Thursday, August 7, 2014

Conceptualization and Transcendental Experience in Theravada

July 14 at 1:37pm · Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

Goose Saver's post led me to this article. Thoughts?

[Evertype] Some remarks on conceptualization and transcendent experience Home

Some remarks on conceptualization and transcendent experience in the Theravāda tradition, with two notes on translation

Michael Everson

This paper, written originally in 1988, was an excursion into theology -- or perhaps “noetology”. It was an attempt at commentary proper, rather than at disinterested analysis.
It is a basic tenet of Buddhism that suffering arises from false notions of self. Individuals perceive themselves as separate entities, autonomous yet dependent on their world, experiencing change and continuity. The uniqueness of each moment of existence is distorted by the filter of a self which categorizes and interprets those moments, judging them good or bad and fighting a useless battle to keep the good and shun the bad. The nexus for the introduction of false notions of self into experience is the point at which experience is conceptualized. Enlightened consciousness results when these false notions are no longer imposed upon the perceptual process.
It cannot be said that the Buddhist description of conceptualization is without its difficulties. Indeed, a Buddhist description of anything is much entangled in relationships: just as any event in the world depends on a nigh infinite series of causes, and engenders a nigh infinite series of effects, so does a light shone on any facet of Buddhist epistemology shine and reflect off of each other facet. It is difficult to pluck one string of the sitar without causing the sympathetic strings into resonance as well. Still, conceptualization, and its relation to conditioned and enlightened consciousness, is central to Buddhism -- both to its taxonomy of the problem of existence and to its soteriology. An investigation of that relation will suggest a reëvaluation of notions of action and being.

Buddhism might be described as a kind of cure to the disease of dukkha, of ‘suffering’ or ‘unsatisfactoriness’. Existence (bhava) is an ongoing process of becoming, manifest in its constituents (aṅga). The natural (or ideal) condition for the mind is a calm flow (bhavaṅga-sota), through which (around which, in which) the constituents of becoming interact harmoniously in an “experiential stream” of what is as it is. Nyanatiloka remarks that bhavṣaṅga-sota is explained in the Abhidhamma commentaries as the foundation or condition (kaṁraṇa) of existence (bhava), as the sine qua non of life, having the nature of a process, lit. a flux or stream (sota). [Nyanatiloka 1980:38]

Conceptualization impedes the harmonious flow of bhavaṅga-sota. It is a process for ordering stimuli to consciousness, convenient for interaction with the world, but, apparently, not essential once the world has been investigated. Bondage to concepts is considered to be an inevitable consequence of the process of conceptualization because of the fiction of the self, and that bondage to concepts leads to expectation and denial, the causes of dukkha. A review of the process leading up to conceptualization will be helpful here.

The immediate precursors to conceptualization have been classified as a purely impersonal, causal process. In the Madhupiṇḍika-sutta, the venerable Kaccaṁna sums up his understanding of the Buddha’s teaching:

Manañ-c’ āvuso paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṇaṁ, tiṇṇaṁ saṅgati phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, yaṁ vedeti taṁ sañjānāti, yaṁ sañjānāti taṁ vitakketi, yaṁ vitakketi taṁ papañceti, yaṁ papañceti tatonidānaṁ purisaṁ papañcasaññāsaṅkhā samu-dācaranti atītānāgatapaccuppanesu manoviññeyyesu dhammesu. [Majjhima-nikāya 18 (Madhupiṇḍika-sutta) (1888: I:112)]

‘And, brothers, the mind and mental objects are the cause for the arising of mental consciousness. The meeting of the three is sense contact; feelings are the result of that contact; what one feels one perceives; what one perceives one reasons about; what one reasons about one differentiates; what one differentiates is the origin of the sign of perceptions and obstructions which assail a man with regard to mental objects to be comprehended by the mind, in the past, the future, and the present.’
Interaction between one of the sense-bases (the five senses and the mind) and an object gives rise to the attentive faculty of consciousness, that is, of awareness of objects. The meeting of the three is contact (phassa); from this contact arises sensation or feeling (vedanā). The living being with functioning sense organs must interact with objects, become conscious of them through contact, and feel or sense them. When the ego intrudes and makes the connection “I experience this object”, the process loses its impersonality, and becomes first a kind of deliberate and conscious, then a subconscious and automatic activity, conditioned by karmic predisposition. Kaccāna’s description points to this shift from impersonal to personal in his movement from a simple ablative construction to the inflected personal verb: “Phassapaccayā vedanā, yaṁ vedeti taṁ sañjānāti” ‘From the condition of contact [arises] feeling; what one feels, one perceives’. Suddenly it is an individual person (puggala) who experiences sensation; and when he does, he perceives, knows, or recognizes (compare sañjānāti with Latin cōgnōscit). A person has arisen here out of nonperson: attā out of anattā. That ego, once established with its faculties of memory and volition, will evaluate its sensations in terms of itself; it will judge, and desire. That ego is a confluence of material and mental processes, and, apart from them, has no real existence.

Conceptualization arises from perception. “Yaṁ sañjānāti taṁ vitakketi” ‘What one perceives, one reflects on’. This is indicative of the insidious nature of the ego to take the original subjective experience and “objectivize” it. Though each object, contact, and sensation be unique, the ego takes them only in relation to itself and its past, present, and future experience and needs. The concepts (vitakkā) which arise through perception tend toward proliferation, for the ego becomes attached to them. Conceptions become preconceptions, and the whole scheme is filled with error.

The Buddha was concerned about the detrimental nature of attachment to speculative views of existence and of the Transcendent. The problem is not whether or not the views themselves have validity, for it is clear that they do, depending on, and with respect to, the particular point of view. “The fact that existence is a relative concept is often overlooked by the worldling.” [Ñāṇananda 1974:20] It is axiomatic that the frog knows what the tadpole cannot; but the question here is whether or not the tadpole’s point of view is wise, and the Buddhist approach would be to say that no point of view is worthwhile unless it is a view which encompasses reality as it is. That view is impersonal. From the Sutta-nipāta:

“Mūlaṁ papañcasaṁkhāyā” ti Bhagavā
“‘mantā asmī ’ti sabbam uparundhe,
yā kāci taṇhā ajjhattaṁ,
tāsaṁ vinayā sadā sato sikkhe.” [916 (1913:179)]

‘“He should”, said the Lord, “break up the root of these signs of obstruction,[1] the notion ‘I am the thinker’. Whatever his subjective desires, he trains himself to give them up, always mindful in his discipline.”’

It should be noted that both E. M. Hare [Sutta-nipāta 1944:134] and Hammalava Saddhatissa [Sutta-nipāta 1985:107] have mistranslated mantā asmi as ‘all the thoughts “I am”’ and ‘all thought of “I am”’ respectively. A better reading would have mantā < mantar ‘thinker’ (< Sanskrit *mantṛ) and take the deictic ’ti as setting off the phrase mantā asmi as translated above. (Cf. Neumann’s translation “Ich bin’s, der denkt”, ‘I am the one who thinks’. [Sutta-nipāta 1911:299]) The Commentary to the Sutta-nipāta, however, explains this phrase by mantāya:

...tassā [papañcāya] avijjādayo kilesā mūlaṁ, taṁ papañcasaṁkhāya mūlaṁ ‘asmī’ ti pavattamānañ ca sabbaṁ mantāya uparundhe, yā kāci ajjhattaṁ taṇhā uppajjeyyuṁ, tāsam vinayāya sadā sato sikkhe upaṭṭhitasati hutvā sikkheyyā ti. [Paramatthajotikā II.iv.14 (1917:II:562)] {My emphasis.}

‘...from this [obstruction] comes the root, the impurities which begin with ignorance: this root of the signs of obstruction is ‘I am’, which results in pride, and he should break up all [this] by wisdom, whatever the subjective desires that should arise, for/of these he trains himself to give up, ever mindful, he should discipline himself, being one whose attention is firm.’

Here the dative mantāya would also prove difficult for Hare and Saddhatissa’s readings, where we should expect *manā asmi (for manāya asmi) ‘of the thought “I am”, since we have mano ‘thought’ opposed to mantā ‘wisdom’, as I think the Commentary has it, or even manta (< Sanskrit mantra) ‘charm, doctrine, Holy Scripture’. [Cf. Childers 1875:238-39, and Rhys Davids & Stede 1979:520-22] In any case, I find the present suggested reading more in keeping with the spirit and the sense of the intent of the text, and with the goals of the tradition generally.[2] It is the conceptual attachment of agent to action (yaṁ maññati taṁ mantar), resulting from the initial separation of agent from action, which the Buddha attacks in the Kālakārāma-sutta, not whether or not there exists a thinker at all.
It is true that identification with (or even the ‘real’ existence of) the personal ego is denied elsewhere by the Buddha:

...sutavato ariyasāvakassa avijjā pahīyati vijjā uppajjati. Tassa avijjāvirāgā vijjuppādā “Asmī” ti pi ’ssa na hoti, “Ayam aham asmī” ti pi ’ssa na hoti, “Bhavissanti, na bhavissanti, rūpī, arūpī, saññī, asaññī, n’eva saññī nāsaññī bhavissan” ti pi ’ssa na hoti. [Saṁyutta-nikāya XXII.47.6-7 (Atthadīpa-vagga) (1890:III:46-47)] {My punctuation.}

‘...for the noble learned disciple, ignorance is abandoned and knowledge arises. From this cleansing of ignorance and coming into existence of knowledge, his “I am” is no more, his “This I exists” is no more, his “I will be, I will not be, I will have form, I will not have form, I will be conscious, I will be unconscious, I will be neither conscious nor unconscious” is no more.’

