Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:48 am

Challenge23 wrote:Thank you very much for all of the replies.

First, I e-mailed my teacher about 10 seconds ago. I will continue to practice until I hear from him.

Second, there was something that I didn't add that I should. The situation I am in can be compared to when you are doing the type of math homework where you have the answers at the back of the book. You know when you are working on a problem and you do all of the work, check it twice and you are not getting the answer the back of the book says you are supposed to get? Where you are 100% certain that you are following all of the steps that you should be following and just as certain that the answer in the back of the book is right and they just.aren't.meeting?

That's it in a nutshell.


There isn't an answer. At least not a conceptual answer. So it's best to stop looking for one.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Lindama » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:25 am

If you have the answers at the back of the book, why are you asking? Find them, you will love yourself for it.

"Do Vajrasattva instead of prostrations"

Your teacher is right when he says this... you have created so many ideas that you can't see it. I am not one to blindly follow any advice, but your teacher is right on connecting you with vajrasattva who can connect you to the strength within yourself. Look inside, most advice has nothing to do with you. Patience, see for yourself.... drop this comparative religion doubt... or drop it all. Go for the 1%, YOURS!

blessings
:namaste:
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:47 am

Whatever practice a practitioner performs, the key purpose for that practice is to understand non-fixation. To have an experience of non-fixation. Trust that all of these practices you find in the Ngondro are leading you in that direction.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:09 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Whatever practice a practitioner performs, the key purpose for that practice is to understand non-fixation. To have an experience of non-fixation. Trust that all of these practices you find in the Ngondro are leading you in that direction.


You seemed to be very fixated on the term "non-fixation".
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:43 pm

Ngondro is about developing your non-fixation skillset. Nothing more than that.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:58 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Ngondro is about developing your non-fixation skillset. Nothing more than that.
Uuuuuuuummm... I think it is a little bit more than that.
"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: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:40 pm

dude wrote:Tell me more about that.
What answer in the book doesn't jibe with your calculations?


Sure thing.

In a nutshell one of the few things that all schools of Buddhism without exception agree on is that Enlightenment is a good thing. Everyone from the most unconventional Nyingma to the most ardent Theravadin all agree that Enlightenment is a great thing even if they agree on absolutely nothing else. People are willing to sacrifice everything and more over the course of not just this lifetime but hundreds or even thousands of lives.

So, logically, it stands to reason that when you look into what Enlightenment is it should be unambiguously awesome from the earliest mentions of Buddhism all the way until today.

What I am actually finding when looking at the very early Sutras, including ones the variations of which are considered to be closest to what the Buddha actually taught, is that the goodness of Enlightenment is entirely relative. For someone who lived in the 6th century BCE where life, even as a noble, was nasty brutish and short the idea of the self not existing and the final result of a holy life is that your consciousness vanishes like a fire going out(an analogy used to describe Nirvana) sounds pretty awesome.

To me, on the other hand, that sounds utterly horrifying. Yes, life can be deeply unsatisfactory but obliterating your consciousness seems a little extreme and working to annihilate the consciousness of every sentient being in existence(which is what a Bodhisattva would be doing if this explanation were true) seems even worse.

And the justification of, "Well, the self doesn't exist anyway so when it is annihilated then nothing is actually destroyed" is unsatisfying in the extreme.

The problem I am running into is that even though I know that Enlightenment is a good thing, I also know that annihilation of consciousness is a bad thing. And I also know that the hypothesis that the Nirvana as the Buddha taught was a sort of super-annihilation that he could call not nihilism due to a subtle point fits the information(the analogies we have for Nirvana, the part in the Nidanavaggasamyutta where it is said that " mere bodily remains will be left" when an Arhant dies, the fact that as time passes schools of Buddhism have become more and more vague about what Nirvana is and made the actual goal of Nirvana harder to obtain, etc) we have extremely well. So since all of these cannot be true there has to be a flaw in my research, some source I'm not finding.

So, to sum up.

