Mahamudra and Yogacara

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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby smcj » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:50 pm

....but there are different interpretations of Shentong, as well. Brunnholzl walks you through the varieties....

Which book? His stuf is a "only as much as necessary" read for me.

As a footnote, I am currently under the impression (subject to change by new information)
That sutra Mahamudra leans towards Rongtong, and tantric Mahamudra leans to Shentong. But as Cone said, in Kagyuland quite often the entire subject is simply not even brought up for people devoting themselves to actual practice.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby conebeckham » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:28 pm

I think it's "Luminous Heart," but it's been awhile. He outlines the differences between, for example, Dolpopa's and Kongtrul's presentation....
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby monktastic » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:29 pm

conebeckham wrote:The main thing to understand about Shentong, therefore, is that what it is said to "posit" is actually transcendent and beyong the realm of intellect or conceptual grasping.


Being endlessly curious (but end-fully knowledgable) about the finer philosophical issues, I'd like to ask: isn't this also true of Zen, and quite possible, Advaita Vedanta? I ask because, to my naive eye, it seems that the final views of these traditions have more than a little "in common" (that's in quotes because how much can two things have in common when both vigorously assert that they hold no views?).

Not to put words in Mitra-la Karl's mouth, but I questioned him on this over coffee some months ago, and I would have to say he seemed of a rather similar opinion: that in the end, when we stop worrying about all of these points and get down to practicing, you may notice "more than a few similarities" (yes, that's euphemism) in the final realizations of these great traditions.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:38 am

monktastic wrote:Being endlessly curious (but end-fully knowledgable) about the finer philosophical issues, I'd like to ask: isn't this also true of Zen, and quite possible, Advaita Vedanta?


That's one of the problems with accepting the idea that one can just practise without understanding the relevant views. It is philosophical naivete, i.e. accepting things at face value without investigation. Mahamudra teaches to first establish "the view", although it doesn't mean a conceptual understanding but rather the experiential confirmation of the nature of the mind. Still, considering all the methods and underlying doctrines involved, it is superficial to claim being beyond dogmas and such. The same is true for every system that likes to appear as "strictly practical". In the starting post of this thread it is shown how Yogacara and Mahamudra have exactly the same meditation steps, making their "practical aspect" identical. But then you hear all the arguments how Yogacara is only Sutrayana and Mahamudra is the pinnacle of Vajrayana.

Dependent origination is a fundamental teaching of the Buddha. In terms of teachings, it means that one should remain aware of the context. If you change the context of a sentence you change its meaning. Same is true for personal experience, because raw experience itself lacks meaning, only concepts can give it importance and content. Even if we theorise that there is such a thing as a universal (religious) experience (as Theosophists believe), even then it is always dependent on the context it is experienced in. That's why it is not irrelevant according to what view one wants to attain what.

In Buddhism this comes up regarding meditation. In the Brahmajala Sutta the Buddha lists the various wrong views different philosophers/priests believe based on what level of absorption (jhana) they experienced. And while Buddhists also know about those, because they see that they are all impermanent and without self, there is no attachment. Whenever one considers any experience as the ultimate, deviates from the middle way of emptiness.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby conebeckham » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:15 pm

Great post, Astus. Agree with everything you've said.

Also don't want to mislead anyone with my previous remarks....conceptual understanding IS important, up to a point. Even a gorilla can sit and stare into space.
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby monktastic » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:22 pm

Astus wrote:That's one of the problems with accepting the idea that one can just practise without understanding the relevant views. It is philosophical naivete, i.e. accepting things at face value without investigation.


(Emphasis mine)

I must admit I do not fully understand this, nor the follow-up comment about gorillas staring into space. Nobody is talking about accepting things at face value. Even overly simplified versions of instructions given by realized masters emphasize investigation (into the source of consciousness; finding out "who or what is looking"; etc.), and the fact that it is most productive when in the service of a thoroughly stabilized mind. This is as true in the Advaita I've followed as it is in the Buddhism I know.

So that I don't get too far off-topic, I'd like to return to what I said before in response to this:

The main thing to understand about Shentong, therefore, is that what it is said to "posit" is actually transcendent and beyong the realm of intellect or conceptual grasping.


