Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:01 pm

Namdrol wrote:It is an important issue only because it is at the root of much confusion for so many people.


Nondual means free from duality. Nonduality means the state or condition of being free from duality. Neither is a philosophical position, in any tradition that uses the terms.

I think overcomplicating the issue is what is at the root of confusion for so many.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:03 pm

alwayson wrote:We have very precise descriptions in a thing called "Buddhism".


"Description" being the operative word. Anything that can be described is relative.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:33 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:It is an important issue only because it is at the root of much confusion for so many people.


Nondual means free from duality. Nonduality means the state or condition of being free from duality. Neither is a philosophical position, in any tradition that uses the terms.

I think overcomplicating the issue is what is at the root of confusion for so many.


There is no actual state or condition that is free from duality. If one should think that there is, one will have not understood one single thing about Buddha Dharma.

Because people think there is a real state free from dualistic extremes, they fall into the pit of eternalism and grasping, never even recognizing emptiness correctly, let alone realizing it, and hampering their understanding of dependent origination.

Thinking there is such a thing as a real state of non-duality is precisely the Advaita Vedanta, Trika and so on.

N
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:00 pm

Namdrol wrote:There is no actual state or condition that is free from duality. If one should think that there is, one will have not understood one single thing about Buddha Dharma.

Because people think there is a real state free from dualistic extremes, they fall into the pit of eternalism and grasping, never even recognizing emptiness correctly, let alone realizing it, and hampering their understanding of dependent origination.

Thinking there is such a thing as a real state of non-duality is precisely the Advaita Vedanta, Trika and so on.

N


By the same token, people will read this and think it equates to nihilism, not understanding a single thing about the Buddha Dharma, falling in to the pit of nihilism and mental dullness and so on.

Language is dualistic, and as language so thought; it is better to use this to our advantage than spend our lives dodging traps.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:55 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:There is no actual state or condition that is free from duality. If one should think that there is, one will have not understood one single thing about Buddha Dharma.

Because people think there is a real state free from dualistic extremes, they fall into the pit of eternalism and grasping, never even recognizing emptiness correctly, let alone realizing it, and hampering their understanding of dependent origination.

Thinking there is such a thing as a real state of non-duality is precisely the Advaita Vedanta, Trika and so on.

N


By the same token, people will read this and think it equates to nihilism, not understanding a single thing about the Buddha Dharma, falling in to the pit of nihilism and mental dullness and so on.

Language is dualistic, and as language so thought; it is better to use this to our advantage than spend our lives dodging traps.


As Nāgārjuna states:

By relying on the conventional, the ultimate will be understood;
by realizing the ultimate, nirvana will be attained.


It is extremely important that key concepts be treated with care. It is also very important to avoid using language shared with other philosophical systems. I know any number of people who really are under the impression that there is really no difference between Dzogchen, Advaita and so on. And mostly, it is because of this pesky word "non-duality".

There is just as much danger of mental dulness and so with an eternalist view as there is with a nihilist view. In both cases, the conclusion will be reached that view is not important, karma does not matter, and so on.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby alwayson » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:18 pm

With nonduality, one loses personal responsibility?


Namdrol wrote:There is no actual state or condition that is free from duality. If one should think that there is, one will have not understood one single thing about Buddha Dharma.
N


You mean a 'true existent"?
Last edited by alwayson on Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:25 pm

Apart from considerations pertaining to "non-duality" there are many problems with neo-Advaita teachers like Adyashanti anyway since they ignore method entirely and for this reason are criticized by traditional teachers who accuse them of just giving out lollipops to their students. Adyashanti is not real Advaita.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Tara » Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:05 am

Topic temporarily locked for cleaning, again.

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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Tara » Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:56 am

Unlocked

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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:09 am

Namdrol wrote:As Nāgārjuna states:

By relying on the conventional, the ultimate will be understood;
by realizing the ultimate, nirvana will be attained.


It is extremely important that key concepts be treated with care. It is also very important to avoid using language shared with other philosophical systems. I know any number of people who really are under the impression that there is really no difference between Dzogchen, Advaita and so on. And mostly, it is because of this pesky word "non-duality".

