Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:15 pm

Mahayana only stops mental projections. It doesn't say anything about anything.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:37 am

I don't have much useful to add, but I would like to say this much: reading disputes between Mahamudra and Dzogchen from several hundred years ago sound in some ways similar to the debates between neo-Advaita and Mahamudra / Dzogchen today. It really seems to me that Advaita Vedanta and Dzogchen have much more in common with each other than either does with the teachings in the Upanishads or Suttas.

And just like the quibbling between Mahamudra and Dzogchen was eventually seen to be useless in-fighting, I hope the same will be true of the non-dual Buddhist and Hindu traditions in the not-too-distant future. Maybe that's because I like to believe that both camps are asking me to do the same thing: sit down, shut up, and stop coloring reality. In the end, I will see the same color, even if I call it "fuchsia" in one case and "purple" in the other. As they say, at this point, even the Buddha's tongue was numb.

Anyway, just found this interesting quote on Wikipedia. Can anyone comment on its accuracy?

In the tathagatagarbha sutric tradition, the Dharmakaya is taught by the Buddha to constitute the transcendental, blissful, eternal, and pure Self of the Buddha. "These terms are found in sutras such as the Lankavatara, Gandavyuha, Angulimaliya, Srimala, and the Mahaparinirvana, where they are used to describe the Buddha, the Truth Body (dharmakaya) and the Buddha-nature."[12] They are the "transcendent results [of spiritual attainment]".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmak%C4%81ya

Seems pretty damning if true.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
User avatar
monktastic
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:48 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:49 am

I object to the use of the term "pure self" because as we know non-self (all phenomena are empty and selfless) is one of the Four Dharma Seals, what is used to determine whether a doctrine is Buddhist or not.

I am not deeply studied in the Sutras mentioned but in the Tibetan Tradition the topic of Buddhanature/Thatagathagarbha is often studied according to a scripture known as the Sublime Continuum/ Gyu Lama. It states very clearly:

Because the complete buddha body radiates forth,
Because thusness is indivisible,
Because lineage exists, all creatures
Always possess the essence of buddha.

It also describes how we have the Buddha nature within us:

Just as if a helpless, ugly woman,
Staying in an unprotected house,
Carried a glorious king in her womb,
Yet was unaware that a ruler existed in her belly. [v.1.123]
Similarly, birth in cyclic existence is like the unprotected house,
Impure sentient beings are like the woman with her womb,
The stainless element is like that within her womb,
Because, by having it, one is protected. [v.1.124]

But I would be very wary of any article that tries to equate some sort of self within the doctrines of Buddhism.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:25 am

JKhedrup wrote:Thatagathagarbha
is this a theory of thatness? :tongue:
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
User avatar
futerko
 
Posts: 993
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:58 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:26 am

It is what it is (Zen answer) :tongue:
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby futerko » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:28 am

JKhedrup wrote:It is what it is (Zen answer) :tongue:
maybe the moon which points at the reflection of the finger in water?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
User avatar
futerko
 
Posts: 993
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:58 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:24 am

Although Shankara's Advaita, like other traditions of Vedanta, officially bases itself chiefly on the teachings of select Upanishads, a collection of philosophical works that include Pre-Buddhist, Buddhist era and Post-Buddhist texts, many authorities from India and elsewhere have noted that it shows signs of influence from Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana schools with whom Shankara's Advaita is said to share some similarities are the Madhyamaka and the Yogacara, founded by the Brahmins Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Asanga.

NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth. This is echoed by Ninian Smart, a historian of religion, who notes that the differences between Shankara and Mahayana doctrines are largely a matter of emphasis and background than essence.

"Buddhism and Vedanta should not be viewed as two opposed systems, but one which starts with the Upanishads, finds its indirect support in Buddha, its elaboration in Mahayana Buddhism, its open revival in Gaudapada, (and) which reaches its zenith in Sankara."
greentara
 
Posts: 933
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby muni » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:28 pm

monktastic wrote: reading disputes between Mahamudra and Dzogchen from several hundred years ago sound in some ways similar to the debates


:oops: Sorry! Since I read too fast, understood that you was reading for several hundred years about Mahamudra-Dzogchen, which I guess, can probably be possible when mind seeks its nature in books.

:namaste:
Theories can create an illusory distance between us and enlightenment.
muni
 
Posts: 3023
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby rachmiel » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:19 pm

greentara wrote:NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth.

Self = brahman = all there is, thus has independent existence: Advaita.
Self = a mental construct that has no independent existence: Buddhism.

I don't see how these point to the same absolute truth. Am I getting it wrong?
neti neti
User avatar
rachmiel
 
Posts: 566
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Simon E. » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:36 pm

rachmiel wrote:
greentara wrote:NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth.

Self = brahman = all there is, thus has independent existence: Advaita.
Self = a mental construct that has no independent existence: Buddhism.

