Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ālaya, ālayavijñāna and the gzhi [sthāna]

Kyle Dixon:
Just saw that Soh already addressed this issue but I'd already whipped this puppy up so figured I'd post this as well to further elaborate on the quote Jackson provided regarding a 'Ground of Being':


Earlier today Jackson shared an excerpt from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's 'Dzogchen Practice In Everyday Life'...

[a text which is actually the work of Chögyam Trungpa and is wrongly attributed to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche]

Jackson's post:
"Dilgo Khyentse wrote:

Vast unoriginated self-luminous wisdom space is the ground of being - the beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in the primordial state has no bias toward enlightenment or non-enlightenment. This ground of being which is known as pure or original mind is the source from which all phenomena arise. It is known as the great mother, as the womb of potentiality in which all things arise and dissolve in natural self-perfectedness and absolute spontaneity."

Jackson then commented: "Some here I am sure struggle with notions 'ground of being', 'the womb in ... which all things arise and dissolve.' These expressions are foreign to most Theravadins..."

I wanted to comment that this translation (and the way that Jackson is presenting it's context) is apparently proposing a 'ground-of-being' as a source of phenomena. In the context of dzogchen a ground-of-being is indeed posited, however for dzogchen the ground of being (and non-being, both & neither) is only ignorance (avidyā). This idea that phenomena only arise due to our habitual tendencies of grasping and clinging is a very important aspect of Buddhism which separates it from the Vedantic traditions. Traditions such as Advaita Vedanta and the like which posit a transcendental ground-of-being from which phenomena (as expressions of that ground) arise and subside. This is not the model that Buddhism employs, nor is it the model that dzogchen uses. The quote cited by Jackson above certainly does seem to be proposing such a 'ground', however if we look at an alternate translation of this text we will find that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's exposition does indeed accord with the traditional view of dzogchen....

Here is the alternate translation of the same section of DKR's [Trungpa's] teaching cited above:
"...The ground of samsara and nirvana is the ālaya (ignorance), the beginning and the end of confusion and realization...."

The term ālaya is a Sanskrit term which translates to kun gzhi in Tibetan, meaning 'all-ground' or the 'ground of all', 'universal ground' etc...

The Reverberation of Sound Tantra explains the etymology of 'kun gzhi' [ālaya]:
"The etymology of 'kun' (all) lies in it's subsuming everything.
The etymology of 'gzhi' (ground) lies in it's accumulation and hoarding (of karmic imprints and propensities)."

The Reverberation of Sound also goes on to say:
"Here I will explain the kun gzhi (ālaya) to start off:
It is the ground of all phenomena and non-phenomena."

In Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's [Chögyam Trungpa's] quotation where he states that the ālaya is "...the beginning and end of confusion and realization..." he is saying this because the ālaya (being synonymous with ignorance [Skt. avidyā, Tib. ma rig pa]) is the basis for delusion and therefore one can say the ālaya is indeed the beginning of confusion. In the very same sentence DKR also states that the ālaya is the beginning of realization, he says this because due to the fact that ignorance (Skt. avidyā, Tib. ma rig pa) is naturally dependent upon knowledge (Skt. vidyā, Tib. rig pa) the ālaya is also the basis for liberation. The ālaya is the beginning, in the sense that ignorance (samsara) is the starting point on one's path towards liberation (nirvana) and that being the case, one can also say it serves as the basis for the end as well. 

"The kun gzhi (ālaya) is the foundation of everything;
It is the foundation of purification as well."
- The Uttara Tantra

So the notion of a 'ground of being' is put in perspective. Dzogchen does not posit a ground of being apart from the discursive elaborations of ignorance and imputation. When one's condition is purified of ignorance it is known that reality is non-arisen and unborn... emptiness. Hence the key term in the first translation Jackson cited: 'unoriginated'. The translation of ālaya (kun gzhi) as 'ground of being' is a viable option for translation, though in truth the ālaya is the ground of all 4 extremes (being, non-being, both and neither), leaving it at 'ground of being' (without context) again appears to be advocating for a Brahman-type source of phenomena which is not the case in the least.
Like ·  · Unfollow Post · February 26 at 4:04pm near Oakland
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Soh and Logan Truthe like this.

Kyle Dixon: Glenda, yes, in some schools the skandha of consciousness has an eightfold network of primary consciousnesses, one of them being the ālayavijñāna (kungzhi rnamshes) which accumulates subtle traces and imprints. The ālaya (kungzhi) discussed above is not the same as the ālayavijñāna (kungzhi rnamshes), the ālaya is merely the abiding substratum of ignorance which allows for all of these proliferations to occur. We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are both ignorance at base.
February 26 at 4:12pm · Like · 1

Alaya and Impure Appearance-Making
The words "alaya" and "alayavijnana" are used both in the Mind-Only school and also in Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation.
February 26 at 4:22pm · Unlike · 2 · Remove Preview

Soh: Nicely explained Kyle.
February 26 at 4:26pm · Edited · Unlike · 1

Logan Truthe: Ho! All that appears and exists—samsara and nirvana—is an illusory display of knowing or ignorance with one basis, two paths and two fruits. Through Samantabhadra’s aspiration, may every one become buddha, manifestly complete in the palace of the dharmasphere.