The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"

One last thing, I can't put enough emphasis on the fact that I think that my conclusions have to be wrong. I am not saying that Enlightenment is the utter annihilation of consciousness. I am saying that my research has brought me to that conclusion and that means that my research has to be wrong somewhere. I am hoping someone can point me to the flaw in my logic that will work out this paradox.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby smcj » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:53 pm

One last thing, I can't put enough emphasis on the fact that I think that my conclusions have to be wrong. I am not saying that Enlightenment is the utter annihilation of consciousness. I am saying that my research has brought me to that conclusion and that means that my research has to be wrong somewhere. I am hoping someone can point me to the flaw in my logic that will work out this paradox.

You've come to the right place. This is a Mahayana & Vajrayana website. That idea that enlightenment is simply cessation is an old-school idea. Plus you are doing Vajrayana practice, so you've bought into an anachronistic idea.

The Vajrayana accepts the idea that you have a Buddha Nature that does not cease upon enlightenment. It is already there, like the sun behind the clouds. When the clouds part the Buddha Nature finds full expression and is your own enlightenment.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:00 pm

smcj wrote:You've come to the right place. This is a Mahayana & Vajrayana website. That idea that enlightenment is simply cessation is an old-school idea. Plus you are doing Vajrayana practice, so you've bought into an anachronistic idea.

The Vajrayana accepts the idea that you have a Buddha Nature that does not cease upon enlightenment. It is already there, like the sun behind the clouds. When the clouds part the Buddha Nature finds full expression and is your own enlightenment.


First, thank you. That is very helpful. Second, now I feel dumb having bugged my teacher about it(the answer seems so simple, really). Well, at least I was really nice about it, put emphasis that I knew this was a wrong view and he has really tangible evidence that the "crazy crap that comes up when you do Dorje Sempa" part of the practice is happening.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby smcj » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:17 pm

...and he has really tangible evidence that the "crazy crap that comes up when you do Dorje Sempa" part of the practice is happening.

The "crazy crap" phenomena is part of the purification. Good you know about it. I think of it as like a karmic laxative.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:49 pm

The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"


It's been a while since I broke open Pali Suttas and commentaries, but I think you are incorrect here, Nirvana, and the references to "blowing out" are not references to complete annihilation, but a state which is outside even the reference of those sorts of polarities, even in the Pali Canon there is repeated reference to the wrong-headedness of ideas like complete annihilation, and complete eternal existence...to the point where the Buddha wouldn't even answer questions framed that way. There are also a few places where The Buddha talks like "There is A realm that is neither hot nor cold"...etc., it does not seem he is describing annihilation in the sense that you have attached to.

I've also read numerous commentaries that allude to the fact that it is so easy for us as Westerners to make these leaps in reading Buddhist texts that lead to nihilism, simply due to our own conditioning in terms of philosophical categories.

What is referred to is the annihilation of the false sense of self, and all that goes along with that. If you aren't reading commentaries along with the Pali stuff, i'd advise it.

Buddhism generally seems to go out of it's way to never really answer the question "what is is enlightenment"..seemingly by design lol.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby dude » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:22 am

The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"

Your math is dead on target. The Mahayana refutation of the Theravada says exactly that : "The ultimate outcome of Theravada is to annihilate the consciousness and reduce the body to ashes."
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:27 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"


It's been a while since I broke open Pali Suttas and commentaries, but I think you are incorrect here, Nirvana, and the references to "blowing out" are not references to complete annihilation, but a state which is outside even the reference of those sorts of polarities, even in the Pali Canon there is repeated reference to the wrong-headedness of ideas like complete annihilation, and complete eternal existence...to the point where the Buddha wouldn't even answer questions framed that way. There are also a few places where The Buddha talks like "There is A realm that is neither hot nor cold"...etc., it does not seem he is describing annihilation in the sense that you have attached to.

I've also read numerous commentaries that allude to the fact that it is so easy for us as Westerners to make these leaps in reading Buddhist texts that lead to nihilism, simply due to our own conditioning in terms of philosophical categories.

