no use to wonder about this. There's a huge difference there, in my opinion.


How is maintaining Brahman to be *ultimately real*, and saying he is inconceivable not a contradiction in terms? Surely to be defined in a definite manner such as to name it "real" is to lend a dualistic notion to what is supposed to be outside conception..right?

I don't remember which Pali Bit this is from (i'm sure someone here knows it from memory), but there is a line where Buddha says something like "I teach everything, what is everything - the aggregates. If someone teaches another everything, can he describe this everything?" This pretty much sums it up, any teaching of things that are not this everything, like assertions of the character of what lies beyond it etc. are just word games - games involving assertion and negation of things that don't lead anywhere. Again, just my take.

Here's some related reading:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/nagarjuna.pdf
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby songhill » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:06 pm

rachmiel wrote:Thank you all for the responses. Learning a lot! But also getting a bit (more) confused ...

To cut to the chase, here's my predicament. I'm studying Advaita Vedanta, and much of it resonates with me, feels true. BUT (and it's a huge but!) the final conclusion of Advaita -- that brahman = changeless eternal ultimate substrate = oneness = everything (self of course included) -- has just never felt right to me. It feels like an arbitrary leap of faith, a fairy tale. I'm with Advaita through all its negation (I am not ultimately this, this is not ultimately real, etc.), but Advaita loses me with their final conclusion: THIS (brahman) *IS* real, and is all there is, therefore you and I and everything = brahman.

In researching how other eastern philosophical systems view reality, I discovered Buddhism's dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda). My take on this is that it "goes one step further than Advaita" by *not* leaping to the final solution of brahman, rather saying that at the end of all the negation ... is nothing. There is no overarching principle, it's all just impermanent phenomena in a beautiful all-inclusive interdependent web, there is no essential self, etc. This resonates with me VERY STRONGLY! But I want to make sure I'm getting it right, that my take on Buddhism's take on reality is correct.

Am I? Is it?


Vedanta borrowed a great deal from Mahayana Buddhism, including advaya (lit. not-twoness)—even interdependence (parasparapeksa). In my opinion, the Lankavatara Sutra reflects the perfect expression of advaya with cittamatra (Mind-only or absolute Mind), as does the Awakening of Faith shastra with Ekacitta (lit., one-mind).

As for pratītyasamutpāda modern Buddhists don't really get it. They have turned it into some kind of absolute when it is nothing of the kind. Things that are dependently originated are empty and barren because, at bottom, they are illusory, being merely phenomenalizations of Mind. These phenomenalizatons bewitch us into believing illusion is real, and ultimate reality (the One Mind) is illusory! Things (illusions) can only be interdependent (parasparapeksa) through the absolute substance or, the same, essence of Mind. The idea of illusions all the way down is, frankly, absurd.
User avatar
songhill
 
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:23 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:07 pm

Astus wrote:Something eternal cannot change.


something cannot be eternal. no-thing is eternal.
lowlydog
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:15 pm

Astus wrote:
lowlydog wrote:You are not taking into consideration the ultimate reality and how this statement rings true in the unmanifested(formless).


The ultimate truth in Buddhism is emptiness. The formless realms are just samsara.


I didn't just say the formless, did I. I said the unmanifested. Let try not to twist words shall we. :smile:
lowlydog
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:19 pm

rachmiel wrote:... brahman is *real* ... So did Buddha say ... Or did he *know* and ... does Buddhism say ... or ...

Buddha said:

That "real" and "unreal" and "both" and "neither" are mistaken categories of human conceptualizing.

I suggest:

Stop bothering about Brahman for a bit and begin to wrestle with this view of "real" and "unreal" for a while.

Then:

Come back to your question about Brahman and see if your view has changed.

Brahman will still be there waiting for you.
Karma Dondrup Tashi
 
Posts: 1014
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:13 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:22 pm

songhill wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Thank you all for the responses. Learning a lot! But also getting a bit (more) confused ...

