Confusions

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Confusions

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:43 pm

Despite studying Buddhism for a bit, I still have some confusions that perhaps someone here can help me with. Perhaps the answer to these is that there is no answer and it must be experienced directly, I am not sure, but I will ask anyway. Don't feel pressured to answer every single question, but if you have any answers for any of them please share. I appreciate it greatly. Here are some of my confusions:

If there is no-Self, who or what experiences or goes through delusion and enlightenment? If it is the case as often Zen says that there is no delusion or enlightenment, why are we not aware of it and why is there suffering, fear, or existential problems whatsoever?

If there is no self, who or what is meditating or following the precepts? Why is there Buddhism, Buddhas, gurus, sutras, and teachings if it is merely to liberate a non-entity, since in such a case there is no liberation? If there really is no "I", what is or why is there perception of "isness"? How can there be awareness or why do we perceive things, be it external or internal phenomena or the act of perception itself? What is the Buddhist answer to "why is there something rather than nothing?"

In this same vein, if there is no-self or I, how can we say that sentient beings are indeed beings if they lack any inherent nature? What then is the reason for showing compassion to what is ultimate illusory or the bodhisattva ideal of working toward the liberation of all beings? What beings could possibly be liberated aside from numerous "somethings" (no-selfs?) under delusion that there are an entity or person from identification with the skandhas?

Another confusion for me is the idea that craving is the cause of our existence or mistakenly believing that we are a self or being. How did craving arise, from whence did it come, and to who or what does it effect? If the Tathagatagarbha or Buddha-Nature or Mind is inherently pure, why is it stained by defilements or why aren't we perpetually aware of this nature here and now?

That is the gist of some of my confusions. It seems in certain Tantric Hindu traditions, such as Kashmir Saivism, this is resolved by the concept of one supreme being/God (Parashiva), an intelligent agent, giving rise to the world as we know it through lila or divine play, but I am still unsure as how to understand this conceptually in the Buddhist tradition, if that is even possible. Thanks again!
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Re: Confusions

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:06 am

“When reasoning searches to whether the chariot [or self] intrinsically exists, it is not found in any of the seven ways. This is the case in terms of both of the two truths. But when reason fails to find it those seven ways, does this refute the chariot [or self]? How could it? Reasoning that analyses whether things intrinsically exist does not establish the assertion of the chariot; rather, leaving reasoned analysis aside, it is established by a mere unimpaired, ordinary, conventional—i.e., worldly—consciousness. Therefore, the way a chariot is posited is that it is established as existing imputedly; it is imputed in dependence upon its parts.”
-Lam Rim Chen Mo eng v03 pg. 283 tib pg. 725

“Analyzing [appearances presented to conventional consciousnesses] often with reasoning that examines whether they intrinsically exist, you develop a strong certainty that intrinsic existence is refuted. Then, when you see an appearance arise, it appears like an illusion. There is no separate way to set up an illusion-like emptiness.”
-Lam Rim Chen Mo eng v03 pg. 300 tib pg. 742

“When living beings experience or see a phenomenon, they do not apprehend it as being set up by the power of the mind to which it appears. Rather, they apprehend it as existing just as it appears, i.e., as existing in an essentially objective manner. This is how intrinsic existence is superimposed. The presence of such a nature in the object is what is meant by essence, intrinsic nature, and autonomous existence. Thus, if such a nature were present, this would contradict reliance upon other causes and conditions. If this were not a contradiction, then it would be impossible to hold that an already existing pot does not need to be produced again from causes and conditions.”
-Lam Rim Chen Mo eng v03 pg. 316-317 tib pg. 759

“The earlier citation of Candrakirti’s Commentary on the “Four Hundred Stanzas” continues:
Therefore, since in this Madhyamaka system to be a dependent-arising is to lack autonomy, lacking autonomy is what emptiness means; emptiness does not mean that nothing exists.”
-Lam Rim Chen Mo eng v03 pg. 317-318 tib pg. 760
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."

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Re: Confusions

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:08 am

As you see, kind of a central part of Buddhism.

A simple way to figure this out is to try to figure out what is "you", try to find your own self. In the process, you will likely discover all that is there is only a combination of parts, which you call "self". If a self existed on it's own, independent of other things, it could not interact with anything, it would only exist "from it's own side" as i've seen it put. This is also where Buddhism refutes the Hindu ideas you are talking about, as it is inferred by observation that we cannot find a "causeless cause" of the kind required for there to be a Source of all things. No such thing can be found no matter how hard we look, anything that we try to get to the bottom of, we will only find a parts, and parts of those parts etc. Just like in the first thing Konchog quoted above..oops!