What is referred to is the annihilation of the false sense of self, and all that goes along with that. If you aren't reading commentaries along with the Pali stuff, i'd advise it.

Buddhism generally seems to go out of it's way to never really answer the question "what is is enlightenment"..seemingly by design lol.


He is doing Vajrayana ngondro so I don't think he is reading the Pali Canon. All the same, what you are saying is completely true.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:29 am

dude wrote:Your math is dead on target. The Mahayana refutation of the Theravada says exactly that : "The ultimate outcome of Theravada is to annihilate the consciousness and reduce the body to ashes."


I tend to think that is rooted in nothing but a profound misunderstanding of Theravada.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:46 am

Challenge23 wrote:
dude wrote:Tell me more about that.
What answer in the book doesn't jibe with your calculations?


Sure thing.

In a nutshell one of the few things that all schools of Buddhism without exception agree on is that Enlightenment is a good thing. Everyone from the most unconventional Nyingma to the most ardent Theravadin all agree that Enlightenment is a great thing even if they agree on absolutely nothing else. People are willing to sacrifice everything and more over the course of not just this lifetime but hundreds or even thousands of lives.

So, logically, it stands to reason that when you look into what Enlightenment is it should be unambiguously awesome from the earliest mentions of Buddhism all the way until today.

What I am actually finding when looking at the very early Sutras, including ones the variations of which are considered to be closest to what the Buddha actually taught, is that the goodness of Enlightenment is entirely relative. For someone who lived in the 6th century BCE where life, even as a noble, was nasty brutish and short the idea of the self not existing and the final result of a holy life is that your consciousness vanishes like a fire going out(an analogy used to describe Nirvana) sounds pretty awesome.

To me, on the other hand, that sounds utterly horrifying. Yes, life can be deeply unsatisfactory but obliterating your consciousness seems a little extreme and working to annihilate the consciousness of every sentient being in existence(which is what a Bodhisattva would be doing if this explanation were true) seems even worse.

And the justification of, "Well, the self doesn't exist anyway so when it is annihilated then nothing is actually destroyed" is unsatisfying in the extreme.

The problem I am running into is that even though I know that Enlightenment is a good thing, I also know that annihilation of consciousness is a bad thing. And I also know that the hypothesis that the Nirvana as the Buddha taught was a sort of super-annihilation that he could call not nihilism due to a subtle point fits the information(the analogies we have for Nirvana, the part in the Nidanavaggasamyutta where it is said that " mere bodily remains will be left" when an Arhant dies, the fact that as time passes schools of Buddhism have become more and more vague about what Nirvana is and made the actual goal of Nirvana harder to obtain, etc) we have extremely well. So since all of these cannot be true there has to be a flaw in my research, some source I'm not finding.

So, to sum up.

The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"

One last thing, I can't put enough emphasis on the fact that I think that my conclusions have to be wrong. I am not saying that Enlightenment is the utter annihilation of consciousness. I am saying that my research has brought me to that conclusion and that means that my research has to be wrong somewhere. I am hoping someone can point me to the flaw in my logic that will work out this paradox.


There are a few glaring issues that I think perhaps are causing you problems:

1) Mixing of traditions. You are engaged in Vajrayana ngondro and yet seem to be relying on Sutrayana teachings as your ground. This doesn't really work, for though both are perfectly valid they are distinct methods. What you are doing could be likened to using a screwdriver to hammer a nail into a board.

2) You are misapprehending dualistic mind as awareness, and thus are interpreting the cessation of dualistic mind as the cessation of awareness. This is a fundamental misunderstanding that will naturally cause one to come to the conclusions you are coming to.

3) You do not seem to have full confidence in your teacher, and by extension lack confidence in his teachings. This is a fundamentally fatal flaw for Vajrayana practice.

