Beyond non-duality

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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

Beyond non-duality

Posts: 893 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Metta to all. May all beings flourish.

With some trepidation I am offering this post about non-duality, as it seems relevant to a number of current discussions. So this is a very personal view, and 'just my opinion' and I recognise that this might promote debates. Constructive debates can be good! And any abuse is probably deserved, so fire away, with points for creativity. And no doubt the DhO can help me improve my thinking. Anyway, in short, I would like to suggest that non-duality, while marvellous and beneficial, is not quite the end point referred to in the suttas.  

I really like the Upanisa Sutta (SN 12.23) which outlines transcendental dependent arising - not only the basic 12 links, but also how this leads on to liberation. From stress and suffering we find conviction in the dharma.  From this we find joy ... then rapture ... then serenity ... then concentration ... the knowledge and vision ... then disenchantment ... then dispassion ... then liberation ... then knowlege of the ending of the taints. To me, non-duality is 'knowledge and vision'. It is the discovery of the way things truly are through direct perception, intellectual understanding and access to different modes of thought. But this is clearly not the end point of the buddhadharma.  After this still comes disenchantment, dispassion, liberation, and knowledge of the ending of the taints. What could this mean? It seems like shorthand for something more, that the listeners could be expected to know

Something similar is said in SN 56.11 about the third noble truth "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving."  So fading and cessation, reunciation, relinquishment, release and letting go of what? If it is just 'That very craving" then why have six different verbs?  Again, it sounds like shorthand for something the listeners could be expected to know. I've been trying to work this out from various sources (not all remembered now), and the best I can get to is:

Fading of attachment
Cessation of suffering
Renuncation of desire
Relinquishment of identification of the self with the five clinging aggregates
Release or unbinding of the clinging self
Letting go of the craving that arose from the clinging self (and thus the tendency to desire and suffering)

SN 12.23 and SN 56.11 are not entirely consistent. This doesn't worry me too much, as the suttas show ideas evolving, and being presented in different ways. But there is a common core to them, that knowledge and vision (non-duality) is not the end. We might generalise to say that the buddhadharma suggests that after knowlege and vision comes ... disenchantment with absorptions, dispassion about the dharma, liberation from identification with the five clinging aggregates. Letting go of craving. The holy life fulfilled. Done what is to be done.

Further, Gentle Reader, a rather literal translation of the satipathana sutta from tipitaka.org notes that "... Let alone half a month, monks. Should any person practise this fourfold establishing of awareness in this manner for seven days, one of two results may be expected in him: in this very life highest wisdom or, if a substratum of aggregates remains, the stage of non-returner." (My emphasis.)

So if a practitioner has an ongoing absoprtion with non-duality, surely this is an enchantment, not an disenchantment? A passion, not dispassion? Surely defining the self to be some aspect of the field of perception is a substratum of the aggregates remaining? Now, I do not cricitise this. Non-dual perception is a marvellous state to be admired and emulated, and deepened if you like well beyond anything I might have achieved. But I am just saying that it is not what the buddha taught as the final goal of the holy life. Some might also propose that there is no point going beyond non-duality and that it is fair enough; I offer no disagreement, except to say this is different from what is in the suttas. And some may achieve the goal of the holy life and then choose to dwell in non-duality; and that is their choice.

Now, if you think I am wrong please tell me. And if you think I am wrong and are following the buddhadharma, please tell me what is meant by disenchantment, dispassion, liberation and knowlege of the ending of the taints, or by fading, cessation, reunciation, relinquishment, release and letting go of that very craving. Or please let me know what Uncle Sid mean by "if a substratum of the aggregates remains".

I write this in the spirit of those jointly seeking the truth in the DhO, in the hope of benefitting all beings.

P.S. Bonus points if you can identiy who I stole "Gentle Reader" from. emoticon

P.P.S. And to evoke the final account of progress in MCTB2, it seemed to me to be a rather precise description of a massive effort, followed by disenchantment, dispassion, liberation and knowledge of the ending of the taints (sorry to be personal Daniel, but it is too good a description to pass up!)  And this kind of description seems to appear every so often from practitioners on the DhO, which is also kind of amazing.

Metta to all.

Malcolm
<ducks>
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 3769 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Oh my...

You're not wrong.

In the deepest, most intimate mind moments, at the very heart of the dharma, lies the fact that dual and non-dual are just views. We can choose our view, and often do. Some choose one over the other and reify it, making it seem as though that view is somehow "superior" to the other. That's a box canyon, though. What we observe around and within us is both, and neither. 
J C, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Oh my...

You're not wrong.

In the deepest, most intimate mind moments, at the very heart of the dharma, lies the fact that dual and non-dual are just views. We can choose our view, and often do. Some choose one over the other and reify it, making it seem as though that view is somehow "superior" to the other. That's a box canyon, though. What we observe around and within us is both, and neither. 

Chris, I don't understand this point. Daniel says after 4th he's not able to switch back and see things from the illusory view of being a self (duality).

Dual and non-dual aren't two equivalent views - the view that you're a self with agency and free will is an illusion, and you can see through that.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 3769 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Hi, JC:

Chris, I don't understand this point. Daniel says after 4th he's not able to switch back and see things from the illusory view of being a self (duality).

Dual and non-dual aren't two equivalent views - the view that you're a self with agency and free will is an illusion, and you can see through that.

How do you think Daniel navigates the "world of duality" as well as he does? Is it that one can see "both" or is it that "both" are really the same? Don't just jump to an answer - really and truly ponder.

BTW - if we really think that there is a "dual" and then a "non-dual" haven't we conceptually chopped reality into more than one piece? Please read shargrol's and curious' comments this morning for more hints about what's up with this.


emoticon


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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
J C:
Chris Marti:
Oh my...

You're not wrong.

In the deepest, most intimate mind moments, at the very heart of the dharma, lies the fact that dual and non-dual are just views. We can choose our view, and often do. Some choose one over the other and reify it, making it seem as though that view is somehow "superior" to the other. That's a box canyon, though. What we observe around and within us is both, and neither. 

Chris, I don't understand this point. Daniel says after 4th he's not able to switch back and see things from the illusory view of being a self (duality).

Dual and non-dual aren't two equivalent views - the view that you're a self with agency and free will is an illusion, and you can see through that.

right as rain...
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 893 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Oh my...

Yes I tried to explain to my wife what I had done, and she thought for a while and then said ... "Oh, it's just like commenting on Fanny Price on a Jane Austen forum"
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
curious:
Chris Marti:
Oh my...

Yes I tried to explain to my wife what I had done, and she thought for a while and then said ... "Oh, it's just like commenting on Fanny Price on a Jane Austen forum"



You have a clever wife. Cool.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Oh my...

You're not wrong.

In the deepest, most intimate mind moments, at the very heart of the dharma, lies the fact that dual and non-dual are just views. We can choose our view, and often do. Some choose one over the other and reify it, making it seem as though that view is somehow "superior" to the other. That's a box canyon, though. What we observe around and within us is both, and neither. 

oh my...

nonduality is not an opinion, not a choice...nonduality is beyond words, so if you are still talking you have no idea...

nonduality cannot be reified, cannot be chosen, is beyond superior and inferior, cannot be observed within or without...


Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
Brian Andrew Hayes, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/16/11 Recent Posts
I think many people would agree with you - non-duality is not the ultimate goal. It's just an experience of non-separation, whereas the goal is beyond the duality of dual and non-dual and is not an experience. Perhaps regarding knowledge and vision as being the non-dual experience is in error. Maybe it's just seeing that things are anicca, so dukkha, so why get involved? The result of seeing that is disenchantment etc. as you quoted.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Brian Andrew Hayes:
I think many people would agree with you - non-duality is not the ultimate goal. It's just an experience of non-separation, whereas the goal is beyond the duality of dual and non-dual and is not an experience. Perhaps regarding knowledge and vision as being the non-dual experience is in error. Maybe it's just seeing that things are anicca, so dukkha, so why get involved? The result of seeing that is disenchantment etc. as you quoted.

aloha brian andrew hayes,

   Joined eight years ago and this is your first post. Curious.

