Unawareness

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Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:33 pm

I have heard that ignorance can sometimes be called unawareness also so what I am wondering is that even in cases of ordinary mind (sem) if when you do not have awareness or mindfulness then that would be an instant when ignorance is present?

Hence the importance of mindfulness in daily life?
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Re: Unawareness

Postby ground » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:45 pm

sangyey wrote:I have heard that ignorance can sometimes be called unawareness also so what I am wondering is that even in cases of ordinary mind (sem) if when you do not have awareness or mindfulness then that would be an instant when ignorance is present?


There are different categories of "ignorance".
One type of ignorance refers to an afflictive intelligence as to not understanding the 4 noble truths, the three jewels and karma and its effects.
The other type is a more fundamental kind of ignorance which is a potentiality that gives rise to specific afflictions like hatred, attachment or the view that the perishing aggregates are "I" and "mine" if secondary conditions are present.
This "potentiality as such" is no different from the potentiality some call "buddha nature". It is just that there is a sort of "flip-flop mechanism" that may cause either afflictions or wisdom to arise.
Mindfulness is a method to get access to this "flip-flop mechanism" and thus avoid afflictions and foster wisdom.

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Re: Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:05 am

In regards to what you wrote TMingyur and in terms of using mindfulness to tame the mind how would this actually be done in practice?

I like to be diligent in practicing mindfulness but sometimes the mindfulness itself leads to things like tension or there will still be a lot of discursive thoughts going on and not much calm.

Thank you.
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Re: Unawareness

Postby ground » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:51 am

sangyey wrote:In regards to what you wrote TMingyur and in terms of using mindfulness to tame the mind how would this actually be done in practice?

I like to be diligent in practicing mindfulness but sometimes the mindfulness itself leads to things like tension or there will still be a lot of discursive thoughts going on and not much calm.

Thank you.

There are different approaches as to mindfulness depending on the view that is the basis of this mindfulness.
In principle "being mindful" implies seeing all phenomena that appear to/in the mind in a manner that is conducive to wisdom and/or liberation from suffering. Phenomena that appear to the mind comprises both "outer" and "inner" phenomena.

What are different ways of conducively seeing?

Just two examples (there are actually much more ways)

1. First of all there is the "classical" way as taught by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta.

2. Next there might be the knowledge of Madhyamaka emptiness being present in one's mind and being applied spontaneously to all appearing phenomena. This refers to the post-meditation awareness that there is nothing that is ultimately real. This is commonly referred to metaphorically as "seeing all phenomena as if it were in a dream".

Both ways actually entail the same: Not clinging to appearances and this "not clinging" avoids "getting caught up in appearances" and the unwholesome states of minds that result from this.

The prerequsites for all kinds of mindfulness is a mind that is neither agitated nor sleepy but has clarity and vigor. And the prerequites for these prerequisites is a way of living that accords with the Buddha's teachings: Ethics, restraint from sensual pleasures/desire, appropriate diet, appropriate balance of sleep and waking, practicing love/compassion ... etc.
And of course: right effort (i.e. practicing) and joyous perseverance which is based on faith and knowing the advantages of the goal attained through that practice.

Practice of concentration, i.e. concentrative meditation (shamata) is a means to foster the capacity for mindfulness.

Practice "thinking about" and "analyzing" after having attained at least some level of "calmed mind" (shamata) is a means to get to "know" (attain some insight into) the conducive way of seeing applied in mindfulness.


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Re: Unawareness

Postby muni » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:58 am

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Re: Unawareness

Postby kalden yungdrung » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:03 pm

sangyey wrote:I have heard that ignorance can sometimes be called unawareness also so what I am wondering is that even in cases of ordinary mind (sem) if when you do not have awareness or mindfulness then that would be an instant when ignorance is present?

Hence the importance of mindfulness in daily life?


Tashi delek Sangye, :)

Ignorance is a very popular word in Buddhism and other traditions.

In Buddhism ignorance deals with our state of mind.
If we do not know our inherent Buddha Nature then we call this basic ignorance due to karmic habits which are stored in the Alaya Vijnjana.

Due to the not knowing of our Natural State or inherent Buddha Nature, we colour our objects with karmic stored impressions, by this way karma is endless produced.

