Thursday, August 7, 2014

Causal Power vs Dependencies, Lineage and Teachers


July 19 at 1:15pm · Bedok Garden, Singapore

wrote on another forum yesterday:

For example, simple minded people may think that 'God' was the one that made almost 300 people die in the recent air crash in Ukraine. As Buddha said -- if these suffering was made by God, then that God must surely be very evil. There is no such God that controls or makes things. Nor is there a 'Self' that is acting as an agent or controller of everything. Everything manifests due to dependent origination. The very idea of a creator, or creation, or agency, or Self, is a false, naive way of thinking. The thinking that everything happened randomly is even more naive and foolish.

The air crash happened because:

1) It happened to be flying in East Ukrainian airspace

2) East Ukraine (like Crimea) population makeup is mostly Russian -- their allegiance mostly lies with the Kremlin rather than with Kiev. The rebels wish to join Russia.

3) A civil war was going on

4) There was recent efforts by Ukrainian government to increase military skirmish to retake Ukrainian lands from the rebels

5) Vladimir Putin was under pressure to give support to the pro-Russian separatists under strain in recent developments, as he has vested interests or agenda to exert control over Eastern Europe, therefore, he sent very advanced surface to air missiles to the rebels, and trained them to use it

6) His agenda was based on perceived Western nations trying to gang up against Russia and taking all its former soviet colonies into a hostile EU. Plus, he wants to regain former glory of Russia in Soviet Times as a powerful empire

7) The pro-Russian separatists mistaken the airplane for a Ukrainian airplane -- they have shot down a few other Ukrainian military aircrafts in the previous days

8) The collective karma of the passengers

This is just making the dependencies sound simple. It is actually much more complex and intricate than that. If any of these conditions were lacking, the air disaster could not have happened. There is no single creator, or origin, for the disaster.

It is very easy if we do not see dependent origination to push all the blame to one single person or origin or source, for example, Russia or Vladimir Putin. This is why the view of a 'Source', 'Origin' or 'Inherent Existence' causes affliction. For example, the view that the origin of this disaster can be pinned down to Putin or Russia causes great anger or hatred against him. This is how the previous world war 1 started, after an assasination. If I were not a practitioner, I might be very angry at Russia or Vladimir Putin now. But because I practice the dharma and see the dharma of dependent origination, I only see impersonal processes of dependencies, there is no anger. None of it is personal, but due to dependent origination things happen.

Let us pray for all those victims of this vast chain of interdependencies. May all victims be well and happy and take a fortunate birth.

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    Empty Set, Gerald Westhoff, Machiel van Dijk and 20 others like this.

    Justin Struble first of all, those conclusions are nihilism. dependent origination doesn't absolve people from responsibility of their actions and the consequences of their actions. following that line of reasoning, that all processes are impersonal, it follows that no one is responsible for their actions, and also that, there is nothing individuals can or should do to change things or bring people to justice. it also ignores the fact that the mindstream and it's karmic propensities are indeed associated with individuals.

    this is incompatible with living realistically. where injustices do happen, and individuals are responsible for the complex and interconnected roles they play in committing crimes against other individuals. people suffer the individual karmic consequences of their actions. there may not be an inherent findable self ultimately speaking, but decisions occur and decisions are carried out via their conventional individual bodily forms.

    that fact events and individuals are ultimately illusory, empty, and not inherently existing doesn't abdicate individuals from responsibility, nor mean that people do not suffer from injustices. to assert this would be to imply that said events and individuals are non-existent, an extreme, a wrong view. to sit idly by while wars rage on, that one knows are unjust, is just abdicating responsibility and makes one complicit:

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

    Edmund Burke

    And while our first and foremost priority should be awakening, so that we do not contribute to ignorant harmful actions, once there is some degree of wisdom and one is capable of living harmlessly, then the focus should shift towards service to the world, and part of that compassionate action includes opposing injustice in word and action when no better or more effective alternatives are possible.

    Finally, the situation is indeed more complex than the post entails with it's list of supposed facts. In reality we don't know who actually launched the missiles that destroyed that aircraft, thanks to the fog of war and all the propaganda and disinformation. It could have been the ukranian government, ( which is indiscriminately shelling and killing innocent civilians) who has anti aircraft missiles capable of downing the airliner. Less, likely, it could be that the insurgents somehow obtained anti aircraft missiles capable of downing a jet at such high altitude. Who knows if we will ever hear the truth of the matter.

    This is a very poor example and a poor choice to illustrate dependent origination, and is full of wrong, confused views. It even could be that this example was used precisely because it is a current topic of heated contention, and was intended to provoke people's reactions. This is not a skillful way in which to illustrate the dharma. While it is important to discuss the political implications of the dharma, playing on peoples emotions and ignorance, especially regarding ongoing wars / conflicts is unlikely to result in beneficial dialogue.

    Speaking of the political implications of the dharma, I find this theory quite interesting:

    Buddhist anarchism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Thus, there can be no "perfect State" in Samsara. Any man-made institution is im... See More

    July 19 at 1:54pm · Edited · Like · 1 · Remove Preview

    Soh Im not suggesting that dependent origination absolves one from karmic responsibilities or justice. Someone cannot use the reason that because they are poor or living in poverty therefore they should be excused from being charged for robbery. What I am saying is that there is no single source, agent or creator of anything. Dissolving the view of source and inherency, afflictions and hasty punitive measures leading to more violence can be avoided. I agree measures must be taken against all perpetrators involved.

    July 19 at 1:59pm · Edited · Like · 4

    Priscilla Francis "pray for all victims of this vast chain of interdependencies"
    - very beautifully put ...
    very thorough and thoughtful.

    July 19 at 2:18pm · Like

    Soh The point of dharma is not to play with peoples ignorance and emotions. It is to put a complete cessation to all ignorance and afflictive emotions. Even if someone murders your whole family and not a single thought of anger arise, only then have you succeeded in practice. I am however not suggesting that the murderer should not be brought to justice.

    July 19 at 2:19pm · Edited · Like · 4

    Justin Struble Anger has no benefit in any circumstance. But that doesn't mean one should not defend one's family, as a last resort ( out of compassion ).

    July 19 at 2:20pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Seng Yew Meng Hi Soh, I am all with you on D.O. Am surprised that you use the murder and anger example. Not quite you though. Are you suggesting by seeing D.O - strong emotions will not arise anymore? Ingram talks about the emotional model and how it may mislead people's expectation of realized beings.

    July 19 at 3:21pm · Edited · Like

    Yor Sunyata We may need to quarantine people who commit crimes for the benefit of society (protection) and for their own benefit (rehabilitation). The quarantine should deter others from committing crimes. It does not have to be a statement about the moral guilt or culpability of the person who committed the crime. If it is considered such a statement, it is certainly wrong, because any crime has numerous causes and conditions which are not under the control of the agent (assuming for the sake of the argument that there is any agent). Pragmatically speaking, the idea of responsibility and free will might be useful if one actually believes in a self.

    July 19 at 3:20pm · Like · 1

    Soh Seng Yew Meng unlike Daniel ingram, I take the fetter model wholeheartedly as overcoming all afflictions was indeed the essence of Buddha's teaching in the pali suttas. I do not consider that to be an impossibility.

