"the Self is real" according to T. Page

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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:13 pm

Malcolm wrote: Nothing arises which does not arise from conditions. Nothing exists that does not arise from conditions.


If this is the case,
that outside of conditioned arising, nothing occurs,
and suffering is the result of conditioned arising (as the Buddha taught, I think),
then how is the permanent and complete cessation of suffering possible?

My understanding of the teachings is that beings suffer because, ultimately,
they rely on composite things, things which are not permanent, or as you say,
"which arise from conditions", for lasting happiness.
I think you'd agree, this is the case.

Now, you say that there is nothing beyond conditioned arising.
By this understanding, how is the permanent cessation of suffering then possible?

Are you suggesting that
merely subscribing to the idea that all things are conditioned
and then leaving it at that
is sufficient?

Because what I have been taught is that the source of happiness
(the cause for the permanent cessation of suffering)
is mind's true nature itself, which is originally without obscurations,
as you say, "...like muddy water self-purifying".

If Mind's original nature is also composite,
as your statement, "Nothing exists that does not arise from conditions" implies,
then it also cannot be the source of the perfect cessation of suffering.
How does that work for you?
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby greentara » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:40 pm

Padma, "So, perhaps it is safe to say that the dharma has no intrinsic reality
which is what makes it quite perfect
for beings who have no intrinsic reality"

Its very cleverly written but it sounds mighty like neo advaita.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby smcj » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:03 am

...but it sounds mighty like neo advaita.

Ok, so what if it is? What negative consequences are there? Will it suddenly make one's practice impotent or invalid? Presumably Dolpopa's practice was quite fruitful, and his paradigm was the most extreme. Was his realization somehow askew? I'd trade my practice for his anyday.

I'm not alone in this thought. In her book on Kagyu Shentong Hookam's got the line somewhere, "So what if it sounds like another religion? If you are after the Truth what difference does it make?" (That may not be an exact quote, but close.)

The point being that all Mahayana schools claim to be able to actually meditate in uncontrived emptiness. Presumably all Mahayana schools have produced enlightened practitioners over time. That is what validates the school. These discussions come from how they choose to articulate what that is like in order to discuss it and for those that have not had the experience.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby greentara » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:14 am

smcj, 'You are after the Truth what difference does it make?" I won't quibble on that important point.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:52 am

smcj wrote:
...but it sounds mighty like neo advaita.

Ok, so what if it is? What negative consequences are there? Will it suddenly make one's practice impotent or invalid? Presumably Dolpopa's practice was quite fruitful, and his paradigm was the most extreme. Was his realization somehow askew? I'd trade my practice for his anyway.

I'm not alone in this thought. In her book on Kagyu Shentong Hookam's got the line somewhere, "So what if it sounds like another religion? If you are after the Truth what difference does it make?" (That may not be an exact quote, but close.)

The point being that all Mahayana schools claim to be able to actually meditate in uncontrived emptiness. Presumably all Mahayana schools have produced enlightened practitioners over time. That is what validates the school. These discussions come from how they choose to articulate what that is like in order to discuss it and for those that have not had the experience.


One of the issues with so-called 'neo-advaita' is that it lacks both the dichotomies of (i) 'conventional and ultimate' and/or (ii) 'delusion and wisdom', and without those aspects of the teaching, persons, places, things etc. (what the dharma refers to as conventional designations), are taken to be truly non-existent (often because they are 'concepts'), and that subtle objectification results in the mind grasping at those notions, and you end up with a bunch of people who truly believe there is no self, etc. So it's a bunch of selves who believe they don't exist.

Traditional Advaita Vedanta is much more refined, but it still posits the existence of an unconditioned and uncaused, universal self. Though its praxis is backed by a long standing tradition, and so it doesn't have as many inconsistencies and issues when compared to the new wave 'neo-advaita'.

I don't think Dolbulpa's gzhan stong is quite the same as Vedanta.

The big differences between the Advaita view and that of the buddhadharma is that the Advaita non-duality is 'advaita', which is accomplished by subsuming relative existents into a truly established and inherently existent ultimate nature. That ultimate nature exists in relation to relative phenomena, is the source of that relative phenomena, but is not that phenomena and is beyond the relative.