All of these things need to be worked out directly with your teacher. Nothing more to it than that.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Gwenn Dana » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:18 am

In my humble opinion, enlightenment is not a good thing in terms of moral standards, through which "good" and "bad" are usually perceived, since it resides beyond morals. A world of enlightenment does not need moral judgement in good and bad. It is "good" in a karmic sense, so that it will change how the proceedings of this world will reflect back on you. The widespread use of moral judgement is probably one of the reasons enlightenment is "good" to begin with. It always comes with a notion of "not living up to it", or "denying yourself something to fulfil it" which is felt as a constant lack or incompleteness.

I think Enlightenment is "good" in that it will eradicate that feeling of incompleteness. It does not mean devastation of life, but loves life. No ... "matter" what :-)

:anjali:
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby dude » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:47 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:In my humble opinion, enlightenment is not a good thing in terms of moral standards, through which "good" and "bad" are usually perceived, since it resides beyond morals. A world of enlightenment does not need moral judgement in good and bad. It is "good" in a karmic sense, so that it will change how the proceedings of this world will reflect back on you. The widespread use of moral judgement is probably one of the reasons enlightenment is "good" to begin with. It always comes with a notion of "not living up to it", or "denying yourself something to fulfil it" which is felt as a constant lack or incompleteness.

I think Enlightenment is "good" in that it will eradicate that feeling of incompleteness. It does not mean devastation of life, but loves life. No ... "matter" what :-)

:anjali:




nicely said
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Gwenn Dana » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:18 am

dude wrote:nicely said


Thank you.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:08 pm

Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:
There are a few glaring issues that I think perhaps are causing you problems:

3) You do not seem to have full confidence in your teacher, and by extension lack confidence in his teachings. This is a fundamentally fatal flaw for Vajrayana practice.

All of these things need to be worked out directly with your teacher. Nothing more to it than that.


Actually it is a little different than that(and I wish to point this out mostly so that I can be clear that the teachings and the teacher are excellent, if not a little distant).

My teacher knows what he is talking about and the teachings are actually quite good. As far as I know.

The problem is in regards to how one confirms that. I am deeply, deeply skeptical of anything that depends only on internal confirmation. Actually, I am deeply deeply skeptical, period.

An example.

Let's say that my teacher gave me a meditation on rebirth that, when I did it, certain things would happen that would demonstrate rebirth. How do I know that the experience is legitimate? How do I know that I'm not having a psychotic break or am fooling myself because some part of me really needs to believe it? How do I know that there wasn't some sort of chemical reaction that is causing whatever is happening?

Also, in regards to the perception of my teacher. How do I know that my perception is valid? People far, far more perceptive than I am have been totally fooled on points far less subtle than the one I'm trying to prove.

It isn't that I doubt my teacher or the teachings in any way. It's that I doubt my own ability to percieve reality in any way that can be considered "real" without overwhelming proof(and even then I am extremely mindful of the fact that what I am percieving might very well be incorrect*).

*For example, I am around 90% sure that reality exists and keeps "reality-ing" when I'm not percieving it and am about 95% sure that everything on the Internet isn't a huge network of AIs outside of a small group of people. But if I turn out wrong I wouldn't be especially shocked. Because the only thing I am 100% sure about is that reality is far more strange than I know or can know.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:26 pm

What you are calling skepticism equates to a lack of confidence in your teacher. I also get the impression you lack devotion for your teacher due to said skepticism. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with being skeptical, but as long as it remains you will continue to struggle futilely when engaging Vajrayana practice. I cannot tell you how to overcome your skepticism. I cannot even really tell you that you should overcome it. I will say though that it is incompatible with Vajrayana practice. I would encourage you to really examine the matter, and to talk to your teacher honestly about it. If you do not perceive your teacher as a Buddha and trust that perception completely, you really can't progress very far. Many western Vajrayana practitioners get stuck at this point unfortunately. That is the reason your teacher has told you to do Vajrasattva practice by the way, as it is directly involved with clearing away these obscurations. The problem however is that you must want them to be cleared away for it to work. If you continue to hold onto your skepticism as a badge of honor as so many western practitioners do, the practice will likely have no effect.

All that said, I am not a teacher, so take everything I am saying with a grain of salt. Your teacher is who should really being advising you on the matter.
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