In my own understanding, what Advaita posits is transcendent and beyond the realm of intellect or concept, and the same is true of Zen. This is not to say that the three systems are equal (this is trivially falsifiable), but that nonconceptual views do not seem to have readily identifiable features that could reasonably differentiate them -- and this is not coincidental.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby monktastic » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:43 pm

(I also want to be clear that my last post wasn't meant to be flippant. I am always grateful for any wisdom I receive from y'all on this forum :smile:.)
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:46 pm

monktastic wrote:In my own understanding, what Advaita posits is transcendent and beyond the realm of intellect or concept, and the same is true of Zen. This is not to say that the three systems are equal (this is trivially falsifiable), but that nonconceptual views do not seem to have readily identifiable features that could reasonably differentiate them -- and this is not coincidental.


Leaving unrelated comparisons (except with Yogacara of course) behind, there are two ways non-conceptuality can be understood. One is the simple lack of concepts (like a gorilla staring into space), and the other is not being attached to concepts. The first kind is present in everyday life and in the various levels of absorption from the second dhyana on. Those who consider the complete lack of conceptuality the ultimate are categorised in the Brahmajala Sutta under Asaññīvāda, and these unconscious beings (asaññasatta) have their own heaven. In Mahamudra it is called the deviation of grasping non-thought. The second type, that is what Buddhism generally aims for, and that is wisdom. Wisdom is called non-conceptuality because appearances are not reified and grasped but seen as they actually are: empty and interdependent. Or, as the nature of the mind is described: empty and aware. Empty, because it doesn't hold on to anything. Aware, because it clearly perceives everything. That's how, unlike other philosophies and religions, Buddhism doesn't have any ultimate being or essence, not even a special experience. And even when it calls something the true substance and source of everything, it is simply this empty awareness that is not found anywhere.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:09 am

Astus wrote: That's how, unlike other philosophies and religions, Buddhism doesn't have any ultimate being or essence, not even a special experience.


I don't agree with this description. The 'primordial Buddha' (Adi-Buddha) is indeed analogous to 'supreme being', not personified as a God in the Biblical sense, but similarly beyond the realm of change and decay, uncreated and incorruptible. In texts such as 'in Praise of Dharmadhatu' and others, this is clear. That very verse begins:

1. There is something which as long as left unknown

Results in life’s three planes of vicious circle.

Beyond all doubt, it dwells in every being.

To the dharmadhatu I devoutly bow.


So you can't say this is something that simply does not exist. It is something which can be 'left unknown', in other words, there are those who don't know it, and not knowing it is the cause of transmigration. So there are those who know that, and those who do not. 'Not found anywhere' and 'empty' do not equate to mere 'absence of substance' or 'lack of being'. That view is too close to nihilism.

//edit//

The term “emptiness” is apt to be misunderstood for various reasons. The hare or rabbit has no horns, the turtle has no hair growing on its back. This is one form of emptiness. The Buddhist sunyata does not mean absence.

A fire has been burning until now and there is no more of it. This is another kind of emptiness. Buddhist sunyata does not mean extinction.

The wall screens the room: on this side there is a table, and on the other side there is nothing, space is unocccupied. Buddhist sunyata does not mean vacancy.

Absence, extinction and unoccupancy — these are not the Buddhist conception of emptiness. Buddhists’ Emptiness is not on the plane of relativity. It is Absolute Emptiness transcending all forms of mutual relationship, of subject and object, birth and death, God and the world, something and nothing, yes and no, affirmation and negation. In no Buddhist Emptiness there is time, no space, no becoming, no-thing-ness; it is what makes these things possible; it is zero full of infinite possibilities, it is a void of inexhaustible contents.



D.T. Suzuki, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (London: Allen & Unwin, 1957), pp. 27-28.
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby monktastic » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:45 am

Astus wrote:That's how, unlike other philosophies and religions, Buddhism doesn't have any ultimate being or essence, not even a special experience. And even when it calls something the true substance and source of everything, it is simply this empty awareness that is not found anywhere.


This seems a little strained: Buddhism doesn't have X, but when it says it does, ...

