Is emptiness = space?

Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/17/10 5:31 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Jackson Wilshire 3/17/10 6:50 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/17/10 8:28 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/18/10 8:34 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/18/10 5:04 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/19/10 3:55 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Brian . 3/19/10 11:57 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/19/10 1:32 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Brian . 3/19/10 4:37 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 3/19/10 9:48 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/22/10 1:36 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/22/10 6:37 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/22/10 2:55 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Chuck Kasmire 3/22/10 7:54 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/23/10 2:44 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Chuck Kasmire 3/23/10 10:01 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 3/25/10 11:25 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? J S S 3/26/10 3:34 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Chuck Kasmire 3/26/10 10:31 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 3/26/10 12:37 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Chuck Kasmire 3/26/10 1:18 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 3/26/10 1:48 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/27/10 12:39 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Chuck Kasmire 3/27/10 1:23 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 3/28/10 8:38 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 3/28/10 2:33 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/28/10 3:30 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/28/10 3:42 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/28/10 4:44 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/28/10 7:21 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/28/10 9:54 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 3/28/10 10:32 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Trent . 3/28/10 11:42 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Daniel M. Ingram 4/4/10 1:34 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 4/4/10 1:51 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 4/4/10 4:15 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 4/5/10 3:09 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 4/5/10 6:23 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 4/6/10 6:11 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 4/6/10 10:58 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 4/6/10 11:35 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 4/9/10 6:40 PM
RE: Is emptiness = space? Bruno Loff 4/10/10 4:00 AM
RE: Is emptiness = space? tarin greco 4/3/10 1:15 PM
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 5:31 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 5:31 PM

Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Physicists talk about it all the time, they call it "space," it is the place where things happen.

Could it be that the emptiness/awareness aspect of experience is the actual "space" the physicists talk about?

It seems like it could fit...

Just some random theoretical question :-)
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 6:50 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 6:48 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Physicists talk about it all the time, they call it "space," it is the place where things happen.

Could it be that the emptiness/awareness aspect of experience is the actual "space" the physicists talk about?

It seems like it could fit...

Just some random theoretical question :-)


My opinion: doubtful.

Whereas those who realize Emptiness describe a spacious characteristic, I think it would be an error to conclude that space and the Divine Nothing are one in the same. The error being made here is akin to Wilber's pre/trans fallacy. To equate space and Spirit, we would be treating a gross level reality (space) as if it were the Transcendent (Emptiness). This is like glorifying the moral character of a toddler over that of a mature adult.

It seems more likely that Emptiness gives rise to space in a top-down manner. Besides, we often use gross realm terms to describe subtle, causal, and non-dual realities. Just the limits of language and symbolic representation.

Like I said, it's just my opinion.

Jackson
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 8:28 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/17/10 8:28 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Sensations that imply space and time and volume and perspective and all that arise and vanish.

In truth, there is no time, no space, no perspective, just the transient phenomena.

However, one must avoid category errors, those logical problems that arise when one takes a concept that makes sense in one context and tries to apply it to another in which it just doesn't apply.

Most of the modern physics things apply that way, though there is some valid fundamental crosstalk that occurs at times.
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/18/10 8:34 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/18/10 8:34 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Hmm ok thanks.

So we could say that "emptiness" is the place where things manifest, including space-time, which itself is not emptiness? So space-time is theoretically regarded as a phenomenon in itself, rather than the absence of phenomena.

But how do we distinguish both? I mean it is clear that space has arisen, but how do we know that it will pass away? Because it changes with gravity, while emptiness (supposedly) remains the same?

I mean, it is clear that our perceptual _representation_ of time and space change during meditation, but time-space itself? We are hard-pressed to find an example of such a change without going into stories of siddhis and similar descriptions. Interesting
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Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/18/10 5:04 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/18/10 5:04 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hello,

To avoid the "category errors" mentioned by Dan, it is important that we properly understand what "Emptiness," "Awareness," and "Void" (all the same thing in this situation, and I will cease to use quotations/capitalization for them from here on out as a matter of convince) actually are.

Emptiness, awareness and void (all referred to from here on as "awareness") are seen to be "something other" and yet "nothing at all," which is the basis that all "transient phenomena" arise and vanish from and into. The experience of awareness as spoken of in context is correctly seen as such, because that is what it is. Awareness as spoken of in mystical context is actually just the body's innate sensual awareness, it is the mind without the self and/or the underlying, baseline level of awareness seen to be underneath the self/Self. This mind-- a function of the brain-- is capable of thinking, reflecting, etc and this body is always sensing (hence the "something other" that "always is" when conscious). If conscious at all, the senses in some capacity are present; hence: the baseline awareness of the mind. So, when speaking of an awareness which sees the jhanas, for instance, it is the body's baseline awareness witnessing the various formations of one faculty of the mind (the affective/instinctual/identity/self or Self) as it morphs. Notice that no matter how much the self morphs -- in the case of jhanas for example -- the baseline awareness remains the same. It simply isn't a structure that morphs (your eye, for instance, are not structurally changing without outside influence of an eye poking it, for instance); it is static awareness. This does not mean awareness is some mystical or divine "otherness" or anything of the like. It is just the body's baseline awareness. Now, the reason why this is seen as mystical and foreign and as an "other" is because it is actually an other. It is not "you," it is the universe itself (what you actually are as a flesh and blood human being). Your body, which includes the brain which gives rise to this stable awareness, is the same perdurable matter which constitutes the rocks and trees and animals and oxygen and water and so forth. And there -- here, now, as the universe experiencing itself as a human being bereft of identity -- is where no self is experienced as an actuality.

As an aside, if you reflect on that in regard to Jackson's comments of "emptiness giv(ing) rise to space in a top-down manner," it holds water in that the body's base awareness ("emptiness") is there prior to an intellectual recognition of space or an intuitive identification with said space. Because, again, if you are conscious at all, this baseline awareness is present. Though it does not make much sense to say that it "gives rise to [space];" it is simply part of the experience of recognizing space as space.

With that out of the way, we can move on to answering the question "Is emptiness = space?" The answer is: no. Emptiness/awareness/void/oblivion/whatever is the suspicion or experience or intellectual reasoning that there is an awareness beneath one's self (normal, ego structured, personal identity) or Self (abnormal, ego abandoned, enlightened, unpersonalized identity). And, as this body is not space itself, but is rather a composition of molecular arrangements fueled by caloric foodstuffs, I suspect that it is pretty clear to see how that arrangement of matter is not space itself but rather exists within the space of this universe. And this indeed "is the place where things happen."

With that said, I disagree with Dan's sentiments that "...there is no time, no space..." as this "place where things happen" is the actual universe wherein time is eternal and space is infinite. Time and space are not "missing," it is that they of the breadth that can only be experienced sensually when the identity is gone or in temporary recession (any other way of trying to recognize it won't work, because, for instance, the intellect/instincts use causality for their products). We can take steps to recognize this through various means. For instance, my body recognizes that there is a monitor in front of it, and there is apparently space between the two. If I had my companion enter the room, she would verify that I am not hallucinating-- there is actually a distance between this body and the monitor. This space is objectively verifiable. Hence, there is space, it's just that this location of space is not anywhere specific at all. In regard to time, ponder this: have you ever noticed how the moment is never not now? It has been now the entire time I typed this response, and it will be now when I click "send/save" and it will be now in a few hours when I check to see if there is a response. This is a demonstration of how time is eternal, meaning that this moment has no duration. I also challenge the statement that it is ..."just transient phenomena." Because although the individual compositions of matter in the universe are the way they are for finite periods (this body will eventually cease to exist and become food for plants or whatever), or are only recognized by this body for finite periods of time, the totality of the matter in the universe is not transient in the sense that it is coming or going anywhere specific. With the basis of rationale being that time is eternal and space is infinite, it follows that matter is also perdurable; and thus this actual universe that we're living in is indeed permanent. Infinity has no opposite, after all. We can verify that, at least a bit, by simply seeing that I was born and that I will die, and also paleontology shows that there was a universe here before we humans, despite all of our imaginative cosmogony about "big bangs" and the like.

Regards,
Trent
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 3:55 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 3:55 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Interestingly, yoga theory (at least in the "layayoga" reference I've been reading) also distinguishes various kinds of awareness: as a cognitive phenomenon, as awareness itself, and as ultimate awareness (Paranashiwa).

But when I ask is "emptiness = space", I'm not asking if "emptiness = our cognitive perception of space." I have had experiences of this coming and going etc. When you look at the TV and judge that there is space between you and the screen, you are actually making a cognition about the signal going into your visual cortex through the nerves. Still you know that this cognition "is" somewhere, and that somewhere would be awareness.

I'm just posing this question because: physics will study matter on one hand, space-time on the other, it also has this "duality" between phenomena (particles etc) and place where phenomena happen (space-time). I was just wondering whether it is the same duality that meditators talk about, i.e., our internal sense of awareness is this very same space-time which physicists study. So far, I have experienced emptiness every-other day, and although it is a very uncanny feeling, I have not found it so transcendent that we couldn't say that it was space itself.

The parallel is very compelling, since it does not go anywhere outside current scientific knowledge to explain consciousness. Many scientists and philosophers have tried to explain consciousness. Some believe Consciousness is something which emerges from complex phenomena, in a way that feels more than the sum of its parts. It could be proposed instead that Consciousness is space, the space we live in.

This in opposition to Consciousness is something that transcends even space, which could very well be true. Maybe I'm going to fast in this process of formulating hypothesis, though, and they will all prove foolish in a few years emoticon Thanks for the patience.

Bruno
Brian , modified 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 11:57 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 11:57 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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All objects can move freely through space. This does not seem to be the case with awareness. The phenomenal objects of 'my' awareness cannot manifest in 'your' awareness. In this sense the contents of awareness are bounded in a way that objects in space are not bounded, suggesting space and awareness are not identical.
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 1:32 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 1:30 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Let's me try to come up with an answer :-)

First of all, as theory goes, it is all the same awareness. If you bare it down to what awareness actually is (say, through meditation practice), it seems that you will find that it not only is your awareness everywhere, but it is the same awareness everywhere (thus unbounded). Then you have the feeling that you are everything, and vice-versa. That is why "religion" and "yoga" mean "union".

And second, isn't what you are saying: "the awareness of my own body-mind phenomena can not manifest as awareness of your own body-mind"? But this is just like saying that an object, such as a stone, does not manifest inside another stone. That doesn't mean that the physical space containing the first stone is any different than the physical space containing the second stone.