    July 19 at 3:31pm · Like · 9

    Viorica Doina Neacsu " Are you suggesting by seeing D.O - strong emotions will not arise anymore? "
    Will arise understanding and compassion... DO means nothing arises from the blue... and if you move the focus from judging others to understand others, compassion arises... I don't see only the guilt of the insurgents but their suffering too (if they did what they did, happy people don't kill others) and i realized that i have contributed to the occurrence of this sad event engaging with thoughts of hate, revenge and power... that's the world i projected with my thoughts...

    July 19 at 8:18pm · Edited · Unlike · 3

    Richard Cooper Presumably simple mindedness, naivety and foolishness arise dependent on conditions as well . As well as views; both apparently simplistic and sophisticated

    July 19 at 10:21pm · Like · 1

    Richard Cooper Wow. That's weird. There actually isn't anything that arises is there ?

    July 19 at 10:30pm · Like

    Alan Koek if there is no anger, no sadness... that does not means u are unfeeling right...?

    July 19 at 11:13pm · Like

    Tan Jui Horng Well, you feel enough to respond with compassion.

    July 19 at 11:16pm · Like · 2

    Viorica Doina Neacsu Interesting... just now some numerologists are talking about this tragedy on a romanian tv channel and they speak about number 17.The first flight of this aircraft took place in 1997, 17 years ago. The tragedy happened on July 17, around 17:00, and the flight name has the number 17. Well, they are saying many other things, but they are very sad because 80 children died in this tragedy... They say it was predictable...

    July 19 at 11:20pm · Edited · Like

    Viorica Doina Neacsu Alan, is sadness or anger helpful? If someone feels anger means he is feeling right? ... I think the right and loving actions arise from peace, understanding and compassion, and not from anger. Anger and clear mind can't exist together... and a clear mind is a loving mind...

    July 19 at 11:25pm · Edited · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle What do you mean Viorica that you have contributed to these events by your thoughts??

    July 19 at 11:44pm · Like

    Alan Koek Wait anger is always negative.. let me change to another scenario.. if you were an arahant, will you cry if Buddha is about to enter nibbana?

    July 19 at 11:49pm · Like

    Soh No, an arahant will not cry.

    SN 21.2
    PTS: S ii 274
    CDB i 714
    Upatissa Sutta: About Upatissa (Sariputta)
    translated from the Pali by
    Thanissaro Bhikkhu
    © 1999

    At Savatthi. There Ven. Sariputta addressed the monks: "Friends!"

    "Yes, friend," the monks responded.

    Ven. Sariputta said, "Friends, just now as I was withdrawn in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness: 'Is there anything in the world with whose change or alteration there would arise within me sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'There is nothing in the world with whose change or alteration there would arise within me sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair.'"

    When this was said, Ven. Ananda said to Ven. Sariputta, "Sariputta my friend, even if there were change & alteration in the Teacher would there arise within you no sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair?"

    "Even if there were change & alteration in the Teacher, my friend, there would arise within me no sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Still, I would have this thought: 'What a great being, of great might, of great prowess, has disappeared! For if the Blessed One were to remain for a long time, that would be for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of sympathy for the world; for the welfare, benefit, & happiness of human & divine beings.'"

    "Surely," [said Ven. Ananda,] "it's because Ven. Sariputta's I-making & mine-making and obsessions with conceit have long been well uprooted that even if there were change & alteration in the Teacher, there would arise within him no sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair."

    Upatissa Sutta: About Upatissa (Sariputta)

    Ven. Sariputta said, "Friends, just now as I was withdrawn in seclusion, this tr... See More

    July 19 at 11:50pm · Like · Remove Preview

    Soh Arahant have metta and compassion, not afflictions.

    July 19 at 11:51pm · Like · 1

    Alan Koek oh i see... because i thought Mahakasapa cried when he heard the news when he was on his way to see Buddha
    Thanks Soh

    July 19 at 11:52pm · Like

    Soh No, that is not really true.

    July 19 at 11:53pm · Like

    Alan Koek I understand Ananda cried and was filled with grief... but that time he was still a streamwinner. But arahants do not cry is not what i expected. I also thought even arahants still have feelings, but definitely not afflictive anymore

    July 19 at 11:56pm · Like

    Soh Yes

    July 19 at 11:57pm · Like

    Alan Koek

    Silavant Sutta: Virtuous

    On one occasion Ven. Sariputta & Ven. Maha Kotthita were staying near Varanasi i... See More

    July 19 at 11:59pm · Like · Remove Preview

    Tom Radcliffe It is a bad deal. There is no control of this body/mind as there is no one to control it. It will, however, experience the results of it's actions. This is the same for every other body/mind. I am glad that events pushed this body/mind towards the Dharma as it now produces less suffering for itself and others. How? It really no longer sees things in terms of self and others. It is sad when it suffers and it is sad when it witnesses suffering in another body/mind. Folks emotions happen. Arahants cry and fart and get angry and have sex and everything else. There is no attachment there. No unrealistic expectation that the world will yield to it's desires. In effect no desires except the desire to do. Theories won't do. One the one hand none of this matters - the human race is on the way out on this planet. Even if we did an about face and behaved ourselves it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference - the human realm is for beings with mixed Karma. If we all got enlightened no one would be fool enough to inhabit this place it would disappear. Let's face it though - there will have to be many more human realms on planets through out the universe for aeons to come. So let's not get all upset about a transient empty pile of phenomena which only suffer because that think they are important, eh? On the other hand it is vitally important in coming to realise emptiness to be absolutely aware in each moment. To keep watch on ones actions and feelings and thoughts. We have to restrain our actions to see feelings and our feelings to see thoughts. The emotional life doesn't go away - it just becomes un neurotic. The thought arises and ends or the thought arises followed by an emotion and ends or the thought arises, emotion, volition arises and ends or action is taken. That is all.

    July 20 at 12:05am · Like

    Soh In another thread you told Justin "I am just pointing out that the Buddha's take on the subject is different". Well... the Buddha's take on the subject of arahant is also quite different from the way you put it here. You may think it is unrealistic expectation but that is just the way the Buddha puts it, and apparently, thousands of his students attained that state of arahantship free from passion, aggression and delusion.

    July 20 at 12:17am · Like · 4

    Alan Koek Arahants don't do those kind of things... Tom Radcliffe

    July 20 at 12:24am · Like

    Justin Struble Does an arahant experience tears of joy?

    July 20 at 12:25am · Like

    Yor Sunyata Arahant is a Buddhist term, it comes from the Pali canon. Why insist on using it if you don't believe in its definition? Either the canon has become corrupted, or the modern teaching that Arahants experience lust, anger and other afflictive emotions is corrupted Buddhism. While I cannot be certain, I suspect this has something to do with pride. The pride of having accomplished something great, something that most Buddhist thinks cannot happen to them in his life because of our "spiritually degenerate age". When the descriptions of the mind of the Arahant from the teaching handed down from the Buddha don't match the experience, the descriptions are disregarded. It reeks of delusion.

    July 20 at 8:38am · Unlike · 8

    Richard Cooper Until you get there it's speculation. So why waste time ?

    July 20 at 9:09am · Like

    Yor Sunyata You cannot get to the destination unless you start walking. Why walk if you think you are already there?

    July 20 at 9:12am · Unlike · 6

    Tom Radcliffe Alan - they do, I have seen them do it.

    July 20 at 6:48pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Yor, do not misunderstand these things take place in the mind/body of an Arahant but there is no experience of them. An Arahant is not a person without feelings - they are feelings without a person. The total absence of self view means that the mental, emotional, physical events simply happen - there is no suffering or difficulty and no view of self.

