Is there an absolute reality?

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Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: garyrh
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

I have started this thread due to and interesting discussion that got off topic in the "Imagine" thread. The thread is here http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/1120626/Imagine.

It occurred to me that the posing of the question "Is there an absolute reality?" strikes at the core what enlightment seeks to answer, hence I have started this thread for discussion.

From a dual perspective one will argue reality from the point of view of the observer or object. If you take the observers perspective there is no absolute reality. If you take the objects perspective there is an true reality to be discovered out there. From a non-dual perspective there is no reality.

The dual / non dual concept is simple but if overlooked can be the basis for a lot of confusion.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Hi Gary,
Thanks for starting this thread. I'm interested to see what people think about this.

As for me, I would state the non-dual position differently from your formulation, which was:
"From a non-dual perspective there is no reality"
...as I would put it this way instead:
"From a non-dual perspective there is only Reality."

This may seem like a rather grand and abstractly philosophical position, of course. But it does have practical ramifications for one's mode of Dharma practice.

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

Hi Gozen,

I am questioning whether the reality you descibe "really" exists?
Tell me something about this reality beyond the fact that it is an "ultimate reality" (whereby the word is defining itself).

For example you could start by answering whether there are any observers or objects?

Thanks
Gary
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Hi Gary,
There is a luminous field of unbroken light. There is one mind or being or person. Unbroken light and one mind are not-two. Only One.

This is Reality.

We may feel that we are not part of this Reality, that we are separate from it. You know how we can feel "I'm just some guy and my life sucks but what can I do about it?" That sense of loneliness. It might even feel more extreme, with feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

That is the felt sense of separateness or duality. We might call it "only two."

How does one get from "only two" to Only One?

Philosophy alone won't do it. The forms of practice described here on Dharma Overground (and elsewhere too, of course) that have been developed over millennia for precisely this purpose have been proven to work, to heal the **apparent** split so that the always present Reality becomes one's own.

By "one's own" I mean this: Non-dual Reality becomes as plain and obvious as the nose in front of your face. No question about it. No doubt. Just This.

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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It really depends what you call "reality" or even "absolute reality." Using "reality" in this context is mostly fine, because people probably have a pretty good idea what you're asking, but at the same time, it can cause confusion that may impede practice or imbalance a person's humanity in numerous ways.

If I may be so bold, I think the question you are really asking is this: "is there a more fundamental way of perceiving the world that can be attained by anyone,?" Or possibly "what is the most fundamental or "pure" way of seeing the world?" These go along well with the discussions you'll find on DhO.

The question of "REAL-ity" is a whole nother can of worms. One of many positions you could take on this would be to say that "anything which is causal is real, and is therefore part of an individual or group's reality." That covers many bases, but is not flawless either.

Anyhow, the disconnect between Gozen and myself during our discussion is, I believe, akin to the difference in these two sets of questions I briefly mentioned here.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

Hi Gozen,

I am mindful of making this too academic so I am happy to hear the ramifications for Dharma practice of holding a position that there is no ultimate reality.

To continue the discussion the most obvious questions I have:-

To the mind being or person you speak of; what makes this Reality more "real" than another?
To the dreamer dreaming is their reality less real than an awake reality?
Of the various awake realities is one more real than another?
If all is one (and not one of unity) how and in what manner does this "ultimate reality" exist without an observer?

When one wakes up one does not say I am more awake now than I was when I was asleep. You are simply just awake and the dreams are gone!

Thanks
Gary
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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I always find it helpful to define terms. The word "ultimate" comes from the Latin "ultimare," which means "to be final, come to an end."

Although anything experienced is arguably real, this "ultimate" word can give a direction to our discussion. I believe it was Jed McKenna who wrote that ultimate reality "is that which cannot be further reduced." This is useful; if we move in the direction of simplicity, on the assumption that true wisdom is simple, what is the simplest thing? I think of it as going upstream. Things get simpler and simpler until you finally arrive at the source. You cannot go further upstream than the source, so you have arrived at the simplest thing. What does that look like? Of course, each of us must find out. Meanwhile, it is sometimes helpful to suspend disbelief and entertain the possibility that those who have gone before us might be telling the truth about what they found there. The consensus is, as Gozen points out, "not two."

