Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:21 pm

songhill wrote:...never comes into existence (bhava) nor perishes (abhava),
So what's a nirmanakaya then? What about parinirvana?
"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."
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:40 pm

songhill wrote:
futerko wrote:So your definition of phenomena is as "a dream or illusion", and your definition of Tathagata is that he "neither exists/bhava nor is he non-existent/abhava". How is it possible to differentiate between two things when your definition of them is identical?


My notion of dream or an illusion, as it applies to phenomena, is different than Tathagata who is boundless and all pervasive; never comes into existence (bhava) nor perishes (abhava),

Yes, it is apparent that your notion is different. The same does not apply beyond your imagination. Tathatā, meaning suchness, or "the way things are" is not about two different sets of things. The point is that in Buddhism, the idea that something "never comes into existence (bhava) nor perishes (abhava)" is the same as saying it is like a dream. You are differentiating one set of things from another on the basis that it has exactly the same definition everywhere except in your conception.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:48 pm

songhill wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
The Buddha has never asserted a consciousness beyond the consciousness of the 5 skandhas.



Most reputable scholars would disagree. Check out the Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The "consciousness without feature" is not a vijnana, but rather a citta. So the luminous mind in question is a pabhassara (bright shining) citta.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:09 pm

rachmiel wrote:Question: Is the consciousness in the part I bolded reflected consciousness, i.e. consciousness *of* something? Or is it pure/unreflected/pristine consciousness/awareness? If it's NOT the latter, then isn't there "room" in this teaching for pure awareness to be: permanent, unconditioned, non dependently arisen, not subject to destruction, vanishing, etc.? In which case pure awareness would be very much like brahman.


Consciousness (vijnana) refers to the six sense consciousness: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind (mano, as in "ideation"). In relative terms, they are always temporary, subject to destruction. In ultimate terms, they are non-arising, already in nirvana.

For the pure awareness question, well, I always find the teaching of brahman to lean towards a subtle reification. In truth, the advaita teachings borrow heavily from Buddhism, hence you find certain teachings quite similar. So it's not that these teachings also teach rather similar truth to Buddhism, but rather they moved much closer to Buddhism because of the borrowing. But Advaita is still not Buddhism, since it speaks of unification and identification - that is still eternalism. In Buddhism, the pure awareness is unobstructed, unestablished and empty.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby songhill » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:21 pm

futerko wrote:

Yes, it is apparent that your notion is different. The same does not apply beyond your imagination. Tathatā, meaning suchness, or "the way things are" is not about two different sets of things. The point is that in Buddhism, the idea that something "never comes into existence (bhava) nor perishes (abhava)" is the same as saying it is like a dream. You are differentiating one set of things from another on the basis that it has exactly the same definition everywhere except in your conception.


Generally speaking people of this world are dependent on two things: the ideas of existence and on that of non-existence. This is to say they either fall into the views of realism or nihilism. They go so far as to even imagine emancipation where there is no emancipation insofar as real emancipation transcends existence and non-existence. As long as people presuppose ideas of existence and non-existence by which they conceive of a world they remain lost. The essence of suchness (tathata) is not theirs insofar as they are caught up in the illusion of existence and non-existence—which the Tathagata is not.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:29 pm

songhill wrote: The essence of suchness (tathata) is not theirs insofar as they are caught up in the illusion of existence and non-existence—which the Tathagata is not.
How can Tathagatagarbha be "not theirs" if they already have it? Either it is their essence and they have it or it is not their essence and they have to acquire it. If it is the second option where and how do they acquire it?
: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."
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:38 pm

songhill wrote:
futerko wrote:Yes, it is apparent that your notion is different. The same does not apply beyond your imagination. Tathatā, meaning suchness, or "the way things are" is not about two different sets of things. The point is that in Buddhism, the idea that something "never comes into existence (bhava) nor perishes (abhava)" is the same as saying it is like a dream. You are differentiating one set of things from another on the basis that it has exactly the same definition everywhere except in your conception.


