All Buddhists Are Atheists

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sara H » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:51 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:So to overcome any misinterpretation of Buddhism as nihilistic (which it is not) she recommends overcompensating towards theism? I fail to see how this will make theistically minded people understand the nature of Buddhism, if anything it will just give them a contorted view of Buddhism. It will make them think they are talking about the same thing when in fact they are not. And anyway, being a Vajrayanaist, fear of religion is right there at the bottom of my list along with fear of furry mammals.
:namaste:

I don't believe she "reccomended overcompensating towards theism" at all.
You may want to re-read that post.

As far as offering a more religious approach goes,

Considering that most Zen in the west, during her time, and to this day, can be of a more secular sort, and indeed, most of the books on Buddhism published by the major publishing houses tend to be of a more philosophical sort, free of any ceremonial, ritual, or religious aspects of Buddhism, it seems fair, and valid, to offer a more religious aspect to Zen, particularly since there was none currently offered to western students.

Both ways are valid, but having only one, is an imbalance.

If I may note, discussing this with you is difficult, as it seems any discussion of religion, or "god" is completely tied in to your mind with "theism".

You can have religion, and discussion of "God" without "theism".

Especially considering I've pointing out that there are alternative ways to use the word "God" that are not necessarily theistic,

Not all use of the word "God" implies theism.

"God"="theism" is not necessarily always true.

Sometimes using the word "God" does not equal "theism"

As I've said in earlier posts, it entirely depends on how you personally define the word "God", and whether you explain that when using the term.

It's not black and white.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jikan » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:12 pm

Sara H wrote:
You can have religion, and discussion of "God" without "theism".

Especially considering I've pointing out that there are alternative ways to use the word "God" that are not necessarily theistic,

Not all use of the word "God" implies theism.

"God"="theism" is not necessarily always true.

Sometimes using the word "God" does not equal "theism"


Can you give a credible example of this outside the context of OBC?


Oxford English Dictionary entry for Theism wrote:Etymology: modern < Greek θεός god + -ism suffix. Compare French théisme (Voltaire).
a. gen. Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism.

b. Belief in one god, as opposed to polytheism or pantheism; = monotheism n.

c. Belief in the existence of God, with denial of revelation: = deism n.

d. esp. Belief in one God as creator and supreme ruler of the universe, without denial of revelation: in this use distinguished from deism.


***

In this instance it may be that some confusion is stemming from Jiyu Kennett's use of Anglican parlance to describe Buddhist institutions and practices, as in "church" for school or lineage, "liturgy" for dharani, "scripture" for sutra, and so on. You can see how this kind of language works in the OBC translation of the Surangama Dharani (what's a "daemon" exactly?): http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/scriptureShurangama.pdf
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:25 pm

Q: Does Zen Buddhism have an explanation for the creation of the world?

A (Kyozan Joshu Sasaki): Very clear about that. If you want to call anything truth or reality, that is when the two essential mutually opposing functions have become one. When the male God and the female God become one, that’s reality. And as one provisional expedient way of naming it we say that is the source condition of the origin, the source of all, the ultimate truth. There are a lot of different books out there. But the moment someone says the truth or God is an object or takes it as an object, that is already a mistake. God is neither object not subject. The moment you say any little thing about God, you’re already making an object of God and Buddhism cautions you about that. At that moment you’re making an idiot out of God, you’re making a fool out of God.


Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."


The problem of God lies not in religions, but in narrow minded people who, trying to grasp the teachings, objectified God.

I don't believe that there is anyone here (or even out there) that can refute Sasaki Roshi.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Astus » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:32 pm

oushi wrote:The problem of God lies not in religions, but in narrow minded people who, trying to grasp the teachings, objectified God.

I don't believe that there is anyone here (or even out there) that can refute Sasaki Roshi.


What male and female gods? And why even mention any god if it can't be even thought of? Also, Sasaki Roshi is neither the Buddha nor a sutra.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:35 pm

Q: Does Zen Buddhism have an explanation for the creation of the world?

