what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:12 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Avidya could also be translated as innocence, it is the same word.


Huh? Vidya = Knowledge. A-vidya is literally 'unknowing'.


I think "innocence" captures the meaning quite well, thinking about the Devas in the beginning of the kalpa or the world cycyle, they don't know what it is before them? They taste it out of curiosity, they are innocent of what is to follow.
"Ignorance" is a heavily loaded word in comparison, "lack of awareness" is more neutral.


That's stretching it Aemilius.
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby catmoon » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:21 pm

I think "innocence" is just as heavily loaded a word as "ignorance". Hm?
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:00 am

LastLegend wrote:What is ignorance then?

"[64] To imagine that things born through causes and conditions are real, the Teacher calls ignorance. From that the twelve members arise.

[65] But when one has understood, by seeing fully that things are empty, one is no longer deluded. Ignorance ceases, and the twelve spokes [of the wheel] come to a halt."
Nagarjuna Sunyatasaptati: Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness
http://www.fodian.net/world/70hsl.htm
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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:37 am

Aemilius wrote:"Ignorance" is a heavily loaded word in comparison, "lack of awareness" is more neutral.


But IMO avidya is a heavily loaded word. Along with craving and aversion, ignorance ( or "delusion" ) is what keeps us in the cycle of samsara and perpetuates suffering.


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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:15 pm

In a Latin dictionary we have ignorantia and inscientia, both mean "not knowing".
ignorantia is more like a-jñana
inscientia is a-vidya

Innocentia has the meaning of quiltlessness. The beginning of a world period is like a tabula rasa, a clean canvas.
The flavor of innocence is there. Same with the beginning of a new lifetime, a new birth.
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:16 pm

Aemilius wrote:Innocentia has the meaning of quiltlessness. The beginning of a world period is like a tabula rasa, a clean canvas.
The flavor of innocence is there. Same with the beginning of a new lifetime, a new birth.
Ain't nothing "tabula rasa" about rebirth, quite the contrary.
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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:57 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Innocentia has the meaning of quiltlessness. The beginning of a world period is like a tabula rasa, a clean canvas.
The flavor of innocence is there. Same with the beginning of a new lifetime, a new birth.


Ain't nothing "tabula rasa" about rebirth, quite the contrary.
:namaste:


I agree, and this is underlined by the teachings on karma and dependent origination.
And I'd suggest that "delusion" is actually a better translation of avidya, since it conveys the meaning of seeing things incorrectly.

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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:13 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Innocentia has the meaning of quiltlessness. The beginning of a world period is like a tabula rasa, a clean canvas.
The flavor of innocence is there. Same with the beginning of a new lifetime, a new birth.
Ain't nothing "tabula rasa" about rebirth, quite the contrary.
:namaste:


You have to consider what is beneficial for a person's development on the buddhist path. Your attitude falls into deterministic pessimism, it makes one think that Batchelor really has a reason behind his strategam. Great bodhisattvas like Asanga encourage people by teaching them the Buddha nature, or by teaching the emptiness of all karma, whereby the path becomes possible.
Words have no inherent existence, they change in time, their meaning changes through usage.
Dharma is a teaching that leads you to liberation, the basis for valuing its authenticity is functional.
If you see your past as emptiness, is it not cleaning the whole canvas of your life?
Every person goes through bardo before taking a new birth. The idea is somewhere in the Hundred Thousand Songs of Mila, that one comes to a new birth purified by the process of bardo.
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:37 pm

Aemilius wrote:Your attitude falls into deterministic pessimism...
Believin that karma dictates the circumstances of rebirth is deterministic pessism??? Past karma dictates where you are now, your present actions will dictate what will happen i the future. Ther is nothing pessimistic or deterministic about that.
Words have no inherent existence, they change in time, their meaning changes through usage.
What is the relevance of this point to the current discussion? Are we discussing post modernism/structuralism or are we talking about Buddhism?
Dharma is a teaching that leads you to liberation, the basis for valuing its authenticity is functional.
I agree, but so what?
If you see your past as emptiness, is it not cleaning the whole canvas of your life?
Hiding behind your finger does not make you invisible. Now while it is true that at the ultimate level all is sunyata (emptiness) until we are Buddhas, we are still subject to the effects of karma.
Every person goes through bardo before taking a new birth. The idea is somewhere in the Hundred Thousand Songs of Mila, that one comes to a new birth purified by the process of bardo.
Ummmm... have you read the Bardo Thodol? I think you will find there that the bardo of death is not an experience of purification for the common Joe, but merely an intesified experience of all their "daily" or "normal" thought forms and habits. The value of the bardo of death arises if one has a trusted teacher or vajra brother/sister to guide them through the experience, or if one has already gained some familiarity with the situation via past practice (while alive). Otherwise it's just another cold/hot day in hell for most of us!
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:51 am

