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Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism

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Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/4/18 12:37 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism tamaha 11/4/18 8:51 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/4/18 9:14 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism tamaha 11/5/18 12:07 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/5/18 7:12 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism tamaha 11/5/18 6:34 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/5/18 7:18 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/5/18 6:49 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/5/18 7:22 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/8/18 4:51 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/9/18 7:59 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/9/18 4:00 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/9/18 6:14 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/10/18 7:03 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/10/18 7:25 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/14/18 12:15 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Kim Katami 11/17/18 1:10 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/17/18 1:58 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Kim Katami 11/17/18 2:22 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/18/18 8:04 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Kim Katami 11/18/18 8:36 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/18/18 8:44 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/20/18 8:16 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Stickman2 11/22/18 3:43 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/18/18 7:57 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/20/18 7:13 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/21/18 9:05 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/21/18 2:48 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/22/18 8:58 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/4/18 6:14 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 10:17 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 10:35 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/18/18 8:39 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/18/18 8:22 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/18/18 8:44 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/18/18 8:48 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Pepe 11/18/18 10:18 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/22/18 11:01 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Pepe 11/25/18 6:12 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism nintheye 11/18/18 8:55 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/22/18 9:24 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/20/18 8:26 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism An Eternal Now 11/22/18 9:26 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 10:41 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 12:01 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 1:40 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/22/18 2:17 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/27/18 12:15 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism John Not2 5/1/19 6:30 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 11/27/18 8:00 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 11/27/18 12:48 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 11/29/18 5:21 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 11/29/18 7:12 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 11/30/18 11:01 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 11/30/18 12:10 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 12/4/18 11:26 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 12/4/18 11:43 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 12/5/18 10:36 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 12/5/18 11:15 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/6/18 1:30 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 12/7/18 7:10 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 12/8/18 11:40 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/4/18 8:02 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 12/5/18 10:07 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/6/18 11:46 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 12/11/18 6:52 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Chris Marti 12/11/18 7:08 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/11/18 3:15 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Stickman2 11/30/18 1:08 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism terry 12/4/18 7:13 PM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism alguidar 11/29/18 11:05 AM
RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism Andrew McLaren Lewis 11/30/18 10:29 AM
Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/4/18 12:37 PM
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/4/18 8:51 PM as a reply to nintheye.
You can start with telling us more about your practice. 
1. What kind of practice? What method do you follow?  Since how many years you've been practicing?
2. How did it help you in understanding reality or help you in decreasing suffering or what ever your search was?
3. Is there still a sense of I? And are you okay with it?
4. Do you think there is much more work to do in your spiritual path? 
5. Why do you feel it is important to have this discussion here on Vedanta and Buddhism? 

Welcome!

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/4/18 9:14 PM as a reply to tamaha.
tamaha:
You can start with telling us more about your practice. 
1. What kind of practice? What method do you follow?  Since how many years you've been practicing?
2. How did it help you in understanding reality or help you in decreasing suffering or what ever your search was?
3. Is there still a sense of I? And are you okay with it?
4. Do you think there is much more work to do in your spiritual path? 
5. Why do you feel it is important to have this discussion here on Vedanta and Buddhism? 

Welcome!

1. I don't "practice" anymore. I practiced many things -- the jnana yoga of advaita vedanta (understanding the scriptural ideas, address and resolving my doubts about them, understanding how they fit into my own life) and the self-inquiry method of Ramana Maharshi chief among them. I practiced for 20 yaers.

2. I discovered the true Self and put an end to my spiritual search. I discovered what I was looking for at the deepest level.

3. Yes and no. Depends on one's perspective. It's a candle next to the sun. It is the candle; it is the Sun. It is both, neither, and beyond the duality of the two :-).

4. Well, there is no more "work" because there can be no more identification with the worker. But that doesn't mean mental development cannot be said to continue to happen, depending on one's perspective. Vasanas continue to be burned off, increased clarity comes. But I do not attribute this to spiritual work, and do not consider it a further realization. And is it mine? No. And is it "really" happening? No.

5. It's not particularly important, but it might be fun. Ultimately, I had the impulse, and posted. No more reason than that.

And thanks for the welcome! :-)

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 12:07 AM as a reply to nintheye.
Thanks for the reply. Glad to have you here.
You say your spiritual search has ended and you discovered what you were looking for at the deepest level. That is very interesting to hear and quite inspiring.
Have you read MCTB by Daniel Ingram, the owner of this site? If you did, could you relate your practice or realisation to some of the things described there?
I am not qualified to have a debate on Advaita and Buddhism, but I ask because of my personal interest and curiosity. I'm interested in Ramana's teachings. Could you tell a bit more about your practice? May be it's not what you intended to talk about on this thread but I would love to hear it from you.

1. Could you tell a bit more about your background, how your spiritual search started, how you ended up in Vedanta and Ramana's teachings. Also, how did jnana yoga help you in the path of realisation. (I have read Jnana yoga by Swami Vivekananda and personally it didn't really get me started on the spiritual journey. But the Raja yoga technique actually got me started. Because it was practical).

2. A bit about your journey. Who was your teacher(s)? Your ups and downs in this journey? If you didn't have a teacher, what books did you follow? When you had doubts and obstacles in the journey, how did you deal with them?
How long did it take for you to realise what you've realised?

3. Was your realisation gradual, as in it happened in stages (Like, at first awakening experience there was a hard blow to the sense of self, and in the next awakening experience the sense of self was realised further more and finally it was completely realised)? Or was it more of a sudden realisation?

4. There is a common complaint attributed to self inquiry practice that it is an all or none phenomenon. Whether it happens or not happen at all, even with great practice. Secondly, though the spontaneous realisers have realised something really profound and deep, they have no idea how they really did it and because of that the students find it hard to repeat the process in the exact same way, or gain the exact same realisation. What is your opinion on this? Do you think your realisation is repeatable by anyone who follows the exact same steps that you followed?

5. If I ask you to guide me to gain the realisation that you've gained, what would your advice be? Which is a good way to start the practice? Teachers to follow, books to follow? What obstacles can I expect on the path, etc.

Thanks! :-)

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 7:12 AM as a reply to tamaha.
tamaha:
Thanks for the reply. Glad to have you here.
You say your spiritual search has ended and you discovered what you were looking for at the deepest level. That is very interesting to hear and quite inspiring.
Have you read MCTB by Daniel Ingram, the owner of this site? If you did, could you relate your practice or realisation to some of the things described there?
I am not qualified to have a debate on Advaita and Buddhism, but I ask because of my personal interest and curiosity. I'm interested in Ramana's teachings. Could you tell a bit more about your practice? May be it's not what you intended to talk about on this thread but I would love to hear it from you.

1. Could you tell a bit more about your background, how your spiritual search started, how you ended up in Vedanta and Ramana's teachings. Also, how did jnana yoga help you in the path of realisation. (I have read Jnana yoga by Swami Vivekananda and personally it didn't really get me started on the spiritual journey. But the Raja yoga technique actually got me started. Because it was practical).

2. A bit about your journey. Who was your teacher(s)? Your ups and downs in this journey? If you didn't have a teacher, what books did you follow? When you had doubts and obstacles in the journey, how did you deal with them?
How long did it take for you to realise what you've realised?

3. Was your realisation gradual, as in it happened in stages (Like, at first awakening experience there was a hard blow to the sense of self, and in the next awakening experience the sense of self was realised further more and finally it was completely realised)? Or was it more of a sudden realisation?

4. There is a common complaint attributed to self inquiry practice that it is an all or none phenomenon. Whether it happens or not happen at all, even with great practice. Secondly, though the spontaneous realisers have realised something really profound and deep, they have no idea how they really did it and because of that the students find it hard to repeat the process in the exact same way, or gain the exact same realisation. What is your opinion on this? Do you think your realisation is repeatable by anyone who follows the exact same steps that you followed?

5. If I ask you to guide me to gain the realisation that you've gained, what would your advice be? Which is a good way to start the practice? Teachers to follow, books to follow? What obstacles can I expect on the path, etc.

Thanks! :-)
Heh. Well yes, this is not quite the direction I expected things to go :-), but ah well.

I haven't read MCTB so can't respond to that, unfortunately.

1. Got started because I was suffering a kind of existential crisis in high school; was fortune enough to meet and befriend a Swami, and I became his informal student. That’s how I learned the fundamentals of Vedanta. But then implementing that over a number of years presented numerous psychological and other obstacles that I had to troubleshoot over the next many years. As a seeker on the path of Vedanta, Ramana's name comes up pretty easily. That's how I encountered his teachings. I understood him partially at first, and then much more fully later.

 2. My initial teacher was Swami Bodhananda Saraswati, but our approaches might be a bit different at this point. I definitely had ups and downs. Mainly these were emotional: most importantly, a lack of motivation. Actually familial trauma, sexual identity, and more played into it. The key things I discovered along this road were:
a) the power of symbolic expression -- the original, accurate portrayal of your experience into words, drawings, or other mediums... I call it "metaphorization." This transforms suffering into meaning and beauty, and also illumination inner obstacles and orients you to true desire.

b) the utility of psychoanalysis (that's not therapy in general; psychoanalysis is a specific type of therapy...). Immensely useful. I can tell you how to get a good analyst if you want.

Book-wise: Talks with Ramana Maharshi and the Bhagavad Gita were the most critical books. Well, I also got a huge amount in my circumstances out of Marcel Proust, the profound 20th-century French novelist. He's not an obviously eastern-philosophical writer, but his work is profoundly spiritual, and it links to that artistic expression lesson I mentioned above.  

3. Realization proceeds in gradual stages until the realization that you've been That all along, and the realization that there were no stages actually...

4. Yes, realization is certainly repeatable by anyone who follows the steps with sincerity and intensity. The real issue is getting to that level of sincerity & intensity. That is already 90% of the battle. The obstalces to this are almost always emotional issues.

The biggest issue is: are you being honest about what you want? That is the #1 most important thing. Learning more and more clearly what you want and following it IS the real path. If, for example, you really don't want to pursue self-inquiry right now, then don't pursue it. It's more important you honestly pursue what you want...

5. Heh, I wasn't intending to mention any of these on this thread, but since you asked, I actually have a website and a book which explain my philosophy, and also do private mentorship. But otherwise the books I mentioned above are excellent.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 6:34 AM as a reply to nintheye.
Thanks for the reply.

You might want to read MCTB once, just to get to know the general approach of this forum which is a very technical, pragmatic (rather than religious), practice-oriented forum. This forum definitely doesn’t represent the whole of ‘Buddhism’ especially the dogmatic, religious Buddhism. Maybe if you can post a specific point or a topic that you want to have a debate on, people would chip in to contribute.

The PDF of MCTB is available for free. MCTB2, a revised version of the first, came out recently but does not have a PDF yet. Here is the website of MCTB2 https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/.
Most of them on this forum are influenced by MCTB. MCTB is heavily influenced by Theravada Buddhist view of enlightenment based on the original teachings of the Buddha, which has clear practical instructions on how to get to complete enlightenment, describing 16 progressive stages of insight that lead to four phases of enlightenment, the fourth one making the whole process “complete”. The meditation is generally called Vipassana meditation (Sanskrit: Vipashyana) or Insight meditation. Mindfulness meditation has its origin in Vipassana. Though there are many lineages in Theravada Buddhism, this forum is highly influenced by the Burmese Vipassana master Mahasi Sayadaw, who's teachings are again based on the original teachings of the Buddha.
Apart from Daniel, other teachers who's works are followed here are Culadasa (Author of highly acclaimed 'The mind Illuminated'); Shinzen Young; Kenneth Folk, etc.

While Dzogchen Buddhism is considered the closest in Buddhism to Vedanta, most of them you find here are Theravada practitioners, some from other schools, and also some Vedantists. Many come from a varied background, many who practice self-inquiry along with Vipassana.
Got started because I was suffering a kind of existential crisis in high school; was fortune enough to meet and befriend a Swami

I have a very similar story. I too got into spirituality because of an existential crisis/ meaninglessness of life which started in my high school. I approached many Swamis in search for an answer (I’m from India), always returning with disappointment. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anyone who could guide me in practice. Almost all of them just spoke of theory, and no practice at all, though I was sure that someday I would meet someone who could guide me in practice. Two years back, I found Vipassana and now I know I’m very much on the right path, if not the only right path. I only heard about Ramana Maharshi’s teachings after starting with Vipassana and hence haven’t felt much need to practice the self-inquiry, though I’m very inclined to do it.
the power of symbolic expression -- the original, accurate portrayal of your experience into words, drawings, or other mediums... I call it “metaphorization.”

What you call ‘metaphorization’ is kind of similar to ‘noting/ labeling’ practice done here in the Mahasi Vipassana.

Heh, I wasn't intending to mention any of these on this thread, but since you asked, I actually have a website and a book which explain my philosophy, and also do private mentorship.

Good that you mentioned it, as it gave an overall picture.
Went through your website and videos. I was really impressed. :-) (Your website link is not working, but I found it by googling anyway.)

Wish you the best in your endeavor of a spiritual teacher. May many people realize the truth under your guidance! 

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 6:49 AM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...


I think this might interest you, I run this blog:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/mistaken-reality-of-amness.html

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 7:18 AM as a reply to tamaha.
tamaha:

Good that you mentioned it, as it gave an overall picture.
Went through your website and videos. I was really impressed. :-) (Your website link is not working, but I found it by googling anyway.)

Wish you the best in your endeavor of a spiritual teacher. May many people realize the truth under your guidance! 
Thank you! Best of wishes on your own spiritual journey. I will certainly check out MCTB... 

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/5/18 7:22 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...


I think this might interest you, I run this blog:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/mistaken-reality-of-amness.html

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html

Thanks!

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/8/18 4:51 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...


aloha nintheye,

   Buddhism believes that existence is characterized by "the three marks," which are impermanence (anicca), non-self (anatta), and misery (dukkha). By "non-self" is meant that the individual self is delusion, just a series of automatic processes. An example often used is that of the illusion of a "circle of fire" created by whirling a torch in a circle.

   My question of you as an advaita vendantist is what is the Self? A bigger ego? A smaller one? No ego at all? All Ego and no World, Or all World and no Ego? Have you a cosmic self, an ordinary self, no self at all? More than one self? Who are you? Or as RM says, "Who am I?"

   Enlighten me.

(smile...wink)
terry



How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

issa

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/9/18 7:59 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:
nintheye:
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...


aloha nintheye,

   Buddhism believes that existence is characterized by "the three marks," which are impermanence (anicca), non-self (anatta), and misery (dukkha). By "non-self" is meant that the individual self is delusion, just a series of automatic processes. An example often used is that of the illusion of a "circle of fire" created by whirling a torch in a circle.

   My question of you as an advaita vendantist is what is the Self? A bigger ego? A smaller one? No ego at all? All Ego and no World, Or all World and no Ego? Have you a cosmic self, an ordinary self, no self at all? More than one self? Who are you? Or as RM says, "Who am I?"

   Enlighten me.

(smile...wink)
terry



How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

issa
Heh. The answer to the question of what Self is depends on context, audience, and point of view. At the very deepest, truest level the answer cannot be given in words as to what Self is. The answer can only be directly had -- and is being directly had all the time. The purpose of spiritual practice, is, indeed, to lead to that answer-beyond-words.

From this standpoint, there is no ego, and there is no world, so the Self cannot be said to be either.

If we want to speak more about it, knowing that our words will be inaccurate, Self can be said to be that which is unchanging, and which knows itself by itself, without mediation, without reflection. It is that which is beyond time and space and all dualities, and yet within which such dualities -- if they appear (they really do not) -- appear.

Because Self is beyond duality, it technically cannot be said to be any particular thing -- it is "not this, not that." That is, it is beyond being and non-being, life and death, good and evil, beauty and ugliness.

If we wish to say more, Self can be said to be being, awareness, and bliss. It can be said to be that, though it is beyond duality, also runs through it.

Self is not ego or world; Self is also ego and world; Self is beyond ego and world; Self is beyond ego and world and also through it; ego and world are mere illusions against the background of Self; there are no ego and world. All these are true from one perspective or another. All are approximations.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/9/18 4:00 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
terry:
nintheye:
I have a background in advaita Vedanta. Don't know much about Buddhism, though I know there are a lot of cognate concepts/terms. I was thinking it might be fun to have a dialogue and/or respectful debate on matters of both theory and practice.

If anyone wants to ask questions, or put forward points of difference and have me respond, I'd be interested...


aloha nintheye,

   Buddhism believes that existence is characterized by "the three marks," which are impermanence (anicca), non-self (anatta), and misery (dukkha). By "non-self" is meant that the individual self is delusion, just a series of automatic processes. An example often used is that of the illusion of a "circle of fire" created by whirling a torch in a circle.

   My question of you as an advaita vendantist is what is the Self? A bigger ego? A smaller one? No ego at all? All Ego and no World, Or all World and no Ego? Have you a cosmic self, an ordinary self, no self at all? More than one self? Who are you? Or as RM says, "Who am I?"

   Enlighten me.

(smile...wink)
terry



How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

issa
Heh. The answer to the question of what Self is depends on context, audience, and point of view. At the very deepest, truest level the answer cannot be given in words as to what Self is. The answer can only be directly had -- and is being directly had all the time. The purpose of spiritual practice, is, indeed, to lead to that answer-beyond-words.

From this standpoint, there is no ego, and there is no world, so the Self cannot be said to be either.

If we want to speak more about it, knowing that our words will be inaccurate, Self can be said to be that which is unchanging, and which knows itself by itself, without mediation, without reflection. It is that which is beyond time and space and all dualities, and yet within which such dualities -- if they appear (they really do not) -- appear.

Because Self is beyond duality, it technically cannot be said to be any particular thing -- it is "not this, not that." That is, it is beyond being and non-being, life and death, good and evil, beauty and ugliness.

If we wish to say more, Self can be said to be being, awareness, and bliss. It can be said to be that, though it is beyond duality, also runs through it.

Self is not ego or world; Self is also ego and world; Self is beyond ego and world; Self is beyond ego and world and also through it; ego and world are mere illusions against the background of Self; there are no ego and world. All these are true from one perspective or another. All are approximations.

aloha nintheye,

   You speak well. Mahalos for answering my questions.

   I like to think that nonduality is the same wherever you find it.

   Of course, in nonduality there is no one speaking and no one acting; no one listening or watching. This Reality can put a damper on "dialogue." The Last Word is always the last word.

   In buddhism there is something called upaya, or "skill in means." A famous parable is that of a father whose children are locked in a burning house, and he wants to free them before they burn to death in great suffering. So he calls to them through the window, and tries to entice them to unlock the door and emerge from the burning house by showing them yellow leaves and telling them they are gold coins and candy in gilt paper. Spiritual children are promised powers and enjoyments if they let drop the "burning coal" of sensual delights. Is there something like this in advaita vedanta, as you understand it?

   Buddhism also prescribes a Path for the soul caught up in ego to "reach" the "goal" of the extinction of craving (and attendant clinging, ignorance and misery). Does advaita vedanta have something like this?


terry 


from r h blythe's "zen in english literature and oriental classics":

The "Hsinhsinming" ("Shinjinmei"), was one of the first treatises
on Zen, at least, of those that remain to us. The author of this 
Buddhist "hymn", Sengtsan (Sosan), the third (Chinese) Zen 
patriarch from Dharma, the first Chinese and the twenty-eighth 
Indian Zen patriarch, lived during the sixth century, dying in 
606 A.D. His place of origin is unknown. The conversion of 
Sengtsan at the hands of Huike (Eka), the Second Patriarch, is 
recorded in the "Chuantenglu" ("Dentoroku"), Part 3:

Sengtsan asked Huike, saying, "I am diseased: I implore you to 
cleanse me of my sin". Huike said, "Bring me your sin and I will 
cleanse you of it". Sengtsan thought for awhile; then said, "I 
cannot get at it". Huike replied, "Then I have cleansed you of it".

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/9/18 6:14 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:

aloha nintheye,

   You speak well. Mahalos for answering my questions.

   
Thanks!


   Of course, in nonduality there is no one speaking and no one acting; no one listening or watching. This Reality can put a damper on "dialogue." The Last Word is always the last word.

   In buddhism there is something called upaya, or "skill in means." A famous parable is that of a father whose children are locked in a burning house, and he wants to free them before they burn to death in great suffering. So he calls to them through the window, and tries to entice them to unlock the door and emerge from the burning house by showing them yellow leaves and telling them they are gold coins and candy in gilt paper. Spiritual children are promised powers and enjoyments if they let drop the "burning coal" of sensual delights. Is there something like this in advaita vedanta, as you understand it? 

Interesting! In a way. Vedanta itself takes place in a larger context of Hinduism which includes a lot of bhakti (devotional) components which people find much like those enjoyments -- there's more of a focus on love, security, and the companioship of a relationship with the divine. Not to say that any of these aren't true, but it's also the case that they aren't the full truth. 

In the yoga sutras mention is made of various siddhis (powers) that one gets while on that path -- and that path's end is very linked to the end of advaita vedanta, even though they are technically two separate traditions.
   Buddhism also prescribes a Path for the soul caught up in ego to "reach" the "goal" of the extinction of craving (and attendant clinging, ignorance and misery). Does advaita vedanta have something like this?
Yes, absolutely. There is a specific path enunciated over various texts. First one has to have certain qualifications: a certain amount of weariness with the world, and a certain raw ability to discern truth from falsehood. Other qualifications for the seeker include tranquility, training, faith, patience, etc. No seeker has all of these in full, of course, but some basic attributes. And then the process is traditionally defined as listening to the truth, contemplating it and making it clear in one's own mind, and then putting it into practice. And this is a cycle. Through the implementation of this over time, various mental habits are broken down and transformed, and finally there is a deep perspectival shift. 

Now precisely what it means "to practice" differs a bit from text to text and teacher to teacher, but those are the basics...

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/10/18 7:03 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:


    Buddhism also prescribes a Path for the soul caught up in ego to "reach" the "goal" of the extinction of craving (and attendant clinging, ignorance and misery). Does advaita vedanta have something like this?
Yes, absolutely. There is a specific path enunciated over various texts. First one has to have certain qualifications: a certain amount of weariness with the world, and a certain raw ability to discern truth from falsehood. Other qualifications for the seeker include tranquility, training, faith, patience, etc. No seeker has all of these in full, of course, but some basic attributes. And then the process is traditionally defined as listening to the truth, contemplating it and making it clear in one's own mind, and then putting it into practice. And this is a cycle. Through the implementation of this over time, various mental habits are broken down and transformed, and finally there is a deep perspectival shift. 

Now precisely what it means "to practice" differs a bit from text to text and teacher to teacher, but those are the basics...

aloha nintheye,

   Buddhism has many forms. I think you would be comfortable with madhyamika and yogacara. Shantideva was a tibetan and thus an inheritor of the vajrayana tradition, but is generally classed among the mahayanists for his emphasis on the cultivation of bodhicitta and the bodhisattva ideal. "The Way of the Bodhisattva" is one of the great classics of spiritual literature. From the chapter on wisdom:

52.  To linger and abide within samsara,
       But freed from every craving and from every fear,
       To work the benefit of those who ignorantly suffer:
       Such is the fruit that emptiness will bear.

53.  From this the voidness doctrine will be seen
       To be immune from all attack.
       And so, with every doubt abandoned,
       Let us meditate upon this emptiness.

   Zen buddhism, on the other hand, dispenses with idealism, in favor of "direct pointing" to nondual Mind (aka the advaitic Self). Early on, in the time of the sixth (chinese) patriarch of ch'an, there were established "northern" and "southern" schools, the former known as "gradual" and the latter as "sudden," the sudden school being the orthodox one. A typical zen koan of the (prevailing) sudden school involves a monk sitting in meditation. Another monk wanders over and asks him what he is about. The sitting monk says, "I am trying to make a buddha." The wandering monk picks up a discarded roof tile and begins to polish it. "What are you doing with that tile?" he is asked. "I am trying to make a mirror." "You can't make a mirror by polishing a tile." "You can't make a buddha by sitting in meditation." Most examples of zen illumination involve long preparation followed by sudden insight.

   Shantideva also said:

34. When real and non-real both
      Are absent from before the mind,
      Nothing else remains for the mind to do,
      But rest in perfect peace, from concepts free.

and 

25. It's not our object to disprove
      Experiences of sight or sound or knowing.
      Our aim here is to undermine the cause of sorrow:
      The thought that such phenomena have true existence

   This is what saves buddhist "philosophy" from being mere metaphysics: it is all designed to free sentient beings from sorrow. There is no attempt to be "true" in some dualistic sense, only to set people free from the misery of clinging and identification.

   Dialogue is about differences. One cannot disagree in regards to the absolute. It is safe to assert.

   When ramana maharshi was asked to comment on the bodhisattva vow, the pledge to remain in dualism until all beings are liberated, he laughed and said that was like saying I will continue dreaming until all the other dreamers have woken up first. In (mahayana) buddhism, it  is understood that if one is liberated, all sentient beings are liberated as well.

