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Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/21/20 12:50 AM
I responded to a message of Shargol on this thread

New Interview with Daniel about Bikkhu Analayo's article in Mindfulness - Discussion - www.dharmaoverground.org

where I said, I've some experience to back this up which I did not want to put there. Here that goes: 

The whole post will consist of experience & proofs. Intuitively, I go for experience. However, the mathematician in me wants to prove everything. The two will follow one after the other, but they are intertwined.

1. [[Experience section]]

I think the last time I posted with experience was March/April. 

If I recall correctly, I said about experiencing God right in the center of the heart region. The whole thing was ironical because ``experiencing God'' started out when I was not looking for God, rather, I was on a Buddhist retreat. In any case, the whole thing repeated when I was doing/trying to do some Buddhist formless realm meditations -- when again, my attention went to God in the center of the heart. The whole thing reminded me of Saint Teresa of Avila -- The Interior Castle or Mansions. 

In any case, I realized there were still questions. The two that were on my mind were:

a. What is re-birth? Does the Sutta view of re-birth make sense? 

b. What is asmimana, or, the conceit, ``I am'' -- the last fetter to go, per Sutta's. "I making" and "my making" have been fairly clear to me -- that I do this -- but I did not have any real handle on the conceit "I am" -- and there are various theories floating around. 

I was reading the Majjhima Nikaya. I was not doing any formal meditations but I was just trying to understand the nature of reality. And at some point, I was coming to sensations. And I was coming to the point of there being sensations and that's as much as I can tell. I was, in one way or the other, coming to the conclusion that I'm limited by human cognitive capabilities -- finally everything is sensations of one form of other -- beyond that there is the human cognitive capabilities, and there's no reason to believe that human cognitive capabilities can explain reality. In other words, ultimate reality cannot be discerned. At this point I started reading the Upanishads more and found verses about the Brahman being experienced in the center of the heart -- the similar conclusion of St. Teresa. Beyond that I started reading Paul Deussen's ''Elements of Metaphysics'' -- more on this in point number 2. where I go into proofs.  Reading this, what started happening is that something inside me was ``shutting down'' (I don't know how better to describe this) -- and the whole Universe was collapsing into me. Statements like: "I am the Brahman" and "The whole Universe (trilok for the sanskrit word) is inside me'', and "all there is, is the Brahman" started making sense.  The question of what is the conceit "I am" has not bothered me much since then. Not saying I have answered it in the Buddhist way. All I am saying is that it is not bothering me as much. 

Another thing that happened is that one day when I was lying down, in my brain, I started seeing my past lives rolling around since time eternal. Nothing concrete as is described in the Buddhist suttas. But what it made me feel, in part, is that time might be an innate faculty of the human mind, thus, it talks about past and future, and thus it talks about past life and future life, and it also made me feel that morality might also be just a faculty, which thinks of consequences of actions, and thus, past lives and future lives. The whole of creation (be it a tree, or anything that I saw) seemed like a creation of the mind as opposed to being real.

This is the best I can describe it.


2. [[Proofs section ]] I started reading Elements of Metaphysics of Paul Deussen. The hard copy version I started reading can also be found as a PDF file on archive.org. 

Part I of the book (consisting of System of physics and System of metaphysics) -- without the appendix -- I think are pure gold. Part II of the book, though, I think is wishy-washy -- it has an agenda of proving advaita vedanta as correct.

In any case, Part I aims to prove scientifically (using arguments, not machines) that ultimate reality of things cannot be discerned by the human faculties, and that, time, space and causality are faculties of the mind, and there is no inherent truth in them. I found it rather thought provoking and I have not managed to find a flaw in Part I. Reading this is what led to something inside me shutting down and the whole universe collapsing into my heart.

Part II of the book is where he starts to talk about experience of Atman in the heart (which I have) and then starts to prove it -- but I find the whole thing wishy washy.



In any case, this is my current journey. The main conclusions that I draw from it: 

P1. A feeling that Ultimate reality of things cannot be known via human faculties. 


P2. I had already experienced God in the center of the heart area. Now, I experienced the whole human collapsing into it. Further, I also experienced the whole Universe coming out of it. Various statements like "I am Brahman" making more sense. Also, statement like "That are thou" making more sense.

P3. A feeling that re-birth might just be in the mind. Similarly as a tree is also just in the mind. There is one difference though: everyone who can see  will agree to a tree being there if it seems there, but thoughts are personal and differ for different people. The conventional view of re-birth, though, as promoted by Buddhism and Vedanta, that since time eternal (Vedanta says time eternal, Buddhists say beginningless) we are being reborn is correct though in a conventional sense, and there is no reason to invoke the ultimate reality of the Abhidhamma.