This in no way negates the importance of chopping wood and carrying water. Indeed, having deeply internalized the ultimate reality of not-two, there is nothing left to do but get out the axe and the bucket.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

Hi Kenneth,

If we go with the idea we are heading for a "not two" reality, can you elaborate on what becomes final or what comes to an end?
Can you not say your view of reality as real comes to and end, hence there is no "real" ity?

Thanks
Gary
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Hi Gary,

I wouldn't necessarily say that we are "going for" a not-two reality, but just that that is where we end up if we follow our own minds upstream. You could challenge my initial assumption, i.e., that we are looking for the simplest thing, and you'd have a good case. After all, why should we value simplicity over complexity. But all of that is very theoretical. For whatever reason, mystical practice does seem to lead inexorably upstream, and "ultimately" reaches the source.

I wouldn't say that your view of reality comes to an end. It just gets more realistic, ha, ha. And more integrative. The ten thousand things are seen as not other than the unitive whole. So, "ultimately" there is no conflict between ultimate and relative reality.

Kenneth
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Well, this is the best part. "It knows itself." No observer is necessary. In fact, the apparent observer of our everyday experience is an extra bit, superimposed on the unitive whole for what reason no one knows. That's part of the fun, I suppose. But when the sense of observer goes away, there is still knowing. So knowing never goes away. If it did, you wouldn't know about it. :-)
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

This is about as an absolute a reality as you are going to get emoticon. So I'll go with the consensus until, I, in reality know otherwise.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

Certainly adds a new twist to "know thyself". I guess the unitive whole also knows the apparent observer and maybe that's why we are motivated on this path.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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I think of it as like a mist of the subtlest oil that permeates everything and knows. It takes a while to chart how much all it knows.

MN 1 Mulapariyaya Sutta The Root Sequence
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Hi Gary,
After Kenneth's most useful replies to the questions you directed to me, I could simply say "Yes!" and let it go at that. However, I'll take a crack at direct responses to your questions as well:

Q1: To the mind being or person you speak of; what makes this Reality more "real" than another?
A1: I used the terms "mind or being or person" to stand for what we otherwise could call Primordial Awareness. This is not an individual mind or person, but the Universal Consciousness that underlies all minds and beings and persons. We are each particularized instances of Primordial Awareness (struggling to know Itself).

Q2: To the dreamer dreaming is their reality less real than an awake reality?
A2: All experiences are real. A dream, a day at work, a flight in higher realms, bliss without sensory components, are all real experiences. What is unreal is the typical belief by the experiencer that he or she is identical to the experience itself. Just as in meditative inquiry we need to "penetrate the object" to understand its impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and essential emptiness, so we must also penetrate ALL experience itself. Primordial Awareness is not an experience, nor does it depend on conditions for its existence. So its characteristics are the precise **opposite** of those that pertain to experience: Primordial Awareness is permanent, satisfactory and (in a highly-restricted, most specialized sense) self-like (or we could simply refer to it as Full, rather than empty).

[continued...]
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Q3: Of the various awake realities is one more real than another?
A3: Again, I choose to use the singular, capitalized term Reality as a signifier for the Nirvanic ultimate. Clearly, however, I haven't convinced a lot of people around here to do the same ;) So, sticking with your usage, I'd say: It's not about reality; it's about you. You (meaning any individual) may be Awake to one degree or another. Reality takes care of itself. (And, in fact, to be fully Awake is to be Reality completely.)