Yet there is no suggestion that a universal (albeit Vedāntist) ontological interpretation of aham asmi ‘I am’ would be rejected, though such a rejection could be inferred, I think, in the readings of Hare and Saddhatissa. J. G. Jennings has remarked that “[t]he an-atta doctrine so strongly emphasized by [Gotama] declares the transience of individuality, yet insists upon an ultimate or fundamental unity”. [1974:571] While the Pāli commentarial tradition would doubtless reject a Vedāntist claim of an essential unity to Reality, I see no reason to think that a radically non-attached, Liberated notion of “I am” is instrinsically inconsistent with Buddhist teachings. Pure being is neither conceived nor attached, It just Is, and if there is for “me” only “being”, then, it seems, “I am”.[3] The conceptual attachment of agent to action results from an initial (erroneous) separation of agent from action.
The source of the delusion standing in the way of Liberation (papañcasaṁkhā) is the personal notion “I am a thinker” (mantā asmi). Mindfulness is the method by which one learns the process of letting go (vinaya); that process begins with the elimination of attachment to the things perceived (pleasure, pain, desire, dislike) and culminates in the elimination of attachment to the identification with the notion that there is in fact a perceiver apart from the perception. This process of detachment from ego is admittedly difficult to describe, and it may be fruitless to attempt to do so. What may be more fruitful is to investigate the effects precipitated by that process. By and large, they derive from a fundamental revision of the process leading up to conceptualization, and from the removal of the causes leading to conceptual proliferation and egoistic “ownership” of experience. The Sutta-nipāta describes the one who has managed this:

“Sa sabbadhammesu visenibhūto,
yaṁ kiñci diṭṭhaṁ va sutaṁ mutaṁ vā,
sa pannabhāro muni vippayutto
na kappiyo nūparato na patthiyo” ti Bhagavā ti.
[914 (1913:178)]

‘“He who has discarded all theories about anything seen or heard or conceived is a monk who is enlightened and liberated; there is no rule, no abstention, no desire for himself”, said the Lord.’
He is ‘disarmed’ (visenibhūta) with respect to all views based on what has been seen, heard, or conceived; he is liberated, has laid down his burden (pannabhāro, having, perhaps, “enlightened” his load!), and is without desire. There is no self to be concerned for.
What is the character of the impersonal viewpoint? In the Kālakārāma-sutta, transcendent experience is characterized quite comprehensively:

Iti kho bhikkhave Tathāgato daṭṭhā [diṭṭhā in Burmese MSS] daṭṭhabbaṁ diṭṭhaṁ na maññati adiṭṭhaṁ na maññati daṭṭhabbaṁ na maññati daṭṭhāraṁ na maññati, sutvā sotabbaṁ sutaṁ na maññati asutaṁ na maññati sotabbaṁ na maññati sotāraṁ na maññati, mutvā motabbaṁ mutam [sic] na maññati amutaṁ na maññati mottabaṁ [sic] na maññati motāraṁ na maññati, viññātvā viññātabbaṁ viññātaṁ na maññati aviññātaṁ na maññati viññātabbaṁ na maññati viññātāraṁ na maññati. [Aṅguttara-nikāya 4:24 (Kālakārāma-sutta) (1888: II:25)]

‘Thus, O monks, the Tathāgata, having seen whatever is to be seen, does not conceive of what is seen; he does not conceive of what has not been seen; he does not conceive of that which must yet be seen; he does not conceive of anyone who sees. Having heard whatever is to be heard, he does not conceive of what is heard; he does not conceive of what has not been heard; he does not conceive of that which must yet be heard; he does not conceive of anyone who hears. Having felt whatever is to be felt, he does not conceive of what is felt; he does not conceive of what has not been felt; he does not conceive of that which must yet be felt; he does not conceive of anyone who feels. Having understood whatever is to be understood, he does not conceive of what is understood; he does not conceive of what has not been understood; he does not conceive of that which must yet be understood; he does not conceive of anyone who understands.’
Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda’s translation of this passage proves problematic. [1974:9-11] For the sake of brevity and simplicity, I will make a neutral reconstruction of this passage using just the verb karoti ‘to do’ as an example, since it is first the construction which is in question. “Iti kho bhikkhave katvā kātabbaṁ kataṁ na maññati akataṁ na maññati kātabbaṁ na maññati kattaraṁ na maññati.” Ñāṇananda would translate this so: “A Tathāgata does not conceive of a thing to be done as apart from doing; he does not conceive of ‘an undone’; he does not conceive of a ‘thing-worth-doing’, he does not conceive about a doer.” This “thing to be done apart from doing” is offered by Ñāṇananda as an alternative to the sense given in Buddhaghosa’s Commentary to the Aṅguttara-nikāya, which, according to Ñāṇananda, takes the words

‘[katvā kātabbaṁ]’ in the text to mean ‘having [done], should be [done]’, and explains the following words ‘[kataṁ] na maññati’ as a separate phrase meaning that the Tathāgata does not entertain any cravings, conceits, or views, thinking: ‘I am [doing] that which has been [done] by the people’. It applies the same mode of explanation throughout. [1974:10 n.1]
(Buddhaghosa’s original reads

Daṭṭhā daṭṭhabban ti disvā daṭṭhabbaṁ.
Diṭṭhaṁ na maññatī ti taṁ diṭṭhaṁ rūpāyatanaṁ ahaṁ mahājanena diṭṭham eva passāmī ti taṇhāmānadiṭṭhīhi na maññati. [IV.iii.4 (1936: III:39)]

‘Daṭṭhā daṭṭhabbaṁ means “having seen what is to be seen”.
Diṭṭhaṁ na maññati means “I see the thing seen which is even seen by the people”; one does not conceive {of it} by desires or conceits or opinions’ [i.e., he does not conceptualize about it].)
Ñāṇananda prefers to treat the formally ambiguous daṭṭhā/diṭṭhā as ablative of the past participle (so katā from kata) “giving the sense: ‘as apart from [doing]’; and, ‘[kātabbaṁ kataṁ]’ taken together, would mean ‘a [do-able] thing’.” He suggests that the absolutive forms sutvā, mutvā, and viññātvā are “probably a re-correction following the commentarial explanation”, and that the ablatives suttā, mutā, and viññātā evince the most correct reading. [Ñāṇananda 1974:10 n.1] I am not certain that his revision is necessary. F. L. Woodward’s translation seems to follow Buddhaghosa with respect to the verbs suṇāti, maññati, and vijānāti: “[Doing] what is to be [done], he has no conceit of what has been [done] or not [done] or is to be [done], he has no conceit of the [doer]”; but he reads daṭṭhā as the nomen agentis: “[A] Tathāgata is a seer of what is seen, but he has no conceit of what is seen”. [1933:27] Following Buddhaghosa, I would suggest that “Tathāgato katvā kātabbaṁ kataṁ na maññati” etc. should read ‘Having done what is to be done, the Tathāgata does not conceive of what is done; he does not conceive of the undone; he does not conceive of that which must yet be done; he does not conceive of a doer’. ‘Conceive’ (maññati) here means ‘to make a concept of’. Important too is the translation here of kātabbaṁ. There is really no reason to suggest that Buddhaghosa would have the gerundive be taken in an obligatory sense ‘should be done’, or the valued (read judged!) sense of ‘a thing-worth-doing’, as Ñāṇananda has taken it. [1974:10-11, 10 n.1] The context does not require that the form be understood as a participium necessitatis, but only as a future passive participle. According to Manfred Mayrhofer, the meaning of the future passive participle “ist die des ‘in Zukunft getan werden müssenden’”, ‘is that of “that which must yet be done”’. [1951:174] Ñāṇananda’s obligatory “should” is unnecessary, for the deed which “is to be done” comes about through the exigencies of causality. That the Tathāgata is beyond causality is not taken into consideration by the forms of Pāli grammar, but he is nonetheless certainly free from obligation and evaluation. The deeds of most individuals are causally effected, and the point of the text is that once a deed is done, the Tathāgata is no longer concerned with it, or with the deed undone, or the deed yet to do, or the doer. He is concerned only with the doing, and only in the moment in which it is done. It is fairly easy to see that Ñāṇananda’s “thing to be done as apart from doing” is an attempt at just such an understanding, though I think the textual revision of absolutive to ablative is unnecessary.
What is there, then? Just seeing, hearing, feeling, or understanding. There is no agent, no patient, no recipient, no locus: only the verb, the process, or rather, the proceeding. To be enlightened is not to be or to do any thing: it is only being, or doing. This is admittedly circular, and it is proverbial to any student of mysticism--and certainly recognized by the Buddhist tradition itself--that little can be said which can give any real sense of what goes on in transformed consciousness. Buddhism offers nonetheless its own kind of description, always tending toward the practical, toward the causes which will bring about the Liberation itself: that is, toward the empiric. The path to Liberation is twofold: moving away from deluded action, and moving toward wise action.

It is all the more significant for its corollary that the entire process [of cause and effect] could be made to cease progressively by applying the proper means. Negatively put, the spiritual endeavor to end all suffering, is a process of ‘starving’ the conditions of their respective ‘nutriments’ (āhārā), as indicated by the latter half of the formula of Dependent Arising. However, there are enough instances in the Pāli Canon to show that it is quite legitimate to conceive this receding process too, positively as a progress in terms of wholesome mental states. [Ñāṇananda 1974:46-47]

The eradication of conceptualization and the cultivation of a dispassionate, impersonal observation is the key to Liberation. “Ever-becoming and ever-ceasing-to-be are endless action.... Ceaseless action is the Universe.” [Merrell-Wolff 1973:247] Since the being embodied must be a part of such action, his hope must be to loose himself from the bounds of causal action: he must seek Liberation. Perhaps it is not so ironic that in order to do so, he must realize that there is nothing but action; for then he is, so says the Buddha, free.


[1] I prefer here the reading of papañca as ‘obstruction’ or ‘hinderance’ to the commonly met with ‘obsession’. Here I follow Rhys Davies’ suggestion that papañca is at least semantically related to *papadya ‘what is in front of the feet’, where he compares Latin impedimentum (though Sanskrit prapadya should give Pāli papajja). [Rhys Davies 1979:412] An obsession is an obstruction, but not all obstructions are obsessions. Cf. also above, in the passage taken from the Madhupiṇḍika-sutta, where papañceti is taken in its sense as derived from Sanskrit prapañcayati ‘to describe at length’, from prapañca ‘diversity’. Back to text.
[2] Robert Buswell has pointed out to me that Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda has arrived at the same conclusion. [Ñāṇananda 1971:31] Back to text.

[3] Without really trying to second-guess the Tathāgata, the argument here is simply that he might recognize a distinction in the semantics of aham asmi with respect to his own description of the Enlightenment, and that of the Vedāntists. (He would almost certainly reject the use of such metaphor for paedagogical purposes, however.) Jennings is right to point out that the Vedāntist schools and their concepts of, for example, māyā, contributed to the Buddha’s own teachings. [Jennings 1974:cix-cx] Certainly, it can be said that useful comparison can be made between the Buddhist and Vedāntist traditions if such semantic differences are reconciled. Fundamental unities are realized in the Buddhist tradition at least insofar as the alienation of attāand anattā are concerned (Cf. the remarks on bhavaṅga-sota above.). Back to text.


Aṅguttara-nikāya. 1888. Aṅguttara-nikāya. Vol. 2. Edited by Richard Morris. London: Henry Frowde for the Pali Text Society. 6 vols. (1885-1910).
Aṅguttara-nikāya. 1933. The book of the Gradual Sayings. Vol. 2: The book of the Fours. Translated by F.L. Woodward. London: Oxford University Press for the Pali Text Society.

Buddhaghosa. 1936. Manorathapūraṇī: commentary on the Aṅguttara-nikāya. Vol. 3. Edited by Hermann Kopp. London: Oxford University Press for the Pali Text Society. 5 vols. (1924-1956).

Childers, Robert Cæsar. 1875. A dictionary of the Pali language. London: Trübner & Co.

Jennings, J. G. 1974. The Vedāntic Buddhism of the Buddha: a collection of historical texts translated [and edited] from the original Pāli. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. [Reprint of 1947 ed.]

Majjhima-nikāya.. 1888. Majjhima-nikāya. Vol. 1. Edited by V. Trenckner. London: Henry Frowde for the Pali Text Society. 4 vols. (1888-1925).