The underlying basis is non-composite. It is an ineffable, self-arisen vast expanse named neither “samsara” nor “nirvana.” If just that is known, such is buddha; if not, such is a sentient one drifting through samsara. May every sentient one in the three realms know the ineffable fact, the basis.
February 26 at 4:38pm · Edited · Unlike · 2

Jackson Peterson: Kyle Dixon, as usual is completely wrong. Kyle said "We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are BOTH ignorance at base."

In Dzogchen the Zhi as the Ground is Kadag and is the pure Dharmakaya. There is no ignorance or impurity in this ground. Ignorance doesn't begin until the tsal (energy) of the pure kadag ground arises as "shes pa". This "shes pa" has ignorance as a connate quality. At this point that "shes pa" can recognize or not. If not "sem" arises... This is how it is explained in the Reverberation of Sound Tantra". Malcolm just shared this with me. He also said the original Ground is pure Kadag, without ignorance intrinsically. All arisings arise from this pure Base as display. And no, Dilgo did not mean or refer to Alaya Vijanana. He meant the Zhi as kadag Dharmakaya. Kyle you keep mixing up Dzogchen with other views. I have the translations from Malcolm which I would be glad to post.
March 10 at 3:36pm via mobile · Edited · Like

Jackson Peterson: Kyle, you said: "We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are both IGNORANCE AT THE BASE.

From Malcolm, please read carefully Kyle Dixon:

Malcolm Smith

it is not a theory, it is Samantabhadra's instructions.

There is no ignorance in the basis

Jackson Peterson

Yea, yea...

Is the basis the Ground?

Malcolm Smith

that is correct. There is however a neutral awareness which arises at the time the basis arises. That becomes either prajñā or vijñana depending on whether the five lights are recognized as one's own state or not

ground is an inaccurate translation of gzhi (sthana).

Jackson Peterson

Not kunzhi namshe?

Just Zhi

Malcolm Smith

kun gzhi snam shes is rnam shes

in dzogchen, the eight consciousness are considered different functions of one consciousness

Jigme lingpa uses the metaphor of a monkey in a house with eight windows

kun gzhi is ālaya here ā is kun, all and gzhi is laya as in Himalaya

Jackson Peterson

Your first step describes an ignorance in the ground BEFORE any arising...

Malcolm Smith

before the basis arises there is a stirring of wind in the basis

with the stirring of that wind a neutral awareness (shes pa) also arises that is unaware of itself

Jackson Peterson

The wind and the neutral awareness is tsal?

Malcolm Smith

you could parse it that way

Jackson Peterson

Totally so?

Malcolm Smith

yes since it is on a more coarse level.

five lights are rtsal they come from the this arising of the basis

Jackson Peterson

So then, before tsal "moves" there is no ignorance

In Kashmiri Trika they call the first moving of tsal, a quiver, "spanda".

A vibrational quiver of light

I have Tucci's translations of these root texts you are quoting from...

His book called "Minor Texts".

Malcolm Smith

There can only be ignorance if there is awareness (shes pa). Prior to the movement of wind in the basis, there is only wisdom.

What I am quoting from was not translated by Tucci.
March 10 at 3:39pm · Edited · Like

Kyle Dixon: Never once said there was ignorance or impurity in the gzhi (basis/ground). Also never said anything about DKR referring to the ālayavijñāna. The translation says 'all-ground', he is not referring to the gzhi. Arisings apparently manifest due to non-recognition of the basis i.e. only from the perspective of ignorance does anything seem to arise.
March 10 at 4:09pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: Are you drunk? Just kidding: Here are your exact words: 
Kyle, you said: "We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are both IGNORANCE AT THE BASE.
March 10 at 4:17pm · Like · 1

Kyle Dixon: Ah yes, 'ignorance at base' is a descriptive phrase, like 'ignorance at root'... I was in no way referring to 'the basis' when I said 'ignorance at base', here is two alternate ways of stating what I was meaning to convey:

"We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are both rooted in ignorance, as ignorance."

"We could say that the ālayavijñāna is an aberration which arises from the ālaya and that they are both ignorance at root."
March 10 at 4:17pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: They aren't both ignorance at root. There is no ignorance in the Base which is Dharmakaya, Kadag.
March 10 at 4:19pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: He was referring to pure Base...
March 10 at 4:20pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: Zhi, not "Kunzhi Namshe".
March 10 at 4:20pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: I know you don't have the Tibetan of the text.
March 10 at 4:21pm · Like

Jackson Peterson: Then you said above: "ālaya is merely the abiding substratum of ignorance". So you made clear you meant both. Dude, face it you were wrong and called out on it. 
March 10 at 4:24pm · Like · 1

Kyle Dixon: The ālaya is the kungzhi i.e. all-ground (ignorance). The ālayavijñāna is the kungzhi rnamshes which is one of the eight consciousnesses which arises as a direct result of ignorance. Ignorance itself is a direct result of not recognizing the basis' (gzhi) display to be self-display.
March 10 at 4:25pm · Like

Kyle Dixon: The kungzhi and kungzhi rnamshes are both ignorance at root. There is no ignorance in the gzhi.
March 10 at 4:27pm · Like

Malcolm Smith: ālaya and gzhi (sthana) are not the same thing. In Dzogchen, ālaya is equivalent to the third ignorance, the imputing ignorance. This is explained very well in many Dzogchen texts. The meaning of ālaya in Dzogchen is quite different than the way the term is used in Lamdre and Kagyu Mahamudra.
March 10 at 6:00pm · Like

Malcolm Smith: Kyle, only the third ignorance is a result of not recognizing the basis.
March 10 at 6:01pm · Unlike · 1

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