Conceptuality in Buddhism

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:14 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Tell you what, instead of wasting our precious time in intellectual mutual masturbation, let's put all our effort into reaching enlightenment and whoever get's there first can come back and tell the other one exactly what goes on inside the mind of a Buddha.
Of course there's always the chance that the one that has not reached enlightenment won't be able to comprehend the enlightened one, in which case the enlightened one will be forced to utilise conceptual/relative language, and the unenlightened one will then surmise that the enlightened one still has a conceptual mind. :?

Did anybody catch what colour underwear the archer was wearing?
sco0015l.jpg


I repeat, yet again, that I think a lot is at stake on this question - there are implications for the way we think about the relationship between emptiness and language, and for how we understand the two truths. Both are critical for gaining liberation - at least according to the Madhyamikan's.

And actually, your example describes perfectly why I think this an issue - we cannot know, one way or the other, how a buddha apprehends.

Yet, there are often strong assertions (not arguments, simple assertions) to the contrary: that we do know, categorically, how a buddha relates through language to ordinary sentient beings.

This kind of knowledge is basically grounded in scriptural authority: "Because it says so in the prajnaparmita's/or a tantric text."

My point is that a Madhyamikan ought to be able to provide a logical argument, not merely an appeal to a sutric or tantric text. So far none has been provided.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:48 am

A lot is at stake? Like what? The outcome of a question like "how does a buddha apprehend" may lead to some very elegant argumentation, perhaps deep analysis, but none of that is worth spit in Buddhism.

It's about practice, not theory.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:17 am

catmoon wrote:A lot is at stake? Like what? The outcome of a question like "how does a buddha apprehend" may lead to some very elegant argumentation, perhaps deep analysis, but none of that is worth spit in Buddhism.

It's about practice, not theory.


Perhaps the most seminal and beautiful point of Madhyamaka, is that practice and theory are not separate.

The point for me is not about argumentation or analysis for its own sake: it is about the meaning of the two truths. You may not find it necessary to investigate this meaning, but for many Buddhists and every Madhyamikan, it is critical.

Critical to what?

Practice.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:33 am

Theory and practice may be the same when considered in the light of ultimate wisdom, but it would be a grave error to think that in any practical sense that sitting around theorizing has anything to do with Buddhist practice. There is no ivory road to enlightenment, though I fear very much there is an ivory road to the hell realms.

The Buddha warned us repeatedly about this, to the point of refusing to answer what are often called the imponderables. It's not a very good name, but the idea is clear - there are some topics that are so endlessly fascinating and intricate that they can absorb the whole of one's mind and effort for a lifetime, to the complete exclusion of Buddhist practice.

Understanding the modes of conception of a Buddha, even if it were possible, is such a pursuit. It benefits no one, in the sense that it brings no one any closer to Nirvana, cessation, cooling. In fact wrangling such questions leads in quite the opposite direction. But I fear these questions are exerting upon you, a horrifying and deadly attraction.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:18 am

tobes wrote:Critical to what?

Practice.
Knowing if a Buddha apprehends concepts or not (and has a conceptual mind) is NOWHERE NEAR critical for my practice, or for my comprehension and utilisation of Madhyamakin philosophy.

You're deceived by meditation,
so why meditate?

Of what cannot be spoken,
why speak?

The whole world's deceived
by the seal of existence,

and no one can perfect
their innermost nature.
Saraha in the book Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:51 am

catmoon wrote:Theory and practice may be the same when considered in the light of ultimate wisdom, but it would be a grave error to think that in any practical sense that sitting around theorizing has anything to do with Buddhist practice. There is no ivory road to enlightenment, though I fear very much there is an ivory road to the hell realms.

The Buddha warned us repeatedly about this, to the point of refusing to answer what are often called the imponderables. It's not a very good name, but the idea is clear - there are some topics that are so endlessly fascinating and intricate that they can absorb the whole of one's mind and effort for a lifetime, to the complete exclusion of Buddhist practice.

