Understanding emptiness

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:21 pm

Adamantine wrote:Greg, as a Vajrayanan you better get with the program and start espousing the superiority of the Vajra Vehicle! I'd hate to see you cast out of the fold, lost and lonely swimming in a sea of mere Mahayanists :o



Jeez, I hope for your sake that you're not serious!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby zangskar » Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:18 pm

Adamantine wrote:
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

Since this is now no longer just another Dharma quarrel but an issue which is fundamental to the usually not very amusing history of popular humour I have to comment: Woody Allen's character in Annie Hall actually credits Groucho with the line, so he didn't steal it, but Allen actually goes on to claim that Groucho got it from Freud, which I don't know whether is true or not. But Groucho didn't invent the joke from scratch for sure, he just changed a few spokes as Kavarnos alluded to. There are several jokes like it that probably inspired Groucho; probably most common is the romantic version that revolves around: I don't want to marry anyone who would want to marry me, etc.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Adamantine » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:44 am

catmoon wrote:
Adamantine wrote:Greg, as a Vajrayanan you better get with the program and start espousing the superiority of the Vajra Vehicle! I'd hate to see you cast out of the fold, lost and lonely swimming in a sea of mere Mahayanists :o



Jeez, I hope for your sake that you're not serious!


And I hope for your sake you're not seriously wondering if I was serious! :tongue:
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Willy » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:14 am

This is going to be a funny way to start because I don't remember the exact quote or who said it. But it was a Mahasiddha who once said (paraphrasing), "those who believe the world is real are stupid, but those who believe the world is not real are even more stupid."

My understanding of emptiness, is that emptiness is not really the right word. It designates the image of a void or black whole. What it really is, is more like a potential. Everything arises, plays around and then disappears. So this definition of emptiness is much more full; and full of life than the concept which borders on nihilism.

I also believe emptiness is closer than we think, something very familiar to us - with us all the time, and noticeable when we can settle our minds beyond dualistic thinking.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Jangchup Donden » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:31 pm

I'm starting to think emptiness isn't something you can ever understand, only something you can experience.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby sangyey » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:04 pm

This is quite useful for helping to understand emptiness by Nagarjuna:

Purpose of emptiness - stop grasping
Nature of emptiness . - freedom from conceptualization
Meaning of emptiness - dependent origination

Vital to know that emptiness means dependent origination. Empty of what? Empty of independent existence. If something doesn't exist independently how does it exist? By dependence. Independent existence and dependent existence are mutually exslusive no third way. It is by emptiness (dependent origination) that we adopt the causes for Buddhahood like the six perfections and discard with the other like laziness, mental distraction, etc.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:28 pm

Jangchup Donden wrote:I'm starting to think emptiness isn't something you can ever understand, only something you can experience.
I dunno if that is 100% correct. If it was ONLY something that can be experienced, then there wouldn't be so many explanations and teachings on emptiness throughout the Canons of all the Yana. Now obviously it is pretty useless to have ONLY an intellectual understanding of emptiness, intellectual understanding should be used as a springboard to realisation.

It is my hideously uninformed opinion that somebody with only an experience of emptiness (ie no intellectual understanding of the experience) is in a "better" position than somebody with only an intellectual understanding (ie no realisation) of emptiness.
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Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby sangyey » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:10 pm

You would have to understand emptiness because emptiness means that phenomena are dependently originated so you would have to understand and know which causes to accept like love, compassion, shamatha and Vipassana and the causes to discard such as stealing, lying, laziness, etc. as it is on the very basis of emptiness (dependent origination) that you will be creating the very specific causes that will result in the effect of Buddhahood. Knowledge of emptiness (dependent origination) is so precious because through that we can cultivate those positive and beneficial causes and discard with the negative causes. If you look out into the world how many people do you see who are actually inclined towards negativity and just a very basic knowledge of phenomena being dependently originated would help them so much as to stay away from such negative causes and make better choices for themselves even on a small scale.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Jangchup Donden » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:35 am

sangyey wrote:You would have to understand emptiness because emptiness means that phenomena are dependently originated so you would have to understand and know which causes to accept like love, compassion, shamatha and Vipassana and the causes to discard such as stealing, lying, laziness, etc. as it is on the very basis of emptiness (dependent origination) that you will be creating the very specific causes that will result in the effect of Buddhahood.