To cut to the chase, here's my predicament. I'm studying Advaita Vedanta, and much of it resonates with me, feels true. BUT (and it's a huge but!) the final conclusion of Advaita -- that brahman = changeless eternal ultimate substrate = oneness = everything (self of course included) -- has just never felt right to me. It feels like an arbitrary leap of faith, a fairy tale. I'm with Advaita through all its negation (I am not ultimately this, this is not ultimately real, etc.), but Advaita loses me with their final conclusion: THIS (brahman) *IS* real, and is all there is, therefore you and I and everything = brahman.

In researching how other eastern philosophical systems view reality, I discovered Buddhism's dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda). My take on this is that it "goes one step further than Advaita" by *not* leaping to the final solution of brahman, rather saying that at the end of all the negation ... is nothing. There is no overarching principle, it's all just impermanent phenomena in a beautiful all-inclusive interdependent web, there is no essential self, etc. This resonates with me VERY STRONGLY! But I want to make sure I'm getting it right, that my take on Buddhism's take on reality is correct.

Am I? Is it?


Vedanta borrowed a great deal from Mahayana Buddhism, including advaya (lit. not-twoness)—even interdependence (parasparapeksa). In my opinion, the Lankavatara Sutra reflects the perfect expression of advaya with cittamatra (Mind-only or absolute Mind), as does the Awakening of Faith shastra with Ekacitta (lit., one-mind).

As for pratītyasamutpāda modern Buddhists don't really get it. They have turned it into some kind of absolute when it is nothing of the kind. Things that are dependently originated are empty and barren because, at bottom, they are illusory, being merely phenomenalizations of Mind. These phenomenalizatons bewitch us into believing illusion is real, and ultimate reality (the One Mind) is illusory! Things (illusions) can only be interdependent (parasparapeksa) through the absolute substance or, the same, essence of Mind. The idea of illusions all the way down is, frankly, absurd.

The difference is whether this is seen to be truly existing or not. If it is truly existing then it has a beginning, as in Advaita, whereas in Buddhism it is beginingless.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
User avatar
futerko
 
Posts: 993
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:58 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:30 pm

rachmiel wrote:I understand that brahman is beyond human conceiving, and that any attempt to do so is doomed to frustration/failure.

Advaita agrees with this. But it maintains that brahman is *real* -- the only real, in fact -- and that it is all there is.



Yes, Brahman is beyond human conceiving and so is Buddhists emptyness.

This is why the Buddha gave us the 8-fold noble path, he provided a technique, an art of living, that will take you(not really you) to the final goal. Practice and theory must go hand in hand on the journey.
So, not all attempts are doomed to failure, just the cognitive.
When this reality is experienced by the ones self(not really ones self) then and only then will this be a reality for you. :smile:
lowlydog
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:30 pm

"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby rachmiel » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:30 pm

Perhaps the simplest and most direct way to get at what I'm trying to get at is to ask which of these is true.

1. Buddhism says there definitely is not brahman (ultimate real oneness/ground).

2. Buddhism says that there definitely is brahman.

3. Buddhism says sorry, dude, I'm not tawkin' about no brahman, because it is of no use to try to conceive the inconceivable.

If 3 is true, is there a hint of subtext of: I'm only saying this because to reveal the ultimate truth would confuse you (but in fact brahman *is* real).
neti neti
User avatar
rachmiel
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Rakshasa » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:31 pm

Founder of Advaita (Shankara) was criticized by fellow Brahmins as being a Crypto-Buddhist. Although he did not acknowledge the plagiarism from Buddhism, his grandteacher Gaudapada admits that he is greatly influenced by Buddhism, especially Madhyamika of Nagarjuna. So no wonder both "appear" to be same. Besides, Advaita doesn't really have any "practice" as such. The Shankaracharya lineages of current times are only into rituals, worship, etc.

Advaita = Buddhism + Caste system + "Vedas infallibility".
User avatar
Rakshasa
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:29 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:35 pm

songhill wrote:As for pratītyasamutpāda modern Buddhists don't really get it.
What do you mean by the term "modern Buddhists"? Do you mean Buddhists living in the modern age (this includes you)? Do you mean people purposefully taking apart key Buddhists concepets in order to "modernise" it (eg Steve Batchelor)? What do you mean?
They have turned it into some kind of absolute when it is nothing of the kind. Things that are dependently originated are empty and barren because, at bottom, they are illusory, being merely phenomenalizations of Mind. These phenomenalizatons bewitch us into believing illusion is real, and ultimate reality (the One Mind) is illusory! Things (illusions) can only be interdependent (parasparapeksa) through the absolute substance or, the same, essence of Mind. The idea of illusions all the way down is, frankly, absurd.
Are you aware of the Buddhist concept of the two truths? What of the Dzogchen concept of the unity of the two truths?