Mayrhofer, Manfred. 1951. Handbuch des Pāli, mit Texten und Glossar: eine Einführung in das sprachwissenschaftliche Studium des Mittelindischen. 1. Teil: Grammatik. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag.

Merrell-Wolff, Franklin. 1973 The philosophy of consciousness-without-an-object: reflections on the nature of transcendental consciousness. New York: Julian Press.

Ñāṇananda. 1971. Concept and reality in early Buddhist thought. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.

Ñāṇananda. 1974. The magic of the mind: an exposition of the Kālakārāma-sutta. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.

Nyanatiloka. 1980. Buddhist dictionary: manual of Buddhist terms and doctrines. 4th edition, revised by Nyanaponika. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.

Paramatthajotikā. 1917. Sutta-nipāta commentary: being Paramatthajotikā II. Vol. 2. Edited by Helmer Smith. London: Humphrey Milford for the Pali Text Society. 3 vols. (1916-1917).

Rhys Davies, T. W., and William Stede, eds. 1979. The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English dictionary. London: Pali Text Society. [Reprint of 1925 ed.]

Saṁyutta-nikāya. 1890. Saṁyutta-nikāya. Edited by Leon Feer. London: Henry Frowde for the Pali Text Society. 3 vols. (1888-1890).

Sutta-nipāta. 1911. Die Reden Gotamo Buddhos aus der Sammlung der Bruchstücke Suttanipāto des Pāli-Kanons. Translated by Karl Eugen Neumann. München: R. Piper & Co.

Sutta-nipāta. 1913. Sutta-nipāta. Edited by Dines Andersen and Helmer Smith. London: Henry Frowde for the Pali Text Society.

Sutta-nipāta. 1944. Woven cadences of early Buddhists. Translated by E. M. Hare. London: Humphrey Milford for the Pali Text Society.

Sutta-nipāta. 1985. The Sutta-nipāta. Translated by Hammalava Saddhatissa. London: Curzon Press.

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    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, Cheryl Craig, Stuffs RedTurtle and 2 others like this.
    Soh just finished reading. This is actually a good article that expresses anatta realization in relation to proliferation. Although the assertion of pure being as I am is really not necessary, isness or suchness in kalaka sutta would be better. Just imo.
    July 14 at 2:06pm · Like · 1
    Goose Saver What occurs directly from Buddhist teacher to student cannot be simply learned from any book, and all the concepts of doing this or that (under strict guidelines) can become arbitrary and senseless. That is not to say that the purification practices are pointless. They are indeed helpful and there are infinite ways to accomplish that task. Personally, I believe the foundational or preliminary practices (Ngondro) are an ongoing lifetime commitment. The point is to take our little moving mind out of samsara and we do that by eliminating the emotional [Tib. nyon-sgrib] and cognitive obscurations [Tib. shes-sgrib], and then we can experience the full nature of Mind. Without bodhichitta this is not possible; bodhichitta allows flexibility.
    July 14 at 2:21pm · Like · 2
    Soh Thusness just commented on the article: " In the article there is no obsession or singling out clarity as independent and existing itself. "Being" here is understood within/from the context of anatta, process, verb, no locus and without agent. His term of "being" is not to single out from the ever dynamics of appearance but rather from the standpoint non-action. Would b better if there is integration of total exertion (DO) into it; makes the article more complete."
    July 14 at 2:49pm · Like
    Soh Hi Goose Saver I think shamatha merely suppresses the obscurations but does not liberate them. However this suppression process can aid in vipashyana to realize nature of mind. The only way to liberate them is to actualize ones realization of the definitive nature of mind luminous and empty (that is, not only the aware and clear aspect but no self as background and foreground as nonarising) to liberate afflictions and delusions. For example Mr. J.C. and Justin Struble recent posts are about it. Liberation therefore is the effect of wisdom not its cause. Coincidentally I had a recent exchange with Thusness on something related.
    July 14 at 2:56pm · Edited · Like
    Goose Saver One should never assume that the nature of Mind, emptiness, or clarity is only accomplished through some type of meditation exercise. One can do meditation all day and all night and never get anywhere. Yet, one can be helping an old man across the street and realize—the nature of Mind.

    From the article: Quote from the Kālakārāma-sutta: “Thus, O monks, the Tathāgata, having seen whatever is to be seen, does not conceive of what is seen; he does not conceive of what has not been seen; he does not conceive of that which must yet be seen; he does not conceive of anyone who sees. Having heard whatever is to be heard, he does not conceive of what is heard; he does not conceive of what has not been heard; he does not conceive of that which must yet be heard; he does not conceive of anyone who hears. Having felt whatever is to be felt, he does not conceive of what is felt; he does not conceive of what has not been felt; he does not conceive of that which must yet be felt; he does not conceive of anyone who feels. Having understood whatever is to be understood, he does not conceive of what is understood; he does not conceive of what has not been understood; he does not conceive of that which must yet be understood; he does not conceive of anyone who understands.”
    July 14 at 3:13pm · Like · 2
    Soh Realizing the nature of mind does not need to occur in sitting meditation but usually occurs as a result of contemplation. For example contemplation on Bahiya Sutta was crucial for me but the realization of anatta happened when I was marching in basic military training. That contemplation can be considered a form of vipashyana and it does not need to occur in a sitting. However the point I am making is that liberation of obscurations occur as a result of wisdom instead of being a cause of it. There can be no liberation apart from actualizing the definitive nature of mind.
    July 14 at 3:25pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Soh Posted article in blog
    Awakening to Reality: Some Remarks on Conceptualization and Transcendent Experience
    July 14 at 3:26pm · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
    Goose Saver Wrong--"Realizing the nature of mind does not need to occur in sitting meditation but usually occurs as a result of contemplation."
    July 14 at 3:28pm · Like
    Soh It is certainly true for me and everyone I have met.
    July 14 at 3:30pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Soh Also just to be clear I do not consider nature of mind to be "clarity" and the realization of clarity and emptiness should be distinguished.
    July 14 at 3:33pm · Like · 1
    Soh However emptiness is the nature of clarity/appearance
    July 14 at 3:33pm · Like · 1
    Goose Saver One famous Zen Master only heard the sound of a rooster crowing and was enlightened. Another Zen Master was just sweeping the yard when his broom threw a rock against a piece of bamboo with a loud knock and was enlightened.
    July 14 at 3:36pm · Like
    Goose Saver What is important is that we do not cling to our opinions. In this lifetime, if we do not open our mind, we cannot digest even one drop of water.
    July 14 at 3:39pm · Like · 1
    Soh It could not have happened if they were not already ardently contemplating in some ways or another. Even though it wasnt explicitly mentioned in that story.
    July 14 at 3:39pm · Like · 5
    Goose Saver If we have no mind, everything is perceived just as it is. There are many ways to do this if we are open.
    July 14 at 3:45pm · Like
    Soh You are talking about a state of non conceptuality and direct touch of clarity. Whether as a sense of existence or unfabricated awareness in subtlest clear light or as pure conscious experience of sight or sound where sense of self is forgotten. This may be an important first step. But this is not the key to effortless nomind.

    When anatta is realized, it is realized that always already, in seeing just colours, no seer, in hearing just sound, no hearer. The key here is not merely directly apprehending sights and sounds in a state of non conceptuality but a direct realization that the background agent or self/Self behind sound sight taste etc, as a perceiver or controller of them, is a complete delusion and never had it existed.

    This realization of firstfold emptying releases the obscuration preventing natural and effortless and gapless luminous taste of transience. After realizing anatta the path turns away from trying to abide in a state of clarity or even nonconceptuality to natural releasing and opening to all vividly present sensations without self. For all are already so in its natural state without extra imputation of self due to delusion. Still there is twofold emptying.

    The point here however is that the key is not just to lead to a nonconceptual direct taste of apprehension of pristine unsullied clarity but dissolve the bonds of inherent existence both in self and phenomena by realization. Usually a period of contemplation, challenging ones view (inherent existence of subject and object) would be necessary. Proliferation is not just discursive thoughts but deluded thought in an inherent subject object structure. Therefore it is released not by being nonconceptual but by emptiness.
    July 14 at 4:17pm · Edited · Like · 2
    Soh Wow.. typed so much so quickly on my phone lol. Anyway Thusness recently wrote something in this group to david vardy that is related:
    Awakening to Reality: +A and -A Emptiness
    July 14 at 4:06pm · Like · 2 · Remove Preview
    Goose Saver Longchenpa's Treasury of Natural Perfection: “O Vajra Speech! I, Samantabhadra, teach that by virtue of the fifth principle - that the nature of being is unborn and deathless - as to accessing realization there is not the slightest difference between a person experiencing the torment of hell and one experiencing the bliss of buddha.”
    July 14 at 4:07pm · Like
    Goose Saver Yes, "it is released… by emptiness" which is a non-conceptual state of mind.
    July 14 at 4:08pm · Like
    Soh Emptiness is not simply a state of nonconceptuality, but the nature of experience and is accessed through a direct gnosis of the emptiness of a background self (therefore only self luminous process and activities) and the nonarising and corelessness of the foreground. It is however not merely the direct taste of nondual clarity
    July 14 at 4:20pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Goose Saver Do you hold your concepts in emptiness?
    July 14 at 4:21pm · Like
    Goose Saver Concepts have no self-nature, they arise only out of mind.
    July 14 at 4:22pm · Like
    Soh There is no holding when emptiness is actualized but whether or not there is concepts is not the key. Even a thought without thinker is freely manifested and self released when the empty nature is seen
    July 14 at 4:23pm · Edited · Like · 2
    Goose Saver Please explain: " Emptiness is not simply a state of nonconceptuality, but the nature of experience and is accessed through a direct gnosis of the emptiness of a background and the nonarising and corelessness of the foreground. It is however not merely the direct taste of non dual clarity." TY
    July 14 at 4:24pm · Like
    Soh However even after anatta nonconceptuality becomes very natural and the mode of perception is very direct. But the key is not so much in remaining nonconceptual
    July 14 at 4:25pm · Like · 1
    Goose Saver What you are saying is unclear, please explain.
    July 14 at 4:26pm · Like · 2
    Kyle Dixon Sitting meditation is required for most to recognize the nature of mind... In addition to vipaśyanā as Soh pointed out.

    People who don't do anything do not usually recognize their nature. And if they do they have no foundation for that insight to flourish any further than a fleeting peak experience.
    July 14 at 4:46pm · Unlike · 7
    Soh Just finished my lunch and back to spamming my tiny phone keyboard. Lol its not so easy so probably this will be my last post until after i get back to singapore.

    First is the realization that a seer, perceiver, controller or even a seeing, awareness etc has never existed as a self residing as the background of perception. Then one sees the true face of awareness has always been just manifestation empty of being some hidden unmanifest hidden ghostly unchanging independent self existing in and of itself, that in seeing theres just the seen without seer, there is no consciousness or seeing besides manifestation, perception immediately becomes nondual selfluminous direct via the release of a center by vantagepoint. The imputation of a self or subject or inherent awareness dissolves into direct taste of transient manifestation. One can have peak experiences of no mind even before realization of anatta as an always already so dharma seal, but it will not be effortless and perpetual until after realization.