Is this knowledge as we think of it, or rather a natural expression of Buddha nature once it starts to be uncovered?
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Jangchup Donden » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:37 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jangchup Donden wrote:I'm starting to think emptiness isn't something you can ever understand, only something you can experience.
I dunno if that is 100% correct. If it was ONLY something that can be experienced, then there wouldn't be so many explanations and teachings on emptiness throughout the Canons of all the Yana. Now obviously it is pretty useless to have ONLY an intellectual understanding of emptiness, intellectual understanding should be used as a springboard to realisation.


Why do you say that? If you're going to explain to someone how to experience emptiness, and it's so important, then of course there would be a ton of explanations of how to achieve that realization -- it is the whole point of BUddhism afterall.

It is my hideously uninformed opinion that somebody with only an experience of emptiness (ie no intellectual understanding of the experience) is in a "better" position than somebody with only an intellectual understanding (ie no realisation) of emptiness.
:namaste:


Definitely agree there.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:46 am

all way too complicated.
.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby sangyey » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:49 am

Is this knowledge as we think of it, or rather a natural expression of Buddha nature once it starts to be uncovered?


I would say as our clear light nature becomes more manifest from applying the antitode of emptiness and our obscurations start to clear our ability to perceive the casual dependence of actions will become more manifest.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby sangyey » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:57 am

Understanding the two truths is essential..
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:55 am

Jangchup Donden wrote:Why do you say that? If you're going to explain to someone how to experience emptiness, and it's so important, then of course there would be a ton of explanations of how to achieve that realization -- it is the whole point of BUddhism afterall.
It is not just an explanation of HOW to experience emptiness that we find in the Canons but an explanation of what emptiness is as well. The literature on the subject is descriptive and explanatory as well, ie it serves the purpose of an intellectual understanding of emptiness and not just a methodology of realisation. So it seems that an intellectual understanding is of value.

It reminds me of when I first arived in Greece. I was born in New Zealand and was educated in NZ and Australia, where I finished post graduate tertiary studies. When I arrived in Greece I was staying with some relatives in Athens and my cousin was preparing to give examinations in English language proficiency. As you could imagine she asked me if I could help. I agreed and so she gave me the exercise book in order to help her. Now English courses, (as a "second' language) here in Europe are heavy on grammer rules (since most European languages, especially Greek, are as well). Well, apart from a VERY basic understanding of grammer (like what a verb, noun and adjective are) we had NEVER studied English grammer in Australia and NZ. So when she gave me the exercise I had no idea what it was asking. Of course, after reading the examples given, and because I know English, I was able to explain the exercise to her. She had an intellectual understanding of English language, way superior to mine, whereas I had a near-perfect practical grasp of the language. It seems that in some circumstances though, that both are necessary!
:namaste:
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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 Willy » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:06 pm

sangyey wrote:This is quite useful for helping to understand emptiness by Nagarjuna:

Purpose of emptiness - stop grasping
Nature of emptiness . - freedom from conceptualization
Meaning of emptiness - dependent origination


This is really good - never heard that before!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby sangyey » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:33 pm

I first heard it in a teaching by the Dalai Lama. When I heard it the first time I thought it was very useful to know but didn't rememeber all of it until I listened to the teaching again. HH Dalai Lama said it was Nagarjuna's response to the Buddhist realists (lower schools of Buddhist thought) who were oppososing the veiw of emptiness saying things like because of this veiw of emptiness it would mean things like karma don't even matter. And Nagarjuna's reply was because they don't understand the purpose, nature, and meaning of emptiness.

Not sure in what other contexts this can be found within Nagarjuna's works.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby ground » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:56 am

Question: "What kind of mind is that which understands the essencelessness of dharmas?"
Answer: "It is the mind of the solitary buddha."


Question: "What kind of mind is that which engenders neither understanding nor delusion?"
Answer: "The mind of the bodhisattva."