   Welcome to the discussion.

   Perhaps you are completely wrong. Perhaps nonduality is exactly what the buddha sees as "the ultimate goal." Of course, the gateless gate is the goalless goal. The path itself is the goal.

   It seems to me that the idea of "samsara is nirvana," though often explained, is misunderstood. It is clearly nondual, like "form is emptiness, emptiness is form." And there is dogen's contention that "practice is enlightenment," another nonduality: they are "not two." Let me try to explain how this works.

   Let's say you observe an attachment, in yourself or in another. This is samsara, mundane existence, "wandering" the "world" aimlessly, eating and mating like all the animals. Worldly existence is attachment to objects of desire, of craving. So, by seeing any particular craving as an attachment, we are practicing the buddhadharma. Our being is oriented toward enlightenment, toward a release from attachments, toward freedom, and so we see sensual desires as attachments, more to be dealt with than to be indulged. This practice of the way to enlightenment is in itself, as dogen says, enlightenment. In the same sense, "samsara is nirvana" because by seeing ordinary cyclical existence as samsara we are already in the standpoint of nirvana, of nonduality.

   You might think this is too easy, that anyone can do it, so how can it be the desired, sought after, much missed goal of nirvana? Bob marley says:

'Cause only a fool 
Lean upon, lean upon his own misunderstanding, oh, yeah
And then what has been hidden
From the wise and the prudent, been revealed to the babe and the suckling

   The main obstacle to truth is vanity, which seems so harmless and amusing but prevents clarity by assuring us that our thoughts are worth defending. In the face of nonduality, all thinking is dropped.

terry


Across the Universe
(The Beatles)

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
Restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney
Brian Andrew Hayes, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/16/11 Recent Posts
terry:

   It seems to me that the idea of "samsara is nirvana," though often explained, is misunderstood. 

Hi Terry,
I love a good mis-quote but I'll stick with personal narrative to explain why I think what I think (for the sake of discussion):
I was interested in Curious' initial remark that there was something beyond non-duality (although the sutta references made no sense at all).
For years I'd read D.T. Suzuki, and then later the Advaitans and I really thought non-duality was the be all to end all.
A couple of times I experienced non-duality for just a few seconds (wow) on consecutive days, whilst doing a kind of Western Koan practice with John Crook. The funny thing is, I had no idea what I was experiencing, despite having read volumes of D.T. Suzuki for the previous four years. I finally realized what those experiences were (15 years later!) while reading David Loy's PhD thesis on Non-duality that I was lucky enough to find in a Cambridge University bookshop. His analysis is in 'PlainSpeak' rather than 'ancient inscrutable' which is why it probably communicated something intelligible that I could actually relate to. At the time of having the experience all I could describe it as, was "everything I looked at, was stuck to my face!" I would now describe it as an experience of non-separation between subject and object. For me it has happened mostly through seeing, but apparently it is more common through hearing. The experience just helped me to see that our normal sense of separation between subject and object is constructed, and is sustained by regarding the subject as an object amongst other objects. It also meant that reading books on non-duality actually made sense now.
Anyway, to the point - a couple of years after reading Loy's book, while walking in the park I had what you guys here on this forum talk about as the sakadagāmi thing. I'm not saying that's what it is, I'm just saying I had what you describe (for the 2nd time obviously). After the non-experience which is not a lack of experience, the experience of experiencing returned and it was a bit like what Daniel described as the Sankhāras experience - kinda weird - the world was a bubble that was conscious of itself, it literally looked like a bubble surrounded by a void (by world I'm referring to the visual image of the view in front of me - trees and stuff). After that brief moment the experience changed to what I now recognized as the non-dual, non-separation of subject object in normal space (no surrounding void). Then, after that 'I' returned and everything was back to normal, except now I had this utterly sickening realization that my biggest obsession in life - the non-dual experience - had nothing to do with me, was never going to be attained by me, and was, in fact obscured by the very 'me' that wanted to have it. Cruel.
It took a long time to process all of that - and I didn't have the help of MCTB or anything like that at the time. But, aside from the disappointment, what struck me from that experience was that the non-dual part wasn't the end point -it was actually a couple of steps away. The end point is nirodha.
So, anyway, that's as much as I can figure out for now, but if ever I get to be an Arahant I'll be sure to post back and correct myself.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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But, aside from the disappointment, what struck me from that experience was that the non-dual part wasn't the end point -it was actually a couple of steps away. The end point is nirodha. 

I assume that here you refer to Nirodha as being the absence of any subject-object duality. If so, we share this view.
J C, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
But, aside from the disappointment, what struck me from that experience was that the non-dual part wasn't the end point -it was actually a couple of steps away. The end point is nirodha. 

I assume that here you refer to Nirodha as being the absence of any subject-object duality. If so, we share this view.

NS? I thought NS was a moment of unconsciousness where there was no perception at all, as opposed to perception without duality.

Chris, aren't you 4th path, meaning you don't have any subject-object duality anyway?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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JC, keep practicing so you can see for yourself, please.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
JC, keep practicing so you can see for yourself, please.


   Oh my...
:
   At least you are polite. Like the english, or the japanese.


   That reminds me of a joke:

definition of heaven and hell:

heaven is:
an english house, 
a chinese cook,
an american salary,
and a japanese wife

hell is:
a japanese house,
a chinese salary,
an english cook,
and I forget the last one
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
But, aside from the disappointment, what struck me from that experience was that the non-dual part wasn't the end point -it was actually a couple of steps away. The end point is nirodha. 

I assume that here you refer to Nirodha as being the absence of any subject-object duality. If so, we share this view.


And non-duality dffers from "the absence of subject object duality" how?

t
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 3769 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
And non-duality dffers from "the absence of subject object duality" how?

Hiya, terry!

There are many shades of non-dual experience, from recognizing the concept intellectually to various perceptual experiences that point us to it. Those experiences none-the-less, if we can live them, are generated by mind and require some semblance of the subject-object duality, however subtle. There is also the full, true and actual experience of not having subject-object at all, which when experienced is obvious because consciousness winks out. This is called "cessation" in Theravada Buddhism and has been documented in ancient and modern texts as well as in various mediation diaries here and elsewhere online.

Thanks for asking, by the way.

Your mileage will no doubt vary, which is perfectly okay with me.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 3769 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
The subject of cessation (also sometimes called "fruition") is worthy of more information, so here I'm going to quote Daniel Ingram on the subject:

From https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+15.+Fruition:

This is the fruit of all the meditator's hard work, the first attainment of ultimate reality, emptiness, Nirvana, God or whatever you wish to call it. In this non-state, there is absolutely no time, no space, no reference point, no experience, no mind, no consciousness, no nothingness, no somethingness, no body, no this, no that, no unity, no duality, and no anything else. Reality stops cold and then reappears. Thus, this is impossible to comprehend, as it goes completely and utterly beyond the rational mind and the sensate universe. To “external time” (if someone were observing the meditator from the outside) this lasts only an instant. It is like an utter discontinuity of the space-time continuum with nothing in the unfindable gap. 

 And:

On subsequent passes through Fruition of that path the mind tends to be refreshed, bright, quiet and clear for a while, and milder forms of the above-listed phenomena may occur. It is as though someone hit the reset button and cleared out all the junk for a little while. There is a nice bliss wave that tends to follow and may take a few seconds to develop. If you have not learned the concentration states yet, doing so in the afterglow of a Fruition can make them much easier to attain and master.

