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Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism - Dhamma Wheel

Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:07 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:28 am


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Fede
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Re: Non-duality

Postby Fede » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:38 am

This is what terrifies me.
I barely understand a word of that.

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:46 am


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Fede
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Re: Non-duality

Postby Fede » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:52 am

Now see, that's what I understand.

High-falutin jargon is confusing to me.
I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm not saying it should not be like that, I'm not saying it's unnecessary.
I'm merely saying I find it extraordinarily difficult to deal with and digest.
The way you have just put it, is all I need.

And I get it.
And I 'knew' it already. ('knowing' and 'realising', being two different things.... ;) )

Thank you.

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

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AdvaitaJ
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Re: Non-duality

Postby AdvaitaJ » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:06 am

Tilt,

I presume there was more behind this thread because of the way it just jumps right in with no pre-amble or explicitly stated conclusion. If so, please don't consider the following comments as anything other than interested musings.

As may be surmised, "advaita" has more than a passing interest for me. I heard it defined about forty years ago as "non-dual" and have since read in multiple places the same definition. As a consequence, it strikes me that the reference to advaita being defined as "not two" is likely to be obscure at best.

Being well aware of the sensitivity on a Buddhist forum of advaita by implication suggesting the Hindu concept of unity with the atman, I've thought occasionally about ditching the moniker. However, "advaita" can also just be a word. Non-dual to me implies unity or unification as opposed to the simple "one" or self. So...a search of Access to Insight for "unification" reveals a number of highly desirable Buddhist traits.

Being the rookie that I am, I make no claims for having achieved anything worthwhile, but I will say that when I remember to exert mindfulness and reel in the old auto-pilot, the word that best describes the ways that feels to me is unification. Hence, AdvaitaJ.

:anjali:

Regards: He-who-must-not-be-named
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai

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Re: Non-duality

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:16 am


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Re: Non-duality

Postby clw_uk » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:47 am

It seems to me that the non-dual approach is a bit of a paradox since its concered with the "I" of atman, if there is an "I" there will always be duality, or am i misunderstandng?



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Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Re: Non-duality

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:53 am


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Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:29 am


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Re: Non-duality

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:22 pm

I am in agreement with Tilt if I understand him correctly. I think that when people start imagining non-duality, intellectualizing and striving for non-duality, and conflating the word with awakening, it's just plain confusing and misleading. Non-duality just can not be described well in conventional language and I don't believe it's meant to be.

Wandering into Madhyamaka I know we have to eventually use the word "illusion." But in everyday terms I'm not sure it's so useful.

Thanks for listening, and I'm not trying to bash my own traditions. These are just my musings.
:namaste:


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Re: Non-duality

Postby Dharmajim » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:27 am

Tilt:

I'm glad you started a thread on non-duality. For the past nine years I've lead a group that studies the Buddhist Discourses. Recently some participants brought up the non-dual view in a way that implied that Buddhism shared that perspective, as if everyone knows that to be the case. After this happened a few times I offered that I was not a non-dualist. My view is that one can interpret the Buddha's teaching in a non-dual way, but there is nothing that compels such an interpretation.

For the past 20 years or so there has been a wave of non-dual teachers in the west; I refer to them collectively as 'western advaita' because I think in crucial ways their presentation of advaita differs from the Indian version of advaita based on Shankara's teaching. This wave of teachers has been very successful. So much so that it is now widely assumed that non-dual teachings are superior to those that are not non-dual. For example, if person N presents a teaching, and person M says the teachings is dualistic, the response of N, in defending the teaching, will be that it is not really dualistic. N will not respond by saying something like, "So what?" because nearly everyone now accepts the idea that non-dual teachings are superior, the pinnacle, and the ultimate.

I think this assumption of the superiority of non-dual teachings is unwarranted. There are great, and very articulate, spiritual traditions that are not non-dual. Christianity is one of these , Platonism is another, Confucianism is yet another, and there are numerous other traditions that are not world-wide, such as Shinto, that are not non-dual teachings. In addition, most Hindus are not non-dualists and there has been a sustained critique of advaita in Hinduism that I find articulate and worth examining. The Jain teaching is also not non-dual and has successfully resisted and critiques advaita. I would also suggest that the Buddha's teaching is not an example of non-dualism, at least as non-dualism is presented by western advaitans.

Non-dualists tend to ignore the great difficulties that non-duality has as a coherent presentation. First among these is the problem of evil. This difficulty is not confined to advaita (dualists struggle mightily with this topic), but it has a special undermining effect on advaita for if there is really only one reality, without a second, then why is it that evil exists in the world, for if there is really no second, and evil exists, then that would imply that the one reality is evil. To get around this advaitans argue for the illusory nature of appearances and the mind-made nature of ethical judgment. But if appearances are illusory then how is that they can say that appearances are illusory; that is to say they seem perfectly content to use illusory appearances to make their case, thereby relying on the efficacy of cause and effect, when it suits their purposes, while denying that efficacy when it suits different purposes.

A second problem is the problem of manyness. The world of appearances does not support the idea that there is ONLY one reality. If one goes along with advaita that there is only one truly real thing, or essence, or being, then why is it that the world of appearances is differentiated? Whence comes differentiation? Dualists do not have a problem with differentiation. Buddhists do not have a problem with differentiation because it is simply a manifestation of the causal nexus at the heart of Buddhist understanding. But for advaitans differentiation represents a constant presence which undermines the core of their world view.

There are other difficlties facing advaita, particularly western advaita, but I don't want to write a long essay. Again, I appreciate you raising this issue as I think western advaita has been given a free ride for far too long.

Best wishes,

Jim

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Re: Non-duality

Postby pink_trike » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:24 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: Non-duality

Postby bazzaman » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:46 am

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Re: Non-duality

Postby christopher::: » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:37 pm

Last edited by christopher::: on Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Non-duality

Postby Dharmajim » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:50 pm

Greetings Christopher:

The kind of quotes you offered on non-duality illustrate what strike me as some of the shortcomings of that approach, particularly as it is offered in the west. The idea that the "only" obstacle to "freedom", which I take to be a stand-in for "awakening" or "liberation", is one's belief makes the whole spiritual enterprise a completely mental affair. In turn this leads to a focus on having some kind of liberative experience; again a mental experience. This, in turn, undermines genuine spiritual work on the everyday level such as "right speech", or "right livelihood".

For a number of years I was a Chaplain at a Prison for the Criminally Insane. The view that the only obstacle to freedom that these inmates had was their incorrect idea is laughably incoherent. No one, and I mean no one, at this facility would have taken such an analysis seriously (with the possible exception of delusional schizophrenics who already thought they were divine). My view here is that western advaita is a teaching that is designed to appeal to an extremely narrow class of people, a class of people who are highly privileged, highly educated and have an abundance of leisure time. This is a very select group. Western advaita, because of its focus on the mental, has nothing to offer the mass of ordinary people, let alone those who are more seriously afflicted either by the circumstances of their birth, their heredity, or fate. It is an extremely elitist approach to spirituality.

I don't mean to sound overly harsh; there are non-dual teachers I admire. But to repeat from my previous post, non-dual teachings in the west, particularly in the truncated form which most westerners advaitans teach them, have gotten for far too long a free ride which I think is unwarranted given that many of their assumptions are highly dubious and given that the results of their teachings do not seem to bear fruit in any significant way that I have been able to observe.

Sincerely,

Jim

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Re: Non-duality

Postby Jechbi » Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:40 pm


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Re: Non-duality

Postby christopher::: » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:05 pm

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:22 pm


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Re: Non-duality

Postby Individual » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:10 pm

The best things in life aren't things.



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