    July 20 at 6:51pm · Like

    Soh Daniel ingrams community moderator informed me I am an arahant. However I do not for a second believe that I am an arahant. Different peoples model of arahant often differs from the Buddha's. The permanent termination of self view is just stream entry in Buddha's model, not arahantship

    July 20 at 6:58pm · Like · 3

    Soh I have seen many arahant claimants, but I do not believe any of them actually meets Buddha's criteria for arahants, so alas, I do not believe I have seen any real arahants today yet.

    July 20 at 6:59pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe No Soh. The conceit I am goes at Arahantship. It is personality belief which goes at stream entry - they are very different. The Pali Cannon is old and full of questionable stuff as is any ancient text. That, however, is not the problem. The problem is that what is there is not understood. It is hatred and craving, conceit, restlessness and ignorance which go - not thoughts, feelings and actions. Arahants think, feel and act. They have preferences like everyone else. Suffering is gone though - because there is no longer desire for things to be other than they are. There are Arahants in the world - not as many as some believe and more than some others might think.

    July 20 at 8:18pm · Like

    Soh I prefer to call it self view than personality view. Both terms are fine, however, sakkaya ditthi is defined as any kind of self in terms of aggregates whether a self is seen outside or within the self. The Buddha includes Witness apart from aggregates as a form of self view. Any kind of view of self - even if it is no longer identification with a personal self but identification with ultimate self e.g. Awareness, that too, is self view. All that is removed forever in the realization of anatta that all stream entrants realize. The conceit of I Am is just any residual traces of identification, but no longer seen as real or inherent or absolute - the trace is just a smell or stench.

    July 20 at 8:49pm · Like · 1

    Soh Arahants cannot feel anger but there is compassion. Arahants cannot have sensual desire or even lust for jhanic states. Arahants do not engage in actions due to craving.

    July 20 at 8:50pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Isn't there a little crack in the logic here? Arahants still do jhana, but without craving, so why not anger without craving?

    One could posit that anger always has root in aversion and that therefore it will not arise for an arahant. But that is as limited as saying jhana always has root in greed/lust, so jhana would be impossible for an arahant.

    July 20 at 8:57pm · Unlike · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The arahants of the Canon did satipatthana and jhana for mindfulness and pleasant abiding.

    July 20 at 9:00pm · Like

    Robert Dominik Anger is an expression of aversion. Anger is a form of aversion or even aversion itself. Jhana is not lust or expression of lust. Sure - someone can be motivated by lust when doing jhanas. Your logic here is IMO flawed.

    July 20 at 9:02pm · Like

    Robert Dominik Leaving arahants aside... sure in Tantrism there are Wrathful Manifestations and a Guru can act in a wrathful manner. But this is always an expression of his compassion - not of an ignorant anger.

    July 20 at 9:03pm · Like

    Soh Jhana does not have a root in greed but in releasing from sensuality and letting go of five hidrances. They are natural mental factors that arise and are wholesome. It can be an object of attachment for people up to anagami but not arahant.

    July 20 at 9:04pm · Like

    Soh Whereas actions that arise directly arise out of mental afflictions will not occur anymore. Anger included. The 9 "cannots" for arahants included.

    July 20 at 9:06pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Not flawed logic, but different premise, Robert.

    Take the quote of being sawed apart by bandits: It's interesting that the whole point being made there is not to have thoughts of hatred. What actions might occur is not mentioned. This does leave more than enough room for any action, just without thoughts of hatred, for example running away.

    July 20 at 9:09pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I guess part of the bandit-sawing story is that one is pinned down and made to endure the atrocity...

    July 20 at 9:11pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The point Tom was making, methinks, is that the arahant title conveys not so much limitations on what might arise in experience, but the quality of the mind of such arising.

    For example, many here might have experienced occasions where they are in a most dangerous and threatening situation, and because of just that, the mind becomes very quiet and focused and the situation is averted skillfully, with no hang-ups (greed, aversion, delusion) pertaining to the situation.

    In retrospect, or from the sidelines, it would have been easy to dwell on the misfortune and injustice that accompanied the situation—and "beat one's breast", as they say in the Canon—but for the one in the midst of it, no such debilitating occurred; only a bright and skillful mind.

    July 20 at 9:23pm · Edited · Like

    Yor Sunyata Tom Radcliffe, I am not an Arahant. I am pretty far, far from an Arahant. However, I experience no self, no experiener, just experience. This is not a mere belief. I know it, directly [conventionally speaking]. I know afflictive emotions can cease, because several have ceased. I still experience remnants of anger, but it is exceedingly rare and weak. I never experience ill will towards another living being, even if they despise me or wish to hurt me or the people I love. No hatred. No contempt. No wish to control or dominate others. What has replaced these emotions is understanding, compassion and wishing others well. The shit has hit the fan. Good friends have died, I have faced critical illness and the prospect of an early death, and much more, so it isn't simply a good period in my life, or in the lives of the people I care about.

    A few years ago, I would have considered this completely impossible. What is left is not an emotional vacuum. It may sound cold, but is as far from cold as day is from night. Compassion has increased exponentially, bliss has increased enormously. Suffering in my life is diminished to the point where it is almost non-existent, but not quite. Lust isn't gone or even diminished, though.

    Since this has already happened, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that the path can be completed and that the rest of the afflictions can and will pass away. So far the Buddha Dharma has done what it says on the box, and I am confident because of this, that it will continue to do so.

    July 20 at 10:33pm · Unlike · 13

    John Tan Yor Sunyata, I sincerely hope u well so that u can continue ur practice in this life.

    July 20 at 10:51pm · Like · 7

    Viorica Doina Neacsu Thank you for your beautiful and sincere sharing, Yor Sunyata!
    Yes... kindness, compassion and a clear mind is what remains...
    Wish you the best from the best!

    July 20 at 11:03pm · Like · 4

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Sounds nice Yor, and rather reminds me of an earlier period in this life, which I described in a couple of posts and comments on this group a couple of years ago, with the notable exception of your "no self/experiencer" direct knowing.

    But I also got to see the strength of the mind gradually deplete through two consecutive brunouts in my occupation. So much for Noble Livelihood. It taught me that the mindfulness, concentration and flexibility of the conventional mind is contingent, impermanent and not to be grasped since it does not provide lasting refuge.

    During this time of clarity, non-thought and bliss, there was a period of a little over two months where I experienced complications with the kidneys, including passing numerous kidney stones and visits to the emergency room. If you've had sufficiently big or sharp kidney stones, then you understand the insane pain that accompanies this.

    Throughout those months of complication, including down-right passing out from sheer pain, the mind was ever bright and peaceful. No thoughts of ill will, pity or irritation; only some occasional restlessness.

    In effect, I enjoyed a psychological god realm worthy of many superlatives, then plunged back down. The plunge brought the goal into stark relief: to look for refuge in what is unconditioned, not what is conditioned.

    July 21 at 12:08am · Edited · Like · 3

    Yor Sunyata Right. Conditioned phenomena have an end. But cessation doesn't need to have an end. You can stop doing something forever.

    July 21 at 3:29am · Like · 2

    Tom Radcliffe Yor, that is my experience also more or less. I think the problem here is the idea of a neat, linear, one size fits all, laid out path to enlightenment. Speaking as a Buddhist I have to say that this view of Buddhism is mistaken. If you really think about it - it must be. What you find in the books is the method by which the Buddha taught - much systematised since his time. As a system for teachers it is extraordinary. It allows the teacher to check systematically in with the experience of the student and establish where to direct their attention next for maximum benefit. The idea that all meditators will have the same insights in the identical order and progress in an orderly fashion towards the goal and then have the identical expression of that at the end is not born out by real experience - ask any seasoned teacher of meditation and they will confirm this.