I don't see how these point to the same absolute truth. Am I getting it wrong?

I think you are spot on. And clearly they dont.

Just for interest, I once heard Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche demolishing Ram Das' argument that they were the same truth.
Ram Das looked rueful but took it well.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:46 pm

The mind that’s not conditioned
Is originally unborn
What is unconditioned doesn’t exist
That is why there’s no delusion


Though the years mat creep ahead
Mind itself can never age
This mind that’s
Always just the same


Wonderful! Marvelous!
When you’ve searched and found at last
The one who never will grow old -
‘I alone!’”

Bankei's great Zen poem is not too different to Advaita.
As for Ram Das, he's interesting because of his association with Neem Karoli Baba. You can hardly call Ram Das a non dual expert.
greentara
 
Posts: 933
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:28 pm

greentara wrote:Although Shankara's Advaita, like other traditions of Vedanta, officially bases itself chiefly on the teachings of select Upanishads, a collection of philosophical works that include Pre-Buddhist, Buddhist era and Post-Buddhist texts, many authorities from India and elsewhere have noted that it shows signs of influence from Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana schools with whom Shankara's Advaita is said to share some similarities are the Madhyamaka and the Yogacara, founded by the Brahmins Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Asanga.

NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth. This is echoed by Ninian Smart, a historian of religion, who notes that the differences between Shankara and Mahayana doctrines are largely a matter of emphasis and background than essence.

"Buddhism and Vedanta should not be viewed as two opposed systems, but one which starts with the Upanishads, finds its indirect support in Buddha, its elaboration in Mahayana Buddhism, its open revival in Gaudapada, (and) which reaches its zenith in Sankara."


Yes, Shankara was called a "hidden Buddhist". If I can find the source where I read that I'll post it. Suffice to say it's one of those things that sticks in my mind. Considering that he lived from 788-820 CE, was not the originator of Advaita, and that the Upanishads were composed and compiled all the way from pre-Buddhist times through Shankara's lifetime, he had plenty of time and material to work with. Let's further consider that in order to appease, if that's the right word, the varying schools of Hinduism (Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta), he melded them into yet another school, Smarta. I don't think it's beyond possibility that he was quite a creative source.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
User avatar
Jainarayan
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:23 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:39 pm

rachmiel wrote:
greentara wrote:NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth.

Self = brahman = all there is, thus has independent existence: Advaita.
Self = a mental construct that has no independent existence: Buddhism.

I don't see how these point to the same absolute truth. Am I getting it wrong?


There are two "selfs" in Advaita, usually written as Self (Atman) and self (atman or jivatman)... the self is what we think we are, but is illusion. Our Self is non-different from Brahman (Paramatman). Brahman is the ocean, the Self is the wave. The wave does not exist without the ocean, nor on its own, but it non-different from the ocean. The self is what is empty of inherent existence, different from the ocean and not part of it. Realizing we are Self, the ocean, is moksha. So there does exist a concept of sunyata in Advaita... the self is empty.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
User avatar
Jainarayan
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:23 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:06 pm

Buddhism is not monism.
"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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 10193
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:04 pm

rachmiel wrote:
greentara wrote:NV Isaeva opines that the Advaita and Buddhist philosophies, after being purified of accidental or historical accretions, can be safely regarded as different expressions of the same eternal absolute truth.

Self = brahman = all there is, thus has independent existence: Advaita.
Self = a mental construct that has no independent existence: Buddhism.

I don't see how these point to the same absolute truth. Am I getting it wrong?


And you're sure it's not just a matter of terminology? Here's a definition of dharmadhatu that I just found, written by a Zen roshi:

The uncaused and immutable totality in which all phenomena arise, dwell, and pass away.


Isn't it the case that Dzogchen was originally considered somewhat heretical to Buddhism? And that it absorbed elements of Buddhism and eventually "became" Buddhist? Obviously the Buddha never taught Dzogchen explicitly, but now it's not so hard to reconcile them, especially if we had a reason to. Dzogchen no doubt has more adoption being part of an accepted "-ism" than it would have alone, out in the cold.

I think that given the right historical "accidents," Advaita would have been adopted by Buddhism in the same way. Instead (and this was presumably architected by Shankara), it was absorbed into Hinduism (which in many ways has seen it as heretical in a similar way to Buddhism-Dzogchen).

Meanwhile, we'll continue to get this "YOUR ground of being is real; ours is just poetic and evocative." "YOUR emptiness is of a substantial kind; ours is insubstantial." And on and on. The closer you try to get to describing the ineffable (dharmakaya/tathagatagarbha/brahman/tao), the more likely you are to say something about it that will get attacked by people who unknowingly agree with you.
Last edited by monktastic on Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
User avatar
monktastic
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:48 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:13 pm

By the way, I wouldn't get too hung up on the translation "Self" in Advaita. Atman is the illusory self, which is seen to have never been apart from the ground of being (GOB). It may be true that in pre-Buddhist Upanishads, Atman was considered separate and real, but not in Advaita. Something similar can be said in Buddhism with ego and dharmata I think.