There is just as much danger of mental dulness and so with an eternalist view as there is with a nihilist view. In both cases, the conclusion will be reached that view is not important, karma does not matter, and so on.

N


I appreciate what you're saying, and the need to be tactful with language. I just think that sometimes this is part of the problem.

There is of course more than one way to interpret statements like "there is no condition or state that is free from extremes" etc.

So, taking care not to mislead nevertheless does not tell the whole story. I think people suspect this and so look to other systems to fill in the gaps, ending up more confused. These modern "gurus" are extraordinarily popular for a reason.

Mistaking Advaita for Dzogchen et al is not like mistaking fire for ice, but more like mistaking Newton for Einstein. While the difference is cosmic in scale, they are, nevertheless, both talking about gravity. To not address this latter part is misleading, even if understandably necessary.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:43 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Mistaking Advaita for Dzogchen et al is not like mistaking fire for ice...


I don't agree. It is exactly like mistaken fire for ice.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:45 pm

Acchantika wrote:There is of course more than one way to interpret statements like "there is no condition or state that is free from extremes" etc.


The view of dzogchen is "gnas lugs med pa" i.e. no reality.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:42 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Mistaking Advaita for Dzogchen et al is not like mistaking fire for ice...


I don't agree. It is exactly like mistaken fire for ice.


Fair enough. I'm not a Dzogchenpa and wasn't trying to make an informed comparison.

I mean only that in sems sde the central focus seems to be on a basic, unconditioned awareness that is free from duality, which, coincidentally, is the premise of Advaita and what "nondual" actually refers to, at least in the latter. That is where the perceived similarities end.

At the very least, I think it is understandable the two would be conflated by the uniformed. Like me.

Namdrol wrote:The view of dzogchen is "gnas lugs med pa" i.e. no reality.

N


I respond in terms of the superficial, but am always considering the definitive. Subtlety ain't dead, don't worry.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:00 pm

Acchantika wrote:
I mean only that in sems sde the central focus seems to be on a basic, unconditioned awareness that is free from duality, which, coincidentally, is the premise of Advaita and what "nondual" actually refers to, at least in the latter. That is where the perceived similarities end.

At the very least, I think it is understandable the two would be conflated by the uniformed. Like me.


One: bodhicitta in sems sde is not something that is considered real; cit is sat i.e. real in Advaita.

Two: there are two basic ways the term "non-dual" is used in Buddhism: free from subject and object perception (trivial) and free from ontic extremes (non-trivial).

Three, sometimes the word "non-dual" in translation is misleading. Here is an example from sem sde. This:

rgyu dang 'bras bu gnyis las 'das
sems can sangs rgyas gnyis med pas
sangs rgyas sems kyis sgrub ma byed

It might be translated as:
Beyond the duality of cause and result,
since sentient beings and buddhas are non-dual,
buddhahood is not accomplished with the mind.


But that translation would be a little wrong.

A better way to render it would be:

Beyond both cause and result,
since both sentient beings and buddhas to do not exist
buddhahood is not accomplished with the mind.


What is the difference you ask? Here there is a pair, a cause and a result i.e. sentient being are a cause, buddhas are a result. But since neither exist, therefore, buddhahood cannot be accomplished with mind.

These issues are often quite subtle.

N
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby AlexanderS » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:25 pm

This is one of the reasons I find it very hard to know what we working towards in buddhism and impossible to explain to anyone else.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:20 pm

AlexanderS wrote:This is one of the reasons I find it very hard to know what we working towards in buddhism and impossible to explain to anyone else.


All traditions are of buddhism are working towards the same goal, freedom from afflictions that are the cause of suffering. Some buddhist traditions, from Mahayāna on up, also aim at omniscience.

Omniscience is not as scary as it sounds. A Buddhas omniscience is predicated on the fact that all objects of knowledge, including buddhahood itself, are completely illusory.