Understanding the modes of conception of a Buddha, even if it were possible, is such a pursuit. It benefits no one, in the sense that it brings no one any closer to Nirvana, cessation, cooling. In fact wrangling such questions leads in quite the opposite direction. But I fear these questions are exerting upon you, a horrifying and deadly attraction.


The Buddha warned us not to study, investigate and discuss the Buddhist dharma???

This is straight up Madhyamika Catmoon. It's what all the Tibetan monks are doing when they clap their hands at eachother in debating frenzy.

No one walks on the road to hell for asking questions.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:56 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
tobes wrote:Critical to what?

Practice.
Knowing if a Buddha apprehends concepts or not (and has a conceptual mind) is NOWHERE NEAR critical for my practice, or for my comprehension and utilisation of Madhyamakin philosophy.

You're deceived by meditation,
so why meditate?

Of what cannot be spoken,
why speak?

The whole world's deceived
by the seal of existence,

and no one can perfect
their innermost nature.
Saraha in the book Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India
:namaste:


Well, given that you're quoting Saraha to support a position on the connection between emptiness and language, it seems a bit fanciful to claim that the issue is unimportant to your practice.

Isn't it rather the case that you already have an established position on this?

If you're satisfied with silence, then I would suggest avoiding asserting it.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:13 am

Looks like I hit a sore spot?! :tongue:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:22 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Looks like I hit a sore spot?! :tongue:


Nope. It's one of my favourite paradoxes: when people use endless amounts of language to assert silence.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:00 pm

tobes wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Looks like I hit a sore spot?! :tongue:


Nope. It's one of my favourite paradoxes: when people use endless amounts of language to assert silence.

:anjali:
Like using endless amounts of concepts to assert emptiness (non-conceptuality)?
:namaste:
PS You like TOTALLY misinterpreted Sarahas poem.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:31 pm

Okay without speculating about whether or not a Omniscient Buddha could know something like every future event or something like circle squares; could it, according to Buddhism, be posited that the Omniscience of Buddhas would include knowing something such as:

Right this minute a blank colored ant, on such and such colored rock on such and such planet in such and such solar system in such and such galaxy that is blank number of light years away, is composed of blank number of atoms?

Assuming that other planets have ants.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:02 pm

Food_Eatah wrote:Without busy bodies to feed the trolls they could not possibily exist. Just like gangstas attract gangstas and saints attract nobel friends...


Funny guy. :lol:

The way you said this comes across trollish.

But you do make a good point.

"The exterior is the reflection of the interior"

Nevertheless, there's a difference between having to and/or happening to externally confront what we have inside because of karma, and consciously choosing to mingle with trolls and gangstas.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:00 pm

tobes wrote:The Buddha warned us not to study, investigate and discuss the Buddhist dharma???



Of course not. But he did point out some eight or ten areas of investigation a Buddhist should not pursue, and this is one of them. Reasons for not pursuing them as given above. Other such questions include; does a Buddha exist after death, what are the powers of a Buddha, how did the universe begin and so on.


This is straight up Madhyamika Catmoon. It's what all the Tibetan monks are doing when they clap their hands at eachother in debating frenzy.



I'll bet money they are not wasting their time on the current question. They know better.


No one walks on the road to hell for asking questions.

:anjali:



That is only partially true. While no one will suffer the hell realms simply because they ask a question, those who pursue the imponderables are still in grave danger, simply because they are spending their time on idle academic pursuits rather than engaging in practice. It's the same sort of problem a chess master might face. The amount of time chess takes up will severely impact the time available for practice, and hence his chances of a good rebirth.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:37 am

catmoon wrote:
tobes wrote:The Buddha warned us not to study, investigate and discuss the Buddhist dharma???



Of course not. But he did point out some eight or ten areas of investigation a Buddhist should not pursue, and this is one of them. Reasons for not pursuing them as given above. Other such questions include; does a Buddha exist after death, what are the powers of a Buddha, how did the universe begin and so on.


This is straight up Madhyamika Catmoon. It's what all the Tibetan monks are doing when they clap their hands at eachother in debating frenzy.



I'll bet money they are not wasting their time on the current question. They know better.


No one walks on the road to hell for asking questions.

