What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby maybay » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:07 pm

conebeckham wrote:I'm with Namdrol on this--"Like and Illusion" is a weak realism, because it allows for some sort of reality to be posited behind the illusion itself, though that reality is not what appears (therefore the appearance is "lke and illusion.") Mahayana Buddhist thought, and specifically Mahdyamika, does not conform to this scheme.

Behind the illusory appearance is the emptiness, and we cannot speak of reality without emptiness. So when you say reality is illusion you're leaving out emptiness and that's why it doesn't look like Madhyamika. Conversely we cannot say that reality is emptiness because then we leave out appearances, and this does not conform to our experience.

Even if we were really conservative and say that illusion and emptiness are merely properties of reality (reality is like an illusion / reality is like emptiness), there will be the liberal, albeit predictable counterpoint that at least reality is expressible, and so an unfounded pride will grow on this gross overstatement. The attempt to somehow capture reality by expressing it in terms of the appearance-emptiness paradigm is flawed since there are an infinite, adventitious number of paradigms yet to be expressed - form-emptiness / bliss-emptiness for example. 'This text is black' is even an expression of reality. What have I accomplished? Trying to collect paradigms like one would pick flowers is a recipe for disaster. They are to be taken in the manner one takes precepts: 'This is how you should view phenomena' the Buddha says.

Alarm bells should be ringing when the subject of 'reality' comes up for the fact that very little can be said about it anyway. They get even louder when we ignore the context in which these statements were made. If Buddha said to you today 'See all phenomena as illusions' - can there be any doubt in our minds what his intentions are and what we're supposed to do? Only the most obsessively suspicious person would think he's trying to hide something from us. Whether he phrases it 'as illusions' or 'like illusions' in the context of such an injunction is immaterial.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:54 pm

maybay wrote:Behind the illusory appearance is the emptiness, and we cannot speak of reality without emptiness.


Emptiness is not real either.

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Wesley1982 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:07 am

From the past study of non-buddhist philosophical writings, the perceived "reality" can be the external,physical,material 'solid and concrete' form of the world.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby 5heaps » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:22 am

Namdrol wrote:
5heaps wrote:to call the dependently arisen 'an illusion' instead of 'like an illusion' would be nihilism, since everything was negated in its entirety


This is mistaken: illusions also depend on causes and conditions to arise, hence whatever arises dependently is illusory. The same mirages, dreams, fire wheels, etc.

its not mistaken, since there is a difference between dream-cakes/mirage-cakes and real cakes regardless of their all being produced
as far as real cakes are concerened, you deny them if you name them illusions ie. dream-cakes.
if you then call dependent arising an illusion, just as you denied cakes, you then deny causes and conditions, arising, etc

i wonder if we can even say that mirages are dependently arisen. it would be a good debate to have using proper debate format, since we would have to go into pramana properly

DarwidHalim wrote:You said the illusion of cake denies the cake altogether.

Does illusion deny the appearance of cake?

no, because an appearance of cake is not a cake, and it is cakes which are being denied in their entirety.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby maybay » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:08 am

Namdrol wrote:
maybay wrote:Behind the illusory appearance is the emptiness, and we cannot speak of reality without emptiness.


Emptiness is not real either.

N

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby trevor » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:34 am

5heaps wrote:an appearance of cake is not a cake


So what are we missing here? What more do we need to make the appearance of cake into the real cake? What makes it real?
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:54 am

Greetings Trevor,

trevor wrote:So what are we missing here? What more do we need to make the appearance of cake into the real cake? What makes it real?

I tend to understand this in accordance with the following Pali Sutta...

SN 35.23 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

Bringing that to your example of cake, there is the sight of cake, smell of cake, taste of cake etc. To describe a "cake" independently of the actual experience of cake is to go "beyond range".

Here's one I prepared earlier: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 80#p173631

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Trevor,

trevor wrote:So what are we missing here? What more do we need to make the appearance of cake into the real cake? What makes it real?

