What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:23 pm

5heaps wrote:Namdrol gave the example of the stick with fire, spinning and forming an illusion of a circle.
can you hold the circle? no. illusion.
can you hold the stick? yes. not an illusion.

period. therefore at best all you can say is the stick is like-an-illusion.
to say it is an illusion is to say the stick is like the circle, and then you would be a nihilist.


I'm quite sure Namdrol did not use the example in this fashion. A sentient being holding a stick is illusory, to a Buddha, in the same way the circle is illusory to you and me. For sentient beings such as ourselves, the appearance of the sentient being, and the stick, appear to exist in a way that they do not.


furthermore physical matter does not cast out false impressions at you. false impressions are your mind. therefore this as well is not a valid argument, saying that the cake is an illusion just because ones mind has never had a fullblown valid cognition of one before.

"Physical matter" is also your mind.


Look, if it helps, we can also say that "correct impressions" are your mind, as well. How could they be otherwise? There are only "impressions," after all, that we can talk about...without them, there is no discourse, nothing.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:16 pm

5heaps wrote:Namdrol gave the example of the stick with fire, spinning and forming an illusion of a circle.
can you hold the circle? no. illusion.
can you hold the stick? yes. not an illusion.
.


If you say the fire circle is illusory because it arises from the cause and condition of whirling a fire brand, for what reason is the fire brand not illusory, since it too arises from causes and conditions?
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby catmoon » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:26 pm

One appears to some senses and not others.

The other appears to all senses, and the appearances are all consistent with each other.

But I see no reason the consistent appearances of the stick should be considered any less illusory than the fire circle. For some reason we tend to think that if the witnesses of sight sound touch etc are in agreement, they are telling the absolute truth. I guess it makes the illusion compelling.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:35 am

Namdrol wrote:
5heaps wrote:Namdrol gave the example of the stick with fire, spinning and forming an illusion of a circle.
can you hold the circle? no. illusion.
can you hold the stick? yes. not an illusion.
.


If you say the fire circle is illusory because it arises from the cause and condition of whirling a fire brand, for what reason is the fire brand not illusory, since it too arises from causes and conditions?


It is not said that the circle is an illusion becasue it arises from causes and conditions, it is said becasue there is no circle. The fire brand is not illusory because there is a firebrand.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:43 am

conebeckham wrote: A sentient being holding a stick is illusory, to a Buddha, in the same way the circle is illusory to you and me.

no, becasue there is a sentient being there, but there is no circle.

conebeckham wrote: For sentient beings such as ourselves, the appearance of the sentient being, and the stick, appear to exist in a way that they do not.


yes, that's true. But the perception that the circle appear to exist at all is a mistake, whereas to say htat the sentient being and stick exist is not a mistake, as long as you do not mean existence by way of an essence. It is the failure to make this key distinction, at least the failure to make it explicitly, that continually reduces your position to something less than it might otherwise be.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:54 am

cloudburst wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
5heaps wrote:Namdrol gave the example of the stick with fire, spinning and forming an illusion of a circle.
can you hold the circle? no. illusion.
can you hold the stick? yes. not an illusion.
.


If you say the fire circle is illusory because it arises from the cause and condition of whirling a fire brand, for what reason is the fire brand not illusory, since it too arises from causes and conditions?


It is not said that the circle is an illusion becasue it arises from causes and conditions, it is said becasue there is no circle. The fire brand is not illusory because there is a firebrand.


There is a circle when it appears, because causes and conditions to produce that circle are present; likewise, when the causes and conditions of a firebrand exist a firebrand appears. In this way we can understand that all phenomena are equally and totally illusory because no phenomenon can appear in absence of causes and conditions for that phenomenon's appearance regardless of whether it is a fire circle or a fire brand.

Illusory means "apparent, yet unreal". So to, all phenomena are apparent, yet unreal.

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:09 am

Namdrol wrote:
There is a circle when it appears, because causes and conditions to produce that circle are present; likewise, when the causes and conditions of a firebrand exist a firebrand appears.


No, you need sharper distinctions. A man can appear to be a policeman without being one. In such a case, you have an illusion of a policeman. If you say an actual policeman is equally illusory, you are lost, and this will be obvious to anyone who can think clearly and make clear distinctions. In the first case, you are incorrect about what appears, in the second, about what is apprehended.

The circle appears to have points of light in all sixty degrees, it does not. The firebrand appears to be a firebrand, and so it is.