   Buddhism is also known as the Middle Way, a way of moderation and balance. The buddha during his initial enlightenment was tempted by mara, the devil. Mara scoffed at his enlightenment and claimed that he, Mara, was the enlightened one. He called on all the demons of heaven as witness and challenged siddhartha to show a witness. The buddha is often shown in statues touching the earth; and the earth roared in approval. The buddha's first consideration after enlightenment was whether to try to enlighten beings at all, the truth being subtle and hard to know. The tathagata ("thus come one") decided to give the wheel of the dharma a whirl.

    Now, the mahayana sutras also claim that the buddha did not save any beings because there are in Reality no beings to save. Zen - a mahayana offshoot - tells us that "samsara is nirvana," translated as "the passions are enlightenment." In nonduality these polarities are "not two." It is "the passions" that create the phenomenal world; all objects are desire objects, since they imply a clinging subject.

   What I am trying to get at here is - from the point of view of advaita - what do you make of the phenomenal world? The objects - what is a thing? And the subjects - who is a person, the little self, the actor and speaker? That objects and subjects are ultimately unreal doesn't make them less subject to suffering. The bodhisattva - the mahayana ideal - gets down on the level of the suffering human being and willingly suffers too, with the aim to save beings from "burning" through a reorientation of mind. There is a sufi story said to explain the nature of the Prophet, one who the koran tells us is "just a man like yourselves": a woman had a baby who crawled out on a window ledge beyond her reach, and was in danger of falling. She consulted a sufi who advised her to hold another baby on the window sill, and her baby would crawl toward it, and be safe.

   This is Life and Death. In nonduality there is no difference between "living" and "dying." Living takes love and energy, dying is inertial. In the light of Truth, all sentient beings are living under one aspect, dying under another. We live as our cells grow and change, in a continuous process, transforming constantly. We are also decaying at every moment, as cells die and are discarded.  We are living growing vital beings; we are dying, decaying and wearing out. Insight involves the acknowledging the futility of non-acceptance. How many times do we knock our heads against a wall? Buddhism says eons and eons.

   Actually, I should mention the major difference (that I know of) between vedanta and buddhism, which is the basic nature of the Self. Buddhism dispenses with any concept of an Actor, whether small self or Great Self. No Atman/atman in buddhism. Just automatic processes and Emptiness. No Actor, no Supreme Ruler.


terry

this isn't actually buddhist, but this excerpt from hannah arendt's "the human condition" aptly characterizes the nature of phenomenal human existence in the absence of any divinity (when the chinese emperor asked the founder of zen about merit, he was told there is nothing holy at all; when the emperor asked him who he was, he responded, "I don't know" - the emperor was not impressed)...

this is important because as we are speaking in human language, we are creating together a phenomenal world in which these utterances make some kind of sense... if we couldn't make sense to each other we would be mindless creatures, less than animals or insects who socialize...

ironically, I usually find myself defending nonduality against dualists; now I am defending duality against nondualism, so to speak...ultimately they are not two but to speak of "them" is to fall into duality...anyhow, arendt's insight is similar to buddhism - and different from vedanta - in seeing no real agent behind phenomena...  


(quote)

   The invisible actor behind the scenes is an invention arising from a mental perplexity but corresponding to no real experience. Through it, the story resulting from action is misconstrued as a fictional story, where indeed an author pulls the strings and directs the play. The fictional story reveals a maker just as every work of art clearly indicates that it was made by somebody; this does not belong to the character of the story itself but only to the mode in which it came into existence. The distinction between a real and a fictional story is precisely that the latter was "made up" and the former not made at all. The real story in which we are engaged as long as we live has no visible or invisible maker be- cause it is not made. The only "somebody" it reveals is its hero, and it is the only medium in which the originally intangible manifestation of a uniquely distinct "who" can become tangible ex post facto through action and speech. Who somebody is or was we can know only by knowing the story of which he is himself the hero—his biography, in other words; everything else we know of him, including the work he may have produced and left behind, tells us only what he is or was. Thus, although we know much less of Socrates, who did not write a single line and left no work behind, than of Plato or Aristotle, we know much better and more intimately who he was, because we know his story, than we know who Aristotle was, about whose opinions we are so much better informed.

   The hero the story discloses needs no heroic qualities; the word "hero" originally, that is, in Homer, was no more than a name given each free man who participated in the Trojan enterprise and about whom a story could be told. The connotation of courage, which we now feel to be an indispensable quality of the hero, is in fact already present in a willingness to act and speak at all, to insert one's self into the world and begin a story of one's own. And this courage is not necessarily or even primarily related to a willingness to suffer the consequences; courage and even boldness are already present in leaving one's private hiding place and showing who one is, in disclosing and exposing one's self. The extent of this original courage, without which action and speech and therefore, according to the Greeks, freedom, would not be possible at all, is not less great and may even be greater if the "hero" happens to be a coward.

(unquote)

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/10/18 7:25 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:

aloha nintheye,


   When ramana maharshi was asked to comment on the bodhisattva vow, the pledge to remain in dualism until all beings are liberated, he laughed and said that was like saying I will continue dreaming until all the other dreamers have woken up first. In (mahayana) buddhism, it  is understood that if one is liberated, all sentient beings are liberated as well.

Now, the mahayana sutras also claim that the buddha did not save any beings because there are in Reality no beings to save.

First of all, thanks for the wonderful history lesson! On this point above, I thought the bodhisattva vow was a mahayana idea, no? But clearly if there no beings to liberate that can't make sense...

   What I am trying to get at here is - from the point of view of advaita - what do you make of the phenomenal world? The objects - what is a thing? And the subjects - who is a person, the little self, the actor and speaker? That objects and subjects are ultimately unreal doesn't make them less subject to suffering. The bodhisattva - the mahayana ideal - gets down on the level of the suffering human being and willingly suffers too, with the aim to save beings from "burning" through a reorientation of mind. 

Well, I'm with Ramana Maharshi and the mahayana sutras you mention above -- that "in Reality" there are "no beings to save." The phenomenal world is just that -- a trick of the mind, with no real existence. The person, the little self, actor, speaker -- all are unreal.

And yes, that must mean suffering, too, is quite unreal.

Now that doesn't mean that one shouldn't help peoplpe -- it means that there is no "one" to either decide to help people or decide not to help them because they are "unreal." The very idea of being a decision-maker is wrong.
   Actually, I should mention the major difference (that I know of) between vedanta and buddhism, which is the basic nature of the Self. Buddhism dispenses with any concept of an Actor, whether small self or Great Self. No Atman/atman in buddhism. Just automatic processes and Emptiness. No Actor, no Supreme Ruler.
Right, well, technically the Self in advaita is not considered an actor. It cannot be said to create the world in any way, primarily because there is no world that can be said to be created. Or if we do accept the appearance of a world, then that world is said to be purely coincidental in relation to the Self. No intention can be ascribed to the Self, technically, because the very idea of intention is within the world.

And so the "Actor" cannot even be called an actor, being beyond all descriptions and dualities.

I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/14/18 12:15 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
terry:

aloha nintheye,


   When ramana maharshi was asked to comment on the bodhisattva vow, the pledge to remain in dualism until all beings are liberated, he laughed and said that was like saying I will continue dreaming until all the other dreamers have woken up first. In (mahayana) buddhism, it  is understood that if one is liberated, all sentient beings are liberated as well.

Now, the mahayana sutras also claim that the buddha did not save any beings because there are in Reality no beings to save.

First of all, thanks for the wonderful history lesson! On this point above, I thought the bodhisattva vow was a mahayana idea, no? But clearly if there no beings to liberate that can't make sense...

   What I am trying to get at here is - from the point of view of advaita - what do you make of the phenomenal world? The objects - what is a thing? And the subjects - who is a person, the little self, the actor and speaker? That objects and subjects are ultimately unreal doesn't make them less subject to suffering. The bodhisattva - the mahayana ideal - gets down on the level of the suffering human being and willingly suffers too, with the aim to save beings from "burning" through a reorientation of mind. 

Well, I'm with Ramana Maharshi and the mahayana sutras you mention above -- that "in Reality" there are "no beings to save." The phenomenal world is just that -- a trick of the mind, with no real existence. The person, the little self, actor, speaker -- all are unreal.

And yes, that must mean suffering, too, is quite unreal.

Now that doesn't mean that one shouldn't help peoplpe -- it means that there is no "one" to either decide to help people or decide not to help them because they are "unreal." The very idea of being a decision-maker is wrong.
   Actually, I should mention the major difference (that I know of) between vedanta and buddhism, which is the basic nature of the Self. Buddhism dispenses with any concept of an Actor, whether small self or Great Self. No Atman/atman in buddhism. Just automatic processes and Emptiness. No Actor, no Supreme Ruler.
Right, well, technically the Self in advaita is not considered an actor. It cannot be said to create the world in any way, primarily because there is no world that can be said to be created. Or if we do accept the appearance of a world, then that world is said to be purely coincidental in relation to the Self. No intention can be ascribed to the Self, technically, because the very idea of intention is within the world.

And so the "Actor" cannot even be called an actor, being beyond all descriptions and dualities.

I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


aloha nintheye,

    Yes, the whole "history lesson" was essentially mahayana views. It sometimes gets complicated unravelling the provenance of some of these texts. The legend is that shantideva was an 8th century indian sage, but the text has come down to us with commentary mixed in from a 12th century tibetan translation. The (vajrayana) lamas massaged the text, but it remains fundamentally mahayanist, as I said. Similarly most of what we know of the greatest of philosphers, the indian nagarjuna, comes to us from chinese translations encumbered by centuries of commentary and interpretation. It seems that old texts are either trivialized into platitudes or are magnified and polished over time. As shakespeare said in the tempest:


Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell


   Mahayana oftens deals in paradox. The buddha doesn't really save beings, thus he truly saves beings. When the bodhisattva truly realizes that there are no beings to save, he has already saved all beings. Nonduality, you see. 

   In the theravadan tradition there are many who interpret the suttas as encouraging an individual approach to enlightenment, such that one person becomes enlightened or more advanced than other beings by virtue of "spiritual progress" made by individual effort. I'm sure you do not fall into this dualistic trap.

   I consistently  separated the words "vedanta" and "advaita" in my last post The two seem to me something of a contradiction in terms. Vedanta is essentially monistic, advaita non-dualistic. To say that "Brahman is emptiness" may reflect the deepest intimations of the upanishads but the bhagavad gita certainly resounds with krishna's (profound and inspiring) declarations of Agency. I'm with you, nonetheless, in interpreting religious texts as nondual in their deepest aspirations. So is mahayana despite the apparently contradictory statements. All forms of buddhism are originally inspired by nondualism and find in it their natural result, one which is present all the time everywhere in any case.

   The arendt quote was good, eh? We are our story, whether actualizing the real and being free or believing in fictions and living in mental slavery. The people who post here or in any public forum are "heros" all.

   Buddhists are as disagreeable as anyone else. I have a propensity to throw in tidbits from other traditions so my buddhism is generally not pure enough for the real aficionados, but they are uncommon here so I seem to be getting away with it. So far. Besides, I don't know what my views are, they change all the time and I try not to identify with any view. All views are impermanent and only a means anyway; the buddha would call even "right view" only a vehicle or "raft" to get you across samsara (phenomenality, composed of desire objects and subjects) to nirvana (nonduality).

   Thanks for the exchange, bra. I think that the primary mahayana ideal that your advaitism doesn't appear to get at is the understanding that the phenomenal world is "real" as opposed to fictional, and that it is the primary arena for the exercise (or "practice") of upaya, "skill in means," whereby the relatively free help the relatively unfree by any means in their power. By "acting" and "speaking" we create a real story that can influence other "actors" and "speakers." You can deny that there is anyone to act or speak, but it is silly to deny that acting and speaking takes place, or are insignificant in terms of suffering and its relief.

   You and I are here communicating - acting and speaking - for this very purpose. That you and I are ultimately unreal takes nothing away from this. Real and phenomenal are aspects of each other; like the passions and enlightenment. As zen master dogen liked to say, "A foot of water, a foot of wave." 


terry



from "the zen teaching of master lin-chi," trans burton watson:


When the Master arrived at Feng-lin's place, Feng-lin said,
"There's something I'd like to ask about - may I?"
   The Master said, "How can you gouge out the flesh
and inflict a wound?"
   Feng-lin said, "The sea moon shines, no shadows anywhere,
yet the swimming fish by themselves manage to lose their way."
   The Master said, "Since the sea moon is without shadow,
how can the swimming fish lose their way?"
   Feng-lin said,"Watch the wind, and you'll know what kind
of waves will rise up. Sporting on the water, a country boat
spreads its sail."
  The Master said, "The solitary moon shines alone, 
river and mountains are hushed, I give one shout of laughter
and heaven and earth take fright."
   Feng-lin said, "It's all right for you to use your three-inch tongue
to dazzle heaven and earth. But try saying one phrase 
about the situation we face right now!"
   The Master said, "If you meet a master swordsman in the road,
you have to give up your sword. But when the other person
is not a real poet, never present him with a poem."
   Feng-lin at that point gave up.
   The Master then wrote a poem:

   The Great Way knows no like or different;
   it can go west or east.
   Sparks from flint can't overtake it,
   streaks of lightning would never reach that far.

   Wei-shan asked Yang-shan, "If 'sparks from a flint
can't overtake it, streaks of lightning would never
reach that far,' then how have all the wise men
from all the ages past been able to teach others?"
   Yang-shan asked, "What do you think, Reverend?"
   Wei-shan said, "It's just that no words or explanations
ever get at the true meaning."
   Yang-shan said, "Not so!"
   Wei-shan said, "Well, what do you think?"
   Yang-shan said, "Officially not a needle can get in,
but privately whole carts and horses get through!"
   



   

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/17/18 1:10 AM as a reply to terry.
This article by Rana Rinpoche compares the two: https://www.scribd.com/document/205987069/Hindu-vs-Buddhist-Philosophy

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/17/18 1:58 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
This article by Rana Rinpoche compares the two: https://www.scribd.com/document/205987069/Hindu-vs-Buddhist-Philosophy


aloha kim,

   I read as much as scribd would allow me without signing up. The rinpoche's contrast of vedanta and buddhism is much the same as what I outlined. Nintheye should read it, if only as a corrective to my more freewheeling treatment.

   Where the rinpoche and I part company is where he characterizes his "pure" buddhist version of nondualism as different from advaita's version. The one moon shines in every dewdrop.


terry


from the brihadaranyaka upanishad:

When the speech of this dead person enters into the fire, breath into the air, the eye into the sun, the mind into the moon, the hearing into space, into the earth the body, into the ether the Self, into the shrubs the hairs of the body, into the trees the hairs of the head, when the blood and the seed are deposited in the water, where is then that person?

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/17/18 2:22 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
Kim Katami:
This article by Rana Rinpoche compares the two: https://www.scribd.com/document/205987069/Hindu-vs-Buddhist-Philosophy

   Where the rinpoche and I part company is where he characterizes his "pure" buddhist version of nondualism as different from advaita's version. The one moon shines in every dewdrop.


terry

I certainly agree.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 7:57 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

   Mahayana oftens deals in paradox. The buddha doesn't really save beings, thus he truly saves beings. When the bodhisattva truly realizes that there are no beings to save, he has already saved all beings. Nonduality, you see. 

   In the theravadan tradition there are many who interpret the suttas as encouraging an individual approach to enlightenment, such that one person becomes enlightened or more advanced than other beings by virtue of "spiritual progress" made by individual effort. I'm sure you do not fall into this dualistic trap.
   
Huh. So why bother with the bodhisattva vow in the first place if that's the case, though ?
I consistently separated the words "vedanta" and "advaita" in my last post The two seem to me something of a contradiction in terms. Vedanta is essentially monistic, advaita non-dualistic. To say that "Brahman is emptiness" may reflect the deepest intimations of the upanishads but the bhagavad gita certainly resounds with krishna's (profound and inspiring) declarations of Agency. I'm with you, nonetheless, in interpreting religious texts as nondual in their deepest aspirations. So is mahayana despite the apparently contradictory statements. All forms of buddhism are originally inspired by nondualism and find in it their natural result, one which is present all the time everywhere in any case.

That's very interesting. I don't see a contradiction at all in those terms. Krishna's declarations of agency are a kind of secondary knowledge meant for aspirants who are not mature enough for full knowledge.

They are quite secondary to the idea that the individual is not the doer, and indeed that there may be no doer. This whole thing is a game. Indeed, Krishna tells Arjuna: 

"If, filled with egoism, you think, 'I shall not fight,' your resolve will be in vain; your own material nature will compel you...The Lord abides in hearts of all beings, Arjuna, causing all beigns to revolve, by the power of illusion, as if fixed on a machine."

"The imperishable supreme Self is beginningless and without qualities; even though ituated in body, Argjuna, it does not act, and is not tainted."

And in a larger sense, I don't see the Upanishads as monistic. Brahman is not a substance but "neti, neti" -- beyond all dualities. Nondual. 

Thanks for the exchange, bra. I think that the primary mahayana ideal that your advaitism doesn't appear to get at is the understanding that the phenomenal world is "real" as opposed to fictional, and that it is the primary arena for the exercise (or "practice") of upaya, "skill in means," whereby the relatively free help the relatively unfree by any means in their power. By "acting" and "speaking" we create a real story that can influence other "actors" and "speakers." You can deny that there is anyone to act or speak, but it is silly to deny that acting and speaking takes place, or are insignificant in terms of suffering and its relief.

You and I are here communicating - acting and speaking - for this very purpose. That you and I are ultimately unreal takes nothing away from this. Real and phenomenal are aspects of each other; like the passions and enlightenment. As zen master dogen liked to say, "A foot of water, a foot of wave."
Yes, I suppose if true this is a real difference (though the truth is some Vedantins are definitely more action-oriented... I do believe that the true advaita vedanta is beyond a focus on action in the world). Are you and I here communicating? No more, perhaps, than images in a dream. I certainly don't see anyone who can take credit for the cultivation of "skillful means."

The phenomenal is attached to the ego; once that is seen through, it cannot be said to exist or not exist (those being egoic categories).

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:04 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
This article by Rana Rinpoche compares the two: https://www.scribd.com/document/205987069/Hindu-vs-Buddhist-Philosophy

I too only looked at what Scribd would let me look at for free, and my initial impression is that it is, like a lot of Buddhist comparisons with Vedanta, full of subtle misstatements and misunderstandings. I get the strong feeling that Buddhism has desperately wanted to differentiate itself from Vedanta -- some kind of Oedipal complex, I think -- and grasps on to that with everything it can.

For example, take this statement of his:

"in the Buddhist context, samara is not removed but is seen as knowledge itself..." this is said many times in Vedantic texts. Maya is not but Brahman.

"samsara is not an illusion that will vanish and only Brahman will remain" -- again a misunderstanding. Samsara is nothing but brahman. It's not that it vanishes but that the improper understanding of it is destroyed.

"What ends is the wrong experience of experiencing it as really existing" -- this is precisely also what Vedanta says. 

Buddhism wants to say that it has no real base, that it's all interdependent arising, but it seems to me that this is a distinction without a difference, that "sunya" or "buddha nature" is just another word for Brahman. I know so many Buddhists will scream at the top of their lungs that no, no, this is not the case, Buddhism is really so so so different. But I don't believe this... ah well.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:39 AM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:


I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


I was just reminded of Greg Goode's writing. Greg Goode is a teacher of both Advaita/Awareness teachings in the Atmananda tradition, as well as the Emptiness teachings of Madhyamaka Buddhism.

He wrote:

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/02/nondual-emptiness-teachings.html



For those who encounter emptiness teachings after they've become familiar with awareness teachings, it's very tempting to misread the emptiness teachings by substituting terms. That is, it's very easy to misread the emptiness teachings by seeing "emptiness" on the page and thinking to yourself, "awareness, consciousness, I know what they're talking about."


With this misreading, I found a lot in the emptiness teachings to be
quite INcomprehensible! So I started again,
laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and "awareness" were
equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves.
I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite
different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not
speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free.




http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2014/08/greg-goode-on-advaitamadhyamika_9.html

Greg Goode on Advaita/Madhyamika

Dr. Greg Goode wrote in Emptything:

It looks your Bahiya Sutta experience helped you see awareness in a different way, more .... empty. You had a background in a view that saw awareness as more inherent or essential or substantive?

I had an experience like this too. I was reading a sloka in Nagarjuna's treatise about the "prior entity," and I had been meditating on "emptiness is form" intensely for a year. These two threads came together in a big flash. In a flash, I grokked the emptiness of awareness as per Madhyamika. This realization is quite different from the Advaitic oneness-style realization. It carries one out to the "ten-thousand things" in a wonderful, light and free and kaleidoscopic, playful insubstantial clarity and immediacy. No veils, no holding back. No substance or essence anywhere, but love and directness and intimacy everywhere...

........

Stian, cool, get into that strangeness! There is a certain innocent, not-knowing quality to strangeness that counteracts the rush to certainty, the need to arrive, to land.

I still don't get your "no compromise" point. Can you rephrase it, but without the words "between" or "compromise"?

Anything can be denied. And is. There is one prominent Advaita teacher that I like who likes to say "You can't deny that you are the awareness that is hearing these words right now."

This kind of gapless continuity, so prized in Advaita, is readily denied in other approaches to experience:

you. can't. deny. that. you. are. the. awareness. hearing. these. words. right. now.

I remember feeling during one retreat, just how many ways that this could be denied. From a different model of time and experience, there are gaps and fissures all over the place, even in that sentence (hence. the. dots). Each moment is divided within itself, carrying traces of past and future (retention and protention). The first "you"-moment and the second "you"-moment are not necessarily experienced by the same entity. Each "I" is different. Entitification itself is felt as autoimmune, as divided within itself, and any "gaplessness" is nothing more than a paste-job.

Not saying one of these is right and the other wrong. Just pointing out how something so undeniable can readily be denied!

......

Emptiness group:

Awareness and Emptiness.

Many people, myself at times as well, have thought that Advaitic, atman-style awareness and emptiness are the same thing. When I began to study Nagarjuna, I was reading through a lens colored by the Advaita teachings. You know how they go, Awareness is the Self and very nature of me. The psychophysical components are certainly not me. I remain the same through the coming and going and changing of the components.

At that time, I had had trouble understanding 50% of the key line in the Heart Sutra,

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form."

I got the "form is emptiness" part. But I couldn't grok the "emptiness is form" part. Thinking that Advaitic Awareness=emptiness, I was used to thinking that Awareness IS, whether universes arise or not. How can Awareness equal its contents? And if it did, why even call it global Awareness? The contents could speak for themselves," I was thinking.

Also, many Advaitic-style teachings proceed by refuting the phenomena (thoughts, feelings and sensations) but retaining THAT to which they arise. That was the type of teaching I was used to, and it colored my approach to Madhyamika.

So it was very easy to read the Buddhist notion of "emptiness" in this same way. But it began to get a little puzzling. In my readings of Prasangika Madhyamika (which never mentions a global awareness), they never say that anywhere that emptiness=awareness. Nevertheless, I was supplying this equivalence for myself, making the mental substitution of one highest path's highest term with another's.

As I continued, there seem less and less evidence that Madhyamika was doing this, but I didn't encounter anything that knocked the idea away. It got more and more puzzling for me.

And then one day I read this from Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Sloka IX:4, about the "prior entity," or a subject or owner or substrate for what is seen and heard. (translations from the Garfield edition).

"If it can abide Without the seen, etc., Then, without a doubt, They can abide without it."

Then it dawned on me! The independence (and hence the dependence) that Buddhism is talking about is two-way, not just one-way. If A is logically independent from B, then B is logically independent from A.

If you can have a self that doesn't depend on things seen, then you can have things seen that do not depend on a self.

So, for Nagarjuna, can you really have a self that is truly bilaterally independent from what is seen?

No, because of his next sloka, IX:10:

"Someone is disclosed by something. Something is disclosed by someone. Without something how can someone exist? Without someone how can something exist?"

With these two verses, I finally understood the two-way dependence that Buddhism was talking about. And both halves of that important line in the Heart Sutra finally made sense!!

.........

I'm not sure what you mean by "itch," but I can tell you that when I began to study the Mulamadhyamakakarika (MMK), I wanted to let it speak for itself. I didn't want to bring to it any presumptions that I picked up from other teachings, such as that all reality depends on an aware ground of being. This was my intention from the beginning, and it took me a while to detect those assumptions in myself as I proceeded with my study. The text of the MMK itself actually helped dissolve those assumptions from my study and practice of Madhyamika.

It's pretty clear that in the MMK there is no support for an aware ground of being.

About verses 8 and 9. they are dialectical arguments against the notion of an independent self that is the basis and unifying substance of all experience. As dialectical arguments, they examine consequences that would follow if there were really such an independent self. And they find that the consequences are absurd, or that they go against the independent-self idea. Confronting these absurd consequences frees us from assenting to the independent-self doctrine.