    Then after anatta we look at the thought itself or sensation or sound and realize that like a reflection that dependently originates in fact never arose, never came into existence. Then presence/reflection is experienced as illusory uncreated and deathless via its lack of inherency. Then thought self releases as there is no chaining and no identity that succeeds from moment to moment. Everything self liberates from tasting all phenomena as unborn.

    But it is not via resting in a state of clarity. Clarity/manifestation self liberates through discerning empty nature otherwise one resorts to dissociation and attempting to abide in a deemed purest state due to view of inherency. Worse still some book I read mistook self liberation as residing as an unaffected background of awareness while waves of thoughts arise and subside back to the sea. That is bondage in disguise of liberation. In truth anatta liberates background and twofold liberates foreground. Otherwise what liberation is there?
    July 14 at 5:30pm · Edited · Like · 3
    Goose Saver This is my mediation time, usually 3 a.m. EST so last post here, too. When aiming for sunyata, there is no specific path. As long as we fail to recognize the proper nature of mind, that is samsara. Meditation is as diverse as a carpenter’s toolbox, some sit, some chant, some walk, and some learn to quite the mind in other ways. Are there more expedient ways, of course, but it may still not lead to sunyata. There is indeed the game of self-deception, illusion, and making endless delusions. We try to cut through them all. Perhaps our different "Buddhist language games" originate from our different styles of meditation. I find this topic of conceptualization, but mostly transcendent experience fascinating. However, in no way do I find the latter neatly fitting into some geometric pattern.
    July 14 at 5:28pm · Like · 3
    Goose Saver The spiritual path is the process of cutting through our confusion to uncover sunyata. When the mind is crowded in by ego and its attendant paranoia, it takes on the character of an underlying instinct. So it is not a matter of building up this awakened state of mind through meditation practice, but rather of burning out the confusions that obstructs it. “Listen, Shariputra, all dharmas are markedwith emptiness.They are neither produced nor destroyed.” It seems that there is so much “isness” to some meditation practices, that the idea that “form is emptiness and emptiness is form” is completely forgotten or overlooked. Form is that which is before we project our concepts onto it. It is the original state of “what is here.” But emptiness is also form. That means one is no longer fascinated by the object or involved as the subject. Awe, the death even of sunyata! It is freedom from this and that. What fades away is the “getting there” or “being there” and that is what I’m hearing you saying and focusing upon. We are here. There is no propaganda of emptiness. Chogyam Trungpa states: “It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism.” An interesting metaphor used in Tibetan Buddhism to describe the functioning of ego is that of the "Three Lords of Materialism": the "Lord of Form," the "Lord of Speech," and the "Lord of Mind." As we say in Zen, put it all down. When you stuff the dharma with philosophy you bastardize it with the propaganda of personal gratification, which is nothing more than spiritual materialism.
    July 15 at 4:07am · Like · 1
    Soh Goose, the direct realization of emptiness has nothing to do with understanding a philosophy, so you seem to be completely misunderstanding what I'm saying here. Emptiness is the nature of all phenomena - "all dharmas are markedwith emptiness.They are neither produced nor destroyed". But this is not a philosophy, but the nature of dharmas that can be directly awakened, apprehended, realized, the realization is the manifestation of prajna wisdom. Form is emptiness is saying that all dharmas that dependently originates are empty, non-arising, like dreams and reflections -- while emptiness is form means while non-arising appearances uninterruptedly appears/manifests vividly - they are not contradictory. This can be tasted directly, it is not a philosophy for me.

    And it is only through this realization and actualization that self-liberation can be experienced. Otherwise "freedom from this and that" remains just another idea. Either that, or they mistake clinging to a state of non-conceptuality (without prajna wisdom) as liberation. Everything is by nature empty, but it has to be directly realized. It remains a concept for most people. Worse still many people are having confused concepts of emptiness - for example, mistaking 'emptiness' with 'awareness' etc.

    The worst kind of spiritual materialism is the neo-Advaitin kinds that say that there is no need to attain enlightenment or all practices are bullshit because you are already perfect as you are. It is just another egoic identification - attributing something inherently existing (a delusion) with the notion of perfection. I'm glad teachers like Daniel Ingram pointed out this bullshit:

    "Why The Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are is Such Bullshit, by Daniel Ingram"
    TAT Forum - Spiritual Magazine | featuring Art Ticknor, Daniel Ingram
    Featuring Becoming Your Own Authority by Art Ticknor and Why The Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are is Such BS by Daniel Ingram.
    July 15 at 5:23am · Edited · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
    Kyle Dixon Plus I agree with you Goose that these teachings are meant as a means to cut through confusion, but why can't meditation be a support for that? As a means to cut through confusion? Which is to say; I don't think meditation necessarily implies 'building' something, why can't it be an excavatory method as well?
    July 15 at 4:23am · Like · 2
    Soh " We are here." Even this 'I-ness', 'here-ness' very easily becomes another attachment or grounds. Eventually here-ness, now-ness is released. All thoughts and perceptions are completely groundless, disjoint, and self-releasing... there no landing ground to return to or abide in
    July 15 at 4:30am · Edited · Like · 1
    Soh While Chogyam Trungpa's statements about spiritual materialism is quite valid, it should not be misunderstood as saying that we must not have aspiration for enlightenment or any desire for enlightenment or not exert great effort in our practice.

    We should keep in mind:

    SN 51.15
    PTS: S v 271
    CDB ii 1732
    Brahmana Sutta: To Unnabha the Brahman
    translated from the Pali by
    Thanissaro Bhikkhu
    © 1997

    I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Ananda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita's Park. Then the Brahman Unnabha went to where Ven. Ananda was staying and on arrival greeted him courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ananda: "Master Ananda, what is the aim of this holy life lived under Gotama the contemplative?"

    "Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire."

    "Is there a path, is there a practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

    "Yes, there is a path, there is a practice, for the abandoning of that desire."

    "What is the path, the practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

    "Brahman, there is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire & the fabrications of exertion. He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence... concentration founded on intent... concentration founded on discrimination & the fabrications of exertion. This, Brahman, is the path, this is the practice for the abandoning of that desire."

    "If that's so, Master Ananda, then it's an endless path, and not one with an end, for it's impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire."

    "In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: Didn't you first have desire, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular desire allayed?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Didn't you first have persistence, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular persistence allayed?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Didn't you first have the intent, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular intent allayed?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Didn't you first have [an act of] discrimination, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular act of discrimination allayed?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "So it is with an arahant whose mental effluents are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who is released through right gnosis. Whatever desire he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular desire is allayed. Whatever persistence he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular persistence is allayed. Whatever intent he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular intent is allayed. Whatever discrimination he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular discrimination is allayed. So what do you think, brahman? Is this an endless path, or one with an end?"

    "You're right, Master Ananda. This is a path with an end, and not an endless one. Magnificent, Master Ananda! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Ananda — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha of monks. May Master Ananda remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge, from this day forward, for life."
    Brahmana Sutta: To Unnabha the Brahman
    I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Ananda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita... See More
    July 15 at 4:53am · Edited · Like · 2 · Remove Preview
    Goose Saver Kyle, there are many different types of meditation. Meditation technique is like toy given to a child. When the child grows up, the toy is discarded. But many want to just continue to play with the toys. Meditation using concentration practices for example, can be ego-reinforcing although not purposely intended as such. When we become competitive in our practices—always looking for attainments, thinking I have realized this or that, can do this or that, or are using meditation to gain this or that we fall victim to our ego-omniscience. This is nothing more than spiritual materialism. In staying true to the Dharma, whatever we do, with body, speech, or mind, we need to bring nothing but benefit to all sentient beings. We work for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
    July 15 at 5:23am · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon But this is true for anything. Any and everything is going to have the possibility that it will be related to in an adverse way, and this depends on the individual. Just because some people get caught up in spiritual materialism doesn't mean everyone does, and it doesn't mean you should throw the tool (meditation) out. That would be like someone using a hammer incorrectly and then throwing out the hammer because it is obviously the hammer's fault.

    So there are some cases where what you are describing is true, however not in all cases.

    The majority of the time, the systems which implement meditation and qualified teachers who are giving those methods, know what they are doing and teach their students how to implement meditation properly. Obviously objectifying attainments as something to be desired is something that is warned against, and most take heed. That however does not mean there is nothing which is 'attained' in a conventional sense when one actualizes profound insights via meditational practices.
    July 15 at 5:32am · Unlike · 3
    Goose Saver We throw toys out, not necessarily tools. When we are learning to drive, we can make sudden stops—slam and sometimes bang! Always checking. But after we learn how to drive, we stop automatically when we need to stop. This is the difference between reflex action as opposed to thinking action. If we understand “emptiness” this is not emptiness. Who is “actualizes profound insights via meditational practices”? Pure duality. There is no attainment with nothing to attain.
    July 15 at 6:12am · Like · 4
    Anzelle Pieretti Beautifully said.
    July 15 at 6:24am · Like · 3
    Kyle Dixon The buddhadharma states from the outset that there is no "who" actualizing anything, there never was and never will be an inherently existent "who". There are only afflictive causes and conditions and conventional designations which suggest a "who".

    Conventionally we ascribe a "who" to certain aspects of the structures that cause and condition serve to allegedly manifest, however there still is never an actual "who" contained therein.

    So "who actualizes profound insights via meditational practices" would be deemed an incorrect question because it is presupposing either the presence or an absence of an individual who would actualize said insights.

    The "self" is a convention attributed to various afflictive processes of identification which arise through patterns of grasping. And the sense of an individual is sustained through those patterns, which means if we accept something, this presupposes a subject relating to an object which can be accepted (because the very act in fact creates the illusion of a subject), and this serves to reify the presence of a subjective reference point to do so. In turn, if we reject something this presupposes a subject relating to an object which can be rejected (because the very act in fact creates the illusion of a subject), and this serves to reify the presence of a subjective reference point to do so.
    July 15 at 6:31am · Edited · Unlike · 7
    Kyle Dixon In the Dzogchen tantras for example, they state, and I paraphrase: The definitive realization is that since there is nothing to realize there is no meditation, for if there was something to realize this would manifest an object to realize and a realizer. However, if one rejects meditation in Dzogchen how will this not produce acceptance and rejection (in turn manifesting the very subject and object the view is meant to overcome)?

    Meaning if one decides preemptively that there is no meditation to be done based on principle of the absence of something inherent to realize and a lack of a realizer, then he or she has strayed into accepting and rejecting, and has thus strayed from the view.

    For this reason the teachings state that there is a conventional basis, path and result, which of course lacks inherency (as everything does). However that lack of inherency does not negate the possibility of recognizing the view, familiarizing with that view through meditation and eventually actualizing liberation.

    So meditation is certainly required, and cannot be bypassed based on a conclusion that the mind comes to. Otherwise one simply remains a deluded sentient being.
    July 15 at 6:29am · Unlike · 6
    Kyle Dixon So your statement "There is no attainment with nothing to attain" would be better parsed:

    Ultimately there is no attainment and nothing to attain, however conventionally attainment occurs and we state that Joe Blow or Mary Smith attain it.

