Emptiness and the two truths

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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:19 pm

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:There's the whole aspect too where there really isn't an actual rang stong, but that rang stong is simply a straw man created by gzhan stong pas. Gzhan stong adopted a certain view and then said 'we're gzhan stong, all the rest of you are rang stong'. In all actuality those who are labeled rang stong pas are just those who follow the traditional view of emptiness, and would never refer to themselves as rang stong pas.

Both rang stong and gzhan stong are straw men.

If the ultimate is empty of itself, you are forced into two possible extreme positions. One is that the ultimate is really nothing and that would be nihilism. The other extreme position is that the conventional is all there is and that would imply that liberation is not possible.

If the ultimate is not empty of itself but empty of other, you are forced into saying that the ultimate has inherent existence. If so, it would be permanent. If it is permanent, it cannot produce anything. If it cannot produce anything, there can be no phenomena. All you will get is a static world.

That is why such debates using mutually exclusive pairs of words such as existent and non-existent etc. is futile because it is not possible to come to the "middle" position as taught in the suttas/sutras.

Being empty of itself isn't equivalent to nihilism. Emptiness is a freedom from extremes and so is neither nihilistic or eternalistic.

Liberation being a convention doesn't mean liberation isn't possible or an arbitrary notion, quite the opposite. If liberation was anything more than conventional it would indeed be impossible.

The middle position is emptiness; the freedom from extreme views.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:22 pm

A friend and mentor of mine ("Thusness") wrote me this in 2005 (after I sent him a Mahaparinirvana Sutra quotation about the true self). I've come to appreciate and see the truth in his words in recent years.

The Pristine awareness is often mistaken as the 'Self'. It is especially
difficult for one that has intuitively experience the 'Self' to accept
'No-Self'. As I have told you many times that there will come a time when u
will intuitively perceive the 'I' -- the pure sense of Existence but you
must be strong enough to go beyond this experience until the true meaning of
Emptiness becomes clear and thorough. The Pristine Awareness is the
so-called True-Self' but why we do not call it a 'Self' and why Buddhism has
placed so much emphasis on the Emptiness nature? This then is the true
essence of Buddhism. It is needless to stress anything about 'Self' in
Buddhism; there are enough of 'Logies' of the 'I" in Indian Philosophies.
If one wants to know about the experience of 'I AM', go for the Vedas and
Bhagavat Gita. We will not know what Buddha truly taught 2500 years ago if
we buried ourselves in words. Have no doubt that The Dharma Seal is
authentic and not to be confused. :)

When you have experienced the 'Self' and know that its nature is empty, you
will know why to include this idea of a 'Self' into Buddha-Nature is truly
unnecessary and meaningless. True Buddhism is not about eliminating the
'small Self' but cleansing this so called 'True Self' (Atman) with the
wisdom of Emptiness. :)
Last edited by xabir on Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:27 pm

Malcolm also made a similar statement recently:

" What you are suggesting is already found in Samkhya system. I.e. the twenty four tattvas are not the self aka purusha. Since this system was well known to the Buddha, if that's all his insight was, then his insight is pretty trivial. But Buddha's teachings were novel. Why where they novel? They were novel in the fifth century BCE because of his teaching of dependent origination and emptiness. The refutation of an ultimate self is just collateral damage."
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby conebeckham » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:54 pm

Shentong and Rangtong are both conceptual platforms, but both clearly indicate there is a limit to mind's ability to encompass their "objects"-emptiness and Buddhanature.

Uttaratantrashastra says:
"Since it is subtle, it is not an object of study.
Since it is the absolute, it is not thinkable.
Since it is the profound nature of phenomena,
It is not the realm of meditation by the worldly and such."

Just something to think about, when we become attached to conceptual frameworks.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby invisiblediamond » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:36 pm

Emptiness is nonconceptual. The bodies are just syllables, and the syllables are just bindus. The bindus gave no point. Something g like that.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Sherab » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:40 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Being empty of itself isn't equivalent to nihilism. Emptiness is a freedom from extremes and so is neither nihilistic or eternalistic.
Since you hold that emptiness is freedom from the extremes of existence and non-existence (note: there is no need to consider the other two extremes), then all that is left for you to claim would be that emptiness is dependent arising. But since the ultimate is emptiness, then the ultimate is also dependent arising. If everything is dependent arising then there is no need to talk about an ultimate. But if everything is dependent arising, then there is no possibility of being liberated since liberation is about being able to be free from being a dependent arising.

asunthatneversets wrote:Liberation being a convention doesn't mean liberation isn't possible or an arbitrary notion, quite the opposite. If liberation was anything more than conventional it would indeed be impossible.
You misunderstood. I did not say nor imply that liberation is a convention. What I did try to say is that if the conventional is all there is, then liberation is not possible. See my argument above.

asunthatneversets wrote:The middle position is emptiness; the freedom from extreme views.
Does this mean that emptiness is dependent arising? If not, then how is emptiness a freedom from extreme views?
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:25 pm

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Being empty of itself isn't equivalent to nihilism. Emptiness is a freedom from extremes and so is neither nihilistic or eternalistic.
Since you hold that emptiness is freedom from the extremes of existence and non-existence (note: there is no need to consider the other two extremes), then all that is left for you to claim would be that emptiness is dependent arising. But since the ultimate is emptiness, then the ultimate is also dependent arising. If everything is dependent arising then there is no need to talk about an ultimate. But if everything is dependent arising, then there is no possibility of being liberated since liberation is about being able to be free from being a dependent arising.

I never mentioned existence or non-existence, but yes a freedom from extremes would imply all four extremes. Emptiness is synonymous with dependent origination in Madhyamaka. The ultimate is the emptiness of the relative. If everything is dependently arisen then it makes perfect sense to say that the ultimate nature of X is that it is empty. Liberation isn't about being free from dependent origination, but seeing that dependent origination is non-origination, and therefore there is liberation from the ignorance which perceives that phenomena accord with any extreme.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Liberation being a convention doesn't mean liberation isn't possible or an arbitrary notion, quite the opposite. If liberation was anything more than conventional it would indeed be impossible.
You misunderstood. I did not say nor imply that liberation is a convention. What I did try to say is that if the conventional is all there is, then liberation is not possible. See my argument above.