Hmm... this isn't getting any easier emoticon
Brian , modified 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 4:37 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 4:36 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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It may be that there can arise an experience of unbounded awareness. But this sense of unbounded awareness does not grant you access to the objects of my awareness, or vice versa. In that sense, the boundedness I am speaking of persists. The contents of 'this' awareness (however you want to conceive of that exactly) cannot be contents of 'that' awareness. Even if they are really the 'same' awareness in some sense, there is still this boundary. There is no such restriction on objects in space. An object in 'this' location can always be moved to 'that' location.
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 9:48 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/19/10 9:48 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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hi bruno,

Brian M:
It may be that there can arise an experience of unbounded awareness. But this sense of unbounded awareness does not grant you access to the objects of my awareness, or vice versa. In that sense, the boundedness I am speaking of persists. The contents of 'this' awareness (however you want to conceive of that exactly) cannot be contents of 'that' awareness. Even if they are really the 'same' awareness in some sense, there is still this boundary. There is no such restriction on objects in space. An object in 'this' location can always be moved to 'that' location.


furthermore, from a vipassana perspective, the quality of unboundedness is part of the content of the awareness, so from that angle, the usual thing about the three characteristics applies, while any importance of the quality of unboundedness does not. it's a point that's worth understanding well, particularly for the purpose of getting the higher paths.

an ability to exercise fine discernment is required in order to get enlightened without also committing to full-blown solipsism, which is useful as such committal can negate the more down-to-earth and practical benefits of the attainment and resultant condition.

as for my take on your original question: i don't think the awareness aspect of experience is the same thing as space, no, as the awareness aspect of experience is something limited to experience (which requires sentience, which requires the body and its mind), whereas space is not (and does not). while the perception of space requires one to be living and functioning, when one dies, the perception of space will cease.. yet (and this will be verifiable by anyone else still living), space will still be here.

tarin
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 1:36 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 1:36 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Alright, let's try this again.

From a vipassana or insight-practice oriented point of view: sensations aries and vanish rapidly. A steady stream of these is required to make up what would appear to be space, using sensate reality as it actually manifests as the first basis of reality, as it actually is, not meaning to imply anything related to AF.

Thus, as all phenomena are empty, meaning that all phenomena are not a separate, permanent Self or observer, all the sensations that imply things like volume, time, space, etc are also just as empty as the rest.

If we use the word emptiness to imply something grand and mythical, like Primordial Awareness, or the Infinite Potential that creates reality, or something like that, those can't be found as something separate from the sensations that comprise experience, by definition and also in practice, so that definition doesn't help with insight practice.

From a relative point of view: of course space exists, just as we do: that is obviously not what this question is about.

The trap that people get into in insight practice is that they solidify space or volume or fail to investigate space, and thus fail to get Fruitions or at least make it less likely. This is particularly true of those in Equanimity who have decided to rest there, as well as those who can get the first two formless realms and get fascinated by those being more than what they are, as well as anagamis who want to become the vast luminous super-space that is only touched by nice things: all are golden chains. This is the practical implication of saying that while space is empty (the fresh and transient self-aware sensations that imply space or volume are not a permanent self or subject), it is not true that some grand and mythical emptiness is space.

As one who has been in boundless space and consciousness and gotten insight practice strong enough to see that whole thing arise and vanish in its component parts and get Fruitions off of that, I can tell you: seeing the sensations that make up what appears to be solid space or volume is powerful and fun practice and is enlightening in various ways.
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 6:37 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 6:35 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Thanks Tarin and Daniel,

1. I still have the impression that I didn't make myself clear. It is clear for me that the subjective, sensorial sensation of space is not permanent, or self, or ultimately satisfactory. I have seen this arise and pass away during my last meditation retreat (thanks again Tarin :-), during equanimity and the few days after stream-entry. I am still to see such a thing with "awareness itself," as I have never singled out "awareness" very clearly during meditation.

What I mean is that nowadays, I will have moments during which I have a feeling of "emptiness," a sensation will come up, say, in my torso, or head, and it will feel like it is void, but still happening somehow. I guessed this might be the emptiness everyone talks about.

Regardless whether that is so, emptiness has been described as the place where phenomena happen (e.g. by Duncan on openenlightenment.com: http://openenlightenment.org/?p=354). This is including our perception of (3d or boundless) space, our perception of time, full-bladder, and so on. So I am not asking: "Is our perception of space the same thing as the space-time physicists study," I'm asking whether there is evidence that "emptiness" is not the same thing as this very same space-time.

Physics describes "space-time" in the same way: it's where stuff happens (particles, fields, etc). Including the electrical impulses in our brain that correspond to our perception of space.

2. I understand that I am writing as if emptiness was somehow distinct from phenomena, when I will be able to see for myself, in a few years, that this isn't the case. Maybe that's where I'm making a confusion, either in explaining what I mean, or understanding what you mean.

3. But I still get the impression that I'm asking "Is emptiness = (physical) space?", and getting the answer "No, your perception of volume is not emptiness," or "your perception of volume is not physical space," or even "your personal consciousness is not physical space." I understand that both volume and personal consciousness arise in emptiness, and are themselves emptiness.

4. With regards to the answer No, awareness is not space because space goes on when you die I would answer: If by "awareness" we mean "emptiness," rather than individual consciousness (and again my question is whether "emptiness = space," not "individual consciousness = space"), then it will go on happening in other people when you die, as any accomplished meditator should be able to confirm.

5. With regards to stuff move around in space but my experience can not manifest in your awareness, I would again say that, theoretically, we could very well postulate that it is the same awareness, just that what we call "my experience" is the body-mind phenomena we call bruno arising from emptiness, while your experience is your own body-mind phenomena arising from emptiness. It is as natural that your body-mind phenomena don't arise in mine (in terms of awareness), as it is that a piece of rock doesn't arise inside a tree (in terms of space-time).

6. (sorry!) Maybe I shouldn't have asked "is emptiness = space." I don't mean to force anyone into an ontological position. What I mean to ask is: is there any experiential incongruence or inconsistency that you can come up with in POSTULATING that "emptiness = physical space-time".

Because us mathematicians often take the position that if nothing can be found to distinct two things, then they must be one and the same :-)
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 2:55 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 2:55 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hello,

Dan,

Can you talk more about this "...first basis of reality, as it actually is?" I would not want to put words in your mouth, but are you saying "the way in which subjectivity is experienced?" I ask for a specific reason. To point: if we replaced the last portion ("AF") of your sentence to say "...not meaning to imply anything related to [the actual world]," which seems to be what you meant, then I would have to ask: how is anything related to consciousness not related to the world that actually exists? And, the practical reason for pushing this query deeper being: when everything is taken in context of what actually is, then everything can be demystified and made sensible in the enlightenment traditions. For instance, given my response in the post above, 6th jhana would need to be renamed something like "boundless presence" rather than "boundless consciousness," because that is far more accurate. That's just one example...what do you think about all that?

Bruno,

Perhaps this will help...Physics by rough definition (dictionary.com): "the science that deals with matter, energy, motion, and force." In other words, the context of the field of physics has to do with the objectively verifiable, empirically measurable universe. Enlightenment traditions that would speak about "emptiness" is given in the context of subjectivity; a hallucinated world personal only to the brain that it is being manifested through and imagination it is being seen within. So with that in mind: subjective, personal space and objective, universal space are two different things.

The confusion could also be related to this: "I understand that both volume and personal consciousness arise in emptiness, and are themselves emptiness." Are you using "volume" to mean "objective space" in this case? If so, that is likely another hint at where the confusion lies: one cannot mince subjectivity and objectivity in such a way. Further, to derive any outcome based on a false premise could only lead to fallacy. With that in mind, it would be silly to "postulate" that "[subjective] emptiness = physical space-time." But perhaps that is not what you are saying at all?

Regards,
Trent
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 7:54 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/22/10 7:54 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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You guys are hurting my brain. This is not complex. The question is not valid.

Bruno, you obviously have some idea of what you mean by these two terms as you are the one that is asking the question. So you are the one that needs to solve it. So set out some buckets for each of the sense doors for both terms (12 buckets altogether) make it simpler by throwing away all but the thought buckets and the physical sensations buckets (4 buckets instead of 12) and then combine the two thought buckets into one (use the same thought bucket for thoughts about both terms (so now 3 buckets).

Now reflect on how you 'know' there is this quality you call 'emptiness' and this quality you call 'space'. All that you know must be known through one or more sense doors - for simplicity we are just using physical sensations and thoughts. If it is a physical sensation then throw it in the appropriate bucket. If it is a thought then crack it open, throw away the insides (thoughts are real but their content is always false) and throw the shell in the thought door bucket.

Now you have two buckets of physical sensations and one bucket of empty thoughts to compare. Throw away the bucket of empty thoughts (if you did this experiment there will be lots of them in there) - now you have two buckets left. Are they equal? Maybe, maybe not - but remember they are just sensations - not some separate existing 'emptiness' or 'space'. This is why the question is invalid. A similar experiment can be carried out with Trent, his monitor, and his girlfriend.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/23/10 2:44 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/23/10 2:44 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Non-Sequitir News Flash: "Chuck last seen behind Trent's empty house carrying out Trent's monitor and girlfriend..."

Anyway, I agree, pretty painful.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/23/10 10:01 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/23/10 10:01 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Daniel M. Ingram:
Non-Sequitir News Flash: "Chuck last seen behind Trent's empty house carrying out Trent's monitor and girlfriend...


That was not easy. Thanks to Trent for carrying the buckets.

-Chuck
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 3/25/10 11:25 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/25/10 11:25 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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hi bruno,

it's not possible to answer your question conclusively because it revolves around the following assumptions: 1- that there is a place where phenomena happen (an ultimate, some sort of non-phenomena); and 2- that such place (such an ultimate/non-phenomena) can be alluded to with a word or concept. i will leave aside assumption 1 and will only address assumption 2.

now, every attempt at a language operation that involves such a notion (as an ultimate/non-phenomena) necessarily picks a pre-existing word or concept to signify it. this creates difficulties because ordinarily (that is, in other contexts), that word or concept (whichever one is chosen) already signifies something else (that is, some particular phenomenon), and that particular phenomenon (from which the word or concept has been hijacked to signify the ultimate/non-phenomena) which still exists, cannot now be discussed on its own terms, because in the context of this discussion that word or concept will automatically signify the place where phenomena happen (the ultimate).

a solution that is sometimes found for this difficulty is to discuss the particular phenomenon (for which the word or concept has been appropriated to be a signifier of the ultimate) as an aspect of the ultimate, rather than as something distinct from, yet contained in, it; such signification seems to wrap up the problem nicely and highlights a subtle aspect of the relationship between the two, to boot. however, this solution, rather than narrowing down the ambiguity, actually opens it up even further: the word or concept (which ordinarily signifies a particular, yet in the context in question, also possibly signifies the ultimate) here ends up also possibly signifying the relation between the particular and the ultimate. so now there's two, rather than just one, ways to be confused about how the word is being used. this is what happens when we try to solve this problem (and is why we can't have nice things).

so, with that in mind, back to your thing about space being emptiness..