    July 21 at 10:16am · Like · 2

    Tom Radcliffe Study is no good on it's own it must be accompanied by meditation under a real meditation master or it is just sterile book learning. Try ing to assess one's own progress or that of others from a list in a book just doesn't work at all. I am not suggesting that anyone is doing that - just saying it doesn't work. The real thing passes from person to person and is not contained in words on a page. Having said that study is invaluable but again only if done under the guidance of someone with experiential knowledge of what it means in reality. Sorry but that is my experience - I apologise if it is not orthodox. I have never been able to do the orthodox thing though - the drive to end the suffering goes beyond adherence to any correct or rejection of any incorrect or form.

    July 21 at 10:22am · Like · 1

    Yor Sunyata I agree with you. I do not think progression will happen in an exact order. Maps have their limits. However, enlightenment means, among other things, the cessation of fetters. If they are not all gone, enlightenment is not complete, at least not according to the definition handed down through the ages. Also, even though fetters have disappeared, it does not mean that all differences in personality and characteristics will disappear as well.

    Certainly a teacher is important, I don't think I have suggested otherwise. Meditation is also very important. But Buddhism is not meditation alone. You cannot simply meditate yourself into enlightenment and ignore the other aspects of the path. I am sure noting can be beneficial for many people. But merely going on retreats, spending weeks and months noting, is not enough. If you do, there might be insights, but for the complete cessation of afflictions, the whole of the path must be practiced.

    July 21 at 11:40am · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Yor, I agree with all that you have said. I think many people stop short of the goal due to not having a way to examine the current state of affairs and this is where a teacher and study is helpful. Study without a teacher and practice is useless in itself but may be useful you move on to a teacher and practice. Study and practice without a teacher often leads to some rather nasty results as one is being one's own teacher - need I say more? Buddha, Dharma, Sangha has always been this way. We need them all - not necessarily all at once but to totally omit one is probably problematic. To be absolutely fixed on the letter of the words in the books is a bit unbalanced in my totally personal view. It comes across like other kinds of fundamentalism and is very limiting. I think book learning is seductive because it feels like you really know and it feels like you have got something. The way to see if you have a problem is if you start defending other peoples words to which you have become attached.

    July 21 at 12:00pm · Like · 1

    Yor Sunyata As for teachers... I was at a retreat with a well known teacher within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It was interesting to observe the retreat, which I felt was of limited value. Everyone would be seated, then the teacher would walk in while everyone reverently arose. The teachings were partly a one sided rant against philosophical materialism. Then the students were basically told that giving Dzogchen-transmissions to westerners is a waste of time, because their minds are not worthy vessels. Finally, the actual practice was taught, and it was taken from Tibetan Buddhist texts dealing with techniques designed for people with "inferior minds", leaving no doubt as to what the teacher believed was the quality/scope of the minds of his students. At each break, everyone would reverently rise, and the teacher would go sit somewhere secluded and meditate.

    July 21 at 12:07pm · Like

    Yor Sunyata I am not sure that kind of retreat compares very favorably with reading a Dharma text or watching a Youtube video.

    July 21 at 12:11pm · Like · 1

    Tom Radcliffe Yup. It sounds like absolute bollocks and a very bad teacher.

    July 21 at 3:26pm · Like · 1

    Soh Though I find the guidance of teachers to be valuable in leading towards a foundation in practice, I also find that it can be limiting. Therefore I do not recommend focusing on only one teacher's teaching completely but have a more broad/widened understanding and knowledge of dharma while at the same time still working with those teachers. (From my observations as over the years I have met with many teachers in various traditions, all of whom have sort of acknowledged my insights/realizations/experience in one way or another.)

    For example most Buddhist and non-Buddhist teachers I have personally encountered or had experiences with were were limited to the "I AM" (Eternal Witness) and "One Mind" (substantial nondualism where subject/object are undivided) perspective. So they can only guide their students to that realization. That is definitely useful, but a lot more insights need to unfold IMO. But some students are stuck due to some blind faith or devotion to certain teachers, for example Thusness had some trouble at the beginning trying to bring out 'Simpo' (a friend of mine) from the I AM realization into deeper realization like nondual, anatta, D.O. and emptiness at the beginning, because of his great faith or devotion to a particular teacher who was very much into the I AM. This is where faith to a teacher, or the teacher of the student, can become a great limitation for that student. But fortunately, Simpo did eventually come to experience the truth that Thusness was pointing out to him, and later came to deeply appreciate the subtleties of the Buddhadharma. I myself have been in a sort of similar situation before but I digress, and so has many others that I've seen.

    Then there are teachers like Daniel Ingram, whose insights into anatta etc and their practice advices I greatly appreciate, nevertheless would consider themselves (and people like me) as having attained arahantship due to their vastly different interpretations of the models of enlightement. Daniel Ingram, if you do not know who he is, is a qualified lineaged teacher from a well known Mahasi Sayadaw Vipassana tradition and given permission to teach from their lineage teachers.

    If I had believed their claim that I have attained arahantship, it may have led me to a place of complacency -- feeling I'm done, done with the path/whatever. And in a way I can definitely see how that can manifest -- because the insights I've experienced have a sense of unshakeable stability as I pointed out before. But fortunately, I have come to see like Yor Sunyata, both from my own experience -- both of experiencing the wisdom that led to freedom from afflictions in daily life as well as even in states of dream, dreamless and sleep paralysis, as well as the insight into the total exertion of karmic propensities itself -- as well as the traditional suttas, that the other fetters or afflictions can and do cease further on in one's path. Therefore I am convinced, I am confident, that the freedom-from-fetter model as advertised by the Buddha is valid just-as-it-is rather than 'unrealistic' (as some teachers like Daniel and many others might think), and there is in fact still a long way to go to full awakening/liberation.

    You said, "I think many people stop short of the goal due to not having a way to examine the current state of affairs and this is where a teacher and study is helpful." -- yes it is very easy for some unlearned run-off-the-mill person who have no access to maps, to teachers, etc, to mistake whatever they experience for enlightenment. Some people may even think their LSD experience or whatever was enlightenment, or mistaking A&P with enlightenment, etc. If they have an experienced teacher or mentor, those good advisers can certainly cut the bullshit out of the student easily than have them stuck in whatever place for a long time. While that you said is true, it can also be true, as in the example I gave above, that "many people stop short of the goal due to HAVING examined the current state of affairs with a TEACHER according to their (teacher's) maps". That teacher may consider himself, or be considered by others to be arahants, but doesn't in any way necessarily means that what they have attained is truly what the Buddha had in mind about "Arahants".

    This is why, while one should definitely work with teachers, at the same time, one should learn the Buddha's teachings, scriptures, and judge teachings according to them. The Buddha made it very clear that his words must take precedence over any monk's (or any practitioners' or teachers') words. For example,

    "In Anguttara Nikaya Sutta 4.180, the Buddha taught the great authorities. He advised that when any monk says that such and such are the teachings of the Buddha, we should, without scorning or welcoming his words compare those words with the Suttas and Vinaya. If they are not in accordance with the Suttas and Vinaya, we should reject them."

