Understanding emptiness

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Adamantine » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:24 am

gregkavarnos wrote:"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." Groucho Marx in the film "A Day at the Races". ;)



AHA! So Woody Allen stole that line
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:10 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Center Channel wrote:Let me clarify my position.

Emptiness is technically the same in sutra and Vajrayana for the most part.

But only in Vajrayana you have a chance to move beyond a mere intellectual understanding of emptiness (although this is crucially important as well).
So you believe that no Mahayana practitioners have ever gone beyond an intellectual understanding towards a realisation of emptiness? That they were all waiting for the Vajrayana to come along and point it out to them? :rolleye:

Need I (also) point out that Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka tradition are a Mahayana and Sutra trend? Or maybe Nagarjuna (also) only had an intellectual understanding of emptiness?
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They were all just re-inventing the wheel...
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:05 pm

I agree 100%. But not so much reinventing the wheel as adding a few more spokes and an inflatable tyre.
"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."
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:21 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
conebeckham wrote: So, Emptiness is not the sole most important topic, or apex, or summit, of "sutra" doctrine.


Sure it is.

N


Okay..what, then, "realizes" emptiness? :smile:


There is no realizer of emptiness; when emptiness is seen, there is no seer, no object, and no seeing.

N
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Center Channel » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:30 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:That they were all waiting for the Vajrayana to come along and point it out to them?



I don't think the mere pointing out instructions in essence mahamudra/Dzogchen yields a true realization of emptiness either.

You need to work with the center channel and/or wisdom visions to get a personal realization of emptiness.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:45 pm

Center Channel wrote:I don't think the mere pointing out instructions in essence mahamudra/Dzogchen yields a true realization of emptiness either.

You need to work with the center channel and/or wisdom visions to get a personal realization of emptiness.
Your attempt to sideline the conversation by parroting technical terminology ain't gonna work: Do you believe that no Mahayana practitioners have ever gone beyond an intellectual understanding towards a realisation of emptiness?
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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: Understanding emptiness

Postby Center Channel » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:03 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Do you believe that no Mahayana practitioners have ever gone beyond an intellectual understanding towards a realisation of emptiness?



Only hundreds of years ago in ancient India

Maybe some exceptionally rare cases otherwise.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:06 pm

Center Channel wrote:Only hundreds of years ago in ancient India

Maybe some exceptionally rare cases otherwise.
And the facts that you base this opinion upon?
"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."
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:07 pm

Namdrol wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Okay..what, then, "realizes" emptiness? :smile:


There is no realizer of emptiness; when emptiness is seen, there is no seer, no object, and no seeing.

N


I understand and agree theoretically--having no direct experience, needless to say......"There is no realizer of emptiness; when emptiness is seen, there is no seer, no object, and no seeing," and also, lest we forget, there is even no emptiness. But in the meantime, until such "seeing of emptiness," it is essential to understand the primacy of "the mind"--

It strikes me, on reflection, that the teaching or topic of Emptiness may indeed be the "summit" or "apex," the highest point, indeed, the goal; so I'm going to modify my position a bit. In my view, the most crucial point the sutras make is the primacy of mind. Starting from the first lines of the Dhammapada, and indeed through the texts we variously classify or call Yogacara, Cittamatra, and Tathagatagarbha, this crucial point wends it's way, with elaborations, positions, assertions, etc., some of which are hotly contested.
But through it all, the foundation of all Buddhist thought, in my opinion, is the primacy of mind/consciousness/sentience. It's so obvious to us, I think, that we take it for granted. But lacking this context, or forgetting it at times, people get caught up in "anti-materialist" positions, or "realist" positions, or even convoluted fabrications regarding "modes of conventional existence," and differences between "existence" and "inherent existence" and other such qualifiers. (And yes, people who focus on "mind" get caught up in their own fabrications of existence of mind, etc., as well.....)

The aim of Buddhist sutras is not to inform us of how the world and beings exist or do not exist, except inasmuch as that information impacts and relates to our subjective experience, our mind. So, although I grant that Emptiness is the top of the mountain, the foundation is equally important.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:04 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Do you believe that no Mahayana practitioners have ever gone beyond an intellectual understanding towards a realisation of emptiness?


Actually, I think it is not that unusual. I wouldn't say it is especially common, but really not that rare. Although I would call it 'direct experience' rather than realization. By direct experience, i mean it bypasses any intellectual endeavor, no sense of a separate "me" witnessing it. Vajrayana methods of effortlessly looking directly at the mind are a means of direct experience of emptiness. people do it all the time.

The thing to remember is, we actually have direct experience, free of any intellectualizing whatsoever, of about 99% of the things we perceive constantly. Just close your eyes for a moment and try to recall, in great detail, everything that is in the room all around you. It is not easy to do. It is hard to conjure up those details intellectually, but you had a perfect non-conceptual direct experience all the same. Likewise, what do the backs of your hands or knees feel like at this very second? You may not think you feel anything, but you do, effortlessly, directly, so you don't even notice it.

So, the experience of sunyata should not be any harder than this.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby kirtu » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:29 pm

One of the main points is that people behave and emotionally respond as if things had an essence (and most people still conceptualize things in that way too).