The 'ultimate' is nothing more than the emptiness of the relative i.e. conventional. There is nothing which isn't conventional.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:The middle position is emptiness; the freedom from extreme views.
Does this mean that emptiness is dependent arising? If not, then how is emptiness a freedom from extreme views?

Dependent origination accords with a freedom from extremes. If emptiness isn't dependent origination then we border on the view of Dzogpa Chenpo which sees emptiness and dependent origination as antonymous, but only because they are used differently, the same principles still stand.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Sherab » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:42 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:I never mentioned existence or non-existence, but yes a freedom from extremes would imply all four extremes.

Freedom from extremes is just a short cut for freedom from the extreme of existent, non-existent, both existent and non-existent, and neither existent nor non-existent.

asunthatneversets wrote:Liberation isn't about being free from dependent origination,
Then we are talking pass one another.

Thanks for the discussion.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:43 pm

"xabir
Let me quote something from there.

Cooran (moderator of Dhammawheel) pointed out that a note to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of this sutta is worth considering:

‘’We should carefully heed the two reasons that the Buddha does not declare, ‘’There is no self’’: not because he recognizes a transcendent self of some kind (as some interpreters allege), or because he is concerned only with delineating ‘’a strategy of perception’’ devoid of ontological implications (as others hold), but (i) because such a mode of expression was used by the annihilationists, and the Buddha wanted to avoid aligning his teaching with theirs; and (ii) because he wished to avoid causing confusion in those already attached to the idea of self. The Buddha declares that ‘all phenomena are nonself’’ (sabbe dhamma anatta), which means that if one seeks a self anywhere one will not find one. Since ‘’all phenomena’’ includes both the conditioned and the unconditioned, this precludes an utterly transcendent, ineffable self."

(Part of Note 385 on Page 1457 of The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi).)

this has nothing to do with the suttas I provided,its not commentary on the ACTUAL suttas its simply reification of one owns traditions views.
for instance he tries to claim that Enlightenment is a phenomena, this is an entirely substantialist view,Enlightenment is not a phenomena nor is it a product of this phenomena reality.
second and most importatnt the sutta itself refutes his views which is why he doesnt even try to comment on the actual sutta cause if he did he would end up with what Im about to ask you.

based on the (SN 23.24)
4 (2)-34 (12) Subject to Mara, tc.(I wont reference the suttas again you know where to find them to reference the questions)
(1)does this sutta state that Whatever is of a Selfless nature belongs to/is subject to mara and you should abandon it??? (Yes or No)
(2)so if Enlightenment is without self nature then it belongs to mara and should be abandoned correct? (Yes or No)

Based on SN 22.59
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta:

(3)does this sutta not state that No self leads to suffering? (Yes or No)
(4) does this sutta state that IF the 5 aggregates WERE SELF they would not lead to suffering? (Yes or No)
(5) if Enlightenment has NO Self then it would lead to suffering correct? (Yes or No)
(6)if Enlightenment WERE Self then it would NOT lead to suffering Correct? (Yes or No)

Based on SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
(7)does this sutta state that No self is Suffering?(Yes or No)
(8) if Nirvana has no self then that would mean it is suffering correct?(Yes or No)
(9)isn't Nirvana the end of suffering or are the 4 noble truth a lie?(Yes or No)

as you can see,once you actually answer the questions in direct relation to the actual suttas in question there is no room for the Idea that Nirvana is without a self


Also,

Here, the Buddha clarifies:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
..."What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"
"No, lord."...

this supports my position.and is my point exactly Enlightenment is NOT the 5 aggregates it only uses realitive phenomena when it is in the realm of realitive phenomena
this further supports the transcendent aspect of Nirvana./
MN 22
"When a monk's mind is thus freed, O monks, neither the gods with Indra, nor the gods with Brahma, nor the gods with the Lord of Creatures (Pajaapati), when searching will find[36] on what the consciousness of one thus gone (tathaagata) is based. Why is that? One who has thus gone is no longer traceable here and now, so I say.

if would be like me saying I AM NOT a hand,this does not mean I do not use a hand just that I am simply NOT the hand itself.

And all the great Buddhist masters from the past have said the same things with regards to what Buddha said above:
As Chandrakirti states:
"A chariot is not asserted to be other than its parts,
Nor non-other. It also does not possess them.
It is not in the parts, nor are the parts in it.
It is not the mere collection [of its parts], nor is it their shape.
[The self and the aggregates are] similar."

the 5 aggregates are not the self
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .mend.html

And Padmasambhava states:
"The mind that observes is also devoid of an ego or self-entity.
It is neither seen as something different from the aggregates
Nor as identical with these five aggregates.
If the first were true, there would exist some other substance.
This is not the case, so were the second true,
That would contradict a permanent self, since the aggregates are impermanent.
Therefore, based on the five aggregates,

The self is a mere imputation based on the power of the ego-clinging.
As to that which imputes, the past thought has vanished and is nonexistent.
The future thought has not occurred, and the present thought does not withstand scrutiny."

this support my position,also its in reference to the idea of the self of non buddhists which is based on the 5 aggregates

And Nagarjuna states:
“The Tathagata is not the aggregates; nor is he other
than the aggregates.
The aggregates are not in him nor is he in them.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What Tathagata is there?”

thats what I said earlier

And the Vajira Sutta states:
Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses: "Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view? This is a heap of sheer constructions: Here no being is found. Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.' It's only suffering that comes to be, Suffering that stands and falls away. Nothing but suffering comes to be, Nothing but suffering ceases."

Notice that the Buddha said that you cannot find the self of the Tathagatha inside nor apart from the five skandhas (aggregations): there is no Tathagata to be pinned down as a form-based or a formless Truth or Reality. This means that the so called 'self' actually cannot be found, located or pinned down as a reality just as the word 'weather' cannot be found or located as something inherently (independently, unchangingly) existing (apart or within the conglomerate of everchanging phenomena such as clouds, lightning, wind, rain, etc) - the label 'self' is merely a convention for mind, which is a process of self-luminous (having the quality of luminous clarity, knowing, cognizance) but empty phenomenality, in which no truly existing 'self' can be found within nor apart from them.