The non-duality of the buddhadharma is 'advaya', which is discovered through a freedom from the extremes of existence and non-existence (and both and neither). The ultimate nature is the non-arising of the relative, and so there truly is no inherent ultimate nature. The ultimate nature in this case is inseparable from the relative, for example; when Nāgārjuna states: 'samsara and nirvana, neither of these truly exist, instead, nirvana is a complete and through knowledge of samsara'.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby greentara » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:52 am

I've never been averse to advaita. As for neo advaita the teachers often seem to say 'don't do as I do, do as I say!'
On the other hand what may happen spontaneously.... under the barrage of intellectual questioning becomes useless and just falls apart!
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:07 am

smcj wrote:I'm not alone in this thought. In her book on Kagyu Shentong Hookam's got the line somewhere, "So what if it sounds like another religion? If you are after the Truth what difference does it make?" (That may not be an exact quote, but close.)

From "The Buddha Within":
This concept of Absolute Reality being a knowing, feeling, dynamic force that is the very essence of our being and our universe is vehemently rejected by many sections of the traditional Buddhist community. The reason no doubt is that it is too suggestive of a theistic principle; Buddhism has traditionally held itself aloof from theistic formulations of religious doctrine. Nevertheless, as Khenpo Tsultrim aptly points out, if Buddhism is fundamentally about discovering truth, the mere fact that a certain doctrine sounds like someone else's is no rationale for rejecting it out of hand. However, a major preoccupation of Buddhist scholars over the centuries has been to maintain a clear distinction between themselves and theistic religions. Interestingly, this tendency continues as Buddhism spreads to the West.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:26 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
smcj wrote:I'm not alone in this thought. In her book on Kagyu Shentong Hookam's got the line somewhere, "So what if it sounds like another religion? If you are after the Truth what difference does it make?" (That may not be an exact quote, but close.)

From "The Buddha Within":
This concept of Absolute Reality being a knowing, feeling, dynamic force that is the very essence of our being and our universe is vehemently rejected by many sections of the traditional Buddhist community. The reason no doubt is that it is too suggestive of a theistic principle; Buddhism has traditionally held itself aloof from theistic formulations of religious doctrine. Nevertheless, as Khenpo Tsultrim aptly points out, if Buddhism is fundamentally about discovering truth, the mere fact that a certain doctrine sounds like someone else's is no rationale for rejecting it out of hand. However, a major preoccupation of Buddhist scholars over the centuries has been to maintain a clear distinction between themselves and theistic religions. Interestingly, this tendency continues as Buddhism spreads to the West.

I'd say it's more so that according to Buddhism, those other doctrines are merely reifying, edifying and fortifying a self that cannot be found in the first place.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby smcj » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:45 am

dzogchungpa wrote:From "The Buddha Within":
This concept of Absolute Reality being a knowing, feeling, dynamic force that is the very essence of our being and our universe is vehemently rejected by many sections of the traditional Buddhist community. The reason no doubt is that it is too suggestive of a theistic principle; Buddhism has traditionally held itself aloof from theistic formulations of religious doctrine. Nevertheless, as Khenpo Tsultrim aptly points out, if Buddhism is fundamentally about discovering truth, the mere fact that a certain doctrine sounds like someone else's is no rationale for rejecting it out of hand. However, a major preoccupation of Buddhist scholars over the centuries has been to maintain a clear distinction between themselves and theistic religions. Interestingly, this tendency continues as Buddhism spreads to the West.

Wow. Ok I guess that verifies the thrust of the quote I tried to give. But I think she/they say it again somewhere else more in the terms I gave.

Dzogchenpa,
Was that an internet search, or are you familiar with the book?

...but it sounds mighty like neo advaita.

I should look up terms I'm not 100% on. I thought Neo advaita would be the same thing as Advaita Vedanta only in modern times. Evidently that's not necessarily the case.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:59 am

asunthatneversets wrote:I'd say it's more so that according to Buddhism, those other doctrines are merely reifying, edifying and fortifying a self that cannot be found in the first place.

