What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

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What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby wangdak » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:08 pm

Hello guys,

I am looking for some definitions here. :reading: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV? Myself being buddhist I have found out, that I am not able to adequately articulate what does it mean TO EXIST.

Are phenomenons real? If they exist, in which way they exist? Do they exist if there is no one, who can perceive them? Etc.

Is there any overview which summarize, what does it mean TO EXIST from POV of theravada, madhyamaka and yogacara? Any books?

Thank you! :thanks:
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Jesse » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:17 pm

Once you start chasing that rabbit... nevermind.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby wangdak » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:29 pm

ghost01 wrote:Once you start chasing that rabbit... nevermind.

Thank you but I am looking for serious answers not a :quoteunquote: smart :quoteunquote: answers. :smile:
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:34 pm

wangdak wrote:Hello guys,

I am looking for some definitions here. :reading: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV? Myself being buddhist I have found out, that I am not able to adequately articulate what does it mean TO EXIST.

Are phenomenons real? If they exist, in which way they exist? Do they exist if there is no one, who can perceive them? Etc.

Is there any overview which summarize, what does it mean TO EXIST from POV of theravada, madhyamaka and yogacara? Any books?

Thank you! :thanks:

This is a very interesting question and there are many way to view it. If we are talking about Madhyamaka then your existence and that of other phenomena are said to be beyond the extreme of existence and non-existance. So if you wonder what this is like then think of a moon shining on water and see that even though it appears vivid and bright when we really look nothing is there - no essence is found. So from this point of view your existence is dream-like. You can look into Mahamudra teachings and Dzogchen teachings to see what they say about it. Or you could look at Therevadan teachings if you aren't comfortable with the ideas that Madyamaka presents.
From Nagarjuna:

''Katyayana, most people in the world fixate intensely on
Things as being existent and others on the thought that
Things are nonexistent. As a result of their clinging, they
Are not free from birth, aging, sickness or death; from
Agony, crying, suffering, mental anguish, or agitation.
Especially, they are not free in any way from the torments
Of death.

Teaching in this way, the Buddha refuted both extremes
of existence and nonexistence.
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: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby odysseus » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:33 pm

Physical universe exists independently of the mind. Reality exists (just connect with the air in the atmosphere). Life is a part of reality. "To exist" for a person means that while living, it understands that some things are real and some are phenomena (depending what you define as phenomena). I´m not sure what is enough "to exist", for example the company of family or friends, a romantic partner, when you perform well at a job, when you experience the wonders of nature, when you get an illness and know pain, when appreciating a piece of art. The point of "refuting" existence and non-existence is not about voidness of either, but to not create concepts of eternal existence or nihilistic non-existence.

There are so many things that are life-affirming (making "to exist"), is this what you think about? My opinion is that; of course not everything is real, but to exist in Buddhism´s POV is to prefer reality as a reference point and evaluate all other phenomena from there without concluding that phenomena are absolute.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:40 pm

It depends on "which Buddhist POV" you're speaking of, really....

for example, the first sentence above could be objected to by those that hold Yogacara convictions.

There is no easy answer to your question, Wangdak.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Nemo » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:45 pm

It's largely answered experientially not philosophically. That question is better answered on the cushion than with mental gymnastics.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby wangdak » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:17 pm

conebeckham wrote:It depends on "which Buddhist POV" you're speaking of, really....


Yes, that's why I am interested in views of different schools. Or the basic ones. I am interested in these questions, because you can for example quite often hear some buddhists to say. "Things do not exists". And I think it is a rather simplistic saying and it needs additional explanation. :smile:
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:31 pm

Fundamental Wisdom of The Middle Way. Nagajuna.
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: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:46 pm

Things do not exist. To assert any sort of existence is to assert phenomena, or a single phenomenon, to be uncompounded, or unconditioned; causeless.

Neither do things NOT exist. :shrug: To say, or to posit or assert, that there is "nothing," is the nihilist position.

We can say, in keeping with convention and the normative experience of sentient beings, only that there is the appearance of things. The Sentient Being experiences the appearance of things. It is the mind, the mental consciousness, which posits "existence."

In fact, the whole idea of "existence" is a conceptual overlay, created by mind. The true nature of "things" is beyond the realm of conceptual understanding, for Buddhists. I believe that can safely be said, without offending any particular doctrinal position.

The question of "existence" is only helpful, to Buddhists, inasmuch as it is a starting point for investigation of ourselves, our minds, and our place in the Universe, for lack of a better word. The goal of Buddha Dharma is not to posit an ontological position, but to liberate sentient beings from suffering. Suffering is caused due to ignorance of the True Nature of things.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby viniketa » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:35 pm

wangdak wrote:Is there any overview which summarize, what does it mean TO EXIST from POV of theravada, madhyamaka and yogacara?


