Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:31 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:Actually, the whole framework and path that vipassana is based off of, is the 4-noble truths and 8-fold noble path. The basis of the technique is to recognize the 3 characteristics in all experiences (both the physical and metaphysical.)

Whereas neti, neti is based off of a framework and path, that posits a formless Absolute (i.e consciousness) that is: Unchanging, eternal, and independent of the constant flux of objective phenomena (posited as the 'knower' or 'watcher' behind phenomena.)


These are distinctions without difference and the philosophical sleight of hand of refuting definitive teachings of one view with the provisional teachings of another. The reality is, the method of neti neti leads to the same insight as vipashyana methods yield.

Of course the frameworks are different. However, the framework is not present at the time of contemplation in either case. How would it be possible that there is more than one non-dual state free from conceptuality?
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:36 am

I suspect we're too pedantic. fiddling at the edges. Really there are two camps and sometimes they overlap. The primary religious choices one sees is between 'Jerusalem and Benares'. This is the way of describing the choice between Biblical or Eastern spirituality.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:56 am

Karma Dorje wrote:These are distinctions without difference and the philosophical sleight of hand of refuting definitive teachings of one view with the provisional teachings of another.
Which are the provisional and which are the definitive teachings being compared in this instance: is neti provisional or definitive? Are the four noble truths and the eightfold path provisional or definitive? Methinks you are engaging in a linguistical sleight of hand.
The reality is, the method of neti neti leads to the same insight as vipashyana methods yield.
According to who exactly?
Of course the frameworks are different. However, the framework is not present at the time of contemplation in either case.
Of course it is. How can you divorce method from theory?
How would it be possible that there is more than one non-dual state free from conceptuality?
Nobody said there was, what there is though are two distinct (post-experiential) views of the same phenomenon. These views then inform the method, which in turn will affect the fruit of the practice.
"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Matt J » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:11 pm

Advaita is tricky. It has different teachings for different levels of teaching. Most of what Buddhists criticize are the first level, provisional teachings: finding the witness, believing in an independent self, etc. At higher levels, these concepts are dissolved.

David Loy has persuasively argued for the similar goals of the teaching in the article I posted much earlier.

Nirguna Brahman is beyond all concepts. Anything we say about Nirguna Brahman is wrong.

The best description of awareness I've found in Buddhist teaching is that of Ajahn Sumedho. Unlike many, Ajahn Sumedho does not deny it. Nor does he posit a self, as he is often accused of doing. I've quoted him at length below.
[url]
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn ... n_Time.htm[/url]

Q: This word 'citta' is used in the suttas for the subjective consciousness. If there's a citta from which the asavas (biases) are removed and a citta which is liberated, how does this fit in with the idea of self or no-self? How does one avoid self-view in thinking about the citta? If there's no self, who is it that's aware and what is it that becomes enlightened?

A: This is where Buddhism excels. It totally frustrates that desire. The Buddha wouldn't give an inch on that, because that's the non-dualism of the Buddha's teaching. It's psychologically uninspiring. You're left with just letting go of things rather than holding on to the feeling of a God or Oneness or the Soul or the Subject with capital S, or the Overself, or the Atman or Brahman or whatever - because those are all perceptions and the Buddha was pointing to the grasping of perception. The "I am" is a perception - isn't it? - and "God" is a perception. They're conventionally valid for communication and so forth, but as a practice, if you don't let go of perception then you tend to still have the illusion - an illusoriness coming from a belief in the perception of the overself, or God or the Oneness or Buddha Nature, or the divine substance or the divine essence, or something like that.