A (Kyozan Joshu Sasaki): Very clear about that. If you want to call anything truth or reality, that is when the two essential mutually opposing functions have become one. When the male God and the female God become one, that’s reality. And as one provisional expedient way of naming it we say that is the source condition of the origin, the source of all, the ultimate truth. There are a lot of different books out there. But the moment someone says the truth or God is an object or takes it as an object, that is already a mistake. God is neither object not subject. The moment you say any little thing about God, you’re already making an object of God and Buddhism cautions you about that. At that moment you’re making an idiot out of God, you’re making a fool out of God.
What are the two essential mutually opposing functions? Where is their essence to be found? Where in the Canon of any of the Buddhist traditions does it say that Buddhism is about redefining God to suit Buddhism?
: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: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby futerko » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:55 pm

oushi wrote:
(Kyozan Joshu Sasaki): Very clear about that. If you want to call anything truth or reality, that is when the two essential mutually opposing functions have become one. When the male God and the female God become one, that’s reality. And as one provisional expedient way of naming it we say that is the source condition of the origin, the source of all, the ultimate truth. There are a lot of different books out there. But the moment someone says the truth or God is an object or takes it as an object, that is already a mistake. God is neither object not subject. The moment you say any little thing about God, you’re already making an object of God and Buddhism cautions you about that. At that moment you’re making an idiot out of God, you’re making a fool out of God.


I don't believe that there is anyone here (or even out there) that can refute Sasaki Roshi.


Seems self-refuting because in the same paragraph he has done exactly what he cautions against, naming it and saying something about it.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sara H » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:56 pm

You're missing the point Jikan.

I didn't say theism does not equal god, I said god does not equal theism.

The reason is because the term "theism" is dependent upon the term "God".

But the term "God" is not dependent upon the term "theism".

As Rev. Master Dazui pointed out in the above reference, atheism and theism are opposites.

Buddhism is about going beyond the opposites.

A middle ground between atheism and theism.

It is entirely accurate to say Buddhism is not atheistic.

It is also entirely accurate to say Buddhism is not theistic.

An example of a credible Buddhist using the term "God" in this context outside the OBC would be Thich Nhat Hanh.

He's used it repeatedly and on more than one occasion, and in more than one book or publication, and often.

It is ok to use the word "god" in this context, as long as you know, and explain the word's limitations.

You don't have to agree with the use of that word.

But that doesn't mean it's inaccurate to use when explained the way I've spelled it out.

And it doesn't mean that Buddhist Teachers don't have the right to use it, or that they are wrong for doing so.

It's just a different approach. That appeals for some people.

Ultimately what matters is our personal training.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:06 pm

Sara H wrote:You're missing the point Jikan.

I didn't say theism does not equal god, I said god does not equal theism.

The reason is because the term "theism" is dependent upon the term "God".

But the term "God" is not dependent upon the term "theism".
This is not quite correct. You see the term Theos (Θεός) in Greek is just the Greek word for the English term for God. When written in lower case it refers to gods in general.

So to have God you need theism, and to have theism you need a god.
It is entirely accurate to say Buddhism is not atheistic.

It is also entirely accurate to say Buddhism is not theistic.
This I agree with, as I said in previous posts Buddhism does not rest anywhere along the theism-atheism continuim.

In closing I would say that to use the term "God" by redefining it to something that the majority of theists (believers in God) would disagree with is, in my opinion, a waste of time and setting oneself up for failure in the long term.

That's it for me in this thread, it's getting much too repetitive to be of any further value for me.
: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: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:10 pm

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:The problem of God lies not in religions, but in narrow minded people who, trying to grasp the teachings, objectified God.

I don't believe that there is anyone here (or even out there) that can refute Sasaki Roshi.


What male and female gods? And why even mention any god if it can't be even thought of? Also, Sasaki Roshi is neither the Buddha nor a sutra.

Male and female gods are two fundamental functions of the mind. Male god makes objects out of female god, like you are doing it here. If you think you can find an object that is God, you will fail, also from the Christian point of view. God is the union of those two. There is a perfect reason why mention about this union. When you talk about the Buddha, you are talking about the same. Why do you talk about Buddha, when you are not talking about a historical person?
Sasaki Roshi is neither the Buddha nor a sutra

I asked you before, "what is Buddha?", and you didn't seem to know. Sasaki is not a Buddha, and nothing but the Buddha.

gregkavarnos wrote:What are the two essential mutually opposing functions?

Subject and object.
Where is their essence to be found?

If there is no essence to be found, what do you mean by "essence"?
Where in the Canon of any of the Buddhist traditions does it say that Buddhism is about redefining God to suit Buddhism?

Which God do you wan't to redefine? JHWH? There is no difference between "I am awake" and "I am that I am". There is nothing to redefine.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:20 pm

oushi wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:What are the two essential mutually opposing functions?

