ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

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ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby steveb1 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:19 am

Some Mahayanist teachers say that there is nothing absolute in Buddhism, citing the law of dependent origination.

My question is: Are states like Nirvana or Bodhi; are entities like Buddhas ... absolute? Or are they products of causal processes?

Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.

This makes me tend to think that dependent origination can only apply to the universe and its samsaric nature, but not to the transcendent realm and the beings who inhabit it. Otherwise, Nirvana would be an inherent function of samsara, which does not seem to be at all what Shakyamuni taught (although I have heard of the "Samsara and Nirvana are inseparable" school). Also, if NIrvana and Buddhahood remain subject to dependent origination - to the "brute causality" of the samsaric realm, that too would seem to contradict traditional claims that once achieved, Nirvana and Buddhahood are forever free from the impermanence, causation and suffering which constitute samsara.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:53 am

Samsara is the result of the process of dependent origination, ie. when afflictions exist, ongoing rebirth and death exists.
Nirvana is the result of the end of the process of dependent origination, ie. when afflictions cease, ongoing rebirth and death ceases.

Or, as the formulation:
When this arises, that arises;
When this exists, that exists.
When this does not arise, that does not arise;
When this does not exist, that does not exist.

The first two are samsara (or the two truths of dissatisfaction and origination of dissatisfaction).
The last two nirvana (or the two truths of cessation or dissatisfaction and the path to the cessation of dissatisfaction).

Both are predicated on the process of dependent origination, though the latter (in "reverse order") could be considered dependent cessation. (Though this doesn't mean the result of that is conditioned / dependent.)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby xtracorrupt » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:30 am

steveb1 wrote:Some Mahayanist teachers say that there is nothing absolute in Buddhism, citing the law of dependent origination.

My question is: Are states like Nirvana or Bodhi; are entities like Buddhas ... absolute? Or are they products of causal processes?

Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.

This makes me tend to think that dependent origination can only apply to the universe and its samsaric nature, but not to the transcendent realm and the beings who inhabit it. Otherwise, Nirvana would be an inherent function of samsara, which does not seem to be at all what Shakyamuni taught (although I have heard of the "Samsara and Nirvana are inseparable" school). Also, if NIrvana and Buddhahood remain subject to dependent origination - to the "brute causality" of the samsaric realm, that too would seem to contradict traditional claims that once achieved, Nirvana and Buddhahood are forever free from the impermanence, causation and suffering which constitute samsara.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)



Bodhi is not necessarily a state, nor a thing, I think it's condition is unrestricted therefore I believe it does not need to be absolute, but it can.
Existence can be normal.
Ex:a Apple tree is a apple tree
Ex:Michael is Michael, Michael is who Michael is


Existence can be conditioned.
Ex: Apple tree is apple tree if apple tree grows
Ex: Michael is Michael if Michael is a king
Ex: Michael is Michael if Michael is walking
Ex: Michael is Michael if Michael is not walking

Existence can be unconditioned
Ex: Apple is apple tree once apple tree is grown for 50 weeks
Ex: Michael is Michael once Michael is a king
Ex: Michael is content Michael once Michael is walking
Ex: Michael is discontent Michael once Michael is walking.
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby steveb1 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:46 am

Thanks you guys for answering ... I guess I need food for thought - thanks for providing some.
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby lowlydog » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:28 pm

steveb1 wrote:Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.


Some food for thought,
If body and mind are X, mind is X^2 , Nirvana is X^4
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby songhill » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:08 pm

steveb1 wrote:Some Mahayanist teachers say that there is nothing absolute in Buddhism, citing the law of dependent origination.

My question is: Are states like Nirvana or Bodhi; are entities like Buddhas ... absolute? Or are they products of causal processes?

Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.