Bruno Loff:

3. But I still get the impression that I'm asking "Is emptiness = (physical) space?", and getting the answer "No, your perception of volume is not emptiness," or "your perception of volume is not physical space," or even "your personal consciousness is not physical space." I understand that both volume and personal consciousness arise in emptiness, and are themselves emptiness.

4. With regards to the answer No, awareness is not space because space goes on when you die I would answer: If by "awareness" we mean "emptiness," rather than individual consciousness (and again my question is whether "emptiness = space," not "individual consciousness = space"), then it will go on happening in other people when you die, as any accomplished meditator should be able to confirm.


yes.. unless everyone else dies too, in which case no awareness will go on whatsoever.

i have no problem equating 'emptiness' with space so long as it is already understood clearly that space is not aware, and that neither would 'emptiness' be were it not for the humans perceiving it.


Bruno Loff:

6. (sorry!) Maybe I shouldn't have asked "is emptiness = space." I don't mean to force anyone into an ontological position. What I mean to ask is: is there any experiential incongruence or inconsistency that you can come up with in POSTULATING that "emptiness = physical space-time".


yes; the incongruence is that emptiness'' is taken to exist and to be aware on its own right, which means that by equating such 'emptiness' with physical space-time, physical space-time is taken to be aware as well.. which it simply is not, despite any amount of wishing for it to be otherwise (though such wishing can, admittedly, make for clever religion).

tarin

ps chuck and dan - you guys find it difficult to think..?
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J S S, modified 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 3:34 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 3:33 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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I think I understand what Bruno is saying and I'm wondering why its hard for everyone else to understand.

Trent said:

Perhaps this will help...Physics by rough definition (dictionary.com): "the science that deals with matter, energy, motion, and force." In other words, the context of the field of physics has to do with the objectively verifiable, empirically measurable universe. Enlightenment traditions that would speak about "emptiness" is given in the context of subjectivity; a hallucinated world personal only to the brain that it is being manifested through and imagination it is being seen within. So with that in mind: subjective, personal space and objective, universal space are two different things.



I think Bruno is trying to say what if they aren't two different things.What if somehow those objective scientific arguments are in reality measuring some aspect of consciousness itself? Is this what you mean Bruno?

If you need another example of what I mean, what about this:
What if the curvature in space time is really because of how the brain itself is shaped? Or maybe it reflects how the mind itself has no boundaries? Wouldn't that be a way science is implicitly measuring consciousness?

This also opens up a myriad of other topics over common themes or relationships between microscopic / macroscopic science and consciousness (like quantum physics, or relativity theory). This would make an amazing discussion topic.

Thoughts? Ideas?

P.S. Did you know that the amount of stars in the galaxy is the same amount of neurons in your brain? Crazy-ness!!!
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 10:31 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 10:31 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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the prisoner greco:
ps chuck and dan - you guys find it difficult to think..?

Hi Tarin,
No, I don't seem to have difficulty thinking. I do find it difficult to believe my assumptions though.

For example, your statements to Bruno in your above post:

yes.. unless everyone else dies too, in which case no awareness will go on whatsoever.

This may be clear to you but for me I could only make such a statement as an assumption as my own experience is unable to prove this one way or another.

i have no problem equating 'emptiness' with space so long as it is already understood clearly that space is not aware

same here.

and that neither would 'emptiness' be were it not for the humans perceiving it.

same here.

yes; the incongruence is that emptiness'' is taken to exist and to be aware on its own right, which means that by equating such 'emptiness' with physical space-time, physical space-time is taken to be aware as well.. which it simply is not - despite any amount of wishing for it to be otherwise

and same here.

If you are not making assumptions then I humbly bow before you sir!

-Chuck
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 12:37 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 12:37 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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hi chuck,

Chuck Kasmire:
the prisoner greco:
ps chuck and dan - you guys find it difficult to think..?

Hi Tarin,
No, I don't seem to have difficulty thinking. I do find it difficult to believe my assumptions though.


that's good to hear. i asked because both you and dan mentioned your heads hurting, so i wondered why.

before i set about answering your questions regarding assumptions, let me ask you this one, as it may save us some time: are you willing to operate on the assumption that a tree is able to fall in a forest, independent of a human's presence, and in doing so, produce effects which would be audible to a human were one to be present?

peaceably (neither humbly or pridefully) awaiting your reply,
tarin
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 1:18 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 1:18 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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the prisoner greco:
before i set about answering your questions regarding assumptions, let me ask you this one, as it may save us some time: are you willing to operate on the assumption that a tree is able to fall in a forest, independent of a human's presence, and in doing so, produce effects which would be audible to a human were one to be present?


To get to the other side?

Sorry, kind of getting into the non sequitur mode. My goal one day is not to become a non-secular Buddhist teacher but rather the first non sequitur Bhuddist teacher.

Answer is: no, I'm not. it isn't what I want to do with the time I have to commit to this site (would much rather make stupid puns and word plays).

-Chuck
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 1:48 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/26/10 1:42 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Chuck Kasmire:
the prisoner greco:
before i set about answering your questions regarding assumptions, let me ask you this one, as it may save us some time: are you willing to operate on the assumption that a tree is able to fall in a forest, independent of a human's presence, and in doing so, produce effects which would be audible to a human were one to be present?


To get to the other side?

Sorry, kind of getting into the non sequitur mode. My goal one day is not to become a non-secular Buddhist teacher but rather the first non sequitur Bhuddist teacher.

Answer is: no, I'm not. it isn't what I want to do with the time I have to commit to this site (would much rather make stupid puns and word plays).

-Chuck


as you note above that you are unwilling to proceed sensibly with the discussion, and avow your preference to, instead, derail it with non sequitur replies, then it does save us some time; it would be pointless for me to respond to the matter you put forth (regarding assumptions) in your previous email if you are likely to only reply with 'stupid puns and word plays'.

were those very objections (obliquely made in the guise of a refusal to commit to any position) to my inferences (that space is not aware and that awareness is not extant beyond human cognition), by any chance, also examples of the non sequitur mode you've been getting into?

not that there may be much point in asking...

tarin
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/27/10 12:39 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/27/10 12:39 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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While the philosophical banter may have some value, as may the oneupsmanship, as may the non-sequitur replies and all the rest, I am personally interested in whatever aspect of these fascinating topics may apply to actual practice to help people make progress in some front.

Let's see if we can figure out how the question of phenomena manifesting without people there, or space and emptiness, or any of the other related topics and issues raised above can be used by someone who is trying to do something useful, such as make progress in insight of some kind, or something like that.

Any takers?

I will start by saying that from a relative point of view, assuming the continuity of existence, the childhood development of object permanence, the standard laws of the universe in the ordinary sense, the fact that trees falling in the forest create vibrations that resonate out that could be heard by those things that can hear, that space is eternal or nearly so, time is happening as we generally think it is, and that the myriad worlds and stars and particles and the like are doing their thing regardless of whether or not a few mammals on Terra know about it or can perceive it: all are a good idea. I don't see any basic problem with those assumptions, and in fact consider them useful for navigating in ordinary life and making sense of many things.

As to doing insight practices, I still maintain that taking the sensate world, those few transient sensations that actually manifest just then, as the basis of insight makes sense and leads to progress and thus, in that specific narrow context, is of value, as it allows one to more clearly do what one wishes to do, in general terms. It is pretty hard to argue that the sensate world is not, fundamentally, the first basis of all the rest, all concepts about such things as object permanence, the notion of space and time, and the like, and that all of the laws of the universe are extrapolations based on pattern recognition based on those sensations. However, for many other endeavors, this perspective is not as useful and others are of more practical benefit.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 3/27/10 1:23 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/27/10 1:22 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Daniel M. Ingram:
Let's see if we can figure out how the question of phenomena manifesting without people there, or space and emptiness, or any of the other related topics and issues raised above can be used by someone who is trying to do something useful, such as make progress in insight of some kind, or something like that.

Any takers?


Ok, I'll give it a try. My seemingly glib response was meant to convey the following:

That getting caught up in these ultimately unanswerable, imponderable questions distract us from what I am most interested in exploring here on this site.

To add a little more:
Our minds are capable of doing and exploring all kinds of fascinating things. We can create cell phones, internets, medicine, weapons, economies, philosophies, global warming, rain forest restoration, torture methods and on and on. How do we spend our lives? Why do we make the choices we make? Until we understand this - at the deepest level - we will basically function as so many billions of monkeys clamoring over each other after what appears to be the next closest fruit.

What I seem to know is this:
1) There is an essentially undefinable state or experience that utterly transcends even space and time.
2) That all phenomena arising in space and time are so deeply interwoven that even that word carries too much a sense of separateness in it. And that the totality - and each and every particle - of this is ultimately and completely perfect in every moment.
3) When people get some experiential sense of this it changes how they live their lives and the choices they make.
4) There seems to be ways or methods that can help people come to this experience for themselves.

-Chuck
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 8:38 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 8:30 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Daniel M. Ingram:
While the philosophical banter may have some value, as may the oneupsmanship, as may the non-sequitur replies and all the rest, I am personally interested in whatever aspect of these fascinating topics may apply to actual practice to help people make progress in some front.

Let's see if we can figure out how the question of phenomena manifesting without people there, or space and emptiness, or any of the other related topics and issues raised above can be used by someone who is trying to do something useful, such as make progress in insight of some kind, or something like that.