Namdrol wrote: In this way we can understand that all phenomena are equally and totally illusory because no phenomenon can appear in absence of causes and conditions for that phenomenon's appearance regardless of whether it is a fire circle or a fire brand.


In terms of an essence, all phenomena lack. Some are valid conventions, others not.

Namdrol wrote:Illusory means "apparent, yet unreal". So to, all phenomena are apparent, yet unreal.


In your example, the firebrand is appearing but unreal, but it appears to a valid mind, free from causes of error. The circle is simply non existent, the mind to which it appears is a wrong awareness. You are equivocating sir.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:14 am

Greetings,

Namdrol wrote:There is a circle when it appears, because causes and conditions to produce that circle are present; likewise, when the causes and conditions of a firebrand exist a firebrand appears. In this way we can understand that all phenomena are equally and totally illusory because no phenomenon can appear in absence of causes and conditions for that phenomenon's appearance regardless of whether it is a fire circle or a fire brand.

Illusory means "apparent, yet unreal". So to, all phenomena are apparent, yet unreal.

Indeed. It's not about whether things exist materially "out there". It's the recognition that whatever is experienced is an formed (samskata) experience of name-and-form as opposed to an experience of "external object".

Obsessing over the supposedly objective existence and non-existence of particular external objects is irrelevant metaphysics.

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:36 am

cloudburst wrote:no, becasue there is a sentient being there, but there is no circle.


cloudburst wrote:yes, that's true. But the perception that the circle appear to exist at all is a mistake, whereas to say htat the sentient being and stick exist is not a mistake, as long as you do not mean existence by way of an essence. It is the failure to make this key distinction, at least the failure to make it explicitly, that continually reduces your position to something less than it might otherwise be.


So according to you, the circle and the sentient being both lack essence, but the sentient being is deemed truly existent while the circle isn't? How do you come to this conclusion? When you say the sentient being and circle both mutually lack essence, what do you mean by that? Can you elaborate? How do two essenceless 'things' acquire contrasting designations regarding their respective existences? What is the nature of said 'essence' which is lacked (according to you)?
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:16 pm

cloudburst wrote:
In your example, the firebrand is appearing but unreal, but it appears to a valid mind, free from causes of error. The circle is simply non existent, the mind to which it appears is a wrong awareness. You are equivocating sir.


If you assert that the mind apprehending the firebrand is valid, you must also have a valid object of cognition. This requires the prameya, the object of a valid cognition, which bear intrinsic characteristics from its own side; it must be a valid object prior to its apprehension.

In order to have a valid cognition (pramana) there must be a prameya. But if you claim, as you have, that even the fire brand is unreal, you have eliminated the basis for your claim that a mind that apprehends it can be valid since the definition of a valid cognition depends on the apprehension of a valid object —— a firebrand is not such an object, since you admit it is unreal.

If a valid cognition is valid, it must be valid intrinsically, in which case it needs not depend on a valid object of cognition. Likewise, a valid object of cognition must be intrinsically valid in its own right, independently of a valid cognition. In which case, all minds apprehending valid objects are valid, just as all objects apprehended by a valid cognition must be valid. Since this is so, the whole basis of your argument from the point of view of pramana fails, because you cannot establish the verity of valid cognition to begin with, and certainly there cannot be a valid cognition of something unreal free from error.

You may say, for example, that "the cognition of the firebrand as unreal is a valid cognition". This only works if you admit that all phenomena which are apprehensible by a valid cognition are unreal as well. In this case you are forced to define a valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena. For that reason then, there is no good reason to make a distinction between phenomena such as fire circles, apparent, yet unreal; and fire brands, equally apparent, yet unreal. Hence we can state without error that all phenomena are completley equivalent with illusions, as it is proved eloquently by Rongzom Chökyi Pandita.

This may be frigtening to those who cling to notions of relative and ultimate truth.


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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:38 pm

:good:
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:45 pm

Just to be clear, no one is asserting that there is no difference,on the level of conventional appearance, between the appearance of the circle of fire, and the appearance of the stick, or the sentient being, for that matter. But ascribing any sort of "reality" to any of these is not the intent of Mahdyamika.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:48 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:
So according to you, the circle and the sentient being both lack essence, but the sentient being is deemed truly existent while the circle isn't?




no.

asunthatneversets wrote:When you say the sentient being and circle both mutually lack essence, what do you mean by that?