Like with monism - monistic thinking is very inspiring. "We're all one. We are one - that's our true nature - the one mind." And you can talk of the universal mind and the wholeness and the oneness of everything. That's very uplifting, that's the inspiration. But non-dualism doesn't inspire. It's deliberately psychologically non-inspiring because you're letting go of the desire for inspiration, of that desire and need and clutching at inspiring concepts. This doesn't mean that those concepts are wrong or that monistic thinking is wrong; but the Buddha very much reflected the attachment to it. So, you're not an annihilationist saying there's nobody, nothing, no subject, but by non-dualism, you just let go of things till there's only the way things are.
Then who is it that knows? People say: "Then what is it that knows? Who is it that knows the way things are, who is it that's aware? What is it that's aware?" You want me to tell you? I mean you're aware aren't you? Why do you have to have a name for it? Do you have to have a perception? Why can't there just be awareness? Why do you have to call it mine, or the eternal essence, or whatever? Why do you have to name it? Why not just be that, be aware. Then you see the desire, the doubt, wanting to label it, add to it. It's avijja paccaya sankhara (creating conditions out of ignorance). The process goes on of wanting to complicate it by giving it a name, calling it something.

Just like the question "Can you see your own eyes?" Nobody can see their own eyes. I can see your eyes but I can't see my eyes. I'm sitting right here, I've got two eyes and I can't see them. But you can see my eyes. But there's no need for me to see my eyes because 1 can see! It's ridiculous, isn't it? If I started saying "Why can't I see my own eyes?" you'd think "Ajahn Sumedho's really weird, isn't he!" Looking in a mirror you can see a reflection, but that's not your eyes, it's a reflection of your eyes. There's no way that I've been able to look and see my own eyes, but then it's not necessary to see your own eyes. It's not necessary to know who it is that knows-because there's knowing. And then you start creating views about who is it that knows, then you start the avijja paccaya sankhara and on through the whole thing again to despair and anguish.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:47 pm

matt j, Ajahn Sumedho has always been inspirational. A few years ago a friend of mine saw him at Ramana Maharshi's ashram in South India. He asked Sumedho "What are you doing here?" He replied calmly "No real difference."
Of course Ajahn Sumedho is a monk with great insight and understanding.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Simon E. » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:03 pm

greentara wrote:matt j, Ajahn Sumedho has always been inspirational. A few years ago a friend of mine saw him at Ramana Maharshi's ashram in South India. He asked Sumedho "What are you doing here?" He replied calmly "No real difference."
Of course Ajahn Sumedho is a monk with great insight and understanding.


Really ? I find this surprising for a number of reasons , Any chance of corroboration ?
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:20 pm

Simon E. wrote:
greentara wrote:matt j, Ajahn Sumedho has always been inspirational. A few years ago a friend of mine saw him at Ramana Maharshi's ashram in South India. He asked Sumedho "What are you doing here?" He replied calmly "No real difference."
Of course Ajahn Sumedho is a monk with great insight and understanding.


Really ? I find this surprising for a number of reasons , Any chance of corroboration ?


Why should it be so surprising that one muni would find there is no real difference with another muni? It is only the conceptual mind with its incessant barking and chasing after cars of its own imagining that sees difference everywhere.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Simon E. » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:46 pm

I said "for a number of reasons.." But as you have raised doctrinal matters lets start there.
I used to attend Luang Por Sumedho's Sunday afternoon public discourses frequently at both Chithurst and later at Amravati.
During the Q and A sessions that followed the talks the relationship between the Dharma of the Buddha and Vedanta was a regular topic.
Luang Por was always very precise in distinguishing between the end outcomes of Vedanta and the end outcomes in Buddhadharma. While advocating mutual respect between the two traditions.

On another point, that of history, my wife once asked him if he had been to Sarnath and he replied that he had, but added that he had visited India only once, to Sarnath and Lumbini, but had not been to Bodh Gaya.
I can of course ask Ajahn Amaro next time I see him.
Lung Por Sumedho having gone to a small village in Thailand to live out his retirement.