Aemilius wrote:You have to consider what is beneficial for a person's development on the buddhist path. Your attitude falls into deterministic pessimism, it makes one think that Batchelor really has a reason behind his strategam. Great bodhisattvas like Asanga encourage people by teaching them the Buddha nature, or by teaching the emptiness of all karma, whereby the path becomes possible.


But if you consider a teaching like dependent origination, it's based on cause and affect and dependent arising. It's neither pessimistic or optimistic, just a description of the way things are, almost like a natural law.
Buddhism says that by practising we can "change the outcome", which is actually a very optimistic message.

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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:45 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Your attitude falls into deterministic pessimism...
Believin that karma dictates the circumstances of rebirth is deterministic pessism??? Past karma dictates where you are now, your present actions will dictate what will happen i the future. Ther is nothing pessimistic or deterministic about that.
Words have no inherent existence, they change in time, their meaning changes through usage.
What is the relevance of this point to the current discussion? Are we discussing post modernism/structuralism or are we talking about Buddhism?
Dharma is a teaching that leads you to liberation, the basis for valuing its authenticity is functional.
I agree, but so what?
If you see your past as emptiness, is it not cleaning the whole canvas of your life?
Hiding behind your finger does not make you invisible. Now while it is true that at the ultimate level all is sunyata (emptiness) until we are Buddhas, we are still subject to the effects of karma.
Every person goes through bardo before taking a new birth. The idea is somewhere in the Hundred Thousand Songs of Mila, that one comes to a new birth purified by the process of bardo.
Ummmm... have you read the Bardo Thodol? I think you will find there that the bardo of death is not an experience of purification for the common Joe, but merely an intesified experience of all their "daily" or "normal" thought forms and habits. The value of the bardo of death arises if one has a trusted teacher or vajra brother/sister to guide them through the experience, or if one has already gained some familiarity with the situation via past practice (while alive). Otherwise it's just another cold/hot day in hell for most of us!
:namaste:


I have read Bardo thödrol in its several translations, and heard the explanations of it several times, from several teachers. Tsele Natsok Randrol says that even the tiniest insect will experience the the Clear Light in the bardo of dying. If that doesn't purify you, what does?
If there was no purification almost no one would be able to take birth in a human realm again, or rise up from a lower destiny.
As we have noted before, in modern tibetan buddhism there is a marked tendency to make it resemble a gloomy form of protestant religion, where a normal Joe has no chance at all, ( if he hasn't been a member of the true church of the Vajra). Fortunately I have heard the bardo teachings that existed in 1980's.
The buddhanature actually exists in all people and all beings.
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Aemilius wrote:I have read Bardo thödrol in its several translations, and heard the explanations of it several times, from several teachers. Tsele Natsok Randrol says that even the tiniest insect will experience the the Clear Light in the bardo of dying. If that doesn't purify you, what does?
There is no doubt that one will experience the pure light during the bardo of death, the important thing is what happens after the experience. If one runs off screaming in horror away from the pure light, towards the dim lights of samsaric existence (like all of us have) then the purifying experience is pretty bloody useless wouldn't you say?
If there was no purification almost no one would be able to take birth in a human realm again, or rise up from a lower destiny.
Ummmm... actually you may find that this occurs due to karma, not due to bardo experience (granted though that bardo experiences are a form of (intense) karma too).
The buddhanature actually exists in all people and all beings.
I never denied that, but to make a lump of coal into a diamond takes the correct causes and conditions and these are brought about through our actions (which our practice forms a portion of). Nothing happens by chance my friend. Habitual thought patterns play a huge role during the bardo of death thus, whether you consider it pessimistic or not, the "average Joe" is just going to crash straight back into samsara. It's got nothing to do with pessimism and optimisim and everything to do with reality. Basically: no pain, no gain.