So if we live in our karmic mind, i call this the second mind or karma mind.
The first mind is here called by me the Natural State.

It is here that in case of ignorance the second mind does not see or is not aware of the first mind.
By karma what is here a curtain can the second mind who is in front of the cutain of karmaic habits, not see the always present never born, first mind.

Nor to be able to experience our pure inherent Buddha means not to be aware of this present actual State of Mind.

Mindfullness is a conciousness which shows if we are conciousness about our mental states during our experiences.

So do we be aware that we suffer or have joy?
Are we aware that we experience hate?

With that in mind we know and with that we can apply our methods which can be found in:
Sutra, Tantra and dzogchen.

We can now choose between a method which is gradual or "at once" methods to experience or be aware of our inherent Natural State / Buddha / Sugathagarba / inerent Guru.

In Dzogchen it is there and one is aware about it (Natural State), whereas in Tantra it is gradual develloped and the awareness is emancipated step by step

methods/ paths, all depends about our, motivation, karma and level of understanding which path is correct for us.


Best wishes for your practice

Mutsog Marro
Kalden Yungdrung
THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
WHO WITH A LAMP IN THE HAND CANNOT SEE THE ROAD
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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:59 pm

sangyey wrote:I have heard that ignorance can sometimes be called unawareness also so what I am wondering is that even in cases of ordinary mind (sem) if when you do not have awareness or mindfulness then that would be an instant when ignorance is present?

Hence the importance of mindfulness in daily life?


It's important to realize that ordinary mind really is just a mass of spiritual ignorance. The ordinary mind is a mass of deception. Essentially it is a mass of the constantly self-arising fruition of the potentialities of ignorance (as TMingyur mentioned). We need the mind to perform ordinary tasks (like use math to remove suffering from the world) but many of our tasks just inflict suffering (like using math to bring suffering to the world).

Ordinary mind has to be transformed into wisdom. That's what all the practices are about ultimately. Or we can take the Zen view and the highest Vajrayana view that the mass of ignorance called mind really is just Buddha Mind and directly liberate ourselves but this is just talk for most people (at least until they really do it).

I'm reminded of once when our lama said to a Vajra sister that she was a good Buddhist and she responded "Well, I'm good when I'm around you."

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:01 am

Thank you. The posts were very helpful. If I have any more questions which I might I will be sure to ask.
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Re: Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:43 am

I'm kind of curious if the two preconditions of having little desire and knowing contentment mentioned in the Tibetan System originate from the Sattipattana Sutta where the Buddha says near the end.....having put away desires and discontent in regard to the world.....?

Does anyone know?
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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:04 am

sangyey wrote:I'm kind of curious if the two preconditions of having little desire and knowing contentment mentioned in the Tibetan System originate from the Sattipattana Sutta where the Buddha says near the end.....having put away desires and discontent in regard to the world.....?


Tibetan Buddhism doesn't begin from the standpoint of having little desire and contentment. In fact it's basically for people with lots of ignorance and lots of desire.

Kirt.
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Unawareness

Postby ground » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:33 am

kirtu wrote:Tibetan Buddhism doesn't begin from the standpoint of having little desire and contentment.


Well kind of problematic to speak of "tibetan buddhism" and make such kinds of categorical statements.
Actually according to Lamrim Chenmo renunciation is a stepping stone towards bodhicitta and that covers little desire and contentment and refraining from sensual pleasures which is quite explicitely taught there.


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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:46 pm

TMingyur wrote:
kirtu wrote:Tibetan Buddhism doesn't begin from the standpoint of having little desire and contentment.


Well kind of problematic to speak of "tibetan buddhism" and make such kinds of categorical statements.


No it's not. I should have written "Vajrayana doesn't begin from the standpoint of having little desire and contentment."
This is why Vajrayana is so radical - it is primarily a means of taming difficult people full of ignorance and desire.

I will never forget when during an initial series of Sakya empowerments my lama translated "Vajrayana is for very intelligent people [one of the standard statements] who have lots of defilements, lots of defilements." So why is that? Because the defilements are used as fuel for the path just like in Mahayana (see Peacock in the Poison Grove).

Actually according to Lamrim Chenmo renunciation is a stepping stone towards bodhicitta and that covers little desire and contentment and refraining from sensual pleasures which is quite explicitely taught there.