I tend to understand this in accordance with the following Pali Sutta...

SN 35.23 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

Bringing that to your example of cake, there is the sight of cake, smell of cake, taste of cake etc. To describe a "cake" independently of the actual experience of cake is to go "beyond range".

Here's one I prepared earlier: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 80#p173631

Maitri,
Retro. :)


Good insight! I'd add, that in the act of evaluating cake(or any alleged object), to even posit that there is "anything" which resides "beyond range" or "out there" would be a defeating view. Truly to speak of apprehending the cake(or any appearance) via the senses is a minor deviation in and of itself. Running with the approach that the experience of cake consists merely of it's sensual properties(the sight of cake, taste of cake etc..) still gives subtle credence to the (albeit commonsensical) notion of a cake which is seen, smelled, tasted etc. As if there are substantiated sense modalities which are perceiving qualities beyond themselves. I'd take it further and suggest that there is indeed nothing independent of the experience and that the experience alone is. So not the "sight OF cake" but that the cake is precisely the sight, taste, smell etc.. And that being the case, one can nullify the senses(and the cake) which end up being misnomers. What's left is akin to experience experiencing itself(and even that is saying too much). Insubstantiated and illusory through and through.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby DarwidHalim » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:18 am

5heaps wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:You said the illusion of cake denies the cake altogether.

Does illusion deny the appearance of cake?

no, because an appearance of cake is not a cake, and it is cakes which are being denied in their entirety.


You said the appearance of cake is not a cake.

Similarly, like what you have said above, the appearance of real cake also has no self of cake. You cannot find any real cake inside your cake which you claim as real.

That is why, it is illusion instead of like an illusion.

If when you see the real cake and although you can touch it, you can eat it, you can find the self of cake, you have grasped the self.

Even you can touch it, you can eat it, that real cake has no self of cake. Exactly same with illusion of cake - no self.

It is not important whether it is real or not in the sense you can touch it, you can eat it.

THe most important is they have no self.

If simply by touching the cake, you think there is a cake, your sense of touching has deluded you to assert the self of cake.

If simply by eating the cake, you think there is a cake, your sense of taste has deluded you to assert the self of cake.

Has appearances, but no self. Illusion is like that. Reality is also like that. That is why reality is illusion.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Mariusz » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:54 am

"The reality is illusion". It is from Svatantrikas, not from Prasangikas. Svatantrikas in India were called “the Centrists who establish illusion through reasoning.”
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:55 pm

Mariusz wrote:"The reality is illusion". It is from Svatantrikas, not from Prasangikas. Svatantrikas in India were called “the Centrists who establish illusion through reasoning.”


It is from Nāgārjuna. Chapter 7 MMK.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:51 pm

maybay wrote:Behind the illusory appearance is the emptiness, and we cannot speak of reality without emptiness. So when you say reality is illusion you're leaving out emptiness and that's why it doesn't look like Madhyamika. Conversely we cannot say that reality is emptiness because then we leave out appearances, and this does not conform to our experience.


There is no "emptiness behind things." Saying that things are illusions implies that they are mere appearances, without any "reality." That "reality" cannot be defined as "emptiness," either--that would be reifying emptiness, which is a non-affirming negation. As a concept, pointing to the nonfindability of reality, emptiness is wonderful. But it's merely a concept--there is no emptiness.

People who object to the statment "all is illusion," and want to replace it with "all is LIKE illusion," often accuse those who hold the first statement to be nihilists. The accusers miss a crucial point, though, which is that those who make the first statement don't deny illusion. There is appearance, for sentient beings. Appearance is illusion. Nevertheless, for sentient beings, only a fool would deny that appearances appear.

Some people who object to the first statement also like to modify the word "existence," which is the object of analysis, and which results in nonfindability, with the word "inherent." This is okay, and helpful, for some, because it points to "essence" or "unchanging basis," but can also create problems--because sometimes "inherent existence" is taken to be merely one KIND of existence, allowing people to posit other sorts of "existence," and, quite frankly, missing the point of Nagarjuna and Madhyamika altogether.