Verses 8 and 9 are instances of the same/different argument schema. Those who believe in existence usually assert that if A and B exist, then they must be the same as each other, or different from each other.

Verse 8 examines the absurd consequences of stating that the seer and hearer and feeler are the same.

It looks at what would happen if there were a self that is the hearer and seer and feeler (which is what the independent-self doctrine asserts). If there were such a self, it would contravene the insights from Verses 4-6, which argue that the seer depends on the seen just like the seen depends on the seer.

In our experience, seeing and hearing and feeling happen at different times, sometimes apart, sometimes together. If there WERE such a self, the very same self that hears and sees, Verse 8 is arguing that the self would have to exist PRIOR to hearing and PRIOR to seeing.

Verse 9 examines the absurd consequences of stating that the seer and hearer and feeler are different. It argues that in this case, there would be multiple independent selves, one for seeing, one for hearing, and one for feeling. This obviously contradicts the main point of the independent self doctrine, which is that there is just ONE entity which does all the seeing and hearing.

Nagarjuna's strategy here is to show that assuming an independent entity prior to experience makes no sense at all. This is because it makes no sense if the seer equals the hearer, and it makes no sense if the seer does not equal the hearer.

Therefore, it makes no sense!

And it keeps on going, getting more and more radical.

Verse 11 - here the MMK uses the conclusion about the absurdity of the independent seer to refute the inherent existence of independent modes of perception.

In Verse 12, the MMK says that having seen all this, we are freed from conceptions and assertions of existence and non-existence.

.......


Geovani, I’m very glad to hear that your mind is knotted up.  Emptiness insights can do that to us when we start getting into them.
Yes, this approach would acknowledge swoons, anesthesia, “zone” moments and deep sleep.  We could say that these are “longer” gaps than the gaps between momentary sounds and other sensations.  But that isn’t a metaphysical claim, just a non-theoretical comment about experience.
The main takeaway from the refutation of an independent “prior entity” is that continuity is only imputed casually as a transactional, conventional way of organizing experience.  It’s not a serious claim, and it wouldn’t hold up under analysis.  So for this kind of practical manner of speaking, continuity doesn’t require an inherent, underlying ground.  If continuity itself were examined, it would be just as insubstantial as the other things examined by the MMK. 
Many Buddhist meditations focus on discerning the DIScontinuities in what we normally assume is continuous and unbroken.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:22 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:


I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


I was just reminded of Greg Goode's writing. Greg Goode is a teacher of both Advaita/Awareness teachings in the Atmananda tradition, as well as the Emptiness teachings of Madhyamaka Buddhism.

Thanks. Seems to me everything he says is based on a misunderstanding of brahman. When Brahman is said to be awareness, it is not the same awareness that is reading these words. The awareness reading these words -- the very idea of such an awareness -- is itself avidya. That limited awareness, the "witness awareness," "waking awareness," is mentioned as a means of practice, not as final truth.

Brahman is actually that which is beyond both awareness and unawareness, beyond being and non-being (at least in the way that we understand those terms). It can only be directly known, never expressed in words.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:36 AM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
...I know so many Buddhists will scream at the top of their lungs that no, no, this is not the case, Buddhism is really so so so different. But I don't believe this... ah well.

I'm a big fan of tantric guru yoga. It means to attune and meditate the presence of someone who is a mahasiddha. Over the last 12 years I've spent a lot of time in the company of various gurus from buddhism, hinduism, even christianity and taoism. To name a few, these include gurus such as Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Milarepa, Machig Labdron, Dampa Sangye, Shakyamuni, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Babaji, Thirumular and dozens of others. I've received many tantric empowerments also from living teachers from both hindu and buddhist camps. I've also received pointing out instructions from a handful of dzogchen teachers.

The thing is that they are all the same and what they transmit is all the same. Everyone, including me and you, have our personalities, but other than that all mahasiddhas have the same basic realisation of buddhahood or whatever you call it. From this perspective, there is no difference or conflict.

It is a curious thing, since there obviously is different between hindu and buddhist theories. To me it was, just like to Goode and others, that it was good news to come from "awareness teachings" to "emptiness teachings". I haven't felt the need to go back to reading hindu texts but I wonder if anyone went back to reading hindu texts (without the band around the head), and how it might have felt.

Anyway, to me it seems, based on a lot of tantric guru yoga, that words and descriptions need not be taken so literally. Once, the nature of mind or Self (wow, haven't used that in years...) is recognised, the bird gets air under its wings, and experience, instead of concept, starts to lead.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:44 AM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:


I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


I was just reminded of Greg Goode's writing. Greg Goode is a teacher of both Advaita/Awareness teachings in the Atmananda tradition, as well as the Emptiness teachings of Madhyamaka Buddhism.

Thanks. Seems to me everything he says is based on a misunderstanding of brahman. When Brahman is said to be awareness, it is not the same awareness that is reading these words. The awareness reading these words -- the very idea of such an awareness -- is itself avidya. That limited awareness, the "witness awareness," "waking awareness," is mentioned as a means of practice, not as final truth.

Brahman is actually that which is beyond both awareness and unawareness, beyond being and non-being (at least in the way that we understand those terms). It can only be directly known, never expressed in words.


Yes, I am aware the Advaitic awareness transcends the three states, so of course it is not 'waking awareness'. Dr Greg was certainly aware of that -- he is very well read in Advaita and Buddhism, and he is well 'equipped with' both experiential realization and scholarly knowledge.

In any case, Emptiness is completely different from Awareness (even transcendental awareness). I seem to have missed out the last sentence while copying, which is important:

"So I started again, laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and "awareness" were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free."

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:44 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
nintheye:
...I know so many Buddhists will scream at the top of their lungs that no, no, this is not the case, Buddhism is really so so so different. But I don't believe this... ah well.

I'm a big fan of tantric guru yoga. It means to attune and meditate the presence of someone who is a mahasiddha. Over the last 12 years I've spent a lot of time in the company of various gurus from buddhism, hinduism, even christianity and taoism. To name a few, these include gurus such as Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Milarepa, Machig Labdron, Dampa Sangye, Shakyamuni, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Babaji, Thirumular and dozens of others. I've received many tantric empowerments also from living teachers from both hindu and buddhist camps. I've also received pointing out instructions from a handful of dzogchen teachers.

The thing is that they are all the same and what they transmit is all the same. Everyone, including me and you, have our personalities, but other than that all mahasiddhas have the same basic realisation of buddhahood or whatever you call it. From this perspective, there is no difference or conflict.

It is a curious thing, since there obviously is different between hindu and buddhist theories. To me it was, just like to Goode and others, that it was good news to come from "awareness teachings" to "emptiness teachings". I haven't felt the need to go back to reading hindu texts but I wonder if anyone went back to reading hindu texts (without the band around the head), and how it might have felt.

Anyway, to me it seems, based on a lot of tantric guru yoga, that words and descriptions need not be taken so literally. Once, the nature of mind or Self (wow, haven't used that in years...) is recognised, the bird gets air under its wings, and experience, instead of concept, starts to lead.
Bingo. 100% agree.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:48 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:


I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


I was just reminded of Greg Goode's writing. Greg Goode is a teacher of both Advaita/Awareness teachings in the Atmananda tradition, as well as the Emptiness teachings of Madhyamaka Buddhism.

Thanks. Seems to me everything he says is based on a misunderstanding of brahman. When Brahman is said to be awareness, it is not the same awareness that is reading these words. The awareness reading these words -- the very idea of such an awareness -- is itself avidya. That limited awareness, the "witness awareness," "waking awareness," is mentioned as a means of practice, not as final truth.

Brahman is actually that which is beyond both awareness and unawareness, beyond being and non-being (at least in the way that we understand those terms). It can only be directly known, never expressed in words.


Yes, I am aware the Advaitic awareness transcends the three states, so of course it is not 'waking awareness'. Dr Greg was certainly aware of that -- he is very well read in Advaita and Buddhism, and he is well 'equipped with' both experiential realization and scholarly knowledge.

In any case, Emptiness is completely different from Awareness (even transcendental awareness). I seem to have missed out the last sentence while copying, which is important:

"So I started again, laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and "awareness" were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free."


However I should add that Emptiness does not 'negate' 'Awareness', however once realized the paradigm or structure or framework in which we view 'Awareness' completely shifts in experience.

As Thusness wrote in 2012:

6/3/2012 9:27 PM: John: I do not see practice apart from realizing the essence and nature of awareness
6/3/2012 9:30 PM: John: The only difference is seeing Awareness as an ultimate essence or realizing awareness as this   Seamless activity that fills the entire Universe.
6/3/2012 9:32 PM: John: When we say there is no scent of a flower, the scent is the flower....that is becoz the mind, body, universe are all together deconstructed into this single flow, this scent and only this... Nothing else.
6/3/2012 9:33 PM: John: That is the Mind that is no mind.
6/3/2012 9:38 PM: John: There is no an Ultimate Mind that transcends anything in the Buddhist enlightenment.  The mind Is this very manifestation of total exertion...wholly thus.
6/3/2012 9:42 PM: John: Therefore there is always no mind, always only this vibration of moving train, this cooling air of the aircon, this breath...
6/3/2012 9:47 PM: John: The question is after the 7 phases of insights can this be realized and experience and becomes the ongoing activity of practice in enlightenment and enlightenment in practice -- practice-enlightenment.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 8:55 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:
An Eternal Now:
nintheye:


I knew this was the supposed difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, but I always felt that Emptiness and Brahman were basically the same thing, just distorted into language slightly differently. I know some Buddhists who will agree with that, and some who will vehemently disagree.

And nice Arendt quote, thanks.


I was just reminded of Greg Goode's writing. Greg Goode is a teacher of both Advaita/Awareness teachings in the Atmananda tradition, as well as the Emptiness teachings of Madhyamaka Buddhism.

Thanks. Seems to me everything he says is based on a misunderstanding of brahman. When Brahman is said to be awareness, it is not the same awareness that is reading these words. The awareness reading these words -- the very idea of such an awareness -- is itself avidya. That limited awareness, the "witness awareness," "waking awareness," is mentioned as a means of practice, not as final truth.

Brahman is actually that which is beyond both awareness and unawareness, beyond being and non-being (at least in the way that we understand those terms). It can only be directly known, never expressed in words.


Yes, I am aware the Advaitic awareness transcends the three states, so of course it is not 'waking awareness'. Dr Greg was certainly aware of that -- he is very well read in Advaita and Buddhism, and he is well 'equipped with' both experiential realization and scholarly knowledge.

In any case, Emptiness is completely different from Awareness (even transcendental awareness). I seem to have missed out the last sentence while copying, which is important:

"So I started again, laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and "awareness" were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free."
I'm sure emptiness teachings have a different "flavor," but the underlying Truth Beyond Words seems to me to be the same. The lust for distinction seems quite comical to me.

Selves and things being essenceless and free is just a "flip side" way of saying that they are nothing but the Beyond-Concepts which is Brahman.These are all due to the limitations of language, which is inherently dualistic, to express the non-dual.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/18/18 10:18 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:

As Thusness wrote in 2012:

6/3/2012 9:27 PM: John: I do not see practice apart from realizing the essence and nature of awareness
6/3/2012 9:30 PM: John: The only difference is seeing Awareness as an ultimate essence or realizing awareness as this Seamless activity that fills the entire Universe.

AEN, thanks for your input, always helpful. Just trying to understand: what is Thusness refering by Seamless?

As/if Awareness is subject to Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta, then Emptiness is refered to the Anatta aspect of Awareness?  As/if Awereness is a flux, expands/contracts, flattens, widens, etc, how can this be seamless? Is Awareness another object of the "seamless activity that fills the entire Universe"? Is the dukka aspect of Awareness the knowing that 'Awareness of Awareness' isn't always fully granted 24/7? 

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/20/18 7:13 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
terry:

   Mahayana oftens deals in paradox. The buddha doesn't really save beings, thus he truly saves beings. When the bodhisattva truly realizes that there are no beings to save, he has already saved all beings. Nonduality, you see. 

   In the theravadan tradition there are many who interpret the suttas as encouraging an individual approach to enlightenment, such that one person becomes enlightened or more advanced than other beings by virtue of "spiritual progress" made by individual effort. I'm sure you do not fall into this dualistic trap.
   
Huh. So why bother with the bodhisattva vow in the first place if that's the case, though ?
I consistently separated the words "vedanta" and "advaita" in my last post The two seem to me something of a contradiction in terms. Vedanta is essentially monistic, advaita non-dualistic. To say that "Brahman is emptiness" may reflect the deepest intimations of the upanishads but the bhagavad gita certainly resounds with krishna's (profound and inspiring) declarations of Agency. I'm with you, nonetheless, in interpreting religious texts as nondual in their deepest aspirations. So is mahayana despite the apparently contradictory statements. All forms of buddhism are originally inspired by nondualism and find in it their natural result, one which is present all the time everywhere in any case.

That's very interesting. I don't see a contradiction at all in those terms. Krishna's declarations of agency are a kind of secondary knowledge meant for aspirants who are not mature enough for full knowledge.

They are quite secondary to the idea that the individual is not the doer, and indeed that there may be no doer. This whole thing is a game. Indeed, Krishna tells Arjuna: 

"If, filled with egoism, you think, 'I shall not fight,' your resolve will be in vain; your own material nature will compel you...The Lord abides in hearts of all beings, Arjuna, causing all beigns to revolve, by the power of illusion, as if fixed on a machine."

"The imperishable supreme Self is beginningless and without qualities; even though ituated in body, Argjuna, it does not act, and is not tainted."

And in a larger sense, I don't see the Upanishads as monistic. Brahman is not a substance but "neti, neti" -- beyond all dualities. Nondual. 

Thanks for the exchange, bra. I think that the primary mahayana ideal that your advaitism doesn't appear to get at is the understanding that the phenomenal world is "real" as opposed to fictional, and that it is the primary arena for the exercise (or "practice") of upaya, "skill in means," whereby the relatively free help the relatively unfree by any means in their power. By "acting" and "speaking" we create a real story that can influence other "actors" and "speakers." You can deny that there is anyone to act or speak, but it is silly to deny that acting and speaking takes place, or are insignificant in terms of suffering and its relief.

You and I are here communicating - acting and speaking - for this very purpose. That you and I are ultimately unreal takes nothing away from this. Real and phenomenal are aspects of each other; like the passions and enlightenment. As zen master dogen liked to say, "A foot of water, a foot of wave."
Yes, I suppose if true this is a real difference (though the truth is some Vedantins are definitely more action-oriented... I do believe that the true advaita vedanta is beyond a focus on action in the world). Are you and I here communicating? No more, perhaps, than images in a dream. I certainly don't see anyone who can take credit for the cultivation of "skillful means."

The phenomenal is attached to the ego; once that is seen through, it cannot be said to exist or not exist (those being egoic categories).

aloha nintheye,


   Namaste, my friend. Your words are well considered and deserve close attention.

   The key difference in the vedantic approach and the buddhist approach lies in the concept that the cosmos is an illusion. Our discussion is going to revolve around this point until it is clarified. For vedanta all of the universes in every time are an illusion, a dream of The Lord Supreme's. For the buddha the universe - any of the hindu conceptions of the cosmos - is real but not in the way the dualist sees it. The buddha of the suttas referred to "ordinary consciousness" as opposed to the "true aryan" way.  There is the ordinary way of taking for granted that the conventions of social life accuarately reflect reality, and the "awake" way of seeing "what is" in its essential nature. The buddha takes what is purely illusory in vedanta and characterizes it in a very specific and "real" way as "the dependent co-arising of phenomena" (paticca samuppada) This doctrine was so important to the buddha that he said whoever understood paticca samuppada understood the dhamma (ultimate truth).

   All of our conceptions are poor approximations. The real problem is that the mystery of the nature of the universe is not going to be solved, certainly not by the intellect or conscious mind. No conception, not even a conception of non-dualism or a view of the universe as illusion (maya), can begin to approach the infinite, the eternal. We can name a concept "the Infinite, the eternal" but the name is a token, as a picture of the moon is not the moon. 

   A picture of the moon in human language is one thing, and the reflection of the "moon in a dewdrop" is another. Dogen points out that when the mind (intellect) considers any thing, one side appears light and the other is dark. When the mind is forgotten, no object appears, and all sides are considered equally without preference. In the ordinary view there are buddhas and ordinary beings, truth and fiction, practice and illumination. In the nondual Way, there or no buddhas and ordinary beings, etc. The world is "navigated" by unconscious intuition alone, and everything seems "right."

   The subtle difference between the two approaches seems to me to come down to the difference between delusion and illusion. In the nonduality common to both approaches there are no differences and a saint in one tradition is a saint in others. In vedanta the world is entirely illusory. In buddhism the world is real but we see it as conditioned. The image in vedanta is of a Supreme Lord who has a dream of separate beings who have no real existence. The image in buddhism is of deluded beings misapprehending a real existence with no Supreme Lord.

   The ultimate nature of reality is the same but the approaches are different. A buddhist may reason that, if conceptions of a divine being are not necessary, why set them up as something to overcome in order to realize nonduality? Buddhism dispenses with most of the cultural baggage it inheritied from hinduism. A close reading of the (highly polished) modern bhagavad gita sees it as upholding the obnoxious varna system of caste obligations. The buddha's reform rejected caste and gender distinctions.

   I realize you are cutting loose all of these distinctions in embracing nondualism. Still, the means and the goal are intimately related. Buddhism makes a point of stripping off cultural trappings to simplify and clarify the Way.

  To your points:

   Why bother with the bodhisattva vow if individual effort is an illusion? My best answer is that we bodhisattvas cannot help ourselves.

   Really, the idea that we reason these things out and act in accordance with our decisions is nonsense. You have said there is no decision-maker. The decisions made, our "will" as we call it and see it, comes about from the influences of all phenomena on each other, such that we find ourselves "acting" and "speaking" and - having an intellect and social connections - we make up stories to connect memories of events in such a fashion that we may communicate them to the "others" who condition our world and make it what it is. We tend to fashion and worry these communications through a more or less continuous inner dialogue. We identify with the hero of our story and project on "others" the same sort of hero of the same sort of story. By convention, we validate each others stories and make them seem real. (In chuang tzu's analogy, small fry in the shallows spew spit and slime in order to moisten each other, while bigger  fish swim freely in deeper water.) Our meaningful stories are generated by a egoic meaning generator, they are not inherent in the essential world, which has no human meaning at all. Void. In buddhism this essential world is real, we call it sunyata, Emptiness. Merleau-ponty suggests that our entire conception of the world changed with the development of movies, our stories now perceived as a succession of rapid images. Superimposed, of course, on a screen of emptiness. We may agree that the screen is real, but what of the images? (A "screen" implies images.) Plato's cave comes to mind; there is a transition from the phenomenal (images) to the real (light). It's like the old hindu story of the person who perceives a snake and then realize it is actually a piece of rope. What we see is not good or bad, it just is. Not truly existing as individual things, but truly existing as unconditioned stuff. (Prakriti.)

   Buddhism is about the Way, vedanta about the Goal. Buddhism proclaims the Way, vedanta the Real. These are the same in the end, but differ in approach. In either tradition, the essence is that in changing oneself, one changes all beings. The ancient hindu proverb says that "If you wear shoeleather, the whole earth is covered in leather." If we see all beings around us as deluded, angry, selfish beings, we can either approach each one individually and try to convert them, or we can convert ourselves and see them all as "saved." In nonduality, there is no time. From the beginingless past to the endless future, the total human experience falls in between. Life arose, abides, and will expire in the fullness of time. In the parinirvana of all life there will be peace and rest, and all beings will be undifferentiated once again. Saved. Realizing the nonduality of time and space, all beings are dissolved in Being, in the onliness of here and now.

  The bodhisattva vow is  both a practice and a recognition that, as long as we perceive other beings, we are not "gone beyond." There is no compatibility between ordinary subject-object consciousness and non-duality. As long as we are aware of ourselves as individuals, we and everyone else still need saving. We save each other in buddhism; we call it "the spiritual life" as in, (the buddha said, and thus have I heard) "spiritual fellowship is the whole of the spiritual life." In buddhism, the "three treasures" are "the buddha, the sangha, and the dhamma" which is to say, the mentor, the truth, and the fellowship of the faithful. Each of these treasures is in itself the whole of the buddha-dhamma. 

    A buddha does nothing; the tathagata "abides." The buddha "saves beings" by nature, not because of any sort of doing. The buddha has ended all effort. The bodhisattva still has a "thirst for existence" motivated by compassion and kindness. Whatever the bodhisattva may realize, the pull of suffering beings and their need for relief compels a response. The "bodhisattva vow" recognizes the solidarity of all being(s) by not separating one from the suffering of the world.

   You have spoken about advaita "practice" but the question can be turned around: why should you, or any realized being, practice at all? Why try to "help" people who do not exist, whose suffering is unreal? What theoretical basis is there in advaita vedanta for doing anything?

   Krishna very explicitly says, over and over, "I am Lord Supreme." That you admit that buddhist "emptiness" is as non-dual as the advaitic Self is admirable. But the buddha commences with emptiness, positing no divine beings, while krishna apparently starts with "secondary knowledge." The buddha would say that many are misled by the insistence on a divine doer. He would caution them to reject all such formulations as not merely secondary but unnecessary and wrong. Just as islam insists god had no sons.  In buddhism, the well known zen master rinzai counsels his monks, "If you meet the buddha on the road, kill the buddha." No one in their right minds would ever suggest killing the Lord Supreme in any scenario.

   I have no objection to monotheism. Like any religious idea, it ranges from the ridiculous (santa claus, the easter bunny) to the sublime (brahman, yhwh, allah). Buddhism simply dispenses with the whole divinity business at the outset, while vedanta keeps these trappings to the end.

   Krishna telling arjuna to fight is one of the more profound distortions of truth contained in the bhagavad gita, in my view. Arjuna should have told krishna to fight his own battles, and walked out. (Abraham should have told god to take a hike when he wanted isaac killed as well.) Maybe some of his arjuna's family would have followed suit, and the war, the whole mahabharata of song and story, could have been avoided. The whole business of class obligations is a pollutant in this stream of holy scripture. The unholy mixture of aryan pastoral values with dravidian contemplative traditions is glossed over by the beautiful poetry fashioned over the centuries, but the core of exploitation and overlordship can't be dismissed. The caste system is explicitly rejected by the suttas, which point out that a member of any caste will submit to a member of any other caste for enough money, so the only real difference between the castes is who has the cash.

   If "the supreme Self" is "beginningless and without qualities" how can it be "situated in the body"? Specifying "the body" inplies a small self who is the "liver of life" in the body, with a relation to a great self. Brother, you and I could have a field day agreeing over the implied nonduality of individual fragments of the upanishads, but the gita in particular is larded with error due to its nature as a conglomeration, and because it upholds cultural practices which are antithetical to higher spiritual aspirations. We could criticize the bible and the koran, too. I love these scriptures and am not inclined to criticize, but they are not direct springboards to nondualism, as you appear to be claiming vedanta is. Whereas, the buddhist scriptures take nondualism as their explicit beginning and end. It is the dhamma, "good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end." 

   Perhaps I will convert you, eh?
 
   The upanishads constantly speak of a supreme self; that is monism, my friend. That they point beyond to nonduality from time to time cannot erase the bulk of the scripture. Again, I always read these scriptures from a non-dual standpoint (so to speak) and see through the monism to the deeper core. I can undersatnd why they appear luminous and without error to you. But the words say what they say, not what we know and want to hear. And I can't help but smell a reek of corruption in krishna's insistence on war and blind obedience to social obigations. However mixed in with sublime poetry, and whatever hints of nonduality are put in like macnuts in banana bread. 

   Even the "neti, neti" of the upanishadic sages seemed to mean, "the Lord Supreme" is "not this, not this." It is the Lord who is real, while in buddhism it is "the buddha field," the Ground. The buddha in the nirvana sutra specifically tells his followers to depend only on their own knowledge and reason, and not to take any authority outside of themselves. Not even his authority. Truth wells up from within; and within and without become One (without a second).

   Existence as an "egoic category" is a deep subject I find it hard to dismiss in a sentence. In non-duality, the "category" of "non-existence" is the Real and contains everything that can be perceived as existent and also everything that cannot. To bring any object-subject duality out of the void of non-existence is an egoic act. The objects and subjects of existence are the conscious mind's poor effort to understand (and communicate) what we normally cope with unconsciously and far more effectively. It is like thinking about moving your fingers and moving them one bit at a time, each one separately, as opposed to wiggling our fingers rapidly and thoughtlessly. Almost everything we do does not involve conscious mind; we depend on unconscious coping skills and habit, and use our consciousness to make up stories to explain to ourselves and others why we do what we do. The upshot is that, while existence does not really exist, non-existence certainly "exists". So to speak.