I mean the same as you see in the writings of the great Indian Madhyamikas, like Nagarjuna, Buddhapalita, Aryadeva, and Chandrakirti. All phenomena are empty of, or lack, a nature of their own.

asunthatneversets wrote:How do two essenceless 'things' acquire contrasting designations regarding their respective existences?

They do not. One exists and is essenceless, which is the only way anything can exist, the other does not exist in any fashion.

asunthatneversets wrote:What is the nature of said 'essence' which is lacked (according to you)?


It has no nature as it it has no existence whatever.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:41 pm

Namdrol wrote:
cloudburst wrote:
In your example, the firebrand is appearing but unreal, but it appears to a valid mind, free from causes of error. The circle is simply non existent, the mind to which it appears is a wrong awareness. You are equivocating sir.


If you assert that the mind apprehending the firebrand is valid, you must also have a valid object of cognition. This requires the prameya, the object of a valid cognition, which bear intrinsic characteristics from its own side; it must be a valid object prior to its apprehension.


This is an unfortunate tack to take. You are presenting valid cognition from the point of view of the Suatrantikas, "dancing on books" as it were. I am using the terms as used by Prasangikas. As a result, this

Namdrol wrote:If a valid cognition is valid, it must be valid intrinsically, in which case it needs not depend on a valid object of cognition.


is an image of you savaging a straw man. Prasnagikas never refute valid cognition, although they do strongly and continuously refute intrinsic existence.

Namdrol wrote:You may say, for example, that "the cognition of the firebrand as unreal is a valid cognition".


This is one type of valid cognition

Namdrol wrote:This only works if you admit that all phenomena which are apprehensible by a valid cognition are unreal as well. In this case you are forced to define a valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena.


This is sloppy reasoning. In this case we may define one type of valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena. There may be other valid cognitions that apprehend conventions whose ultimate nature is unreality.

Namdrol wrote:For that reason then, there is no good reason to make a distinction between phenomena such as fire circles, apparent, yet unreal; and fire brands, equally apparent, yet unreal.


Since the reason is a miss, we can conclude that the conclusion is also wide of the mark, despite the approbation of DN.

Namdrol wrote:Hence we can state without error that all phenomena are completley equivalent with illusions, as it is proved eloquently by Rongzom Chökyi Pandita.


Rongdom got it rong. Present his case and we'll pull that apart also. I've read the Koppl book, and found at least her description of Rogzom's presentation unimpressive. Apparently, he argued that conventionally produced phenomena cannot function even relatively. This is claimed to be becasue when you analyze phenomena, the lose any appearance of functionality, even on the relative level. Of course by analyzing, you have already left the conventional, but this error is either not perceived or not perceived as problematic to Mr Pandita. It is suggested that perhaps RP was not aware of Chandrakirti, as he apparently fails to understand that conventionalities depend on awareness, but are no objectively considered functional.

In any case it may be unfair to hold Rongzom to the standard of Ms Koppl's scholarship, perhaps others can clarify his views beyond what is presented here.

Namdrol wrote:This may be frigtening to those who cling to notions of relative and ultimate truth.


I do find your reasoning frightening, but not becasue I cling to any such notions, though I do uphold them, as did all the great Madhyamikas, esp Buddha Shakyamuni. The really frightening bit is where you abandon the Madhayamaka by abandoning the two truths. Or do you? Perhaps you accept the two truths in a way that is free from clinging?

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:52 pm

conebeckham wrote:Just to be clear, no one is asserting that there is no difference,on the level of conventional appearance, between the appearance of the circle of fire, and the appearance of the stick, or the sentient being, for that matter.


Thank you Cone, I always find your posts reasonable and well presented.

conebeckham wrote: But ascribing any sort of "reality" to any of these is not the intent of Mahdyamika.

If you mean reality in the sense of "real existence," I totally agree.

What is your terminological means of distinction here? that might help me to better understand this style of presentation. How would you describe the difference between a real tiger and a magicians illusion, or a snake and a striped rope, as relates to the perception of a snake, or tiger. (in other words, please don't say that one is a snake and one is a rope, that would be facile)

As you present above, there would surely be a difference between a real Rolex and a fake, and that is, conventionally speaking a correct use of the word real. Therefore there is a sense in which there can be said to be real things. Of course we are using real in a specialized sense here, and I appreciate that. I am just one for getting that out in the open up front to prevent confusion.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Anders » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:53 pm

cloudburst wrote:Of course by analyzing, you have already left the conventional.