So the self that is reborn is nothing but a result of causes and conditions, and in fact this 'self' is different from moment to moment, it is not a static entity existing from it's own side.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/nagarjuna.pdf

Try this, The Perfection of Wisdom sutras, Lankavatara Sutra. These are what helped me gain a little better grasp of some these questions..Lankavatara makes my head hurt, but if I read it a few times over it starts to make sense;)

In this same vein, if there is no-self or I, how can we say that sentient beings are indeed beings if they lack any inherent nature? What then is the reason for showing compassion to what is ultimate illusory or the bodhisattva ideal of working toward the liberation of all beings? What beings could possibly be liberated aside from numerous "somethings" (no-selfs?) under delusion that there are an entity or person from identification with the skandhas?


Well yes, there is nothing to liberate other than those "somethings"..it is not nihilism, but it is not eternalism either..it is not the same as saying "everything is nothing", it is between that and saying that "things are all one thing", or that things are forever, both of which can be seen to be categorically false.
"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: Confusions

Postby Vidyaraja » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:42 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:In the process, you will likely discover all that is there is only a combination of parts, which you call "self". No such thing can be found no matter how hard we look, anything that we try to get to the bottom of, we will only find a parts, and parts of those parts etc. Just like in the first thing Konchog quoted above..oops!


Perhaps I am still misunderstanding, but who or what is discovering that there is no-self and only a combination of parts? Who or what is aware or knows that this is a truth? I feel like I could understand the concept of anatta as applied to the idea of being an ego-entity or that "I" doesn't exist in the sense of being something separate, but within what field or mode (language seems to be limited in what I am trying to convey) are the parts? What gives rise to the skandhas or to what do they appear? If all is void or blissful emptiness, is this emptiness an intelligent emptiness? Isn't this emptiness still "who we are" despite lacking a crystallized "I" separate from everything else?

Also, you say that no matter how hard we look we cannot find such a Self, then what do Hindu sages discover? It seems that Hinduism, Taoism, and even mystical Christianity and Islam understands the notion of a true self or soul, even if it is formless and immaterial, or better yet transcends all qualities. Buddhism seems to be unique in denying such a concept. Is this just a case of the limited use of language and concepts to describe the same "thing" or experience or state of being? It seems strange for to think that the descriptions of an ultimate reality by the sages of all worlds traditions (compare Lao Tzu and Huang Po to Meister Eckhart or Ibn Arabi or Adi Shankara) are so strikingly similar and uniform, yet only Buddhists sages experience truth/enlightenment.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Try this, The Perfection of Wisdom sutras, Lankavatara Sutra. These are what helped me gain a little better grasp of some these questions..Lankavatara makes my head hurt, but if I read it a few times over it starts to make sense;)


Yeah the Lankavatara Sutra is what I've been reading the past few days. I get what you mean by making your head hurt haha, certainly one of the more difficult (and profound) sacred texts I've read.
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Re: Confusions

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Also, you say that no matter how hard we look we cannot find such a Self, then what do Hindu sages discover? It seems that Hinduism, Taoism, and even mystical Christianity and Islam understands the notion of a true self or soul, even if it is formless and immaterial, or better yet transcends all qualities. Buddhism seems to be unique in denying such a concept. Is this just a case of the limited use of language and concepts to describe the same "thing" or experience or state of being? It seems strange for to think that the descriptions of an ultimate reality by the sages of all worlds traditions (compare Lao Tzu and Huang Po to Meister Eckhart or Ibn Arabi or Adi Shankara) are so strikingly similar and uniform, yet only Buddhists sages experience truth/enlightenment.


I believe the argument would be that these sages have discovered something, but is not Nirvana, and is still within Samsaric existence, partially due to clinging of self, and to this dualistic notion of "self" and other in particular..that is my understanding. I do not believe it is the same thing. Some people say it ends in the same place, but then we cannot really know that until we are there anyway, so personally I just go by what I can logically analyze here...and it does seem to me that the idea of this eternal self is, in fact, an absurdity at heart.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I find the above helpful, it shows that outside of the "everything" taught by the Buddha, all is conjecture, so all these other sages of The Self name another everything, but they cannot explain a single thing about it. There is another I will PM you when I remember the name, it is just a short discourse on "Everything", but I can't seem to find it.

As far as "what" sees emptiness, my understanding would be that what sees it is the wrong way to ask the question, it's like asking where the water goes from a cup of water when you submerge it in a sink, there isn't any "seer" or "seen" at that point. The whole idea that there is a a seer or a seen is part of the illusion you are shedding. But don't take my word for it, people way, way smarter than me will undoubtedly chime in with something a bit more illuminating:)
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:05 am, 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: Confusions

Postby Vidyaraja » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:05 am

Also, instead of starting a whole new thread, I wonder what would be the Buddhists response to the Kashmiri Saivist doctrine of consciousness. In the book, "The Doctrine of Vibration" by Mark Dyczkowski he compared Yogacara Buddhist doctrine to that of Kashmir Shaivism and whether reality is an illusion:

The Yogacara Buddhist similarly maintains that consciousness creates its own forms. But, according to him, because the perceived and perception are identical, there is no perceived object at all. The so-called outer world is merely a flux of cognitions, it is not real. He is firmly committed to a doctrine of illusion. The reality of consciousness from his point of view is established by proving the unreality of the universe.