   Let's not forget that we fundamentally agree on the ineffability and Truth of non-dualism, and are speaking of superficial differences in the way nonduality is thought of and transmitted. There is a tradition of transmission in zen, at least; from the masters to the aspirants. How is nonduality transmitted in advaita?

   
terry



(different style, same substance; granted)



from the bhagavad gita, opening of chapter three:


Krishna:

Learn now, dear Prince! how, if thy soul be set
Ever on Me - still exercising Yoga,
Still making Me thy Refuge - thou shalt come
Most surely unto perfect hold of Me.
I will declare to thee that utmost lore,
Whole and particular, which, when thou knowest
Leaveth no more to know here in this world.

Of many thousand mortals, one, perchance,
Striveth for Truth; and of those few that strive
Nay, and rise high - one only - here and there
Knoweth Me, as I am, the very Truth.

Earth, water, flame, air, ether, life, and mind,
And individuality - those eight
Make up the showing of Me,
Manifest.

These be my lower Nature; learn the higher,
Whereby, thou Valiant One! this Universe
Is, by its principle of life, produced;
Whereby the worlds of visible things are born
As from a Yoni.
Know! I am the womb: I make and I unmake this Universe:
Than me there is no other Master, Prince!
No other Maker! All these hang on me
As hangs a row of pearls upon its string.
I am the fresh taste of the water; I
The silver of the moon, the gold o' the sun,
The word of worship in the
Vedas, the thrill
That passeth in the ether, and the strength
Of man's shed seed. I am the good sweet smell
Of the moistened earth, I am the fire's red light.
The vital air moving in all which moves.
The holiness of hallowed souls, the root
Undying, whence hath sprung whatever is;
The wisdom of the wise, the intellect
Of the informed, the greatness of the great,
The splendor of the splendid. Kunti's Son!
These am I, free from passion and desire;
Yet am I right desire in all who yearn,
Chief of the Bharatas! for all those moods,
Soothfast, or passionate, or ignorant,
Which Nature frames, deduce from me; but all
Are merged in me - not I in them! The world
Deceived by those three qualities of being
Wotteth not Me Who am outside them all,
Above them all, Eternal! Hard it is
To pierce that veil divine of various shows
Which hideth Me; yet they who worship Me
Pierce it and pass beyond.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/20/18 8:16 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
nintheye:
...I know so many Buddhists will scream at the top of their lungs that no, no, this is not the case, Buddhism is really so so so different. But I don't believe this... ah well.

I'm a big fan of tantric guru yoga. It means to attune and meditate the presence of someone who is a mahasiddha. Over the last 12 years I've spent a lot of time in the company of various gurus from buddhism, hinduism, even christianity and taoism. To name a few, these include gurus such as Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Milarepa, Machig Labdron, Dampa Sangye, Shakyamuni, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Babaji, Thirumular and dozens of others. I've received many tantric empowerments also from living teachers from both hindu and buddhist camps. I've also received pointing out instructions from a handful of dzogchen teachers.

The thing is that they are all the same and what they transmit is all the same. Everyone, including me and you, have our personalities, but other than that all mahasiddhas have the same basic realisation of buddhahood or whatever you call it. From this perspective, there is no difference or conflict.

It is a curious thing, since there obviously is different between hindu and buddhist theories. To me it was, just like to Goode and others, that it was good news to come from "awareness teachings" to "emptiness teachings". I haven't felt the need to go back to reading hindu texts but I wonder if anyone went back to reading hindu texts (without the band around the head), and how it might have felt.

Anyway, to me it seems, based on a lot of tantric guru yoga, that words and descriptions need not be taken so literally. Once, the nature of mind or Self (wow, haven't used that in years...) is recognised, the bird gets air under its wings, and experience, instead of concept, starts to lead.

aloha kim,

   Hearing your personal story helps put your words in clearer perspective. We share an eclectic, universalist approach to tradition. "Cherry blossoms everywhere."

   There is more buddhist scripture available in english than practically anything else, and much of it is truly sublime. Nonetheless, I recently was rereading vivekenanda's "gnani yoga" and the only spiritual picture (I have innumerable statuettes of the buddha) I have is a picture of ramakrishna above my workbench. The upanishads are a perennial favorite of mine, and the gita. At this point in my life any scripture reads like pure nonduality to me, and they appear virtually interchangeable. At times I have to slap my hand to stop assuming people will interpret references to "God" non-dually. I can totally understand how a reader of vedanta could see only the nondual aspect. I know these texts have layers, often separated by centuries, and are mixed with pure poetry and inspired commentary. These are the greatest treasures of humanity and are worthy of all the attention lavished on them.

   Buddhism's insistence on no self/no god not only accords with the modern or post-modern conception that "god is dead (if he ever existed)," it accords with ockham's razor, the "law of economy" which tells us to discard any unnecessary hypothesis. But it is certainly not the only way and we may see all religions converge as we approach truth, as there are different paths to the top of the mountain but the peak is the same end of every path.


terry



from sermon 42, meister eckhardt:

A master says God is a being that nothing is like and nothing can become like. Now St. John says, "We shall be called children of God" (1 John 3 : 1), and if we are God's children we must resemble God. How is it then that the master says God is a being whom nothing is like? This is how you must understand it: By virtue of being like nothing, this power [of the soul; the Intellect] is like God. Just as God is like nothing, so too this power is like nothing. You must know that all creatures strive and work naturally to become like God. The heavens would not revolve if they did not pursue or seek for God, or a likeness to God. If God were not in all things, nature would cease operation and not strive for anything; for, whether you like it or not, and whether you know it or not, nature secretly and in her inmost parts seeks and aims at God. No man was ever so thirsty that, when offered a drink, he would not refuse it unless there were something of God in it. Nature seeks neither eating nor drinking, nor clothes nor comfort, nor anything whatsoever, unless God were in it; she seeks privily, struggling and striving ever more to find God in it.



   

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/20/18 8:26 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
[quote=An Eternal Now

]"So I started again, laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and "awareness" were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free."

aloha now,

   Emptiness and awareness are chalk and cheese. Their imagined equivalence appears to me a strawman.

   What is "essenceless and free" is not illusory and non-existent. Very pertinent; this is the conceptual difference between the buddhist view and the advaita. Yet, interpreted nondually  they may refer to precisely the same insight.

terry

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/21/18 9:05 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

aloha nintheye,


   Namaste, my friend. Your words are well considered and deserve close attention.

   The key difference in the vedantic approach and the buddhist approach lies in the concept that the cosmos is an illusion. Our discussion is going to revolve around this point until it is clarified. For vedanta all of the universes in every time are an illusion, a dream of The Lord Supreme's. For the buddha the universe - any of the hindu conceptions of the cosmos - is real but not in the way the dualist sees it. The buddha of the suttas referred to "ordinary consciousness" as opposed to the "true aryan" way.  There is the ordinary way of taking for granted that the conventions of social life accuarately reflect reality, and the "awake" way of seeing "what is" in its essential nature. The buddha takes what is purely illusory in vedanta and characterizes it in a very specific and "real" way as "the dependent co-arising of phenomena" (paticca samuppada) This doctrine was so important to the buddha that he said whoever understood paticca samuppada understood the dhamma (ultimate truth).

Thanks for the pleasure of this extensive and thoughtful response.

As you know, illusion is a very tricky word. Vedanta says that phenomena may be considered perfectly real -- if seen as the Self. They are nothing but the Self. 

Actually the "dream of the Supreme Lord" is not the ultimate Vedantic position. The ultimate Vedantic position is that there can be said to be no dream and therefore no dreamer.
 
 All of our conceptions are poor approximations. The real problem is that the mystery of the nature of the universe is not going to be solved, certainly not by the intellect or conscious mind. No conception, not even a conception of non-dualism or a view of the universe as illusion (maya), can begin to approach the infinite, the eternal. We can name a concept "the Infinite, the eternal" but the name is a token, as a picture of the moon is not the moon. 
No doubt.

   A picture of the moon in human language is one thing, and the reflection of the "moon in a dewdrop" is another. Dogen points out that when the mind (intellect) considers any thing, one side appears light and the other is dark. When the mind is forgotten, no object appears, and all sides are considered equally without preference. In the ordinary view there are buddhas and ordinary beings, truth and fiction, practice and illumination. In the nondual Way, there or no buddhas and ordinary beings, etc. The world is "navigated" by unconscious intuition alone, and everything seems "right."
Bingo. The bolded phrase above is the essence of Vedanta, Buddhism (I suspect), and of non-duality generally. 

   The subtle difference between the two approaches seems to me to come down to the difference between delusion and illusion. In the nonduality common to both approaches there are no differences and a saint in one tradition is a saint in others. In vedanta the world is entirely illusory. In buddhism the world is real but we see it as conditioned. The image in vedanta is of a Supreme Lord who has a dream of separate beings who have no real existence. The image in buddhism is of deluded beings misapprehending a real existence with no Supreme Lord.
The Supreme Lord, though, has to be understood correctly. It is not the conventional conception of God. It is the nondual ground, the Being that is beyond all relative being and non-being.

And again, there really is no dream. The "dream" idea is an aid to seekers who must have some jumping point from their everyday experience. The true Vedantic position is that there is nothing that can even be called a dream.

   The ultimate nature of reality is the same but the approaches are different. A buddhist may reason that, if conceptions of a divine being are not necessary, why set them up as something to overcome in order to realize nonduality? Buddhism dispenses with most of the cultural baggage it inheritied from hinduism. A close reading of the (highly polished) modern bhagavad gita sees it as upholding the obnoxious varna system of caste obligations. The buddha's reform rejected caste and gender distinctions.

   I realize you are cutting loose all of these distinctions in embracing nondualism. Still, the means and the goal are intimately related. Buddhism makes a point of stripping off cultural trappings to simplify and clarify the Way.
Well, these caste and gender distinctions I would argue are far from anything inherent to Vedanta. There's always a culture that grows around spirituality. Buddhism also has a lot of deity worship now that the Buddha may not have advocated... but it's happened. But that's not really the heart of Buddhist teachings. 

  To your points:

   Why bother with the bodhisattva vow if individual effort is an illusion? My best answer is that we bodhisattvas cannot help ourselves.
      A buddha does nothing; the tathagata "abides." The buddha "saves beings" by nature, not because of any sort of doing. The buddha has ended all effort. The bodhisattva still has a "thirst for existence" motivated by compassion and kindness. Whatever the bodhisattva may realize, the pull of suffering beings and their need for relief compels a response. The "bodhisattva vow" recognizes the solidarity of all being(s) by not separating one from the suffering of the world.
I guess, but it just seems odd to make it a vow that "I" wont allow myself to be fully enlightened until all beings are saved, when it is doctrine that all beings are already saved. The Buddha did not endorse this kind of vow in the earliest suttas, right? Why did mahayana add this in, is the question? Theravada doesn't have it, right?

   You have spoken about advaita "practice" but the question can be turned around: why should you, or any realized being, practice at all? Why try to "help" people who do not exist, whose suffering is unreal? What theoretical basis is there in advaita vedanta for doing anything?
There is no basis for doing anything. We are all already nothing but the Self. Dakshinamurty, one of the mythological avatars, is said to have taught Vedanta by silence, and that this was the supreme teaching. Only for those minds who were not mature enough to receive silence did words have to be used.

The Vedantic position is that he who is forced by his nature to seek -- to him the scriptures are addressed, not for any purpose, but because whoever wrote them also was forced by their nature to write them. As you ponit, we individuals are not the real decision-makers.

But in final Vedantic truth there is no seeker, no scriptures, no practice, no goal to be reached.

   Krishna very explicitly says, over and over, "I am Lord Supreme." That you admit that buddhist "emptiness" is as non-dual as the advaitic Self is admirable. But the buddha commences with emptiness, positing no divine beings, while krishna apparently starts with "secondary knowledge." The buddha would say that many are misled by the insistence on a divine doer. He would caution them to reject all such formulations as not merely secondary but unnecessary and wrong. Just as islam insists god had no sons.  In buddhism, the well known zen master rinzai counsels his monks, "If you meet the buddha on the road, kill the buddha." No one in their right minds would ever suggest killing the Lord Supreme in any scenario.

   I have no objection to monotheism. Like any religious idea, it ranges from the ridiculous (santa claus, the easter bunny) to the sublime (brahman, yhwh, allah). Buddhism simply dispenses with the whole divinity business at the outset, while vedanta keeps these trappings to the end.
The Lord Supreme has to be understood correctly. It is the ground of all Being, not some separate creating-and-destroying intelligence. The separate deity concept in Hinduism is only there as long as one sees separate beings and a separate world for that deity to create. For the seeker who needs that intermediate concept, it is there (and it is valid in that context).

If that disappears, so must the separate deity.

What remains is the true Self, Brahman.

I would argue that Buddhism doesn't dispense with these trappings -- it simply gives other names to them: buddha nature, buddha ground, dharmakaya, buddhacit, sunya, nirvana, etc.

And ok, buddhism perhaps originally got rid of devotion and bhakti concepts, but in fact, the way it has culturally played out -- it hasn't. Bhakti traditions have sprung right up again in and around it. That's probably because bhakti serves a human need, probably, even for seekers.


   If "the supreme Self" is "beginningless and without qualities" how can it be "situated in the body"? Specifying "the body" inplies a small self who is the "liver of life" in the body, with a relation to a great self. Brother, you and I could have a field day agreeing over the implied nonduality of individual fragments of the upanishads, but the gita in particular is larded with error due to its nature as a conglomeration, and because it upholds cultural practices which are antithetical to higher spiritual aspirations. We could criticize the bible and the koran, too. I love these scriptures and am not inclined to criticize, but they are not direct springboards to nondualism, as you appear to be claiming vedanta is. Whereas, the buddhist scriptures take nondualism as their explicit beginning and end. It is the dhamma, "good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end." 
Different doctrines are prescribed for different levels of understanding. The seeker starts out with a more "experience-near" user-friendly understanding and works his way up to the more esoteric. That's why the Gita contains so many layers of doctrine.

How can any scripture take "nonduality" as its explicit beginning and end?

Buddhism also suggests practices, a whole eight-fold path, etc. etc. etc. As you pointed out before with respect to advaita practice, these are all technically non-dual. Buddhism also takes place in cultural contexts. As I understand it, the Buddha had to be persuaded several times and only reluctantly allowed female aspirants to come to him.

   Perhaps I will convert you, eh?
You can try! emoticon

    Even the "neti, neti" of the upanishadic sages seemed to mean, "the Lord Supreme" is "not this, not this." It is the Lord who is real, while in buddhism it is "the buddha field," the Ground. The buddha in the nirvana sutra specifically tells his followers to depend only on their own knowledge and reason, and not to take any authority outside of themselves. Not even his authority. Truth wells up from within; and within and without become One (without a second).
No, neti neti means nothing can be said of That Which Is. No duality applies to it. That which is beyond all dualities is called Brahman, and the Lord Supreme is nothing but another name for Brahman.

It is exactly the Ground.

Truth also wells up from within in Vedanta. As far as authority -- maybe that is a small but real difference between the traditions. In Vedanta, the scriptures are considered a genuine source of knowledge that should be respected by the seeker.

Although -- how to interpret them? That requires the intellect & recourse to one's experience. So in the end that is what it always boils down to. 

   Existence as an "egoic category" is a deep subject I find it hard to dismiss in a sentence. In non-duality, the "category" of "non-existence" is the Real and contains everything that can be perceived as existent and also everything that cannot. To bring any object-subject duality out of the void of non-existence is an egoic act. The objects and subjects of existence are the conscious mind's poor effort to understand (and communicate) what we normally cope with unconsciously and far more effectively. It is like thinking about moving your fingers and moving them one bit at a time, each one separately, as opposed to wiggling our fingers rapidly and thoughtlessly. Almost everything we do does not involve conscious mind; we depend on unconscious coping skills and habit, and use our consciousness to make up stories to explain to ourselves and others why we do what we do. The upshot is that, while existence does not really exist, non-existence certainly "exists". So to speak.
Yes, so to speak.

I would rather say that what Is is beyond both existence and non-existence, personally, but these are very slight semantic issues .

   Let's not forget that we fundamentally agree on the ineffability and Truth of non-dualism, and are speaking of superficial differences in the way nonduality is thought of and transmitted. There is a tradition of transmission in zen, at least; from the masters to the aspirants. How is nonduality transmitted in advaita?
Agreed. Nonduality is also traditionally transmitted in Vedanta from teacher to student. But Ramana Maharshi and other modern masters believe transmission can happen from the inner guru, the only real one anyway, with which I agree.

Our discussion, I think, is so representative of the general dynamic between Buddhists and Hindus over time. The Hindus always want to embrace and absorb Buddhism, saying it is nothing but Hinduism with a different name and labels. The Buddhists, meanwhile, rush to separate -- "No, no, we are completely different!" 

It's funny how we are replaying that dynamic.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/21/18 2:48 PM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:
terry:

aloha nintheye,


   Namaste, my friend. Your words are well considered and deserve close attention.

   The key difference in the vedantic approach and the buddhist approach lies in the concept that the cosmos is an illusion. Our discussion is going to revolve around this point until it is clarified. For vedanta all of the universes in every time are an illusion, a dream of The Lord Supreme's. For the buddha the universe - any of the hindu conceptions of the cosmos - is real but not in the way the dualist sees it. The buddha of the suttas referred to "ordinary consciousness" as opposed to the "true aryan" way.  There is the ordinary way of taking for granted that the conventions of social life accuarately reflect reality, and the "awake" way of seeing "what is" in its essential nature. The buddha takes what is purely illusory in vedanta and characterizes it in a very specific and "real" way as "the dependent co-arising of phenomena" (paticca samuppada) This doctrine was so important to the buddha that he said whoever understood paticca samuppada understood the dhamma (ultimate truth).

Thanks for the pleasure of this extensive and thoughtful response.

As you know, illusion is a very tricky word. Vedanta says that phenomena may be considered perfectly real -- if seen as the Self. They are nothing but the Self. 

Actually the "dream of the Supreme Lord" is not the ultimate Vedantic position. The ultimate Vedantic position is that there can be said to be no dream and therefore no dreamer.
 
 All of our conceptions are poor approximations. The real problem is that the mystery of the nature of the universe is not going to be solved, certainly not by the intellect or conscious mind. No conception, not even a conception of non-dualism or a view of the universe as illusion (maya), can begin to approach the infinite, the eternal. We can name a concept "the Infinite, the eternal" but the name is a token, as a picture of the moon is not the moon. 
No doubt.

   A picture of the moon in human language is one thing, and the reflection of the "moon in a dewdrop" is another. Dogen points out that when the mind (intellect) considers any thing, one side appears light and the other is dark. When the mind is forgotten, no object appears, and all sides are considered equally without preference. In the ordinary view there are buddhas and ordinary beings, truth and fiction, practice and illumination. In the nondual Way, there or no buddhas and ordinary beings, etc. The world is "navigated" by unconscious intuition alone, and everything seems "right."
Bingo. The bolded phrase above is the essence of Vedanta, Buddhism (I suspect), and of non-duality generally. 

   The subtle difference between the two approaches seems to me to come down to the difference between delusion and illusion. In the nonduality common to both approaches there are no differences and a saint in one tradition is a saint in others. In vedanta the world is entirely illusory. In buddhism the world is real but we see it as conditioned. The image in vedanta is of a Supreme Lord who has a dream of separate beings who have no real existence. The image in buddhism is of deluded beings misapprehending a real existence with no Supreme Lord.
The Supreme Lord, though, has to be understood correctly. It is not the conventional conception of God. It is the nondual ground, the Being that is beyond all relative being and non-being.

And again, there really is no dream. The "dream" idea is an aid to seekers who must have some jumping point from their everyday experience. The true Vedantic position is that there is nothing that can even be called a dream.

   The ultimate nature of reality is the same but the approaches are different. A buddhist may reason that, if conceptions of a divine being are not necessary, why set them up as something to overcome in order to realize nonduality? Buddhism dispenses with most of the cultural baggage it inheritied from hinduism. A close reading of the (highly polished) modern bhagavad gita sees it as upholding the obnoxious varna system of caste obligations. The buddha's reform rejected caste and gender distinctions.

   I realize you are cutting loose all of these distinctions in embracing nondualism. Still, the means and the goal are intimately related. Buddhism makes a point of stripping off cultural trappings to simplify and clarify the Way.
Well, these caste and gender distinctions I would argue are far from anything inherent to Vedanta. There's always a culture that grows around spirituality. Buddhism also has a lot of deity worship now that the Buddha may not have advocated... but it's happened. But that's not really the heart of Buddhist teachings. 

  To your points:

   Why bother with the bodhisattva vow if individual effort is an illusion? My best answer is that we bodhisattvas cannot help ourselves.
      A buddha does nothing; the tathagata "abides." The buddha "saves beings" by nature, not because of any sort of doing. The buddha has ended all effort. The bodhisattva still has a "thirst for existence" motivated by compassion and kindness. Whatever the bodhisattva may realize, the pull of suffering beings and their need for relief compels a response. The "bodhisattva vow" recognizes the solidarity of all being(s) by not separating one from the suffering of the world.
I guess, but it just seems odd to make it a vow that "I" wont allow myself to be fully enlightened until all beings are saved, when it is doctrine that all beings are already saved. The Buddha did not endorse this kind of vow in the earliest suttas, right? Why did mahayana add this in, is the question? Theravada doesn't have it, right?

   You have spoken about advaita "practice" but the question can be turned around: why should you, or any realized being, practice at all? Why try to "help" people who do not exist, whose suffering is unreal? What theoretical basis is there in advaita vedanta for doing anything?
There is no basis for doing anything. We are all already nothing but the Self. Dakshinamurty, one of the mythological avatars, is said to have taught Vedanta by silence, and that this was the supreme teaching. Only for those minds who were not mature enough to receive silence did words have to be used.

The Vedantic position is that he who is forced by his nature to seek -- to him the scriptures are addressed, not for any purpose, but because whoever wrote them also was forced by their nature to write them. As you ponit, we individuals are not the real decision-makers.

But in final Vedantic truth there is no seeker, no scriptures, no practice, no goal to be reached.

   Krishna very explicitly says, over and over, "I am Lord Supreme." That you admit that buddhist "emptiness" is as non-dual as the advaitic Self is admirable. But the buddha commences with emptiness, positing no divine beings, while krishna apparently starts with "secondary knowledge." The buddha would say that many are misled by the insistence on a divine doer. He would caution them to reject all such formulations as not merely secondary but unnecessary and wrong. Just as islam insists god had no sons.  In buddhism, the well known zen master rinzai counsels his monks, "If you meet the buddha on the road, kill the buddha." No one in their right minds would ever suggest killing the Lord Supreme in any scenario.

   I have no objection to monotheism. Like any religious idea, it ranges from the ridiculous (santa claus, the easter bunny) to the sublime (brahman, yhwh, allah). Buddhism simply dispenses with the whole divinity business at the outset, while vedanta keeps these trappings to the end.
The Lord Supreme has to be understood correctly. It is the ground of all Being, not some separate creating-and-destroying intelligence. The separate deity concept in Hinduism is only there as long as one sees separate beings and a separate world for that deity to create. For the seeker who needs that intermediate concept, it is there (and it is valid in that context).

If that disappears, so must the separate deity.

What remains is the true Self, Brahman.

I would argue that Buddhism doesn't dispense with these trappings -- it simply gives other names to them: buddha nature, buddha ground, dharmakaya, buddhacit, sunya, nirvana, etc.

And ok, buddhism perhaps originally got rid of devotion and bhakti concepts, but in fact, the way it has culturally played out -- it hasn't. Bhakti traditions have sprung right up again in and around it. That's probably because bhakti serves a human need, probably, even for seekers.


   If "the supreme Self" is "beginningless and without qualities" how can it be "situated in the body"? Specifying "the body" inplies a small self who is the "liver of life" in the body, with a relation to a great self. Brother, you and I could have a field day agreeing over the implied nonduality of individual fragments of the upanishads, but the gita in particular is larded with error due to its nature as a conglomeration, and because it upholds cultural practices which are antithetical to higher spiritual aspirations. We could criticize the bible and the koran, too. I love these scriptures and am not inclined to criticize, but they are not direct springboards to nondualism, as you appear to be claiming vedanta is. Whereas, the buddhist scriptures take nondualism as their explicit beginning and end. It is the dhamma, "good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end." 
Different doctrines are prescribed for different levels of understanding. The seeker starts out with a more "experience-near" user-friendly understanding and works his way up to the more esoteric. That's why the Gita contains so many layers of doctrine.

How can any scripture take "nonduality" as its explicit beginning and end?

Buddhism also suggests practices, a whole eight-fold path, etc. etc. etc. As you pointed out before with respect to advaita practice, these are all technically non-dual. Buddhism also takes place in cultural contexts. As I understand it, the Buddha had to be persuaded several times and only reluctantly allowed female aspirants to come to him.