With regard to your comments about infinite paradigms, all "paradigms" are merely descriptive pointers toward that which cannot be described. but this paradigm, Appearance/Emptiness, is the best one, in my view--and it can be summed up in the statement "All appearance is Illusion."
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Takoda » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:13 pm

Fleeting or momentary conditions are a part of impermanence.

For example if we sit down to eat a piece of cake we can see it, smell it, lift a piece up with our spoon, place it in our mouth and enjoy the sweetness on our taste buds. After we have eaten our piece of cake…where is it? Does it still exist? Actually the piece of cake has lost it characteristics and has been converted in our digestive track to energy to be used by our body.

Did the piece of “cake” ever exist?


At a certain moment in time when we sat down at the table it did exist. But it was a momentary state of existence, a fleeting moment in the flow of time. In fact it was so fleeting that a few days or weeks after eating the piece of “cake,” the memory of its existence will be long gone.

Maybe that’s what the Buddha was trying to get at. Something that might seem real and self-standing will eventually change into something else, losing its characteristics that once gave it the impression of “being real”. Becoming attached to something “real” when it’s not will lead to suffering and hardship.

When observing and seeing the ebb and flow of life that’s before me I kind of get the “gist” of what the Buddha is saying.

It’s interesting reading through the various posts in this thread. There definitely are different opinions as to the nature of “reality” in Buddhism.

:namaste:

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby 5heaps » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:43 am

DarwidHalim wrote:You said the appearance of cake is not a cake.

Similarly, like what you have said above, the appearance of real cake also has no self of cake. You cannot find any real cake inside your cake which you claim as real.

yes you can...there is a cake outside of the appearances of cake. why? because the appearance of cake is an internal object, whereas the thing you eat is physical form

when analyzing the emptiness of the cake you are analyzing physical form, not an internal appearance. the emptiness of the internal appearance is the emptiness of your mind, not of the cake.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:14 am

5heaps wrote:there is a cake outside of the appearances of cake. why? because the appearance of cake is an internal object, whereas the thing you eat is physical form



This is exactly the location of the self that you have hold and it is not a surprise you said cake is like an illusion, instead of illusion.

As I mentioned before, someone who can just accept reality is like an illusion, but not illusion, they have the sense of self deep inside their understanding.

There is no cake outside the appearances of cake.

In emptiness there is no internal and external.
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: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby 5heaps » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:57 am

DarwidHalim wrote:
5heaps wrote:there is a cake outside of the appearances of cake. why? because the appearance of cake is an internal object, whereas the thing you eat is physical form


This is exactly the location of the self that you have hold and it is not a surprise you said cake is like an illusion, instead of illusion.

As I mentioned before, someone who can just accept reality is like an illusion, but not illusion, they have the sense of self deep inside their understanding.

There is no cake outside the appearances of cake.

In emptiness there is no internal and external.

ah, come now, emptiness has nothing to do with denying external objects by just calling them internal ones ie. just appearances.
any idealist can do that.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:47 am

5heaps wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:
5heaps wrote:yes you can...there is a cake outside of the appearances of cake. why? because the appearance of cake is an internal object, whereas the thing you eat is physical form

when analyzing the emptiness of the cake you are analyzing physical form, not an internal appearance. the emptiness of the internal appearance is the emptiness of your mind, not of the cake.


This is exactly the location of the self that you have hold and it is not a surprise you said cake is like an illusion, instead of illusion.

As I mentioned before, someone who can just accept reality is like an illusion, but not illusion, they have the sense of self deep inside their understanding.

There is no cake outside the appearances of cake.

In emptiness there is no internal and external.

ah, come now, emptiness has nothing to do with denying external objects by just calling them internal ones ie. just appearances.
any idealist can do that.