My first experience of cessation/fruition:

While observing an object in meditation – let’s say the breath entering and leaving my nostrils – I perceive a slow building of energy and focus. The in-breath starts to bring a very fine set of vibrations in the top of the head and an almost giddy mental feeling, sort of like a tiny whiff of laughing gas, that grows as the breath is drawn and until it is at its peak. The peak of the breath brings a sharp distinct break and when the out-breath starts that same energetic and finely vibrating giddy feeling resumes (this not a hyperventilation-like giddiness). Each successive breath slowly increases the intensity of these fine vibrations until a kind of crescendo is reached, at which point all the energy that has built up quickly flows to the observed object, appears to merge with the object and then FLASH!, an image appears, a complex image, for just a tiny fraction of a second, after which everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – winks out of existence. Pure pitch black, silent nothingness ensues (no sound, no light, no feeling, no self, no perception of any kind) and lasts for about a second or so. Then awareness reappears anew. The impression after the second or so of nothingness reminds me of the rebooting of a computer. Everything is turned completely off and then restarts.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 392 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Yeah, that's been my experience as well. Andrew Holecek, says in his book Dream Yoga (about the Tibetan practice of dream and sleep yoga), that basically consciousness and consciousness experience depends on having an observer and an observed. When the mind makes contact with emptiness, there is no observer and no observed and so there is no experience. That results in cessation.

On the other hand, I recall reading somewhere an essay by Than Geoff that maintains in the Thai Forest Monk tradition, there is some experience when the mind contacts emptiness in a path moment or fruition. I don't know offhand how that could occur, how they explain it. How can there be experience when there is nothing to do the experiencing and nothing to experience?

Anyway, need to talk with my Mahamudra teacher about it, but I expect the Mahamudra take on it would be similar to the Mahsi Saydaw tradtion, since Holecek studied with some Mahmudra teachers.

Thanx for the post.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Hey, SV!

Yeah, it's always been amazing to me how the mind creates this dichotomy (duality) that allows us to perceive the world as we do. It's a fascinating area of study and if I were to start over with my career this is the area I'd go for - cognition. It's called cognitive science these days.

emoticon
T DC, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
svmonk:

Yeah, that's been my experience as well. Andrew Holecek, says in his book Dream Yoga (about the Tibetan practice of dream and sleep yoga), that basically consciousness and consciousness experience depends on having an observer and an observed. When the mind makes contact with emptiness, there is no observer and no observed and so there is no experience. That results in cessation.



Thanks for sharing.  That's an interesting theory, although it does beg the question of how one could have a stable experience of emptiness. 

If all perceptual contact with emptiness resulted in no experience, how could one have an experience of emptiness, something Mahayana and Vajrayana traditons seem quite keen on?
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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It's fascinating how buddhism evolves into different forms. For me, I still find everything I need in the suttas - dependent origination, the five aggregates, and the teachings on emptiness. So for example, there are six sense consciousnesses and although we get caught up in the mind sense and verbal formations, there is no reason that our awareness of consciousness cannot move into form, feelings, perceptions, voilition. And indeed this does happen in meditative practices. For me, the interim 'Watcher' never appealed, and I prefer to see consciousness as just being a shifting relationship of attention and the six sense aggregates (and maybe add in the yogacara warehouse memory too).

Or for dependent origination, you can seek to advance insight by undermining vinnana (divided knowing of the six sense consciousnesses) or namarupa (assignment of concepts to sense data). These are examples of both types of practices from Uncle Sid, and different practices around elements of DO would give different flavours of non-duality or emptiness.  

On emptiness, I see the key sutta as https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.121.than.html

This sutta has shows how to achieve conceptual emptiness through focus on a single thing, enabling non-attendance to the perception of other things.   ".. As before, I remain fully in a dwelling of emptiness. Just as this palace of Migara's mother is empty of elephants, cattle, & mares, empty of gold & silver, empty of assemblies of women & men, and there is only this non-emptiness — the singleness based on the community of monks.

Comment:  This accords with modern pyschological theory. In this form of emptiness we longer apply the recognition memory process to most sense stimuli ('perception'). So our house may be empty of people. Not literally, but rather because we do not process the sense stimuli of people through our recognition memory system to activate the conceptual (or strictly, semantic) nodes in memory associated with that person. So emptiness arises because we no longer apply object recognition/perception. No elephants here, oh dear!  Note that this form of perception is different to raw perception of sense data.  It is recognition of sense data.

The same sutta leads on to the themeless concentration of awareness - which I interpret as close and continuous awareness (concentration) but again without employing the recognition memory (namarupa) system. 

And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of nothingness. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. There is only this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.

Comment: So this seems to me to be full perceptual emptiness existing in the non-dual flow of reality - that is, reality is perceived but not conceptualised.  But this is not the end.  The next stage is described thus.  

"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed.

Comment:  So the sutta version of emptiness is NOT total non awareness. The released person dwells with direct knowlege of things as they really are.  That is knowledge  "connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed."

Where water, earth, fire, and wind have no footing.
There the stars don't shine, the sun isn't visible.
There the moon doesn't appear.
There darkness is not found.
And when a sage, a noble one, has realized for herself,
Then from form and formless, from bliss and pain, she is freed.

Comment:  This final verse from the Bahiya Sutta doesn't refer to non-consciousness, but to to awake and aware emptiness, in my opinion. That is, a state where you can choose to stop applying the recognition memory system, and exist in the flow of reality without conceptualising it. 

Of course, you can switch on recognition and duality again if you like - otherwise, how would you eat? 

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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 392 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi curious,

Thanx for the sutta references. I did a blog post sometime back about places where the Buddha mentions emptiness in the suttas. It's basically a commentary on Than Geoff's essay "The Integrety of Emptiness". I think Than Geoff was arguing that talking about emptiness wasn't going to help people with substance abuse problems, and he mentions several places where the Buddha talked about emptiess, among them the citations you mention. I kind of agree with Than Geoff on this one, but I think there are a lot of advanced meditators who are way beyond substance abuse who would benefit from having some context about it.
Comment:  So the sutta version of emptiness is NOT total non awareness. The released person dwells with direct knowlege of things as they really are.  That is knowledge  "connected
with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as
its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there.
Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this,
his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in
meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed."

Right, but I think that's the result of having the mind make contact with emptiness in a path moment in meditation, and then seeing clearly into dependent origination. The suttas don't say that though, maybe because they are not structured as a meditation manual. Mahasi Saydaw and other Therevadan traditions (Sri Lanka, most of the Thai schools) all agree on this point. The only Theravadan school that doesn't AFIK is the Forest Monk tradition. There may be something more in the Vinaya on it.

Anyway, I probably shouldn't comment further, as I'm a mostly Mahayana practitioner these days, though I practiced Therevada in the 2000s.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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svmonk:
Hi curious,

Thanx for the sutta references. I did a blog post sometime back about places where the Buddha mentions emptiness in the suttas. It's basically a commentary on Than Geoff's essay "The Integrety of Emptiness". I think Than Geoff was arguing that talking about emptiness wasn't going to help people with substance abuse problems, and he mentions several places where the Buddha talked about emptiess, among them the citations you mention. I kind of agree with Than Geoff on this one, but I think there are a lot of advanced meditators who are way beyond substance abuse who would benefit from having some context about it.
Comment:  So the sutta version of emptiness is NOT total non awareness. The released person dwells with direct knowlege of things as they really are.  That is knowledge  "connected
with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as
its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there.
Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this,
his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in
meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed."

Right, but I think that's the result of having the mind make contact with emptiness in a path moment in meditation, and then seeing clearly into dependent origination. The suttas don't say that though, maybe because they are not structured as a meditation manual. Mahasi Saydaw and other Therevadan traditions (Sri Lanka, most of the Thai schools) all agree on this point. The only Theravadan school that doesn't AFIK is the Forest Monk tradition. There may be something more in the Vinaya on it.

Anyway, I probably shouldn't comment further, as I'm a mostly Mahayana practitioner these days, though I practiced Therevada in the 2000s.