    "To some of you, Ānanda, it may occur thus: 'The words of the Teacher have ended, there is a Teacher no longer'. But it should not, Ānanda, be so considered. Indeed, Ānanda, that which I have taught and made known to you as the Dhamma and the Vinaya will be your Teacher after my passing away."
    -- Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

    "If he does not teach according to the words of the Buddha
    even if he is a guru, one should remain indifferent. "
    -- Sakya Pandita

    Also as the Buddha stated in -- even famous teachers may have wrong views.

    This is where Refuge in the Three Jewels become very important -- because we should not rely on on our own ideas of the dharma, nor even what some other teachers might say about enlightenment, but rather we rely on the Buddha himself -- the perfectly enlightened one -- and the Dharma he taught as contained in the scriptures, and the Sangha -- which in this case refers to the Arya sangha -- the sangha of the awakened noble ones that realized the Buddha's dharma. We rely on their teachings and dharma.

    p.s. Having said that, I am not suggesting that one must find a fully awakened or liberated or perfect-in-every-way teacher. What if one never finds one in the world? A good teacher is imo, someone who can lead you to the next step. If you are finding I AM realization, then a teacher that can lead you to that is a good teacher, even if it is not the Buddhist sort of enlightenment. Then you can move on to other teachings and practices. That's fine. Learn from them, but don't be limited by them.

    As I mentioned in this group before, one day many years ago I felt great despair at the thought of not having found any teacher that I feel could lead me forward in my practice swiftly to full awakening, "why isn't there someone like a Buddha or fully awakened being nowadays that I could learn from and quickly lead me to complete liberation?" There was a sense of disappointment as I felt my insights have already surpassed those teachers I have met (with the exception of a few like Thusness -- whose continued guidance I was greatly indebted to, and without which I could not have seen the subtlety of Buddhadharma). Then, I fell asleep... I had a dream of clarity. In that dream, I went up an elevator to a place, where every single person I met had the face of my teacher! The same face.

    Then even in that dream itself, I suddenly understood: every person, every thing, every event, is your teacher! The whole universe is your teacher. We should practice with that mindset. First of all, it humbles oneself because of a change of perspective in how we relate to the universe, secondly, one expands one's attitude of "who I can learn from" from a narrow minded idealized vision of what a teacher should be, to the whole universe. Every person or thing in the universe, even from their mistakes etc, can become your teacher. We should be grateful for every single teacher, even the person who taught you how

    July 21 at 4:27pm · Edited · Like · 11

    Tom Radcliffe Yes, Soh, we need good teachers who are ahead of us.

    July 21 at 4:27pm · Like

    Soh That's not exactly the whole point I was making though

    July 21 at 4:27pm · Like · 2

    Tom Radcliffe Enlightened teachers.

    July 21 at 4:28pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Otherwise we are pray to our own and other's egotism.

    July 21 at 4:28pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Are you sure you really want to find one?

    July 21 at 4:28pm · Like

    Soh My text is cut off due to length: ..even the person who taught you how to tie your shoelaces.

    July 21 at 4:30pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Tom Radcliffe It's ok I filled it in mentally anyway - intact until you mentioned it I thought is had actually been there!

    July 21 at 4:32pm · Like

    Soh I've gone through the phase of looking for teachers... nevertheless I will still be grateful if I do find anyone who can guide me in any ways.

    July 21 at 4:34pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe I do know a small meditation centre with three Arahants. Two of them are great teachers and the third is in training. They are in England though.

    July 21 at 4:36pm · Like

    Soh Also I forgot to mention: there are actually exceptional people who did not rely on teachers to come to the realization of anatta/emptiness/D.O. etc. Thusness is an example of such a person -- he awakened through contemplating on the Buddha's teachings and the texts of certain ancient masters. Having said that, his capacity of wisdom is probably much higher and students like me could never have awakened by myself without relying on a real life teacher. So the advise that one should find a good teacher still stands, just that there are some rare exceptions to the rule.

    July 21 at 4:38pm · Edited · Like · 5

    Soh "Then the students were basically told that giving Dzogchen-transmissions to westerners is a waste of time, because their minds are not worthy vessels."

    Wow... haha what to say. Loppon Malcolm: "Tibetans happen to be very racist people in general. So when I hear racist things coming out of the mouths of Tibetans about westerners, or Muslims or Chinese people I become equally annoyed."

    (I'm sure it doesn't apply to every teacher though, of course)

    July 21 at 5:13pm · Like · 2

    Tom Radcliffe There are no exceptional people - at least I've never met one.

    July 21 at 6:02pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Depends

    July 21 at 6:16pm · Like · 1

    John Tan Hi Soh, I think that would be an over exaggeration about me. Even if there are (the exceptional), I am definitely not one of those with that capacity. I too have teachers in which I am indebted to; some I have maintained contacts for more than 30 years. It may not be in those insights I shared with you due to differences in traditions but they provide invaluable advices on energy practices and some demonstrate compassion that are far beyond me. I deeply respect these teachers.

    July 21 at 6:43pm · Unlike · 8

    Soh I've only met one person who realized anatta/emptiness/D.O. without living teachers to point it out to him -- Thusness. However, as pointed out, he also had teachers (mainly not from the Buddhist tradition) before he encountered the Buddhadharma. Also, he took refuge with his father under H.H.Sakya Trizin, however, he does not practice Vajrayana.

    On another point... I think I haven't shared about this before... but I might take this opportunity to share. Some of my experience with working with lineage teachings.

    I was from very young being introduced to Dharma in Ren Cheng Buddhism under Venerable Shen Kai (I took refuge when I was 2 and started attending classes at 12). He passed away in 1996 but we have access to his writings in written form and recorded forms. His dharma successor, Missionary Chen Ming An had been teaching his dharma since, and we also have a local dharma teacher Li Zhu Lao Shi who has been guiding us. Ven. Shen Kai hold the Linji Ch'an lineage (also the more commonly known Ven. Sheng Yen was his dharma brother, both studied under Ch'an Master Dongchu), however, Ven. Shen Kai do not call 'Ren Cheng Buddhism', 'Ch'an' but integrates its teachings with it. It can be considered to be a new school of Buddhism.

    The perspective of Ren Cheng is (like many other Chinese Mahayana teachers) to emphasize on 'Yi Men Shen Ru' which is to focus on one dharma door and enter deeply. Otherwise, according to this perspective, one may be looking through the various doors but never get into the center of that building. There is very great devotion and faith among the followers in the teacher of the tradition. Having a teacher or master in a lineage allows a student to have access to a large pool of teachings which are highly consistent -- than for example, asking a total beginner to search from piles of often contradictory or confusing teachings by different teachers and different writings, not knowing where to start. As Missionary Chen Ming An personally told me when I conversed with him for about an hour the last time, the good thing about lineage and lineage Master is that such a teacher can distill the countless sutra teachings into an essential path for the practitioner. Otherwise how does the practitioner know what or how to apply the teachings?

    Working with a teacher also means intimate guidance which definitely helps a lot with one's own practice and understanding. While I find that focusing on a lineage/tradition/teacher may be important at a beginning, it can also become restrictive later. This is because it prevents broadening of one's dharma knowledge by focusing exclusively on the teachings of one particular lineage or teacher. Therefore, another perspective from the Tibetan side is equally valid IMO -- that one should be like a bee, happily collecting nectar from different flowers. Then there is also a potential problem: one may become like some run-off-the-mill Buddhists going to countless initiations here and there, collecting 'teachings' and 'initiations' but never being able to apply any of them in practice. Those are two extremes we should avoid IMO -- being restricted, or practicing spiritual materialism and making a junk shop out of a huge collection of dharma.