This is also the view of Dzogchen i.e. everything, including buddhahood, etc., is completely equivalent to an illusion; not "like an illusion", as some people in Mahāyāna with a poor understanding hedge -- completely equivalent.
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there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby alwayson » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:00 pm

If omniscience is predicated on understanding the illusion, then is it possible for Theravadins to also become omniscient?

I would assume they also try to understand the illusion.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby ajax » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:04 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
ajax wrote:Well, no, I meant it more like I wrote above, that some Zen institutions in the West may be placing too much emphasis on emptiness and not enough on a more full expression of Buddhism. A lot of sitting and devaluation of discernment and moral reasoning make Zen master a bad boy, essentially.


Can you cite some specific examples?

I stumbled onto a concrete example today. A letter written by Lawrence Shainberg, a member of the ZSS Ethics Committee:

http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/20110905_Shainberg_Chayat.pdf

Lawrence makes the "inarguable" (presumably inarguable because it is based on Western Zen dogma about realization) proposal to allow Edio Roshi to continue working with students. In the letter he writes:

Lawrence Shainberg wrote:All of us know that our roots are in the Heart Sutra, the identity of Relative and Absolute, thus that we are obliged to challenge dualistic moral judgment and appreciate the distinction -- and lack of such -- between the realm in which cause and effect are one and the realm in which they’re separate. On the other hand, we must not forget that the world we live in is every day, thanks to media, pop-psychology and the righteous fury of political correctness, more addicted to such dualism and the simplistic moralism it produces. It is obvious to us all, I think, that our practice requires us to find a Middle Way which avoids such moralism without denying that Eido’s behavior has had concrete effect in the relative world. One doesn’t have to forgive his malfeasance to acknowledge that Shoboji, DBZ and the Zen Studies Society in general owe their existence to his realization, and one doesn’t deny that realization by holding him accountable for the repercussions of his behavior. If he’s failed us as a human being, he’s not the first master whose realization did not carry over into the Relative Realm, and if we continue to revere him, we are not the first students to benefit from an imperfect teacher. In effect, we are required to judge him and not- judge him simultaneously, practice with our response to him as we practice with our koans on and off our cushions.

Not the first master whose realization did not carry over into the relative realm?

Isn't this in effect making "realization" meet the man, rather than the man meeting "realization"?

I believe this also expresses a devaluation of moral reasoning or as he puts it "simplistic moralism."

The letter closes with:

Since sexual issues like those he’s created are close to epidemic among those with power in our culture (see Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, numerous Catholic priests, and spiritual teachers like Maezumi Roshi, Chogyam Trungpa, Baker Roshi, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Gempo Merzel, and many others), the insights produced by these teachings [Eido's continued teaching] might be profound and valuable beyond any we can imagine. I can’t speak for anyone else of course but I know that, while I’ve not been Eido Roshi’s student, I’d make every effort to study with him at this juncture of his life.

I know there are those who will be enraged at this proposal but to me it seems inarguable.


It reminds me of a talk show I once watched where Zsa Zsa Gabor was a celebrity guest speaker giving marriage advice.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:24 am

Namdrol wrote:These issues are often quite subtle.

N


Certainly. Partly because others systems don't possess the rigour that Buddhism does. For one man sat means existence, to another it means presence. Cough.

But I appreciate your clarification. My only point really is that sometimes it is good to point out what connects, not just what seperates. Because at the moment the only people doing the former are exactly the worst possible people for the job, as others have mentioned.
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Re: Zen and the dogma of non-duality

Postby Acchantika » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:37 am

ajax wrote:I believe this also expresses a devaluation of moral reasoning or as he puts it "simplistic moralism."


What I think you are not open to is that you are trying to analyse a system of thought in terms of it being a mere organisation of concepts, which it isn't.

There are no moral absolutes in Buddhism. Instead, Buddhism proposes that we are all inherently capable of being moral but it is our delusions and confusions that prevent us from doing so in every situation. Namely, ideas like "self" vs. "other" i.e. duality.

Hence, the focus is on removing delusion and confusion instead of moral reasoning, which is utterly useless. It is useless because it is a confused and deluded mind doing the reasoning expecting a non-confused and non-deluded result. This is not reasonable.
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