And if we cannot pin down an entity called 'self' to begin with, how can we assert the non-existence of a self: which means that an existent 'self' annihilates or goes into non-existence? To assert non-existence, you must have a base, an existent entity to begin with, that could become non-existent. If the convention 'self' is baseless to begin with, then existence, non-existence, both and neither become untenable positions.

nothing you said has anything to do with that passage whatsoever,that passage is simply saying their is no self in the 5 aggregates.

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

“Venerable Gotama, I am one of such a doctrine, of such a view: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer.’”[1]

“I have not, brahman, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]
“So, brahmin, when there is the element of endeavoring, endeavoring beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?”

]Nothing here suggests that Tathagatahood means a changeless, independent Self. Tathagatagarbha, in the Lankavatara Sutra is just another means of demonstrating emptiness.
When the Bhagavan described that– like an extremely valuable jewel thoroughly wrapped in a soiled cloth, is thoroughly wrapped by cloth of the aggregates, aayatanas and elements, becoming impure by the conceptuality of the thorough conceptuality suppressed by the passion, anger and ignorance – as permanent, stable and eternal, how is the Bhagavan’s teaching this as the tathaagatagarbha is not similar with as the assertion of self of the non-Buddhists?
Bhagavan, the non-Buddhists make assertion a Self as “A permanent creator, without qualities, pervasive and imperishable”.
The Bhagavan replied:
“Mahaamati, my teaching of tathaagatagarbha is not equivalent with the assertion of the Self of the non-Buddhists.



this is not denying the true self only the philosophers idea of self.

also you say the Tathagatagarbha is just another means for demonstrating emptiness.............okay to what is the Tathagatgarbhas teachings on emptiness?
Queen Srimala Sutra Chapter IX
The Underlying Truth:
The Meaning of Emptiness

“O Lord, the wisdom of the tathāgatagarbha is the Tathāgata’s wisdom of
emptiness (śūnyatā).
O Lord, the tathāgatagarbha has not been seen nor attained
originally by all the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and powerful bodhisattvas.

“O Lord, there are two kinds of wisdom of emptiness with reference to
the tathāgatagarbha.
The tathāgatagarbha that is empty is separate from,
free from, and different from the stores of all defile ments.


And the tathāgatagarbha
that is not empty is not separate from, not free from, and not different
from the inconceivable Buddha-Dharmas more numerous than the
sands of the Ganges River.


“O Lord, the various great disciples can believe in the Tathā gata with
reference to the two wisdoms of emptiness.

All arhats and pratyekabuddhas
revolve in the realm of the four contrary views because of their knowledge
of emptiness.
Thus, arhats and pratyekabuddhas do not originally see nor
attain [the wisdom of the tathāgatagarbha].

Son of Buddha
your incorrect about what the early doctrines of Buddhism state, also the pali canon doesnt even support non duality Bhikkhu Bodhi actually wrote a extensive paper on the subject..........essentially there is conditioned and Unconditioned..ect
The not-conditioned in the Pali canon simply means the cessation of afflictions.[/quote]
your reply had nothing to do with the topic

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html
At the peak of the pairs of opposites stands the duality of the conditioned and the Unconditioned: samsara as the round of repeated birth and death wherein all is impermanent, subject to change, and liable to suffering, and Nibbana as the state of final deliverance, the unborn, ageless, and deathless. Although Nibbana, even in the early texts, is definitely cast as an ultimate reality and not merely as an ethical or psychological state, there is not the least insinuation that this reality is metaphysically indistinguishable at some profound level from its manifest opposite, samsara. To the contrary, the Buddha's repeated lesson is that samsara is the realm of suffering governed by greed, hatred, and delusion, wherein we have shed tears greater than the waters of the ocean, while Nibbana is irreversible release from samsara, to be attained by demolishing greed, hatred, and delusion, and by relinquishing all conditioned existence.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:55 pm

xabir wrote:A friend and mentor of mine ("Thusness") wrote me this in 2005 (after I sent him a Mahaparinirvana Sutra quotation about the true self). I've come to appreciate and see the truth in his words in recent years.

The Pristine awareness is often mistaken as the 'Self'. It is especially
difficult for one that has intuitively experience the 'Self' to accept
'No-Self'. As I have told you many times that there will come a time when u
will intuitively perceive the 'I' -- the pure sense of Existence but you
must be strong enough to go beyond this experience until the true meaning of
Emptiness becomes clear and thorough. The Pristine Awareness is the
so-called True-Self' but why we do not call it a 'Self' and why Buddhism has
placed so much emphasis on the Emptiness nature? This then is the true
essence of Buddhism. It is needless to stress anything about 'Self' in
Buddhism; there are enough of 'Logies' of the 'I" in Indian Philosophies.
If one wants to know about the experience of 'I AM', go for the Vedas and
Bhagavat Gita. We will not know what Buddha truly taught 2500 years ago if
we buried ourselves in words. Have no doubt that The Dharma Seal is
authentic and not to be confused. :)

When you have experienced the 'Self' and know that its nature is empty, you
will know why to include this idea of a 'Self' into Buddha-Nature is truly
unnecessary and meaningless. True Buddhism is not about eliminating the
'small Self' but cleansing this so called 'True Self' (Atman) with the
wisdom of Emptiness. :)


so in effect he didn't have any information to provide that had anything to do with the Mahaparinirvana sutra itself,which is why he didnt qoute from it or use it to support his own views...............it seems from his statement that he just doesn't except it ...seeing as everything he said is in complete contradiction to the sutra itself.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:16 am

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:I never mentioned existence or non-existence, but yes a freedom from extremes would imply all four extremes.

Freedom from extremes is just a short cut for freedom from the extreme of existent, non-existent, both existent and non-existent, and neither existent nor non-existent.


Right, as I said; 'freedom from extremes would imply all four extremes'.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Liberation isn't about being free from dependent origination,
Then we are talking pass one another.

Thanks for the discussion.

A buddha's freedom from dependent origination is due to seeing dependent origination for what it is. The root of dependent origination is ignorance, see ignorance for what it is, and it no longer has power over your condition. When that knowledge increases to it's full measure, there is buddhahood.