    The conventional versus ultimate dichotomy is very important in these contexts. The application of the conventional is not to be denied, and it goes without saying that the conventional ultimately lacks any inherency.

    If one identifies with the idea that there is no attainment and no one who attains anything on the outset then they compromise the possibility of actually having that genuine experiential realization which truly recognizes the absence of someone to attain something.

    There is the enumerated idea, and then there is the direct unenumerated reality of the matter that idea is meant to convey. The two are like night and day.
    July 15 at 6:37am · Unlike · 8
    Goose Saver Is your argument down to the use of a preposition verses a coordinating conjunction? LOL
    July 15 at 6:43am · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon I don't really have an argument. I can't even tell what you are trying to imply by your statements to be perfectly honest.

    All I know is that you appear to cling to the ultimate and negate the relative.
    July 15 at 8:08am · Like · 1
    Ej Alex The rejection of the relative can be a serious trap that could delude a practitioner for years. Funny that so many "nothing to do"-sayers forget what brought them to the point of recognition or insight. Where would you be without the so called "toys"? It is better to "waste" your time with a firmly established shamata practice, than deluding yourself with "nothing to get"-prayers. How many people are out there, wasting their time with this kind of erroneous view, I don´t even want to think about it...
    July 15 at 8:38am · Unlike · 7
    Goose Saver Seems like male gang-bang here once again. Read what is written not what you assume is said. Who fails to simply understand conceptualization to nauseating ad infinitum and ultimate rigidity in meditational practices? If you do X, you will achieve Y—oh, and that’s based on someone’s apparent realization. That is so much nonsense and pompous arrogance. The point is being missed, because the opinion is relentlessly being held—in total rigidity under the verbosity of spiritual materialism. This group seems to be vacillate between those who have everything to do and follow, and those whose fabrication and effort are naturally freed.

    The Buddha taught with what is known as “skillful means.” In other words, he taught in a way that would be understandable and suitable to each of his audiences. He did not set out some mathematical equation of meditation and tell everyone “this is the way you do it.” Everything has to be understood within a context, and so each teaching has to be understood within the context of the audience to whom the Buddha addressed his teachings. People seem to conveniently attach to one teaching, one stream of thought and prescribe it to everyone. Why do you think there are so many sects in Buddhism, so many schools? People come to meditation with all sorts of personal issues and agendas that they are trying to work out in a non-judgmental format. Some come based on an intellectual understanding of the truth of sunyata; some come upon an earnest attempt to follow the precepts and develop a good life, some come for the “toys” that is, the psychic bag of tricks, and others based on a heart of compassion, that is seeing the suffering among sentient beings and wish out of the kindness of their heart to deliver them. Diversity is open-minded; it has no closed doors for practitioners. It is full of bodhichitta.
    July 15 at 9:41am · Like · 6
    Kyle Dixon A lot of that seems to be describing yourself Goose Saver.

    Either way, what you're advocating for is nihilism.

    I mean, my teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has said that not even he is in the natural state at all times. So there's no way you are beyond the majority of things you continually criticize.

    Really this just comes off as some sort of intellectual neo-advaita type trip... yet I still can't tell what it is you're criticizing or critiquing. You're all over the place.
    July 15 at 9:55am · Edited · Like · 3
    Goose Saver Your comments are utter nonsense. Where have I advocated for nihilism? Yet, in the same breath you are saying you can't understand. Which is it?
    July 15 at 10:01am · Like · 2
    Kyle Dixon Well you're clearly on the nihilism trip. Negating the path, negating the basis, negating the result, negating practice, negating cause and effect, negating the realization of others (and probably others as well). It's a veritable nihilism soup.
    July 15 at 10:07am · Like · 2
    Joel Rosenblum I love that you folks continue to try to communicate this stuff. It's just pointless to me at a certain juncture...
    I did really appreciate reading that part about ChNN saying even he is not always in the natural state.
    Does that mean ChNN is not yet an arhat, or are even arhats not always in the natural state? Or does arhat not map at all onto Tibetan stuff? Sorry for my ignorance. (but not really sorry since it is dependently originated)
    July 15 at 10:14am · Like · 6
    Anzelle Pieretti Am I on the right thread?? I've been re reading this post and don't find anything nihilistic about anything Goose Saver said so what's up with that?? It's really sad when ppl take the dharma and pick it to pieces like I see on this sight which is why I don't care to come here anymore.
    July 15 at 10:21am · Like · 4
    Anzelle Pieretti Whenever I come here I feel like I'm looking in at a pissing contest which benefits no one.
    July 15 at 10:31am · Edited · Like · 4
    Goose Saver Judgments that perpetuate stereotypes and impart negativity serve no one. The anger is pervasive on this site. There is one person after another that is attacked relentlessly--and that's why so many have left. Such a shame we cannot discuss points of disagreement without judgment and hostility. I have not gone around this site bragging about any realizations--throwing around names of teachers, or expounding any attainments. Those people can recognize themselves.
    July 15 at 10:36am · Like · 2
    Anzelle Pieretti So much distortion . . no thank you.
    July 15 at 10:40am · Like · 3
    Meong May Pure BS and misinterpretation of what is said by Goose.
    July 15 at 10:44am · Like · 3
    Kyle Dixon "Judgments that perpetuate stereotypes and impart negativity serve no one"

    I agree.

    "The anger is pervasive on this site"

    Who is angry? Seems like a bunch of happy people to me.

    "There is one person after another that is attacked relentlessly"

    This is not true.

    "and that's why so many have left"

    I don't know anyone who has left. In fact, the size of this group has grown exponentially over the past six months.

    "Such a shame we cannot discuss points of disagreement without judgment and hostility"

    People discuss points and disagree on things quite often here, and that is pretty normal for a web group or forum. People are here to share opinions, insights and so on. Some may agree, some may not. But I think you're definitely taking this to an extreme in saying there is hostility here.

    "I have not gone around this site bragging about any realizations--throwing around names of teachers, or expounding any attainments"

    That's good, some people don't like to do that, some do. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to talk about my own experiences so I don't speak of realizations or attainments either, but some people do and that is okay as well.
    July 15 at 10:46am · Unlike · 5
    Kyle Dixon If Goose's insights were misinterpreted then please clarify because I'm definitely having a hard time understanding why she opposes what some people have to say so vehemently.
    July 15 at 10:48am · Like
    Kyle Dixon Honestly I don't see that I have misinterpreted anything Goose Saver has said... for instance:

    "Who is 'actualizes profound insights via meditational practices'? Pure duality. There is no attainment with nothing to attain"

    This type of rhetoric is appropriate when discussing the ultimate view, but when that ultimate view is imported into the relative and it causes the individual to negate insights, meditational practices, attainments and one who attains etc., in the name of there "being no one" to do such things. That is called allowing the conduct to err into the view (or allowing the view to overtake the conduct), which means that the view and conduct are out of balance in the mind. The mind is grasping at an ultimate view and is negating the relative conduct and other principles.

    Even the definitive view does not negate relative conduct like that, because in the definitive view the view and conduct are inseparable and so are perfectly balanced, without any contrivance.

    However most cannot continuously rest in the definitive view, so on the outset (prior to recognizing one's nature) and in post-equipoise one has to tend to one's conduct.

    At any rate, these are perfectly reasonable things to address, and are important in my opinion.
    July 15 at 10:57am · Like
    Brian Zey Just to put my nose where it doesn't belong...
    Kyle I have noticed a trend in which you are the most argumentative person on every group that I've seen you in. 1076 posts filled with pointless arguments on the recently deceased Emptiness group. I don't know you, and if this blows your hair back great, but don't be surprised when people feel attacked when you attack relentlessly. Why do you always have to be right, and get the last word? Something to think about perhaps?
    July 15 at 11:01am · Like · 3
    Joel Rosenblum Here's what I've so far discovered, minus the "I" part.
    Everything is valid in reality. "View and conduct should be in balance" is ok. View and conduct not being in balance is ok.
    People say you have to let go of the ultimate a bit to make room for the relative, but in fact, saying such a thing simply means you don't know what is going on here (as if there were someone who didn't know something, lol). There's no ultimate, no relative, nor neither nor both nor none of the above. There's nobody making any way for either. Clinging to views doesn't solve anything.
    There is no path, but that no path is all paths. Path of purification works but only if the purification finally purifies the concept of purification to see that there is no such thing. Direct path works but purification path folks can't see that because it doesn't purify in the same way. Chogyam Trungpa is a good example that people dismiss too easily. Did he do harm? Many folks say he harmed them personally. But was he malicious? Most would say no, he was not. Is anyone really malicious? No, not really.
    Did the council of arhats blame Ananda for a bunch of stuff? Yes. So arhats are not the thing you might think. Nor are they not that.
    Anyway, lots of blabber here which in the end makes no difference. Dust to dust.
    July 15 at 11:07am · Edited · Like · 4
    Kyle Dixon Not sure Brian, it takes two to tango after all. I can't be argumentative without a debate or discussion and someone on the other end.

    I like being wrong though, and appreciate it when errors are pointed out. It helps me grow. I surely don't always have to be right, and I'm always only sharing my opinion, I'm not saying I'm actually right and representing some sort of objective truth. I don't get off on having to be right, and don't identify with "having to be right" in the sense that I need to have last words and so-called victories in arguments to prop myself up... if that is what you mean.

    But you see what you see, and that is okay. Sorry you feel my posts and discussions are pointless arguments, some people tell me they really enjoy them and are helpful, so there is the full spectrum with those perceptions just as there is with anything.