Of course it does. I'm not saying that the Vajrayana is license for indulgence - it isn't. It is a means of taming everyone from people who are already quite tame all the way through very evil demons (literally if one takes the stories to be true and metaphorically [sort of] if one just observes some of the people who have been tamed via the Vajrayana - take a look at the stories of the 84 Mahasiddhas some of whom were very difficult people).

The Vajrayana is for people who AREN'T necessarily naturally inclined by their character to renunciation when they begin their Dharma study and practice. In some cases they might even be inclined to magical gain. Nowadays most people coming to the Vajrayana are inclined toward enlightenment in some way but aren't necessarily ready for renunciation from the start. And that's the point. In fact a Drikung lama said this during a kind of basketball game we were playing at the end of HH Drikung Chetsang's program in September in Maryland. He said that most people aren't interested in renunciation from the start and we can't really begin teaching Dharma to people from renunciation from the start. We have to introduce it later when people are more familiar with Dharma.

Vajrayana is uncommon Mahayana and the Mahayana also doesn't actually begin with renunciation as the first perfection is giving. Renunciation and morality and developed based on spiritual development initially through giving.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:12 pm

TMingyur wrote:Actually according to Lamrim Chenmo renunciation is a stepping stone towards bodhicitta and that covers little desire and contentment and refraining from sensual pleasures which is quite explicitely taught there.


It's important to remember that Tsongkhapa wrote the Lamrim Chenmo primarily for monks and covers the spiritual path from the Hinayana* path, through the Mahayana**path and then to the Vajrayana. This is also reflected in Three Visions by Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrup. In part this is a reflection of the statement in a version of the Hevarja tantra saying that the lower schools philosophical teachings are presented first, then the Mind Only presentation and then the Madhyamaka.

Kirt

*Hinayana means that one has the motivation to seek enlightenment or liberation from samsara for oneself alone (I MUST GET OUT OF THE POT NOW).
**Mahayana means that one has awakened the intention to attain enlightenment in order to eventually rescue all beings from samsara. The means of attainment is the practice of the six perfections (giving, morality, patience, diligence, concentration and wisdom).
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:47 pm

Is there a set categorization of the levels of ignorance?

For example,

One level being ignorance as pertaining to not knowing the true nature of reality

Another level of ignorance as being the 4 distorted perceptions

And perhaps another as being denying cause and effect and not knowing which actions give rise to which results?
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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm

sangyey wrote:Is there a set categorization of the levels of ignorance?


I think it's a broad topic. What does Vasubandhu say on it? That would seem to be the starting point.

Ignorance seems relative. If we have a person murdering, stealing and having sex with everyone in sight and they come to the realization that murder is bad (maybe even from an ignorant view like: sex is the greatest thing possible and I'm depriving others of this unexcelled good) and they stop murdering then they have reduced their ignorance a bit even if for the wrong reasons.

From a Sakya perspective we have the Three Visions: The Impure Vision - the view of life from a samsaric viewpoint, the Vision of Experience - the view of a yogi on the Path to Liberation or Enlightenment and the Pure Vision - the view of a Buddha. Everything but the Pure Vision is a form of ignorance. From the point of view of a Buddha even the view of an Arhat, Praetrakaybuddha or Arya Bodhisattva is ignorance. From the point of view of ordinary beings, the view of an Arhat, Praetyakabuddha or an Arya Bodhisattva are virtually indistinguishable from a Buddha.

There is a Dzogchen teaching attributed to Padmasambhava in which he says all the lower teachings (and in this case it means even the two lower divisions of Highest Yoga Tantra) are basically forms of ignorance because they are in some way contrivances (however he doesn't say that they aren't unnecessary or invalid from the standpoint of liberation or enlightenment). This was pretty stunning.

The standard Tibetan Buddhist "philosophical" presentations start with the Vaibhasika and Sautantrika Buddhist views and then proceed to the Cittamatra view and then the Madhyamaka view and within that to the Prasangika Madhyamaka view. The "lower" views (Vaibhasika is lower than Cittamatra for example) are liberative but also ignorance in the sense of not being completely true.