As Nāgārjuna says:
"Neither samsara nor nirvana exist;
instead, nirvana is the thorough knowledge of samsara"


Dependent origination and emptiness [śūnyatā] are synonymous in most traditions. The chain of dependent origination [12 nidānas] arises due to ignorance [avidyā], which is the first 'link' in the chain. Once ignorance arises the chain of causation then perpetually builds upon itself. The idea is that the chain of dependent origination doesn't actually create anything at all, but we mistakenly perceive it as valid, and so we are beguiled into taking our own ignorance as inherent aspects of experience. The theory of dependent origination is a tool which can help 'undo' or 'see through' the chain (though there's nothing to truly 'undo', it's simply a matter of understanding the nature of our habitual tendencies and propensities which reify these aspects of experience).

"The wonder of it! This marvelous, astounding event/reality (Dharma):
From that which involves no origination, everything originates;
and in that very origination, there is no origination!
The wonder of it!
In it's very enduring, there is no enduring!
The wonder of it!
In it's very cessation, there is no cessation!"
- Guhyagarbha Tantra


Vimalamitra states [per Malcolm]:
"Everything arose from non-arising;
even arising itself never arose."


When we are ignorant of emptiness and dependent origination, conceptual imputation and conventional language are mistaken as pointing towards authentic persons, places, things, etc. When ignorance is undone, there is freedom to use conventional language, however it no longer creates confusion because wisdom directly knows ignorance for what it is.

In the buddhadharma, conventionality is allowed to be a tool implemented for communication, so there's freedom to be John Doe or Mary Smith, and trees, rocks, cars etc., are allowed to be the useful conceptual designations they are. Conventionality is treated as a useful tool which doesn't point to anything outside of itself. The conventional truth is relative... words, concepts, ideas, persons, places, things etc., and is contrasted by ultimate truth, which is the emptiness of those conventions. As Dilgo Khyenste Rinpoche shares: "By examining relative truth, establish absolute truth; Within absolute truth, see how relative truth arises. Where the two truths are inseparable, beyond intellect, is the state of simplicity."

Here the Garland of Precious Pearls Tantra discusses how conventional imputation gives rise to misconceptions when governed by delusion:
"Like mistakenly seeing a rope as a snake,
with these varied appearances
we perceive them as what they are not,
giving rise to the duality of externality and internality,
i.e. the material environments and life forms therein.
However, upon scrutiny only the rope itself is found -
These environments and life forms are primordially empty,
as the ultimate only seems to have such concrete form
within the dissimulating process of the conventional.
The perception of a snake is phenomenologically true in terms of our seeing it as so,
but seeing the rope instead is authentically true;
analogically, it is like the appearance of a bird on a promontory:
The nature of these two truths is that
this transitory world is merely conventional dissimulation,
which the authentic reality has no relationship to -
In the expanse of emptiness
everything is free within it's essence."


All apparent phenomena which fall under the category of 'conditioned' - meaning they seemingly accord with one or more of the four extremes [existence, nonexistence, both, neither] - originate dependently. We know this is so because there is no such thing as phenomena which is independent of causes and conditions, per Nāgārjuna:

"Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way.
Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist.
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exist."


If we look at the very first link in the chain of dependent origination, we find ignorance [avidyā], and as Nāgārjuna states:

"When the perfect vidyā [discerning wisdom knowledge] sees,
That things come from ignorance as condition,
Nothing will then be objectified,
Either in terms of arising or destruction."


So 'things' arise due to confusion and ignorance, once emptiness is realized, confusion and ignorance are undone, and 'things' are understood to be non-arisen. Non-arising isn't suggesting non-existence, because for the non-arisen, existence hasn't been suggested to begin with. Just as when you mistakenly view a rope to be a snake; the snake is a misconception, it's delusion, ignorance. Recognize the snake for what it is (a rope) and the snake falls, the snake is understood to have always been delusion, therefore the snake is non-arisen. Likewise, the aggregates (constituent aspects of experience) are a misconception, delusion, ignorance. Recognize the aggregates for what they are (the empty display of primordial wisdom) and the aggregates fall. The aggregates are understood to have always been delusion, therefore the aggregates are empty and non-arisen.

Phenomena which appear to be conditioned (and appear to accord with one or more of the four extremes), are in truth dependently originated and are therefore empty, unborn, non-arisen, free from extremes etc. When we mistakenly perceive something which we attribute substantiality (or insubstantiality) to (meaning it has originated and/or ceased), all that is occurring is a misapprehension within the confines of ignorance. Ignorance itself isn't an entity which is anymore established or valid than the apparent structuring it gives rise to... however ignorance is precisely the proclivity to habitually relate to experience in a way that reifies a subject-object dichotomy and all the subsequent arisings which depend on that dichotomy. It is that tendency to objectify phenomena and grasp which is one of the main issues.

Dependent origination is not truly origination, which is pointed out by Nāgārjuna in his 60 Stanzas:
"The supreme knower of reality, said that dependent production is not production."

Once ignorance falls, wisdom [prajñā] remains. Unafflicted dependent origination can unfold in wisdom (though it's usually called lhun grub; 'self-origination', 'natural formation' etc.), but wisdom is no longer fooled. So those projections aren't being reified. In wisdom, unafflicted dependent origination becomes freedom of expression, in delusion, afflicted dependent origination becomes the cause for delusion's own self-perpetuation.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:53 am

Sherab wrote:Given the above, there are those that resort solely to dependent arising, arguing that everything is dependent on something else and this goes on ad infinitum. For those who believe that everything has a cause, then they have to posit an endless chain of causation. For those who are familiar with logic, such arguments can never be a complete argument and therefore not intellectually satisfying.

You're failing to understand how dependent origination works. Things depending upon other things is not what is being pointed to in dependent origination, perhaps a notion of that nature can be used in a very crude and coarse way, but it is unskillful and will not alleviate suffering or the ignorance which causes it. The cause is ignorance; delusion about the nature of experience and reality. The entire charade of samsara is built and predicated upon that ignorance. 'Causes and conditions' isn't speaking of coarse causes, such as the 'endless chain of causality' you referenced, nothing of the sort. Delusion and the propensities which come from that delusion, are the causes and conditions which birth and sustain conditioned existence.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:48 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
xabir wrote:A friend and mentor of mine ("Thusness") wrote me this in 2005 (after I sent him a Mahaparinirvana Sutra quotation about the true self). I've come to appreciate and see the truth in his words in recent years.