This makes me tend to think that dependent origination can only apply to the universe and its samsaric nature, but not to the transcendent realm and the beings who inhabit it. Otherwise, Nirvana would be an inherent function of samsara, which does not seem to be at all what Shakyamuni taught (although I have heard of the "Samsara and Nirvana are inseparable" school). Also, if NIrvana and Buddhahood remain subject to dependent origination - to the "brute causality" of the samsaric realm, that too would seem to contradict traditional claims that once achieved, Nirvana and Buddhahood are forever free from the impermanence, causation and suffering which constitute samsara.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)


You're spot on. On the face of it, it seems absurd that the Buddha only taught there is impermanence, suffering, and the insubstantiality (anâtman) of the five grasping aggregates which constitute the world of samsara.
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby futerko » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:27 pm

songhill wrote:
steveb1 wrote:Some Mahayanist teachers say that there is nothing absolute in Buddhism, citing the law of dependent origination.

My question is: Are states like Nirvana or Bodhi; are entities like Buddhas ... absolute? Or are they products of causal processes?

Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.

This makes me tend to think that dependent origination can only apply to the universe and its samsaric nature, but not to the transcendent realm and the beings who inhabit it. Otherwise, Nirvana would be an inherent function of samsara, which does not seem to be at all what Shakyamuni taught (although I have heard of the "Samsara and Nirvana are inseparable" school). Also, if NIrvana and Buddhahood remain subject to dependent origination - to the "brute causality" of the samsaric realm, that too would seem to contradict traditional claims that once achieved, Nirvana and Buddhahood are forever free from the impermanence, causation and suffering which constitute samsara.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)


You're spot on. On the face of it, it seems absurd that the Buddha only taught there is impermanence, suffering, and the insubstantiality (anâtman) of the five grasping aggregates which constitute the world of samsara.


Although it makes perfect sense when you realise that it is misperception which constitues the mistaken idea that there is some kind of separate "realm".
Samsara cannot be transcended because it was only ignorance that made it appear in the first place.
The idea that there are beings who "inhabit" a realm that is somehow separate from them, as if they are subjects in an objective realm is exactly the illusion of samsara revealed to be false.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby songhill » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:53 pm

futerko wrote:
songhill wrote:
steveb1 wrote:Some Mahayanist teachers say that there is nothing absolute in Buddhism, citing the law of dependent origination.

My question is: Are states like Nirvana or Bodhi; are entities like Buddhas ... absolute? Or are they products of causal processes?

Reason for asking: after having outlined the total causality of samsara - it is suffering, it is born, it dies, it is conditioned, etc. - Shakyamuni then went on to reveal an "Unborn, Unconditioned" reality quite the opposite of samsara. Whereas samsara is "X", Nirvana is "beyond X, Y and Z - beyond "the alphabet" entirely - an utterly transcendent state or realm.

This makes me tend to think that dependent origination can only apply to the universe and its samsaric nature, but not to the transcendent realm and the beings who inhabit it. Otherwise, Nirvana would be an inherent function of samsara, which does not seem to be at all what Shakyamuni taught (although I have heard of the "Samsara and Nirvana are inseparable" school). Also, if NIrvana and Buddhahood remain subject to dependent origination - to the "brute causality" of the samsaric realm, that too would seem to contradict traditional claims that once achieved, Nirvana and Buddhahood are forever free from the impermanence, causation and suffering which constitute samsara.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)


You're spot on. On the face of it, it seems absurd that the Buddha only taught there is impermanence, suffering, and the insubstantiality (anâtman) of the five grasping aggregates which constitute the world of samsara.


Although it makes perfect sense when you realise that it is misperception which constitues the mistaken idea that there is some kind of separate "realm".
Samsara cannot be transcended because it was only ignorance that made it appear in the first place.
The idea that there are beings who "inhabit" a realm that is somehow separate from them, as if they are subjects in an objective realm is exactly the illusion of samsara revealed to be illusory.


To respond, I can share with you something by the scholar Pande.