   Perhaps I will convert you, eh?
You can try! emoticon

    Even the "neti, neti" of the upanishadic sages seemed to mean, "the Lord Supreme" is "not this, not this." It is the Lord who is real, while in buddhism it is "the buddha field," the Ground. The buddha in the nirvana sutra specifically tells his followers to depend only on their own knowledge and reason, and not to take any authority outside of themselves. Not even his authority. Truth wells up from within; and within and without become One (without a second).
No, neti neti means nothing can be said of That Which Is. No duality applies to it. That which is beyond all dualities is called Brahman, and the Lord Supreme is nothing but another name for Brahman.

It is exactly the Ground.

Truth also wells up from within in Vedanta. As far as authority -- maybe that is a small but real difference between the traditions. In Vedanta, the scriptures are considered a genuine source of knowledge that should be respected by the seeker.

Although -- how to interpret them? That requires the intellect & recourse to one's experience. So in the end that is what it always boils down to. 

   Existence as an "egoic category" is a deep subject I find it hard to dismiss in a sentence. In non-duality, the "category" of "non-existence" is the Real and contains everything that can be perceived as existent and also everything that cannot. To bring any object-subject duality out of the void of non-existence is an egoic act. The objects and subjects of existence are the conscious mind's poor effort to understand (and communicate) what we normally cope with unconsciously and far more effectively. It is like thinking about moving your fingers and moving them one bit at a time, each one separately, as opposed to wiggling our fingers rapidly and thoughtlessly. Almost everything we do does not involve conscious mind; we depend on unconscious coping skills and habit, and use our consciousness to make up stories to explain to ourselves and others why we do what we do. The upshot is that, while existence does not really exist, non-existence certainly "exists". So to speak.
Yes, so to speak.

I would rather say that what Is is beyond both existence and non-existence, personally, but these are very slight semantic issues .

   Let's not forget that we fundamentally agree on the ineffability and Truth of non-dualism, and are speaking of superficial differences in the way nonduality is thought of and transmitted. There is a tradition of transmission in zen, at least; from the masters to the aspirants. How is nonduality transmitted in advaita?
Agreed. Nonduality is also traditionally transmitted in Vedanta from teacher to student. But Ramana Maharshi and other modern masters believe transmission can happen from the inner guru, the only real one anyway, with which I agree.

Our discussion, I think, is so representative of the general dynamic between Buddhists and Hindus over time. The Hindus always want to embrace and absorb Buddhism, saying it is nothing but Hinduism with a different name and labels. The Buddhists, meanwhile, rush to separate -- "No, no, we are completely different!" 

It's funny how we are replaying that dynamic.

aloha nintheye,

   Thanks for responding. I find little to disagree with.

   Your grasp of what I am saying is virtually faultless. Since I don't always say exactly what I mean, there are still some areas of apparent disagreement.

   Firstly, there is "correct understanding" and interpretation, there is what a text actually says, and there is what people generally make of it.  The three entwine but can be teased apart. As I am sure you realize, even "correct understanding" is not actually correct understanding; "correct understanding" is beyond correct understanding and actually utterly different from any sort of understanding, correct or otherwise. The word or doctrine of nondualism (aka advaita) and the transcendent Reality are incommensurable.

   Buddhism as such is not non-duality; neither is vedanta. "Advaita" is quite specifically non-dualism. As you interpret vedanta as "ultimately" nondual, so I interpret buddhism.

   Krishna was born enlightened, ditto rama. The buddha worked his way up from bodhisattva ("bodhisatta" in the pali, theravadan tradition). The buddha's story is an essential part of buddhism; he represents the apex of human evolution. Gotama sakyamuni, prince siddhartha, spent arduous years as an ascetic before realizing the middle way under the bodhi tree, in a fabulous night of enlightenment. The buddha's story is the essence of buddhism, the very beginning of buddhism: his Enlightenment happened before his famous first sermon enunciating the four noble truths. This enlightenment was the realization of nirvana, the ultimate, nonduality. Thus buddhism commences with  nonduality.

   The first sermon on the four noble truths began with human experience, the universal experience of dukkha, that is, dissatisfaction and insatiability. The buddha identified the cause of dukkha as "craving" (tanha), which leads to attachment, clinging and ignorance. The "good news" is that beings may be liberated from suffering (nirvana, you would call moksha: the realization of nonduality). The buddha then outlined the eightfold path of correcting one's life to "achieve" (realize) nonduality. With this sermon the buddha began 49 years of teaching; the pali suttas number over 5000, many of great length and all transmitted over centuries by a faithful oral tradition.

   So, buddhism began with the buddha's enlightenment - with nirvana, nonduality - for which his whole prior life story is just a setup. The buddha's life differs from that of confucius, muhammed and jesus (and shankara) in that he was born rich and privileged, and renounced his wealth and status to pursue enlightenment. The buddha's renunciation is a powerful symbol to western buddhists, who ordinarily possess wealth and status and can perceive them as bondage. Jesus, on the other hand, was born dirt-poor and illegitimate, and thus was always a champion of the poor and dispossessed. Krishna was a cowherd but so evidently divine that everything was enjoyment to him, the gopis not least. 

   Thus, buddhism began with nonduality and proceeded by a straight path to nonduality, which was explicitly offered as a goal at the outset.


   On the bodhisatta ideal in theravada, I give you:

Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism

Walpola Rahula Thera
From: “Gems of Buddhist Wisdom”, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1996

There is a wide-spread belief, particularly in the West, that the ideal of the Theravada, which they conveniently identify with Hinayana, is to become an Arahant while that of the Mahayana is to become a Bodhisattva and finally to attain the state of a Buddha. It must be categorically stated that this is incorrect. This idea was spread by some early Orientalists at a time when Buddhist studies were beginning in the West, and the others who followed them accepted it without taking the trouble to go into the problem by examining the texts and living traditions in Buddhist countries. But the fact is that both the Theravada and the Mahayana unanimously accept the Bodhisattva ideal as the highest.


   Couldn't have said it better myself. We could go into the texts and substantiate this claim, but the whole pali canon is infused with it.

walpola rahula thera continues:


Now, who are these three individuals: Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva? Very briefly:

A Sravaka is a disciple of a Buddha. A disciple may be a monk or a nun, a layman or a laywoman. Bent on his or her liberation, a Sravaka follows and practises the reaching of the Buddha and finally attains Nirvana. He also serves others, but his capacity to do so is limited.

A Pratyekabuddha (Individual Buddha) is a person who realizes Nirvana alone by himself at a time when there is no Samyaksambuddha in the world. He also renders service to others, but in a limited way. He is not capable of revealing the Truth to others as a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha does.

A Bodhisattva is a person (monk or layman) who is in a position to attain Nirvana as a Sravaka or as a Pratyekabuddha, but out of great compassion (maha karuna) for the world, he renounces it and goes on suffering in samsara for the sake of others, perfects himself during an incalculable period of time and finally realizes Nirvana and becomes a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha. He discovers The Truth and declares it to the world. His capacity for service to others is unlimited.


   I am not sure whether any of these formulations rings a bell for advaita. Do I have a "bingo"?

   The mahayana sutras, in the style and consciousness of a later time, are more explicitly nondual. From the diamond sutra:


The Buddha said to Subhūti: “Good sons and good daughters who want to arouse the aspiration for peerless perfect enlightenment should think like this: ‘I will save all sentient beings.’ Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, in fact, not a single sentient being has been liberated. And why not? Subhūti, if a bodhisattva holds the notion of a self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, and the notion of life span, then she is not a bodhisattva. Why? Subhūti, there is actually no such a thing as peerless perfect enlightenment.”

   
   The buddha of the mahayana sutras - especially zen, where the whole original transmission was done by the buddha simply holding up a flower - was said to have taught all of his 49 years of preaching in silence. Teaching by silence is big in zen, and has its roots in taoism. Dogen says in the genjokan: 

(quote)
Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your consciousness. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent. Its appearance is beyond your knowledge. Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. When, then, do you fan yourself?"

"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.

The actualization of the buddha-dharma, the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this. If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

(unquote)


   Your comment about female disciples being accepted reluctantly surprised me. The buddha admitted women to the sangha as equals, a radical experiment for the time. The discipline required of sangha members was to renounce sexual desires, clearly a bigger difficulty for monks than nuns. Men and women were kept mostly separate, and as we know from segregation, separation means inequality. But this was never the buddha's intention. 

   As for you and I reliving the dynamic of hindu inclusiveness and buddhist exclusiveness, I entirely disagree. You entered a buddhist forum as an advaita vedantist with a request for discussion. For "respectful debate." I have only granted your desire. I have repeatedly referred to our fundamental agreement, and the agreement of both traditions in their ultimate aims. Many buddhists don't think of buddhism as a religion, but more as a spiritual direction and a toolkit of techniques. Buddhism goes beyond religion, to "where the hand of man never set foot" (joyce). Advaita vedanta the same. I have consistently tried to avoid any real disagreement between us. I don't doubt most western buddhists have no problem with advaita vedanta and might well use it as a part of their spiritual repertoire. 

   Perhaps you even might find some use for buddhism in your practice. (I can try.)


thanks again,
terry



from paul reps 101 zen stories:


50. Ryonen's Clear Realization


The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a granddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.

The beloved emperor died suddenly and Ryonen's hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.

Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun after she had borne three children. Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage. She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugyu to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.

Ryonen then went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble. Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.

Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.

Commemorating this occasion. Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

In the service of my Empress
I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant
I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have had enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 3:43 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I think the rinpoche is making a meal of it because he's a rinpoche and rinpoches have to justify their rinpocheness by saying that non-rinpoches have the wrong kind of oneness. Especially after an investment in special robes and hats and wotnot.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 8:58 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

aloha nintheye,

   Thanks for responding. I find little to disagree with.

   Your grasp of what I am saying is virtually faultless. Since I don't always say exactly what I mean, there are still some areas of apparent disagreement.

   Firstly, there is "correct understanding" and interpretation, there is what a text actually says, and there is what people generally make of it.  The three entwine but can be teased apart. As I am sure you realize, even "correct understanding" is not actually correct understanding; "correct understanding" is beyond correct understanding and actually utterly different from any sort of understanding, correct or otherwise. The word or doctrine of nondualism (aka advaita) and the transcendent Reality are incommensurable.

   Buddhism as such is not non-duality; neither is vedanta. "Advaita" is quite specifically non-dualism. As you interpret vedanta as "ultimately" nondual, so I interpret buddhism.

   Krishna was born enlightened, ditto rama. The buddha worked his way up from bodhisattva ("bodhisatta" in the pali, theravadan tradition). The buddha's story is an essential part of buddhism; he represents the apex of human evolution. Gotama sakyamuni, prince siddhartha, spent arduous years as an ascetic before realizing the middle way under the bodhi tree, in a fabulous night of enlightenment. The buddha's story is the essence of buddhism, the very beginning of buddhism: his Enlightenment happened before his famous first sermon enunciating the four noble truths. This enlightenment was the realization of nirvana, the ultimate, nonduality. Thus buddhism commences with  nonduality.

   The first sermon on the four noble truths began with human experience, the universal experience of dukkha, that is, dissatisfaction and insatiability. The buddha identified the cause of dukkha as "craving" (tanha), which leads to attachment, clinging and ignorance. The "good news" is that beings may be liberated from suffering (nirvana, you would call moksha: the realization of nonduality). The buddha then outlined the eightfold path of correcting one's life to "achieve" (realize) nonduality. With this sermon the buddha began 49 years of teaching; the pali suttas number over 5000, many of great length and all transmitted over centuries by a faithful oral tradition.

   So, buddhism began with the buddha's enlightenment - with nirvana, nonduality - for which his whole prior life story is just a setup. The buddha's life differs from that of confucius, muhammed and jesus (and shankara) in that he was born rich and privileged, and renounced his wealth and status to pursue enlightenment. The buddha's renunciation is a powerful symbol to western buddhists, who ordinarily possess wealth and status and can perceive them as bondage. Jesus, on the other hand, was born dirt-poor and illegitimate, and thus was always a champion of the poor and dispossessed. Krishna was a cowherd but so evidently divine that everything was enjoyment to him, the gopis not least. 

   Thus, buddhism began with nonduality and proceeded by a straight path to nonduality, which was explicitly offered as a goal at the outset.


I want to thank you again for this rich and informative dialogue. To take your last point in this essay first, I will certainly agree with you that I asked for respectful debate, and got it.

Very interesting points on the life of the Buddha and his approach to the nondual.

I will say that the archetypal enlightenment story in Hinduism is of course that of Arjuna, then -- also royalty, but of course one who turned to spirituality under very different pressures and circumstances than did the Buddha. The Gita, read that way, starts out in Chapter 2 with a bold assertion of non-duality, and only when Arjuna fails to grasp that does it come down to other, easier-to-grasp, more dualistic renditions of the Truth.



   On the bodhisatta ideal in theravada, I give you:

Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism

Walpola Rahula Thera
From: “Gems of Buddhist Wisdom”, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1996

There is a wide-spread belief, particularly in the West, that the ideal of the Theravada, which they conveniently identify with Hinayana, is to become an Arahant while that of the Mahayana is to become a Bodhisattva and finally to attain the state of a Buddha. It must be categorically stated that this is incorrect. This idea was spread by some early Orientalists at a time when Buddhist studies were beginning in the West, and the others who followed them accepted it without taking the trouble to go into the problem by examining the texts and living traditions in Buddhist countries. But the fact is that both the Theravada and the Mahayana unanimously accept the Bodhisattva ideal as the highest.


   Couldn't have said it better myself. We could go into the texts and substantiate this claim, but the whole pali canon is infused with it.

walpola rahula thera continues:


Now, who are these three individuals: Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva? Very briefly:

A Sravaka is a disciple of a Buddha. A disciple may be a monk or a nun, a layman or a laywoman. Bent on his or her liberation, a Sravaka follows and practises the reaching of the Buddha and finally attains Nirvana. He also serves others, but his capacity to do so is limited.

A Pratyekabuddha (Individual Buddha) is a person who realizes Nirvana alone by himself at a time when there is no Samyaksambuddha in the world. He also renders service to others, but in a limited way. He is not capable of revealing the Truth to others as a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha does.


But so what then is this concept of a Pratyekabuddha? If he has attained nirvana, then he has realized that there is no one to help, right?

Or if there "is" someone to help, how is nirvana a hindrance?

I mean, if you look at the actual life of the Buddha -- he didn’t stay back from nirvana to help people. He claimed to be in nirvana, to have awakened, period.

No?


A Bodhisattva is a person (monk or layman) who is in a position to attain Nirvana as a Sravaka or as a Pratyekabuddha, but out of great compassion (maha karuna) for the world, he renounces it and goes on suffering in samsara for the sake of others, perfects himself during an incalculable period of time and finally realizes Nirvana and becomes a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha. He discovers The Truth and declares it to the world. His capacity for service to others is unlimited.


   I am not sure whether any of these formulations rings a bell for advaita. Do I have a "bingo"?
Not really, as far as I can figure out...

What occurs to me is that perhaps the bodhisattva ideal is simply a way of getting aspirants not to get attached to the concept of nirvana. That concept, too, of course, must be given up before nonduality is fully realized.


   The mahayana sutras, in the style and consciousness of a later time, are more explicitly nondual. From the diamond sutra:


The Buddha said to Subhūti: “Good sons and good daughters who want to arouse the aspiration for peerless perfect enlightenment should think like this: ‘I will save all sentient beings.’ Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, in fact, not a single sentient being has been liberated. And why not? Subhūti, if a bodhisattva holds the notion of a self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, and the notion of life span, then she is not a bodhisattva. Why? Subhūti, there is actually no such a thing as peerless perfect enlightenment.”

   
   The buddha of the mahayana sutras - especially zen, where the whole original transmission was done by the buddha simply holding up a flower - was said to have taught all of his 49 years of preaching in silence. Teaching by silence is big in zen, and has its roots in taoism. Dogen says in the genjokan: 

(quote)
Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your consciousness. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent. Its appearance is beyond your knowledge. Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. When, then, do you fan yourself?"

"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.

The actualization of the buddha-dharma, the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this. If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

(unquote)


Nice. Reminds me, since you mentioned Taoism, of a story from the Zhuangzi, where a disciple of Confucius comes to him and complains that a man just sits by a tree, saying nothing, and that people flock to him with troubles and go away happier. But the disciple is contemptuous, because this guy doesn't teach anything. Confucius responds (roughly), "So people come to him with troubled hearts and leave with peaceful ones, all without him saying a word? This man should be my master."

   Your comment about female disciples being accepted reluctantly surprised me. The buddha admitted women to the sangha as equals, a radical experiment for the time. The discipline required of sangha members was to renounce sexual desires, clearly a bigger difficulty for monks than nuns. Men and women were kept mostly separate, and as we know from segregation, separation means inequality. But this was never the buddha's intention. 
Well, I saw this on Wikipedia:

"The tradition of the ordained monastic community (sangha) began with the Buddha, who established an order of Bhikkhus (monks).[2] According to the scriptures,[3] later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of Bhikkhunis (nuns or women monks). However, according to the scriptural account, not only did the Buddha lay down more rules of discipline for the bhikkhunis (311 compared to the bhikkhu's 227 in the Theravada version), he also made it more difficult for them to be ordained, and made them subordinate to monks."

   As for you and I reliving the dynamic of hindu inclusiveness and buddhist exclusiveness, I entirely disagree. You entered a buddhist forum as an advaita vedantist with a request for discussion. For "respectful debate." I have only granted your desire. I have repeatedly referred to our fundamental agreement, and the agreement of both traditions in their ultimate aims. Many buddhists don't think of buddhism as a religion, but more as a spiritual direction and a toolkit of techniques. Buddhism goes beyond religion, to "where the hand of man never set foot" (joyce). Advaita vedanta the same. I have consistently tried to avoid any real disagreement between us. I don't doubt most western buddhists have no problem with advaita vedanta and might well use it as a part of their spiritual repertoire. 

   Perhaps you even might find some use for buddhism in your practice. (I can try.)


Of course, I meant no criticism at all, only a tongue-in-cheek observation. Agreed that ideas from Vedanta and Buddhism can certainly be used by practitioners of either. Thanks again.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 9:24 AM as a reply to nintheye.
nintheye:

I'm sure emptiness teachings have a different "flavor," but the underlying Truth Beyond Words seems to me to be the same. The lust for distinction seems quite comical to me.

Selves and things being essenceless and free is just a "flip side" way of saying that they are nothing but the Beyond-Concepts which is Brahman.These are all due to the limitations of language, which is inherently dualistic, to express the non-dual.


I like what the Christian mystic Bernadette Roberts said here:



"That everyone has different
experiences and perspectives is not a problem; rather, the problem is
that when we interpret an experience outside its own paradigm, context,
and stated definitions, that experience becomes lost altogether. It
becomes lost because we have redefined the terms according to a totally
different paradigm or perspective and thereby made it over into an
experience it never was in the first place. When we force an experience
into an alien paradigm, that experience becomes subsumed, interpreted
away, unrecognizable, confused, or made totally indistinguishable. Thus
when we impose alien definitions on the original terms of an experience,
that experience becomes lost to the journey, and eventually it becomes
lost to the literature as well. To keep this from happening it is
necessary to draw clear lines and to make sharp, exacting distinctions.
The purpose of doing so is not to criticize other paradigms, but to
allow a different paradigm or perspective to stand in its own right, to
have its own space in order to contribute what it can to our knowledge
of man and his journey to the divine.


Distinguishing
what is true or false, essential or superficial in our experience is
not a matter to be taken lightly. We cannot simply define our terms and
then sit back and expect perfect agreement across the board. Our
spiritual-psychological journey does not work this way. We are not
uniform robots with the same experiences, same definitions, same
perspectives, or same anything."

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 9:26 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:
aloha now,

   Emptiness and awareness are chalk and cheese. Their imagined equivalence appears to me a strawman.

   What is "essenceless and free" is not illusory and non-existent. Very pertinent; this is the conceptual difference between the buddhist view and the advaita. Yet, interpreted nondually  they may refer to precisely the same insight.

terry




It is not exactly the same, personally I have been through the stages here, the Brahman view is quite different -- http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 11:01 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Pepe:
An Eternal Now:

As Thusness wrote in 2012:

6/3/2012 9:27 PM: John: I do not see practice apart from realizing the essence and nature of awareness
6/3/2012 9:30 PM: John: The only difference is seeing Awareness as an ultimate essence or realizing awareness as this Seamless activity that fills the entire Universe.

AEN, thanks for your input, always helpful. Just trying to understand: what is Thusness refering by Seamless?


We use the term seamlessness with two meanings, and in this case both apply:

1) The seamlessness or non-duality of subject-action-object.

I wrote this in 2013 titled 'The Wind is Blowing, Blowing is The Wind':

"A few months back I was discussing with my friend. Slightly edited.

V: "...there is somewhere a One Thinker (of thought)"

Me: "A thinker is thinking a thought" is simply a construct of a faulty framework and view of inherent and dualistic self. Just like language is structured in a way that it often requires subject-action-object predicates, making us to say things like "the wind is blowing", "I am thinking a thought"... but is there really a truly existing and independent thing called "the wind" that "is blowing" or is "wind" and "blowing" simply two words referring to a single activity? Likewise is there truly an "I" that is "thinking, a thought" or is "I", "thinking", and "thought" three different labels imputed on a single activity? Seer, seeing and seen are just a conventional view... they only appear as separate, independent existences due to ignorance but such a view does not tally with reality.

River is flowing doesn't mean there is an independent thing called "river" that is "flowing", it actually means river IS the flowing and apart from the flowing there is no river... just conventional labels applied to a single activity. Wind is blowing means wind IS the blowing and apart from blowing there is no other wind... seeing the scenery means seeing IS the seen/scenery and apart from that seen/scenery there is no other seeing (nor a separate seer), there is no other consciousness apart from the specific manifest experience - seen/heard/sensed/smelled/touched/cognized. Mere conventions applied to a single activity, appearing to co-locate with each other in an independent and separate manner due to a distorted view that causes us to misperceive reality in a fundamental way, just like mis-perceiving a rope as a snake. Once we see that there isn't anything that 'nouns' point to than pure action/activity, then the verb alone is sufficient - 'blowing', 'flowing', 'thinking', 'seeing' - which is none other than the seen, thought, etc. There is no 'you', 'seer', 'thinker' apart from seeing which is sight, hearing which is sound, etc.

When we directly contemplate, investigate and challenge our view of 'seer-seeing-seen' and see that in the seen is merely the seen - that seeing is simply the seen and seen is just the seeing without any seer apart, that there is no other consciousness apart from the 'mere seen/mere cognized', a permanent quantum shift of perception takes place. When this is directly realized in one's experience and not merely understood inferentially, any delusion of agency (doer, controller, feeler), subject-object/perceiver-perceived gaps, divisions are seen through, the gapless/undivided self-clarity of experience without an agent, center or boundaries simply shines vividly in its raw, direct, unfiltered purity, and just that is free and liberating in itself. Later comes this seeing - the mind, the body, the breathing, the environment, in seamless exertion!"




2) The seamlessness of a single manifestation/dharma from all the conditionality/dependencies involved.

I wrote this in 2013 titled 'Dharma Body':

We
might feel that our body is moving through the universe... then we
might realize that body is not 'our' nor is it 'other', in fact there's
no 'body' other than felt sensations, perceptions and actions (movement,
etc)... and this sensation-perception-action is not in any way
limited... for where does body end and the world begin? Where can we
divide an inner into an outer? Not me, not mine of bodily aggregates
leads to the dropping of a presupposed 'me/mine' grasping, reference and
boundaries not in a dissociative way but rather leading to complete
intimacy with the whole field of Dharma. Is body 'me' or 'mine' or ever
just part of the world/universe/environment or better yet - just the
Dharma* in a whole interconnected movement?

(Note: Dharma as
simply a unit of experience dependently originating - not implying any
inherently existing material universe [as the universe/dharma body here
is seen as marvelous activities/phenomena dependently originating
seamlessly without center or boundaries], nor is this dharma body in any
sense a subjective body at all [if it is subjectively self-existent
then causes and conditions will not be incorporated nor necessary for
any given manifestation])

I was suddenly reminded of a term used
by Thusness many years ago, "Dharma Body". Here I do not dissociate from
my body as 'other'... in fact all bodily sensations and movement are
felt in crystal clarity and intimacy... Yet, no more intimate than the
trees and the sky and the buildings, which are all the Dharma Body in
action... all functioning together as much as two legs are functioning
together in an activity called walking.

Yes... when I move this
body (actually take the "I" out - body is just this movement without I),
it is this whole hands swinging-legs moving-heads turning-scenery
appearing and shifting all in one interconnected activity, and this
"environment"/scenery is also the movement of body as much as moving
legs are considered the movement of body. It is all the Dharma Body in
action and complete intimacy.

Update: elaborated on how the
Dharma Body is neither an inherently existing object nor a subject to
clarify due to noticed tendency to misunderstand what I mean.