The Pristine awareness is often mistaken as the 'Self'. It is especially
difficult for one that has intuitively experience the 'Self' to accept
'No-Self'. As I have told you many times that there will come a time when u
will intuitively perceive the 'I' -- the pure sense of Existence but you
must be strong enough to go beyond this experience until the true meaning of
Emptiness becomes clear and thorough. The Pristine Awareness is the
so-called True-Self' but why we do not call it a 'Self' and why Buddhism has
placed so much emphasis on the Emptiness nature? This then is the true
essence of Buddhism. It is needless to stress anything about 'Self' in
Buddhism; there are enough of 'Logies' of the 'I" in Indian Philosophies.
If one wants to know about the experience of 'I AM', go for the Vedas and
Bhagavat Gita. We will not know what Buddha truly taught 2500 years ago if
we buried ourselves in words. Have no doubt that The Dharma Seal is
authentic and not to be confused. :)

When you have experienced the 'Self' and know that its nature is empty, you
will know why to include this idea of a 'Self' into Buddha-Nature is truly
unnecessary and meaningless. True Buddhism is not about eliminating the
'small Self' but cleansing this so called 'True Self' (Atman) with the
wisdom of Emptiness. :)


so in effect he didn't have any information to provide that had anything to do with the Mahaparinirvana sutra itself,which is why he didnt qoute from it or use it to support his own views...............it seems from his statement that he just doesn't except it ...seeing as everything he said is in complete contradiction to the sutra itself.
He wrote in 06 April 2006 • 09:35 PM

"Yes. In the first turning of the dharma wheel, Buddha taught the four noble truth and the lack of inherent existence of the self. In the second turnings, it was taught that all dharma lack inherent existence. To prevent over negation, the third turning was preached. Even in the third turning of the wheel, the Samdhinirmocana sutra of Yogacara, we also see the careful use of the word ‘Self’ and the clarification of the flow of perceptions without an enduring element. Similar emphasis can also be found in the Mahamudra teaching (some say that it is fourth turning), the emphasis of emptiness is pretty clear. What we witness is in each of the turnings, is the refinement on the idea of impermanence and prevention of people from falling into the nihilistic view that nothing exists but never the claim of the permanence of Buddha-Nature. As the great Zen master Dogen puts it, impermanence is Buddha’s Nature.

Nevertheless, any possible reasons why Mahaparinirvana Sutra and Tathagatagarbha sutras assertion for this ‘about-turn’?

Lastly, why is this emphasis of impermanence crucial and what has our pristine awareness got to do with it? "

08 April 2006 • 03:20 PM

"Yes Eternal_Now,

My sentiment exactly. All teachings aim at the same goal (emancipation from samsara) but each turning of the dharma wheel refines our understanding of the true nature of reality during our journey towards enlightenment. Personally, I feel that practitioners should not ascribed ‘levels’ to the different turnings but should view the turnings of the Dharmachakra as arising due to the ripening of causes and conditions. The first turning focuses on the four noble truths and the emptiness of the self. The second turning is on the importance of the emptiness nature of all phenomenon existence (not only self), that is, the Prajnaparamita teachings. The third turning introduced the presence of Buddha-Nature in everyone. In whatever case, the validity of all discourses must not deviate from the authenticity of the ‘Dharma Seals’.

With regards to the bold assertion of certain tathagatagarbha sutras, some scholars ascribed the Hindu influence during the Gupta period where we see strong pressure of traditional Hindu culture. Another possible condition for the emergence of the tathagatagarbha sutras might be the result of over negation in certain practices that eventually led people to mistake Buddhism as nihilistic (On the surface, it is not uncommon that many misunderstood that Buddhism is nihilistic) and a positive language about Nirvana is needed for non-buddhist ascetics as well as buddhist-practitioners.

In my opinion, I feel that the teachings should be viewed as a single whole (Including the first two turnings). When we attempt to pick and drop and take only a part or a snapshot of the teachings and make comments, tathagatagarbha sutras will present as a problem and sound very similar to the non-buddhist ascetics’ doctrines. However when taken as a whole, the sutras glue and complement."
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:45 am

Son of Buddha wrote:this has nothing to do with the suttas I provided,its not commentary on the ACTUAL suttas its simply reification of one owns traditions views.
for instance he tries to claim that Enlightenment is a phenomena, this is an entirely substantialist view,Enlightenment is not a phenomena nor is it a product of this phenomena reality.
In the Pali suttas, awakening happens through transcendental dependent arising which runs by the same Principle of Dependent Origination (but it is not the same scheme as the afflictive twelve links of dependent arising). As explained here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html
second and most importatnt the sutta itself refutes his views which is why he doesnt even try to comment on the actual sutta cause if he did he would end up with what Im about to ask you.
The sutta does not refute his view. And I have shown you suttas that explicitly reject any self-hood or a self of tathagata.
based on the (SN 23.24)
4 (2)-34 (12) Subject to Mara, tc.(I wont reference the suttas again you know where to find them to reference the questions)
(1)does this sutta state that Whatever is of a Selfless nature belongs to/is subject to mara and you should abandon it??? (Yes or No)
Please quote the relevant sections.
(2)so if Enlightenment is without self nature then it belongs to mara and should be abandoned correct? (Yes or No)
There is nothing wrong with abandoning. Enlightenment is not something to be "picked up", "grasped on", "held to". Picking up is bondage, attachment is bondage. It is precisely because even enlightenment is empty that it is liberating.

Diamond Sutra: "Tell me, Subhuti. Does a Buddha say to himself, 'I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment.'?"

"No, lord. There is no such thing as Perfect Enlightenment to obtain. If a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha were to say to himself, 'I am enlightened' he would be admitting there is an individual person, a separate self and personality, and would therefore not be a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha.""

Buddha: "I truly attained nothing from complete, unexcelled enlightenment, and that is why it is called complete, unexcelled enlightenment."
Based on SN 22.59
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta:

(3)does this sutta not state that No self leads to suffering? (Yes or No)
This sutta says that because there is no self, affliction can occur. It explains that because there is no self, no agent, no controller, things do not go the way we want them to. Example: because your loved one is not yours, you cannot control it to not die. Because your body is not you or yours, you cannot make it immortal by controlling it. If your sadness were self, you could think "sadness stop" and it would stop, but it does not stop by your control because it is not you or yours.