Sogyal Rinpoche:

The Sanskrit word dharmatā, ཆོས་ཉིད་, chö nyi in Tibetan, means the intrinsic nature of everything, the essence of things as they are. Dharmata is the naked, unconditioned truth, the nature of reality, or the true nature of phenomenal existence.


If one were told that this came out of the mouth of an Advaitin (edit: and one were not already familiar with the term, obviously), one could easily respond "OH, so you mean things have an intrinsic nature? You even have a name for it? I guess you don't have the real emptiness like we do."
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
User avatar
monktastic
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:48 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:40 pm

monktastic wrote:Atman is the illusory self, which is seen to have never been apart from the ground of being (GOB).


Unless I am misunderstanding the wording, this is not correct. As I mentioned, there are two uses and meanings of the word atman. One is the illusory self, which I think both Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism share. This is the "I" or ego self; in Advaita Vedanta, the illusory self is not part of the ground of being (Brahman, it's a misnomer to call it God, rather it is existence itself). The other atman is the true self, which is non-different from the ground of being. My impression is that Buddhism dropped the non-illusory Self, that which is non-different from the ground of being, having dropped the concept of Brahman, retaining the concept of the illusory self, which is empty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Hinduism)

I guess you don't have the real emptiness like we do.


Yes Advaita Vedanta does have it, that is the atman denoted with a small a. The illusory ego self.

Btw I'm just responding to the previous posts, not making any defenses or judgments on which philosophy is right or wrong.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
User avatar
Jainarayan
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:23 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:57 pm

which is seen to have never been apart from the ground of being (GOB).


This term "ground of being" is very similar to the term that you find in the Chittamantrin/ Mind Only School philosophy "mind basis of all".

Here is a portion of the Illuminator Dictionary entry on the topic:

kun gzhi'i rnam par shes pa Alaya consciousness". Translation of the Sanskrit "ālayavijñāna". In the mind-only system and schools that follow its view of consciousness (including the tantras), there are eight consciousnesses— རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་བརྒྱད་ "the eight consciousnesses". The consciousness referred to here is the eighth consciousness. It is in itself unobscured and indeterminate. It is the principal consciousness that is ཀུན་གཞི་ an omni-basis that underlies the rest mind and all of experience. It is also the ཀུན་གཞི་ "overall range" upon which all karmic seeds and other things that ripen in a sentient being's experience are planted.
Because of its functions as the place upon which karmic seeds are planted and kept, its name has been translated as the "store-house consciousness" though in fact the name means that "basis that extends under everything" i.e., the basis underlying everything".
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:14 pm

Jainarayan wrote:Unless I am misunderstanding the wording, this is not correct. As I mentioned, there are two uses and meanings of the word atman. One is the illusory self, which I think both Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism share. This is the "I" or ego self; in Advaita Vedanta, the illusory self is not part of the ground of being (Brahman, it's a misnomer to call it God, rather it is existence itself). The other atman is the true self, which is non-different from the ground of being. My impression is that Buddhism dropped the non-illusory Self, that which is non-different from the ground of being, having dropped the concept of Brahman, retaining the concept of the illusory self, which is empty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Hinduism)


You probably have a better grasp of Advaita than I do, but what I understand is reflected in the Advaita page on wikipedia:

When the reflection of Atman falls on avidya (ignorance), atman becomes jīva — a living being with a body and senses. Each jiva feels as if he has his own, unique and distinct Atman, called jivatman. The concept of jiva is true only in the pragmatic level. In the transcendental level, only the one Atman, equal to Brahman, is true.


Sounds to me like: when buddha-nature encounters ignorance, ego manifests. Each ego feels distinct, but this is only the way it looks from the relative level. On the absolute level, only one Buddha-nature, equal to the Dharmadhatu, is true.

BTW, does this remind anyone of the rangtong-shentong distinction?

Shentong describes the Dharmata, the mind of Buddha, as 'ultimately real'; while Rangtong philosophers fear that if it is described that way, people might understand it as the concept of 'soul' or 'Atma'. The Shentong philosopher believes that there is a more serious possibility of misunderstanding in describing the Enlightened State as 'unreal' and 'void'. Kongtrul finds the Rangtong way of presentation the best to dissolve concepts and the Shentong way the best to describe the experience.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
User avatar
monktastic
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:48 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:15 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
which is seen to have never been apart from the ground of being (GOB).

This term "ground of being" is very similar to the term that you find in the Chittamantrin/ Mind Only School philosophy "mind basis of all".


I believe the Advaita "ground of being" (Brahman) is analogous to our Dharmadhatu, instead of alaya-vijnana.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
User avatar
monktastic
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:48 am
Location: Seattle

PreviousNext

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests

>