-------------

Few months ago I wrote something related:

"After
maturing the insight of anatta, the natural and immediate experience
is total exertion. It is an intuitive experience. In hearing, there is
only sound. But it is not just the non-dual experience of sound, it
also has this flavor of the entire movement, a total activity, and that
becomes natural. One starts to see whole universe involved in the
activity. Then one begins to feel net of indra in real time."




Zen Master Bernie Glassman wrote:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2014/06/no-yellow-brick-road.html

In the same way, we usually see the body as a limited, bound thing, yet we know that it has many features -- hands, toes, numerous hairs and pores (all different), skin, bones, blood, guts, an assortment of organs, many feet of intestines. But they're all just one body with many, many features and characteristics. Hit one part and the whole feels it; the entire body is affected. Eat some food and what part is not affected? Breathe, what part is not affected?


As/if Awareness is subject to Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta, then Emptiness is refered to the Anatta aspect of Awareness? As/if Awereness is a flux, expands/contracts, flattens, widens, etc, how can this be seamless? Is Awareness another object of the "seamless activity that fills the entire Universe"?


As seamlessness is never used to imply 'permanence' or 'unchanging' in my definitions, there is no contradiction with anicca, dukkha and anatta.

Awareness is not an 'object' of the seamless activity but IS the seamless activity -- the activity happens and 'knows' itself by itself without a separate knower. There is no 'Awareness' besides the seamless activity that fills the entire Universe, however very often the insight into the aspect of non-dual Luminosity or 'Awareness' does not arise until later in the path. It arose first before insights into anatta because of the path I took (self-inquiry/advaita), so I went through Thusness Seven Stages.

However for some people, like Daniel M. Ingram, or the following Mahamudra practitioner by the name of 'tsultrim serri', their insights into egolessness/no-self and emptiness has matured to a certain extent before Luminosity becomes apparent in their practice (it comes later in their path, whereas it comes early on in my practice):

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-importance-of-luminosity.html

In 2008:
(4:15 PM) AEN: tsultrim serri:
(4:15 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer
(4:15 PM) AEN:
(Mind has often been likened to a mirror, but the analogy goes only so far, because mirrors exist and mind doesn't, well let's say that one can touch mirrors. What existence means, particularly at these levels, would be a fruitful topic, but one that i will not cover. Also , mind doesn't really reflect phenomena, it is the phenomena themselves. This is covered further down in these 4 prajnas, but for clarity i thought i should mention that.
(4:15 PM) AEN:
"Thusness' or "suchness" is what one feels with the experience of emptiness. It is a solid sense of being (yes, emptiness has a solid or one could say rich feeling). The luminescence of mind can be compared the the surface of a mirror. If the mirror is dirty it doesn't have a bright surface, and if mind is filled with obscuration its awareness is dimmed. With the experience of emptiness, phenomena become more vivid. It is said in the post that this confirms one's entrance into Zen. In the vajrayana, this vividness of mind is called "osel" in Tibetan, and it is a sign that one has entered the vajrayana. In my experience, this is quite far along the path. To get to this point, one would have to experience egolessness of self, egolessness of other, nondualty, emptiness, and only then luminosity.)
(4:16 PM) Thusness: very good.
(4:16 PM) AEN: from another thread: "Exist is a tricky word in Buddhism. Mind does not exist in the sense of being a thing, but it does exist as well, otherwise how would we be able to see, hear etc.
Having said that, for an individual, there is nothing "outside of awareness." Everything that happens to us happens in our awareness(it's not ours, but so what). Furthermore, we are literally everything that happens in our awareness. There is no self; we are simply the world. if we see a chair in our kitchen, that is what we are at that moment since there is no separation between phenomena and mind. Phenomena are mind and mind is phenomena. smile.gif
Tsultrim"

(4:22 PM) Thusness: this tsultrim's insight is stage 6.
(4:23 PM) AEN: oic..
(4:23 PM) Thusness: truly good.
(4:23 PM) AEN: icic..
(4:23 PM) Thusness: not many can truly feel the differences.
(4:23 PM) AEN: oic..
(4:24 PM) Thusness: it is only until a certain phase of experience then that clarity comes.
(4:24 PM) Thusness: and often in tremendous in the stability of thoughtlessness... thought almost seldom arise and one becomes the full vividness of arising phenomena.
(4:25 PM) Thusness: is he a dzogchen practitioner?
(4:25 PM) AEN: oic
(4:25 PM) AEN: i think mahamudra
(4:25 PM) AEN: he talks about the four yoga
(4:25 PM) Thusness: ic
(4:25 PM) AEN: "(Yes, this agrees, in my opinion, with "nonmeditation" in the 4 yogas of mahamudra, the last and most fruitional yoga of mahamudra."
(4:25 PM) AEN: oh
(4:25 PM) AEN: and he linked the 4 jnanas to the 4 yogas

(5:19 PM) Thusness: actually what he said about prajna and jhana is quite good. But u have to know that it is not the sort of jhana as in concentration.
(5:20 PM) Thusness: it is the experience of effortlessness in non-dual luminosity.
(5:22 PM) Thusness: There will come a time every day mundane activities, practice and enlightenment is just one substance.
(5:24 PM) AEN: no he said jnana
(5:24 PM) AEN: jnana is more like knowledge
(5:24 PM) AEN: not jhana absorption
(5:25 PM) Thusness: ic
(5:26 PM) Thusness: There will come a time when emptiness becomes so clear and the separation is no more then without the need to recall or remind. The last veil that separates is like permanently gone. Then there is no practice because all moments of arising phenomena is just one practice.
(5:28 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:28 PM) AEN: thats what he means by observing emptiness and 'being' emptiness rite
(5:28 PM) AEN: i mean the difference between it
(5:29 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer
(5:29 PM) AEN:
In a post above, i distinguished between the two. I know you asked Matylda, but until she replies, if she does, possibly i could be of help.
Prajna is the tool that sees emptiness. It is actually an expansion of awareness, using awareness in the context of mindfulness/awareness. Awareness gets to a point where it discovers the nature of mind which includes emptiness. At that point, awareness transforms into prajna. There are lesser stages of prajna as well, but i would have to review them.
Prajna has been likened to the mother of all the Buddhas, because through its activity the mind that becomes the Buddha mind is born. Actually, it has always been there, and is unborn, but let's not quibble.
(5:29 PM) AEN:
So, prajna sees emptiness. When first seen, however, one feels emptiness as separate from what has discovered it. There is still a slight trace of dualism. We experience this dualism as a seeking for emptinesss ie there is a seeker and something sought. At the realization of jnana, this duality melts, so to speak, and emptiness exists or doesn't exist without a sense of something observing it. Also, one attains wisdom when emptiness arises, not wisdom about anything, simply being in the state of wisdom. With prajna, one observes that wisdom; with jnana, one becomes it.
Tsultrim

(5:35 PM) Thusness: jnana here does not refer to the type of concentration like it said. It is an effortless non-dual luminous experience due to the maturing of prajna.
(5:35 PM) Thusness: I have often said clear until absorbed. Vividness of forms.
(5:37 PM) Thusness: It is the outcome of the clarity of insight due to the dissolving of that tendency to divide. It is natural, not a form of attention or concentration. This should not be misunderstood.
(5:38 PM) Thusness: He mentioned about luminosity is the last fruition stage and one must go through emptiness to realise this stage.
(5:39 PM) Thusness: This is not exactly right. emoticon
(5:39 PM) Thusness: Advaita Vedanta practitioner will experience the opposite. emoticon
(5:39 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:39 PM) AEN: but for mahamudra it is like that rite?
(5:39 PM) AEN: theravada also?
(5:39 PM) AEN: like dharma dan
(5:40 PM) Thusness: yes
(5:40 PM) Thusness: it is because of right view
(5:40 PM) Thusness: without the right view, u will experience luminosity aspect of awareness without knowing its empty nature.
(5:40 PM) Thusness: that is more dangerous.
(5:41 PM) Thusness: therefore establishment of right view is most important. Seeds are planted.
(5:42 PM) Thusness: It is better not to experience then to experience the wrong stuff and makes it more difficult to get out of the dualistic experience of Eternal Witness.


Is the dukka aspect of Awareness the knowing that 'Awareness of Awareness' isn't always fully granted 24/7?

Dukkha is the unsatisfactoriness of transiency in that it cannot truly satisfy as an object of craving or grasping due to its utter transiency and ungraspability.

Awareness cannot be grasped as it is empty and none other than the ungraspable transiency of all manifestation. The transience knows and rolls, no knower exists/never is a knower needed.

When people talk about "Awareness of Awareness", they are always only talking about Stage 1 in Thusness 7 stages -- the I AM realization. http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

And as Thusness said in 2013:

John TanThursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:27am UTC+08

Awareness aware of itself soon becomes dead...lol
John TanThursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:29am UTC+08

The measure of one's depth is in the ineffability and marvelous manifestation in activity. Anatta and emptiness cannot b dead.



........


At the I AM stage, they do not realize that the Awareness cannot be grasped. Some may think that abiding in Nirvikalpa Samadhi, as a Blissful, Unconditional, Permanent Self, and absorption in the Self that is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) through Samadhi is satisfactory and blissful, but only further insights will reveal that it is another form of efforting, grasping and 'suffering', not liberation. It is blissful but not liberating.

As I wrote in this forum in 2011 to Seraph Tai,

"
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2425755?fbclid=IwAR2Xjct3TWa-a95L2dfkv0IQ8kNiV9YKlF7ir_J3_af1jYdh_l_hVJdOcr8

What you have experienced is Thusness Stage 1 (see http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../thusnesss-six... ). It is the experience and realization of I AM.

Many people (myself included, Thusness included) having realized the I AM would think that the final state/Nirvana is the state of effortless and permanent abidance in the Self, in other words moving from Savikalpa to Nirvikalpa samadhi.

However as we progress in the path, we realize that effortlessness comes not with abiding (that would still be effortful and has to do with your degree of mastery in concentration/abiding in what is deemed as the purest state of Presence) with the deepening of insights into non-dual, anatta, and shunyata. At that point, Presence-Awareness is felt everywhere, as everything, without center, circumference, point of reference, without any attempt needed to abide because it is seen that there is no 'purest state of Presence' to abide in/as. I AM is not more I AM (not more special or ultimate) than a sound! A scent! A sight! Transience reveals itself as non-dual (without subject-object, observer-observed dichotomy) presence-awareness. This is the beginning of non-dual insight and effortlessness - complete effortlessness comes with the maturation of this non-dual insight into anatta and shunyata.

So it is important to progress to further insights from I AM, is to first focus on the four aspects of I AM, then non-dual, ...etc. Even if you attain mastery of samadhi and achieve Nirvikalpa Samadhi (permanent abidance as Self), still, further insights that allows full effortlessness is not revealed, unless further investigations are undertaken.

I have discussed this in Kenneth Folk forum: http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/.../What+does+one...

Here's my e-book: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html
Manage"

Later he realised Anatta and wrote an e-book. As I wrote, his "insights
unfold from recognizing "the same taste" of I AM in all six entries and
exits, into seeing that the very idea of
abiding is a hindrance, to the doubtless realization that there never
was a "This I" to abide in, and whatever arises is already free and
liberating."

His article/e-book comparing Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi, Nirodha
Samapatti, Anatta and Total Exertion, quite well written:

https://app.box.com/s/7u47emus4osjxzpnqs03

Interestingly, I, Thusness and our blog has helped almost 30 people realize anatta over the years (and I have kept a list of names, haha). Vast majority of them went through the I AM/One Mind phase first.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 10:17 AM as a reply to terry.
another story from paul reps collection, which may be found here:  https://terebess.hu/zen/101ZenStones.pdf



54. Last Will and Testament


Ikkyu, a famous Zen teacher of the Ashikaga era, was the son of the emperor. When he was very young, his mother left the palace and went to study Zen in a temple. In this way Prince Ikkyu also became a student. When his mother passed on, she left with him a letter. It read:

To Ikkyu:

I have finished my work in this life and am now returning Into Eternity. I wish you to become a good student and to realize your Buddha-nature. You will know if I am in hell and whether I am always with you or not.

If you become a man who realizes that the Buddha and his follower Bodhidharma are your own servants, you may leave off studying and work for humanity. The Buddha preached for forty-nine years and in all that time found it not necessary to speak one word. You ought to know why. But if you don't and yet wish to, avoid thinking fruitlessly.

Your Mother,
Not born, not dead. September first.

PS. The teaching of Buddha was mainly for the purpose of enlightening others. If you are dependent on any of its methods, you are naught but an ignorant insect. There are 80,000, books on Buddhism and if you should read all of them and still not see your own nature, you will not understand even this letter. This is my will and testament.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 10:35 AM as a reply to terry.
and one more from paul reps:


101. Buddha's Zen

Buddha said:
'I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasure of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated one as flowers appearing in one's eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.'

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 10:41 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
terry:
aloha now,

   Emptiness and awareness are chalk and cheese. Their imagined equivalence appears to me a strawman.

   What is "essenceless and free" is not illusory and non-existent. Very pertinent; this is the conceptual difference between the buddhist view and the advaita. Yet, interpreted nondually  they may refer to precisely the same insight.

terry




It is not exactly the same, personally I have been through the stages here, the Brahman view is quite different -- http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

ok

t

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 12:01 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
terry:
aloha now,

   Emptiness and awareness are chalk and cheese. Their imagined equivalence appears to me a strawman.

   What is "essenceless and free" is not illusory and non-existent. Very pertinent; this is the conceptual difference between the buddhist view and the advaita. Yet, interpreted nondually  they may refer to precisely the same insight.

terry




It is not exactly the same, personally I have been through the stages here, the Brahman view is quite different -- http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html


aloha aen,


   Some ideas, off the top of my head, for your consciousness slash awareness to consider:


1)   Awareness is a plaything, a football

2)   Awareness is a bodily organ (as in, thinking with your lower organ)

3)   Awareness is a pathological extension of ego (and ego is a pathological extension of awareness; that is, they are co-extensive)

4)   Awareness is a tiny drop of oil on the buddha's foot

5)   Awareness finds its fulfillment in unconciousness


you are welcome in advance,
terry



"How do you know but every bird 
that cuts the airy way 
Is an immense world of delight, 
closed by your senses five?" 

william blake

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 1:40 PM as a reply to terry.
MY FRIEND
Steve Miller Band

So you think you know just what goes on inside your head, my friend
There is so much more than you and I can comprehend
Things that make you laugh, things that make you cry
Let you love when you feel like you wanna die
There's no answer to the questions that we find inside, my friend
But when we start to wonder why, we wind up further behind, my friend
All we see has always been shown
But there's so many things that I've never known
So you think you know, my friend
But you don't know, my friend, my friend
You think you know
But you don't know
All for one and one for all
It's everything or nothing at all
Listen, my friend
You don't know
No, my friend
You don't know

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/22/18 2:17 PM as a reply to terry.
one more (forgive me)


GOD
(John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band)

God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I'll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in yoga
I don't believe in kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that's reality
The dream is over
What can I say?
The dream is over
Yesterday
I was the dream weaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You just have to carry on
The dream is over

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/25/18 6:12 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Great post AEN! Lot of food for thought. 

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/27/18 8:00 AM as a reply to nintheye.
All this philosophising is all very well, but what interests me are the different states of consciousness that can be experienced through meditation.

If someone meditates a lot then they can become dissociated from their thoughts and emotions, and from the body. They increasingly see themselves as the consciousness that lies behind the thoughts and emotions. They feel that they are not their thoughts etc, they are aware of their thoughts but not them, what they are is the awareness.

They may experience different jhanas. 'Jhana' means an altered state of consciousness. At some stage they may experience a jhana called the Sphere of Infinite Space which is where they feel they have entered a vast empty void.

They may experience the Witness, which is where your own inner consciousness is perceived as true reality. What can happen then is that the Witness suddenly disappears.

If they have been meditating on the Inner Light (nimitta) they will have experienced it as an all-pervading white light. When the Witness disappears, the Inner Light disappears too.

What usually happens when the Witness disappears is that whatever they look at they perceive to be part of themselves. Everything you turn your attention towards you perceive to be part of you. You look at a mountain, you feel it to be part of you. This is what Ken Wilber calls 'One Taste' (also called One Self or One Mind).

You may interpret this to mean everything is part of you, you are part of everything, or you and everything are One. Then you start thinking that you must have attained unity with God, or merged with Brahman, or that you have always been Brahman and only now do you see your true identity.

This is the enlightenment of the Vedantists, the followers of Ramana Maharshi, and the Tibetan Buddhists. It's an illusion though. What has happened is that your mind can no longer distinguish between Subject and Object, and everything becomes Subject.

One Taste may seem like a jhana, it may be related to what Daniel calls the super-pervading Watcher, but unlike (samatha) jhanas it is a permanent state of consciousness present all the time - not just when you're meditating.

The other thing that can happen when the Witness disappears is that the sense of self disappears. That is what happened to Suzanne Segal as she recounted in her book Collision with the Infinite. To the unprepared mind though no-self is difficult to cope with. There is a sense of severe anxiety. Suzanne suffered extreme anxiety then her mind shifted into One Taste. If the mind cannot cope with no-self it will go to One Taste.

With no-self the mind can no longer distinguish between Subject and Object, but everything becomes Object.

For the prepared mind when the Witness disappears there is no-self. The preparation is in the form of vipassana meditation. In vipassana you become more aware of sensations. You begin to see them for what they are. Awareness of sensations can occur without a self.

Walking meditation helps with this, and perhaps a practice called Actualism too.

In some ways the two methods are opposites. One method is to cultivate the supposed inner consciousness, the other is to cultivate awareness of sensations. One method involves the Witness and its disappearance, the other doesn't.

Some will get no-self just through vipassana. They don't experience jhanas or the Witness. It does seem though that a combination of methods brings the best results. Samatha meditation involving jhanas as in MCTB and TMI, cultivating the Witness (which Culadasa touches on in TMI), and vipassana.

Some people say 'I am nothing and I am everything'. I don't believe either of these. I'm not everything: that would be a supernatural claim that has no evidence apart from a distorted perception. I am not 'nothing' either. There is a body and different parts of the brain that process sensory information and perform other functions: it's just that there isn't a self.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/27/18 12:15 PM as a reply to terry.
from meister eckhardt, sermon 57...the cologne censors judged some of this as heretical but the pope did not condemn it... 


   "Whoever hears me is not ashamed." Whoever would hear the eternal wisdom of the Father, he must be within, and at home, and must be one: then he can hear the eternal wisdom of the Father.

   There are three things that prevent us from hearing the eternal Word. The  first is corporeality, the second is multiplicity, the third is temporality. If a man had transcended these three things, he would dwell in eternity, he would dwell in the spirit, he would dwell in unity and in the desert - and there he would hear the eternal Word. Now our Lord says, "No one hears my word or my teaching unless he has abandoned self.' For to hear the Word of God demands absolute self­ surrender. The hearer is the same as the heard in the eternal Word. All that the eternal Father teaches, is His being and His nature and His entire Godhead, which He divulges to us altogether in His Son and teaches us that we are that same Son. A man who had gone out of self so far that he was the only-begotten Son would own all that the only-begotten Son owns. Whatever God performs and whatever He teaches, all that He performs and teaches in His only-begotten Son. God performs all His works that we may become the only-begotten Son. When God sees that we are the only-begotten Son, He is in such haste to get to us and hurries so much as if His divine being would be shattered and destroyed in itself, that He may reveal to us the abysm of His Godhead and the plenitude of His being and His nature: God then hastens to make it our own just as it is His own. Here God has delight and joy in abundance. That man stands in God's ken and in God's love, and becomes none other than what God is Himself.

   If you love yourself, you love all men as yourself. As long as you love a single man less than yourself, you have never truly learned to love yourself - unless you love all men as yourself, all men in one man, that man being God and man. It is well with that man who loves himself and all men as himself, with him it is very well. Now some people say, 'I love my friend, who is good to me, better than any other man.' It is not right so; it is imperfect. But it must be tolerated, just as some people sail across the sea with half a wind, and still get there. So it is with people who love one person better than another: it is natural. If I truly loved him as myself, then, whatever happened to him for good or ill, whether it were life or death, I would be as glad for it to happen to me as to him, and that would be real friendship.

   Therefore St. Paul said, "I would be willing to be eternally sepa­rated from God for the sake of my friend and for God's sake." To be separated from God for an instant is to be separated from God for­ ever, and to be separated from God is hellish pain. Now what does St. Paul mean by these words, when he says he would be separated from God? The masters question whether St. Paul was on the way to perfection, or whether he was completely perfect. I say he stood in the fullness of perfection, otherwise he could not have said this.

   I will put into plain words what St. Paul meant when he said that he would be separated from God. Man's highest and dearest leave­ taking is if he takes leave of God for God. St. Paul left God for God: he left everything that he could get from God, he left everything that God could give him and everything he might receive from God. In leaving these he left God for God, and then God was left with him, as God is essentially in Himself, not by way of a reception or a gaining of Himself, but rather in a self-identity which is where God is. He never gave God anything, nor did he receive anything from God: it is a single oneness and a pure union. Here man is true man, and suffering no more befalls that man than it befalls the divine essence: as I have said before, there is something in the soul that is so near akin to God that it is one and not united. It is one, it has nothing in common with anything, and nothing created has anything in common with it. All created things are nothing. But this is remote and alien from all creation. If man were wholly thus he would be wholly uncreated and uncreatable. If everything that is corporeal and defective were to be comprehended in this unity, it would be no different from that which this unity is. If I were to  find myself for a single instant in this essence, I would have as little regard for myself as for a dung worm.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/27/18 12:48 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
All this philosophising is all very well, but what interests me are the different states of consciousness that can be experienced through meditation.




Some people say 'I am nothing and I am everything'. I don't believe either of these. I'm not everything: that would be a supernatural claim that has no evidence apart from a distorted perception. I am not 'nothing' either. There is a body and different parts of the brain that process sensory information and perform other functions: it's just that there isn't a self.


aloha andrew,

   Philosophizing? What philosophizing?  (wink)

   People saying "I am nothing and I am everything" are taking poetic license.  There is no real sense to such statements, they are pointers to the inexpressible, unknowable, unnameable.

   On the other hand, people speaking of brain and body are doing no less. No more.

metta,
terry



A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/29/18 5:21 AM as a reply to terry.
Some people will be taking poetic license when they say 'I am nothing and I am everything'. People like Ken Wilber and Suzanne Segal though believed what they said. Literally. Based on their experience after a lot of meditation.

All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. There's nothing ineffable about it. It's all very effable.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/29/18 7:12 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. 

Just to play devil's advocate - can you explain how this statement isn't just a belief?

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/29/18 11:05 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
All this philosophising is all very well, but what interests me are the different states of consciousness that can be experienced through meditation.

If someone meditates a lot then they can become dissociated from their thoughts and emotions, and from the body. They increasingly see themselves as the consciousness that lies behind the thoughts and emotions. They feel that they are not their thoughts etc, they are aware of their thoughts but not them, what they are is the awareness.


Hi Andrew, loved your post.

I recently stumbled uppon this awareness, in meditation, "i" can tap in to also in daily activities.

Where do i go from here?

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/30/18 10:29 AM as a reply to alguidar.
alguidar:
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
All this philosophising is all very well, but what interests me are the different states of consciousness that can be experienced through meditation.

If someone meditates a lot then they can become dissociated from their thoughts and emotions, and from the body. They increasingly see themselves as the consciousness that lies behind the thoughts and emotions. They feel that they are not their thoughts etc, they are aware of their thoughts but not them, what they are is the awareness.


Hi Andrew, loved your post.

I recently stumbled uppon this awareness, in meditation, "i" can tap in to also in daily activities.

Where do i go from here?
I don't have any experience of this so I can't advise you. Many Buddhists I'm sure would advise people to steer clear of this because it can only lead you in the wrong direction. However, as long as you don't get enmeshed in it it might be a good thing. Have you read what Culadasa has written in TMI about Still Point Meditation and the Witness?

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/30/18 11:01 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. 

Just to play devil's advocate - can you explain how this statement isn't just a belief?
There are only two ways that the universe can be. Either the Materialists are correct and consciousness cannot exist outside the brain - which means that there can be no life after death or beings who exist but don't have a brain - or there's an alternative idea. Cartesian Dualism, Occultism or Christianity (for example) might be alternatives, but which is correct? Whatever the alternative is, it would have to be more complicated than Materialism.

There is something called Occam's Razor, an idea that we should accept the simplest of two ideas unless there is a lot of evidence for the more complex one.

Advaita Vedanta is something fascinating to many Buddhists because it seems to be the one rational system that might be an alternative to Buddhist ideas. The idea behind Advaita is that there is some kind of primordial consciousness that we are really all part of if only we knew it. So definitely not Materialist.

If people who followed Advaita Vedanta, Yoga etc reported that they merged with an ocean of consciousness like water in a river merging with the sea that would be some evidence against Materialism. They don't do that though. What they report is a sudden shift in consciousness and then everything they look at seems to be part of them. Everything they turn their attention towards seems to be them, even ordinary things like bedside tables.