Generally speaking people of this world are dependent on two things: the ideas of existence and on that of non-existence. This is to say they either fall into the views of realism or nihilism. They go so far as to even imagine emancipation where there is no emancipation insofar as real emancipation transcends existence and non-existence. As long as people presuppose ideas of existence and non-existence by which they conceive of a world they remain lost. The essence of suchness (tathata) is not theirs insofar as they are caught up in the illusion of existence and non-existence—which the Tathagata is not.
...and the reason for this is that tathatā, the fact that nothing in our experience achieves either existence nor non-existence, is obscured by the delusion of believing it does.
Locating some true existence beyond the dream-illusion is simply a refusal to let go of that delusion.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby muni » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:39 am

This I could find about advaita, not sure it helps: http://www.theawakenedeye.com/advaita.htm

And a nondual example by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche: http://www.theawakenedeye.com/view.htm

Regarding the oneness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOsQa7sf6FE

The fire example by Astus is nice. Exhaustion of karma. :thanks:
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby muni » Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:06 pm

deepbluehum wrote:According to Milarepa, primordial wisdom is beyond existence and nonexistence, permanence and impermanence, etc. It is completely beyond explanations. This is the key difference between advaita and vajra yoga. In Buddhism, the method and teaching are one. It is the union of method and wisdom. Here, we have the practice of doing nothing, seeing nothing, concentrating on nothing thus nothing is posited and we are free from the burden of practice, looking, investigating, concentrating, etc. .


Thank you.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:46 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:
Astus wrote:
Jeff wrote:Advaita teaches "oneness" which can be described as interdependence.


Oneness means that everything has the same substance. Buddhism teaches that everything is without substance (nihsvabhava = empty) and dependently originated.



So everything is without substance it is empty and dependently originated.



At a very basic and simplistic level, Advaita says nothing exists of itself. Everything depends on Brahman, created by Brahman. What we see is the effect and result of māyā. Under the veil of māyā everything is interdependent and keeps us from seeing that Brahman is hidden. If Brahman does not create, nothing exists. We are Brahman: aham brahmasmi: "I am Brahman". To realize that is to attain enlightenment and moksha (not an easy thing). A tree does not exist, it is ultimately dependent on Brahman (via the earth, the soil, the water, the sun), so the tree is empty. Thich Nhat Hahn says that without a cloud paper does not exist; without the cloud the paper is empty. Why does Brahman create? It's fun, it's the recreation of Brahman. Shankara says it is Brahman's nature to create, just as it is man's nature to breathe.

It seems there are differing views, but I wonder how different they really are:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita#Empirical_reality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Advaita_Vedanta
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Br ... n_Buddhism

The articles and their references explain it all better than I ever could. I certainly can't speak to the Buddhist views, but it seems there's not a whole lot of difference between the Hindu and Buddhist views, just terminology. :?
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:19 pm

Jainarayan wrote:At a very basic and simplistic level, Advaita says nothing exists of itself. Everything depends on Brahman, created by Brahman. What we see is the effect and result of māyā. Under the veil of māyā everything is interdependent and keeps us from seeing that Brahman is hidden. If Brahman does not create, nothing exists. We are Brahman: aham brahmasmi: "I am Brahman". To realize that is to attain enlightenment and moksha (not an easy thing). A tree does not exist, it is ultimately dependent on Brahman (via the earth, the soil, the water, the sun), so the tree is empty. Thich Nhat Hahn says that without a cloud paper does not exist; without the cloud the paper is empty. Why does Brahman create? It's fun, it's the recreation of Brahman. Shankara says it is Brahman's nature to create, just as it is man's nature to breathe.


The idea of a creator god is refuted in Buddhism under the reasoning used in Madhyamaka against "production from other". There are problems with a creator god like "Who created the creator?", and "If the creator is eternal the creation must go on eternally", and "If creator and created are different how could one come from the other?", etc.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:38 pm

Astus wrote:The idea of a creator god is refuted in Buddhism under the reasoning used in Madhyamaka against "production from other". There are problems with a creator god like "Who created the creator?", and "If the creator is eternal the creation must go on eternally", and "If creator and created are different how could one come from the other?", etc.


Yes, I know that's the prevailing belief. If I'm not mistaken however, and I could be, there are schools of Buddhism that are either silent on it or do not reject the idea of a "ground of all existence" as Brahman is called, for example. In other religious beliefs (or non-beliefs if agnostic or atheist), the question of who created the creator comes up. But my answer is "no one and nothing". When I was R.C., in Sunday School the nuns and priests used the phrase "God is, was and always will be". "God" is God only because of māyā, as Shankara says. Creation comes and goes because (in my tradition, which may or may not be correct!) God is immanent, transcendent and ineffable. Creation, as stated is just the play of God. And again, "God" is used because we can't comprehend anything else, and we anthropomorphize it. I know it all sounds like a cop-out answer. Given that this is a thread about Advaita, I thought I would contribute an Advaitin's view and what I know, which is really only a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby rachmiel » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:43 pm

Jainarayan wrote:At a very basic and simplistic level, Advaita says nothing exists of itself. Everything depends on Brahman, created by Brahman.