Subject and object.
They are as mutually opposing as heads is to tails.
If there is no essence to be found, what do you mean by "essence"?
Dude, the quote calls them essentially opposing and I ask what is their essence (that makes them mutually opposing).
Which God do you wan't to redefine?
I don't, the authors of the quotes and some other posters here do.
There is no difference between "I am aware" and "I am that I am".
So show me the "I" that is aware and the "I" that "is" and I'll agree with you. But hey, we've had this discussion before and you could no do it, so why are we having it again?
: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: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Astus » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:33 pm

oushi wrote:Male and female gods are two fundamental functions of the mind. Male god makes objects out of female god, like you are doing it here. If you think you can find an object that is God, you will fail, also from the Christian point of view. God is the union of those two. There is a perfect reason why mention about this union. When you talk about the Buddha, you are talking about the same. Why do you talk about Buddha, when you are not talking about a historical person?
Sasaki Roshi is neither the Buddha nor a sutra

I asked you before, "what is Buddha?", and you didn't seem to know. Sasaki is not a Buddha, and nothing but the Buddha.


Gods and mental functions generally define quite different things. This is again a confusion of terminology. Not to mention the use of male and female for non-biological non-beings is also problematic. If I talk about "the Buddha" I mean Siddhartha Gautama. If I say "a buddha" it is any being who achieved perfect enlightenment. I don't consider Sasaki roshi any of the two.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:So show me the "I" that is aware and the "I" that "is" and I'll agree with you. But hey, we've had this discussion before and you could no do it, so why are we having it again?

I recall you running away three times, maybe this time you will stand your ground.

Everything is known through awareness, and nothing beside presence can be proven to exist. What do you wan't me to show you? Part of this presence? Or maybe I should shape it in some special way, so it fits you expectations?
Astus wrote:Gods and mental functions generally define quite different things. This is again a confusion of terminology. Not to mention the use of male and female for non-biological non-beings is also problematic.

Thx god Sakyamuni was ignorant enough to started talking about something that is inexpressible. Certainly, no word contains Buddha nature, and he still used words, at lest sometimes. Even "Buddha" had a meaning before Sakyamuni used it.
If I talk about "the Buddha" I mean Siddhartha Gautama.

And when I say Buddha, I mean Buddha, not flesh and bones.
I don't consider Sasaki roshi any of the two.

As I remember, all the great Masters saw all human being as buddhas. Great is a person that can see Buddhas in all beings, like Sasaki roshi does. Deeply deluded is a person that cannot see Buddha even in Great beings.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Seishin » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:29 pm

Words evolve all the time. There is no denying it. The word "god" is believe to have come from indo-european languages to mean "to invoke/to sacrifice to". "Theos" is possibly from the indo-european word for "divas" (according to my encyclopedia). Many people are using the word god for many different things these days and this is becoming problematic IMO. It's difficult to hold a discussion when speaking the same language that hold different meanings.

Gassho,
Seishin.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jikan » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:33 pm

Sara H wrote:Buddhism is about going beyond the opposites.


Here I'm in complete agreement with you. I'd go further and say that Buddhist practice is about going beyond limitations of any kind, including binaries and hang-ups over conventions & lexicons. The use of theistic language to get across Dharma concepts may have been a skilful means many decades ago; to my mind (and here I agree with gregkavarnos), it seems more like a limitation than a help now that Dharma concepts are in better circulation. Why introduce this set of semantic limitations? What does it get us? How is it helpful? Does it introduce more clarity than confusion? (I mean these as rhetorical questions)

A middle ground between atheism and theism.


I disagree on this point. Rather than staking out a middle ground between two concepts, I'd argue for evacuating both concepts (atheism & theism) entirely. I don't think it's a helpful binary (which is to say that the claim in the title of this thread, All Buddhists are Atheists, is in my opinion total nonsense).
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby undefineable » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:03 pm

Although the whole 'definitions' thing is getting rather 'old', I suspect there is some differing understanding of the concepts behind words going on here, and I like the Blake-ian (is that a word?!) implications of this debate - Sometimes only the poetic, mythological use of words outside of their literal definitions can touch on the reality of the mind, or -more to the point- on whatever reality links mind and matter (which must exist in some form if we admit the existence of mind). After all, what word other than 'god' is big enough to draw our attention to the fundamental functions of the mind - provided we remember to recognise their emptiness?

Ofcourse, Buddhists normally hold back (rather than 'holding forth') on giving positive explanations for life's great mysteries, atleast until their practice has reached the stage where such mysteries are resolved/transcended in their mind - If the Buddha had discovered easy solutions to the mysteries of life, such as 'God', the situation would be different. However, my impression of Zen, atleast, is that it can end up sounding almost eternalistic and nihilistic in the same breath, given its aim of reaching beyond concepts.