Any takers?


given the context and the orientation of the dharma overground and its participants, it is not a bad idea to touch on the standard insight perspective where possibly appropriate in any discussion, which is why i did that in my very first reply to this thread, viz:

theprisonergreco:

furthermore, from a vipassana perspective, the quality of unboundedness is part of the content of the awareness, so from that angle, the usual thing about the three characteristics applies, while any importance of the quality of unboundedness does not. it's a point that's worth understanding well, particularly for the purpose of getting the higher paths.


however, given that the space bruno was asking about in his original post was actual space (the space 'physicists talk about'), i find it far more sensible to conduct the discussion along the lines that directly address his question (such as these lines):

Daniel M. Ingram:

...the fact that trees falling in the forest create vibrations that resonate out that could be heard by those things that can hear, that space is eternal or nearly so, time is happening as we generally think it is, and that the myriad worlds and stars and particles and the like are doing their thing regardless of whether or not a few mammals on Terra know about it or can perceive it[.]





and while we're discussing this stuff, i will respond to something else you wrote which bears attention:

Daniel M. Ingram:

It is pretty hard to argue that the sensate world is not, fundamentally, the first basis of all the rest, all concepts about such things as object permanence, the notion of space and time, and the like, and that all of the laws of the universe are extrapolations based on pattern recognition based on those sensations.


actually, it is not hard to argue that the sensate world is not, fundamentally, the first basis of all the rest; this is because while it is true that all *concepts* about such things as object permanence, the *notion* of space and time, and the like, and all of the *laws* of the universe are extrapolations based on patterns recognition based on sensations, objects themselves (as opposed to concepts of them), space and time themselves (as opposed to a notion of them), and the universe itself (as opposed to laws created about them) are not extrapolations based on pattern recognition based on sensations; these things exist in their own right, and their actual existence depends not in the slightest on the concepts, notions, and laws derived from the sensations experienced by 'a few mammals on Terra'...

which mammals, by the way (and I am speaking as one of them), also actually exist in their own right. this is evidenced by the following fact: in the event that one were to die (to cease self-sustaining biological function), it would no longer be aware or have experience (it would cease all sensory, cognitive, and motor functions), and yet it would still exist (as a dead flesh-and-blood body). this is because the realm in which that flesh-and-blood body exists - the realm of space and time - actually exists independently of any notion or perception or experience of it. while the experience of this realm is cognitively anteceded by the experience of awareness itself (a pure awareness beyond space and time), our entire framework of experience itself (including this pure awareness) has its genesis in our flesh-and-blood bodies (despite any psychically intuited notions of genetic memory to the contrary)... bodies which came about through space and time.

put another way: while the experience of space and time occurs as part of awareness, the entirety of that awareness, whether personal or impersonal, mundane or transcendent, is a faculty of a living, breathing flesh-and-blood body... and as a flesh-and-blood body is nothing but this universe, its awareness *is* this universe experiencing itself (as it is - as a flesh-and-blood body). yet, when the flesh-and-blood body dies, the universe only ceases to experience (itself)... it does not itself cease.

when the universe, as a flesh-and-blood body, is directly, intimately aware of this, then this 'relative point of view'[1] turns out to not be so relative after all.

tarin

[1]
Daniel M. Ingram:

I will start by saying that from a relative point of view, assuming the continuity of existence...
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 2:33 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 2:33 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Well, just asking the question doesn't force anyone to be interested in the answer, and doesn't stop anyone from exploring, in this site, things that might interest them more. I am just interested in this kind of abstract-philosophical nonsense, if you will.

However, only now we seem to be moving towards answering the (albeit somewhat difficult) question.

In this thread I was asking, to those who might be interested in such an ontological issue, whether there is any inconsistency in postulating that:

Emptiness

is

Space.

I was not (1) asking if (there is any inconsistency in postulating that) emptiness is our perception of time and/or volume, (2) suggesting that any answer of Yes or No is in any way helpful to attain realization, or that (3) it might have any practical implications otherwise.

Daniel: It is pretty hard to argue that the sensate world is not, fundamentally, the first basis of all the rest, all concepts about such things as object permanence, the notion of space and time, and the like, and that all of the laws of the universe are extrapolations based on pattern recognition based on those sensations.


Yes, precisely, it is pretty hard to argue such a thing. But from the conceptual point of view of physics, this first basis of everything is spacetime (where things happen) and elementary particles (or whatever, the stuff that happens). Unless one assumes some sort of "soul" or something, then ultimately, sensate reality and physical reality are one and the same thing, or at least physical reality has to give rise to sensate reality. The question is: can we postulate that Space corresponds, in our own subjective experience, to Emptiness. Are there any counter-examples, such as "no, that's clearly not true because..."?


Tarin: yes; the incongruence is that emptiness'' is taken to exist and to be aware on its own right, which means that by equating such 'emptiness' with physical space-time, physical space-time is taken to be aware as well.. which it simply is not, despite any amount of wishing for it to be otherwise (though such wishing can, admittedly, make for clever religion).


I don't know about you, but for me awareness can be adequately described as "the place where the subjective experience of phenomena happens." While space could be thought of as "the place where objective physical phenomena happen." These two are strikingly familiar, then why can't we say that "space" is "aware" in some sense?

It is not a matter of "wishing" Tarin, it is a matter of understanding why that isn't the case. If you say that "space is simply not aware," then all I am asking you to explain is why you think that. I mean, what in your understanding of awareness necessarily rules out space. What is the incongruence, in your mind, of taking the "emptiness" concept and the "space" concept, and postulating "they are the same thing." I'm not asking you to just say that they "are simply not the same thing," because that would be like answering, to the question why can't we postulate X = Y?, with we have postulated that, simply, X is not Y. I am asking whether we can come up with a reason.

On the other hand, you then say:

while the experience of space and time occurs as part of awareness, the entirety of that awareness, whether personal or impersonal, mundane or transcendent, is a faculty of a living, breathing flesh-and-blood body... and as a flesh-and-blood body is nothing but this universe, its awareness *is* this universe experiencing itself (as it is - as a flesh-and-blood body).


So in a sense it is agreed that the universe experiences itself, that awareness is part of the universe. Subjective phenomena happen in Emptiness
(let's put aside for the time being that what is experienced is also emptiness). Objective phenomena happen in Space. What leads you to think that they are two different things? Once again: what is the inconsistency in postulating that Space has a correspondent in our subjective experience, and that correspondent is Emptiness. This would imply that space is "aware," in some sense.
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 3:30 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 3:29 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Bruno Loff:
What leads you to think that they are two different things?


Hi Bruno,

Look around the room at various objects, such as your right hand, the computer mouse, perhaps your companion or a pet. Now try closing your eyes and imagine those things. Imagine your computer mouse or your companion or whatever you looked at with your eyes a moment ago. Now, "what leads you to think that they are two different things?" Or: are they different?

Trent
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 3:42 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 3:42 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Two points:

1) Equating "physical" reality with the whole of reality is problematic unless one ditches the gap between "mental" sensations and "physical" sensations, which physics, except at its most exotic and shaky, doesn't. Physics generally, with a few rare modern physics exceptions, postulates that there is physical reality, and we can come up with concepts, mathematical models and other similar frameworks that attempt to describe and predict that reality. This is very different from a purely mechanistic universe unless one assumes certain interesting things, outlined in places like "The Dancing Wu Li Masters", and I'll not to into all that, as it gets needlessly complex for the discussion here.

The Mental realm is also extrapolated from sensations. Mental sensations can have physical components, and, in fact, I will argue only have physical components, but that is a subtle business. Take lucid dreams, which from a physics point of view are not even addressed ever or deemed to be describable or part of what physics is about, at least in terms of describing the specifics of what is experienced. They do not generally conform to standard physical laws, they do not play by the rules or "ordinary matter", and yet in dreams one can feel physical sensations, see visual sensations, hear auditory sensations, taste gustatory sensations, etc. One can perceive up and down, balance, and all the rest of the sensate experiences. This shows us clearly that the mental realm seems to be made up of the sensate stuff of the physical, but just doesn't operate the way it does. If we get biochemical, some would argue the brain is a purely biochemical device, but no one has managed to even get close to figuring out why there appears to be consciousness in the ordinary sense. Thus, the notion that to assume a purely sensate universe means we need postulate nothing beyond the physical is fundamentally not perfectly defensible, as it assumes too many things that simply don't hold up and too many that can't be proven.

2) The notion of emptiness is extra, as is then notion of awareness. Thus, it would be like arguing that awareness is Emptiness, or awareness is Void, or awareness is Nirvana, or awareness is God, or awareness is Krishna or awareness is Whatever.

Sensations arise. They are known where they are because they are sensations. Just because they have the quality of being empty of a separate, permanent self, and just because the word Emptiness is used for various things (such as Fruitions, and occasionally the end of Subject-Object Duality) doesn't mean there is some Emptiness that is there beyond the ordinary sensate world. Any sensations that appear to be awareness or emptiness or space or time or whatever are just sensations with qualities. All arise and vanish. None remain. No separate thing called awareness or space or emptiness can be found. All are extrapolations from a fresh stream of sensations.

These debates remind me of the trap anagamis can fall into, where they want there to be something that is untouched, eternal, stable, clean, pure, a refuge, an escape, a super-space, a super-Self, a pervasive luminosity that remains, and the like. All are golden chains, unfindable, not a true refuge.

Seeing through the disturbances created by the notion of emptiness, attention, awareness, Subject, Self, Observer, etc. leaves a reality that is clean, direct, immediate, sensate, without the extra stuff added, and this confirms the answer for itself in a way that is unarguable, as it explains and shows what happened before and also how the new understanding holds on its own and resolves the problems that those more complicated view and opinions create.
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 4:44 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 4:35 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

Thus, the notion that to assume a purely sensate universe means we need postulate nothing beyond the physical is fundamentally not perfectly defensible, as it assumes too many things that simply don't hold up and too many that can't be proven.
-----------
No separate thing called awareness or space or emptiness can be found. All are extrapolations from a fresh stream of sensations.


Hello Dan,

I agree with much of what you said, but in regard to the quoted sections, I disagree. The fact that this universe is purely physical is perfectly defensible. Using lucid dreams or other hallucinated subjective experiences as a basis for disproving the material universe is silly. Various aspects of the mind can be strengthened or weakened based on one's individual will. And so, if a person chooses to meditate several hours a day so as to increase their ability to hallucinate (imagine) a more and more seemingly tangible subjective world, they can do that. Is there not something odd about the fact that this faculty of the mind must be cultivated by situating the flesh and blood body into a position which dulls its' innate flesh and blood senses and habituates its awareness to reflect internally? And yet, most (if not all) humans do not need to practice tasting particulate matter with their tongue, nor do they need to practice sensing variations of light as the light enters the eyes. One does not need to recite a mantra with their eyes closed for months to be able to feel the light pressure of the wind upon their skin. The subject self, the identity as a totality, can be selfishly strengthened or it can be altruistically destroyed. To build up the subject's power and / or to use it as a defense against the facts is similar to purposefully burying one's head in the sand while simultaneously saying "what the heck? I can't see the sky anymore...I guess it doesn't exist," all the while ignoring that one can simply choose to pull one's head out of the sand at any time.

With that said, there are many separate things in this universe which can be found and identified. My body is separate from your body, my body is not the coffee cup in front of me, and so forth. The "not separate" quality of the actual universe is known via the direct apprehension that all of this perdurable matter is just that: the universe. And as such, there is nothing separate from the universe, nor anything outside of the universe (it has no opposite). I could walk around labeling and referring to everything as "universe," if I wanted (though this isn't a very functional thing to do). Non-duality is actually a situation of dissolving all identifications and other subjectivity so that the objective world is known directly and intelligently via the senses. It is not the spiritual notion that tries to do the opposite, that is, to "transcend" the material world via habituation and delusion until one's subjectivity has a monopoly over sensible reason. And really, none of this would be a problem if it weren't for all the unpleasant issues humans find themselves in or susceptible to (war, rape, murder, loneliness, child abuse, corruption, etc) due to their "differences," eg: identifications / subjectivity (which includes the instincts, beliefs, one's social conditioning, etc).

Trent
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 7:21 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 7:21 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

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Hmmmm....