It's not surprising that they start to think they must have attained union with God or Brahman or Buddha Consciousness.  However, it looks to me that they have overcome the Subject/Object dichotomy by perceiving everything as Subject and nothing as Object. If they did it the other way - by perceiving everything as Object with no Subject - we would say that they had experience of Anatta, no-self. Which fits in nicely with states of consciousness being explained by brain functioning. No need to believe in God or Brahman, just that there are switches in the brain that can be turned on or off.

Daniel has done a good job in demystifying Buddhist enlightenment. I see Advaita Vedanta enlightenment as different but it can be de-mystified too. When I used to believe in reincarnation I thought that the Advaita way didn't truly free you from the cycle of rebirth. Now that I don't believe in any form of life after death I think people can go for any state they want. Doesn't really matter.

Years ago I was involved in the Lifewave cult where the guru John Yarr and over 40 of his followers claimed to be enlightened. We were never told precisely what this enlightenment experience was. Then, a couple of years ago, I read one man's account of his enlightenment experience on an online forum. He said that everything he looked at he perceived to be part of him. I thought "Is that it? Is that all?".

It reminded me of something that Suzanne Segal had written, and when I got hold of a copy of her book the accounts were so similar I thought he must have copied from her. Then I started reading what author Ken Wilber has been writing about 'One Taste' and then I realised this must be more common than I thought.

Not only can Buddhism be de-mystified and made compatible with Materialism but so can Advaita Vedanta etc. I realized that things like nimitta, kundalini, jhanas can be explained by brain function alone. Jhanas aren't some higher level of reality as I used to think. Nimitta and kundalini don't come from some higher inner consciousness but are produced by sub-minds.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/30/18 12:10 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
There are only two ways that the universe can be. Either the Materialists are correct and consciousness cannot exist outside the brain - which means that there can be no life after death or beings who exist but don't have a brain - or there's an alternative idea. Cartesian Dualism, Occultism or Christianity (for example) might be alternatives, but which is correct? Whatever the alternative is, it would have to be more complicated than Materialism.

There is something called Occam's Razor, an idea that we should accept the simplest of two ideas unless there is a lot of evidence for the more complex one.

Let me suggest a third alternative because I'm suspicious of any version of the world that is expressed as "It can only be this way or that way and no other way." How about being skeptical, as if we were to say "I don't know" what's actually true because we're suspicious of non-scientific explanations and/or science cannot explain what we know to be true. And we know for certain that science can't explain some things and, in fact, will probably never be able to do so. Occam's Razor is a useful tool to use in conjecture but is violated often in practice. It's an approximation, a prediction, not always borne out by results.


RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
11/30/18 1:08 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
Some people will be taking poetic license when they say 'I am nothing and I am everything'. People like Ken Wilber and Suzanne Segal though believed what they said. Literally. Based on their experience after a lot of meditation.

All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. There's nothing ineffable about it. It's all very effable.

Well, apparently, so they say, our brain constructs our experience - which means it is it's own construction. Is that possible ?

So maybe "All states of consciousness can be explained by our constructed experience of what we call a brain." Is that more accurate ?

How do you attribute cause to a construction ?

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/4/18 11:26 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
There are only two ways that the universe can be. Either the Materialists are correct and consciousness cannot exist outside the brain - which means that there can be no life after death or beings who exist but don't have a brain - or there's an alternative idea. Cartesian Dualism, Occultism or Christianity (for example) might be alternatives, but which is correct? Whatever the alternative is, it would have to be more complicated than Materialism.

There is something called Occam's Razor, an idea that we should accept the simplest of two ideas unless there is a lot of evidence for the more complex one.

Let me suggest a third alternative because I'm suspicious of any version of the world that is expressed as "It can only be this way or that way and no other way." How about being skeptical, as if we were to say "I don't know" what's actually true because we're suspicious of non-scientific explanations and/or science cannot explain what we know to be true. And we know for certain that science can't explain some things and, in fact, will probably never be able to do so. Occam's Razor is a useful tool to use in conjecture but is violated often in practice. It's an approximation, a prediction, not always borne out by results.

Either the Materialist view is correct or it isn't. I don't see how you can get around that. If you're saying we can never know, I don't see why that should be true. Why should the subject of meditation, states of consciousness and enlightenment be the only subject where we will never work out the truth? You may want the whole subject to be inexpressible, unknowable, unnameable and ineffable. That could be because you are a romantic.

When it comes to people's experiences of states of consciousness, that is someone's personal experience and so we have to take that on trust. So it's not so much about science but it is about rationality.

If someone says that they have as shift in their consciousness and then everything they look at seems to be part of them that's interesting. They may interpret it as being One with everything, then thinking that they have merged with Brahman. If they have achieved it all by themselves they might start thinking that they must be the next Buddha, the Maitreya or the Kalki Avatar or something. That's what happened to John Yarr.

Or it could be that this state of consciousness if some kind of mirror state to what Daniel and Culadasa are talking about. People like Yarr have overcome the Subject/Object dichotomy, but in a way that creates illusion. They want people to believe that it's something Cosmic what has happened to them. For thousands of years people have been doing this and so we have the myth that there's something unknowable about states of consciousness that we can never comprehend.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/4/18 11:43 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Either the Materialist view is correct or it isn't. 

My point is that at the present time you can't know if it is or it isn't, and human beings may never know. So if you are accepting the "truth" of materialism, you are doing so on faith. I'm materialist in orientation but I have no trouble realizing that materialism isn't a definitive, proven truth.

When it comes to people's experiences of states of consciousness, that is someone's personal experience and so we have to take that on trust. So it's not so much about science but it is about rationality.

And personal experiences, when described by the experiencer, must also be taken on faith.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/4/18 6:14 PM as a reply to nintheye.
[quote=nintheye



]I want to thank you again for this rich and informative dialogue. To take your last point in this essay first, I will certainly agree with you that I asked for respectful debate, and got it.

Very interesting points on the life of the Buddha and his approach to the nondual.

I will say that the archetypal enlightenment story in Hinduism is of course that of Arjuna, then -- also royalty, but of course one who turned to spirituality under very different pressures and circumstances than did the Buddha. The Gita, read that way, starts out in Chapter 2 with a bold assertion of non-duality, and only when Arjuna fails to grasp that does it come down to other, easier-to-grasp, more dualistic renditions of the Truth.

But so what then is this concept of a Pratyekabuddha? If he has attained nirvana, then he has realized that there is no one to help, right?

Or if there "is" someone to help, how is nirvana a hindrance?

I mean, if you look at the actual life of the Buddha -- he didn’t stay back from nirvana to help people. He claimed to be in nirvana, to have awakened, period.

No?



What occurs to me is that perhaps the bodhisattva ideal is simply a way of getting aspirants not to get attached to the concept of nirvana. That concept, too, of course, must be given up before nonduality is fully realized.

Nice. Reminds me, since you mentioned Taoism, of a story from the Zhuangzi, where a disciple of Confucius comes to him and complains that a man just sits by a tree, saying nothing, and that people flock to him with troubles and go away happier. But the disciple is contemptuous, because this guy doesn't teach anything. Confucius responds (roughly), "So people come to him with troubled hearts and leave with peaceful ones, all without him saying a word?


This man should be my master."Well, I saw this on Wikipedia:

"The tradition of the ordained monastic community (sangha) began with the Buddha, who established an order of Bhikkhus (monks).[2] According to the scriptures,[3] later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of Bhikkhunis (nuns or women monks). However, according to the scriptural account, not only did the Buddha lay down more rules of discipline for the bhikkhunis (311 compared to the bhikkhu's 227 in the Theravada version), he also made it more difficult for them to be ordained, and made them subordinate to monks."

Of course, I meant no criticism at all, only a tongue-in-cheek observation. Agreed that ideas from Vedanta and Buddhism can certainly be used by practitioners of either. Thanks again.









aloha nintheye,

    Krishna enlightening arjuna in the gita is an exquisite piece of spiritual literature. I didn't mean to slight it before when I opined that arjuna might have embraced pacifism; I too was expressing myself tongue in cheek. My point was that in buddhism nothing is really sacred: regarding things (dharmas) as sacred is a form of attachment. On the other hand, regarding things as not sacred is also a form of attachment. The one remedies the other.

   All morning I have been wrestling - and sitting with - the question 'is emptiness dependently arisen?' One can only respond with joshu's "mu." Joshu was asked, "does a dog have buddha-nature?" The expected answer would be "yes, all sentient beings have buddha nature." Joshu said "mu" meaning "no." Joshu's "mu" was a negation of the whole dialectic, the whole "yes or no" approach. Emptiness is empty. Yet to say it is not dependently arisen is wrong, all things are dependently arisen. (Poof: the mind breaks  - once again - and the heart laughs - once again.)

   Pratyekabuddha is a neutral term in theravada and pejorative in mahayana. The classic view is that a pratyekabuddha is enlightened but due to conditions cannot play the role of a buddha. The mahayana view thought of the pratyekabuddha as a bit selfish, and upheld the bodhisattva ideal as the better way. Is there any real distinction between one enlightened being and another? "Mu."

   In zen buddhism at least there is a tradition of "face-to-face" transmission. I've been thinking a lot about this lately also. I never understood these lists of patriarchs, each master selecting a favored disciple as his "dharma heir." There are traditions of a disciple having their enlightenment certified and "sealed." As always, ancient texts make more sense in their context, and I got to thinking about confucianism and shinto, the sino-japanese traditions of ancestor worship. I've lately been concerned with the fact of global population in the 7.5 billion range, and rising competitive pressures reducing general levels of compassion. Back in the early days of chinese buddhism people were packed in together even worse than in modern western cities. Ancestor worship was a way of feeling more significant in the crowd of individual beings. So when zen speaks of "one's original face before one's parents were born," it is in the context of already feeling as one with one's ancestors. 

   Thus, zen masters' comcern with "transmission" was part of this identification down the generations, from the buddha's original insight through being after being on down to us. The buddha was just a man like us, who wanted us to know what he knows, and passed it on as best he might. How did the buddha know about suffering, and attachment? Because he suffered, and had been attached. And then he was free. Dogen said (shobogenzo, shisho):

[5] Remember, the Buddha’s state of truth is the perfect realization only of buddhas, and without buddhas it has no time. The state is like, for example, stones succeeding each other as stones, jewels succeeding each other as jewels, chrysanthemums succeeding each other, and pine trees certifying each other, at which time the former chrysanthemum and the latter chrysanthemum are each real as they are, and the former pine and the latter pine are each real as they are. People who do not clarify the state like this, even if they encounter the truth authentically transmitted from buddha to buddha, cannot even suspect what kind of truth is being expressed; they do not possess the understanding that buddhas succeed each other and that patriarchs experience the same state. It is pitiful that though they appear to be the Buddha’s progeny, they are not the Buddha’s children, and they are not child- buddhas.

   What I am saying is that all the buddhas are indistinguishable. We have met the buddha and he is us. We can only speak of appearances, but we can point to what is unsaid, tacitly understood, and implicit. 


   Nirvana as a hindrance. It can certainly be such, as reified and idealized. This is the dilemma of "is emptiness dependently arisen?" If so it can be s hindrance. The logic is the same as, if god exists, where did he come from, who caused him, who was god's creator? - we can't get outside the loop, the sword of discrimination cannot cut itself. We can be attached to nirvana, see it as an achievement, a destination, a state. There is nothing truly to be attained in mahayana. If we stop racing around trying to escape misfortune and trying to attain good fortune, we find that everything is all right to begin with, and there is nothing to worry about. This "nothing," empty of pretence, conceit and self-nature, is the womb of tao, and we are one Life attached by an umbilical cord to the mother of all. She takes perfect care of us by nature, and we are free to enjoy without fear or need. This is "we" and "us" as opposed to a separate "I" - the flow of life down the generations, pine sealing pine, buddha sealing buddha. We don't distinguish one blade of grass from another; trees grow the same way, in clumps and intertwining their roots. One succeeds another indistinguishably. People are constantly replaced and the dhamma remains the same.

  The chuang tzu story is apt. The buddha held up a flower and mahakasyapa smiled. There is no more to it than that. All thinking only leads us astray. Huang po said:

Question: "If we practice Dharma without discrimination, how do we know that it is the correct Dharma?" The master said: "To be without discriminating mind is the correct Dharma. Now when you conceive of right or wrong or even allow a single thought to arise, the idea of place arises; on the other hand, without a single thought arising, ideas of place and mind both vanish. In reality, there is nothing to seek and nothing to search for." 

Huang po's dharma heir rinzai said (trans schloegel):

(quote)

If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you,
and you will be free to come and to go.

Understanding life and death, free to come and to go—free of the fear of death.

Nor do you need to look for worthiness; it will arise of itself.

Followers of the Way, the old masters had ways of making men. Do not let yourselves be deluded by anyone; this is all I teach.
If you want to make use of it (genuine insight), then use it right now without delay or doubt.

But students nowadays do not succeed because they suffer from lack of self-reliance. Because of this lack, you run busily hither
and thither, are driven around by circumstance and kept whirling by the ten thousand things.

You cannot find deliverance thus.

But if you can stop your heart from its ceaseless running after wisps of the will, you will not be different from the Buddha and patriarchs.

Do you want to know the Buddha? None other than he who here in your presence is now listening to the Dharma. Just because you lack self-reliance, you turn to the outside and run about seeking.

Even if you find something there, it is only words and letters and never the living spirit of the patriarchs. Do not be deceived. Venerable Zen students, if you do not meet Him at this very moment, you will circulate in the Three Worlds for ten thousand Kalpas and a thousand births. And, pursuing agreeable situations, you will be reborn in the wombs of asses and cows.

(unquote)

Huang po and rinzai were not trying to enlighten the average western householder, they were dealing with monks who were deeply attached to their conceptions of how to pursue the dharma. Their pursuit, their desire for the fruits of meditation and the spiritual life, was the main sticking point for the zen masters' audience, so it is what they addressed. There was no metaphysics involved. These masters were effecrtively anti-metaphysicians, in the mahayana spirit of nagarjuna.

   The wikipedia article about the buddha being reluctant to ordain bhikkunis was written from a modern western feminist point of view. Buddhists call the epsiode one of the buddha's "hesitations," the first hesitation being whether to try to enlighten beings at all. The first bhikkuni was the buddha's wife, yasodhara. These were the days of women as chattel, female infanticide, and sati (immolation of widows). Islam is frequently criticized in relation to the treatment of women, but muhammed (peace be upon him) vastly improved the conditions of women in his lifetime and, like the buddha, acknowledged that the souls of women and men were identical. 

   The tendency to generalize and to try to systematize knowledge for all people at all times is a perennial failing of buddhist commentators, not to mention western metaphysicians and philosophers. The buddha and his heirs saw words as medicine to restore a natural good health and balance to fallen humanity. They saw each individual as a unique problem for whom a unique solution, particular to one moment, constituted "teaching." Early zen literature produced case after case, mondos (question and answer sessions) in which an individual master and an individual disciple confronted one another in an enlightenment situation. An understanding that can be expresssed in words was never enough. You have to "get it." Rinzai said (trans watson):

"A man of old said, 'If you meet a man of the Way, whatever you do, don't talk to him about the Way.' 

and

"Followers of the way, the really good friend is someone who dares to speak ill of the Buddha, speak ill of the patriarchs, pass judgment on anyone in the world, throw away the Tripitaka, revile those little children, and in the midst of opposition and assent search out the real person.... From times past the real teachers, wherever they went, were never listened to and were always driven out - that's how you know they were men of worth. If everybody approves of you wherever you go, what use can you be? Hence the saying, Let the lion give one roar and the brains of the little foxes split open."

Rinzai spoke of "the true person of no status" (un homme sans affaires) as "this lone brightness here listening to the dharma." He says:

"If he meets a buddha he preaches to the buddha, if he meets a patriarch he preaches to the patriarch, if he meets an arhat he preaches to the arhat, if he meets a hungry ghost, he preaches to the hungry ghost. He goes everywhere, wandering through many lands, teaching and converting living beings, yet never becomes separated from his single thought. Every place for him is clean and pure, his light pierces the ten directions, the ten thousand phenomena are a single thusness."

   Back in the day, individuals were given individual teachings suited to their individual obscurations and defilements. Nowadays everyone wants the highest teachings from the buddha or christ or krishna, some idealized Lord of all whose authority is unquestionable; or some "supreme teaching" such as dzogchen, far distant from day to day reality. We want enlightenment not only in this lifetime but right this instant. All our defilements gone in a flash, how convenient; just believe. But the "sudden" path is not quick; we must "hoe our plot," prepare the ground. Be ready. "Beginner's mind." It isn't that there is no practice leading to enlightenment. It is just that it cannot be grasped or explained. We can only point and hope someone looks past the words into the depths (or heights) they conceal. 

   You said in an early response to my questions about nondualism that its transmission depended on the people and the circumstances. "Time, place and people" the sufis would say. This is what the zen mondos are all about.

   Thank you also, brother.


terry



tao te ching, trans feng

Chapter Fifteen

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive. 
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable. 
Because it is unfathomable, 
All we can do is describe their appearance. 
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream. 
Alert, like men aware of danger. 
Courteous, like visiting guests. 
Yielding like ice about to melt. 
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood. 
Hollow, like caves. 
Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? 
Who can remain still until the moment of action? 
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment. 
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

 






   

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/4/18 7:13 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
Some people will be taking poetic license when they say 'I am nothing and I am everything'. People like Ken Wilber and Suzanne Segal though believed what they said. Literally. Based on their experience after a lot of meditation.

All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. There's nothing ineffable about it. It's all very effable.


aloha andrew,

   Anyone can believe anything they want to believe. Lewis carroll's alice could believe six impossible things before breakfast. To say that "all states of consciousness can be explained by brain function" is an article of faith. It most certainly cannot be supported by any sort of scientific evidence. God knows they try. There is considerable scientific evidence to the contrary, but materialists are rather fanatical in their beliefs, evidence notwithstanding. (A good neurologist understands the "brain" as a part of an entire nervous system, itself deeply integrated with endocrine and other systems. The body is a unit.)

   I'm not going to argue the science of brain function, though I am quite familiar with current "philosophy of mind" and its neurological underpinnings, such as they are. I am a biologist by training and experience. Science is based, naively, on cause and effect. Far too simplistic to explain anything complex. The dependent co-arising of phenomena clearly indicates that causes and effects are very crude approximations. Suitable for rough and ready constructions, but unsuited to understanding actual conditions. 

   Science is nothing but measurements and techniques; crude ways of manipulating matter. People think science gives them power; what it actually gives them is hubris, arrogance. Science itself has nothing useful to say about mind, or Mind, whatever; it is completely confounded. Many scientists (I am a scientist) are also poets. Science is just a trade, a way to make a living. Mostly the sort of typically useless featherbedding our society consists of. Some years ago there were over 800,000 books and monographs about napoleon bonaparte, more than anyone can read, but new books on napoleon are written all the time. Every new generation of social scientists has something "new" to say. Science continues to note down new "facts" than no one will ever care about. Scientific disciplines become narrower and narrower as people become unable to keep up with publications in their field. It is a cliche that we know more and more about less and less. Information overload is a modern pathology.

   In my view, science should be restrained, if not abandoned. People typically speak of modern "medicine" as a boon. I can testify that it causes as much suffering as it alleviates. I took heart drugs for years and would have been far better off without taking any of those poisons. And the "opiate crisis" has occurred due to the gigantic number of prescriptions written by (scientifically educated) doctors over the years - these "opioids" have been primarily prescribed, not taken illegally. Similarly, most "scientific advances" cause more problems than they solve. I noted recently that studies say both parents and children regard social media as more trouble than they are worth. And now we have genetically modified human babies being added to the gene pool.

   You seem convinced of your opinion and I see it differently, so I guess we can agree to disagree.


metta, terry





'pity this busy monster, manunkind'
(e e cummings)


pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
                          A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/4/18 8:02 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
Chris Marti:
All states of consciousness can be explained by brain function. 

Just to play devil's advocate - can you explain how this statement isn't just a belief?
There are only two ways that the universe can be. Either the Materialists are correct and consciousness cannot exist outside the brain - which means that there can be no life after death or beings who exist but don't have a brain - or there's an alternative idea. Cartesian Dualism, Occultism or Christianity (for example) might be alternatives, but which is correct? Whatever the alternative is, it would have to be more complicated than Materialism.

There is something called Occam's Razor, an idea that we should accept the simplest of two ideas unless there is a lot of evidence for the more complex one.

Advaita Vedanta is something fascinating to many Buddhists because it seems to be the one rational system that might be an alternative to Buddhist ideas. The idea behind Advaita is that there is some kind of primordial consciousness that we are really all part of if only we knew it. So definitely not Materialist.

If people who followed Advaita Vedanta, Yoga etc reported that they merged with an ocean of consciousness like water in a river merging with the sea that would be some evidence against Materialism. They don't do that though. What they report is a sudden shift in consciousness and then everything they look at seems to be part of them. Everything they turn their attention towards seems to be them, even ordinary things like bedside tables.

It's not surprising that they start to think they must have attained union with God or Brahman or Buddha Consciousness.  However, it looks to me that they have overcome the Subject/Object dichotomy by perceiving everything as Subject and nothing as Object. If they did it the other way - by perceiving everything as Object with no Subject - we would say that they had experience of Anatta, no-self. Which fits in nicely with states of consciousness being explained by brain functioning. No need to believe in God or Brahman, just that there are switches in the brain that can be turned on or off.

Daniel has done a good job in demystifying Buddhist enlightenment. I see Advaita Vedanta enlightenment as different but it can be de-mystified too. When I used to believe in reincarnation I thought that the Advaita way didn't truly free you from the cycle of rebirth. Now that I don't believe in any form of life after death I think people can go for any state they want. Doesn't really matter.

Years ago I was involved in the Lifewave cult where the guru John Yarr and over 40 of his followers claimed to be enlightened. We were never told precisely what this enlightenment experience was. Then, a couple of years ago, I read one man's account of his enlightenment experience on an online forum. He said that everything he looked at he perceived to be part of him. I thought "Is that it? Is that all?".

It reminded me of something that Suzanne Segal had written, and when I got hold of a copy of her book the accounts were so similar I thought he must have copied from her. Then I started reading what author Ken Wilber has been writing about 'One Taste' and then I realised this must be more common than I thought.

Not only can Buddhism be de-mystified and made compatible with Materialism but so can Advaita Vedanta etc. I realized that things like nimitta, kundalini, jhanas can be explained by brain function alone. Jhanas aren't some higher level of reality as I used to think. Nimitta and kundalini don't come from some higher inner consciousness but are produced by sub-minds.


aloha andrew,

   Ken wilber is certainly not a materialist, not even close. He's rather broad-minded, in fact; integral.

   Nondual materialists such as dennett and dawkins gain fame by arguing with christian dualists, whose arguments they easily destroy because dualism has obvious flaws. Ken wilber understands that nondualism can be formulated either as materiality or as spirituality, just not both at the same time (eg "cartesian dualism"). It is as valid to say that all things are products of mind as to say they have a material reality. Materialism is ascendant in our culture due to the corrupting influence of greed and acquisitiveness. And ignorance.

   Spirituality is one metaphysical idea; materiality is another. Spinoza, if it matters, brilliantly explained how both are nondual modes of understanding. Quantum physics understands matter both as waves and as particles, but they cannot define a "wavicle" - the two views are exclusive. Such ideas as "love" and "morality" are better explained spiritually as materialism has no way of explaining these things. Scientific explanation amounts to "the knee-bone is connected to the thigh-bone," which doesn't really explain anything. 

   To say, metaphysicallly and philosophically, that all phenomena are material is no more or less true than to say that all phenomena are spiritual, and exist only in the mind. We look at a table and it appears "out there"; we know at the same time that the table exists in our minds - it was there yesterday, and it is there when we turn our backs, and we know what is in the drawers as well. The truth is that the table in our minds and the table out there are "not two" - they are nondual aspects of the same reality, the two tables, inner and outer. Think, for example, of a "baseball" - scientifically it is a round spheroid covered with horsehide, etc; spiritually it is a game piece, which only makes sense in terms of rules and play and the game of baseball. Its "spiritual" significance is greater than its scientific description, though the scientific one is not wrong, just (extremely) limited and incomplete.

   I think it is a mistake for the spiritually minded to ignore materiality, and for the materially minded to ignore spirituality. They interpenetrate. Nondualistically. Picking a side ignores too much. How could the materialist ignore and not appreciate all the beautiful spiritual poetry and literature? And the spiritually minded can lose touch with reality if they don't appreciate the material side of things.

   In my view we should "remystify" buddhism. It is not - or should not be - an aid to materialism. I understand you are using the word in its metaphysical sense, but "materialism" also refers to selfishness, greed and avarice, which are regarded as defilements (klesa) in buddhism.


terry

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/5/18 10:07 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

aloha andrew,

   Ken wilber is certainly not a materialist, not even close. He's rather broad-minded, in fact; integral.