    I appreciate the constructive criticism. Please feel free to call b.s. and let me have it whenever you want. I don't see it as you sticking your nose where it doesn't belong.
    July 15 at 11:12am · Edited · Unlike · 5
    Joel Rosenblum And Kyle I am one of those who appreciates what you write. Although I also see that it does seem to show an attachment to views many times. But that could be wrong understanding on this side so whatever.
    July 15 at 11:14am · Edited · Like · 4
    Anzelle Pieretti Sometimes it's just better to "let it go" than to babble on an on adding more cloudy smoke imho. With all due respect and I don't consider I am breaking samaya here . . But my guru was here for a few days and I showed him this sight and he looked at me and asked what am I doing here?? He told me to get out before any distortion sets in. With all due respect Kyle, my comment isn't just for you but for several ppl here so plz don't take it personally.
    July 15 at 11:28am · Like · 3
    Anzelle Pieretti There were some things that were so disturbing to me here that I wanted a second opinion to make sure I wasn't loosing my marbles.
    July 15 at 11:33am · Edited · Like · 2
    Kyle Dixon Joel, you may be right. Definitely something for me to look at. I like to think that when I'm presented with things there is a reason for it, that something is perhaps out of balance in myself. So I appreciate you saying that.
    July 15 at 11:40am · Like · 5
    Kyle Dixon That's good you were able to address your concerns with your guru Anzelle. Important to listen to him/her.
    July 15 at 11:44am · Like · 1
    Anzelle Pieretti I also appreciate many of your postings Kyle.
    July 15 at 11:44am · Like · 4
    Joel Agee Anzelle, what was so disturbing to you?
    July 15 at 11:45am · Like · 3
    Anzelle Pieretti There have been several but the one which was really over the top was the one post last year about Byron Katie. Mind you I appreciate her and have done lot's of her work and have respect for what she teaches but mixing up her teachings with Buddhism was incorrect imho and the Guru and Tulku who were reading it with me asked me to deleate myself from this group and I didn't so maybe that is considered breaking samaya with them who knows?? A lot of ppl actually trashed the Dharma with their comments knowingly or unknowingly.
    July 15 at 11:55am · Edited · Like
    Joel Agee Oh, ok. I thought it was something in this thread.
    July 15 at 11:52am · Like
    Goose Saver Sometimes it is very difficult to explain from a personal perspective due to restraints within our practices, e.g., samaya and dharma regulations. I also appreciate many of your posts Kyle. Many are thoughtful and informative as is your comments. However, sometimes I feel very attacked in these discussions and no matter what I say seems to be misinterpreted. When people come from very different traditions, sometimes their words can be misunderstood. For example, in Zen the concept of “hitting over the head” is usually a wake up call. However, someone in a group unfamiliar with the tradition thought it was a physical assault. LOL! Verbal volleyball games can go on and on with no resolution and perhaps when we see we are at checkmate—time to just drop it all.
    July 15 at 11:53am · Like · 1
    Anzelle Pieretti No, this thread is just typical of the endless amount of babble that goes on here.
    July 15 at 11:53am · Like · 3
    Anzelle Pieretti Were all at different level of our practice too which is something I don't think ppl take into consideration.
    July 15 at 11:57am · Like · 2
    Anzelle Pieretti And let's face it, there is so much thick male energy here sometimes that you have to cut it with a knife. And then when women come here many times we join in and end up leaving feeling totally trashed. I feel it energetically which is why I rarely come here anymore.
    July 15 at 3:47pm · Edited · Like · 2
    Anzelle Pieretti It actually started getting into my winds and channels and took quite a while and was not easy to clear.
    July 15 at 12:03pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Goose Saver You know I really tried to make a conscious effort in this thread to speak from my heart without all these long quotes, etc. But it is an endless babble--and that was my point about conceptualization processes. Sometimes you get people at a street corner who just talk about helping someone who is blind across the street, and then someone comes along and takes the person's by the hand and walks away.
    July 15 at 12:03pm · Like · 4
    Anzelle Pieretti It feels like the "good ol' boys club" on this sight.
    July 15 at 12:04pm · Like · 1
    Stuffs RedTurtle I am so confused lol. Ah. Sometimes this stuff and site is awesome, sometimes the threads are confusing. Words and phrases used by certain people are preposterously hard to understand, I don't know why it can't be explained simply.
    This is the one thing I can't get.
    The Dhamma is true for everyone right? Then it should be able to be explained in simplistic terms.
    I vow, if ever I understand anything, I will find a way to explain it to a four year old lol
    July 15 at 12:11pm · Like · 4
    Brian Zey Very few sites I've come across have a balanced male/female feel to them though. Personally I dislike either extreme, it's just a matter of the value of the content.
    July 15 at 12:12pm · Like · 3
    Joel Rosenblum This is how I explain the "dharma"... everything just happens. Your perspective is not all of reality, remember. Most children can get that I think; it's the adults who can't understand.
    July 15 at 12:14pm · Like · 1
    Stuffs RedTurtle That's true from a materialist perspective too though Joel.
    From a materialist perspective, there is no one home. We are a bunch of cells and synaptic responses. Dharma seems different.
    If everything just happens, then eating people would be okay if one carried no guilt about it.
    From what I can tell, I don't think Buddha would advocate eating people, lol. Just a crude example. Ha ha, but there seems a heavy emphasis on conscience, not like social morality but not harming in a way that one wouldn't want themselves harmed. There has to be some reason for this.
    July 15 at 12:31pm · Edited · Like
    Stuffs RedTurtle Maybe this is a bad example, but hopefully people will understand what I mean
    July 15 at 12:48pm · Like · 2
    Soh Anzelle Pieretti: "There have been several but the one which was really over the top was the one post last year about Byron Katie. Mind you I appreciate her and have done lot's of her work and have respect for what she teaches but mixing up her teachings with Buddhism was incorrect imho"

    Well, actually, as I recall that posting on Byron Katie's various (mis)interpretations of Diamond Sutra/Bodhisattva/etc actually got very few 'likes' and in fact the comments below that thread were pointing out the distortions of Byron Katie's interpretation of 'bodhisattva' and emptiness. A good thing about open discussion is that not only can we learn from learned people, we can also learn from mistakes.
    July 15 at 7:13pm · Edited · Like · 3
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland In the Suttas, the Buddha put forth an uncompromisingly gradual training in terms of virtue, meditation and insight. The highest unexcelled goal is attained through effort, persistence, etc.

    Are we gonna second guess the Buddha?

    In Dzogchen, the Buddha put forth an uncompromisingly instantaneous vision in terms of perfection, completeness and plenitude. The highest unexcelled goal is not-attained by non-meditation—it is always already so.

    Are we gonna second guess the Buddha?

    There is no conflict here and no distortion, because these are dependent. These perspectives and all other perspectives arise in the context of their myriad dependencies and therefore no justifiable difference obtains. To judge one perspective against another is to assume a global context, common ancestor or shared root by the perspectives, and that is mistaken.

    Apples and oranges are said to be inappropriate for comparison, but that is a deluded view, for they are both fruit. So apples and oranges are comparable. But 'fruit' has no inherent meaning, no fixed identity, so it is inappropriate as a basis for comparison. So apples and oranges are incomparable. Both statements gleefully abide with a smirk in non-contradiction.

    Comparison is highly prone to delusion because it usually uncritically assumes difference-or-identity. (Non-comparison just the same, but that is not what plagues this thread.)

    The way bickering like that in this thread occur, is if there is willful or heedless ignorance of judgeless inclusiveness.
    July 15 at 8:20pm · Edited · Like · 4
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The Intellect says: "I loves me some fragmentation; let's make some more!"
    July 15 at 8:20pm · Edited · Like · 3
    Ej Alex I wish I could read Kyle´s posts 2 years ago. If people are warning against the attitude which devalues cause and effect, why is it considered to be an ignorant "male gang-bang rampage"? As Kyle said, even the great Dzogchen master Norbu isn´t 24/7 in the state beyond cause and effect. Who knows who is reading all of that? In my own experience, it is a serious mistake to playdown mind-meditations just because they are conceptual and could lead to spiritutal-materialism. EVERY buddhist sect warns not to mistake concentration for wisdom. They still teach them for good reason. I saw many forums where people started to agree with each other on every topic just for the sake of not having trouble with complicated debates. Serious dharma talk that would be necessary degraded to rediculous coffee parties. It may appear as if this thread would be a kind of intellectual masturbation, wherein it´s all about who wins the argument. But sorry, maybe the importance of the said is just not seen. So I don´t see the point of any kind of snivelling. I don´t think that anyone intended to hurt someone, quite the reserve.
    July 15 at 9:38pm · Edited · Unlike · 4
    Joel Rosenblum Thank you Stian. Excellent post. And Thank you Stuffs Red Turtle for your post also. Indeed, you could say "we are just a bunch of cells" but there is no we, nor is there a bunch of cells, except at the level of concepts. Morality is more concepts. Concepts are fine. It's all ok. It's ok to debate and not to debate, even if Ej Alex prefers to debate.

    I have had the experience for many years of wanting to know how to help the world. It seems the world was so messed up, so immoral. It was tearing me apart because I didn't know exactly what to do to help it. And in any case, who was I to say that nature's law of might makes right is any worse than the U.N. human rights doctrines? Both originated from nature, actually. In any case, I meditated seriously on this question, watching it cause me all kinds of suffering. At one point, a booming voice said, "It does not matter!" I was skeptical that it could be true that nothing matters, but that voice led me to investigate the possibility that nothing really matters, that everything is really fine just like it is, and couldn't be not fine.

    Think about it. All of nature abides by the natural laws. All particles function as they should. Are humans able to make nature function differently than it would had there not been humans? Are we able to change the laws of nature? No, that's absurd. If you become very moral and don't want to kill insects (I personally don't kill insects), that is not you doing it, it is just nature making that choice. If you decide to torture people, that is not your decision, it is nature, again. There's no way to blame anyone. But blaming itself is ok as well.

    You can argue that I'm wrong or that I'm speaking from a different level which isn't the level that matters right here right now or something, but again, that's nature arguing that. And that's fine. I'm wrong would be nature being wrong. Which is right.

    Everything is already perfect, and imperfection is the clue to the perfection beneath. You can do gradual path stuff all day long and have every type of incredible spiritual experience, but you will never get anywhere with it until you start understanding this "already perfect, nobody here" stuff.
    July 15 at 10:07pm · Like · 3
    Soh What you said is not completely wrong but can be misleading unless you understand 'nature' as 'dependent origination'. Which is to say, it is not fate, or some sort of outside determinism, nor is it spontaneous arising without causes, but simply dependencies playing out here.

    For example, torturing people is the result of ignorance, aggression, etc etc. There are various causes and conditions as listed in the twelve links of dependent arising. And it is not something that is fixed. By engaging in dharma practice we deal with the afflictions and liberate them. Four noble truths are like what doctor does - diagnosis, cause, relief, cure. Four noble truths are completely in alignment with "no self, dependent origination". It would be erroneous if a doctor realizes there is no self, therefore, thinks that all diseases are 'just as it is' and should not or cannot be dealt with. They should be dealt with. But they are dealt with not via the attempting to exert control or hard will via by the false notion of agency (sickness can't be cured merely by trying to will or control it out of existence - there are so many dependencies involved). They are dealt with via seeing its dependent origination and treating its dependent origination in a non-inherent way.

    Now in the case of 'torturing', if someone practices metta, it can help (or if you prefer, leave out the 'someone' -- 'practicing metta can help'). Then when fundamental delusion is cleared, aggression can no longer arise. There is nobody controlling anger, anger arise whether one wants to or not -- yet it can be treated by applying the right antidote (e.g. metta) or actualizing wisdom so that it releases (e.g. anatta, twofold emptiness), just like diseases happen whether one wants to or not -- yet there is medicine, cure. There is suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path that ends suffering.
    July 15 at 11:16pm · Edited · Like · 5
    Empty Set No wonder things have been so confusing!
    July 15 at 11:14pm · Like
    अष्टावक्र शान्ति Joel Rosenblum understand the "already perfect, nobody here" still very limited to get anywhere, a nice place to start can be the 'Two Truths' it comes with the understanding of "already perfect, nobody here" and with the understanding of dependent arising, this kind of understand can "reconcile" the "different" points discussed here in this thread...