To label lucid dreams hallucinations is simply one label. Sensations arise that can be called lucid dreams, or dreams in general. To label them hallucinations is your preference. Ok.

Fundamentally, I see them as all more stuff, more sensations, all of which have the same essential qualities, and direct knowledge of them or anything else is fundamentally the same.

I never needed to cultivate anything to have lucid dreams: I have been having them since I was quite young quit naturally. It was only later that I spent some time cultivating certain aspects of them.

Tarin still says he dreams. I wonder what that means to you in AF terms? Richard apparently doesn't. Whatever. My grandmother didn't either, apparently, until she took first Parkinson's meds: really freaked her out when she started dreaming. To those following along at home, this has turned into an AF (Actual Freedom) vs something else debate.

To assume that not dreaming anymore is somehow better than dreaming is another view, so far as I can tell. It is interesting to see the various perspectives on this. Richard seems to think that going to sleep and waking up with no appreciation of a gap is the highest attainment. Tenzin Wangyal seems to think continuity of awareness during deepest sleep with focus on the clear light of awareness during the hours of sleep is the highest level of dream yoga. I think that there is room for debate. Apparently you don't.

To label this waking reality one way and dreams another are just labels. Those are experiences: call them what you like. Clearly you prefer one to the other: these are your preferences based on conditioning. Enjoy them and see where they get you. The original Buddhist traditions seemed to give your hallucinations equal weight with ordinary reality. Very heavy Tibetan practitioners today do also, so far as I can tell. I see it all as sensate stuff: direct, clear, ordinary, just as it is.

That the universe is purely physical is not easily defensible. Even if you posit hallucinations, that hallucinations happen, regardless of whether or not you all them hallucinations, blows the theory right there. That anyone dreams blows the theory right there. Again, to assume that something other than sensate reality is the basis for all other concepts, views, dogmas and extrapolations is hard to prove, I think. How do you go about rationalizing that the broad scope of what happens under the word "reality" doesn't include things that clearly happen, regardless of how you label them?

You seem to be the one who can't see the sky, which in this case means mental phenomena. That you have none would be a fun jab, except that clearly you do, and clearly they have bought into some dogma that clearly isn't true on any cursory observation.

Discrimination, the ability to differentiate, is an inherent function of the mind, obviously, as is the ability to identify various qualities, distances, and the like. I am not sure what you are arguing for or against in that second paragraph, but perhaps you could clarify.

I think you are arguing against things I didn't say or didn't mean, or perhaps I simply have no idea what you are saying or why.

Should we try again? Perhaps we are defining our terms differently and sure that we understand the other's definitions, and thus are getting lost in ill-defined language or some other communication problem, as I don't think you understand what I am saying, and I can hardly believe that you are saying what it seems you are.
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 9:54 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 9:50 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hello Dan,

Daniel M. Ingram:

To label lucid dreams hallucinations is simply one label. Sensations arise that can be called lucid dreams, or dreams in general. To label them hallucinations is your preference. Ok.


I am not the one who chose what the word "hallucination" means. It is quite clearly defined in the dictionary: "a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind, caused by various physical and mental disorders, or by reaction to certain toxic substances, and usually manifested as visual or auditory images." For the record, my preference is not necessarily to label anything one way or another, but it is accurate to say that I want to use clearly defined words so that communication may happen.

Daniel M. Ingram:

Tarin still says he dreams. I wonder what that means to you in AF terms? Richard apparently doesn't. Whatever. My grandmother didn't either, apparently, until she took first Parkinson's meds: really freaked her out when she started dreaming. To those following along at home, this has turned into an AF (Actual Freedom) vs something else debate.


I am following along at home, and I was unaware that this had anything to do with attaining an actual freedom from the human condition, or what an actual freedom from the human condition has to do with a debate with "something else." The original thread asked a question, which has been reiterated several times now. To answer the question sufficiently for Bruno and other onlookers, there are some qualities about the universe and subjective experience which need to be investigated and the facts set straight if there is to be a reasonable answer given. For example, whether or not there are objective things existing outside of one's personal experience.

Daniel M. Ingram:
To assume that not dreaming anymore is somehow better than dreaming is another view, so far as I can tell. It is interesting to see the various perspectives on this. Richard seems to think that going to sleep and waking up with no appreciation of a gap is the highest attainment. Tenzin Wangyal seems to think continuity of awareness during deepest sleep with focus on the clear light of awareness during the hours of sleep is the highest level of dream yoga. I think that there is room for debate. Apparently you don't.


So that I understand, are you saying that your "view" assumes that "not dreaming anymore is somehow better than dreaming?" I can only ask, as I have not said anything which could even remotely be construed as meaning that. I do not know what Richard's appreciation of sleep is, and so I cannot confirm or deny that one way or another; has he said this to you or have you read that somewhere? As for me "apparently" not wanting to debate (something), I'm not really sure what is being debated in this context...so I can't really say whether or not I think that there's room for debate.

Daniel M. Ingram:
To label this waking reality one way and dreams another are just labels. Those are experiences: call them what you like.


I'm not sure what your point is here...as stated above, I am not in the business of defining words or creating dictionaries. To label one experience one way and to label another experience another way just makes sense...why would I reduce every experience down to the word "experience?" That would make it impossible to discuss the differences of specific experiences and we would not be able to communicate. As no communication could take place, the quality of one's experience could not be influenced for the better. Further, I think that you're implying that "waking reality" and "dreams" are the same thing, and I am disagreeing with you (hence the content of my previous posts). And as that disagreement is fundamental to answering the original post's query, it is worth sussing out our differences of opinion, no?

Daniel M. Ingram:
Clearly you prefer one to the other: these are your preferences based on conditioning. Enjoy them and see where they get you. The original Buddhist traditions seemed to give your hallucinations equal weight with ordinary reality. Very heavy Tibetan practitioners today do also, so far as I can tell. I see it all as sensate stuff: direct, clear, ordinary, just as it is.


I do not have preferences based on conditioning, I have preferences based on sensible reason such as what enables me to have a healthy, comfortable experience of this moment. For instance, I prefer sleeping on a soft bed to a bed of nails, and I prefer to see a doctor for an illness rather than not. I enjoy the outcome of those preferences when they happen (and when they do not), and I also enjoy using the dictionary's definition of words because it makes communication much easier. As I am not trying to "get" somewhere, I cannot say much more about that. I have already arrived at where I want to be.

Daniel M. Ingram:
That the universe is purely physical is not easily defensible. Even if you posit hallucinations, that hallucinations happen, regardless of whether or not you all them hallucinations, blows the theory right there. That anyone dreams blows the theory right there. Again, to assume that something other than sensate reality is the basis for all other concepts, views, dogmas and extrapolations is hard to prove, I think. How do you go about rationalizing that the broad scope of what happens under the word "reality" doesn't include things that clearly happen, regardless of how you label them?


I am failing to see how your statement "blows the theory" at all, perhaps you could elaborate? I never said that someones' dreams are part of the universe...that's the whole point, they're subjective experiences. Sure, they're triggered by chemicals within the brain, and both of the chemicals and the brain are in / part of the universe...but unless you can fly to my residence and hand me a dream, I don't think you've found any holes in the statement that this universe is made of perdurable matter.

Daniel M. Ingram:
You seem to be the one who can't see the sky, which in this case means mental phenomena. That you have none would be a fun jab, except that clearly you do, and clearly they have bought into some dogma that clearly isn't true on any cursory observation.


To set the record straight, I do not see mental phenomena, which is what you seem to be saying by relating "mental phenomena" to "the sky," and with your "except that clearly you do." And furthermore, I haven't bought into any dogma, and this is simple to see upon personal reflection as I have done away with subjective "truths" and "falsehoods" and all the like.

Daniel M. Ingram:
Discrimination, the ability to differentiate, is an inherent function of the mind, obviously, as is the ability to identify various qualities, distances, and the like. I am not sure what you are arguing for or against in that second paragraph, but perhaps you could clarify.


Yes, to discriminate, think, reflect, etc are all functions of the intellect, and I'm happy for such an ability. That paragraph has to do with the disagreement I have noted multiple times in this thread. To "clarify:" there are objects existing independently of human awareness. This universe is permanent and objective despite what human subjective experience implies. There is more being stated that has to do with those notions and I encourage you to re-read my posts if you like, as I'm pretty sure I have stuck to a steady beat.

Daniel M. Ingram:
Should we try again? Perhaps we are defining our terms differently and sure that we understand the other's definitions, and thus are getting lost in ill-defined language or some other communication problem, as I don't think you understand what I am saying, and I can hardly believe that you are saying what it seems you are.


Okay. Most of my terms are defined in the dictionary or have been defined above (such as how I define awareness/emptiness), and as I have read your book a dozen times, read hundreds of your posts, had the privilege of speaking with you both on the phone and in person, and was enlightened for a time, I am relatively certain I am understanding what you're saying. If you have changed the way in which you refer to certain things, or see where I may be misunderstanding you, you could let me know of those instances and I will happily correct course if that is necessary.

Best,
Trent
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 10:32 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 10:32 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Two points:

1) When someone in my clinical practice tells me they had a dream, I do not write on the chart, "Patient psychotic, hallucinating," as that is not how the word is generally used, just so that you know we do use the word differently and dictionary definitions don't always make things as clear as you might imagine.

2) "To set the record straight, I do not see mental phenomena"

I am intrigued.

No intentions that precede actions? No memories? No prediction of future events? No mental voice that follows when you read? No ability to imagine? No ability to plan? No ability to visualize or recite a mantra in your mind? Really?

That is interesting.

Or are you saying all of those are physical phenomena and exactly the same as the rest of physical phenomena.

What are you saying, specifically, phenomenologically, rigorously?

I want to hear more of your thoughts on this.
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 11:42 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 3/28/10 11:42 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Two points:

1) When someone in my clinical practice tells me they had a dream, I do not write on the chart, "Patient psychotic, hallucinating," as that is not how the word is generally used, just so that you know we do use the word differently and dictionary definitions don't always make things as clear as you might imagine.


The way I see the word used most, and it is part of the definition is: "a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind." And as these hallucinations seem to be caused by the same chemicals (or are somehow otherwise part and parcel with them) that are the cause of all suffering --including the subtle feelings like uneasiness and anxiety-- I think they could be adequately referred to as a "toxic substance." Furthermore, just because something is "normal" doesn't prevent it from being worthy of the title "psychotic." For just one of many examples, it seems to be quite "normal" to go to war for one's belief in a fictitious god. I recognize that dictionary definitions don't always make communication simple, but it is certainly a sensible place to begin.

Daniel M. Ingram:
2) "To set the record straight, I do not see mental phenomena"

I am intrigued.

No intentions that precede actions? No memories? No prediction of future events? No mental voice that follows when you read? No ability to imagine? No ability to plan? No ability to visualize or recite a mantra in your mind? Really?