Even in these concepts there is no mention of an essence of mind, beyond pure awareness. But pure awareness is again not an eternal phenomenon because its movement is what causes dependently arisen phenomena to project.

Things cannot arise interdependently via an absolute. It is impossible. If mind has an absolute essence then how would it comprehend dependently arisen phenomena of mind? Being immutable it would be incapble of reacting. Absolute=unchanging. Pure awareness is beyond the four extremes so...

Even a Dharmakaya is not immutable. It can manifest as Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, it radiates qualities like compassion, love, wisdom, etc...

So where/what is this essence of Mind

And what's with the capital "M"? It reminds me of your use of the capital "S" in "True Self". Is this where you are going again?
: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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 10207
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:37 pm

rachmiel wrote:Perhaps the simplest and most direct way to get at what I'm trying to get at is to ask which of these is true.

1. Buddhism says there definitely is not brahman (ultimate real oneness/ground).

2. Buddhism says that there definitely is brahman.

3. Buddhism says sorry, dude, I'm not tawkin' about no brahman, because it is of no use to try to conceive the inconceivable.

If 3 is true, is there a hint of subtext of: I'm only saying this because to reveal the ultimate truth would confuse you (but in fact brahman *is* real).


Buddhism doesn't say there definitely is not Brahman, it asks you to examine the logical consequences of positions which end in absurdity..the approach is not assertion of something being or not being. There is no subtext either, there is no point in a subtext, dualistic notions of not and is, oneness otherness seem to be avoided entirely.

So I would say it's 3...read the Sabba Sutta link I posted, it's like one paragraph and it sums up (to limited mind at least) alot of the suspicion that Buddhism regards ontological thought with. Then go back and read the Nagarjuna link and get your brain melted. There are eternalist notions in some Buddhism for sure though..
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:42 pm

lowlydog wrote:Yes, Brahman is beyond human conceiving and so is Buddhists emptyness.
Emptiness can be conceived or conceptualised via Nagarjunas tetralema, through insight into dependent origination, through meditational techniques on emptiness (a whole bunch of which are outlined here and here (plus other Sutta) in the Pali Canon), through Vipassana, through Mahamudra practices, Dzogchen, Kensho experiences, etc...

So Buddhist emptiness is not only within the range of human conceiving, human existence is actually considered the best samsaric vehicle for its realisation.
: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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 10207
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:09 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
lowlydog wrote:Yes, Brahman is beyond human conceiving and so is Buddhists emptyness.
Emptiness can be conceived or conceptualised via Nagarjunas tetralema, through insight into dependent origination, through meditational techniques on emptiness (a whole bunch of which are outlined here and here (plus other Sutta) in the Pali Canon), through Vipassana, through Mahamudra practices, Dzogchen, Kensho experiences, etc...

So Buddhist emptiness is not only within the range of human conceiving, human existence is actually considered the best samsaric vehicle for its realisation.
:namaste:


So you can think emptyness. hmmmm.
lowlydog
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby songhill » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:11 pm

futerko wrote:The difference is whether this is seen to be truly existing or not. If it is truly existing then it has a beginning, as in Advaita, whereas in Buddhism it is beginingless.


The Buddha's awakening transcends bhava and abhava. The Tathagata neither exists/bhava nor is he non-existent/abhava. Things—temporal things—exit and then perish. We are here today, gone tomorrow. This is samsara which is like a dream. Nothing in this temporal dearm is like the Tathagata who is truly liberated and truly real.
User avatar
songhill
 
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:23 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:13 pm

lowlydog wrote:something cannot be eternal. no-thing is eternal.