I.... what?


Tibetan Madhyamika is weird sometimes.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:44 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
cloudburst wrote:Of course by analyzing, you have already left the conventional.


I.... what?


Tibetan Madhyamika is weird sometimes.



ha ha !

A.H., you have the smoothest profile pic of all!

I just meant that when we analyze something, we are seeking something that can be found upon investigation, something intrinsic or ultimate, so this is no longer in the realm of the conventional. Chandrakirti repeatedly warned against analyzing conventions, but rather accepting the valid perceptions of the world as the world does. So it is Indian Madhayamaka, really, although the Tibetans take something weird (but fabulous) and make it weirder still.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:16 pm

cloudburst wrote:
is an image of you savaging a straw man. Prasnagikas never refute valid cognition, although they do strongly and continuously refute intrinsic existence.


Nagārajuna refutes valid cognition in the Vigrahavyavartani. Since he does not accept it, ergo, neither does Madhyamaka in general.



Namdrol wrote:You may say, for example, that "the cognition of the firebrand as unreal is a valid cognition".


This is one type of valid cognition


This is sloppy reasoning. In this case we may define one type of valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena. There may be other valid cognitions that apprehend conventions whose ultimate nature is unreality.


Then you must admit that valid objects exist. Then you must explain their existence. This can only be done of you accept independent existence.


Namdrol wrote:Hence we can state without error that all phenomena are completley equivalent with illusions, as it is proved eloquently by Rongzom Chökyi Pandita.


Rongdom got it rong. Present his case and we'll pull that apart also. I've read the Koppl book,


I have not read her book. But I have read Rongzom.




Namdrol wrote:This may be frigtening to those who cling to notions of relative and ultimate truth.


I do find your reasoning frightening, but not becasue I cling to any such notions, though I do uphold them, as did all the great Madhyamikas, esp Buddha Shakyamuni. The really frightening bit is where you abandon the Madhayamaka by abandoning the two truths. Or do you? Perhaps you accept the two truths in a way that is free from clinging?


"Since the jinas have stated nirvana is the sole truth, at that time, what wise person would think "the rest is not the opposite".
-- Yuktiṣaṣṭika

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:08 pm

cloudburst wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:So according to you, the circle and the sentient being both lack essence, but the sentient being is deemed truly existent while the circle isn't?

no.


Then you're proposing that the sentient being/firebrand lack essence (but are truly existent) and the circle exists in no way whatsoever?

cloudburst wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:When you say the sentient being and circle both mutually lack essence, what do you mean by that?

I mean the same as you see in the writings of the great Indian Madhyamikas, like Nagarjuna, Buddhapalita, Aryadeva, and Chandrakirti. All phenomena are empty of, or lack, a nature of their own.


I understand that, I was inquiring about your own interpretation of the great Indian Mādhyamakas, because your assertions seem to contradict the view Mādhyamaka conveys and generates (or at least it conflicts with my own interpretation).

cloudburst wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:How do two essenceless 'things' acquire contrasting designations regarding their respective existences?

They do not. One exists and is essenceless, which is the only way anything can exist, the other does not exist in any fashion.


So in what manner does this essenceless manifestation truly exist? To arrive at your conclusion of essencelessness, (in the case of the sentient being and firebrand) are you approaching the deconstruction of these alleged "objects" from the standpoint of initially accepting their objecthood as genuinely valid, and then proceeding (under the influence of that presupposition) with the application of emptiness? In granting the sentient being and/or firebrand the title of "existent" it seems that dependent origination is either being applied incorrectly or is falling short of it's intended mark... this could simply be a difference in views though. I'm failing to understand how emptiness allows what you're suggesting(even under the guise of the conventional/absolute dichotomy).

cloudburst wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:What is the nature of said 'essence' which is lacked (according to you)?

It has no nature as it it has no existence whatever.


If the firebrand and sentient being both exist but lack essence. And the lacked essence in turn naturally lacks existence. How then are the firebrand and sentient being acquiring existence? For something to exist, isn't essential being required? Since they both lack essence(and are found to be empty when meticulously investigated), wouldn't it seem they are misconceptions? And are therefore the same as the illusory fire circle?
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:10 pm

Just to throw things a little off track here, don't Theravadrans consider the mahabhuta to be actually existing elements and the screen onto which we project the inherent existence of compounded (ie composed of mahabhuta) phenomena? At least that is what I have understood from my readings on Theravadran Abhidhamma.
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