P4 Scientific proofs offered for  P1. offered by Deussen in Part I of his book which seem fine to me. Some sentences on Atman-Brahman etc. coming up in Part II of Deussen's book which are part meaningful but mainly seem wishy-washy.



I know there are all kinds of controversies of whether Vedanta and Buddhism are saying the same thing. And I'm also aware of the whole controversy of Sutta vs. Abhidhamma.The whole controversy will last likely till the end of the Universe. I have nothing more to add to that beyond what I've said above.


Much gratitude again, to Ingram, the moderators, and whoever keeps this forum running -- where I can speak what is on my mind.

Edits: The following come to mind: 

1. I say Deussen's book Part I is great, Part II starts being wishy-washy. I mean on the matter of rigorous arguments. Part II is good too from point of view of heart/intuition, I think.

2. The book also has a good appendix on Vedanta, in my opinion.

3. I don't claim any attainments, be it Buddhist or Hindu or Christian. I said above "Part II of the book is where he starts to talk about experience of Atman in the heart (which I have) and then starts to prove it" -- in particular, I say, "which I have" -- all I mean is whatever I've experienced  in whatever shape or form in this message and other messages of mine (note that  Atman = Brahman in Upanashadic/Vedantic terminology)

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/19/20 11:34 PM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
There appears no such thing as "conventional reality" in the Pali suttas. 

While the term "convention" ("sammuti; sammucca") is certainly found in the Pali suttas, it does not appear to represent any type of "reality". 


emoticon

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 12:18 AM as a reply to Nicky2.
OK. I'm, in part, using abhidhamma language to question abhidhamma's ultimate reality. In part, I'm using sutta language. In part I'm using Vedanta language. In part I'm using God language. It's a mix of languages. I hope the message is getting conveyed, at least, to a small extent.

Edit: Maybe this is a good point to add. I've no fundamental issues with Abhidhamma language. All I'm saying is I find no use for it. Similarly, I've no issues with insight stages. In fact I've found the model useful as my earlier posts will point clearly -- more so, I have found the St. John of Cross model matching my experience than Buddhist insight stages. The reason for this clarification is that I don't want to be confused with someone from an Orthodox Buddhist tradition saying that Abhidhamma/Visuddhimagga are trash or that other religions are trash.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 8:09 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
"past lives" (pubbe nivasa) are "former abodes" of the mind, a mental fabrication. Dependent origination is what you are after. Experiencing god in the center of the heart is just another experience, no more or less significant than any other. Refer to SN 12.44 Loka Sutta for an explanation how craving creates our "worlds" via dependent origination:

The Buddha teaches the origin (samudaya) and ending (atthangama) of the world (loka). What is the origin of the world?

  • Eye consciousness (cakkhu vinnana) arises dependent on the eye and forms. The meeting of the three is contact (phassa).
  • Contact is a condition for feeling (vedana).
  • Feeling is a condition for craving (tanha).
  • Craving is a condition for clinging (upadana).
  • Clinging is a condition for becoming (bhava).
  • Becoming is a condition for birth (jati).
  • Birth is a condition for decay & death (jara marana).
Likewise for the other 5 senses (ear, nose, tongue, body & mind). What is the ending of the world?

  • Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and forms. The meeting of the three is contact.
  • Contact is a condition for feeling.
  • Feeling is a condition for craving.
  • From the dispassionate (viraga) cessation (nirodha) of that craving comes the cessation of clinging.
  • From the cessation of clinging comes the cessation of becoming.
  • This is how the entire mass of suffering (dukkha khandhassa) ceases. This is the ending of the world.
Likewise for the other 5 senses (ear, nose, tongue, body & mind).

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 9:27 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
What is ultimate reality... only one way to find out emoticon

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 9:52 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:

There is one difference though: everyone who can see  will agree to a tree being there if it seems there, but thoughts are personal and differ for different people.

Respectfully disagree. Trees can't see each other, just like thoughts. Clue: they are not your thoughts.

EDIT: There's a thought here of a tree and a thought there of the same tree. So what?

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 10:03 AM as a reply to agnostic.
He's talking about consensus reality - if there is a tree in front of a group of people looking in the same direction, they'll agree that yes, there's a tree over there.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 10:35 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes I would agree to that definition of consensus reality.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 11:32 AM as a reply to agnostic.
And you'll agree that no one else can know our thoughts - as in literally read our minds?

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 11:43 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Definitely, though sometimes you might get an inkling of what someone else is thinking from other cues 

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 12:54 PM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
Definitely, though sometimes you might get an inkling of what someone else is thinking from other cues 


Generally speaking yes, but I did once get an exact, word-for-word mental readout of what a friend was thinking, followed seconds later by him saying that exact thing verbatim.  There's deep things affoot in this crazy world of meditation we can only begin to fathom..