"All this consists of the act of consciousness alone", says Vasubandhu, "because unreal entities appear, just as a man with defective vision sees unreal hair or a moon, etc."

He points to dreams as examples of purely subjective constructs which appear to be objective realities. The apparent reality dreams possess is not derived from any concrete, objective world, but merely from the idea of objectivity. While the Yogacara does not say that an idea has, for example, spatial attributes, it does have a form manifesting them. While he agrees with the Saiva idealist that appearances have no independent existence apart from their appearing to consciousness,
he maintains that for this reason they are unreal. The creativity of consciousness consists in its diversification in many modes having apparent externality; it is not a creation of objects.

While the Kashmiri Saivite agrees that the world is pure consciousness alone, he maintains that it is such because it is a real creation of consciousness. The effect is essentially identical with the cause and shares in its reality. Matter and the entire universe are absolutely real, as 'congealed' (sty ana) or 'contracted' (samkucita) forms of consciousness. "This God of consciousness", writes Ksemaraja, "generates the universe and its form is a condensation of His own essence (rasa).''' By boiling sugarcane juice it condenses to form treacle, brown sugar and candy which retains its sweetness. Similarly, consciousness abides unchanged even though it assumes the concrete material form of the five gross elements.The same reality thus abides equally in gross and subtle forms. Consequently no object is totally insentient. Even stones bear a trace (vasana) of consciousness, although it is not clearly apparent because it is not associated with the vital breath (prana) and other components of a psycho-physical organism. Somananda goes so far as to affirm that physical objects, far from being insentient, can only exist insofar as they are aware of themselves as existing. The jar performs its function because it knows itself to be its agent. Indeed, all things are pervaded by consciousness and at one with it and hence share in its omniscience. Thus, Siva, Who perceives Himself in the form of physical objects, is the one ultimate reality.


Whatever the case....damn metaphysics can be confusing :tongue:. Perhaps it would be better in the end for me (or everyone?) to follow the Taoists maxim:

"To become learned, gain daily. To obtain Tao, reduce daily."
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Re: Confusions

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:09 am

Buddhism views ontology itself as suspicious in my understanding. The above would be considered eternalist by Buddhist standards..which is absurd, because if there were this unchanging "permanent" thing or substance, it would be outside the chain of dependently originated things, and so...how could it be "one" with anything other than itself?

Yes confusing..this is my understanding of it at the time, but I am interested to read the words of others more versed than myself, so i'm done for a bit..I hope my meandering nonsense did not just make things more confusing!
"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: Confusions

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:08 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:Who or what is aware or knows that this is a truth?

In sutra, true knowledge is of the real nature of phenomena, which is emptiness, or the Dharmakaya state. [Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Dzogchen Teachings, p. 25]. In tantra, things are different. Energy is part of our real nature. [Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Dzogchen Teachings, p. 28].

If your real nature was a "who or what" it would have to be an experience. Why should it be?

The experiential view of enlightenment is based on the idea that reality is a duality. I am here, the world is there. I am here, enlightenment is there. But what if reality is not a duality? What if it is actually non-dual consciousness? Would I try to experience [real nature] through meditation or some other method? Two plus two is four, no matter how you personally see it. Objects drop at thirty-two feet per second whether you are a Christian, Muslim or an Australian Aborigine. It has nothing to do with you. It is like sleep; a king sleeping on his silk sheets in the palace has the same experience as a drunk sleeping in his vomit in the gutter. When you realize the truth, you realize what everyone else realized. The idea that there is my truth and your truth does not work, because knowledge is object-dependent and there is only one [real nature]. Knowledge is valuable because nothing in this world is what it seems to be. The world of time, experience, is a world of appearances. If you take it to be real you will suffer. It does not exist apart from awareness. It seems to be real because you do not know who you are.
James Swartz, How to Attain Enlightenment, ch. 2

NOTE: Mods, although I believe the above is compatible with the view of Dzogchen, James Swartz is a Vedanta teacher, if you believe the above is not compatible with the view of Dzogchen obviously please feel free to remove.

Vidyaraja wrote:It seems strange for to think that the descriptions of an ultimate reality by the sages of all worlds traditions (compare Lao Tzu and Huang Po to Meister Eckhart or Ibn Arabi or Adi Shankara) are so strikingly similar and uniform, yet only Buddhists sages experience truth/enlightenment.

Don't worry too much about it right now. Just commit to one path and practice it consistently.

The teaching is knowledge and understanding for discovering our real nature. That is all it is; however, it is not easy. That is why the Buddha explained many kinds of teachings according to different circumstances and the various capacities of beings. Some people understand and discover what is communicated and how it should work. However, many people don’t understand, do not have that capacity, and must work in a different way. We must explain in various ways. That is why there are many kinds of teachings and techniques.
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Dzogchen Teachings, p. 10
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