Lama Jamyang Sheba's "Great Exposition of Buddhist and Non-Buddhist Views on the Nature of Reality" is an encyclopedic overview of all the views - he goes into the non-Buddhist schools known to him in depth and of course dismisses them based on their view either of nihilism or eternalism. Then he starts on the Buddhist schools. Well, from the view of the higher school, the lower school is ignorance. From the view of any eternalist school for example (Christianity for example) hedonism is no way to run a life.

As we go up the ladder of views the ignorance becomes progressively refined away until we actually attain Buddhahood where ignorance is truly eradicated.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Unawareness

Postby sangyey » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:59 pm

Thank you Kirtu for taking the time out to post that.

My understanding about emptiness so far has come from HH Dalai Lama's teachings via webcasts. I remember one simple way it was put was the understanding of emptiness from the points of view of purpose, nature, and meaning being that the purpose is to stop grasping, the nature is free from conceptual elaboration, and the meaning being dependent origination. Having a basic understanding has really helped me in terms of working with taming the mind and the different layers that the ignorance has to be combated with working from the grosser to the subtler. I have heard from my Lama's teaching that each vehicle or yana the higher you go up the more profound the wisdom. I guess that makes sense in the way that you pointed about Padmasambhava's statement. Kind of curious how much more profounder the view of emptiness is from within the tantric system. I'm guessing its because it's working with the subjective aspect of emptiness (Buddha Nature).

Right now in my practice I am working with the Shamath'a methods for taming the mind from my Lama's personal instruction. I really like the idea of cultivating the conducive conditions around the practice such as less desire and more contentment. Like I pointed out above the emptiness teachings really helped my understanding of seeing why the practices are done in a certain way and how they work to tame the mind and how the practices must accord with the nature of things.

~Sangyey
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Re: Unawareness

Postby ground » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:58 am

kirtu wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Actually according to Lamrim Chenmo renunciation is a stepping stone towards bodhicitta and that covers little desire and contentment and refraining from sensual pleasures which is quite explicitely taught there.


It's important to remember that Tsongkhapa wrote the Lamrim Chenmo primarily for monks and covers the spiritual path from the Hinayana* path, through the Mahayana**path and then to the Vajrayana.

No. This is not correct.
What is correct?
This is correct:
Tsongkhapa wrote the Lamrim Chenmo primarily for individuals who aspire to become a Buddha and in the Lamrim he instructed to cultivate and practice the causes for buddhahood which are renunciation, bodhicitta and wisdom.

You are taking the widespread popular position that everything that has to do with renunciation is for monks only. But this is a wrong position and is not supported by the Lamrim of Tsongkhapa at all.

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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:33 pm

TMingyur wrote:You are taking the widespread popular position that everything that has to do with renunciation is for monks only.


No I didn't say that at all. I did say that entry to the Vajrayana or Uncommon Mahayana doesn't necessarily begin with renunciation through. Spiritual progress does in fact entail renunciation.

Anyway I don't find it widespread or popular that renunciation is only for monks.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Unawareness

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 3:25 pm

kirtu wrote:
sangyey wrote:I'm kind of curious if the two preconditions of having little desire and knowing contentment mentioned in the Tibetan System originate from the Sattipattana Sutta where the Buddha says near the end.....having put away desires and discontent in regard to the world.....?


Tibetan Buddhism doesn't begin from the standpoint of having little desire and contentment. In fact it's basically for people with lots of ignorance and lots of desire.


I see that I have made a mistake with respect to the context of Sangyey's question. He is talking about beginning meditative stabilization for which little desire and contentment are preconditions.

Tibetan Buddhism in general begins well before this point with just acquiring merit and reducing one's harmful actions.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Unawareness

Postby muni » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:24 pm

sangyey wrote:I have heard that ignorance can sometimes be called unawareness also so what I am wondering is that even in cases of ordinary mind (sem) if when you do not have awareness or mindfulness then that would be an instant when ignorance is present?

Hence the importance of mindfulness in daily life?



I share here some words from His Holiness The Dalai Lama about daily general awareness or mindfulness:

*To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.

Rather than speaking badly about people and in ways that will produce friction and unrest in their lives, we should practice a purer perception of them,

and when we speak of others, speak of their good qualities.

If you find yourself slandering anybody, first imagine that your mouth is filled with excrement, it will break you of the habit quickly enough.*
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