   Nondual materialists such as dennett and dawkins gain fame by arguing with christian dualists, whose arguments they easily destroy because dualism has obvious flaws. Ken wilber understands that nondualism can be formulated either as materiality or as spirituality, just not both at the same time (eg "cartesian dualism"). It is as valid to say that all things are products of mind as to say they have a material reality. Materialism is ascendant in our culture due to the corrupting influence of greed and acquisitiveness. And ignorance.

   Spirituality is one metaphysical idea; materiality is another. Spinoza, if it matters, brilliantly explained how both are nondual modes of understanding. Quantum physics understands matter both as waves and as particles, but they cannot define a "wavicle" - the two views are exclusive. Such ideas as "love" and "morality" are better explained spiritually as materialism has no way of explaining these things. Scientific explanation amounts to "the knee-bone is connected to the thigh-bone," which doesn't really explain anything. 

   To say, metaphysicallly and philosophically, that all phenomena are material is no more or less true than to say that all phenomena are spiritual, and exist only in the mind. We look at a table and it appears "out there"; we know at the same time that the table exists in our minds - it was there yesterday, and it is there when we turn our backs, and we know what is in the drawers as well. The truth is that the table in our minds and the table out there are "not two" - they are nondual aspects of the same reality, the two tables, inner and outer. Think, for example, of a "baseball" - scientifically it is a round spheroid covered with horsehide, etc; spiritually it is a game piece, which only makes sense in terms of rules and play and the game of baseball. Its "spiritual" significance is greater than its scientific description, though the scientific one is not wrong, just (extremely) limited and incomplete.

   I think it is a mistake for the spiritually minded to ignore materiality, and for the materially minded to ignore spirituality. They interpenetrate. Nondualistically. Picking a side ignores too much. How could the materialist ignore and not appreciate all the beautiful spiritual poetry and literature? And the spiritually minded can lose touch with reality if they don't appreciate the material side of things.

   In my view we should "remystify" buddhism. It is not - or should not be - an aid to materialism. I understand you are using the word in its metaphysical sense, but "materialism" also refers to selfishness, greed and avarice, which are regarded as defilements (klesa) in buddhism.


terry
I haven't said that Ken Wilber is a materialist. What I said was that there is a certain state of consciousness that I found out about first from someone who had been involved in John Yarr's cult. Then I realized that Suzanne Segal in her book had exactly the same state of consciousness. Then I started reading Ken Wilber and he described the same thing which he calls 'One Taste'.

So it seems this state of consciousness exists, but it doesn't confirm the Advaita Vedanta point of view. None of the above authors say they experienced Brahman. All of them said that they everything they turned their attention towards seemed to be part of them. When they move, as in a car journey, it seems to them that their body is moving through themselves to get to where they already are.

They interpret it as Enlightenment, but there are two other ways to think of it. One is a form of madness. I don't think it is Enlightenment or madness. It seems to me that they have lost the ability to distinguish between Subject and Object. Which sounds good, but there are two ways to do that. Their way is illusory, you're not really One with everything.

Materialists can appreciate poetry and literature. They can be altruistic. I know in my brain is a universe that is wonderful and I can appreciate the universe created in other people's minds too. This universe is not separate from the neurons in my brain, it does not survive death.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/5/18 10:36 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Either the Materialist view is correct or it isn't. 

My point is that at the present time you can't know if it is or it isn't, and human beings may never know. So if you are accepting the "truth" of materialism, you are doing so on faith. I'm materialist in orientation but I have no trouble realizing that materialism isn't a definitive, proven truth.

When it comes to people's experiences of states of consciousness, that is someone's personal experience and so we have to take that on trust. So it's not so much about science but it is about rationality.

And personal experiences, when described by the experiencer, must also be taken on faith.
You don't have to take personal experiences on faith if people say the same thing. People from different spiritual backgrounds can experience a particular jhana. Someone can find themselves in the 5th jhana without ever knowing that Buddhists described it hundreds of years ago. They might call it 'going beyond form' and not 5th jhana or The Sphere of Infinite Space. It's the same experience though, where suddenly you find yourself in an immense void.

People say they have become enlightened but it seems there are two different but related experiences called enlightenment. In neither of them do they say they have direct contact with some kind of spiritual reality. They may interpret their experience in that way, Suzanne Segal talked about the Vastness, which is her word for Brahman.

So I think we have enough information to know that ideas about Brahman or Vastness are illusions and are better explained by saying that under certain circumstances people's (lots of meditation) brains start functioning in a different way. I can't prove that Brahman does not exist any more than I can prove that unicorns don't exist, but I don't believe in either.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/5/18 11:15 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
You don't have to take personal experiences on faith if people say the same thing. People from different spiritual backgrounds can experience a particular jhana. Someone can find themselves in the 5th jhana without ever knowing that Buddhists described it hundreds of years ago. They might call it 'going beyond form' and not 5th jhana or The Sphere of Infinite Space. It's the same experience though, where suddenly you find yourself in an immense void.

I've been involved in far too many online conversations and arguments about spiritual matters over many years to believe this is the case. It's too easy to assume we're talking about the same thing when we're not. Spiritual experiences are notoriously difficult to put into words.

Here an experiment: can you describe the color red to me just in words here so that when I read your description I'll be able to know you are describing that color? How about the taste of Pinot Noir?


emoticon

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/6/18 11:46 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
terry:

aloha andrew,

   Ken wilber is certainly not a materialist, not even close. He's rather broad-minded, in fact; integral.

   Nondual materialists such as dennett and dawkins gain fame by arguing with christian dualists, whose arguments they easily destroy because dualism has obvious flaws. Ken wilber understands that nondualism can be formulated either as materiality or as spirituality, just not both at the same time (eg "cartesian dualism"). It is as valid to say that all things are products of mind as to say they have a material reality. Materialism is ascendant in our culture due to the corrupting influence of greed and acquisitiveness. And ignorance.

   Spirituality is one metaphysical idea; materiality is another. Spinoza, if it matters, brilliantly explained how both are nondual modes of understanding. Quantum physics understands matter both as waves and as particles, but they cannot define a "wavicle" - the two views are exclusive. Such ideas as "love" and "morality" are better explained spiritually as materialism has no way of explaining these things. Scientific explanation amounts to "the knee-bone is connected to the thigh-bone," which doesn't really explain anything. 

   To say, metaphysicallly and philosophically, that all phenomena are material is no more or less true than to say that all phenomena are spiritual, and exist only in the mind. We look at a table and it appears "out there"; we know at the same time that the table exists in our minds - it was there yesterday, and it is there when we turn our backs, and we know what is in the drawers as well. The truth is that the table in our minds and the table out there are "not two" - they are nondual aspects of the same reality, the two tables, inner and outer. Think, for example, of a "baseball" - scientifically it is a round spheroid covered with horsehide, etc; spiritually it is a game piece, which only makes sense in terms of rules and play and the game of baseball. Its "spiritual" significance is greater than its scientific description, though the scientific one is not wrong, just (extremely) limited and incomplete.

   I think it is a mistake for the spiritually minded to ignore materiality, and for the materially minded to ignore spirituality. They interpenetrate. Nondualistically. Picking a side ignores too much. How could the materialist ignore and not appreciate all the beautiful spiritual poetry and literature? And the spiritually minded can lose touch with reality if they don't appreciate the material side of things.

   In my view we should "remystify" buddhism. It is not - or should not be - an aid to materialism. I understand you are using the word in its metaphysical sense, but "materialism" also refers to selfishness, greed and avarice, which are regarded as defilements (klesa) in buddhism.


terry
I haven't said that Ken Wilber is a materialist. What I said was that there is a certain state of consciousness that I found out about first from someone who had been involved in John Yarr's cult. Then I realized that Suzanne Segal in her book had exactly the same state of consciousness. Then I started reading Ken Wilber and he described the same thing which he calls 'One Taste'.

So it seems this state of consciousness exists, but it doesn't confirm the Advaita Vedanta point of view. None of the above authors say they experienced Brahman. All of them said that they everything they turned their attention towards seemed to be part of them. When they move, as in a car journey, it seems to them that their body is moving through themselves to get to where they already are.

They interpret it as Enlightenment, but there are two other ways to think of it. One is a form of madness. I don't think it is Enlightenment or madness. It seems to me that they have lost the ability to distinguish between Subject and Object. Which sounds good, but there are two ways to do that. Their way is illusory, you're not really One with everything.

Materialists can appreciate poetry and literature. They can be altruistic. I know in my brain is a universe that is wonderful and I can appreciate the universe created in other people's minds too. This universe is not separate from the neurons in my brain, it does not survive death.

aloha andrew,

   I wouldn't be able to convince dennett or dawkins either. Nondualism of any sort is so inclusive that it provides an unassailable position from which to argue. Sure, everything can be described from a materialist standpoint, just as everything can be described as "mind only." Wherever we look the universe is infinitely complex. Some sort of inclusive way of thinking provides comfort. The open-endedness of "don't know" - of staying awake to the unknown and unknowable - is uncomfortable, it keeps us guessing. Perhaps "enlightenment" - starting to become a dirty word, with that "zen stink" - is ever realizing and incomplete.

   Hey, it beats dualism. I only wish there was something said in materialism about simple kindness and compassion, such as one feels when one is one (with everything). Even the "altruism" of materialists is self-serving, it gives them a "good feeling."


may all beings feel good,
terry



Amazing Grace
(john newton)


Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/6/18 1:30 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
You don't have to take personal experiences on faith if people say the same thing. People from different spiritual backgrounds can experience a particular jhana. Someone can find themselves in the 5th jhana without ever knowing that Buddhists described it hundreds of years ago. They might call it 'going beyond form' and not 5th jhana or The Sphere of Infinite Space. It's the same experience though, where suddenly you find yourself in an immense void.

I've been involved in far too many online conversations and arguments about spiritual matters over many years to believe this is the case. It's too easy to assume we're talking about the same thing when we're not. Spiritual experiences are notoriously difficult to put into words.

Here an experiment: can you describe the color red to me just in words here so that when I read your description I'll be able to know you are describing that color? How about the taste of Pinot Noir?


emoticon

aloha chris,

   Right on red, but pinot noir....

terry


 I found this list hilarious... courtesy of winefolly dot com....


French Pinot Noir
In Burgundy, Pinot Noir is usually very herbaceous and light (except for pristine vintages). Earthy aromas dominate including smells similar to a brown paper bag full of mushrooms or wet leaves. Along with the earth are faint floral smells of roses, violet and a smell of fruit that leans towards raw, freshly picked cherries.



Italian Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir grows best across northern Italy where the climate is much cooler. The fruit flavors of Italian Pinot Noir are similar to that of France, but the earthy flavors lean toward smoke, tobacco, white pepper and clove. Pinot Nero, as the Italians call it, tend to have more color extraction and higher alcohol.



California Pinot Noir
A giant leap in flavor and intensity from the Pinot Noir in France and Germany, California Pinot Noirs are bigger, lush and more fruit-forward. Look for flavors ranging from sweet black cherry to black raspberry and secondary aromas of vanilla, clove, coca-cola, and caramel.



Oregon Pinot Noir
Oregon Pinot Noir is usually a few steps lighter in color and texture than California Pinot Noir; and it’s usually more tart. Expect cranberry, bing cherry fruit flavors with secondary aromas of truffle mushrooms and sometimes even a green dandelion stem flavor.



New Zealand Pinot Noir
On the southern island in New Zealand there is a plateau called Central Otago that gets enough sunshine throughout the season to produce rich Pinot Noir in a style similar to California. What makes New Zealand Pinot Noir unique from California Pinot is stronger spice and gamey-meaty aromas along with loads of fruit.



Australian Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir doesn’t grow very well in Australia except for some locations in Western Australia and around Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Expect sweeter fruit notes leaning towards blueberry and even blackberry but in a spicy-gamey tinge similar to New Zealand in the aroma.



Chilean Pinot Noir
South American Pinot Noir has a lot of similarities to Oregon or California Pinot Noir. The aromas lean more towards flowers like violets, roses and vanilla than fruit.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/7/18 7:10 AM as a reply to terry.
Aloha, terry.

The taste of Pinot Noir is sort of like the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described pornography in the famous obscenity case Jacobellis vs. Ohio:

"I know it when I see it."

So, yeah, I know it when I taste it.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/8/18 11:40 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
For those willing to wade through it (like I did) here's a view of materialism that asserts panpsychism, i.e.; that all matter is at some level experiencing its environment and the difference between an electron, a rock, a plant, a badger and a human being is one only of the degree (complexity) of each thing's perception/experiential processing capabilities.

Have fun:

http://consc.net/event/reef/huntkicking.pdf

Abstract: A new approach to the ‘hard problem’of consciousness, the eons-old mind–body problem, is proposed, inspired by Whitehead, Schopenhauer, Griffin, and others. I define a ‘simple subject’ as the fundamental unit of matter and of consciousness. Simple subjects are inherently experiential, albeit in a highly rudimentary manner compared to human consciousness. With this re-framing, the ‘physical’ realm includes the ‘mental’ realm; they are two aspects of the same thing, the outside and inside of each real thing. This view is known as panpsychism or panexperientialism and is in itself a partial solution to the hard problem. The secondary but more interesting question may be framed as: what is a ‘complex subject’? How do simple subjects combine to form complex subjects like bats and human beings? This is more generally known as the ‘combination problem’or the ‘boundary problem’, and is the key problem facing both materialist and panpsychist approaches to consciousness. I suggest a new approach for resolving this component of the hard problem, a ‘general theory of complex subjects’that includes ‘psychophysical laws’in the form of a simple mathematical framework. I present three steps for characterizing complex subjects, with the physical nature of time key to this new understanding. Viewing time as fundamentally quantized is important. I also suggest, as a second-order conceptualization, that ‘information’ and ‘experience’ may be considered identical concepts and that there is no double-aspect to information. Rather, there is a single aspect to information and it is inherently experiential. Tononi’s, Chalmers’, and Freeman’s similar theories are compared and contrasted.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/11/18 6:52 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
terry:

aloha andrew,

   Ken wilber is certainly not a materialist, not even close. He's rather broad-minded, in fact; integral.

   Nondual materialists such as dennett and dawkins gain fame by arguing with christian dualists, whose arguments they easily destroy because dualism has obvious flaws. Ken wilber understands that nondualism can be formulated either as materiality or as spirituality, just not both at the same time (eg "cartesian dualism"). It is as valid to say that all things are products of mind as to say they have a material reality. Materialism is ascendant in our culture due to the corrupting influence of greed and acquisitiveness. And ignorance.

   Spirituality is one metaphysical idea; materiality is another. Spinoza, if it matters, brilliantly explained how both are nondual modes of understanding. Quantum physics understands matter both as waves and as particles, but they cannot define a "wavicle" - the two views are exclusive. Such ideas as "love" and "morality" are better explained spiritually as materialism has no way of explaining these things. Scientific explanation amounts to "the knee-bone is connected to the thigh-bone," which doesn't really explain anything. 

   To say, metaphysicallly and philosophically, that all phenomena are material is no more or less true than to say that all phenomena are spiritual, and exist only in the mind. We look at a table and it appears "out there"; we know at the same time that the table exists in our minds - it was there yesterday, and it is there when we turn our backs, and we know what is in the drawers as well. The truth is that the table in our minds and the table out there are "not two" - they are nondual aspects of the same reality, the two tables, inner and outer. Think, for example, of a "baseball" - scientifically it is a round spheroid covered with horsehide, etc; spiritually it is a game piece, which only makes sense in terms of rules and play and the game of baseball. Its "spiritual" significance is greater than its scientific description, though the scientific one is not wrong, just (extremely) limited and incomplete.

   I think it is a mistake for the spiritually minded to ignore materiality, and for the materially minded to ignore spirituality. They interpenetrate. Nondualistically. Picking a side ignores too much. How could the materialist ignore and not appreciate all the beautiful spiritual poetry and literature? And the spiritually minded can lose touch with reality if they don't appreciate the material side of things.

   In my view we should "remystify" buddhism. It is not - or should not be - an aid to materialism. I understand you are using the word in its metaphysical sense, but "materialism" also refers to selfishness, greed and avarice, which are regarded as defilements (klesa) in buddhism.


terry
I haven't said that Ken Wilber is a materialist. What I said was that there is a certain state of consciousness that I found out about first from someone who had been involved in John Yarr's cult. Then I realized that Suzanne Segal in her book had exactly the same state of consciousness. Then I started reading Ken Wilber and he described the same thing which he calls 'One Taste'.

So it seems this state of consciousness exists, but it doesn't confirm the Advaita Vedanta point of view. None of the above authors say they experienced Brahman. All of them said that they everything they turned their attention towards seemed to be part of them. When they move, as in a car journey, it seems to them that their body is moving through themselves to get to where they already are.

They interpret it as Enlightenment, but there are two other ways to think of it. One is a form of madness. I don't think it is Enlightenment or madness. It seems to me that they have lost the ability to distinguish between Subject and Object. Which sounds good, but there are two ways to do that. Their way is illusory, you're not really One with everything.

Materialists can appreciate poetry and literature. They can be altruistic. I know in my brain is a universe that is wonderful and I can appreciate the universe created in other people's minds too. This universe is not separate from the neurons in my brain, it does not survive death.

aloha andrew,

   I wouldn't be able to convince dennett or dawkins either. Nondualism of any sort is so inclusive that it provides an unassailable position from which to argue. Sure, everything can be described from a materialist standpoint, just as everything can be described as "mind only." Wherever we look the universe is infinitely complex. Some sort of inclusive way of thinking provides comfort. The open-endedness of "don't know" - of staying awake to the unknown and unknowable - is uncomfortable, it keeps us guessing. Perhaps "enlightenment" - starting to become a dirty word, with that "zen stink" - is ever realizing and incomplete.
What I have read about nondualism in MCTB is very plausible. I don't think that the author was making a philosophical point: what he wrote probably wouldn't be of any interest to a philosopher but might well be of interest to a neurologist. It is interesting to think that it is possible to live without a self, and how such a person would perceive the world.

I know that it's a tradition in Buddhism to say that everything comes from the mind. I don't think that is literally true: it would deny the existence of an external reality. That is the Idealist position which has many problems.

Some people might want to meld Materialism and Idealism into some kind of nondualistic whole. The problem with that is that the material universe has been in existence for 13.8 billion years and consciousness has been in existence for a lot less than that. My consciousness will end but my brain will continue for a while, and longer if pickledemoticon So to put the material universe and consciousness on a level pegging doesn't make sense to me.

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/11/18 7:08 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
I know that it's a tradition in Buddhism to say that everything comes from the mind. I don't think that is literally true: it would deny the existence of an external reality. That is the Idealist position which has many problems.

I think this is mis-stated slightly. Buddhism doesn't deny the existence of an external reality. It says, in essence, that the only access we have to whatever it is that exists externally is through the mind. So all of our experience is mediated by the mind. It's obvious that there is something going on "out there" that we're all experiencing because we share many perceptions and can agree on lots of things that are commonly experienced.

The problem with that is that the material universe has been in existence for 13.8 billion years and consciousness has been in existence for a lot less than that.

How do you know consciousness has been in existence for a lot less than that? Based on my reading of modern physics we just can't make that claim - consciousness is an unknown that we fail to grok at this point. We have no explainable mechanism for it. It would also appear that time, as assumed commonly as a linear, one way round trip from past to future, is yet to be well enough understood. Physics says it's not a one-way road at all. So the notion that consciousness and time are inextricably bound by what we theorize today is... well, I wouldn't bank on it being the final word.



RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
12/11/18 3:15 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:

What I have read about nondualism in MCTB is very plausible. I don't think that the author was making a philosophical point: what he wrote probably wouldn't be of any interest to a philosopher but might well be of interest to a neurologist. It is interesting to think that it is possible to live without a self, and how such a person would perceive the world.

I know that it's a tradition in Buddhism to say that everything comes from the mind. I don't think that is literally true: it would deny the existence of an external reality. That is the Idealist position which has many problems.

Some people might want to meld Materialism and Idealism into some kind of nondualistic whole. The problem with that is that the material universe has been in existence for 13.8 billion years and consciousness has been in existence for a lot less than that. My consciousness will end but my brain will continue for a while, and longer if pickledemoticon So to put the material universe and consciousness on a level pegging doesn't make sense to me.


aloha andrew,

  
   The tradition of "mind only" is specifically the yogacara position. Yogacara reacted to the madhyamika position of refuting all metaphysics by saying that the madyhamika "position" implied a mental reality despite their denials. This "seems plausible" since madhyamika appears to "deny the existence of a material reality" as well as any other "reality" as such. Madhyamika by design wants to weaken any concept of reality in favor of an intuitive, wordless insight. It is this intuitive, wordless insight that is known as nirvana and is the both the path and the goal of meditation. What is "interesting to think" about for you is the way things are for some folk.
    
   Zen was a reaction to the idealism of yogacara and similar sects, which indeed rejected materialism and explained everything in terms of mind. Theirs was a very sophisticated view. Idealism has a long history east and west and still dominates most philosophical thinking. It is not as obvious as you think that there is something that may legitimately called an "external reality." What we regard as "external reality" is thought of by many to be partially or wholly a projection of the mind, and not really "out there" at all. It can be demonstrated, for example, that what we see is not simply colors and shapes ("form") but is a collage of mental imaginings and projections. Yogacara follows madhyamika in seeing "two views," the absolute and the relative, but they further break the relative down into the relatively real and the relatively unreal. The classic analogy is that of the rope and the snake: one may mistake a rope for a snake and see falsely, or one may perceive the rope as it is. In madhamyika, the rope too is just a way of seeing and has no reality other than our interpretation. I find both views compelling depending on circumstances. 

   The yogacarins were addicted to metaphysics, and the need to explain and tame reality to make it more comfortable. Madhyamika appears as nihilism to those who have not ... there are no words ... "experienced the Void"? Your idea that seagal and wilber "believe" in something may be due to them knowing something completely outside of your experience. Or they may be guessing, projecting from readings of other's recorded experiences; it is hard to tell from a book. (At one point wilber was boasting that he read as many as 200 books a week.) 

   Zen was the latest reform of buddhism, intended to correct the fall from intuitive insight into idealism (metaphysics). Zen often reintroduces materialism as a corrective to idealism. In zen, all thinking is seen as dukkha, inherent dissatisfaction, the effort of deluded mind to alter things - already perfect - in favor of a one-sided and ignorant projection of a world that threatens and entices and enmeshes us tightly.

   I should note that buddhism is intimately involved with metaphysics, prescribing various metaphysical views as correctives to various other metaphysical views. Ultimately all views are abandoned in favor of direct connection with nirvana.

   Idealism has no more problems than materialism. Less, I would say, since it can address the important questions, which materialism can only ignore. It is better, I think, for god to enjoin us to love, than to consider the "law of the jungle" to be "the survival of the fittest."


terry


from chinul's "straightforward explanation of true mind" in "kensho the heart of zen" trans cleary: 

Now that we know about Buddhism, it may be asked, what about Zen? To this it may be replied that Zen stops all naming and verbalizing. If even one name is not established, how could there be many names? And yet, when responding to feelings and adapting to potentials, there are indeed many names. Sometimes it is called the self, because it is the basic essence of a living being. Sometimes it is called the true eye, because it mirrors all appearances. Sometimes it is called the wondrous mind, because its open awareness shines serenely. Sometimes it is called the host or master, because it has been carrying the burden all along. Sometimes it is called the bottomless bowl, because of living life wherever one may be. Sometimes it is called the stringless harp, because its melody is beyond the present. Sometimes it is called the inexhaustible lamp, because its illumination breaks through deluded feelings. Sometimes it is called the rootless tree, because the root and stem are firm and strong. Sometimes it is called a razor-sharp sword, because it cuts through senses and objects. Sometimes it is called the land of effortlessness, because the ocean is peaceful and the rivers clear. Sometimes it is called the pearl of the sage, because it rescues the poor and the destitute. Sometimes it is called the keyless lock, because it locks up the six senses. It is also called the clay ox, the wood horse, the mind source, the mind seal, the mind mirror, the mind moon, the mind pearl. There are too many different names to note them all. If you arrive at the true mind, all names are clear; if you are ignorant of this true mind, all names hang you up. Therefore you had best be very careful about the true mind .

RE: Let's discuss Vedanta and Buddhism
Answer
5/1/19 6:30 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:

   My question of you as an advaita vendantist is what is the Self? A bigger ego? A smaller one? No ego at all? All Ego and no World, Or all World and no Ego? Have you a cosmic self, an ordinary self, no self at all? More than one self? Who are you? Or as RM says, "Who am I?"

  



hehe, the answer is "Advaita", which literally means "Not Two", hence the Advaita Vedanta is also commonly referred to as "Non-dual" Vedanta.

(you may have noticed that my last name (screen name) is Not2.)