    "When someone seeks to understand Buddhism, where should that person start? With the meaning of taking refuge in the three jewels? With the four noble truths? The Dalai Lama, when asked this question, suggested that for many in the West today, understanding the two truths—conventional truth and ultimate truth—is the best place to start. " ~ Guy Newland

    July 15 at 11:45pm · Edited · Unlike · 2
    John Tan “There is nobody controlling anger, anger arise whether one wants to or not”

    Maybe sees it this way:

    There is no one controlling anger, anger arises due to dependent origination.

    With ignorance comes attachment. When attachment meets its secondary conditions, anger arises. Without secondary conditions, anger does not arise. Although it does not arise, it will not cease to arise unless the primary cause is severed. Here the appearance of “spontaneous arising” is seen from the perspective of DO.

    Seeing this way, there is anatta; there is dependent origination; there is mindfulness of the cause of anger, the conditions, the cure and the ending of it. There is no bypassing as in “nothing needs be done”, albeit no-self.
    July 16 at 12:39am · Unlike · 10
    Joel Rosenblum John and Soh, of course what you say is true. But also not. I'm sure you understand.
    July 16 at 3:07am · Like
    Goose Saver Stuffs RedTurtle: Wisdom is not found packed in a few thousand-dollar senseless words. If it cannot be explained simply, it is not understood.
    July 16 at 3:25am · Edited · Like · 1
    Goose Saver Ej Alex: The point of attachment to concepts is missed. If you cling to male masturbating intellectualism, you miss the empty vagina. A minor dakini observation.
    July 16 at 3:25am · Edited · Like · 1
    Ej Alex Yeah, but nothing wrong with concepts. It´s the attachment. Also the subtle relationship between skilfull means and wisdom.. otherwise the empty vagina will also stay a concept that one can cling to.
    July 16 at 3:40am · Like · 1
    Brian Zey John's response above is a perfect example of understanding. Simple, to the point, easy for all to comprehend. Nothing left out, all the bases covered in one post. You can agree with what is said, or not, but there is no desperation to prove he is correct.
    Thank you for a great post!!
    July 16 at 4:02am · Edited · Like · 5
    Viorica Doina Neacsu Beautiful thread, even if few of us left the building.
    I don't agree with few points of view shared by Goose but i appreciate her contribution to this group.
    I hope soon we will be able to accept that each of us has his/her own understanding of this teachings and it's nothing wrong with that, is just a different point of the same journey... Much love and thank you again for this thread!
    July 18 at 1:22am · Unlike · 3
    Viorica Doina Neacsu PS. I am in this group from the beginning and i never had the thought "Seems like male gang-bang here once again."
    I can honestly say that i learned so much here and i was always helped in a kind, loving and friendly way. I am so grateful for all the members of this group
    July 18 at 1:26am · Edited · Like · 2
    Yor Sunyata "I see no reason to think that a radically non-attached, Liberated notion of “I am” is instrinsically inconsistent with Buddhist teachings. Pure being is neither conceived nor attached, It just Is, and if there is for “me” only “being”, then, it seems, “I am”.[3] The conceptual attachment of agent to action results from an initial (erroneous) separation of agent from action." I beg to differ.
    July 19 at 2:08pm · Like
    Justin Struble Clear Light realization is intrinsically free from any reification or grasping whatsoever. Anatta realization is not a denial of awareness.
    July 19 at 2:12pm · Like
    Yor Sunyata "Those who want to find a 'Self' in Buddhism argue as follows: It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these things it self. But he does not say that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from these aggregates.

    This position is untenable for two reasons:

    One is that, according to the Buddha's teaching, a being is composed only of these Five Aggregates, and nothing more. Nowhere has he said that there was anything more than these Five Aggregates in a being.

    The second reason is that the Buddha denied categorically, in unequivocal terms, in more than one place, the existence of Ātman, Soul, Self, or Ego within man or without, or anywhere else in the universe. Let us take some examples.

    In the Dhammapada there are three verses extremely important and essential in the Buddha's teaching. They are nos. 5, 6 and 7 of chapter XX (or verses 277, 278, 279).
    The first two verses say:
    'All conditioned things are impermanent' (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ aniccā), and 'All conditioned things are dukkha' (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ dukkhā).
    The third verse says:
    'All dhammas are without self' (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ anattā). [13]

    Here it should be carefully observed that in the first two verses the word samkhārā 'conditioned things' is used. But in its place in the third verse the word dhammā is used. Why didn't the third verse use the word samkhārā 'conditioned things' as the previous two verses, and why did it use the term dhammā instead? Here lies the crux of the whole matter.
    July 19 at 2:12pm · Like
    Yor Sunyata "The term samkhāra [14] denotes the Five Aggregates, all conditioned, interdependent, relative things and states, both physical and mental. If the third verse said: 'All samkhārā (conditioned things) are without self', then one might think that, although conditioned things are without self, yet there may be a Self outside conditioned things, outside the Five Aggregates. It is in order to avoid misunderstanding that the term dhammā is used in the third verse.
    The term dhamma is much wider than samkhārā. There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute, Nirvāna. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term. Therefore, it is quite clear that, according to this statement: 'All dhammas are without Self', there is no Self, no Ātman, not only in the Five Aggregates, but nowhere else too outside them or apart from them. [15]
    This means, according to the Theravāda teaching, that there is no self either in the individual (puggala) or in dhammas. The Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy maintains exactly the same position, without the slightest difference, on this point, putting emphasis on dharma-nairātmya.
    In the Alagaddūpama-sutta of the Majjhima-nikāya, addressing his disciples, the Buddha said: 'O bhikkhus, accept a soul-theory (Attavāda) in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation. But, do you see, O bhikkhus, such a soul-theory in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, , lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation?'
    'Certainly not, Sir.'
    'Good, O bhikkhus. I, too, O bhikkhus, do not see a soul-theory, in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation.' [16] " Taken from ( )
    Walpola Rahula - What Buddha Taught - The Doctrine of No Soul: Anatta
    What Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula. The Doctrine of No Soul: Anatta. ... Chapt... See More
    July 19 at 2:13pm · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
    Yor Sunyata Justin Struble I did not mean to imply that one cannot abstract something called awareness from experience. But it comes from conceptualization. I look at this screen, I can turn away from it. The habitual belief is that the screen exists when I am not aware of it, so you have screen with awareness and screen without awareness. But there is no screen without the awareness of it, just like there is no rainbow without the awareness of it.
    July 19 at 2:31pm · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon And no awareness without the screen, nor awareness without the rainbow.
    July 19 at 4:29pm · Like · 1
    Yor Sunyata Right.
    July 19 at 8:55pm · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Without the screen or the rainbow, there is no screen-consciousness or rainbow-consciousness. To say that there is no awareness is mistaken.
    July 19 at 10:08pm · Like
    Yor Sunyata Stian, technically you are right. But this is just nitpicking. I think the point Kyle was making, is that awareness is as dependent on phenomena as phenomena are dependent on awareness.
    July 19 at 10:58pm · Unlike · 1
    Yor Sunyata In reality the two are one and the same. We derive the concept of being aware of an object from the imagined idea that the object exists as an object when we are not looking at it. Nagarjuna would have pointed out that there is a difference between percept-objects and percept-object conditions.
    July 19 at 11:02pm · Unlike · 2
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yor, have you heard of luminous "consciousness without feature/surface", which is supposedly the end of stress?
    July 20 at 10:58pm · Edited · Like
    Kyle Dixon You mean luminosity i.e. nondual clarity and emptiness i.e. the nature of mind... That is what luminous "consciousness" without feature is.
    July 21 at 2:22am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yes
    July 21 at 2:34am · Like
    Yor Sunyata Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, I have heard the term. I am not sure if I am relating it correctly to experience. I haven't been hit by an "aha" bolt of lightning when it comes to this.
    July 22 at 8:17am · Like
    David Vardy What's often going on in groups, here and elsewhere, is latent frustration extending from one thread to another. Memory of a last encounter clouding the next, so the following encounter has a taste of the last. Dependent origination as feelings from the past entering new threads which on the surface have nothing to do with the past thread. These encounters take on a life of their own. It's how we're featured personalizing what's going on. I remember not appreciating my first few encounters with Kyle and could see I was featured painting a picture of a voice I had little contact with. It began to cloud what I read until I saw what was happening. Once it was understood, I could begin to appreciate just how much he brings to the table, which in turn changed my voice from being argumentative to one that was a 'bit more elastic'
    July 22 at 3:51pm · Like · 1
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Justin wrote on another thread, and I found it relevant to this discussion:

    [quote]...See More
    July 23 at 8:07am · Edited · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yor, I'm inclined to agree with you that it is a technical nitpick, but probably not for a similar reason.

    A lot of effort is spent around here assuring that reifying awareness is kept to a minimum. And this can be a good thing, because the definitive resolution is not at all adequately expressed as awareness and, not least, clinging to clarity is an important part of the problem to be solved.

    But it can also cause what is actually meant by nihilism in the traditions (which are not like the aspersions cast around here). What one could (simplistically) call objectless awareness is the definitive resolution of samsara, but in actuality it utterly defies conceptual extremes—one might as well not call it awareness, but there is reason for doing so.

    At some point in training this *must* be acknowledged.
    July 23 at 8:03am · Edited · Like · 6
    Yor Sunyata Ok, Stian Gudmundsen Høiland. Thank you.
    July 23 at 8:05am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Just sharing, Yor, an "aha" bolt of lightning
    July 23 at 8:13am · Edited · Like · 1
    Yor Sunyata Cool
    July 23 at 8:39am · Like
    John Tan At certain point, the magic of clarity, the effortless spontaneity, the marvelous display, the miraculous activity and the perfection that defies all effort must be fully acknowledged.
    July 23 at 9:01am · Unlike · 8
    Yor Sunyata Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, I have thought about this a while and my conclusion is that I have not had this realization yet. I'd like to, though. Do you have any tips on practice? What should I do to have it?
    July 26 at 12:47am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Hey Yor.

    I'm a "skipping-the-grades" kind of practitioner, characterized by lack of stability and lack of gradual progression. I'm considering doing solitary retreat to stabilize. It's probably good to keep that in mind.

    I have almost no idea what your current level of understanding and insight is like, so I wouldn't know what kinds of tips would be appropriate. You could possibly teach me way more than I could teach you

    What, in your words, is "this realization", and what, more specifically, made you conclude that you have not had it yet?
    July 26 at 5:57am · Edited · Like · 2
    Yor Sunyata I was thinking about "luminous consciousness without feature/surface". I don't know what it means in terms of experience. I also don't know what direct realization of emptiness means. I am quite certain that I don't project an inherently existing "essence" onto anything, but what does directly perceiving emptiness mean, apart from not doing something (projecting a substance that makes something what it is, onto it)? I can understand DO, but how does one experience the interconnectedness of the entire universe in an object? What does clarity refer to? It would be easy to assume I know what these terms point to, but I cannot be certain that I am not deluding myself.
    July 26 at 10:21am · Edited · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yor wrote:
    > I was thinking about "luminous consciousness without feature/surface". I don't know what it means in terms of experience.