But I don't blame you for it; this is hard to talk about without seeming to fall into an extreme. As far as I can tell, Advaitins have the same "trouble" with Brahman (that is, from people of other traditions who have a glance): damned if you do, damned if you don't. I promise you no Advaitin believes that you can "find" Brahman "somewhere," any more than a Dzogchenpa can "find" Samantabhadra.

Anyway, I'm not looking forward to re-hashing arguments about whether the "ground of being" of other traditions is somehow more or less "truly existent" than Samantabhadra, but I will share this quote from Alan Wallace:

Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha whose nature is identical with the tathagatagarbha within each sentient being, is the ultimate ground of samsara and nirvana; and the entire universe consists of nothing other than displays of this infinite, radiant, empty awareness. Thus, in light of the theoretical progression from the bhavanga to the tathagatagarbha to the primordial wisdom of the absolute space of reality, Buddhism is not so simply non-theistic as it may appear at first glance.


I'm sorry if I have de-railed the thread. I think I have already made the contribution I intended to make. I value your input and have no intention of arguing.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:51 am

Here are two commentaries on the Dharmadhatuvibhaga's stanza defining the nature of phenomena. Go Lotsawa states how it is the pure mind-stream, the luminosity, and Rangjung Dorje shows how it is the same everywhere and explains the emptiness of the three svabhavas.

Furthermore, the defining characteristic of the nature of phenomena
Is suchness, which lacks any distinction
Between apprehender and apprehended,
Or [between] objects of designation and what designates them.


Go Lotsawa's commentary (Mining for Wisdom within Delusion", p 303):

Therefore, what is called "the nature of phenomena" is the continuum of the mind that is of one taste, just like the expanse of space, because all phenomena of samsara do not go beyond this nature either. With regard to this, some [say] that [the nature of phenomena] is either [suitable as] a nonimplicative negation [in the sense] of being the nonexistence of apprehender and apprehended or that it is suitable as an implicative negation [in the sense] of existing as this very nonexistence of nonduality. Though there are assertions of such [negations] being the nature of phenomena, here it is not like that because the commentary [by Vasubandhu] explains it to be nothing but the continuum of stainless mind. For the Mahayanasutralankara also says that it is the pure luminous mind:

Mind is held to be always luminous by nature,
Contaminated [only] by adventitious flaws.
Apart from the mind that is the nature of phenomena,
Another mind's luminosity in nature is not taught.


The Third Karmapa's commentary (p 229-230):

This is what was stated above: "The defining characteristic of the nature of phenomena is suchness, which lacks any distinction between apprehender and apprehended, or [between] objects of designation and what designates them." This is the perfect nature, for which numerous synonyms are given in all the sutras and tantras. Glorious Naropa says:

This very being empty is awareness, mind.
Also bodhicitta is just this.
The tathagata heart is nothing but this.
Great bliss is precisely this.

What is called "secret mantra" is just this.
The reality of valid cognition is exactly this.
The fourth empowerment is this.
Connate joy is nothing but this.

The paramitas are precisely this.
Unity is simply this.
Great Madhyamaka is solely this.
Vairocana is this.

Vajrasattva is simply this.
The sixth family is only this.
The buddha disposition is just this.
Many enumerations, such as these,
Which are stated in the sutras and tantras,
Are for the most part based on this.

As for the meaning of noble Nagarjuna's statement that all phenomena lack a nature, the nature of all phenomena is that they neither arise by nature nor cease by nature. For this reason, since they are not real as being permanent or extinct, coming or going, or one or different, they are free from reference points. Therefore, they are both "all phenomena" and "the lack of a nature." The enumerations [of this lack of nature] are "the lack of nature in terms of characteristics," "the lack qf nature in terms of arising," and "the ultimate lack of nature," which are taught in relation to the imaginary, {528} the dependent, and the perfect [natures], respectively. One should understand that all [kinds of] emptiness are also divisions [that are derived] from this.