   Seeing into dependent origination, the buddha says, is the whole of the dhamma. Dependent origination is nondual, a unity without a second. As ram dass used to say, "the smallest particle in the universe is the universe."

t
T DC, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
curious:

Comment:  So the sutta version of emptiness is NOT total non awareness. The released person dwells with direct knowlege of things as they really are.  That is knowledge  "connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed."

Where water, earth, fire, and wind have no footing.
There the stars don't shine, the sun isn't visible.
There the moon doesn't appear.
There darkness is not found.
And when a sage, a noble one, has realized for herself,
Then from form and formless, from bliss and pain, she is freed.

Comment:  This final verse from the Bahiya Sutta doesn't refer to non-consciousness, but to to awake and aware emptiness, in my opinion. That is, a state where you can choose to stop applying the recognition memory system, and exist in the flow of reality without conceptualising it. 

Of course, you can switch on recognition and duality again if you like - otherwise, how would you eat? 


svmonk:

Well, I think when people talk about an "experience" of emptiness, what they are talking about is what Daniel talks about in MCTB(2) and Chris talked about, namely a gap in consciousness which, when consciousness reboots, there is a feeling of happiness and refreshment, not that there is any actual experience. So it is more a kind an experience in retrospect. With of course the exception of the Thai Forest Monk tradition, which does claim that there is some experience of some sort during a fruition.



Thanks for the comments guys!  I suppose what I was trying to interject into the conversation was a perspective of the experience of emptiness as a stable attainment state similar Stream Entry or 4th Path (actually, literally 4th Path and the next several attainments in my experience). 

Maybe I'm just getting wires here crossed because I'm not well versed in the Theravadan sutras, but everything I've read in Mahayana or Vajrayana traditions would point toward emptiness not as a brief, fruition type experience, or a temporary state we can access and then come out of, but as a stable attainment state that represents high advancement on the path.

If we consider Stream Entry - is this a temporary experience?  Can we come and go from the post-Stream Entry state at will?  No, of course not, as Stream Entry represents a permanent and stable state of attainment. 

An attainment of emptiness is no different than Stream Entry, but simply farther down the path.  The insight is deeper, but conscious experience remains.  Consider that the Buddha, even upon final enlightenment, both entered into a stable and permanent state of attainment, and remained entirely conscious of his experience. 

In the traditional teachings schema of the Three Vehicles, emptiness is but a mid-level teaching (the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel), and is surpassed by the teachings of the Third Turning on Buddha nature and Luminosity.  My point is that although a Therevadan perspective may hold the "emptiness" experience of fruition (in scare quotes because it is debatable that a Mahayana vision of emptiness refers to the same phenomenon) to be quick, transitory, and only briefly accessible, other Buddhist perspectives view it as a permanent and stable, if incomplete attainment state.  
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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The whole area is just fascinating.  Here is a hypotheses that might link it all together.

1. Cessations are total emptiness of vinnana (the divided knowings of the six sense consciousnesses), that lead to moments of total non-awareness, and propel one forward through first and second path

2. Somewhere around second and third, insights of the emptiness of namarupa (concepts) start to appear, shaking up the five aggregates as they are progressively realised to be empty concepts.

3. Then as control over the six senses consciousnesses arises, partial emptiness appears as a waking state, whereby some consciousnesses can observe the emptiness of other consciousnesses.  But this is not the sames as a cessation, as not all consciousnesses are empty at the same time.

Or in other words ... we are all correct!

What do you think.  Defensible?

Malcolm
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Definitely defensible. You could throw A&P in there too as the first mini-experience of emptiness. A&P clearly does something that makes us sensitive to there not being a solid "me" over here and "it" over there. The hard distinction between self and other, consciousness and world becomes blurry, not quite empty but sort of full of holes...

Basically the barely-graspable emptiness experience of one stage, seen even more often and more clearly, is realized to be a sort of pseudo-emptiness in the next stage, but you notice there is yet another barely-graspable emptiness that might be possible....etc. That's the way mind development works. And because each insight builds on previous insights, it's somewhat mappable.

And eventually you run out of types of mind objects to realize as being empty, which is awakening. And then it's very hard to be confused about the emptiness of mind objects.  

Too bad knives still cut and fire still burns and food still spoils, otherwise awakening to emptiness would make life so easy... emoticon emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Defensible, for sure. As I see this:

There is insight - knowing, wisdom, what have you, that allows us to realize that all objects are empty of any permanent essence. This includes the realization that there is no permanent self, no controller, no master object, nothing has a privileged place in our existence. Once realized, there's no going back.

Then there's cessation (or nirodha), during which there is no perception of a subject or object at all, resulting in a total loss of consciousness.

Emptiness can be realized without cessation.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
Defensible, for sure. As I see this:

Emptiness can be realized without cessation.


emptiness = cessation
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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In the traditional teachings schema of the Three Vehicles, emptiness is but a mid-level teaching (the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel), and is surpassed by the teachings of the Third Turning on Buddha nature and Luminosity.  My point is that although a Therevadan perspective may hold the "emptiness" experience of fruition (in scare quotes because it is debatable that a Mahayana vision of emptiness refers to the same phenomenon) to be quick, transitory, and only briefly accessible, other Buddhist perspectives view it as a permanent and stable, if incomplete attainment state.  
My understanding is that from a Third Turning (Shentong) perspective, the experience of emptiness is luminous awareness. When I drilled down on this with my Mahamudra teacher, he told me that luminousity doesn't have anything to do with light, but I couldn't understand exactly what it had to do with. Basically nonduality is difficult to put into words. From a Second Turning (Rangtong) perspective, though, I think the experience of emptiness seen in cessation is in fact the same as from the Theravadan perspective, it just extends to the entire world and not emptiness of the self. There is a kind of Mahayana attainment called sarvopalambhopasmah, or "the pacification of perception" that Nagarajuna talks about, Rob Burbea talks about in his book Seeing that Frees, and I wrote about in my blog, where perception kind of fades out during meditation then comes back near the end. It is not an "off and reboot" experience like a fruition or path moment, nor is it like jhana because the meditation object doesn't become prominent and dominate consciousness prior to entering. And it is definitely not like falling asleep. emoticon

Also, sorry to go all scholarly, but IIRC, Asanga, channeling Maitreya, says in Middle Beyond the Extremes,
which is one of the key texts establishing the Third Turning, that
bodhisattvas have a stable experience of emptiness only in meditation.
Once a bodhisattva reaches buddhahood, their experience of emptiness
becomes pervasive, that is, they have a constant experience of emptiness
even when performing various actions of daily life and speaking. That
is why a buddha's speech and actions are always motivated by wisdom and
compassion. I think what this would mean, from a Second Turning perspective, is that a buddha has no
conscious experience per se because their mind is locked into
nonduality. From a Third Turning perspective, this would of course not be so, I suppose a buddha would have an experience of luminous awareness as the nature of emptiness, but again, I don't have any reference points for what that could mean.