Anyway, if the bardo of death is a purification process then none of us would be in samsara now would we? I mean through our countelss births, deaths and rebirths we have gone through the bardo of death an infinite number of times but, lo and behold, we are still here, stuck in samsara, talking crap on Buddhist chat boards... :shrug:
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:10 pm

To Gregkavarnos

There are atleast two issues here:
1. Because of the countless past lives, you can't really say what the average Joe has done in his 500 previous lives, can you?
You can't really judge a person's status at all, therefore you can't know what he is going to experience in the bardo, etc...

2. What is it that purifies one's karma and habitual tendencies ? Nagarjuna says that karma is not purified by abandoning, but by meditating. The Abhidharma says that the attainment of Dhyana is always a weighty karma, and attaining insight or Vipashyana is what really eradicates past karma. The basic teachings of Shakyamuni say that generosity and morality (shila) will counteract, and gradually annul, one's bad karma.
The teachings of Prajna Paramita say that one single instant of Prajna will purify the whole mass of ignorance. I believe that a single instant of the experience Clear Light will purify the infinite past karma. Also, is it not said in the Bardo Thödrol over again, and in different ways, that the deceased will become liberated in a single instant?
If you believe in Mahayana practices, you can visualize that all beings attain liberation, is that not so? Definitely you should not visualize or imagine the contrary!
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:38 pm

Aemilius wrote: 1. Because of the countless past lives, you can't really say what the average Joe has done in his 500 previous lives, can you?
You can't really judge a person's status at all, therefore you can't know what he is going to experience in the bardo, etc...
To paraphrase the Buddha: If you want to know what you were before look at what you are now, if you want to see what you will be in the future, look at what you are now. Anything more than that is pure delusion.
What is it that purifies one's karma and habitual tendencies ? Nagarjuna says that karma is not purified by abandoning, but by meditating. The Abhidharma says that the attainment of Dhyana is always a weighty karma, and attaining insight or Vipashyana is what really eradicates past karma. The basic teachings of Shakyamuni say that generosity and morality (shila) will counteract, and gradually annul, one's bad karma.
So karma purifies karma, wanna tell me something I don't know?
The teachings of Prajna Paramita say that one single instant of Prajna will purify the whole mass of ignorance.
Sure, if you can remain in it.
I believe that a single instant of the experience Clear Light will purify the infinite past karma. Also, is it not said in the Bardo Thödrol over again, and in different ways, that the deceased will become liberated in a single instant
It sure does, but it seems to me that you have skipped a major detail:
"Oh Child of the Buddha, if you do not recognise these phenomena to be natural manifestations, whatever meditative practices you may have undertaken in the human world, if you have not previously encountered this present instruction, you will fear the light, you will be awed by the sound and you will be terrified by the rays. If you do not understand this essential point of the teaching you will not recognise the sounds, the lights and the rays, and you will continue to roam within the cycles of existence." The Tibetan Book of the Dead gyurme Dorje (trans.)

Get over it my friend, the bardo of death is not necessarily liberatory, no more than the bardo of existence, or sleep, or etc... is necessarily liberatory. It's like saying that dawn is liberatory but dusk, noon and night time is not.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:58 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote: 1. Because of the countless past lives, you can't really say what the average Joe has done in his 500 previous lives, can you?
You can't really judge a person's status at all, therefore you can't know what he is going to experience in the bardo, etc...
To paraphrase the Buddha: If you want to know what you were before look at what you are now, if you want to see what you will be in the future, look at what you are now. Anything more than that is pure delusion.


If you say that you can know a person by looking at what he is now, how can you know you are not looking at delusion? -Your own delusion?

There is story in the Pali Canon, a story that is also in the Salistambha Mahayana Sutra, in it Ananda has been coming to Buddha repeatedly asking about the destiny of such and such person who has resently died. The Bhagavan says that it is enough now and that hence forward Ananda, and everyone else, should be mindful of their own deeds, be mindful of their own minds, and thus be sure about their own destinies.
Previously, in some other sutras, the Bhagavan had given answers to inquiries about deceased persons. For example there is a sutta in Udana Vagga where a harem of a king has burned down and several hundred harem ladies have perished and died. Then the Bhagavan says that so and so many of the deceased women were stream entrants, so many were once returners and so many were non-returners.
This gives us an important insight into Bhagavan Shakyamuni's teaching career, most likely He had been teaching after an offered meal at the King's palace. The harem ladies had been present, and had listened to His teaching with excellent results!
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:24 pm