"No-thing"? Not a thing, nothing. If it is not something what does it matter if we call it eternal, impermanent, big, small, red or yellow? Talk about non-existent things is pointless.

lowlydog wrote:I didn't just say the formless, did I. I said the unmanifested. Let try not to twist words shall we. :smile:


Unmanifested means what? Is it something that nobody sees, hears or perceives in any way? There is a word for it: speculation.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4170
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:14 pm

lowlydog wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
lowlydog wrote:Yes, Brahman is beyond human conceiving and so is Buddhists emptyness.
Emptiness can be conceived or conceptualised via Nagarjunas tetralema, through insight into dependent origination, through meditational techniques on emptiness (a whole bunch of which are outlined here and here (plus other Sutta) in the Pali Canon), through Vipassana, through Mahamudra practices, Dzogchen, Kensho experiences, etc...

So Buddhist emptiness is not only within the range of human conceiving, human existence is actually considered the best samsaric vehicle for its realisation.
:namaste:


So you can think emptyness. hmmmm.


The Buddha, Nagarjuna, HHDL and all kinds of folks in between have written or spoken on emptiness, this is not the same as realization, but he intellectual understanding is important (else why would they have spoken on it), and can actually be conceived of on a basic level in relatively simple terms. So yes, in fact using logic and reasoning you can actually "think emptiness" to some degree.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:16 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:The Buddha, Nagarjuna, HHDL and all kinds of folks in between have written or spoken on emptiness, this is not the same as realization, but he intellectual understanding is important (else why would they have spoken on it), and can actually be conceived of in relatively simple terms. So yes, in fact using logic and reasoning you can actually "think emptiness" to some degree.


Balony.
lowlydog
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:18 pm

lowlydog wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:The Buddha, Nagarjuna, HHDL and all kinds of folks in between have written or spoken on emptiness, this is not the same as realization, but he intellectual understanding is important (else why would they have spoken on it), and can actually be conceived of in relatively simple terms. So yes, in fact using logic and reasoning you can actually "think emptiness" to some degree.


Balony.



So the Buddha, Nagarjuna, and HHDL (and countless others) either haven't written or spoken on it, or they did so for no reason? Dharma talks given on emptiness serve no purpose?

Fantastic logic.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:29 pm

rachmiel wrote:Perhaps the simplest and most direct way to get at what I'm trying to get at is to ask which of these is true.
1. Buddhism says there definitely is not brahman (ultimate real oneness/ground).
2. Buddhism says that there definitely is brahman.
3. Buddhism says sorry, dude, I'm not tawkin' about no brahman, because it is of no use to try to conceive the inconceivable.
If 3 is true, is there a hint of subtext of: I'm only saying this because to reveal the ultimate truth would confuse you (but in fact brahman *is* real).


The idea of an ultimate ground is refuted by various Buddhist teachers. From Kamalasila's Madhyamakaloka (Ryusei Keira: Madhyamika and Epistemology, p. 181-182; 184-185), the refutation of concepts like God, soul and others that are held by different Hindu sects to be the ultimate:

"first of all, those who imagine Isvara (i.e., "God") and so forth as having permanence and oneness acknowledge that [Isvara and so forth] have the property of influencing results produced successively, and therefore they also in fact acknowledge the absence of oneness by implication. This is because given that something which is one in nature is no different [later] from what it was [earlier] when it did not produce [results], then it could not produce [results] later, just as [it did not produce results] earlier. If, on the other hand, it did in fact produce [results], then because of the difference of character from its former state, its oneness would be undermined.
It is not correct either that this [Isvara] really has manyness. This is because it has been already proved earlier that simultaneously or otherwise [i.e., serially], there could not really be any connection between his continuum and that of the other things [that he creates].

...

Time (kala), Spirit (purusa), primordial matter (pradhana), Brahman and so forth, which are imagined by some people to be the causes establishing the various worlds, all the while being permanent and one in nature, are also acknowledged by those [same people] to possess, successively or simultaneously, the [manifold] natures of the various real or deceptive collections of entities [that constitute the different worlds]. Hence, the absence of oneness is in fact acknowledged by implication. Indeed, it is not correct that things which are one in nature could possess in this way the [manifold] natures of the various worlds.
If they [i.e., time etc.] are not established as being ones, they cannot logically be many either, for the latter [i.e., manyness] consists in being a collection of the former [i.e., ones]."
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4170
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

PreviousNext

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests

>