As for extreme interpretations of annihilation and permanence, Taranatha rejects both (The Essence of Zhentong, p 19-20):

In the Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra others asked, “Aren’t the major and minor marks of the enlightened essence the same features as those of the soul of the extremists?” In response, it was explained [by the Buddha] that “These are not the same features because they are of emptiness.” So, it is said that this enlightened essence does not exist as real, and if these major and minor marks were to exist, then they would be from the system of the extremists. It is also said that like space, what is not established whatsoever is known as the “enlightened essence.”
However, the mere recognition of different kinds of emptiness as meaning the unreal and the non-existence of anything whatsoever without definition is the mental fault of fixating onto one’s own erroneous philosophical system. From the [Laṅkāvatāra-] sūtra it reads, “The reason why these are not the same features as the extremists is because of the manifestation of emptiness, not because these major and minor marks are not manifest.” So, the claim that the enlightened essence of the completely radiant major and minor marks is explained to be interpretive in meaning is reduced to a mere deception within the world of lies.
The claim that the [enlightened] essence is permanent as asserted within the system of the extremists is also reduced to a refutation within the Essence Sūtras. Moreover, it is not acceptable to assert that the meaning of permanence is the permanence of a continuum. This is because saṃsāra, the entire subject-object complex, is merely the permanence of a continuum. So, if the mere permanence of a continuum was sufficiently permanent, then all conditioned phenomena would have to be permanent.


Brünnholzl (In Praise of Dharmadhātu) has a section for the question "Is Buddha Nature an Eternal Soul or Sheer Emptiness?" There he quotes Mipham (p 105):

In this way, Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical systems cannot be distinguished through mere words, but as far as the profound essential point is concerned, they are as different as the earth is from the sky. Hence, after his arrival in Tibet, Atiśa said that, in the India of his days, it is difficult to distinguish Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical systems.


And concludes (p 109):

To summarize, when not just clinging to the words but understanding what is conveyed by these words, let alone Nāgārjuna’s Dharmadhātustava, in Indian Yogācāra texts too, there is no reifying interpretation of tathāgatagarbha. The teachings on buddha nature were never designed as a doctrinal or ontological alternative to or replacement of emptiness. Tathāgatagarbha—the luminous nature of the mind—is not regarded as a monistic absolute beside which all other phenomena have a mere status of emptiness. Rather, it is the natural state of our mind, in which no self-delusion is ever at work. The default example used throughout tathāgatagarbha texts for this nature of the mind being without reference points, inexpressible, and indemonstrable is space. Still, in order to clarify that the ungraspable expanse of the mind is not just a mere inert vacuum, but that this expanse is vivid sheer experience—the natural unity of expanse and wisdom—these texts also give many examples for the luminous aspect of mind’s nature and its boundless inseparable qualities.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:55 am

"The defining characteristic of the nature of phenomena is suchness, which lacks any distinction between apprehender and apprehended, or [between] objects of designation and what designates them." This is the perfect nature, for which numerous synonyms are given in all the sutras and tantras.


Right. And the one who apprehends this nature is by virtue of that 'delivered from the round of birth and death'. That is why they are called 'victorious' and described in other such terms. It is true that this nature ought not to be reified, but not to reify it is not to say that it is non-existent. It is neither 'something that exists' or 'non-existence', being beyond opposites. (I read a remark by a talk that was linked to the other day from this very forum, talking about 'being as such'.)

Furthermore the 'natural state of the mind' is not anything which is understood by 'the natural sciences' in the Western sense, so it is not what we would ordinarily understand as 'natural'. The 'deluded ordinary mind' with which we are all familiar reflexively sees things in terrms of 'self and other' and all the various dualistic divisions which characterize ordinary consciousness. That is 'natural' for us, and what needs to be surmounted or abandoned. You can't deny the fundamental distinction between the Buddhas and the unenlightened. Otherwise, how would there be any path or training? What would there be to teach?
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:46 pm

jeeprs wrote:It is true that this nature ought not to be reified, but not to reify it is not to say that it is non-existent. It is neither 'something that exists' or 'non-existence', being beyond opposites.


The problem is with the idea: it. The four yogas described in Yogacara and Mahamudra show the path and the result. Objects are only products of the mind, mind itself is nothing real whatsoever, without both subject and object the correct realisation of suchness is there, but even that shouldn't be grasped. All four possibilities (is, isn't, both, neither) presuppose something what one can make statements about, and that is reification.

If you want a Zen take on it, look at the discourses of Huairang, Xuanjue and Shenhui in the Platform Sutra (ch. 7 & 8).

the master asked “Where have you come from?”
[Huairang] said, “Mount Song.”
The master said, “[No matter] what kind of thing, how would it come?”
[Huairang] said, “If you say it’s like a single thing, then you’re off the mark.”