    Back to what I was saying... The teachings taught in RC has been to put the Buddhadharma in a plain, practical way for lay people to understand and apply them in their daily life. It is certainly useful in that way and has attracted a huge following. The emphasis of the teachings is on grounding one's practice and awareness and insights in one's daily living, in the midst of the daily encounters and interactions, which I do find to be quite important (in fact even more so recently). I find that their teachings have given me some grounding and basic knowledge in the Buddhadharma. It was very useful in pointing a person to path that leads to spiritual progress rather than being misdirected or misled in many possible ways. The pointers to Awareness and the path of practice based on that direct realization of Awareness was pretty clear, direct and straightforward. This can lead to some fundamental insights and realizations. It is also the teachings in RC that started my whole spiritual path to begin with. So in many ways I am also indebted to the teachings in RC.

    At the same time, their teaching was pretty much restricted to the Awareness teachings perspective. That is, the I AM/Eternal Witness and One Mind perspective. If I focused exclusively on their teachings that may be the limit of my insights and progress. In 2009 the local dharma teacher advised me to stop going to online forums -- or actually, to solely focus on studying the tradition's teaching. I think there are some valid reasons to it -- for example, a dharma teacher may be worried that I may be influenced by 'wrong views' from my exposure to the views and teachings posted online.

    However, contrary, because I do not restrict myself as such to the teachings or opinions of certain traditions, that I study the dharma and have my own understanding outside the authority/'jurisdiction' of any particular traditions, I have found that my understanding of dharma has expanded, and I have come to my own understanding and conclusions based on the teachings of the Buddha and many other teachers and guides. I studied the suttas -- read the whole of Majjhima Nikaya and a few other suttas books. I found that self-study to be invaluable to one's understanding and practice of dharma. I have also met and conversed with a number of teachers from various traditions -- Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. And although I have not conversed with non-Buddhist teachers, for a time in the past I was also very much into Advaita Vedanta.

    Also, very fortunately, over the years, Thusness have been instilling right view in me, so that while I was contemplating on the Bahiya Sutta one day, realization of anatta manifested. And then there were other breakthroughs and insights since.

    So... working with a teacher in a lineage has its own benefits and limitations. In my opinion, lineage is by no means a magical pill that bestows full realization or Buddhahood, but it can often lead to a good foundation. Then at some point, having a certain grounding, one should progress oneself.

    July 21 at 7:09pm · Edited · Like · 4

    Tom Radcliffe Yes Soh, I think that there was a time when i had to have guidance and discipline - definitely and there came a time when I had to stand alone - which I was very afraid to do. Now the two are the same.

    July 21 at 7:05pm · Unlike · 2

    Soh 2009:

    (10:40 PM) Thusness: i went into non-dual through a simple stanza
    jonls is through the witness is the manifestation
    (10:40 PM) Thusness: longchen is a gradual dissolving of the "I AM"
    (10:42 PM) Thusness: so it is not necessary all from a teacher
    sometimes the teacher himself does not know
    (10:43 PM) Thusness: but a good teacher can lead one to the foundation
    (10:43 PM) Thusness: for the student to awaken the more profound state.

    July 21 at 7:05pm · Like · 1

    Viorica Doina Neacsu "I suddenly understood: every person, every thing, every event, is your teacher! The whole universe is your teacher. We should practice with that mindset. First of all, it humbles oneself because of a change of perspective in how we relate to the universe, secondly, one expands one's attitude of "who I can learn from" from a narrow minded idealized vision of what a teacher should be, to the whole universe."
    Beautiful comment Soh I just love reading your words... so soft and kind energy ....
    Compassion can't arise if we are not humble... The nature (not a human being) was the teacher who learned me to be humble... then i needed teachers only for confirmation. I used to have first insights and because i didn't understand them i found teachers...

    July 21 at 7:10pm · Unlike · 5

    Piotr Ludwiński ", at the same time, one should learn the Buddha's teachings, scriptures," it's good to remember that Buddha taught also mahayana

    July 21 at 7:15pm · Edited · Like

    Soh "I do know a small meditation centre with three Arahants. Two of them are great teachers and the third is in training. They are in England though"

    Sorry I missed this. Do they have a website or something where I can read more about it?

    July 21 at 7:26pm · Like · 2

    Richard Cooper If we put our faith in ourselves we are limited by our own ignorance. If we put our faith in a teacher, lineage or organisation we are limited by theirs. The trick seems to be (for me at the moment anyhow) to constantly bounce our assumptions off different sounding boards and find out what rings true.

    July 21 at 8:54pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Justin Struble i can relate to what yor said, and i've come to similar conclusions as soh, along with several other kfd / dho people, that "technical 4th path" in the dho circles may actually map to sutta stream entry. that has been my working hypothesis for about three years now, based on my own practice experience / realization, and study of the suttas.

    i too have experienced the total uprooting, and the weakening of certain fetters, so i too think that the fetter model could indeed be true, in regards to the traditional four path model. i also think the bhumi model is probably far more true than people like daniel ingram might agree with. but nevertheless, as soh has said, i still found daniel ingram's commentary extremely useful & beneficial when i came across his book and community back when i was just beginning to practice buddhist meditation.

    July 21 at 9:59pm · Unlike · 1

    Tom Radcliffe Soh, it is the House of Inner Tranquility there is a website.

    July 21 at 10:03pm · Unlike · 4

    Soh Thanks will check it out

    July 21 at 10:38pm · Like

    Yor Sunyata Thank you Soh. I have benefited tremendously from your blog and writings. You are able to explain the Dharma lucidly and clearly. I am certain that I am not the only one who is indebted to you. Thanks for not going offline

    July 22 at 1:15am · Like · 9

    Stuffs RedTurtle I'm still trying to figure out what non arisen means I can only interpret it as nothing

    July 22 at 1:19am · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland It's another way to formulate "gaplessness"

    July 22 at 1:30am · Like

    Justin Struble non-arisen;

    unconditioned, uncompounded, unfabricated, free from inherent existence ( or non-existence ), insubstantial, unobstructed, free from imputed characteristics of arising, presenting, or ceasing.

    July 22 at 1:41am · Like · 3

    Soh Stuffs RedTurtle: You have to understand it from the perspective of dependent origination. What dependently originates never arise...

    July 22 at 1:42am · Like · 6

    David Vardy The magic is in the spontaneity. The understanding, in DO.

    July 22 at 2:24am · Like · 3

    John Tan Hi Stuffs,

    From the perspective of phenomena having true essence,

    we either see truly existing "thing" as unborn and unchanging


    we see truly existing "thing" undergoing the process of arising, abiding and ceasing.

    They r the causes of attachment to permanence and the fear of cessation.

    However dharma is free from these extremes since dharma is based on the premise of essencelessness.

    There is no "thing" other than the appearance of "thing" due to misperception (ignorance). Therefore phenomena r understood to b like mirages or water-moons. They appear vividly but r ultimately unfindable when sought. As such, there is no "it" that can b said to arise or cease -- non-arising.

    If we train ourselves to see in this way, in time to come we will be able to free ourselves from the fear of cessation as well as the attachment to eternalism. We will b able to intuit how the view of essence led to attachment and fear.