:anjali:



That is only partially true. While no one will suffer the hell realms simply because they ask a question, those who pursue the imponderables are still in grave danger, simply because they are spending their time on idle academic pursuits rather than engaging in practice. It's the same sort of problem a chess master might face. The amount of time chess takes up will severely impact the time available for practice, and hence his chances of a good rebirth.


I don't think you understand the question: it is clearly not one of the 14 unanswerables.

It is a question about the relationship (or not) between conventional and ultimate reality.

Moreover, many pandits directly assert that discussing emptiness generates punya.

To say nothing of your unqualified imputation that because I'm an academic I do not or am incapable of practice.

All of this is really weak and disappointing: this is an academic board on a Buddhist forum where one ought to be able to discuss the metaphysics emptiness without encountering a whole bunch of resistance for approaching the matter philosophically.

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Acchantika » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:26 am

catmoon wrote:While no one will suffer the hell realms simply because they ask a question, those who pursue the imponderables are still in grave danger, simply because they are spending their time on idle academic pursuits rather than engaging in practice. It's the same sort of problem a chess master might face. The amount of time chess takes up will severely impact the time available for practice, and hence his chances of a good rebirth.


A Buddha that does not know things (apprehends concepts) but knows everything (omniscience) is a contradiction not yet resolved, to me.

Since omniscience is the ultimate aim of practice, it makes inquiry into this problem non-trivial with regard to my practice, at least.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby catmoon » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:04 am

Oh well, that much is easily answered. The Buddha was asked about the origin of the universe, and answered that when an origin is sought, a beginning is not seen. Notice that he did not say there was no beginning, nor did he deny it. This because the concept of a beginning simply does not apply. I suggest that to an omniscient mind, the nature of the universe is evident, but it is so radically different from everything we assume about the nature of reality, that the true state of things simply cannot be jammed into our preconcieved paradigms.

So it appears the Buddha cannot answer the imponderables and thus does not know. But the appearance is false.

Does that help? It's not quite answering the exact question you asked, but it's close.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby catmoon » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:59 am

tobes wrote:I don't think you understand the question: it is clearly not one of the 14 unanswerables.

It is a question about the relationship (or not) between conventional and ultimate reality.

Moreover, many pandits directly assert that discussing emptiness generates punya.

To say nothing of your unqualified imputation that because I'm an academic I do not or am incapable of practice.

All of this is really weak and disappointing: this is an academic board on a Buddhist forum where one ought to be able to discuss the metaphysics emptiness without encountering a whole bunch of resistance for approaching the matter philosophically.

:anjali:


Your first two points I must tackle together. If you refer to the title of the thread and the opening posts, the topic is clearly whether or not a Buddha uses concepts internally to generate speech, thought, and teachings. This may not be in the canonical list of imponderables, but the list is obviously not exhaustive. So what I'm asserting is that what is being discussed is an imponderable rather than one of the imponderables.

You have asserted that the discussion is on a different topic, emptiness. I suppose it is then up to you to demonstrate the equivalency of the two topics, or some such connection. Certainly the great bulk of the posts in this thread, including your own, refer to concepts and Buddhas, by comparison emptiness has hardly cropped up at all. Where it has cropped up people have quickly returned to the central topic.

So as to your last point, no one is objecting to your discussing emptiness. Actually I think it's a great idea and I encourage you to start a thread on the topic if that is what you want to discuss.

Finally I come to tidy up a few minor issues.

To say nothing of your unqualified imputation that because I'm an academic I do not or am incapable of practice.


Well, first off it's an implication not an imputation. Second off, the implication was not intended and is a very great overgeneralization of what I believe I said. I'm sorry you took it that way, and I'm sorry you found your error insulting.

All of this is really weak and disappointing:


This is not an argument and not admissible in an academic discussion.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:25 am

Sorry, but I'm going to take it back to Sarahas poem. Saraha quite clearly states that to talk about the nonceptual is basically impossible, to try to replicate or fabricate it purposefully through meditation is delusional, the only way to truly get an answer to your answer is to recognise ones true nature. To become enlightened. With a direct view of the nature of the Buddhas mind (ie "our" own enlightened mind) the answer is clear as the full moon in the autumn sky.