[Xuanjue] said, “How can the birthless have a meaning?”
The master said, “If there is no meaning, who is it that discriminates?”
[Xuanjue] said, “Nor is discrimination a meaning.”

One day the master announced to the assembly, “I have a thing without head or tail, without name or title, without front or back. Do you know what it is?”
Shenhui came forth and said, “It is the fundamental source of the buddhas. It is my buddha-nature.”
The master said, “I told you it was without name or title, but you have called it the fundamental source, the buddha-nature. You’ve just covered your head with thatch. You’ve become a follower with only discriminative understanding.”



That is 'natural' for us, and what needs to be surmounted or abandoned. You can't deny the fundamental distinction between the Buddhas and the unenlightened. Otherwise, how would there be any path or training? What would there be to teach?


Calling it "natural" or "ordinary" mind is simply a matter of terminology, and it is not meant for those who are not already familiar with Mahayana. Teachings like Mahamudra are not really entry level. The four noble truths already establish the path and its role, and both Yogacara and Mahamudra describe various stages from deluded to complete enlightenment.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:27 pm

Astus wrote:The problem is with the idea: it.


So in verses such as the one quoted above:

There is something which as long as left unknown

Results in life’s three planes of vicious circle.

Beyond all doubt, it dwells in every being.

To the dharmadhatu I devoutly bow.


There are also passages from the Aspiration Prayer of Madhyamika such as:

It is not existent--even the Victorious Ones do not see it.
It is not nonexistent--it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.
This is not a contradiction, but the middle path of unity.
May the ultimate nature of phenomena, limitless mind beyond extremes, he realised.


You're saying the use of the pronoun 'it' is misleading in such passages, because there is really nothing to be spoken of? That 'it' is mere absence, nothing whatever?

I think on the contrary that 'the nature of mind' or 'dharmadhatu' or 'dharmakaya' is not simply nothing, it is not non-existent - as the Aspiration Prayer states! - but beyond what can be understood in terms of 'existent' or 'non-existent'. The 'nature of mind' as spoken of in Mahayana is not something which is known to the mass of people, nor to Western science. It is an intrinsically mysterious subject, even for those who understand it.

You interpret all the passages you quote from a particular perspective, which I would characterise as 'nihilistic'. That interpretation can be made of Madhyamika, in particular, and is one of the reasons that the Hindu sages regard Madhyamika, if not Buddhist philosophy generally, as 'nihilist'. I don't believe that it is, but I think it is very easy to read it from that perspective, and I think that is what you're doing.
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:16 am

One day the master announced to the assembly, “I have a thing without head or tail, without name or title, without front or back. Do you know what it is?”
Shenhui came forth and said, “It is the fundamental source of the buddhas. It is my buddha-nature.”
The master said, “I told you it was without name or title, but you have called it the fundamental source, the buddha-nature. You’ve just covered your head with thatch. You’ve become a follower with only discriminative understanding.”


Interpretation: that by devising the name of 'buddha nature' you are indeed 'naming' or 'objectifying' or 'reifying'. It is why from the time of the early texts, there were types of questions that were 'answered with silence' - a very relevant one being 'whether the self exists or doesn't exist'. According to the Suttas, both 'does exist' and 'doesn't exist' were seen as incorrect responses, hence 'answered with silence'. So in the passage above, the objection is to the expression 'my buddha nature' - because this errs on the side of 'does exist' (in addition to adding 'my', which is a big no-no). But the negation - 'doesn't exist' - is also innappropriate. The 'great matter' cannot be confined by predicate logic such as 'exists' or 'doesn't exist.'
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby smcj » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:47 am

That's how, unlike other philosophies and religions, Buddhism doesn't have any ultimate being or essence...

As a kindergarten level Shentongpa I respectfully disagree.
...not even a special experience.

No "special experience"? Hmmm, not what I've heard from the lamas I've met. Might want to check with a lineage lama face-to-face on that one.
And even when it calls something the true substance and source of everything, it is simply this empty awareness that is not found anywhere.

That I can live with.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:54 am

Empty of concepts and words, everything arises, and everything returns to from arising.