Aemilius wrote:If you say that you can know a person by looking at what he is now, how can you know you are not looking at delusion? -Your own delusion?
You have completely misinterpreted my statement. The Buddhas statement has nothing to do with judgement and everything to do with cause and effect. If somebody is constantly hateful and angry during the bardo of this existence they will, most probably, be angry and hateful during the bardo of death and (in the absence of ripening of a stronger past karma vipakka) the outcome of this intense emotion will be that they will not recognise the clear light of their own true nature and will be reborn in a hell realm (due to their anger) or as an animal (due to their ignorance). It's that simple. If you don't believe me then go read the Maha-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Great Exposition of Kamma http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html or the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Shorter Exposition of Kamma http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html or the teachings to the actor Talaputa http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html or to the warrior Yodhajiva http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html or to the ascetic Kukkuravatika http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html etc...
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:58 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote:If you say that you can know a person by looking at what he is now, how can you know you are not looking at delusion? -Your own delusion?
You have completely misinterpreted my statement. The Buddhas statement has nothing to do with judgement and everything to do with cause and effect. If somebody is constantly hateful and angry during the bardo of this existence they will, most probably, be angry and hateful during the bardo of death and (in the absence of ripening of a stronger past karma vipakka) the outcome of this intense emotion will be that they will not recognise the clear light of their own true nature and will be reborn in a hell realm (due to their anger) or as an animal (due to their ignorance). It's that simple. If you don't believe me then go read the Maha-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Great Exposition of Kamma http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html or the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Shorter Exposition of Kamma http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html or the teachings to the actor Talaputa http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html or to the warrior Yodhajiva http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html or to the ascetic Kukkuravatika http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html etc...
:namaste:


I have quite understood your statement. Karma is intention and what is intended ( acts of body and speech). The example of the courtesans is there to show us persons that are generally thought to be lustful, overcome by sense-desire, but then it is found out that they were actually enlightened!
Same thing could occur with regard to hatred, although there are not that many known examples of it. In the Pali Canon we have general Simha. In Chan and Zen there are enlightened military persons; generals and samurai. It maybe rare, but it does exist. In some of the longer Prajna Paramita sutras there is something about battlefields, about war. This is in Edward Conze's books. Generally this is not accepted in the mainstream Buddhism. Can you kill in a state of selflessness? As an expression of relative and absolute bodhicitta ? This could easily lead to justifying acts of hatred and malice with "bodhicitta". I'm not encouraging indulgence in hatred. But true selflessness.
At one time I read a lot of pali suttas, in my understanding Mahayana goes beyond it.
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:09 pm

Aemilius wrote: At one time I read a lot of pali suttas, in my understanding Mahayana goes beyond it.
The only thing beyond cause and effect is Buddhahood.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:59 pm

I think that the cause of ignorance is weak concentration and absence of sati. Ajahn Chah was fond of saying that concentration is a vital ingredient for prajna to arise.

We are confronted by a panorama inside, and a panorama outside (Tenzin Palmo's words) - and the unfocused mind gets confused.

A better question is "what is the cause of confusion," in my opinion. I seem to remember Chah saying that confusion arises because we are not clearly discerning attraction or aversion to an object of consciousness - we aren't sure what we want, which is another symptom of the unconcentrated state.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: what is the cause of Avidyā(ignorance)?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:59 am

gregkavarnos wrote:So karma purifies karma, wanna tell me something I don't know?


Though true in some sense, this isn't good enough. In the teaching of the twelve nidanas there are enumerated three kinds of action: meritorious, demeritorious and immovable action; and three kinds of results.
Third kind of action is what produces the two higher realms in samsara: Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu. It is the action of being in dhyana, in samadhi. It is very powerful, it destroys the kamma of taking birth in the Kamadhatu. Its result is birth in some of the levels in the two higher realms. It is classified as a weighty (positive) karma-result. Dhyana is a qualitatively different action, in comparison with action in Kamadhatu.
Fourthly we have prajna, which is normally not counted as action. It has results and effects that come into the category of destroying past karmic seeds.

It was good to refresh one's memory by reading Kamma suttas and the stories of Talaputra, Seniya and others,... Thank you!
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