single, plural, or neither?

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single, plural, or neither?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri May 03, 2013 10:52 pm

Is a mindstream in the sense of Karmic storage individual, plural, both, neither?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby monktastic » Sat May 04, 2013 12:36 am

Are you asking about the kun-gzhi / alayavijnana? There is one per sentient being, as I understand it.

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ab ... sciousness

An unspecified, nonobstructive, individual consciousness that underlies all cognition, cognizes the same objects as the cognitions it underlies, but is a nondetermining cognition of what appears to it and lacks clarity of its objects. It carries the karmic legacies of karma and the mental impressions of memories, in the sense that they are imputed on it. It is also translated as "foundation consciousness" and, by some translators, as "storehouse consciousness." According to Gelug, asserted only by the Chittamatra system; according to non-Gelug, assserted by both the Chittamatra and Madhyamaka systems.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat May 04, 2013 12:54 am

Yes, Alaya Vijnana.

In some places Alaya Vijana is equated with Tathagatagarbha, a diamond wrapped in dirty cloth and all that (defilements). etc...if i'm understanding, and it seems like some say it's individual, while some seem to indicate it's universal - Lankavatara Sutra for instance. Or is the question really just for ease of talking about something that is neither individual nor universal?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby dharmagoat » Sat May 04, 2013 1:02 am

As I understand it, an individual's mindstream has multiple interwoven and branching threads, even though we may be conscious of only one thread at any particular time. In this way it can be argued that the mind of a person is not the unified, singular entity as is conventionally thought.
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby monktastic » Sat May 04, 2013 6:31 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Yes, Alaya Vijnana.

In some places Alaya Vijana is equated with Tathagatagarbha, a diamond wrapped in dirty cloth and all that (defilements). etc...if i'm understanding, and it seems like some say it's individual, while some seem to indicate it's universal - Lankavatara Sutra for instance. Or is the question really just for ease of talking about something that is neither individual nor universal?


I know nothing myself, but I recently heard a Dzogchen lecture from Alan Wallace where he emphasizes that the alayavijnana is explicitly individual (he likens it to a fingerprint), unlike the dharmakaya (which is neither one nor many). IIRC, he also mentions that it's not specifically human (or whatever the animal under consideration is) in characteristic.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby greentara » Sat May 04, 2013 7:57 am

monktastic, I always enjoy your postings but you mentioned Allan Wallace, an academic researcher, translator but seriously how would he really know? You have all these people globe trotting around the world as experts in spirituality or Buddhism. They've read alot but what do they really know?!
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 04, 2013 10:25 am

greentara wrote:monktastic, I always enjoy your postings but you mentioned Allan Wallace, an academic researcher, translator but seriously how would he really know? You have all these people globe trotting around the world as experts in spirituality or Buddhism. They've read alot but what do they really know?!


There are in Buddhim three levels of knowledge, this means that correct intellectual knowledge is necessary and valid as such, it forms the basis for the knowledge of reflection, which is the basis for the knowledge of meditation.
Here under the title Three prajñas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_in_Buddhism

How can you know the inner experience of a person anyway? Be it Allan Wallace or anybody else!
And by the way, Vasubandhu also says that Alaya is personal, for example in Trimshika Karika or Thirty Stanzas.
In an other text Vasubandhu says that Alaya is not different from the fifth skandha, consciousness. The five skandhas or five aggregates analyze the person.
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby monktastic » Sat May 04, 2013 5:30 pm

greentara wrote:monktastic, I always enjoy your postings but you mentioned Allan Wallace, an academic researcher, translator but seriously how would he really know? You have all these people globe trotting around the world as experts in spirituality or Buddhism. They've read alot but what do they really know?!


How would he know? I don't know, how would I know? :) But more seriously: he always backs up his assertions with scripture. He's also very careful and respectful about only sharing stuff that his teachers (including HHDL, and I think his main Dzogchen teacher is Gyatrul Rinpoche) allow. He did spend decades practicing in Tibet and India, after all. I trust him, but mentioned his name so that others can decide for themselves.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun May 05, 2013 10:28 pm

Hmm thanks, the fifth aggregate thing actually makes it clearer in some ways.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 05, 2013 10:44 pm

B Allan Wallace is a translator for the Dalai Lama, participant in the Mind-Life conferences, and is not simply an armchair commentator. I often don't agree with his POV, but he is very well qualified.

@JD - it is a difficult question, but I tend towards 'neither'. Something I have been thinking about recently is that humans, for instance, are fantastically complex on one level, and completely simple on another. The human brain is the most complex natural phenomenon known to science. Yet at the same time, the human is simple - that is, not composed of parts.

The view I favour is that 'unity' is not a numerical quality, i.e. 'one' as opposed to 'plural', but 'unity' in the sense of 'being part of a larger whole' and therefore 'all from the same source'. So that larger whole is only always One, whilst at the same time having apparent internal complexity.

There is an interesting concept called 'holons' which relates to this notion. Later on I'll find a reference to it. But this is one of the perennial questions - the relationship between the 'one' and the 'many'.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby dude » Mon May 06, 2013 1:24 am

The Lotus Sutra states : "This world is not as living beings in the threefold world perceive it to be, nor is it otherwise....this world is neither consistent nor diverse."
In another passage, it says "All things neither exist nor do not exist."
I hesitate to put forth an opinion, not satisfied with my own understanding, but for the sake of speculation I propose that the All in All could be thought of as neither unitary nor manifold. Neither a single thing nor many things, but in terms of phenomena, perceived from the ultimately reality as in a way being both.
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Re: single, plural, or neither?

Postby randomseb » Mon May 06, 2013 6:41 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:a diamond wrapped in dirty cloth and all that (defilements).


That seems fairly similar to my metaphor of a massive pile of dark storm clouds {of defilements forming ego} obscuring the clear blue sky {of mind} through which radiates the shining {awareness-light of the} sun.. I wonder if I mean the same thing as yours does
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