    However like what Soh said, we must understand non-arising from the perspective of dependent origination.

    July 22 at 3:28am · Edited · Unlike · 9

    Stuffs RedTurtle Thank you all

    July 22 at 3:38am · Like · 1

    David Vardy Appearance as such is thingless. It 'goes' without saying.

    July 22 at 6:50am · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Stuffs, everything is transient except........

    July 22 at 6:57pm · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle Except what?
    Awareness is transient.. I'm not aware in deep sleep.
    So, except what?

    July 22 at 10:48pm · Edited · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Look for it.

    July 22 at 10:51pm · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle I can't find it Tom!! Gah! Lol, so aggravating!! Lol

    July 22 at 10:53pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe What is looking for it?

    July 22 at 10:55pm · Like

    Justin Struble clear light is unceasingly present even in deep sleep.

    July 22 at 11:00pm · Like

    Tom Radcliffe Is that theory Justin or experience or are you just leaving the light on at night?

    July 22 at 11:02pm · Like · 3

    Stuffs RedTurtle Ok, so the "knowing" or whatever? The knowing that one is aware...I found that at one time, and it hit me with a recognition of yes I already knew that...
    But isn't this just more delusion??
    Or is it not?
    It can't be that damn easy

    July 22 at 11:09pm · Edited · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle And then also, Buddha has said, in knowing there is only the known, and no self apart from the five aggregates:
    So wouldn't "knowing be a form a perception, which is an aggregate?

    July 22 at 11:13pm · Edited · Like

    Justin Struble experience. recognition of clear light is extremely deep, subtle, profound, difficult to realize. only a few times have i experienced abiding in clear light the entire night throughout deep sleep. this was after attending a live online teaching by tenzin wangyal rinpoche on clear light yoga of dream and sleep.

    it is clearly taught that clear light is unceasingly, spontaneously present, without exception, through birth, waking, dreaming, sleeping, dying, the bardo, etc... always there to be recognized. this definitive rigpa is much more subtle and difficult to realize than what kyle often refers to here as "coarse clarity".

    July 22 at 11:20pm · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle Ok yes I still have a long way to go ha ha
    But this is what all if this undoing is for no? Because it's that which is covered by all of this mess right? So annoying it is there but I can't see it.

    July 22 at 11:23pm · Edited · Like

    Justin Struble Also the buddha describes rigpa in the pali suttas, Stuffs, it is the afflictive consciousness skandha which only arises on dependence of an object, not rigpa.

    July 22 at 11:25pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Stuffs RedTurtle Oh cool thank you Justin

    July 22 at 11:26pm · Like

    अष्टावक्र शान्ति Hello Stuffs RedTurtle with respect to 'non arisen', the study of the "Diamond Slivers" argument/examination helped me with the understand, maybe can help too:

    "Not from self, not from other,
    Not from both and not from neither—
    Not for any entity at all anywhere,
    Is there ever any production."


    July 22 at 11:32pm · Like · 3

    Tom Radcliffe It is a step. The palpable feeling of something behind thought and feeling on/inwhich it registers. This is a stage which everyone reports. No, it is not the end. Get to that feeling and examine it. Find out what it is - if it can be an object it is not you. You are looking for you. That can't be it, but you need to examine it to know that and abandon it.

    July 22 at 11:40pm · Like · 1

    Stuffs RedTurtle Thank you Ash

    July 22 at 11:43pm · Like

    Stuffs RedTurtle Thank you Tom, Justin.

    July 22 at 11:43pm · Like

    Soh Just started reading this article: by Jay L Garfield.

    Still reading now... it's well written. Here are some parts relevant to what I wrote above:

    "I will argue that Nagarjuna distinguishes two possible views of dependent origination or the causal process--one according to which causes bring about their effects in virtue of causal powers and one according to which causal relations simply amount to explanatorily useful regularities--and defends the latter. This, I will argue, when suitably fleshed out, amounts to Nagarjuna's doctrine of the emptiness of causation."

    "When Nagarjuna uses the word "cause" (hetu [rGyu]), he has in mind an event or state that has in it a power(kriya[Bya Ba]) to bring about its effect, and has that power as part of its essence or nature (svabhava [Rang bZhin]). When he uses the term "condition," on the other hand (pratyaya [rKyen]), he has in mind an event, state, or process that can be appealed to in explaining another event, state, or process, without any metaphysical commitment to any occult connection between explanandum and explanans. In chapter 1, Nagarjuna, we shall see, argues against the existence of causes and for the existence of a variety of kinds of conditions.[3]

    The argument against causation is tightly intertwined with the positive account of dependent arising and of the nature of the relation between conditions and the conditioned. Nagarjuna begins by stating the conclusion (1: 1): neither are entities self-caused nor do they come to be through the power of other entities. That is, there is no causation, when causation is thought of as involving causal activity.[4] Nonetheless, he notes (1: 2), there are conditions--in fact four distinct kinds--that can be appealed to in the explanation and prediction of phenomena. An example might be useful to illustrate the difference between the four kinds of condition, and the picture Nagarjuna will paint of explanation. Suppose that you ask, "Why are the lights on?" I might reply as follows: (1) Because I flicked the switch. I have appealed to an efficient condition. Or (2) because the wires are in good working order, the bulbs haven't burned out, and the electricity is flowing. These are supporting conditions. Or (3) the light is the emission of photons each of which is emitted in response to the bombardment of an atom by an electron, and so forth. I have appealed to a chain of immediate conditions. Or (4) so that we can see. This is the dominant condition. Any of these would be a perfectly good answer to the "Why?" question. But note that none of them makes reference to any causal powers or necessitation.

    The next three verses are crucial. Nagarjuna first notes (1: 3) that in examining a phenomenon and its relations to its conditions, we do not find that phenomenon somehow contained potentially in those conditions. Now, on the reading of this chapter, I will suggest, we can see conditions simply as useful explanans. Using this language, we can see Nagarjuna as urging that even distinguishing clearly between explanans and explanandum as distinct entities, with the former containing potentially what the latter has actually, is problematic. What we are typically confronted with in nature is a vast network of interdependent and continuous processes, and carving out particular phenomena for explanation or for use in explanations depends more on our explanatory interests and language than on joints nature presents to us. Through addressing the question of the potential existence of an event in its conditions, Nagarjuna hints at this concealed relation between praxis and reality.

    Next, Nagarjuna notes (1: 4) that in exploiting an event or entity as a condition in explanation, we do not thereby ascribe it any causal power. Our desire for light does not exert some occult force on the lights. Nor is there anything to be found in the flicking of the switch other than the plastic, metal, movement, and connections visible to the naked eye. Occult causal powers are singularly absent. On the other hand, Nagarjuna points out in the same breath that this does not mean that conditions are explanatorily impotent. In a perfectly ordinary sense--not that which the metaphysicians of causation have in mind--our desire is active in the production of light. But not in the sense that it contains light potentially, or some special causal power that connects our minds to the bulbs.[5]

    What is it, then, about some sets of event pairs, but not others, that make them dependently related, if not some causal link present in some cases but not in others? Nagarjuna replies (1: 5) that it is the regularities that count. Flickings give rise to illuminations. So they are conditions of them. If they didn't, they wouldn't be. Period. Explanation relies on regularities. Regularities are explained by reference to further regularities. Adding active forces or potentials adds nothing of explanatory utility to the picture.[6]

    In reading the next few verses we must be hermeneutically cautious, and pay careful attention to Nagarjuna's use of the term "existent" (satah [Yod pa]) and its negative contrastive "nonexistent" (asatah [Med pa]). For Nagarjuna is worried here about inherent existence and inherent nonexistence, as opposed to conventional existence or nonexistence. Though this will become clearer as we go along, keep in mind for the present that for a thing to exist inherently is for it to exist in virtue of possessing an essence; for it to exist independently of other entities, and independently of convention. For a thing to be inherently nonexistent is for it to not exist in any sense at all--not even conventionally or dependently.