Real examples are the (thankfully now less common view) that people never change and that once a person offends someone, either intentionally or not, the offender is forever viewed negatively by that perceiving person. In this way people are completely written off permanently by others who really emotionally and cognitively have just labeled and categorized others. Obviously this caused immense hardship esp. in the middle part of the 20th Century in Europe, the US and all of Asia.

Another aspect is people conceiving of themselves as just plain ordinary people and then getting stuck in situations. In fact in reality people are Buddhas like ice is water and situations themselves are constantly changing.

On a personal basis people can see themselves as stuck in emotional habit patterns. But all of these are just something that we create. We have to bring awareness to the situation and very deeply take a look at the causes and conditions for the arisal and rearisal of these patterns.

So even for just plain everyday living emptiness of inherent existence has direct application.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Tilopa » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:10 pm

Center Channel wrote:…only in Vajrayana you have a chance to move beyond a mere intellectual understanding of emptiness

Practitioners of sutra also realize emptiness directly and non-conceptually. Arhats for example, but also some bodhisattvas. That's how the former achieve Nirvana and the latter attain the Path of Seeing. The difference in tantra is not the view or the ability to achieve it but the method by which it is done.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Asabandha » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:20 pm

Understanding emptiness is perhaps useful, but realization is the goal. To realize emptiness one must generate incredible bodhicitta, a motivation for enlightenment so pure that ego has nothing to do with it and so powerful that the unbearability of others' suffering keeps one up at night. Under such conditions, an individual is chosen by the Buddha Mind for realization. Realization is not something that happens in isolation. By the time one is near the point of realization, any notion of the separateness of their mind and body is already shattered to pieces.

This explanation is undoubtedly flawed, as it is impossible to describe the truth with lies, but it is what it is. The point is, generate bodhicitta. You do that by spending a long time relating to suffering in yourself and others until it is unbearable.

It is more conducive to realizing emptiness to be suicidally depressed by suffering than blissed out on conceptual philosodrugs.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Tilopa » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:36 pm

Asabandha wrote:Understanding emptiness is perhaps useful, but realization is the goal. To realize emptiness one must generate incredible bodhicitta

Realizing emptiness does not depend on generating bodhicitta. Arhats aren't on the Mahayana path and some bodhisattvas realize emptiness before generating bodhicitta. However both are necessary for attaining enlightenment.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby kirtu » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:39 pm

Asabandha wrote:It is more conducive to realizing emptiness to be suicidally depressed by suffering than blissed out on conceptual philosodrugs.


Not, no way bra, nitchivo!

Being suicidally depressed is much too much of a hindrance. For one thing you might hurt yourself. But to experience suffering is generally necessary for most people to even begin the spiritual path. This doesn't have to be that bad of a thing - for a child and some adults the death of a pet will do it for example. For some people just seeing suffering in the world will do it (just seeing a dead animal for example and certainly seeing the unending litany of deprivation and suffering being beamed worldwide on the nightly news).

Kirt
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:42 pm

Asabandha wrote:
It is more conducive to realizing emptiness to be suicidally depressed by suffering than blissed out on conceptual philosodrugs.

I wouldn't go so far. Grief that leads to depression is the near enemy of compassion. It's paralyzing. In the end you do nothing and just suffer. Depression and suicidal tendencies are ways to reify the self from a negative perspective. So being suicidally depressed is a BIG obstacle, especially because it shares similarities with compassion (thus near enemy). It is not the result of developing relative bodhicitta either. If this happens, something went really wrong and the practitioner should focus in more positive aspects of the path.
I wouldn't point relative bodhicitta as the best way to realize emptiness. It generates the strong volition of striving to attain enlightenment, though.
Conceptual philosodrugs (Image) are indeed an easy way to waste a life...
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Center Channel » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:46 pm

Tilopa wrote:Practitioners of sutra also realize emptiness directly and non-conceptually.


Sure

At the time of Nagarjuna etc. in ancient India hundreds of years ago.

Nagarjuna certainly obtained some of the bhumi levels.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Asabandha » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:51 pm

I said more conducive, not ideal! ;D I'm glad that one got people riled, as was its intended purpose... But perhaps the real point has been missed, which is that understanding emptiness as a means to creating a more pleasant lie(fe) is not the point of Buddhism and can actually be an even greater hindrance than suicidal depression, which at least is an expression of the deep horrors of samsara rather than a deluded sense that everything is hunky durry! ...Unfortunately coupled with a sense of hopelessness having not yet met with a solution, but that is always temporary. Realizing the horror is important, and for some people that leads to depression -- understandably. Real depression is not something cultivated, so I don't think there is any harm in discussing it in this context. It's not like I'm suggesting that someone who is well adjusted seek to become depressed, as that would be pointless. ;D

PHILOSODRUGS! MMMMMMMM, TASTY!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby ground » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:54 am

incurable
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:42 am

Center Channel wrote:
Tilopa wrote:Practitioners of sutra also realize emptiness directly and non-conceptually.


Sure

At the time of Nagarjuna etc. in ancient India hundreds of years ago.

Nagarjuna certainly obtained some of the bhumi levels.
Still waiting on the evidence. I will, of course, be waiting forever because, apart from your ignorant views, you have no evidence to back your statements about Mahayana practitioners AND I imagine you have no realisation of emptiness yourself to use as a yardstick in order to measure the realisation of others.
: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."
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