That said, I'm not sure where this assertion is
coming from, as I don't think Asanga is viewed as a buddha by the tradition, or having
that level of attainment, so he could not have been speaking from direct
experience.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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svmonk:
In the traditional teachings schema of the Three Vehicles, emptiness is but a mid-level teaching (the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel), and is surpassed by the teachings of the Third Turning on Buddha nature and Luminosity.  My point is that although a Therevadan perspective may hold the "emptiness" experience of fruition (in scare quotes because it is debatable that a Mahayana vision of emptiness refers to the same phenomenon) to be quick, transitory, and only briefly accessible, other Buddhist perspectives view it as a permanent and stable, if incomplete attainment state.  
My understanding is that from a Third Turning (Shentong) perspective, the experience of emptiness is luminous awareness. When I drilled down on this with my Mahamudra teacher, he told me that luminousity doesn't have anything to do with light, but I couldn't understand exactly what it had to do with. Basically nonduality is difficult to put into words. From a Second Turning (Rangtong) perspective, though, I think the experience of emptiness seen in cessation is in fact the same as from the Theravadan perspective, it just extends to the entire world and not emptiness of the self. There is a kind of Mahayana attainment called sarvopalambhopasmah, or "the pacification of perception" that Nagarajuna talks about, Rob Burbea talks about in his book Seeing that Frees, and I wrote about in my blog, where perception kind of fades out during meditation then comes back near the end. It is not an "off and reboot" experience like a fruition or path moment, nor is it like jhana because the meditation object doesn't become prominent and dominate consciousness prior to entering. And it is definitely not like falling asleep. emoticon

Also, sorry to go all scholarly, but IIRC, Asanga, channeling Maitreya, says in Middle Beyond the Extremes,
which is one of the key texts establishing the Third Turning, that
bodhisattvas have a stable experience of emptiness only in meditation.
Once a bodhisattva reaches buddhahood, their experience of emptiness
becomes pervasive, that is, they have a constant experience of emptiness
even when performing various actions of daily life and speaking. That
is why a buddha's speech and actions are always motivated by wisdom and
compassion. I think what this would mean, from a Second Turning perspective, is that a buddha has no
conscious experience per se because their mind is locked into
nonduality. From a Third Turning perspective, this would of course not be so, I suppose a buddha would have an experience of luminous awareness as the nature of emptiness, but again, I don't have any reference points for what that could mean.

That said, I'm not sure where this assertion is
coming from, as I don't think Asanga is viewed as a buddha by the tradition, or having
that level of attainment, so he could not have been speaking from direct
experience.


   One can "perform the various actions of daily life" impeccably with no dualistic consciousness whatever.

   Going scholarly and speaking of "perspectives" - different points of view - is very different from speaking from one's own knowledge. With all this talk about "experience" being dualistic, we don't want to obscure the fact that as meditators it is our personal experiences of the same which are relevant here. Cessation of ego is not merely theoretical, it actually happens. Not, of course, to a self-identified ego. What remains after ego is gone? No one knows. (!) We feel love and peace, and want all beings to be happy and free. We are left with poetry, art, imagination. Self-expression through self denial. As the yi jing says, "The superior man displays his intelligence by keeping it hidden."

terry


  
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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T DC:



In the traditional teachings schema of the Three Vehicles, emptiness is but a mid-level teaching (the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel), and is surpassed by the teachings of the Third Turning on Buddha nature and Luminosity.  My point is that although a Therevadan perspective may hold the "emptiness" experience of fruition (in scare quotes because it is debatable that a Mahayana vision of emptiness refers to the same phenomenon) to be quick, transitory, and only briefly accessible, other Buddhist perspectives view it as a permanent and stable, if incomplete attainment state.  

aloha tdc,

   I think this is a misunderstanding of three turnings of the wheel of the dharma. Each turning is a return to the essence and original purity of the dhamma as the buddha taught it. There is no alteration, extension, or addition to the nondual truth.

   Thus I have heard.

terry
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 392 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi T DC,

Well, I think when people talk about an "experience" of emptiness, what they are talking about is what Daniel talks about in MCTB(2) and Chris talked about, namely a gap in consciousness which, when consciousness reboots, there is a feeling of happiness and refreshment, not that there is any actual experience. So it is more a kind an experience in retrospect. With of course the exception of the Thai Forest Monk tradition, which does claim that there is some experience of some sort during a fruition.

           jak
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Stickman2, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 375 Join Date: 7/24/17 Recent Posts
svmonk:
Hi T DC,

Well, I think when people talk about an "experience" of emptiness, what they are talking about is what Daniel talks about in MCTB(2) and Chris talked about, namely a gap in consciousness which, when consciousness reboots, there is a feeling of happiness and refreshment, not that there is any actual experience. So it is more a kind an experience in retrospect. With of course the exception of the Thai Forest Monk tradition, which does claim that there is some experience of some sort during a fruition.

           jak

But that makes it just sound like a lapse of memory, filled in with some handy theory - like when your buddies lie to you about what you did when you were drunk.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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It’s a gap in consciousness that - together with what directly precedes and follows it - has profound consequences. The event per se is very banal, but what it does to ”you” is very revealing and cannot be undone.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It’s a gap in consciousness that - together with what directly precedes and follows it - has profound consequences. The event per se is very banal, but what it does to ”you” is very revealing and cannot be undone.

(smile) As you say...


   The key is what is actually revealed, which is not at all what people say. Justice, beauty, truth cannot be demonstrated, and cannot be hidden.

   Another way to see this is that consciousness is a gap in nonduality, rather than the reverse. Consciousness is ephemeral, nonduality is always there. Nonduality cannot be expunged, while consciousness can.

   Practice, enlightenment, according to dogen involves thinking no-thought.

terry
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
terry:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It’s a gap in consciousness that - together with what directly precedes and follows it - has profound consequences. The event per se is very banal, but what it does to ”you” is very revealing and cannot be undone.

(smile) As you say...


   The key is what is actually revealed, which is not at all what people say. Justice, beauty, truth cannot be demonstrated, and cannot be hidden.

   Another way to see this is that consciousness is a gap in nonduality, rather than the reverse. Consciousness is ephemeral, nonduality is always there. Nonduality cannot be expunged, while consciousness can.

   Practice, enlightenment, according to dogen involves thinking no-thought.

terry


Consciousness as a gap in nonduality - sure! Thanks for bringing that up! That is probably more correct, even though we poor humans tend to be biassed into seeing consciousness as the figure to the ground of nonduality. It is good to be reminded that the bias is just that - a bias.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
terry:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It’s a gap in consciousness that - together with what directly precedes and follows it - has profound consequences. The event per se is very banal, but what it does to ”you” is very revealing and cannot be undone.

(smile) As you say...


   The key is what is actually revealed, which is not at all what people say. Justice, beauty, truth cannot be demonstrated, and cannot be hidden.

   Another way to see this is that consciousness is a gap in nonduality, rather than the reverse. Consciousness is ephemeral, nonduality is always there. Nonduality cannot be expunged, while consciousness can.

   Practice, enlightenment, according to dogen involves thinking no-thought.

terry


Consciousness as a gap in nonduality - sure! Thanks for bringing that up! That is probably more correct, even though we poor humans tend to be biassed into seeing consciousness as the figure to the ground of nonduality. It is good to be reminded that the bias is just that - a bias.


from the shobogenzo, by dogen, in "on the spiritual question as it manifests before your very eyes" (genjo koan), shasta abbey version (trans nearman):



To be sure, having once realized the Place, you must not analyze It in order to understand It through discriminatory thought and, thereby, reduce It to fit your own opinions. When you have bored through to certainty, It all at once manifests before your very eyes, yet That which is the most intimate will not necessarily take some visible form. ‘Manifesting before your very eyes’ may or may not have a literal meaning.

Meditation Master Mayoku Hōtetsu, one summer day, sat fanning himself when a monk came up to him and said, “It is said that the nature of the wind always abides and that there is no place where it does not circulate, so why does my reverend monk fan himself?”

The Master replied, “You are merely aware that the Nature of the Wind always abides, but you have not yet grasped the principle that there is no place where It is not present and active.”

When the monk then asked, “What is this underlying principle of Its being universally present?” the Master simply continued to fan himself. The monk respectfully bowed to the Master.