There are many books, but none of which I am aware cover all views. It may help to look at the original 'term' used and the meaning. Rather than simply 'to exist', the original term is sabhāva (Pali) or svabhāva (Sanskrit), which can be translated as "own-nature' or 'being-in-itself' and has a meaning similar to 'self-contained'. It has the same meaning in both Pali and Sanskrit (and thus in Theravāda, Madhyamaka and Yogācāra), the major difference is the manner and the quantity of its examination or analysis in each of the traditions. In that respect, Yogācāra may have the most exhaustive analysis.

In the Pali or Theravāda use, this might be helpful: http://www.ocbs.org/lectures-a-articles ... ?showall=1

In Mahāyāna (Madhyamaka and Yogācāra), this summary may help: http://www.jonangpa.com/node/1235

It's a difficult concept to wrap one's head around, at first. In my own experience, knowing the 'being-in-itself' meaning helped a good bit.

:namaste:
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Osho » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:46 pm

To exist is to know suffering.
And maybe... the way out of it.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby dakini_boi » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:35 am

The book I recommend is Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. It covers the general view on existence and emptiness from the Shravaka view through the various Mahayana schools.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby DarwidHalim » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:18 am

To exist from Buddhist POV means to exist inherently.

If you say car exist, you mean car exist inherently. It means you can find the soul or atman or inherent thing from that car.

However, if you see some sutras, you can see this exist, that exist.

You need to see the context in the sense that when we say in relative truth and when we say in ultimate truth.

If you read in the Sutta that say this exist or that exist, then it should be in the sense of relative truth.

Because only in relative truth we assume that something exist due to its appearance.

Because it is just what we assume, it should not rise a confusion that something is really exist. Because if you don't want to assume, but really want the exact or precise reality, the appearance cannot be said to exist even you can see, you can touch, you can smell.

It can cause confusion actually if we don't know which is which.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Greg » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:34 pm

The question of the OP is a good one, and I find that it gets asked surprisingly infrequently in Buddhist circles given how much discussion goes on of existence and lack thereof.

Madhyamaka seems to operate from the premise that "existence" necessarily entails and is commensurate with "entityness." In other words, existence necessarily entails entityness characterized by singularity, independence and permanence.

I think we can agree that the reasonings work fairly well to show that "entityness" is just a conceptual, linguistic imposition imputed on the phenomenal world.

But it seems to me that (as Wittgenstein might observe) this tells us more about the conventions of language than it does about the ontological status of the phenomenal world. The average person thinks of "existence" as more or less synonymous with appearance. And physicists do not believe in essential discrete entities. So while it is surely helpful to have a means of dereifying "things" I'm not sure how necessary this process is for most people at the end of the day.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby viniketa » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:44 pm

Greg wrote:But it seems to me that (as Wittgenstein might observe) this tells us more about the conventions of language than it does about the ontological status of the phenomenal world. The average person thinks of "existence" as more or less synonymous with appearance. And physicists do not believe in essential discrete entities. So while it is surely helpful to have a means of dereifying "things" I'm not sure how necessary this process is for most people at the end of the day.


Perhaps if you lived in 3rd century Asia (before Decartes, Wittgenstein, etc., etc., etc.), you might have different 'view'. :thinking:

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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Greg » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:52 pm

viniketa wrote:
Greg wrote:But it seems to me that (as Wittgenstein might observe) this tells us more about the conventions of language than it does about the ontological status of the phenomenal world. The average person thinks of "existence" as more or less synonymous with appearance. And physicists do not believe in essential discrete entities. So while it is surely helpful to have a means of dereifying "things" I'm not sure how necessary this process is for most people at the end of the day.


Perhaps if you lived in 3rd century Asia (before Decartes, Wittgenstein, etc., etc., etc.), you might have different 'view'. :thinking:

:namaste:


No doubt I would. But my point was about the utility of it for us.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby viniketa » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:01 pm

Greg wrote:I think we can agree that the reasonings work fairly well to show that "entityness" is just a conceptual, linguistic imposition imputed on the phenomenal world.


I suppose it depends upon who you include in 'us'. I am in the USA. Most high-school (and average Baccalaureate) graduates would find little they understood in the sentence above. IMO, the 'usefulness' today is exactly what is was for Nāgārjuna: the ability to move through the logic for one's self.


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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby Greg » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:01 pm

viniketa wrote:
Greg wrote:I think we can agree that the reasonings work fairly well to show that "entityness" is just a conceptual, linguistic imposition imputed on the phenomenal world.


I suppose it depends upon who you include in 'us'. I am in the USA. Most high-school (and average Baccalaureate) graduates would find little they understood in the sentence above. IMO, the 'usefulness' today is exactly what is was for Nāgārjuna: the ability to move through the logic for one's self.


:namaste:


The "us" I intended is "people in the present era who are inclined to study Madhyamika logic." Those sharp enough to follow it are sharp enough to see its limitations.
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Re: What does it mean TO EXIST from buddhist POV?

Postby viniketa » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:52 am

Greg wrote: Those sharp enough to follow it are sharp enough to see its limitations.


Once one understands the implications of those limitations in terms of all thinking about 'exist, not exist, both exist, neither exist', mahāśūnya is fully realized.

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