That is interesting.

Or are you saying all of those are physical phenomena and exactly the same as the rest of physical phenomena.

What are you saying, specifically, phenomenologically, rigorously?

I want to hear more of your thoughts on this.


Responses in order: there are intentions that precede actions, but I do not "see" them and often times I am not conscious of them at all. My memory seems to function just fine, but I do not "see" it. I am able to think and plan about the future, but it is not necessary (nor do I) "see" anything about the plans or predicted events. There is no voice in my head when I read; there are thoughts. I do still have some capability to imagine if I decide to do so, in that I can still hear a faint tune in my head if I attempt to recall it in such a fashion; although this ability seems to be tapering off (and without pragmatic consequence). I am able to plan, as that is a function of the intellect and not of the identity or affective faculty. I cannot visualize a mantra nor recite a mantra in my head in the fashion you are likely thinking of when you pose the question to me. I could think the words of a mantra to myself, via thought, over and over again...but I have no reason to do that. And finally, I might be able to hear a little bit of a quality of voice in any of these cases if I tried to cultivate it, but I will not do that, as I intend for the imaginative abilities to disappear entirely (including the subtle traces I am sometimes aware of). Note that in any of these cases, I would never say (even if I had a "normally" functioning imagination) that I "see" those things, as I see with my eyes and therefore I cannot see things that happen only in the mind.

Your final questions don't really make much sense to me, could you rephrase them in another way if they are still relevant?

Also, if you want to PM me about this, that would probably be a good idea (or open a new thread if you want); I don't want to derail the original question ("Is emptiness = space?") that this thread is dedicated to anymore than the last few posts have.

Regards,
Trent
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 4/3/10 1:15 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/3/10 1:10 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
the prisoner greco:

'Tarin: yes; the incongruence is that emptiness'' is taken to exist and to be aware on its own right, which means that by equating such 'emptiness' with physical space-time, physical space-time is taken to be aware as well.. which it simply is not, despite any amount of wishing for it to be otherwise (though such wishing can, admittedly, make for clever religion).'


I don't know about you, but for me awareness can be adequately described as "the place where the subjective experience of phenomena happens." While space could be thought of as "the place where objective physical phenomena happen." These two are strikingly familiar, then why can't we say that "space" is "aware" in some sense?

It is not a matter of "wishing" Tarin, it is a matter of understanding why that isn't the case.


but it is a matter of wishing, to begin with; is it not the case that you wish for a world wherein space is self-aware? does not a world where self-aware space - or even self-aware beyond-space - imply an awareness which has an existence beyond your flesh-and-blood body (your mortal coil) that is both concurrent with your body's living function and extant past its death? and would such a self-aware space not be... you?


Bruno Loff:

If you say that "space is simply not aware," then all I am asking you to explain is why you think that. I mean, what in your understanding of awareness necessarily rules out space. What is the incongruence, in your mind, of taking the "emptiness" concept and the "space" concept, and postulating "they are the same thing." I'm not asking you to just say that they "are simply not the same thing," because that would be like answering, to the question why can't we postulate X = Y?, with we have postulated that, simply, X is not Y. I am asking whether we can come up with a reason.


there is no incongruence, in my mind, in someone "taking the 'emptiness' concept and the 'space' concept, and postulating 'they are the same thing'"... you can, of course, define your ideas however you wish in order to make them fit with each other as you please. mis-taking those concept(s) for what actually exists (which exists as it does irrespective of those concepts) is, however, another matter; in this case, neither your concept of 'emptiness' nor your concept of 'space' are space as it actually does (exist), viz:

the prisoner greco:

while it is true that all *concepts* about such things as object permanence, the *notion* of space and time, and the like, and all of the *laws* of the universe are extrapolations based on patterns recognition based on sensations, objects themselves (as opposed to concepts of them), space and time themselves (as opposed to a notion of them), and the universe itself (as opposed to laws created about them) are not extrapolations based on pattern recognition based on sensations; these things exist in their own right, and their actual existence depends not in the slightest on the concepts, notions, and laws derived from the sensations experienced by 'a few mammals on Terra'...

which mammals, by the way (and I am speaking as one of them), also actually exist in their own right. this is evidenced by the following fact: in the event that one were to die (to cease self-sustaining biological function), it would no longer be aware or have experience (it would cease all sensory, cognitive, and motor functions), and yet it would still exist (as a dead flesh-and-blood body). this is because the realm in which that flesh-and-blood body exists - the realm of space and time - actually exists independently of any notion or perception or experience of it. while the experience of this realm is cognitively anteceded by the experience of awareness itself (a pure awareness beyond space and time), our entire framework of experience itself (including this pure awareness) has its genesis in our flesh-and-blood bodies (despite any psychically intuited notions of genetic memory to the contrary)... bodies which came about through space and time.

put another way: while the experience of space and time occurs as part of awareness, the entirety of that awareness, whether personal or impersonal, mundane or transcendent, is a faculty of a living, breathing flesh-and-blood body... and as a flesh-and-blood body is nothing but this universe, its awareness *is* this universe experiencing itself (as it is - as a flesh-and-blood body). yet, when the flesh-and-blood body dies, the universe only ceases to experience (itself)... it does not itself cease.



Bruno Loff:

On the other hand, you then say:

the prisoner greco:

while the experience of space and time occurs as part of awareness, the entirety of that awareness, whether personal or impersonal, mundane or transcendent, is a faculty of a living, breathing flesh-and-blood body... and as a flesh-and-blood body is nothing but this universe, its awareness *is* this universe experiencing itself (as it is - as a flesh-and-blood body).


So in a sense it is agreed that the universe experiences itself, that awareness is part of the universe. Subjective phenomena happen in Emptiness


the universe does experience itself and awareness is part of the universe. however, subjective phenomena does not 'happen in Emptiness'; rather, 'Emptiness' is a part of (the framework of) your (subjective) experience. this point is the very crux around which you are going astray - you are assuming that a glorified aggrandisement of your sense of being (which is this very 'Emptiness') has any existence outside your imagination, which it does not.


Bruno Loff:

(let's put aside for the time being that what is experienced is also emptiness).


you may be better off understanding that what is experienced *is* emptiness (and not 'also' emptiness).


Bruno Loff:

Objective phenomena happen in Space. What leads you to think that they are two different things? Once again: what is the inconsistency in postulating that Space has a correspondent in our subjective experience, and that correspondent is Emptiness.


space does indeed have a 'correspondent in our subjective experience' - that correspondent is the experience of space.


Bruno Loff:

This would imply that space is "aware," in some sense.


only if it is assumed that space is the same thing as an 'Emptiness' that is assumed to exist as an awareness beyond all (subjective) phenomena. i imply no such thing because i assume no such things... those assumptions are based on an illusion.

tarin
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 1:34 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 1:27 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
It can be much more simple than this:

If we posit a world of sensations or a materialistic world of "flesh and blood" based on those sensations, or a world of sensations based on a flesh and blood world of permanence, or whatever, I still think the following is of value:

Emptiness, as a term, should be used with care, defined carefully, and discarded when it doesn't add anything but instead lends confusion and wild goose chases.

If by emptiness we mean some aware superspace, this is an extra concept added onto whatever space is, regardless of whether it is sensations that imply space, as I advocate for insight practices, or some permanent, actual space, which is the relative point of view and also the AF point of view, I believe. Those things don't need the concept of some grand emptiness added to them. I don't see that it gets one anywhere on any front, particularly.

When I advocate for people seeing "emptiness", I specifically mean that they see that sensations are transient, and thus are empty of permanent existence, and observed, and thus not a permanent observer, and in this way the concept of "emptiness" has value on that particular front of development and meditative practice. Further, the sensations that make up space are no more empty of a permanent, separate self than anything else, so I don't see the particular fascination with emptiness as space particularly, unless someone is chasing the grand Emptiness pipe dream which can't be found.

When I advocate for people experiencing Fruitions, I also sometimes slip into using the word "emptiness" to describe reality, including space, vanishing and reappearing.

However, what can't be found is some infinite potential beyond an implied one, and one can't find an "Emptiness" in the sense of some grand pervasive extra whatever, as this is an added concept to the space, regardless of whether we describe space as either implied by sensations or actually there. Regardless of either of those views, there is no additional thing called "Emptiness" that anyone can find that adds anything to the facts of space manifesting, however we wish to view it or talk about it.

Regardless of whether or not we add "awareness" to the mix, saying space is actually here and "we" are aware of it, or saying the sensations of space are intrinsically aware of themselves, or if we say that space actually is in some permanent sense and is just there regardless of any notions or aspects of awareness, or some other view, I don't see how adding some grand emptiness Holy Grail or chimera onto this helps anything or adds anything at all. One can just as easily say phenomena are simply there, or manifest, as say they are empty or luminous or aware or anything else: all are additions to the fact of what simply presents, regardless of our need to think of it in purely sensate or purely material or some other terms.

Thus, I cannot see where this is going that is going to do something good, nor do I see the continued fascination with this "emptiness" bugaboo. Anyone want to clue me into practically, experientially, where this is going or even why?
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 1:51 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 1:51 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Tarin: but it is a matter of wishing, to begin with; is it not the case that you wish for a world wherein space is self-aware? does not a world where self-aware space - or even self-aware beyond-space - imply an awareness which has an existence beyond your flesh-and-blood body (your mortal coil) that is both concurrent with your body's living function and extant past its death? and would such a self-aware space not be... you?

Maybe so Tarin, maybe by reading my posts you understand my motivations better than myself. Regardless, I did not ask "wouldn't it be cool if deep down we where all His Imortal Holyness," I asked the question from a philosophical perspective. I think that my motivation for asking is just that I like mentally playing around with this kind of abstract nonsense. As far as I can remember, I always have. Let me make it crystal clear: I am not religious, and don't have a religious agenda. Frankly, the issue of religion has become utterly unimportant to me in recent years.

Tarin: space does indeed have a 'correspondent in our subjective experience' - that correspondent is the experience of space.

I really don't think our mental apprehension of space is the correspondent of space in our subjective experience. I think it is a mental construct of "volume," that approximates the way space works macroscopically. I think it is a mental construct in the sense that it is a sort of "computation" or "representation," happening in our neurons.

But I am not so sure about awareness itself, as it feels more like the "place" where mentation occurs. More on that below.

Tarin: you can, of course, define your ideas however you wish in order to make them fit with each other as you please. mis-taking those concept(s) for what actually exists (which exists as it does irrespective of those concepts) is, however, another matter; in this case, neither your concept of 'emptiness' nor your concept of 'space' are space as it actually does (exist)


(1) Yes, agree very much. A concept is not the thing. My concept of an orange is not an orange. (2) It is not true that I can define concepts and ideas and relations as I wish. For instance, if I where to come across five germans and all of them spoke polish, I could conclude that there was no inconsistency in postulating that all germans are speakers of polish. But then, experientially, I would sooner or later come to a contradiction. (3) I would also expect, if I asked on an online forum "are all germans speakers of polish?," someone could reply, for example, "No, I've met a german that didn't speak polish." I wouldn't expect someone to say it was a matter of wishing.