Unequivocal and genuine experiences of the Buddha’s Dharma, which is the living Path of the genuine Transmission, are just like this. Since It always abides, the Master did not need to use a fan; yet, even when it is not used, the Sound of the Wind—that is, the voicing of the Dharma—can be heard. Not to know That which is ever-abiding is not to know the Nature of the Wind. Because the Nature of the Wind is always abiding, the winds of training for our Buddhist family bring about the manifesting before one’s very eyes of That which is the True Gold of the Great Earth, and bring to maturity the nourishing waters of the Greatest River.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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svmonk:
Hi T DC,

Well, I think when people talk about an "experience" of emptiness, what they are talking about is what Daniel talks about in MCTB(2) and Chris talked about, namely a gap in consciousness which, when consciousness reboots, there is a feeling of happiness and refreshment, not that there is any actual experience. So it is more a kind an experience in retrospect. With of course the exception of the Thai Forest Monk tradition, which does claim that there is some experience of some sort during a fruition.

           jak

aloha jak,

   I think you are quite right in terms of perception of nonduality as "an experience in retrospect" and there actually being no experience at all. The difficulty generally lies in attempts to characterize this "gap" as something actually existing, some sort of spiritual material. An "attainment," perhaps. A merit badge, a vanity plate, a cutie mark. Something special, something personal, something "mine." That the "experience" is transformative rather than creditable is lost to view. The point to such events - so to speak - is rebirth, redemption; transcendence itself is incidental. The sweetness of spiritual pleasures is diminished by our happiness and pride (or self satisfaction), which displace them. Being who you are is more to the point than transcending who you are. The desire for transcendence leads us astray. It is not through desire thqt transcendence is realized.

   It seems to me that if we have returned to "subject object duality" from such an abyss, it is for a purpose. In the midst of duality, unity is a beacon.

terry
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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T DC:
svmonk:

Yeah, that's been my experience as well. Andrew Holecek, says in his book Dream Yoga (about the Tibetan practice of dream and sleep yoga), that basically consciousness and consciousness experience depends on having an observer and an observed. When the mind makes contact with emptiness, there is no observer and no observed and so there is no experience. That results in cessation.



Thanks for sharing.  That's an interesting theory, although it does beg the question of how one could have a stable experience of emptiness. 

If all perceptual contact with emptiness resulted in no experience, how could one have an experience of emptiness, something Mahayana and Vajrayana traditons seem quite keen on?


   This is a very good question. The term itself, "cessation," provides a clue. What is it which ceases? Not the body, heart or mind, only the ego. What we know and love as "consciousness."

   Cessation is found by detaching from notions of ego and personal desire. If "I want" something called enlightenment, whatever appears to satisfy that desire is not the real deal.

   No matter how "enlightened" someone is, their language is dualistic and will generally be taken dualistically. There is a unity between speaker and hearer, "this lone brightness here listening to the dharma" (rinzai), which underlies all dialog. This unity is always present but cannot be experienced as such because we are one with it.

   When duality ceases, nothing remains. Who can really desire extinction? Desire must end. The lion's roar.

terry



from "the shorter discourse on the lion's roar"

17. "Bhikkhus, when ignorance is abandoned and true knowledge has arisen in a bhikkhu, then with the fading away of ignorance and the arising of true knowledge he no longer clings to sensual pleasures, no longer clings to views, no longer clings to rules and observances, no longer clings to a doctrine of self. When he does not cling, he is not agitated. When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbana. He understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.'" 

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One's words.
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Stickman2, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
The subject of cessation (also sometimes called "fruition") is worthy of more information, so here I'm going to quote Daniel Ingram on the subject:

From https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+15.+Fruition:

This is the fruit of all the meditator's hard work, the first attainment of ultimate reality, emptiness, Nirvana, God or whatever you wish to call it. In this non-state, there is absolutely no time, no space, no reference point, no experience, no mind, no consciousness, no nothingness, no somethingness, no body, no this, no that, no unity, no duality, and no anything else. Reality stops cold and then reappears. Thus, this is impossible to comprehend, as it goes completely and utterly beyond the rational mind and the sensate universe. To “external time” (if someone were observing the meditator from the outside) this lasts only an instant. It is like an utter discontinuity of the space-time continuum with nothing in the unfindable gap. 

 And:

On subsequent passes through Fruition of that path the mind tends to be refreshed, bright, quiet and clear for a while, and milder forms of the above-listed phenomena may occur. It is as though someone hit the reset button and cleared out all the junk for a little while. There is a nice bliss wave that tends to follow and may take a few seconds to develop. If you have not learned the concentration states yet, doing so in the afterglow of a Fruition can make them much easier to attain and master.

My first experience of cessation/fruition:

While observing an object in meditation – let’s say the breath entering and leaving my nostrils – I perceive a slow building of energy and focus. The in-breath starts to bring a very fine set of vibrations in the top of the head and an almost giddy mental feeling, sort of like a tiny whiff of laughing gas, that grows as the breath is drawn and until it is at its peak. The peak of the breath brings a sharp distinct break and when the out-breath starts that same energetic and finely vibrating giddy feeling resumes (this not a hyperventilation-like giddiness). Each successive breath slowly increases the intensity of these fine vibrations until a kind of crescendo is reached, at which point all the energy that has built up quickly flows to the observed object, appears to merge with the object and then FLASH!, an image appears, a complex image, for just a tiny fraction of a second, after which everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – winks out of existence. Pure pitch black, silent nothingness ensues (no sound, no light, no feeling, no self, no perception of any kind) and lasts for about a second or so. Then awareness reappears anew. The impression after the second or so of nothingness reminds me of the rebooting of a computer. Everything is turned completely off and then restarts.

Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?

I can certainly see why someone with no context or experience with this would doubt its existence. Yet it actually happens. It can't be described except as missing time. I describe it as "black" because that's just the best word, or maybe just the most appropriate word, I chose to use. It's actually... nothing. Total and complete. So yes, people are really experiencing nothingness.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Are we experiencing it, though? I would say that it was beyond experience. Being about to fall out of experience was experienced, Coming back to the world was experienced. The gap itself wasn’t experienced.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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While "in" cessation there is no experience what-so-ever.

How's that?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Agreed. (And I knew that we were agreeing. It’s just that those pesky words are so darn limited.)
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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+1
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Stickman2, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?

I can certainly see why someone with no context or experience with this would doubt its existence. Yet it actually happens. It can't be described except as missing time. I describe it as "black" because that's just the best word, or maybe just the most appropriate word, I chose to use. It's actually... nothing. Total and complete. So yes, people are really experiencing nothingness.


Is there consciousness there ?
I used to ask questions on physics forums about what the real space is that's beyond the brain's construction of space - trying to get to just this subject.  ie., the outer space people talk about colloquially isn't truly a void, it's like a very abstract jhana - there are still qualities of darkness, depth etc.
Physics says a lot of strange things about apparently dark empty space - like it's full of vacuum energy, it's inflating etc.
And the same tends to happen in the contemplative and psychic discplines, I think. OOBE people travel through a dark void until they find it's filled with light at a deeper level. There are at least some rough parallels.
Actual actual empty space is a bit trickier because, I guess, you can't even call it space.
The Upanishads, if I remember, equate knowledge of dreamless sleep with wisdom. is that along the right lines ?

I was trying the practice where you look to see where your thoughts are coming from. The answer is supposed to be that they come from nothing, they pop out of empty inner space.
But I suppose a deeper question is what does the empty inner space pop out of ?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Well, for me there is no perceptible consciousness "in there." Since that's all I can report (nothingness) it could be that there are clowns, donkeys and rhesus monkeys dancing around in pajamas inside my head while the cessation is occurring but I'd never know 'cause I'm not in the least conscious.

emoticon
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Stickman2, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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You should not make light of such weighty matters.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Why on earth would you think speaking of clowns, donkeys and rhesus monkeys in pajamas  is "making light?"
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Stickman2:
You should not make light of such weighty matters.

I assume you are joking...

(smile)
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Stickman2:
Chris Marti:
Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?

I can certainly see why someone with no context or experience with this would doubt its existence. Yet it actually happens. It can't be described except as missing time. I describe it as "black" because that's just the best word, or maybe just the most appropriate word, I chose to use. It's actually... nothing. Total and complete. So yes, people are really experiencing nothingness.