:namaste:
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:04 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Why should it be so surprising that one muni would find there is no real difference with another muni? It is only the conceptual mind with its incessant barking and chasing after cars of its own imagining that sees difference everywhere.
Of course! I mean there is no difference between Buddhist practices and animal sacrifice propitiation practices (for example) now is there? None whatsoever!
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"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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:17 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Why should it be so surprising that one muni would find there is no real difference with another muni? It is only the conceptual mind with its incessant barking and chasing after cars of its own imagining that sees difference everywhere.
Of course! I mean there is no difference between Buddhist practices and animal sacrifice propitiation practices (for example) now is there? None whatsoever!
woof-woof.jpg


Straw dog. We are talking about the resultant non-conceptual view, not conditioned practices of any sort. As I said, comparing one muni to another. Ramana Maharshi did not practice animal sacrifice. Quite the opposite: he adopted many animals and treated them as guests.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:34 pm

Straw dog. We are talking about the resultant non-conceptual view, not conditioned practices of any sort.
Quite right (to an extent)! I did not read your post properly. Sorry. Still though, can resultant non-conceptual views arise in the absence of conditioned practices and vice versa? Are you saying that Buddhist practices are conditioned? If they are, then how can they lead to a non-conditioned state?

And the question arises: is every muni a maha muni? You see we are not talking (merely) about sageliness here, but about enlightenment.

Ramana Maharshi did not practice animal sacrifice.
I wasn't insinuating that he did.
: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: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:28 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Quite right (to an extent)! I did not read your post properly. Sorry. Still though, can resultant non-conceptual views arise in the absence of conditioned practices and vice versa? Are you saying that Buddhist practices are conditioned? If they are, then how can they lead to a non-conditioned state?

And the question arises: is every muni a maha muni? You see we are not talking (merely) about sageliness here, but about enlightenment.


I think you are very much correct that non-conceptual views arise dependent on conditioned practice as instrumental cause. Conditioned practices remove the obscurations and gather the accumulation of merit which while not producing the natural state itself, make it clear and obvious. What I am mean to say is that there may be a number of different but equivalent ways to conceptualize the path depending on the particular obscurations of beings and the causes and conditions they find themselves in, some buddhist and some from other traditions.

Personally, I am convinced that the practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen are superior methods compared to others available on this planet if one has the good fortune to meet them. There are so many methods to accomodate the propensities of practitioners, a rich tradition of oral commentary, countless realized practitioners that you can meet and receive personal instruction from. However, I do think that one can find much the same approach in many other non-Buddhist traditions if you know where to look. The natural state is quite obvious, once one has been introduced to it. Once introduced, one can look at the teachings of other traditions and easily identify when the same thing is being elucidated. I am pretty sure all of us have had this experience.

Not every muni is fully enlightened, but if I am sure of anything it is that Ramana Maharshi is a mahamuni.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:43 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Not every muni is fully enlightened, but if I am sure of anything it is that Ramana Maharshi is a mahamuni.
So why have Buddhists and Advaitans been tearing each other heads off (metaphorically) for the past 1500 years? Coz they are stupid and now us smart white guys are going to show them the reality of the situation? Coz they had nothing better to do? Just for the hell of it? Coz they were (are) all deluded? :shrug:
"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 Lotus_Bitch » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:48 pm

Matt J wrote:Advaita is tricky. It has different teachings for different levels of teaching. Most of what Buddhists criticize are the first level, provisional teachings: finding the witness, believing in an independent self, etc. At higher levels, these concepts are dissolved.

Well, these sorts of issues have been brought in the past on this thread. Here's excerpts from a thread that was taken down from this forum, but salvaged and posted elsewhere:


http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2012/07/turiya-vs-dzogchen.html

Re: Turiya VS. Dzogchen

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:53 am

mzaur wrote:

asunthatneversets wrote:Rigpa(vidya) is of a different flavor, in rigpa the localized substratum(or abiding background) is empty and for this reason it(rigpa) is primordially unstained by any distinctive notions or characteristics. Though rigpa(vidya) can't be accurately described (for purposes of allowing one to get an idea of it's nature) it is sometimes said to be akin to space itself.