5heaps let me get this right, you're attributing the "appearance of cake" to some type of internal pseudo visual representation of an external form? But at the same time you're granting the tactile and/or kinesthetic sensation to be a genuine contact with an external physical form? So the fundamental schematic and paradigm you're functioning under is; there is an actual "physical" form existing externally which is apprehended by the senses (translated by a mind which is internal and separate from external reality) and represented as an internal appearance, but that tactile sensation bypasses this process and is in fact a true account of this alleged physical external world? This view is atrocious.

DarwidHalim is correct, there is no cake outside the appearances of cake (and I'd add that there is no cake within the appearances imputed as "cake" either), and there certainly is no internal/external dichotomy in emptiness, which means there is no internality or externality in experience at any time.

No one's denying external objects by calling them internal appearances. That would be an affirming negation, external objects/internal appearances have never been established in the first place, so they cannot be "denied". External/internal is hair on a tortoise, it's a ludicrous notion in the face of skillfully applied emptiness. The notion of internal/external is born of ignorance. As for idealism, it also falls flat on it's face right from the start being that the internal/external dichotomy is empty from the very beginning.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby 5heaps » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 am

asunthatneversets wrote:apprehended by the senses (translated by a mind which is internal and separate from external reality) and represented as an internal appearance

yes, rnam pa in tibetan, its part of the definition of the mind

but that tactile sensation bypasses this process and is in fact a true account of this alleged physical external world? This view is atrocious.

i dont know what you mean by the tactile sensation bypassing this process...why would it do that. no, all sense consciousness use internal appearances, so no bypassing

No one's denying external objects by calling them internal appearances. That would be an affirming negation, external objects/internal appearances have never been established in the first place, so they cannot be "denied".
are internal appearances not internal? if not, are they external?
if neither, do they not exist at all? if you say they do exist, and yet theyre neither internal nor external, then what are they?
furthermore appearances are not negations, theyre positive objects, unless by appearances youre talking about general categories
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:32 pm

5heaps wrote:yes, rnam pa in tibetan, its part of the definition of the mind


I don't doubt it is, I'm sure every angle has been covered in the teachings (being that the true nature of reality is approached from multiple and various directions and positions), however that doesn't mean certain designations are exempt from emptiness. There truly are no ultimates in this teaching, something stated in the beginning of the path may not hold true in the end. There are levels to this if one is implementing a gradual path, as one progresses contradictions may arise, but they're only contradictory if one remains attached to a certain view.

Fellow forummer Mariusz just posted this yesterday and it reflects the view of reality I (and others on this thread) am attempting to convey:

Suchness (nature of reality) free of all types of differentiation (all ignorance) appears in its one taste (beyond reference points) when these are all absent:

• What appears to the nonconceptual sensory faculty as a duality of perceived and perceiver
• The process of formulation conducted by the rational mind, which is conceptual and first makes the assumption that whatever appears to be a duality (subjekt-object) actually exists that way and then formulates it by assigning a specific term
• The inner faculties, that of the eye and so on
• Outer objects, form and so on
• The principles of awareness, the eye consciousness, and so on
• Vessel-like worlds’ appearances experienced in common.

- Ju Mipham


5heaps wrote:i dont know what you mean by the tactile sensation bypassing this process...why would it do that. no, all sense consciousness use internal appearances, so no bypassing


You made this distinction: "because the appearance of cake is an internal object, whereas the thing you eat is physical form" which sounds as if you're implying the appearance(vision?) of the cake is internal, whereas what is eaten(tactile) is physical... your statement came across as creating contrasting distinctions between the properties of certain sensory modalities.