You don't believe what Saraha says?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby wisdom » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:51 am

If you say "A Buddha has concepts" you are implying that the Buddha in question is in possession of conceptual thought. But there is no delusion of possession in the mind of a Buddha, nor the delusion that would give rise to the idea that something that lacks inherent existence, which arises, abides, and ceases could be possessed in the first place.

If you say that nevertheless, the Buddha in question must act in the world of samsara in order to interact with beings, that they must think, and talk, and have concepts in order to follow a conversation, you are implying that a Buddha exists in either samsara or nirvana. But a Buddha has transcended both.

The Buddha does not think, because who is the thinker? The Buddha has fully realized the emptiness of self, and because the Buddha exists in a groundless, non conceptual, egoless state, there is no self to do the thinking.

The Buddha has also fully realized the emptiness of thought, so not only is there no delusion of a self doing the thinking, but there is not even the delusion of a thought being had. And when a Buddha speaks, because the Buddha lacks the delusion of a self, of having thoughts and of having concepts, nothing arises from the mouth of the Buddha. For the Buddha has fully realized the emptiness of the body, and because the Buddha lacks the delusion of self, and exists in a groundless, egoless state, there is no delusion of possessing a body or of a body doing this action or that action.

Furthermore, because a Buddha has fully exhausted all phenomena and all Karma, whatever a Buddha appears to do does not arise from previous karmic conditions nor does it give rise to new causes and conditions. Its an entirely spontaneous appearance free from all delusion, all clinging, all following, all possessing. Because the Buddha lacks all these things- the delusion of self, the delusion of thoughts and concepts, the delusion of a body, and the delusion of having any of these things, and because the Buddha is completely free from karmic causes and conditions having exhausted all phenomena, and finally because the Buddha is beyond samsara and nirvana, whatever a Buddha does automatically self liberates. Nothing can be said to have occurred, since there is no Buddha, no thinking, no concepts, no body, no voice, no speech, and no self to possess them.

Therefore a Buddha cannot be said to have "conceptual thoughts", since the four things required for this statement to be true- the existence of a self called a Buddha, the act of having thoughts, the act of these thoughts forming concepts, and the act of possessing a self, thoughts, and concepts, are all of the nature of emptiness.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby tobes » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:57 am

catmoon wrote:
tobes wrote:I don't think you understand the question: it is clearly not one of the 14 unanswerables.

It is a question about the relationship (or not) between conventional and ultimate reality.

Moreover, many pandits directly assert that discussing emptiness generates punya.

To say nothing of your unqualified imputation that because I'm an academic I do not or am incapable of practice.

All of this is really weak and disappointing: this is an academic board on a Buddhist forum where one ought to be able to discuss the metaphysics emptiness without encountering a whole bunch of resistance for approaching the matter philosophically.

:anjali:


Your first two points I must tackle together. If you refer to the title of the thread and the opening posts, the topic is clearly whether or not a Buddha uses concepts internally to generate speech, thought, and teachings. This may not be in the canonical list of imponderables, but the list is obviously not exhaustive. So what I'm asserting is that what is being discussed is an imponderable rather than one of the imponderables.

You have asserted that the discussion is on a different topic, emptiness. I suppose it is then up to you to demonstrate the equivalency of the two topics, or some such connection. Certainly the great bulk of the posts in this thread, including your own, refer to concepts and Buddhas, by comparison emptiness has hardly cropped up at all. Where it has cropped up people have quickly returned to the central topic.

So as to your last point, no one is objecting to your discussing emptiness. Actually I think it's a great idea and I encourage you to start a thread on the topic if that is what you want to discuss.



My posts have been moved a number of times from the Madhyamika vs Svatantrika thread. Not my idea, and seemingly not a very good idea.

They are explicitly about the relation between emptiness and the conventions of language - and it was a while ago now, but there was fruitful dialogue on the matter.

This topic cannot in any way be "a kind of imponderable" unless you want to also classify the preoccupations of just about every Mahayana tradition as similarly futile and irrelevant to liberation.

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