Is there consciousness there ?
I used to ask questions on physics forums about what the real space is that's beyond the brain's construction of space - trying to get to just this subject.  ie., the outer space people talk about colloquially isn't truly a void, it's like a very abstract jhana - there are still qualities of darkness, depth etc.
Physics says a lot of strange things about apparently dark empty space - like it's full of vacuum energy, it's inflating etc.
And the same tends to happen in the contemplative and psychic discplines, I think. OOBE people travel through a dark void until they find it's filled with light at a deeper level. There are at least some rough parallels.
Actual actual empty space is a bit trickier because, I guess, you can't even call it space.
The Upanishads, if I remember, equate knowledge of dreamless sleep with wisdom. is that along the right lines ?

I was trying the practice where you look to see where your thoughts are coming from. The answer is supposed to be that they come from nothing, they pop out of empty inner space.
But I suppose a deeper question is what does the empty inner space pop out of ?

   I think you are on the right track, stick. The words are only clues, pointers, and we have to actually look beyond the cosmos as a totality. That truly empty space cannot be really thought of as space is a profound insight. Time and space are frames for desires and have no real existence outside of imaginative projection. The upanishads dreamless sleep is echoed in the gita's assertion that the dark night of the ordinary man is the daylight of the sage.

t
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

Posts: 1641 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?

I can certainly see why someone with no context or experience with this would doubt its existence. Yet it actually happens. It can't be described except as missing time. I describe it as "black" because that's just the best word, or maybe just the most appropriate word, I chose to use. It's actually... nothing. Total and complete. So yes, people are really experiencing nothingness.


   You amaze me, brother, by continuing to speak this way, as though a person with "context or experience" could fail to doubt that nothingness exists. I have to say once again this is perfectly incoherent. The nature of "existence" precludes the idea that "nothingness" exists. I suppose you could dispute "what the meaning of 'is' is," but not coherently. "Nothing" is not "blackness," it is void. Empty. Sunyata would never by anyone be described as "blackness," as though it had color or any sort of quality.

   I don't expect I will be flogging this dead horse much longer.

terry
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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 You amaze me, brother, by continuing to speak this way, as though a person with "context or experience" could fail to doubt that nothingness exists. I have to say once again this is perfectly incoherent. The nature of "existence" precludes the idea that "nothingness" exists. I suppose you could dispute "what the meaning of 'is' is," but not coherently. "Nothing" is not "blackness," it is void. Empty. Sunyata would never by anyone be described as "blackness," as though it had color or any sort of quality.

I don't expect I will be flogging this dead horse much longer.

Again, as I expected! Anyway, I'm fine being called "incoherent", terry. I suspect that you 're reading and interpreting my words from a very different place than I'm writing them from. And that's fine.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
 You amaze me, brother, by continuing to speak this way, as though a person with "context or experience" could fail to doubt that nothingness exists. I have to say once again this is perfectly incoherent. The nature of "existence" precludes the idea that "nothingness" exists. I suppose you could dispute "what the meaning of 'is' is," but not coherently. "Nothing" is not "blackness," it is void. Empty. Sunyata would never by anyone be described as "blackness," as though it had color or any sort of quality.

I don't expect I will be flogging this dead horse much longer.

Again, as I expected! Anyway, I'm fine being called "incoherent", terry. I suspect that you 're reading and interpreting my words from a very different place than I'm writing them from. And that's fine.

it's one thing to fine with being called something, and another to recognize the fact...

the places we speak from are not two...

but who am I to try to resurrect a dead horse?

if what I say is what you expect to hear, no need to say it...

and that, as you say, is fine...

t
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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You're a good man, terry  emoticon
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Stickman2:
Chris Marti:
The subject of cessation (also sometimes called "fruition") is worthy of more information, so here I'm going to quote Daniel Ingram on the subject:

From https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+15.+Fruition:

This is the fruit of all the meditator's hard work, the first attainment of ultimate reality, emptiness, Nirvana, God or whatever you wish to call it. In this non-state, there is absolutely no time, no space, no reference point, no experience, no mind, no consciousness, no nothingness, no somethingness, no body, no this, no that, no unity, no duality, and no anything else. Reality stops cold and then reappears. Thus, this is impossible to comprehend, as it goes completely and utterly beyond the rational mind and the sensate universe. To “external time” (if someone were observing the meditator from the outside) this lasts only an instant. It is like an utter discontinuity of the space-time continuum with nothing in the unfindable gap. 

 And:

On subsequent passes through Fruition of that path the mind tends to be refreshed, bright, quiet and clear for a while, and milder forms of the above-listed phenomena may occur. It is as though someone hit the reset button and cleared out all the junk for a little while. There is a nice bliss wave that tends to follow and may take a few seconds to develop. If you have not learned the concentration states yet, doing so in the afterglow of a Fruition can make them much easier to attain and master.

My first experience of cessation/fruition:

While observing an object in meditation – let’s say the breath entering and leaving my nostrils – I perceive a slow building of energy and focus. The in-breath starts to bring a very fine set of vibrations in the top of the head and an almost giddy mental feeling, sort of like a tiny whiff of laughing gas, that grows as the breath is drawn and until it is at its peak. The peak of the breath brings a sharp distinct break and when the out-breath starts that same energetic and finely vibrating giddy feeling resumes (this not a hyperventilation-like giddiness). Each successive breath slowly increases the intensity of these fine vibrations until a kind of crescendo is reached, at which point all the energy that has built up quickly flows to the observed object, appears to merge with the object and then FLASH!, an image appears, a complex image, for just a tiny fraction of a second, after which everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – winks out of existence. Pure pitch black, silent nothingness ensues (no sound, no light, no feeling, no self, no perception of any kind) and lasts for about a second or so. Then awareness reappears anew. The impression after the second or so of nothingness reminds me of the rebooting of a computer. Everything is turned completely off and then restarts.

Regarding the first bit - if it's so absent of qualities then how can it be recalled as an event ?

Regarding the last bit, if it's pure pitch black then there is the quality of blackness, therefore not everything winks out, but does leave the possibility of memory making.

Are people really experiencing nothingness ?

of course not...

nothing doesn't exist, by definition

emptiness is only empty by virtue of its emptiness, it has no existence either, and cannot be understood or defined in other words...


t



ttc/feng

Four

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled. 
Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things! 
Blunt the sharpness, 
Untangle the knot, 
Soften the glare, 
Merge with dust. 
Oh, hidden deep but ever present! 
I do not know from whence it comes. 
It is the forefather of the gods.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
The subject of cessation (also sometimes called "fruition") is worthy of more information, so here I'm going to quote Daniel Ingram on the subject:

From https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+15.+Fruition:

This is the fruit of all the meditator's hard work, the first attainment of ultimate reality, emptiness, Nirvana, God or whatever you wish to call it. In this non-state, there is absolutely no time, no space, no reference point, no experience, no mind, no consciousness, no nothingness, no somethingness, no body, no this, no that, no unity, no duality, and no anything else. Reality stops cold and then reappears. Thus, this is impossible to comprehend, as it goes completely and utterly beyond the rational mind and the sensate universe. To “external time” (if someone were observing the meditator from the outside) this lasts only an instant. It is like an utter discontinuity of the space-time continuum with nothing in the unfindable gap. 

   I more or less agree with this, though I don't see it as the fruit of anyone's effort, and in terms of "external time" the "instant" could be seconds, weeks or years.
 
   Trying to repeat such an "experience" would be necessarily futile. By the time this "attainment" is regarded as such we are back in duality, seekng once again what is everpresent and failing utterly as long as one pursues a goal or seeks.

   At some point trying to make sense of nonduality only entangles us in paradox. We have to finally accept the mystery as unfathomable, and submit to the Way in us. The ocean is that in us in which we move and have our being. Allah cannot be found anywhere in heaven and earth, but may be discovered in the heart of the faithful.

   Your mileage may vary.

terry
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Chris Marti:
And non-duality dffers from "the absence of subject object duality" how?

Hiya, terry!

