Who/what is the subject?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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rachmiel
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Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:29 am

When mind objects arise -- thoughts, sensory perceptions, feelings, etc. -- who or what is the subject to whom they arise? In other words, who/what feels, thinks, etc.?

The simplest answer is: Well *I* do of course! But I is merely the five skandhas. It is not a concrete entity that can experience feeling, thinking, etc.

If there is ultimately no subject, just arisings ... how can these be experienced? Experiencing requires an experience and an experiencer, right?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:40 am

I'm exploring how far the rabbit hole goes.

It's easy to see one's stories (beliefs, concepts, internal scripts) aren't ultimately real.

It's quite easy to go a step further and see that the storyteller is not ultimately real.

But it's quite a leap to entertain the notion that the entity that "knows" the above two things is just as not ultimately real.

What's left after all the ultimately un-reals fall away?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Odsal
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby Odsal » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:25 am


dimeo
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby dimeo » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:03 pm


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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:21 pm

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby dimeo » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:23 pm


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Wayfarer
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:30 am

My view - question cannot be answered, which is what makes it such a vital question.

Any object of thought is by definition not the subject. Thought itself generally operates in the relationship of subject and object. When thought tries to examine its own nature, it must fail, because it cannot really objectify it or stand apart from it. Of course it is possible to engage in all kinds of conjecture about it, or to entertain speculative theories, some of which gain currency and persist for a long while. It is also possible to objectify many of the attributes and characteristics of particular kinds of thoughts and feelings. But what the subject is, is a different category of question.

I have decided that really don't accept the interpretation of 'anatta' that very many Buddhists seem to believe in - that there is simply 'no self'. I think that too easily morphs into a kind of nihilistic dogmatism. We're responsible agents, that is how karma works. There is a way of transcending or rising above that, but it is not by simply denying that its existence. So it is better to admit that we really don't know and haven't got to the bottom of the question, rather than to engage in theories about it.

That is a properly sceptical approach, in my view. I think the true nature of the subject (and the object, for that matter) is a great unknown, and realizing it is unknown is the best approach. This has precedents in Buddhist and other schools of philosophy - see Jay Garfield's .
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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oushi
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby oushi » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:53 pm

Say what you think about me

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justsit
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby justsit » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:43 pm

You may find this helpful:

From the Aspiration Prayer for Mahamudra, the Definitive Meaning
by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje


The base of purification is mind itself, the union of clarity and emptiness —
May the great purifying vajra-yoga of Mahamudra
Clear away what is to be purified, the fleeting stains of confusion,
And may we manifest the result of this purification, stainless Dharmakaya. (7)

Eliminating superimpositions about the ground is confident view,
Guarding non-distraction from that is meditation's essential point,
Becoming expert in all types of meditation is conduct supreme —
May we gain such confident view, meditation, and conduct. (8)

All phenomena are mind's magical play
As for mind, there is no mind! Mind is empty of essence.
Empty and unimpeded, it can appear as absolutely anything —
Analyzing excellently, may we cut through all superimpositions
about the ground. (9)

Our own projections, never existent, we mistake to be objects,
Out of ignorance we mistake self-awareness to be self,
Clinging to this duality makes us wander in the vastness
of existence —
May we cut through ignorance and confusion at their root. (10)

This prayer elucidates the complete path. Read the rest .

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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby xabir » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:11 pm


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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:52 pm

Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

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Astus
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby Astus » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:01 pm



Some say that whatever is involved in seeing, hearing etc. and feeling etc. exists prior to them.
If [that] thing is not evident, how can there be seeing etc? Therefore, the presence [of that] thing [must] exist before them.
What configures/makes known that thing which is present before seeing and hearing etc. and feeling etc.?
...
Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.



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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby dude » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:49 pm


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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:10 pm

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:21 pm

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:38 pm

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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rachmiel
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:40 pm

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Odsal
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby Odsal » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:10 pm


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oushi
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby oushi » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:48 pm

Say what you think about me

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LastLegend
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Re: Who/what is the subject?

Postby LastLegend » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:21 am

NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―


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