Very good.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:06 am

smcj wrote:Dzogchenpa,
Was that an internet search, or are you familiar with the book?

First of all, my handle is dzogCHUNGpa. Secondly, I have not read the book, but I have it on my computer. A search for 'religion' turned up that quote.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:12 am

greentara wrote:Padma, "So, perhaps it is safe to say that the dharma has no intrinsic reality
which is what makes it quite perfect
for beings who have no intrinsic reality"

Its very cleverly written but it sounds mighty like neo advaita.


Just applying a Buddhist method for determining that something lacks inherent existence....to Buddhism.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:17 am

smcj wrote: I'm not alone in this thought. In her book on Kagyu Shentong Hookam's got the line somewhere, "So what if it sounds like another religion? If you are after the Truth what difference does it make?" (That may not be an exact quote, but close.)


"sounds like another religion" says something about the perceiver, not about what is perceived.
You know what sounds like another religion?
Putting candles on a cake, one for every year of your life, making a wish and blowing them out.
I had a friend from Taiwan once who asked me why Abraham Lincoln was the only president that had a "temple" (The Lincoln Memorial, in Washington DC).

You never can tell, just by appearances.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:25 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
This concept of Absolute Reality being a knowing, feeling, dynamic force that is the very essence of our being and our universe is vehemently rejected by many sections of the traditional Buddhist community. The reason no doubt is that it is too suggestive of a theistic principle; Buddhism has traditionally held itself aloof from theistic formulations of religious doctrine. Nevertheless, as Khenpo Tsultrim aptly points out, if Buddhism is fundamentally about discovering truth, the mere fact that a certain doctrine sounds like someone else's is no rationale for rejecting it out of hand. However, a major preoccupation of Buddhist scholars over the centuries has been to maintain a clear distinction between themselves and theistic religions. Interestingly, this tendency continues as Buddhism spreads to the West.


Now, that seems very interesting to me,
because I regard 'absolute reality' meaning that potential objects of awareness can occur prior to there being any awareness of them, and historically this has always proven to be the case.
If 'absolute reality'' means a level of existence which cannot be broken down into component parts in which no essence of that reality can be found in its separate parts, then physical space is,easily, an obvious exception to that.

And since there is nothing in physical space that can be shown to produce cognition, it can be deduced that a cause of conditional awareness must exist outside of material causastion, but which manifests as recognizable cognition when arising with objects of awareness. And since this cause cannot be found to have a material base, then there is no reason to assume that it too is not absolute.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby greentara » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:44 am

Real or unreal, well lets cut to the chase.... awakening will happen automatically as soon as you cease to be interested in any of your rising thoughts.
As simple as this sounds its actually very difficult. Only for the ripe!
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:51 am

greentara wrote:Real or unreal, well lets cut to the chase.... awakening will happen automatically as soon as you cease to be interested in any of your rising thoughts.
As simple as this sounds its actually very difficult. Only for the ripe!
Ain't that the truth!!!
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby Sherab » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:26 am

Astus wrote:
Sherab wrote:Merely saying that emptiness is defined as unconditioned does not addressed my question, which was how is it possible to have a thing that is both conditioned and unconditioned at the same time. Perhaps, you are saying it is possible as long as it is defined as possible.


The problem you raise exists only because you suppose 3 separate things: a substance (the thing) and two opposing attributes (conditioned, unconditioned). (Although here it could be said that a box can be both big and small (1 substance, 2 attributes), but that's only because the attributes exist in different context.)

Emptiness means simply the lack of independent essence/substance. That is, empty = without essence/self/etc. and it is not an added quality of something. Empty = not eternal, not independent. And that lack of essence is an unconditional truth, because it is not created by something, not caused by anything. It is simply the absence of substance.

Such absence of independent essence is shown by things being dependently originated. Something does not exist on its own, it exists because of various causes and conditions. That interdependence is the fact of being conditioned.

Thus conditioned and unconditioned are true for everything at the same time. That is: nothing is eternal and everything is impermanent at the same time. Not being unchanging is the unconditioned part. Being of a changing nature is the conditioned part. Actually, it is stating the same thing from different perspectives. Neither part exists without the other.