There are many shades of non-dual experience, from recognizing the concept intellectually to various perceptual experiences that point us to it. Those experiences none-the-less, if we can live them, are generated by mind and require some semblance of the subject-object duality, however subtle. There is also the full, true and actual experience of not having subject-object at all, which when experienced is obvious because consciousness winks out. This is called "cessation" in Theravada Buddhism and has been documented in ancient and modern texts as well as in various mediation diaries here and elsewhere online.

Thanks for asking, by the way.

Your mileage will no doubt vary, which is perfectly okay with me.
aloha chris,

   When plotinus tries to explain these things, he uses "so to speak" over and over, because nonduality cannot be experienced or regarded in terms of experience, and dualistic language must be constantly pointed up as such. The phrase "nondual experience" is an oxymoron. To say "I experienced nonduality" is like saying "I know ch'an" or "I am enlightened" - assertions which are false on their face. The "I" which is extinguished knows nothing. In nonduality, as in the absence of subject object duality, there are no subjects and no objects. Just thusness, suchness: this.

   I would suggest that experience is not lived. What is regarded as experience is imagined by memory and is a pallid representation of immediate, lived reality, which is intuitve and present. By the time we are discussing "experience" we are far from reality. As nonduality is reality itself, timeless and agentless, no sense of experience intrudes.

   At every instant we are invited to return to what cannot be experienced. You imply that "cessation" is an experience, documented and validated as such. You speak of experiencing when "consciousness winks out." 

   I can't even agree to disagree with such incoherence. Sorry. 

terry


from the songs of kabir, trans tagore:


LV

Subtle is the path of love!
Therein there is no asking and no not-asking,
There one loses one's self at His feet,
There one is immersed in the joy of the seeking: plunged in the
deeps of love as the fish in the water.
The lover is never slow in offering his head for his Lord's
service.
Kabîr declares the secret of this love.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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I can't even agree to disagree with such incoherence. Sorry. 

As I expected!   emoticon
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Beyond non-duality

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Brian Andrew Hayes:
terry:

   It seems to me that the idea of "samsara is nirvana," though often explained, is misunderstood. 

Hi Terry,
I love a good mis-quote but I'll stick with personal narrative to explain why I think what I think (for the sake of discussion):
I was interested in Curious' initial remark that there was something beyond non-duality (although the sutta references made no sense at all).
For years I'd read D.T. Suzuki, and then later the Advaitans and I really thought non-duality was the be all to end all.
A couple of times I experienced non-duality for just a few seconds (wow) on consecutive days, whilst doing a kind of Western Koan practice with John Crook. The funny thing is, I had no idea what I was experiencing, despite having read volumes of D.T. Suzuki for the previous four years. I finally realized what those experiences were (15 years later!) while reading David Loy's PhD thesis on Non-duality that I was lucky enough to find in a Cambridge University bookshop. His analysis is in 'PlainSpeak' rather than 'ancient inscrutable' which is why it probably communicated something intelligible that I could actually relate to. At the time of having the experience all I could describe it as, was "everything I looked at, was stuck to my face!" I would now describe it as an experience of non-separation between subject and object. For me it has happened mostly through seeing, but apparently it is more common through hearing. The experience just helped me to see that our normal sense of separation between subject and object is constructed, and is sustained by regarding the subject as an object amongst other objects. It also meant that reading books on non-duality actually made sense now.
Anyway, to the point - a couple of years after reading Loy's book, while walking in the park I had what you guys here on this forum talk about as the sakadagāmi thing. I'm not saying that's what it is, I'm just saying I had what you describe (for the 2nd time obviously). After the non-experience which is not a lack of experience, the experience of experiencing returned and it was a bit like what Daniel described as the Sankhāras experience - kinda weird - the world was a bubble that was conscious of itself, it literally looked like a bubble surrounded by a void (by world I'm referring to the visual image of the view in front of me - trees and stuff). After that brief moment the experience changed to what I now recognized as the non-dual, non-separation of subject object in normal space (no surrounding void). Then, after that 'I' returned and everything was back to normal, except now I had this utterly sickening realization that my biggest obsession in life - the non-dual experience - had nothing to do with me, was never going to be attained by me, and was, in fact obscured by the very 'me' that wanted to have it. Cruel.
It took a long time to process all of that - and I didn't have the help of MCTB or anything like that at the time. But, aside from the disappointment, what struck me from that experience was that the non-dual part wasn't the end point -it was actually a couple of steps away. The end point is nirodha.
So, anyway, that's as much as I can figure out for now, but if ever I get to be an Arahant I'll be sure to post back and correct myself.


aloha bah,

   Perhaps you misinterpreted the "sickening realization" of being "back to normal" as being normal. Rather than as a return to the prison of delusion.

   When you return to subject object duality and the ability to speak of "non-dual experience" as though it were comprehensible and some sort of stage in a progress of the subject to some object, you are already once again abiding in delusion. The "nondual experience" is still right here right now, you just prefer being normal for its comfort value, regularity, and familiarity. Or - and this is entirely different - you may prefer being normal in order to practice skill in means, as a bodhisattva. This is all "in a manner of speaking" because choice has little to do with it. We are what we are.

  Involved in the discussion here is the idea that "non-duality" - aka nirvana, etc - may be conceived of dualistically, as an experience on the way. It can and is argued that in essence nirvana cannot be so regarded, as it is beyond the dualisms of "normal" subject object duality and thus "the experience" of "nonduality." Yet many claim to have had a "taste" or  "glimpse," or even to abide "there" (!) permanently, whether dualistically as a being among beings, or as The One Supreme (without a second). The contrast between the enlightened and the unenlightened is of course itself dualistic. An enlightened being is not separate, and thus not an enlightened being. There is only us.

  It's like they say about the sixties, "if you remember the sixties, you weren't there." If you recall having an experience of nonduality, your memory is entirely projection, because the subject of subject-object duality cannot, by the nature of the beast, remember what is eternally now.

   You and me talking here and now are in duality, self and other, the Dyad. I - that is me - can tell you - that is, you - that I once had an "episode" of nonduality. I remembering tumbling into that black hole, and I remember emerging. I remember nothing else, but I was profoundly and permanently altered by this "non-experience," and those lost few weeks, 50 years in the past, are still the pivot of my life.

   Presumably you had such an experience, it matters not how brief as it is timeless and Eternally Present. I would hazard a guess that you now interpret the event as an "experience" - like teething, toilet training or  getting a doctorate - and are imagining there is something "beyond" the utter and complete dissolution of self-and-other and every duality. It cannot be, my friend.  

   The use of the imagination in the spiritual realm has become my latest study, after a lifetime of regarding god as ineffable. People have been knowing god all this time and I have been missing out. But this "imaginal" realm (henry corbin's term) is intermediate between the monad, nonduality, god, and the dyad, duality, the material world. Between nirvana and samsara. I'm necessarily speaking here in dualistic terms; it can only be tacitly understood that ultimately nonduality cannot be opposed to duality, that it is entirely independent and inclusive of all that is and all that is not.

   What I am saying is that there is nothing you can experience that can exceed (even a taste of) nonduality, the uttermost limitless-limit. Should you attain to the ultimate, it will still be nonduality, not something on another shore from nonduality, which is itself the other shore/shorelessness.

   I know it doesn't make sense. Sense and nonsense are not intrinsically separable.

   You have to appreciate the Mystery.


terry



from the tao te ching, trans feng


Forty-Two

The Tao begot one. 
One begot two. 
Two begot three. 
And three begot the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang. 
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless," 
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.

For one gains by losing 
And loses by gaining.

What others teach, I also teach; that is: 
"A violent man will die a violent death!" 
This will be the essence of my teaching.

 

Forty-three

The softest thing in the universe 
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe. 
That without substance can enter where there is no room. 
Hence I know the value of non-action.

Teaching without words and work without doing 
Are understood by very few.



 

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