At the same time, it is the ending of any conceit of "I Am" or any I-making, that is the end of suffering. There is no contradiction. That complete end of I-making is liberation, is freedom from bondage, is freedom from identification and clinging.
(4) does this sutta state that IF the 5 aggregates WERE SELF they would not lead to suffering? (Yes or No)
Yes this is the case. However by discerning that the aggregates were empty of self, one would not suffer as a result.
(5) if Enlightenment has NO Self then it would lead to suffering correct? (Yes or No)
The Buddha said this: ""Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'"

Note that he does not say "everything that is not-self must lead to affliction" He is only saying that in reference to the five aggregates, that the aggregates lead to affliction when they are not-self.

Enlightenment is not-self, but enlightenment does not lead to affliction but the end of affliction. It does so by ending ignorance and the remaining chain of the 12 links of afflictive D.O., it does not do so because there is a Self involved. Awakening arises through the transcendental links of dependent arising (see the link I passed you above).
(6)if Enlightenment WERE Self then it would NOT lead to suffering Correct? (Yes or No)
Your question does not apply. We all know that the aggregates suffer afflictions. They suffer afflictions because 1) there is the causes and conditions for afflictions to arise, as explained in the afflictive 12 links of dependent arising, and 2) there is no Self/controller/agent that can dictate/stop/change/control these conditions. However liberation is possible through the 12 transcendental links of dependent arising.

Awakening is not Self but leads to release. Awakening leads to the end of suffering not because you suddenly gain control of suffering as a self, awakening ends suffering because it ends ignorance and the remaining 11 links of afflictive D.O. This is why it is not self, does not lead to afflictions but lead to the ending of afflictions.

Enlightenment is not Self, and by clinging to enlightenment as Self there is suffering as a result of identification and clinging. This is why in MN 1 it is stated that the Buddha does not conceive of Nirvana in terms of self. ""He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has comprehended it to the end, I tell you."

Based on SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
(7)does this sutta state that No self is Suffering?(Yes or No)
No, the sutta does not state that no self is suffering. It states that what is suffering is not self. What is not suffering (nirvana) is also not self.
(8) if Nirvana has no self then that would mean it is suffering correct?(Yes or No)
No, since it is not the case that what is not self is equivalent to suffering. Nirvana is not self but is not suffering.
(9)isn't Nirvana the end of suffering or are the 4 noble truth a lie?(Yes or No)
Nirvana is the termination of craving as defined in the 4 noble truths sutta. It is not a self.

as you can see,once you actually answer the questions in direct relation to the actual suttas in question there is no room for the Idea that Nirvana is without a self
By correctly comprehending the actual suttas there is no room for the idea that Nirvana is a Self.


Also,

Here, the Buddha clarifies:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
..."What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"
"No, lord."...
this supports my position.and is my point exactly Enlightenment is NOT the 5 aggregates it only uses realitive phenomena when it is in the realm of realitive phenomena
this further supports the transcendent aspect of Nirvana./

This sutta does not support your position because it is clearly stated that there is no Tathagata as an inherently existing Self, truth or reality, even one that is apart from the aggregates.
MN 22
"When a monk's mind is thus freed, O monks, neither the gods with Indra, nor the gods with Brahma, nor the gods with the Lord of Creatures (Pajaapati), when searching will find[36] on what the consciousness of one thus gone (tathaagata) is based. Why is that? One who has thus gone is no longer traceable here and now, so I say.
It does not imply a Self.

Ven. Nanananda explains well and consistently with the suttas what this unsupported/non-established consciousness is referring to:



""Monks, there are these four lus­tres. What four? The lustre of the moon, the lustre of the sun, the lustre of fire, the lustre of wisdom. These, monks, are the four lustres. This, monks, is the highest among these four lustres, namely the lustre of wisdom."

So, then, we can now understand why the form and the formless fade away. This wisdom has a penetrative quality, for which reason it is called nibbedhikà pa¤¤à.[26] When one sees forms, one sees them to­gether with their shadows. The fact that one sees shadows there, is itself proof that darkness has not been fully dispelled. If light comes from all directions, there is no shadow at all. If that light is of a pene­trative nature, not even form will be manifest there.

Now it is mainly due to what is called `form' and `form­less', råpa/aråpa, that the worldling experiences pleasure and pain in a world that distinguishes between a `pleasure' and a `pain'. "

"What actually happens in the attainment to the fruit of ara­hant-hood? The worldling discerns the world around him with the help of six narrow beams of light, namely the six sense-bases. When the su­perior lustre of wisdom arises, those six sense-bases go down. This cessation of the six sense-bases could also be referred to as the ces­sation of name-and-form, nàmaråpanirodha, or the cessation of con­sciousness, vi¤­¤à­õa­nirodha.

The cessation of the six sense-bases does not mean that one does not see anything. What one sees then is voidness. It is an in-`sight'. He gives expression to it with the words su¤¤o loko, "void is the world". What it means is that all the sense-objects, which the world­ling grasps as real and truly existing, get pene­trated through with wisdom and become non-manifest." - http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana15.htm

"Similarly, by imagining a self in name-and-form, consciousness gets attached to it. It is such a consciousness, which is established on name-and-form, that can be called abhisaṅkhata viññāṇa. Then could there be also a consciousness which does not reflect a name-and-form? Yes, there could be. That is what is known as anidassana viññāṇa, or 'non-manifestative consciousness'." - http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/463722


if would be like me saying I AM NOT a hand,this does not mean I do not use a hand just that I am simply NOT the hand itself.
That is understandable. But I'm saying that the "I AM" itself is a fabricated delusion.

nothing you said has anything to do with that passage whatsoever,that passage is simply saying their is no self in the 5 aggregates.
It has everything to do with that passage. That passage is saying there is no self in OR APART from the 5 aggregates. Read carefully.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.038.niza.html

“Venerable Gotama, I am one of such a doctrine, of such a view: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer.’”[1]

“I have not, brahman, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]
“So, brahmin, when there is the element of endeavoring, endeavoring beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?”
Self-doer is a valid convention. As explained in Vajira sutta. It is merely a convention. On that conventional level you do not deny the validity of self or doer. Upon investigation that self or doer is seen through as being baseless.
[i]
Excerpts from http://www.angelfire.com/indie/anna_jon ... ental.html

In the ultimate sense, there do not even exist such things as
mental states, i.e. stationary things. Feeling, perception,
consciousness, etc., are in reality mere passing processes of feeling,
perceiving, becoming conscious, etc., within which and outside of
which no separate or permanent entity lies hidden.