Abiding background is pure awareness separate from phenomena, right? Brahman or Self. Could you clarify what the bold means? Advaita defines Brahman as empty of attributes, but I surmise you are using empty in a different way.

I think I know what you mean. It's just that I bet some people read these forums and think empty means something different, like how Advaita uses it.



The abiding background can either be (i)awareness separate from phenomena or (ii)awareness merged with phenomena. In either case there is the faculty of awareness which is assumed to be existent. Advaita defines Brahman as being empty of attributes because it is 'that' which knows(the knower). The "knower" is attributeless because through investigation it is unaccounted for in anything perceivable or knowable. In advaita the term neti-neti is implemented (to discover this faculty) which means "not this, not that". So using this negative approach one disavows every conceivable aspect of one's experience until the "knower"(awareness) itself is all that remains. The process is much like; "I am not the body, because I am aware of the body - I am not my thoughts, because I am aware of my thoughts, etc...", so the process retracts into the realm of the formless observer. Since this formless awareness is posited to be unstained by any phenomenal appearance (or designation), it is said to be empty of attributes, unassailable and eternal. Awareness (then still assumed to be embodied) is the atman, and upon actualizing the differentiation between the atman and characteristics which allegedly compose the personal self(jivatman), and external world, the next step is to merge the atman with the brahman(universal self)....

Re: Turiya VS. Dzogchen

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:04 am

mzaur wrote:Also, I was wondering about the mirror analogy used in Dzogchen... as Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche wrote in Crystal and Way of Light:

"And by way of an example, this voidness is said to be like the fundamental purity and clarify of a mirror. A master may show the disciple a mirror and explain how the mirror itself does not judge the reflections arising in it to be either beautiful or ugly; the mirror is not changed by whatever kind of reflection may arise; nor its capacity to reflect impaired. It is then explained that the void nature of the mind is like the nature of the mirror, pure, clear, and limpid, and that no matter what arises, the void essence of the mind can never be lost, damaged, or tarnished."

How is this analogy not talking about an abiding background?



Yeah the mirror can be mistaken as representing an abiding background which has the capacity to reflect. But that is only if one focuses on the mirror as an object beholding reflections (which I'm sure is a common error but isn't what Rinpoche was suggesting). It's important to carefully investigate how the analogy is presented... it's not the mind is like the mirror, but the nature of mind is like the nature of the mirror, in that, the void nature of mind is empty yet luminous. So the essential quality (or nature) of the mirror is that it reflects, but is that essential quality or characteristic a tangible thing or suchness? Can you roll or bounce the mirror's capacity to reflect? Is that essence or capacity located anywhere? Is it blue or green? Or any color or shape? No, it isn't, it cannot be identified as 'this or that' yet it is known clear as day. And much like the mirror this innate, empty, luminous, natural essence and capacity of mind, reflects yet does not hold and remains unscathed. The reflections are not inherently part of the mirror's nature, but are product of it and inseparable from it... and "it"(the nature) is an indistinguishable quality which cannot be pigeonholed.

(And when I say indistinguishable quality I don't mean to imply that it's a qualitative suchness or that the quality belongs to an implied connotative suchness, it's not established or unestablished in any way... being primordially unborn it evades even itself).
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:06 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Not every muni is fully enlightened, but if I am sure of anything it is that Ramana Maharshi is a mahamuni.
So why have Buddhists and Advaitans been tearing each other heads off (metaphorically) for the past 1500 years? Coz they are stupid and now us smart white guys are going to show them the reality of the situation? Coz they had nothing better to do? Just for the hell of it? Coz they were (are) all deluded? :shrug:


Politics. It's easy to "tear each others heads off" when you aren't in the same country talking to each other. Heck, look at all the political nonsense between the schools within Tibet who *were* talking to each other, and that's not even leaving Vajrayana. Add to that the entirely political debate between Hvashang and Kamalashila. For millennia, religions were dependent on royal largesse. Polemicism had very real and important outcomes that had little to do with what was ultimately true.