That's true from a relative frame of reference (vyavahAra). From the absolute frame of reference (paramArtha), there is only brahman, which is not-two. So, ultimately: Nothing depends on brahman and nothing is created by brahman, because each of these means three things: dependant, depended-upon, depending / creator, created, creating.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:49 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:At a very basic and simplistic level, Advaita says nothing exists of itself. Everything depends on Brahman, created by Brahman.

That's true from a relative frame of reference (vyavahAra). From the absolute frame of reference (paramArtha), there is only brahman, which is not-two. So, ultimately: Nothing depends on brahman, because everything is brahman, and nothing is created by brahman, because everything is brahman, the eternal and changeless one-ness.


Thanks for going deeper. :smile: Again, it's because of māyā, avidyā, ignorance that we can't see it.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby rachmiel » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:20 pm

Jainarayan wrote:Thanks for going deeper. :smile: Again, it's because of māyā, avidyā, ignorance that we can't see it.

Maybe you could help me with something that's confusing me?

If there were an eternal, infinite, unchanging oneness (i.e. brahman), everything would be this oneness, therefore everything would be: eternal, infinite, and unchanging. But we experience time, space, and change. Isn't this a grand contradiction?

I understand that Advaita says there is a relative reality (vyavahAra) in which mAyA causes our human minds to misinterpret reality, which gives rise to the (false) sense of time, space, and change.

But how could that which is not-two "permit" this two-ness to exist: paramArtha (absolute truth) and vyavahAra (relative truth)? If there is only the eternal, infinite, unchanging one-ness, which is everything, why isn't everything eternal, infinite, and unchanging (since it is the one-ness)? Advaita would say that: "Everything IS eternal, infinite, and unchanging; it just appears not to be." But how could there be "room" for false appearance and misinterpretation (mAyA) if there is only the perfect one-ness? Isn't falseness/misinterpretation an *other* ... something external to the one-ness?

If everything is brahman why isn't everything brahman "all the way through": eternal, infinite, and unchanging?
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:23 pm

Jainarayan wrote:Yes, I know that's the prevailing belief. If I'm not mistaken however, and I could be, there are schools of Buddhism that are either silent on it or do not reject the idea of a "ground of all existence" as Brahman is called


There is no such ultimate root of existence in the Buddha's teachings. See this sutta: AN 10.58. Do you know of any Buddhist tradition that teaches an ultimate "ground of existence"?
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:29 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:Thanks for going deeper. :smile: Again, it's because of māyā, avidyā, ignorance that we can't see it.

Maybe you could help me with something that's confusing me?

If there were an eternal, infinite, unchanging oneness (i.e. brahman), everything would be this oneness, therefore everything would be: eternal, infinite, and unchanging. But we experience time, space, and change. Isn't this a grand contradiction?

I understand that Advaita says there is a relative reality (vyavahAra) in which mAyA causes our human minds to misinterpret reality, which gives rise to the (false) sense of time, space, and change.

But how could that which is not-two "permit" this two-ness to exist: paramArtha (absolute truth) and vyavahAra (relative truth)? If there is only the eternal, infinite, unchanging one-ness, which is everything, why isn't everything eternal, infinite, and unchanging (since it is the one-ness)? Advaita would say that: "Everything IS eternal, infinite, and unchanging; it just appears not to be." But how could there be "room" for false appearance and misinterpretation (mAyA) if there is only the perfect one-ness? Isn't falseness/misinterpretation an *other* ... something external to the one-ness?

If everything is brahman why isn't everything brahman "all the way through": eternal, infinite, and unchanging?


As I've said, not being an expert, I have to defer to one who is infinitely more versed. I'm going to quote him directly (he knows I've copied and saved his post for occasions like this ;) ):

Brahman is that which the universe grows forth from. (Provisionally: the higher teachings of advaita do not accept creation as an 'actual,' discrete event)

Although you have asked for the advaita perspective - which I subscribe to, it should also be noted that different philosophical schools define brahman differently.

In advaita, there is nothing but Brahman. Perception of multiplicity independent of Brahman is unreal; Brahman is the underlying unity. Perception of [provisional] multiplicity within Brahman, however, is 'real.' Brahman is the inner, the outer, and even the construct which pretends at separation between the two.

Brahman is absolutely full as well as completely empty; and from This fullness, only fullness [appears] to proceed from. That is to say, any seemingly individual construct - whether a supposedly insentient object, or a sentient being, is That fullness - not just a part. Spatial ideas such as parts do not really apply to that which, though including space, is utterly beyond.

It should also be emphasized that Brahman, as a philosophical concept, is a corpse of the truth. Brahman can never actually be described, or in any way circumscribed by words. We can only approximate. If we speak of Brahman, it should be as a means leading up to actual experience of Brahman - otherwise we have only dead philosophical toys to play with.