N. as the Goal.—A practical answer to the question about the relation of Nibbana to Samsara is, however, clearly to be discerned in the discourses. Nibbana is the ultimately sought for end, the most worthwhile [footnote with citation]. It is the goal of the spiritual pilgrimage [footnote with citation], that where one finally goes beyond all sorrows [footnote with citation]. It is the safe "other bank" [footnote with citation]. Here there is no more dissatisfaction but instead eternal peace [footnote with citation]" (Origins of Buddhism, pp. 477-78). (Brackets are mine - sorry I couldn't type out the footnote citations, there were too many.)
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby futerko » Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:14 pm

songhill wrote:
futerko wrote:Although it makes perfect sense when you realise that it is misperception which constitues the mistaken idea that there is some kind of separate "realm".
Samsara cannot be transcended because it was only ignorance that made it appear in the first place.
The idea that there are beings who "inhabit" a realm that is somehow separate from them, as if they are subjects in an objective realm is exactly the illusion of samsara revealed to be illusory.


To respond, I can share with you something by the scholar Pande.

N. as the Goal.—A practical answer to the question about the relation of Nibbana to Samsara is, however, clearly to be discerned in the discourses. Nibbana is the ultimately sought for end, the most worthwhile [footnote with citation]. It is the goal of the spiritual pilgrimage [footnote with citation], that where one finally goes beyond all sorrows [footnote with citation]. It is the safe "other bank" [footnote with citation]. Here there is no more dissatisfaction but instead eternal peace [footnote with citation]" (Origins of Buddhism, pp. 477-78). (Brackets are mine - sorry I couldn't type out the footnote citations, there were too many.)


He also says (p.480) that between the idea of Nibbana-in-this-life and the idea of a beyond, as regards Nibbana, there is no difference between the two.
The reason for this, as I said above, is clearly due to the fact that such a division is based upon a mistaken (samsaric) viewpoint.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby songhill » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:04 am

futerko wrote:
He also says (p.480) that between the idea of Nibbana-in-this-life and the idea of a beyond, as regards Nibbana, there is no difference between the two.
The reason for this, as I said above, is clearly due to the fact that such a division is based upon a mistaken (samsaric) viewpoint.


In light of this (Pande), in the Discourse on the Synopsis of Fundamentals (Mulapariyaya Sutta MN #1) there is a difference between the nibbana/nirvana of the uninstructed worldling (assutavā puthujjano), who is obviously stuck in samsara, who thinks, "Nibbana is mine" (M. i. 4) and the pure ones (ariyānaṃ) who do not.
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby futerko » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:08 am

songhill wrote:
futerko wrote:
He also says (p.480) that between the idea of Nibbana-in-this-life and the idea of a beyond, as regards Nibbana, there is no difference between the two.
The reason for this, as I said above, is clearly due to the fact that such a division is based upon a mistaken (samsaric) viewpoint.


In light of this (Pande), in the Discourse on the Synopsis of Fundamentals (Mulapariyaya Sutta MN #1) there is a difference between the nibbana/nirvana of the uninstructed worldling (assutavā puthujjano), who is obviously stuck in samsara, who thinks, "Nibbana is mine" (M. i. 4) and the pure ones (ariyānaṃ) who do not.


Yes, that is why my first post on this thread said,

futerko wrote:The idea that there are beings who "inhabit" a realm that is somehow separate from them, as if they are subjects in an objective realm is exactly the illusion of samsara revealed to be false.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby wisdom » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:12 pm

The ultimate state is beyond samsara and nirvana.
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby Tenzin1 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:42 am

songhill wrote:
steveb1 wrote:You're spot on. On the face of it, it seems absurd that the Buddha only taught there is impermanence, suffering, and the insubstantiality (anâtman) of the five grasping aggregates which constitute the world of samsara.
Didn't the Buddha teach that there was also permanence? Didn't he say in his final teaching that the Enlightened state, the "True Self" was permanent?
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby lobster » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:02 am

Huifeng gave an excellent answer. :namaste:
All too often experiences or arisings are taken as progress, when they are just polishing the ego glitter.
The unconditional does not arise, has no discernible nature and is eternal or in Buddhist terms 'Empty'. The alignment or resting in emptiness, suchness, Buddha Nature, however termed, is infinite in potential . . .

Time for popcorn :popcorn:
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Re: ultimate state/being not "absolute" ?

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:44 pm

"And is ETERNAL or in Buddhist terms Empty."
Please explain with Sutric references..
Thank you.
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