But coming to the point which is the very crux around which going astray
you are assuming that a glorified aggrandisement of your sense of being (which is this very 'Emptiness') has any existence outside your imagination, which it does not.


Could be. But I do use emptiness to refer to a... hmm... thing. Well it's not a thing, it is from where phenomena arise, the medium where they "exist", and to where they return. Well, not that they return to any specific place, since that "place" where they are when they arise only exists during their manifestation, but each phenomena feels as a vibration arising and then dissolving (from, and then into emptiness). This could mean a lot of things. I could be systematically "appending" or "coupling" a second phenomenon to every phenomenon that I have. Or it could be itself not a phenomenon. I don't think it is my imagination though, since there is this sense of arising from and returning to. Not that there is any felt "place" from where stuff arises, to which I can follow when stuff passes away. It is some sort of silence, but it could be that it's simply too subtle for me to feel it. Only practice will tell for sure I guess.

I understand that there is a risk in asking these questions before attaining considerably more insight. Maybe I'm just completely deluded in how I conceptualize these things.

Daniel: However, what can't be found is some infinite potential beyond an implied one, and one can't find an "Emptiness" in the sense of some grand pervasive extra whatever [...]


So Daniel what you mean is that "emptiness" is not a grand "existing" awareness that "is" regardless of phenomena, beyond and transcending them? This would actually be an objection to "emptiness = space," if we were to say that "spacetime" exists independently of the various particles, waves, etc, that manifest in it. And I can't say whether physics makes any such assumption.

( Exactly as I have described in the paragraph above, I can't find a fixed "place" or "thing" from where phenomena arise and to where they return, except in an "implied" sense. They just seem to vanish, not leaving a trace. But the way they vanish seems to imply, conceptually and only conceptually, a place, and this concept is what I have been calling "emptiness". )

Daniel: Thus, I cannot see where this is going that is going to do something good, nor do I see the continued fascination with this "emptiness" bugaboo. Anyone want to clue me into practically, experientially, where this is going or even why?


I certainly did not get a clear-cut, satisfactory objection to the question, in the sense of "I've seen a german dude who didn't speak polish." All I got was the very plausible objections "You are wrong in the way you conceptualize german nationality" and "Whether all germans speak polish really has no practical implication whatsoever." And the systematical return to the objection "I've met a german dude who didn't speak with polish people", where polish people vs. polish language here represents the cognitive aspect of volume vs. the physical spacetime.

It really seems to be going nowhere, and maybe annoying a few people in the process emoticon Already a big fruitless argument over AF... Some irritation here and there... Maybe we call it quits?

Bruno
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 4:15 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/4/10 4:15 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Tarin: but it is a matter of wishing, to begin with; is it not the case that you wish for a world wherein space is self-aware? does not a world where self-aware space - or even self-aware beyond-space - imply an awareness which has an existence beyond your flesh-and-blood body (your mortal coil) that is both concurrent with your body's living function and extant past its death? and would such a self-aware space not be... you?

Maybe so Tarin, maybe by reading my posts you understand my motivations better than myself. Regardless, I did not ask "wouldn't it be cool if deep down we where all His Imortal Holyness," I asked the question from a philosophical perspective. I think that my motivation for asking is just that I like mentally playing around with this kind of abstract nonsense. As far as I can remember, I always have. Let me make it crystal clear: I am not religious, and don't have a religious agenda. Frankly, the issue of religion has become utterly unimportant to me in recent years.


i was not implying that i think you are religious; i was rather implying that your inclination to consider space to be a self-aware ground of experience (as you describe further below) is almost certainly due, beyond any interest in mentally toying with abstractions that may be particular to you, to the instinctual passions for survival that are general to all humans born with them (save for those who have extirpated them). that the mystically-oriented among the religious happen to be similarly inclined is due to being driven by those same passions.


Bruno Loff:

But coming to the point which is the very crux around which going astray
you are assuming that a glorified aggrandisement of your sense of being (which is this very 'Emptiness') has any existence outside your imagination, which it does not.


Could be. But I do use emptiness to refer to a... hmm... thing. Well it's not a thing, it is from where phenomena arise, the medium where they "exist", and to where they return. Well, not that they return to any specific place, since that "place" where they are when they arise only exists during their manifestation, but each phenomena feels as a vibration arising and then dissolving (from, and then into emptiness). This could mean a lot of things. I could be systematically "appending" or "coupling" a second phenomenon to every phenomenon that I have. Or it could be itself not a phenomenon. I don't think it is my imagination though, since there is this sense of arising from and returning to. Not that there is any felt "place" from where stuff arises, to which I can follow when stuff passes away. It is some sort of silence, but it could be that it's simply too subtle for me to feel it. Only practice will tell for sure I guess.


what leads you to assume that this phenomenon is self-aware beyond your experience of it ... an experience which is had as a flesh-and-blood body?

tarin
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 4/5/10 3:09 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/5/10 3:09 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Tarin: what leads you to assume that this phenomenon is self-aware beyond your experience of it ... an experience which is had as a flesh-and-blood body?

I do not assume it, I was asking whether there was any trivial inconsistency in making such an assumption.

If we conclude that "no, there is no inconsistency to be found," the next question might be: is there any experiment that we could do to refute or prove such an assertion? This might very well not have an answer either. Another question which we can ask, assuming that postulating emptiness = space is consistent, is if there is any practical use in making this assumption. This, again, might not be the case.

If you where to ask "what leads you to assume that emptiness = space" in the sense of "what leads you towards the assumption that this implied concept of emptiness is the very same physical concept of space", I would say: The closest description I can come up with, for awareness, is "the place where subjective phenomena happen." Of course there might not be any such place separate from the things themselves occurring. But the way that things occur seems to "imply" such a place, and we can work with it conceptually. We could argue that it is the same thing with space. It is certainly the place where stuff happens, and we could argue that it only exists in an implied sense. What really strikes me is this enormous similarity. I don't feel the need to conclude, from this, that there is an afterlife, or that I really, deep down, won't really die.

--- with respect to religion (and unless there is some actual concrete objection to the question in this thread, I think we might as well go completely haywire emoticon) ---

My father has a very similar discourse to yours, "people came to believe religion because they feared death," which in his case also supposedly reveals the courageous, stoic attitude of the atheist, who doesn't believe in god despite the harder position this puts him in. This kind of discourse is usually accompanied by life would be so much easier, if only I believed in god, but I really can't, due to my commitment to the factual truth. I think that the actual possibility of mystical experience played a bigger role in the forming of religion than what he is willing to concede.

I take a neutral stance towards this. One could say that there is no evidence of god, or just as easily that everything is an evidence of god. Ever since reading a bit about western magick, where they promote belief-changing as an exercise (!), I've come to a different attitude towards beliefs. They are much less of a "model for the real truth," and much more of a tool to interact with the world.

As such, if I where ever to find benefits in firmly and strictly believing or not believing in god, I would do so without any remorse. Currently, my attitude is of switching between the two whenever convenient. If I am amid believers, I have no problem with using religious language, talking about god and his work, etc. Among atheists, I will have a mechanistic discourse, it's all particles, molecules, etc. I feel even more comfortable among agnostics, who don't really care one way or the other.

Summing up: (1) I favor some beliefs over others more due their practical value rather than the fear of death, and (2) I think that your discourse is a bit reductionist when describing religion as a mere byproduct of this instinctive fear. emoticon
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 4/5/10 6:23 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/5/10 6:23 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Tarin: what leads you to assume that this phenomenon is self-aware beyond your experience of it ... an experience which is had as a flesh-and-blood body?

I do not assume it, I was asking whether there was any trivial inconsistency in making such an assumption.


now you are being coy, as you have already demonstrated such an assumption quite clearly (emphases added):

Bruno Loff:

Some believe Consciousness is something which emerges from complex phenomena, in a way that feels more than the sum of its parts. It could be proposed instead that Consciousness is space, the space we live in.


Bruno Loff:

What I mean to ask is: is there any experiential incongruence or inconsistency that you can come up with in POSTULATING that "emptiness = physical space-time".

Because us mathematicians often take the position that if nothing can be found to distinct two things, then they must be one and the same :-)


--

Bruno Loff:

I do not assume it, I was asking whether there was any trivial inconsistency in making such an assumption.


once again, yes; the trivial inconsistency comes from the not-so-trivial assumption you are making about the property of awareness, or self-awareness, which you experience as part of your experience of 'Emptiness', which is that it is also a property of space independent of your experience of space, because you consider both 'Emptiness' and 'space' to be the 'place[s ] where phenomena happen', the former for subjective phenomena and the latter for objective phenomena.

has it occurred to you that subjective phenomena itself might be the 'place' where all experience (or awareness) happens?



Bruno Loff:

If we conclude that "no, there is no inconsistency to be found," the next question might be: is there any experiment that we could do to refute or prove such an assertion? This might very well not have an answer either. Another question which we can ask, assuming that postulating emptiness = space is consistent, is if there is any practical use in making this assumption.


that depends; is there much practical use in perpetuating the instinctually-fueled delusion that one (as a self-aware experience) is not (or is not merely) this body and has a (self-aware) existence independent of it?



Bruno Loff:

If you where to ask "what leads you to assume that emptiness = space" in the sense of "what leads you towards the assumption that this implied concept of emptiness is the very same physical concept of space", I would say: The closest description I can come up with, for awareness, is "the place where subjective phenomena happen." Of course there might not be any such place separate from the things themselves occurring. But the way that things occur seems to "imply" such a place, and we can work with it conceptually. We could argue that it is the same thing with space. It is certainly the place where stuff happens, and we could argue that it only exists in an implied sense.


yet from this, we find no basis whatsoever to argue that experience (or awareness), merely by being 'the place where subjective phenomena happen', is also the place where physical phenomena occur irrespective of a subjective experience of them... that is, space.



Bruno Loff:

What really strikes me is this enormous similarity. I don't feel the need to conclude, from this, that there is an afterlife, or that I really, deep down, won't really die.


perhaps you don't feel the need to conclude that because you already have? to wit: if 'Emptiness' as you experience it is a fundamental, omnipresent, and irrevocable property of what exists, then you really, deep down, won't really die.

on the other hand, how does considering the enormous dissimilarity between the state of the universe experiencing itself and the state of the universe not experiencing itself strike you?