Thus a real understanding of the Buddha's doctrine of kamma and
rebirth is possible only to one who has caught a glimpse of the
egoless nature, or //anattata//, and of the conditionality, or
//idappaccayata//, of all phenomena of existence. Therefore it is said
in the //Visuddhimagga// (Chap. XIX):

Everywhere, in all the realms of existence, the noble disciple
sees only mental and corporeal phenomena kept going through the
concatenation of causes and effects. No producer of the
volitional act or kamma does he see apart from the kamma, no
recipient of the kamma-result apart from the result. And he is
well aware that wise men are using merely conventional language,
when, with regard to a kammical act, they speak of a doer, or
with regard to a kamma-result, they speak of the recipient of the
result.


No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits;
Empty phenomena roll on:
This only is the correct view.

And while the deeds and their results
Roll on and on, conditioned all,
There is no first beginning found,
Just as it is with seed and tree. ...

No god, no Brahma, can be called
The maker of this wheel of life:
Empty phenomena roll on,
Dependent on conditions all.


Now, the Buddha clearly explains that everything arises not through an agent or I, but through dependent origination. See
Phagguna Sutta:

"
"Who, O Lord, has a sense-impression?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One.

"I do not say that 'he has a sense-impression.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who has a sense-impression?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of sense-impression?' And to that the correct reply is: 'The sixfold sense-base is a condition of sense-impression, and sense-impression is the condition of feeling.'"

"Who, O Lord, feels?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he feels.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who feels?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of feeling?' And to that the correct reply is: 'sense-impression is the condition of feeling; and feeling is the condition of craving.'"
" etc etc
also you say the Tathagatagarbha is just another means for demonstrating emptiness.............okay to what is the Tathagatgarbhas teachings on emptiness?
I'm talking about Lankavatara Sutra. Obviously, different sutras (written by different people) have different contextual definitions of emptiness.
Son of Buddha
your incorrect about what the early doctrines of Buddhism state, also the pali canon doesnt even support non duality Bhikkhu Bodhi actually wrote a extensive paper on the subject..........essentially there is conditioned and Unconditioned..ect
The not-conditioned in the Pali canon simply means the cessation of afflictions.
your reply had nothing to do with the topic

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html
At the peak of the pairs of opposites stands the duality of the conditioned and the Unconditioned: samsara as the round of repeated birth and death wherein all is impermanent, subject to change, and liable to suffering, and Nibbana as the state of final deliverance, the unborn, ageless, and deathless. Although Nibbana, even in the early texts, is definitely cast as an ultimate reality and not merely as an ethical or psychological state, there is not the least insinuation that this reality is metaphysically indistinguishable at some profound level from its manifest opposite, samsara. To the contrary, the Buddha's repeated lesson is that samsara is the realm of suffering governed by greed, hatred, and delusion, wherein we have shed tears greater than the waters of the ocean, while Nibbana is irreversible release from samsara, to be attained by demolishing greed, hatred, and delusion, and by relinquishing all conditioned existence.
Yes I have no problem with this statement. The problem is that you are seeing Nirvana as a Self.

The Nirvana spoken in the Pali Suttas is clearly defined as merely the termination of passion, aggression and delusion, and that is given many epithets like 'not-conditioned' 'death-free' and so on (in the very long quote I gave above)
Last edited by xabir on Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:52 am

p.s. upon closer look, I do not agree with the statement of Nirvana as some form of 'ultimate reality'. Many Theravadins have a slightly eternalistic interpretation of the suttas that is not founded/based on the suttas. But even they do not go on to assert Nirvana as Self.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:11 am

Xabir wrote: there is no Tathagata as an inherently existing Self


Does the Tathagatha exist at all? Why is it that the Tathagatha is said to be boundless, unfathomable, deep like the ocean? That description does not apply to mere absence, nothingness, non-being.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby oushi » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:28 am

It exists like space, because it has no fathomable characteristics. Nothingness, absence, non-beings are just opposites of things. Both sides are defined by characteristics (or lack of specific characteristics). Tathagatha is free from characteristics, and because we define existence through characteristics, intellectually Tathagatha appears as nonexistent. Samsaric mind is always looking for something to grasp. Liberation from this grasping may come from understanding the emptiness of characteristics.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:36 am

jeeprs wrote:
Xabir wrote: there is no Tathagata as an inherently existing Self


Does the Tathagatha exist at all? Why is it that the Tathagatha is said to be boundless, unfathomable, deep like the ocean? That description does not apply to mere absence, nothingness, non-being.
MN 72 provides the context for this statement with the fire analogy for Nirvana/cessation:

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

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

"Any feeling... Any perception... Any fabrication...

"Any consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply."


Ven Nanananda comments:

http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana01.htm



Nibbàna as a term for the ultimate aim of this Dhamma is equally significant because of its allu­sion to the going out of a fire. In the Asaïkhatasaüyutta of the Saüyutta Nikàya as many as thirty-three terms are listed to denote this ultimate aim.[20] But out of all these epi­thets, Nibbàna became the most widely used, probably because of its significant allusion to the fire. The fire simile holds the answer to many questions relating to the ulti­mate goal.

The wandering ascetic Vacchagotta, as well as many others, ac­cused the Buddha of teaching a doctrine of annihilation: Sato sat­tassa ucchedaü vinàsaü vibhavaü pa¤¤àpeti.[21] Their accusa­tion was that the Buddha proclaims the annihilation, destruction and non-existence of a being that is existent. And the Buddha answered them fairly and squarely with the fire simile.