"If there are places that you understand then your mind has something to be connected to. If mind has something to be connected to, then it is bondage."



excerpt from The Bodhidharma Anthology, J. L. Broughton

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby swampflower » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:14 pm

sangyey wrote:I first heard it in a teaching by the Dalai Lama. When I heard it the first time I thought it was very useful to know but didn't rememeber all of it until I listened to the teaching again. HH Dalai Lama said it was Nagarjuna's response to the Buddhist realists (lower schools of Buddhist thought) who were oppososing the veiw of emptiness saying things like because of this veiw of emptiness it would mean things like karma don't even matter. And Nagarjuna's reply was because they don't understand the purpose, nature, and meaning of emptiness.

Not sure in what other contexts this can be found within Nagarjuna's works.


Speaking of HH the Dalai Lama's teachings, I have heard him say that he does not really understand emptiness so we all should not feel too bad about our ignorance. Of course he could have been joking.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:37 am

Konchog1 wrote:Alright, then. I don't understand Emptiness. I don't even know what I don't know so this will be a little rambling. Sorry.

I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.


Emptiness doesn't mean things are not there.

What is negated in emptiness is the self, the identity, the inherent nature.

It doesn't remove the show. The show is still there. The appearance is still there.

But, because you understand emptiness, the show is just an empty show. The appearance is just an empty appearance.

The difference in show, in appearances are no longer an issue. They are different, so what? They are just an empty show.

You will also know this body has no identity. Empty of essence.

You will feel pain if someone hurt you.

However, you need to note here. The pain that you feel depends on how strong you think this body is real. If you think it is real, you will naturally grasp it. When the pain comes, you will feel extremely pain.
The more you think this body is real, the more you grasp it, the more you will feel the pain.

In case you perfected your emptiness realization, you will have a pain sensation, but whether this pain sensation really hurt you or not, you wont feel that pain as PAIN like before. They are just a sensation and you will be still very peaceful. That's it.

If you have realize illusory body, you won't feel you have this body.

There were mink who burn himself and he feel nothing, you can find it in YouTube, Vietnamese monk. Recently, there is also female mono burn herself. She was standing so straight as if nothing happen.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:58 am

DarwidHalim wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:Alright, then. I don't understand Emptiness. I don't even know what I don't know so this will be a little rambling. Sorry.

I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.


Emptiness doesn't mean things are not there.

What is negated in emptiness is the self, the identity, the inherent nature.

It doesn't remove the show. The show is still there. The appearance is still there.

But, because you understand emptiness, the show is just an empty show. The appearance is just an empty appearance.

The difference in show, in appearances are no longer an issue. They are different, so what? They are just an empty show.

You will also know this body has no identity. Empty of essence.

You will feel pain if someone hurt you.

However, you need to note here. The pain that you feel depends on how strong you think this body is real. If you think it is real, you will naturally grasp it. When the pain comes, you will feel extremely pain.
The more you think this body is real, the more you grasp it, the more you will feel the pain.

In case you perfected your emptiness realization, you will have a pain sensation, but whether this pain sensation really hurt you or not, you wont feel that pain as PAIN like before. They are just a sensation and you will be still very peaceful. That's it.

If you have realize illusory body, you won't feel you have this body.

There were mink who burn himself and he feel nothing, you can find it in YouTube, Vietnamese monk. Recently, there is also female mono burn herself. She was standing so straight as if nothing happen.

So my body exists because of dependent origination but is labeled “arm” “leg” “trunk” and then “body”. Everything exists but it isn’t a body or my body. It’s arm+leg+etc and then labeled body and those are broken down too. Everything exists and functions but doesn’t have identities just labels.

Right?

So an Arya would think “the collections of collections that myself and others label body has been hit”?

Anything that dependently originates is merely labeled because it’s made from things that are labeled so anything that dependently originates (which is everything) is empty. Things can't be labelled unless they're empty so form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

Ah, still trying to find the razor’s edge between externalism and nihilism. If I’m right though this has blown my mind. Thank you.

Namo Manjushriya
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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