Looks like you agree with the conclusion of Garfield and Priest that the ultimate is that there is no ultimate, and that the relative is all there is.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby Sherab » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:21 am

Malcolm wrote:As for dependently origination phenomena being unconditioned, the Prajñāpāramita states "Whatever arises in dependence, that in truth does not arise". The argument can be made that even so called dependently originated phenomena are unconditioned in reality, since their production cannot be ascertained at all when subjected to ultimate analysis. Again in this respect there is no contradiction between a conventionally conditioned entity having a conventionally unconditioned nature since in reality both are merely conventions. While the former bears the latter as its nature, in reality neither the former nor the latter can stand up to ultimate analysis. In other words there are no phenomena at all that can stand up to ultimate analysis.

I'll just focus on this to nail down the consequences of using both conditioned and unconditioned to apply to a phenomenon.

I take it that you have no problem if I take conditioned to be a synonym for having depended on something and unconditioned as not having depended on anything.

So what is the meaning then of "whatever arises in dependence, that in truth does not arise"?

Suppose we assumed a phenomenon A truly exists in the sense of having its own substance. Someone then comes along and shows that phenomenon A arises in dependence. Then it means that the assumption of phenomenon A having its own substance is false and therefore phenomenon A in the sense of having its own substance in truth does not arise. So in brief, the meaning of "whatever arises in dependence, that in truth does not arise" is that when phenomenon A arises in dependence, a phenomenon A having its own substance in truth does not arise. In other words, arising in dependence and having own substance are mutually exclusive.

So if we then described phenomenon A as being conditioned (arises in dependence) it does not make sense to then say that phenomenon A is also unconditioned (having its own substance and therefore need not arise in dependence). In other words, describing phenomenon A with the mutually exclusive terms of conditioned and unconditioned renders phenomenon A meaningless.

So when phenomenon A is described as being empty, it is the same as saying that phenomenon A is dependently arisen.

But, if you then defined emptiness as being unconditioned and say that phenomenon A, which dependently arisen, is therefore conditioned, and is also unconditioned because it is empty, an inherent contraction in terms between conditioned and unconditioned is introduced.

I hope it is now clearer where I am coming from.

EDIT: As a follow up to the above, when a phenomenon is examined, ultimately you see only a process i.e. dependent arising. It is in this sense that the third turning says that the ultimate is the absence of the imagined in the relative. So it is quite easy, at least for me, to see why Garfield and Priest came to the conclusion that the ultimate is that there is no ultimate. And the corollary of that conclusion is that the relative is all there is.

SECOND EDIT: When I was with the Gelugpas, I hear the phrase emptiness of emptiness quite a lot. To me, if one says that emptiness is also empty, one is actually saying that emptiness is conditioned and not unconditioned. I am not sure if the Gelugpas realize that though.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:09 pm

Sherab wrote:So what is the meaning then of "whatever arises in dependence, that in truth does not arise"?



It means simply that when you examine dependently originated phenomena you cannot ascertain that they ever arose. A phenomena that never arose is defined as "unconditioned", for example, space, which is the primary metaphor used to describe the actual nature of things. Thus, when we examine phenomena for essences we cannot find one, because phenomena do not arise by virtue of an essence, they in fact, or in truth, never arise. This is what it means to say that conditioned phenomena possess an unconditioned nature, no more and no less.

If conditioned phenomena possessed a conditioned nature, that nature would also have to arise, leading to dual arising for same phenomena, which is absurd. However, since conditioned phenomena possess an unconditioned nature their arising is only apparent, not actual, merely conventional, similar with an illusion, etc. This covers all qualms you may have.
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Re: "the Self is real" according to T. Page

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:11 pm

Sherab wrote: When I was with the Gelugpas, I hear the phrase emptiness of emptiness quite a lot. To me, if one says that emptiness is also empty, one is actually saying that emptiness is conditioned and not unconditioned. I am not sure if the Gelugpas realize that though.


To say that emptiness is empty is to merely say that emptiness does not arise, not that emptiness is conditioned. If emptiness is conditioned, so is suchness. This kind of reasoning will cause all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to turn their backs to one.
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