Bruno Loff:

--- with respect to religion (and unless there is some actual concrete objection to the question in this thread, I think we might as well go completely haywire emoticon) ---


as long as you continue to miss the actual concrete objections which have been made to the proposal you put forth in the form of the question beginning this thread, you may as well (go completely haywire).


Bruno Loff:

My father has a very similar discourse to yours, "people came to believe religion because they feared death," which in his case also supposedly reveals the courageous, stoic attitude of the atheist, who doesn't believe in god despite the harder position this puts him in. This kind of discourse is usually accompanied by life would be so much easier, if only I believed in god, but I really can't, due to my commitment to the factual truth. I think that the actual possibility of mystical experience played a bigger role in the forming of religion than what he is willing to concede.


there is a vast difference between the rhetoric of those who pay lip service to a commitment to the factual truth (and profess to standing up to the fear of death) and the matter-of-fact testimony of those who have not merely made such a commitment but have actually carried it out (and thus no longer experience fear, whether of death or anything else, entirely). being that i am of the latter category, i cannot agree with him that 'life would be so much easier, if only I believed in god'; being completely absent of fear, i am completely absent of stress, and thus my life is easier than i had ever known previously, or have ever seen it be for anyone else who was possessed of the slightest of fear and thus the slightest of stress.

and unlike your father, i am well-acquainted with mystical experiences, so i am in a position to agree with you that they probably did play a huge role in the forming of religion. however, i will go further and also claim that they did so because genetically-endowed survival instincts glorified the content of those experiences, giving rise to such assumptions as the one you put forth about it making sense that space be self-aware.


Bruno Loff:

I take a neutral stance towards this. One could say that there is no evidence of god, or just as easily that everything is an evidence of god. Ever since reading a bit about western magick, where they promote belief-changing as an exercise (!), I've come to a different attitude towards beliefs. They are much less of a "model for the real truth," and much more of a tool to interact with the world.


given both what you write here, as well as what you wrote earlier in a previous post (about whether there is any inconsistency in postulating that emptiness is space):

Bruno Loff:

I was not [...] (2) suggesting that any answer of Yes or No is in any way helpful to attain realization, or that (3) it might have any practical implications otherwise.


then it seems your question about whether space and the experience of emptiness are the same or not was not asked in order to have a 'model for the real truth', nor to attain realisation, nor to discover and address any practical implications its answer may have. what, then, is the purpose of the inquiry?

tarin
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 6:11 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 6:11 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts

once again, yes; the trivial inconsistency comes from the not-so-trivial assumption you are making about the property of awareness, or self-awareness, which you experience as part of your experience of 'Emptiness', which is that it is also a property of space independent of your experience of space, because you consider both 'Emptiness' and 'space' to be the 'place[s ] where phenomena happen', the former for subjective phenomena and the latter for objective phenomena.

has it occurred to you that subjective phenomena itself might be the 'place' where all experience (or awareness) happens?


Actually it has, but only after this very long discussion, and it was certainly not the way I thought about it. That sentence pretty much changed my conceptual understanding of awareness. It slowly dawned on me when Daniel wrote


However, what can't be found is some infinite potential beyond an implied one, and one can't find an "Emptiness" in the sense of some grand pervasive extra whatever, as this is an added concept to the space, regardless of whether we describe space as either implied by sensations or actually there. Regardless of either of those views, there is no additional thing called "Emptiness" that anyone can find that adds anything to the facts of space manifesting, however we wish to view it or talk about it.

... and now this was very clearly stated in your question (my emphasis). This is very interesting, and it does seem to spin the question upside down, as well as completely change the way I conceptualize awareness. Very interesting indeed.

Let me see if I got your objection clearly: "emptiness = space" doesn't really make sense because there is no actual "thing" that can be called emptiness, which we could equate with space. Instead, awareness of a phenomenon is really the phenomenon itself, rather than a supposedly self-existing place or background "where" the phenomenon occurs.

Did I manage to explain it correctly? Of course, the same could be conjectured about "space", but that is certainly not the way physicists think about it. In mathematics, we deal with "entities," and a "space" is such an entity or object, in particular the relativistic geometry for spacetime is a clearly defined and conceptually delimited "thing."

With regard to fear of death and stress, and so on, what you say makes a lot of sense. Of course your position is very different from my father's. Also, it could very well be that my motivations for asking such a question arise from fear of death, and until I am, as you describe, free from all fear, who knows? emoticon

But like I mentioned, I do have a taste for philosophizing, ever since I was very little, and if I where to narrow down the major reason for this inquiry, I would say for the pleasure that from it we may derive. I am certainly having fun, I hope you are too emoticon

Bruno
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 10:58 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 10:58 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:

once again, yes; the trivial inconsistency comes from the not-so-trivial assumption you are making about the property of awareness, or self-awareness, which you experience as part of your experience of 'Emptiness', which is that it is also a property of space independent of your experience of space, because you consider both 'Emptiness' and 'space' to be the 'place[s ] where phenomena happen', the former for subjective phenomena and the latter for objective phenomena.

has it occurred to you that subjective phenomena itself might be the 'place' where all experience (or awareness) happens?


Actually it has, but only after this very long discussion, and it was certainly not the way I thought about it. That sentence pretty much changed my conceptual understanding of awareness. It slowly dawned on me when Daniel wrote


However, what can't be found is some infinite potential beyond an implied one, and one can't find an "Emptiness" in the sense of some grand pervasive extra whatever, as this is an added concept to the space, regardless of whether we describe space as either implied by sensations or actually there. Regardless of either of those views, there is no additional thing called "Emptiness" that anyone can find that adds anything to the facts of space manifesting, however we wish to view it or talk about it.

... and now this was very clearly stated in your question (my emphasis). This is very interesting, and it does seem to spin the question upside down, as well as completely change the way I conceptualize awareness. Very interesting indeed.


this same issue, which was the first of the two points i have attempted to make, was also touched on in another exchange we had earlier in this thread:

the prisoner greco:

Bruno Loff:

(let's put aside for the time being that what is experienced is also emptiness).


you may be better off understanding that what is experienced *is* emptiness (and not 'also' emptiness).


the other point i will get into directly below:


Bruno Loff:

Let me see if I got your objection clearly: "emptiness = space" doesn't really make sense because there is no actual "thing" that can be called emptiness, which we could equate with space. Instead, awareness of a phenomenon is really the phenomenon itself, rather than a supposedly self-existing place or background "where" the phenomenon occurs.


it is both ('the phenomenon itself' and a 'place [...] "where" the phenomenon occurs'), which is why awareness of a phenomenon is not the same thing as the phenomenon without an awareness of it.

hence, a distinction can be made between that which is the universe experiencing itself and that which is the universe not experiencing itself (but going about other business anyway). an example of the latter is a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it.


Bruno Loff:

With regard to fear of death and stress, and so on, what you say makes a lot of sense. Of course your position is very different from my father's. Also, it could very well be that my motivations for asking such a question arise from fear of death, and until I am, as you describe, free from all fear, who knows? emoticon


the motivation for a great many number of things arises from that fear and stress, and as you are the only one who can do anything about eliminating it, any certainty which anyone else may have about your motivations is unlikely to serve you much or well. put simply, to be served well here is purely a matter of intent; one's intent is like a blade (such as a kitchen knife), and the results are dependent on how one keeps it, how one wields it, and to what one applies it. if one keeps it well-honed (by knowing clearly the condition of a well-honed - or pure - intent), wields it well (with the skill that comes from the familiarity of wielding it continuously with that intent), and applies its wield to suitable things (such as the pursuit of imminent perfection - which means a perfection which is concrete, down-to-earth, and here and now), then the results immediately forthcoming will be characteristically indicative of a life without fear and and stress and can serve as a compass, or a path, guiding one to more of the same, and eventually to the condition wherein one lives this way permanently.

it is not actually all that difficult, and very simple once one gets started.

Bruno Loff:

But like I mentioned, I do have a taste for philosophizing, ever since I was very little, and if I where to narrow down the major reason for this inquiry, I would say for the pleasure that from it we may derive. I am certainly having fun, I hope you are too emoticon


of course.. and enhancing my pleasure in corresponding about this is the satisfaction of having taken the the drive to philosophise to the field wholeheartedly, rendering both realisation and practical implication, and resulting in a concrete, down-to-earth, here and now kind of freedom wherein i am simply never, ever disturbed or upset about anything; consequently, i have all the time in the world (a literal eternity) to enjoy it.

tarin
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 11:35 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/6/10 11:32 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
"such as the pursuit of imminent perfection - which means a perfection which is concrete, down-to-earth, and here and now"

That sounds very cool, but somewhat apart from what I've been reading... some descriptions of (perfected) samadhi are a bit like this. What kind of practice are you talking about? (I do know that dzogchen is called "the great perfection" but I'm not really sure if that's what you're referring to) Or was the knife thing the description of the practice? ;-) You keep throwing these yummy-looking descriptions such as "no-fear," "no-stress," "imminent perfection."
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 6:40 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 6:40 PM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
"such as the pursuit of imminent perfection - which means a perfection which is concrete, down-to-earth, and here and now"

That sounds very cool, but somewhat apart from what I've been reading... some descriptions of (perfected) samadhi are a bit like this. What kind of practice are you talking about? (I do know that dzogchen is called "the great perfection" but I'm not really sure if that's what you're referring to) Or was the knife thing the description of the practice? ;-) You keep throwing these yummy-looking descriptions such as "no-fear," "no-stress," "imminent perfection."


'the knife thing' was a (very bare) description of the practice i would advocate to someone who wants to achieve the literally fear-less, stress-less, actual (and no longer merely imminent) perfection i referred to above, which itself is not a practice but a state permanently arrived to. the details of the practice required for arriving to this state may be largely idiosyncratic but i have attempted to outline a generic skeletal structure for it with this chart:

http://i39.tinypic.com/qn33wi.jpg

i don't know enough about dzogchen to comment with certainty on whether it is what i am referring to or not, but i think it is unlikely, unless dzogchen proponents can claim that its practice leads to a permanent state which is entirely fear-less and stress-less and which requires no effort/concentration/samadhi whatsoever to maintain (and can substantiate this claim).

tarin
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Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 4:00 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 4:00 AM

RE: Is emptiness = space?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Haha I loved the diagram, particularly the two different "OK"s :-D Seems like a good idea, and I will apply it.

It does sound interestingly close to mahamudra/dzogchen. From my little understanding of the more advanced mahamudra practices, they are designed to produce a permanent state of mind, of complete stability and non-distractedness. This is called "the state the realized mind stays," or some such. This might also be the same thing as ("parana" or "ultimate") samadhi. All of these states are described as being permanent and sustained effortlessly, a sort of constant, effortless non-distractedness.

(References are, wrt. samadhi, "The attention revolution" by B. Allan Wallace; wrt. mahamudra technique leading to samadhi, "Pointing out the great way" by Daniel P. Brown)

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