I'm not sure if that helps, but I hope so.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:36 pm

rachmiel wrote:If everything is brahman why isn't everything brahman "all the way through": eternal, infinite, and unchanging?
If you pour water into water, does it change or stay the same? Certainly the ordinary use of these terms is insufficient to understand.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:37 pm

Astus wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:Yes, I know that's the prevailing belief. If I'm not mistaken however, and I could be, there are schools of Buddhism that are either silent on it or do not reject the idea of a "ground of all existence" as Brahman is called


There is no such ultimate root of existence in the Buddha's teachings. See this sutta: AN 10.58. Do you know of any Buddhist tradition that teaches an ultimate "ground of existence"?


That's why I had to defer to this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Br ... n_Buddhism

Brahman in Buddhism

[edit]In favor of idea of Brahman

Buddhaghosa in his Digha[17] says that the "Tathagata (Buddha) is dhammakaya brahmakaya dhammabhuta brahmabhuta."[18]

It is said that the cultivation of compassion in its purest form is "called the divine life in this world (Brahman item viharam idhmahu)."[19] In this context Brahma is interpreted to mean divine.

While Brahma in Buddhist scripture refers to the non-eternal demigod, Brahma or Brahman is believed by scholars to refer to the eternal perfect being, and the highest stage any person can achieve is labelled as Brahma. For example Buddha's eight-fold path is not only called as Astanga Marga (eight-fold path) and Dharmayana but also as Brahmayana. As the Samyutta Nikaya says, V, 5-6, "This Ariyan eightfold Way may be spoken of as Brahmayana or as Dhammayana.[20] Again the Buddha Dharma is equated with Brahma when "...he has become dharma, he has become brahman."

In the Suttanipata, 656, the Buddha says that he who has won the three-fold lore (self-denial, holy life, and control) and who will never be reborn is Brahma.[21]

The Buddha Dharma is compared to Brahma. In the Majjhima Nikaya, I, 60 the Dharmachakra of wheel of law is also called the Brahmachakra.[22]

Of Nirvana, the ultimate happiness it is written "one who has attained Nirvana" it is said, "may justifiably employ theological terminology (dhammena so Brahma- vadam vadeyya)"[23]

Further, Brahmajala refers to the best knowledge achieved.[24]

Bhavaviveka uses the term Brahma-Abhyasa, meaning "practicing Brahma" which refers to the Buddhist trying to become one with Brahma.[25]

"Even so have I, monks, seen an ancient way, an ancient road followed by the wholly awakened ones of olden time....Along that have I done, and the matters that I have come to know fully as I was going along it, I have told to the monks, nuns, men and women lay-followers, even monks, this Brahma-faring brahmacharya that is prosperous and flourishing, widespread and widely known become popular in short, well made manifest for gods and men."[26]

[edit] Not in favor of idea of Brahman

Buddhism rejects the Upanishadic doctrine of Brahman/atman.[27][28] According to Damien Keown, "the Buddha said he could find no evidence for the existence of either the personal soul (atman) or its cosmic counterpart (brahman)".[29] According to David Webster, the metaphysics of Buddhism entails that desire for Brahman leads to dukkha (suffering).[30]

According to Merv Fowler, some forms of Buddhism have incorporated concepts that resemble that of Brahman.[31] As an example, Fowler cites the early Sarvastivada school of Buddhism, which "had come to accept a very pantheistic religious philosophy, and are important because of the impetus they gave to the development of Mahayana Buddhism".[32] According to William Theodore De Bary, in the doctrines of the Yogacara school of Mahayana Buddhism, "the Body of Essence, the Ultimate Buddha, who pervaded and underlay the whole universe [...] was in fact the World Soul, the Brahman of the Upanishads, in a new form".[33] According to Fowler, some scholars have identified the Buddhist nirvana, conceived of as the Ultimate Reality, with the Hindu Brahman/atman; Fowler claims that this view "has gained little support in Buddhist circles."[34] Fowler asserts that the authors of a number of Mahayana texts took pains to differentiate their ideas from the Upanishadic doctrine of Brahman.[35]

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby songhill » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:42 pm

If anyone is halfway serious about the distinction between Shankara's Advaita and Buddhism they need, first of all, to be very acquainted with Buddhism (this means reading the discourses - not listening to someone's interpretation), then study the Brahma Sutras of Shankara. I have spent time underlining various points in Shankara's Sutras that seem very much to tally with Buddhism. There is quite a lot to underline. An aside, I don't think it reflects good academic manners just to dismiss the Brahma Sutras, out of hand, or pretend to be as smart as scholars who study the subject. I admit, I was a little blown back by how much Shankara's thought chimes with Mahayana.
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