There was then, there is now, and there will be. There will come, and there will return. Where is nihilism?
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:24 pm

Gampopa taught about the mind in three aspects (Confusion Arises as Wisdom, p 212-213):

In relation to cutting through the perceiving mind, Rinpoche taught three aspects: the mind‘s characteristics (1), essence (2), and nature(3).

(1) The mind has two characteristics: it appears as various colorful, outer forms, and it emits various positive and negative mental states.
(2) What is meant by the ―essence of the mind‖ is your own awareness, that which you think of as ―I‖ or ―me.‖ The essence of the mind is clarity-emptiness. It cannot be pinpointed, yet it never ends. Awareness is baseless, fresh, naked, and spontaneous.
(3) You need to understand that the essence of the mind and its radiance as various thoughts and emotions are not two different things. When you understand that the essence and characteristics of the mind are naturally inseparable, this is called the nature. When you realize what this means, it is the heart essence of all the buddhas of the three times. This nature is present within all beings.


That is, there are all the internal and external appearances, there is the essence as empty awareness, and these are not two separate things at all. In a similar fashion, in Madhyamaka there is the conventional truth of appearances, the ultimate truth of emptiness, and the two truths are not separate from each other. It is famously summed up in the Heart Sutra as "form is emptiness, emptiness is form".

Vasubandhu explains in the Madhyantavibhaga (tr. Kochumuttom) this way:

(v3)
Neither void nor non-void :
So is everything described,
That indeed is the middle path,
For there is existence as well as non-existence,
And again existence.

That indeed is the middle path, for, on the one hand, there is the existence of emptiness within the imagination of the unreal, and, on the other, the existence of the imagination of the unreal within the emptiness. It is therefore neither exclusively void nor exclusively non-void.

(v14)
There is the negation of the pair of the graspable and grasper. The definition of emptiness, then, is the assertion of that negation. Thus, it is shown how the emptiness is to be defined in negative terms. And, what those negative terms are, [is further stated] :

It is neither [total] assertion,
Nor [total] negation.

Why not [total] assertion ? Because there is the negation of the pair of subject and object. Why not [total] negation ? I Because there is the assertion of the negation of that pair. This indeed is the definition of the emptiness. Therefore, with
reference to the imagination of the unreal, the emptiness is :

Neither different from the imagination of the unreal,
Nor identical with the imagination of the unreal.

If different, it would imply that the 'universal' (dharmata) is other than the particular things [dharmas] , which is unacceptable. For example, 'impermanence' is not other than the impermanent things, and the state of suffering is not other than suffering itself. If identical, there would be no place for purifying knowledge, nor would there be the commonplace knowledge. Thus is shown a definition which states that emptiness is that which is free from being different from thatness.


The Yogacara teaching of the three natures gives a different perspective on the attainment of non-dual wisdom. By the elimination of the imagined (perceiving appearances as substantial) from the dependent (i.e. dependent origination) one realises the accomplished (the middle way). In the Trisvabhavanirdesa (tr. Kochumuttom) Vasubandhu uses the example of the conjured elephant:

It is like the magical power,
Which by the working of incantations
Appears in the nature of an elephant;
There is altogether no elephant at all
But only its form.

The elephant stands for the imagined nature,
Its form for the other-dependent nature,
And, that which remains when the elephant has been negated,
Stands for the absolutely accomplished nature.

So, the imagination of the unreal
By the working of the basic thought
Appears in the nature of duality;
There is altogether no duality at all,
But only its form.


Garfield (comment to v32) sums up the meaning: "Abandonment of commitment and attachment to imagined phenomena is achieved through the transcendence of instinctive assent to the imagined nature. The attainment of freedom is accomplished through the direct, immediate understanding of the unity of the three natures, and hence the non-dual awareness of all phenomena in their consummate nature."
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:26 pm

Why there is awareness? :shrug: :shrug:
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Re: Mahamudra and Yogacara

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:36 pm

The first Bhavanakrama of Kamalasila also uses the Lankavatara quote where the four yogas are mentioned in explaining vipasyana. The Bhavanakrama is also referred to in the 3rd Karmapa's commentary (Mining for Wisdom in Confusion, p264 and related note: 683 on p422).
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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