I am not sure what skin colour adds to the debate, that's a very puzzling comment. I have never accused anyone of being stupid. Parochial definitely, stupid no.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:23 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Why should it be so surprising that one muni would find there is no real difference with another muni? It is only the conceptual mind with its incessant barking and chasing after cars of its own imagining that sees difference everywhere.

In Mahamudra, the nature of thoughts is dharmakaya.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Fi5w-wNj0D8C&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=thoughts+are+dharmakaya&source=bl&ots=mMYMBDTqAB&sig=SMOvwMv0yZ2eatIDIuUWtHr464U&hl=en&sa=X&ei=P1EZUcf1ELLO0QGj6oCACw&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=thoughts%20are%20dharmakaya&f=false
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:32 pm

It's not 'tearing each others heads off'. In the context of a spiritually-oriented culture there was a underlying consensus that there was a 'highest good' and that there was a way to realise it. There were deep differences about what it consisted of, how to attain it, and so on. But the modern context is completely different, because in the mainstream culture in which the debate is now conducted, there is no concept of 'highest good' or spiritual liberation or anything of the kind. In this context, the differences between the two traditions are perhaps less significant than the fact that they share this basic orientation. They are both deeply spiritual traditions, probably the most profound spiritual lineages in the world. This doesn't say they are the same or teach the same ideas, as they don't. It is just a perspective on understanding the similarities and differences, taking into account the context in which they are being compared. That perspective would be different to the viewpoint of a Buddhist whose task it is to demonstrate the superiority of the Buddhist view, and the weaknesses of the opposing view.
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:46 am

I wasn't discussing Vedanta as such but specifically Advaita 'My understanding of the siddhanta (final, highest position) of Advaita Vedanta is presented as ajativada, the doctrine that nothing has ever been born, will die, has happened). However, even this perspective is but an approximation to the truth, a teaching with which Ramana is in complete agreement. Gaudapada said, “Ajati is meaningful only so long as jati (birth) carries meaning. The absolute truth is that no word can designate or describe the Self.” If that is accepted, then where is the question of a jnani or even an ajani being reborn? No one and nothing has ever been born.
It is only when one acknowledges and believes that something has been born, will the question arise about rebirth'
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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby monktastic » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:59 am

gregkavarnos wrote:So why have Buddhists and Advaitans been tearing each other heads off (metaphorically) for the past 1500 years? Coz they are stupid and now us smart white guys are going to show them the reality of the situation? Coz they had nothing better to do? Just for the hell of it? Coz they were (are) all deluded? :shrug:


This would hardly be the first time two nondual traditions have bickered for centuries over which was correct. Mahamudra and Dzogchen?

I'd wager that one reason there's less argument between, say, Theravada and Mahayana, than between Mahayana and Advaita, is that the latter pair are much more similar than the former. It's much easier to argue when you seem to be saying almost the same thing than when you don't seem to be saying the same thing at all.

The Buddha never endorsed non-duality. The final fruit of Advaita seems to be much closer to (I'd say indistinguishable from) rigpa than the "nirvana of an arhat."

By the way, nobody has comments on this Mahayana scripture, about Tathata / Dharmata?

In its very origin suchness is of itself endowed with sublime attributes. It manifests the highest wisdom which shines throughout the world, it has true knowledge and a mind resting simply in its own being. It is eternal, blissful, its own self-being and the purest simplicity; it is invigorating, immutable, free... Because it possesses all these attributes and is deprived of nothing, it is designated both as the Womb of Tathagata and the Dharma Body of Tathagata


I maintain there's greater variance in descriptions within Mahayana than between it and Advaita.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Advaitin vs. Buddhist takes on awareness/reality

Postby greentara » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:19 am

Simon E, I'm surprised that you're surprised. Ajahn Sumedho made a brief visit to the ashram. I know the peron in question very well so I can assure you Sumedho was in Tiruvannamalai.
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