Perhaps in an aggressively theistic society like the US, the use of terms like 'God' is appropriate (c.f. Indonesia's Law regarding the quoted sutra passage on 'the Unborn'), but I can't see UK sanghas going far wrong by trumpeting 'we are atheists' given the current climate - in which my last three new Facebook friends have all had words to the effect of 'religion is the root of all evil' under 'Religious Views'. I see both presentations as correct in their own way - in so far as upaya can be used to 'bend' the truth so as to suit the dispositions of particular audiences. However, speaking to an audience less 'entrenched' in its views (Hippies, I believe :tongue: ), Chogyam Trungpa made this warning about leaping to far into conjecture about the sources of spiritual intuition in (with my emphasis):

everything we do not know or did not understand in connection with our spiritual quest we connect with descriptions in various scriptures about that which is beyond mind, beyond words, ineffable-the ineffable Self, or whatever. We associate our own lack of understanding about what is going on with us with those unspoken, inexpressible things. This way our ignorance is made into the greatest discovery of all. We can connect this "great discovery" with a doctrinal supposition; for example, "The Savior or some interpretation of the scriptures.
Whereas before, we didn't know anything at all, now we "know" something that we actually don't know. There is something ahead of us now. We cannot describe it in terms of words, concepts and ideas


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@Sara: From what I can make out of Gnostics, they believed in an ultimate (though perhaps reluctant) source of creation ultimately external to the mind, but then it's not clear to me whether the God you accept is internal, external, or both internal and external to the mind. Care to expand?
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby futerko » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:24 pm

undefineable wrote:After all, what word other than 'god' is big enough to draw our attention to the fundamental functions of the mind - provided we remember to recognise their emptiness?


Interesting, because I see emptiness as almost the opposite of the concept of "god". Perhaps the question should then be, is Buddhism humanistic or not?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:26 pm

oushi wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:So show me the "I" that is aware and the "I" that "is" and I'll agree with you. But hey, we've had this discussion before and you could no do it, so why are we having it again?

I recall you running away three times, maybe this time you will stand your ground.
My dear oushi, what you fail to understand is that there is nothing to discuss regarding the point of the emptiness of self since we both agree. Now it is time to realise it.
Everything is known through awareness...
Is knowing a positive or a negative trait, because I seem to remember in another thread you considered it negative. When you say awareness what do you mean? In Abhidharma there are many types of awareness.
...and nothing beside presence can be proven to exist.
What do you mean by "presence", by "proof" and by "exist"?
: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: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:07 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:My dear oushi, what you fail to understand is that there is nothing to discuss regarding the point of the emptiness of self since we both agree. Now it is time to realise it.

So why are you asking for presentation? Didn't you realize it yet?
gregkavarnos wrote:Is knowing a positive or a negative trait, because I seem to remember in another thread you considered it negative.

Desire for something you already have brings negative outcomes.
gregkavarnos wrote:When you say awareness what do you mean?

Presence.
gregkavarnos wrote:What do you mean by "presence", by "proof" and by "exist"?

All three speak about the same thing and nothing more. If there is one, how will you call it? No need to label it. But if someone is stuck in the middle of differentiation, how will you bring him to oneness that is different then just sum of all elements?
"I am the light that is over all things. I am all" - Jesus
"No objects exist which are not me" - Samantabhadra

Presence, mind, Buddha or God. All point's to the same, not being something different from it. It's all possible thanks to "man" and "woman", Adam and Eve, yin and yang, subject and object, left brain and right brain.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:20 pm

Sara H wrote:
Jnana wrote:" ...wouldn't it be more appropriate for you to simply learn to use Buddhist conventions? "


I believe I quoted a Zen Master. _/|\_

It would seem from this answer that you think it's unreasonable for others to ask you to learn to use established Buddhist terms and conventions.

I'll ask again: Given that this is a Buddhist discussion forum, wouldn't it be more reasonable for you to simply learn to use Buddhist conventions instead of your idiosyncratic language?
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:28 pm

Astus wrote:Western Buddhists can be theists, atheists and anything else they want, because they generally lack both a traditional and an educated view of Buddhism.

Yes, which can only be remedied by the prajñā of hearing the actual teachings, the primary sources of which are the Indian āgamas, sūtras, treatises, and commentaries.

Astus wrote:That's why belief in God, gods or no god is generally not a problem. Even historically the Buddha left the laity to their own local faiths.

Well, right view is important. Without it non-conceptual jñāna doesn't occur. And without non-conceptual jñāna liberation can't be realized.
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