three doors to liberation

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three doors to liberation

Postby Aemilius » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:28 am

Shunyata; emptiness
Animittata; signlessness
Apranihitata; wishlessness

Among these Shunyata is most famous & well known, but now we turn our attention to Animittata or Signlessness. The source of yogachara is the meditation instructions on Signlessness. This means that a Sign is Dependent nature, paratantra; on it mind imagines all kinds of things, this is Imaginary nature, parikalpita; absence of signs is Truly Established nature; Parinishpanna; and it is also the door to liberation called Signlessness, animittata. Hence it is natural that the important cittamatra/yogachara sutra named Lankavatara speaks a lot about Signlessness.

Meditation instructions concerning Apranihitata or Wishlessness are the source of Mahamudra school and Mahamudra lineage, it is like an ultimate passivity, not changing or altering anything that appears, and so on. Thus there is also fear and dread toward the state of wishlessness, you have to make dozens of good wishes, dedication prayers and aspirations after a short meditation on wishlessness! Apranihitata has also been called directionlessness.

These three doors have caused the arising of different lineages and different schools of meditation instructions. They are a natural development that has arisen from the oral instructions of Bhagavan Shakyamuni.
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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby mudra » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:49 am

In commentaries on the Heart Sutra that I received there is also reference to these three doors.

However I don't recall there being reference to Yogacara specifically, in fact it was presented more from a Madyamaka pov overall. Interesting, thanks.
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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby meiji1 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:36 am

I think my understanding is off. What does 'signlessness' refer to? The best I can guess is 'empty of appearance' but shouldn't that just fall under emptiness?
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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:59 am

meiji1 wrote:I think my understanding is off. What does 'signlessness' refer to? The best I can guess is 'empty of appearance' but shouldn't that just fall under emptiness?


There are a couple of distinctly different interpretations:

And early one was that of not having any "mental impressions" (nimitta) in the mind of the meditator (subject side).
Later, when nimitta became synonymous with laksana, ie. objective characteristic, and the state of nirvana was considered to be without characteristics, this came to mean a direct contact with the "signless" meaning nirvana itself.
Later still, continuing that signless meant without objective signs, and the notion that all phenomena are without object signs, it was to know that all phenomena are signless.

These are a couple of, but not all of, the interpretations of the signless.

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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby kirtu » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:31 am

Huifeng wrote:These are a couple of, but not all of, the interpretations of the signless.


And wishlessness?

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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:44 am

kirtu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:These are a couple of, but not all of, the interpretations of the signless.


And wishlessness?

Kirt


Well, that's actually even more interesting.

The earliest formulations have emptiness (sunyata), signless (animitta) and nothingness (akimcanya)!
But, even some fairly early sutras of the various schools started using intentionless (apranihita) instead of nothingness.
One can easily track them through a range of early sutras, into the various early sectarian sastras.
And, while some schools went emptiness, signless and intentionless, other swapped the order of the last two, emptiness, intentionless and signless.

However, the basic interpretation of intentionless was to have no inclination towards any phenomena, again a subjective stance.
Slightly later, it was considered that this state of absence of intentionality was a characteristic of phenomena themselves, or rather, that the lacked the characteristic of intentionality.

A lot of subjective stance move to objective stances, mainly under the influence of Abhidharma and competition from other systems in India towards ontology and metaphysics. At least, that's my take on it.

It is also fairly common to link the three by indicating that whatever is empty is devoid of signs, and therefore one cannot have intentions towards signless phenomena.

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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:10 am

I understand intentionlessness to be a state of the subject, primarily. Of the early sutras for ex An 11.17, Dasama sutta, is an interesting Mahamudra -type of discourse, it says that dhyanas are willed and fabricated, which sounds like a normal mahamudra discourse, one should get beyond them to a state that is unfabricated, unwilled, !
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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:10 pm

Aemilius wrote:I understand intentionlessness to be a state of the subject, primarily. Of the early sutras for ex An 11.17, Dasama sutta, is an interesting Mahamudra -type of discourse, it says that dhyanas are willed and fabricated, which sounds like a normal mahamudra discourse, one should get beyond them to a state that is unfabricated, unwilled, !


Yeah, that's the basic position, as seen in the Nikayas / Agamas, such as the AN which you cite. :smile:

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Re: three doors to liberation

Postby ground » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:08 am

Aemilius wrote:Shunyata; emptiness
Animittata; signlessness
Apranihitata; wishlessness


Fully understanding dhammas as neither related to "I" (wrong identity view), nor related to "mine" (wrong view of appropriation) nor related to a "self" (wrong philosophical view) is called "emptiness".

Fully understanding dhammas as not remaining even a single instant is called "signlessness".

Fully understanding volitional formations directed towards dhammas as being merely dukkha is called "wishlessness".


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