    With this in mind, we can see how Nagarjuna defends dependent arising while rejecting causation. He notes (1: 6) that if entities are conceived as inherently existent, they exist independently, and hence need no conditions for their production. Indeed, they could not be produced if they exist in this way. On the other hand, if things exist in no way whatsoever, it follows trivially that they have no conditions. This verse and the several that follow (1: 6-10) make this point with regard to each of the four kinds of conditions.

    What is important about this strand of the argument? Nagarjuna is drawing attention to the connection between a causal-power view of causation and an essentialist view of phenomena on the one hand, and between a condition view of dependent arising and a conventional view of phenomena on the other. Here is the point: if one views phenomena as having and as emerging from casual powers, one views them as having essences and as being connected to the essences of other phenomena. This, Nagarjuna suggests, is ultimately incoherent, since it forces one at the same time to assert the inherent existence of these things, in virtue of their essential identity, and to assert their dependence and productive character, in virtue of their causal history and power. But such dependence and relational character, he suggests, is incompatible with their inherent existence. If, on the other hand, one regards things as dependent merely on conditions, one regards them as merely conventionally existent. And to regard something as merely conventionally existent is to regard it as without essence and without power. And this is to regard it as existing dependently. This provides a coherent, mundane understanding of phenomena as an alternative to the metaphysics of reification that Nagarjuna criticizes.

    Verse 10 is central in this discussion.

    If things did not exist
    Without essence,
    The phrase, "When this exists so this will be,"
    Would not be acceptable"


    thezensite: Dependent Arising and the Emptiness of Emptiness

    Nagarjuna,Madhyamika, dependent arising, emptiness, zen philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, self-nature, two truths,

    15 hrs · Edited · Like · 3 · Remove Preview

    Soh I must admit.. I really know nothing much about Madhyamika and didn't read much about it, because I'm not really the analytical kind of person. But this article made me interested to look more deeply into it.

    15 hrs · Like

    Soh "To say that causation is nonempty or inherently existent is to succumb to the temptation to ground our explanatory practice and discourse in genuine causal powers linking causes to effects. That is the reificationist extreme which Nagarjuna clearly rejects. To respond to the arguments against the inherent existence of causation by suggesting that there is then no possibility of appealing to conditions to explain phenomena--that there is no dependent origination at all--is the extreme of nihilism, also clearly rejected by Nagarjuna. To assert the emptiness of causation is to accept the utility of our causal discourse and explanatory practice, but to resist the temptation to see these as grounded in reference to causal powers or as demanding such grounding. Dependent origination simply is the explicability and coherence of the universe. Its emptiness is the fact that there is no more to it than that."

    15 hrs · Like · 1

    अष्टावक्र शान्ति Soh these are some excerpt from the book 'Meditation on Emptiness' by Jeffrey Hopkins about analysis, I hope you enjoy:

    "Someone who follows such [a system] says: To refute the conception of self through analysis is to adjust conceptual elaborations like a dog chasing after a stone [that has been thrown at it. However] from the start to hold the mind without scattering to anything is like a dog’s seizing the hand that threw the stone, and thus this alone is profound. When the view is settled through scripture and reasoning, one is sunk in verbal conventions.

    Answer: It follows that this is not correct because without analyzing and refuting the referent object of the conception of self [that is, inherent existence] it cannot be abandoned. For, this is the thought of the Conqueror [Buddha] and the supreme ornaments of the world. Sutra says:
    ‘How is it that a Bodhisattva conquers over strife?’
    ‘Mañjushri, [by] analyzing and abiding in the unapprehendable nature of phenomena.’

    The King of Meditative Stabilizations Sutra says:
    If the selflessness of phenomena is analyzed
    And if this analysis is cultivated,
    It causes the effect of attaining nirvana.
    Through no other cause does one come to peace.

    Aryadeva’s Four Hundred says:
    When selflessness is seen in objects,
    The seeds of cyclic existence are destroyed.

    Chandrakirti’s Supplement to (Nagarjuna’s) ‘Treatise on the Middle Way’ says:
    The wise say that the reversal of conceptions
    Is the fruit of analysis

    Dharmakirti says:
    Without disbelieving the object of this [misconception]
    It is impossible to abandon [misconceiving it].
    Furthermore, [one can through using this reasoning] examine whether the mind meditating [on emptiness] is [necessarily] conceptual or free from conceptually and refute [wrong positions that it is necessarily one or the other as it can be either]."

    6 hrs · Like · 2

    अष्टावक्र शान्ति "One must eradicate the innate non-analytical intellect that misconceives the nature of the person and other phenomena. It is not sufficient merely to withdraw the mind from conceiving a self of persons and of phenomena, or merely to stop the mind’s wandering to objects, for these do not constitute realization of emptiness. If they did, then deep sleep and fainting would absurdly involve realization of emptiness."

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    अष्टावक्र शान्ति "Meditation on emptiness is not a matter of withdrawing from conceptuality but of creating through reasoned analysis a mind that is capable of acting as an antidote or counter-agent to the conception of inherent existence. In dependence on this investigation the view is found, whereupon it is possible to use emptiness as the object in the process of developing calm abiding. Once that is achieved, stabilizing and analytical meditation are alternated until analysis itself induces greater stabilization and special insight is attained. This special insight—with analysis and stabilization in union—is cultivated through continued reliance on reasoning to the point where it becomes direct perception, when emptiness is no longer known through the medium of a meaning-generality but nakedly in non-dual cognition."

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    Viorica Doina Neacsu Thank you अष्टावक्र शान्ति!
    I love the clarity of this quote:

    Aryadeva’s Four Hundred says:
    When selflessness is seen in objects,
    The seeds of cyclic existence are destroyed.

    5 hrs · Like · 2

    Nicholas Mason The ukrainian government shot down MH17 and is framing russia to further their efforts against the pro-russian separatists.

    Nicholas Mason's photo.

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    Nicholas Mason

    Nicholas Mason's photo.

    4 hrs · Like

    Nicholas Mason Mind

    4 hrs · Like

    Nicholas Mason It is your Mind

    4 hrs · Like

    Soh अष्टावक्र शान्ति -- sure, analysis is important and useful, but it need not be restricted to the intellect level, there is a more experiential form of contemplation/analysis. There is also an experiential taste of emptiness involved through direct realization. Analysis can be quite useful, I have nothing against it, just that personally am not so interested in too much intellectual analysis, others might, which is fine either way.

    4 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Soh My insights into anatta and emptiness and D.O. was the result of contemplative investigation on the nature of mind/experience/constructs (which may very well be called 'analysis'), however, not the result of inferential reasonings. The latter is fine (some may find it quite useful for leading towards an experiential realization), however, I'm not drawn into that approach.

    4 hrs · Edited · Like · 2

    Soh And definitely, a state of shamatha lacking realization (of anatta, emptiness) will not liberate. That is what I always talk about as well.

    4 hrs · Like · 2

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