And not to derail the thread, re:ultimate reality - I was under the impression that experiencing ultimate reality directly was the point of Buddhism, and all mystical paths for that matter.  Emptiness, Buddha nature, rigpa..  Thoughts?  ;)

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 1:30 PM as a reply to T DC.
Hey T DC, I've had similar experiences but I didn't want to fess up less someone think I was trying to engage in mind fuckery. Glad you did. emoticon

When I first saw ultimate reality (nibbana) I thought it would be permanent but, so far at least, it comes and goes. Probably that's because I haven't had any really clear cessations and I'm still fettered up the wazoo, lost in the middle paths pre stream entry.

By nibbana I mean simply seeing things as they are (and have always been). The weird thing is - so far as I can see - that nibbana is always available but somehow we choose not to let ourselves see it, sometimes for long periods of time. I don't really understand why ultimate reality should let relative reality (samsara-dukha) continue to delude itself, but that just seems to be the way it is. If you wanted to put a theistic storyline around it you could say something like "god lets us suffer just so we can admire him and find our way back to him", but that makes him sounds like a pretty narcissistic mean old man. Also it might give the wrong impression - because nibbana is totally ordinary whereas people tend to think that god is special.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 1:49 PM as a reply to T DC.
Realized I forgot to answer the second part of your question. Things like seeing emptiness, Buddha nature or rigpa are just experiences as far as I can see - they also come and go and can be seen for what they are - I don't think they are ontologically more privileged than any other experience such as taking a crap or going down the pub, although they can seem quite special for a while before the novelty wears off.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 2:32 PM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
Realized I forgot to answer the second part of your question. Things like seeing emptiness, Buddha nature or rigpa are just experiences as far as I can see - they also come and go and can be seen for what they are - I don't think they are ontologically more privileged than any other experience such as taking a crap or going down the pub, although they can seem quite special for a while before the novelty wears off.


You're sounding rather agnostic.  ;)  My question on ultimate reality wasn't trying to put you on the spot, but rather just contributing a discussion point to the greater thread. 

I generally take it as a given that the core purpose of the Buddhist path, beyond any vauge definitions of "peace" or "happiness", is the genuine and lasting achivement of insight into the ultimate nature of our minds.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 6:32 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:

I generally take it as a given that the core purpose of the Buddhist path, beyond any vauge definitions of "peace" or "happiness", is the genuine and lasting achivement of insight into the ultimate nature of our minds.

It seems pretty standard for people who claim significant attainments, at the 4th path sort of level, to believe that there is a lot more out there to be discovered. That is, the horizon recedes as we approach it. Although the Buddhist texts describe the Buddha as being fully, ultimately, and perfectly enlightened, I don't find it credible that such a state (lasting achievement of insight into the ultimate nature of our minds) exists, or indeed could exist. Take out the word "ultimate" and I think it's reasonable but I am hard-pressed to think of an example of ultimate anything, outside of mathematics.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 7:09 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes, that's what I meant, thanks for pointing out.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/20/20 7:27 PM as a reply to T DC.
Yes, I myself was trying to get to ultimate reality in one way or the other until I came to the conclusion that the nature of ultimate reality cannot be known. 

Mystics do claim to get some "intuitions" -- so do many of us here -- in my case: God sits in the center of the heart and everything is inside there and then projected out of there. Other people seem to get other "intuitions". I personally don't consider that knowing what ultimate reality is. As soon as we get to the intellect level and language level, we again get limited by human faculties -- and whatever human faculties say is whatever human faculties say -- there's nothing ultimate about it that I see.

Partly this is where Deussen's part II of the book comes in -- where, after coming to the conclusion that nature of ultimate reality cannot be known, he gets to the Atman/Brahman (start of Part II of the book) and starts from there. If anyone does read that book, I'd appreciate any commentary.

But there are mystics who seem to claim that there are "other ways" of getting knowledge. I have never quite understood a statement like this. Maybe what they are talking about is the intuitions that they get. But it's unclear to me if that's what they mean, or is it more than that, that they mean.

RE: Conventional Reality/Ultimate Reality
Answer
12/21/20 3:19 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
It sounds to me like a wonderful experience, and apparently you aren't alone with it. There was a time in my practice when I was so infatuated with the dharma that I believed that it could lead to the truth about ultimate reality, as I have heard that it claims to do (although I don't know if it consistently does so or if that's just some parts of it). I no longer make any such claims. I'd rather leave it open, and I appreciate hearing about different experiences, so thankyou for sharing!

I'm curious about how this relates to the dispute between Analayo and Daniel. Could you clarify? 
edit: Nevermind, I saw now that you thoroughly adressed that in the thread. For some reason I had missed that. 

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