    There is this footnote (which I posted on this group quite a while ago, and just recently in a different thread) by Nyanananda which I find extremely satisfying and aligns deeply with my experience:
    27 - Samyutta Nikaya: An Anthology
    The culmination of the not-self attitude is the eradication of the conceit, '(I)... See More
    July 29 at 8:37am · Edited · Like · 2 · Remove Preview
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Distinguishing consciousness (vijnana) and awareness (jnana) and the ramifications of that has been crucial for me; also the causal relation obtaining between volition (sankhara) and consciousness (vijnana), the role of evaluation (vedana), the specific and general meaning of fabrication (sankhara), and the meaning of the cessation of the six sense spheres (salayatana). The twelve nidanas is the golden standard, a treasure trove of understanding.
    July 29 at 8:25am · Edited · Like · 1
    Yor Sunyata Thank you.
    July 29 at 8:30am · Like · 1
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yor wrote:
    > I also don't know what direct realization of emptiness means. I am quite certain that I don't project an inherently existing "essence" onto anything, but what does directly perceiving emptiness mean, apart from not doing something (projecting a substance that makes something what it is, onto it)?

    We are most certainly projecting an inherently existing essence onto everything

    What directly perceiving emptiness is like is anyone's poetic fancy. One way to put it is that it is as if our current experience became so utterly insubstantial that it appears as if it was simply "adorned space". (And a big scoop of salt should be administered right here.)

    Yor wrote:
    > What does clarity refer to?

    Mere, insubstantial illumination or vividness. Consciousness (vijnana) is not clarity. Consciousness is like a model or mould that perceives in terms of subject-contact-object. Clarity is very simply the characteristic that illumines this dualistic perception.

    Awareness (jnana) is nondual, inseparable clarity-emptiness. Explicitly note that this nonduality is not of perceiver and perceived.
    July 29 at 8:40am · Edited · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yor wrote:
    > I can understand DO, but how does one experience the interconnectedness of the entire universe in an object?

    Someone else should clarify this
    July 29 at 8:37am · Like
    Yor Sunyata "We are most certainly projecting an inherently existing essence onto everything."

    Meaning that when you see a bus, you deep down believe that there is an essence within the bus, distinct from its appearances, which makes it a bus? The actual bus-esse...See More
    July 29 at 8:44am · Like
    Yor Sunyata Furthermore, if there is a single bus-essence that makes the bus the bus, and it is not to be found in any part of the bus, does this mean that there could be something which in every way appears to be a bus, and functions as a bus, but isn't?
    July 29 at 8:50am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Inherent existence is so deeply embedded in or intertwined with our cognition that, in terms of the suttas, its cessation amounts to a dropping away of the sense spheres (which is not at all the same as suddenly becoming blind/deaf/etc.).
    July 29 at 8:52am · Edited · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The sense spheres are built on the perception of permanence and inherent existence. So when you say "when you see a bus", we're already way past the point where inherent existence was projected.
    July 29 at 8:54am · Like
    Yor Sunyata I disagree with the last statement. I cannot use language unless it seems to imply essentialism. There is no bus, but there is no not-bus either.

    Also, I think a wrong view can be non-conceptually seen through, while karmic tendencies remain, so that thoughts can continue to arise on the basis of past wrong views, but they are noticed and seen through.
    July 29 at 9:00am · Edited · Like
    Yor Sunyata Which is why stream-entry is a point of no return. It is simply a matter of how much time it will take before karmic tendencies dissipate.
    July 29 at 8:59am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I might have been unclear. The mere utterance of "when you see a bus" is not a problem. As it appeared in your post, I took it to signify a certain threshold in the conceptual process, by which we have already miscognized.
    July 29 at 9:01am · Edited · Like
    Yor Sunyata ok.
    July 29 at 9:04am · Like
    Yor Sunyata I do agree that we humans have a strong tendency to think in terms of essences, and the suffering it has caused is immense. For instance, defenders of slavery have always argued that the slaves are somehow less than fully human. They lack the essence of what makes someone human, and so even if they appear to be human on the outside, the inner "self" is inferior, so not only isn't it immoral to enslave them, it is what is best suited to their inferior nature. There is also the tendency to think that value exists independently of valuing, so that humans are objectively more valuable in and of themselves than animals, hence we can enslave and murder them for food or any for any other need, trivial or not.

    EDIT: Buddhists who oppose the ordination of women, because they are thought of as "inferior", reveal that they have not fully seen through essentialism. There is no trait, common to all women and not found in men, which makes women unsuitable for ordination. There is no inner woman-essence, and no inner man-essence either.

    But this can be seen through directly, and it can be realized again and again in different ways and scenarios. My original questions had more to do with the correspondence between words and experiences, and whether we are all talking about the same thing when we use them.
    July 29 at 9:36am · Edited · Like · 3
    Geovani Geo "Which is why stream-entry is a point of no return. It is simply a matter of how much time it will take before karmic tendencies dissipate" Seems so, but that should not be a matter for concern as all timebound events like karma dissipation are in fact evaluated from a time bound POV. Our concern is only the timeless. And this last statement makes no sense obviously if read literally and not between the lines if one does not want to objectify what never was an object.
    July 29 at 10:44am · Like
    Geovani Geo " how does one experience the interconnectedness of the entire universe in an object?" By seeing the entire universe as ONE object. There are many ways to point to this. I could try one here now. Where is the whole universe happening? It is happening in the mind through the 6 sense inputs (this is the present expedient understanding for the time being). There is no universe outside of mind. Mind-ness renders all things and phenomena equal-natured (mind-natured). So now you are looking at the universe in its equalness as only mind. Within the closed mind-environment all phenomena is material and matter is simply interacting with matter as action-reaction in all levels, including emotions, thoughts. Of course mind and sense organs are also mind-nature so they are just as indeterminate as any other thing or event you are presently contemplating. W/o mind and senses there only open naked contemplation of co-dependence. Sorry if I am sounding too "professorial"...
    July 29 at 11:07am · Like
    Yor Sunyata Geovani Geo Yes, on the one hand, there is no inherently existing entity that attains stream-entry and who, as time passes, loses fetters and becomes fully enlightened. Nor can anything called time be found in actual experience, just now. There is only ever now. But that now is not some static background which everything changes in comparison with. There never arises anything truly existing, as an essence, as something that positively makes something that which we label it. Since no such thing arises, it cannot change either, since it would have to exist to change or have anything happen to it.

    On the other hand, the concepts we construct often do have some sort of relationship with reality, or else language would be completely useless, any kind of prediction would be impossible. Mathematics would not function, nor would physics, chemistry, astronomy etc.

    The reason why we CAN use conventional language, is not that it points to an essence within objects, which makes objects what they are, but that when we construct a boundary/distinction between this/that, one concept implies the negation of the rest, as was explained in the article Soh posted the other day. Meaning, when we speak of things, we contrast them with the whole: "this", which implies -> "not that." But there would not be any "this" without the implicit negation of "that", and so "this" requires the existence of "that", and "that" requires the existence of "this", or else distinguishing would be impossible and we would be left without language. Every concept reflects the others in a system of language, as do any distinctions we make in any experience of the six senses. Inherently, they are empty of any sort of independent essence.

    I think this is what is meant by the strange sentences like this one in the Diamond Sutra EDITED (better with an accurate quote than my faulty memory):

    "Bhagavan, if a universe existed, attachment to an entity would exist. But whenever the Tathagata speaks of attachment to an entity, the Tathagata speaks of it as no attachment. Thus is it called 'attachment to an entity.'"

    Which leads me to doubt I can directly perceive this emptiness by viewing the universe as one. On the basis of what negation/distinction can the universe be viewed as one, many, both, neither?

    The reason why I asked the question about how to perceive emptiness directly, is that I see how one can stop projecting essences onto objects, and see directly that they lack any such essence. But seeing the entire universe reflected in one object directly, as described above, is a lot more difficult. I was wondering if it is this what the full emptiness realization entails. If it is, I have my work cut out for me.
    July 29 at 1:33pm · Edited · Like
    Geovani Geo I followed and agree with all you are saying. Lets dissect the “strange sentence” for this kind of “logic” runs throughout most of Buddha's sayings. “Bhagavan, if a universe existed, attachment to an entity would exist...” Yes because by positing a that (universe) this arises (me).
    “But whenever the Tathagata speaks of attachment to an entity, the Tathagata speaks of it as no attachment.” Of course, because
    the “me” entity never existed to begin with, neither an universe (that).
    ”Thus is it called 'attachment to an entity.'" The affirmative (illusory) and a negative (truth) meet and the resultant statement is made. A “middle way logic”(??)

    My guess is that you understood what was meant. Actually your original question was "how does one experience the interconnectedness of the entire universe in an object?" But now you implicitly ask: “how to perceive emptiness directly?” – if I understand correctly. That would probably prompt a different answer.

    We are playing with words and eventually we may arrive at something – I dont know. I think emptiness as a perception somehow implies in a subject perceiving an object (emptiness), so it sounds strange. I would turn that around and say: when looking for a “me” it can not be found (as a perception, or as a referable thing) in any whatsoever way. Nonetheless a seeming set of appearances called “reality” can not be denied (although its nature is totally indeterminate) otherwise we could not be talking about it. It is such indeterminate reality or universe that is being seen as one whole set of inter-dependence. As such seeing (not a sense-organ one) is a fact but no seer can be objectively found I will call it emptiness. But such emptiness is not a nothing, but no-thing. And here is where waters are divided regarding the understanding of the fundamental nature of what IS. From here onwards words fail for ONE very simply reason: it would be an attempt to refer to its own unreferrable-ity. The only way to perhaps point to a meaning would be
    to say that at this point you must turn around 180 degrees and intimately lean your back to it. I am open to question this. But the seeming appearences are no other then THIS as it is being aware-ed like wrinkles on its own skin.
    Bellow just a peace of the Tao Te King:

    “Look at it, it cannot be seen
    It is called colorless
    Listen to it, it cannot be heard
    It is called noiseless
    Reach for it, it cannot be held
    It is called formless
    These three cannot be completely unraveled
    So they are combined into one...”
    July 29 at 5:57pm · Like
    Geovani Geo In re the dividing of waters I mentioned above I would add: one group says "the wrinkles are all there is"... and the other group says "seeming appearances are just the wrinkles of its skin"
    July 29 at 6:07pm · Like
    Yor Sunyata I edited my post many times. Never pleased with it. I can still find fault in it. This stuff is not easy to talk about. Since language is constructed, historically contingent and based on useful, but ultimately arbitrary, distinctions of this/that, there can be (and are) more than one way of creating medicinal language for the purpose of pointing to the moon. It all depends on whether or not it is based on the right kind of seeing and understanding.

    Anyway, I think it is time for me to take a break from discussing these things. Thanks for sharing your insights.
    July 29 at 10:50pm · Like · 1
    Geovani Geo It was a bit short termed... but a great pleasure.
    July 29 at 11:11pm · Like

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