"Now if a fire is burning in front of you dependent on grass and twigs as fuel, you would know that it is burning dependently and not independently, that there is no fire in the abstract. And when the fire goes out, with the exhaustion of that fuel, you would know that it has gone out because the conditions for its existence are no more."

As a sidelight to the depth of this argument it may be men­tioned that the Pàli word upàdàna used in such contexts has the sense of both `fuel' as well as `grasping', and in fact, fuel is some­thing that the fire grasps for its burning. Upàdànapaccayà bhavo, "dependent on grasping is existence".[22] These are two very im­por­tant links in the doctrine of dependent arising, pañicca sam­uppàda.

The eternalists, overcome by the craving for existence, thought that there is some permanent essence in existence as a reality. But what had the Buddha to say about existence? He said that what is true for the fire is true for existence as well. That is to say that exis­tence is dependent on grasping. So long as there is a grasping, there is an existence. As we saw above, the firewood is called upàdàna be­cause it catches fire. The fire catches hold of the wood, and the wood catches hold of the fire. And so we call it firewood. This is a case of a relation of this to that, idappaccayatà. Now it is the same with what is called `exis­tence', which is not an absolute reality.

Even in the Vedic period there was the dilemma between `be­ing' and `non-being'. They won­dered whether being came out of non-being, or non-being came out of being. Katham asataþ sat jàyeta, "How could being come out of non-being?"[23] In the face of this di­lemma regarding the first be­ginnings, they were some­times forced to conclude that there was neither non-being nor being at the start, nàsadàsãt no sadàsãt tadànãm.[24] Or else in the confusion they would sometimes leave the matter unsolved, say­ing that perhaps only the creator knew about it.

All this shows what a lot of confusion these two words sat and asat, being and non-being, had created for the philosophers. It was only the Buddha who presented a perfect solution, after a complete reappraisal of the whole problem of existence. He pointed out that existence is a fire kept up by the fuel of grasp­ing, so much so that, when grasping ceases, existence ceases as well.

In fact the fire simile holds the answer to the tetralemma in­cluded among the ten unexplained points very often found men­tioned in the suttas. It concerns the state of the Tathàgata after death, whether he exists, does not exist, both or neither. The presumption of the ques­tioner is that one or the other of these four must be and could be an­swered in the affirmative.

The Buddha solves or dissolves this presumptuous tetra­lemma by bringing in the fire simile. He points out that when a fire goes out with the exhaustion of the fuel, it is absurd to ask in which direction the fire has gone. All that one can say about it, is that the fire has gone out: Nibbuto tveva saïkhaü gacchati, "it comes to be reckoned as `gone out'."[25]

It is just a reckoning, an idiom, a worldly usage, which is not to be taken too literally. So this illustration through the fire sim­ile drives home to the worldling the absurdity of his presumptu­ous tetra­lemma of the Tathàgata.

In the Upasãvasutta of the Pàràyaõavagga of the Sutta Nipàta we find the lines:

Accã yathà vàtavegena khitto,

atthaü paleti na upeti saïkhaü,

"Like the flame thrown out by the force of the wind

Reaches its end, it cannot be reckoned."[26]

Here the reckoning is to be understood in terms of the four proposi­tions of the tetralemma. Such reckonings are based on a total mis­con­ception of the phe­nomenon of fire.

It seems that the deeper connotations of the word Nibbàna in the context of pañicca samuppàda were not fully appreciated by the com­mentators. And that is why they went in search of a new etymol­ogy. They were too shy of the implications of the word `extinction'. Proba­bly to avoid the charge of nihilism they felt compelled to rein­terpret certain key passages on Nibbàna. They con­ceived Nibbàna as something existing out there in its own right. They would not say where, but sometimes they would even say that it is everywhere. With an undue grammatical em­phasis they would say that it is on coming to that Nibbàna that lust and other defilements are aban­doned: Nibbànaü àgamma ràgàdayo khãõàti ekameva nibbànaü ràgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo ti vuccati.[27]

But what do we find in the joyous utterances of the theras and therãs who had realized Nibbàna? As recorded in such texts as Thera- and Therã-gàthà they would say: Sãtibhåto'smi nibbuto, "I am grown cool, extinguished as I am."[28] The words sãtibhåta and nibbuta had a cooling effect even to the listener, though later scholars found them inadequate.

Extinction is something that occurs within an individual and it brings with it a unique bliss of appeasement. As the Ratana­sutta says: Laddhà mudhà nibbutiü bhu¤jamànà, "they experi­ence the bliss of appeasement won free of charge."[29] Nor­mally, appeasement is won at a cost, but here we have an ap­peasement that comes gratis.

From the worldly point of view `extinction' means annihila­tion. It has connotations of a precipice that is much dreaded. That is why the commentators conceived of it as something out there, on reaching which the defilements are abandoned, nib­bànaü àgamma ràgàdayo khãõàti. Sometimes they would say that it is on seeing Nibbàna that craving is destroyed.

There seems to be some contradiction in the commentarial defini­tions of Nibbàna. On the one hand we have the definition of Nibbàna as the exit from craving, which is called a `weaving'. And on the other it is said that it is on seeing Nibbàna that crav­ing is destroyed. To project Nibbàna into a distance and to hope that craving will be destroyed only on seeing it, is something like trying to build a stair­case to a palace one cannot yet see. In fact this is a simile which the Buddha had used in his criticism of the Brahmin's point of view.[30]

In the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta we have a very clear state­ment of the third noble truth. Having first said that the sec­ond noble truth is craving, the Buddha goes on to define the third no­ble truth in these words: Tassàyeva taõhàya asesa­viràganirodho càgo pañinis­sag­go mutti anàlayo.[31]

This is to say that the third noble truth is the complete fading away, cessation, giving up, relin­quishment of that very craving. That it is the release from and non-attachment to that very crav­ing. In other words it is the destruction of this very mass of suf­fering which is just before us.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:14 am

All said and done, nibbana is bliss.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:19 pm

Yes, however it is not a kind of vedana/feeling, the bliss in this context is ease and absence of suffering. It is the ease and bliss of having released all burdens, all bondage, all afflictions, all suffering.

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

I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Sariputta was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Feeding Sanctuary. There he said to the monks, "This Unbinding is pleasant, friends. This Unbinding is pleasant."

When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, "But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?"

"Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt." etc
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