5heaps wrote:are internal appearances not internal? if not, are they external?
if neither, do they not exist at all? if you say they do exist, and yet theyre neither internal nor external, then what are they?
furthermore appearances are not negations, theyre positive objects, unless by appearances youre talking about general categories


By "internal" I take it you mean "inside the body" which would naturally suggest it's dualistic counterpart of externality (existing outside the body) with the bordering line being the surface of the skin. But this schematic only holds true if one is identifying with "the body" which is merely a concept imputed onto a certain cluster of sensations. In actuality every appearance inhabits the same space, for instance; we normally take thoughts to be internal, and the sound of people talking to be external, but in truth both of these manifestations appear in the same exact manner. They both occupy the same space we only impute a pseudo bordering line and take it to be genuine when in truth there is no such line. If you listen to "external sounds" and then produce a thought, you'll find that they both appear the same way, you only take one to be internal because through habitual reification and conditioning this has become "commonsensical"... however that does not mean it's true, and earnest empirical investigation will reveal it to be a fallacy.

Further, to say they exist would be attaching to an extreme, to say they don't exist would be attaching to the contrasting extreme... both positions are suicide in this teaching. Manifestation is beyond the 4 extremes and the reason for this is to allow our normally compulsive need to intellectualize everything, to relax. The truth is not found by implementing the intellect and one cannot think themselves to liberation(though at the same time, a clear intellectual understanding is very key).

Reality mirrors the imputations placed upon it; if you say an appearance is internal, it is... if you say it's external, it is. So your query as to whether appearances are internal or external that question cannot be answered, because again, skillful emptiness doesn't even let such a paradigm become established. Internal and external are empty from the very beginning and are equivalent to hair on a tortoise as I said before. This path to liberation is a process of deconstruction in a sense, structures of thought, presuppositions and assumptions are keenly dismantled so that their innate emptiness can become fully evident beyond the pale of the intellect. The process increases exponentially as one gets closer to the truth of suchness Mipham elucidated above.

If one remains attached to certain presuppositions about reality then they are doomed to remain stagnant in this teaching. Luckily emptiness is a perfect antidote for this predicament. By seeing how dichotomies dependently originate they can be seen for what they are (mere conventionalities).

When you say appearances are positive objects, what appearances are you speaking of?
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:36 pm

conebeckham wrote:People who object to the statment "all is illusion," and want to replace it with "all is LIKE illusion," often accuse those who hold the first statement to be nihilists. The accusers miss a crucial point, though, which is that those who make the first statement don't deny illusion. There is appearance, for sentient beings. Appearance is illusion. Nevertheless, for sentient beings, only a fool would deny that appearances appear.


In the sutras, Buddha said that Concsiousness is like an illusion. This statement was not made in a vaccuum, but rather among a set of other illustrative analogies, such as "form is like a bubble", and compositional factors are like a plaintain tree.

Consciounsness, and all phenomena besides are not an illusion, but are rather like an illusion. The reason for this distinction is that there is a difference between illusion-like appearances and illusions. An illusion is unable to perform conventionally, and an illusion-like appearance is able to perform its function in the conventional world. Consider the difference between having your appendix out by the illusion of a doctor versus having your appendix out by an illusion-like doctor. Compositional factors are like a plaintain tree, but compositional factors are not themselves a plantain tree. Form is like a buble, but is not bubble, unless it is the form of a bubble.

Using styrofoam and paint, or I suppose mantras and concentration, one can create the illusion of a cake, but there is a difference between that and an illusion-like cake, etc etc

Namdrol wrote:
maybay wrote:How is it then that we can equate reality with illusion...?

Because the real cannot be found on analysis.


Too far. the real cannot be found upon analysis, but one can nourish one's body with food, but not with an illusion of food created by a magician. Therefore similar in some respects, but non-equivalent.

conebeckham wrote:Some people who object to the first statement also like to modify the word "existence," which is the object of analysis, and which results in nonfindability, with the word "inherent." This is okay, and helpful, for some, because it points to "essence" or "unchanging basis," but can also create problems--because sometimes "inherent existence" is taken to be merely one KIND of existence, allowing people to posit other sorts of "existence," and, quite frankly, missing the point of Nagarjuna and Madhyamika altogether.


good point as far as it goes, we need to be precise with these types of qualifications. Indian Madhyamikas actually regularly employed them, and spoke of conventional existence free from inherent existence in many places.If you say that things do not exist in any way, you end up among the nihilists.
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