Q4: If all is one (and not one of unity) how and in what manner does this "ultimate reality" exist without an observer?
A4: As Kenneth said "It knows itself." Remember, we are talking the language of spiritual practice here, not quantum physics. Don't confuse our terminology and usage with the Copenhagen Interpretation of collapsing the wave function through observation so in order to obtain a definite result for Schrodinger's Cat and other similar experiments. We're talking instead about what millennia of spiritual Realizers have known and taught about "what it's like" to be Awake. In our terms, the notion of a separate observer is an illusion. A persistent illusion perhaps, but one that can (and must) be "seen through." That's when OUR version of paradox (not the physicists' version) kicks in. Being Awake does not change anything in your life, but it changes everything **about** your life.

Gary: When one wakes up one does not say I am more awake now than I was when I was asleep. You are simply just awake and the dreams are gone!
Gozen: After Awakening, the dreams continue. But they are lucid dreams; you KNOW you are dreaming. And you spend enormous amounts of time trying to help others to see this too. Why do that, if it changes nothing in the dream? Because it leaves the pain but eliminates the suffering. And it makes bliss far easier to access.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Hi Gary,

Have you read Ken Wilber's "The Spectrum of Consciousness"? I think he answers a lot of the questions you have here, and in great detail. He certainly has a way with words.

It's available to read for free at Google Books...

http://books.google.com/books?id=Wvw9pzzp1C0C&printsec=frontcover

~Jackson
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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In reality one man's mushrooms are another man's medicine. This article probes the mythical mushroom patch.

To Quote:
Cosmology and meditation: from the Agganna-Sutta to the Mahayana. (Buddhism) by Rupert Gethin
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/rupert.htm

"The classic Theravada scheme of eighty-nine or 121 "consciousnesses" (citta) begins with unskillful consciousnesses at the bottom, followed by consciousnesses that concern the mechanics of bare awareness of the objects of the five senses, and then by skillful sense-sphere consciousnesses; next come the various formsphere and formless-sphere consciousnesses that constitute the jhanas, or meditation attainments; finally, we have the world-transcending (lokuttara) consciousnesses that constitute the mind at the moment of awakening itself.(30) The basic structure of this hierarchy of consciousness parallels quite explicitly the basic structure of the cosmos:"
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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I like this discussion.

Very simply and from a basic, down-to-earth, and simple point of view, these sensations now are aware where they are, and the sensations towards the apparent center that seem to be perceiving those sensations are also just aware where they are. Further, these are all transient, causal, happening on their own, natural, and ordinary.

Perceiving these simple truths directly again and again reveals the completeness of those assertions at the level of natural perception, and thus what was always true becomes obvious.

In this way, this is it. The language of ultimate reality can easily create a seeming divide between the obvious here and now and some ideal of something profound. However, it is actually something very straightforward about what is happening in ordinary, sensate reality that reveals what has been called ultimate reality and other names, and it is true that seeing this ordinary, straightforward thing about our current sensate reality is profound in its way, but one should be careful not to get to far out there with ideals about Reality and ultimate reality, and instead ground down in the simplicity of ordinary investigation of whatever happens, even esoteric things like altered states and visions, etc., all of which are just sensations manifesting now, simple, transient, aware where they are, causal, natural, etc.

In short, as others have said: practice, but practice perceiving this ordinary sensate world with great clarity, precision and inclusiveness so that these simple truths become even more directly obvious than they already are and lock in as your baseline level of perception.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Thank you, Daniel, for contributing to this discussion.

You bring the necessary balancing perspective to my talk about ultimate Reality. Listen up, folks! The danger in focusing exclusively on one side (Reality talk) or the other (many realities, all relative) is that this sort of heady debate may distract you from engaging the all-important, direct, personal practices that the Buddha (and every other genuine Teacher) enjoins upon us. You really can't "figure this stuff out" — you've got to engage the practices that transform the practitioner.

Daniel wrote:
"…the sensations towards the apparent center that seem to be perceiving those sensations are also just aware where they are. Further, these are all transient, causal, happening on their own, natural, and ordinary."

The sensations towards the apparent center are the process that **seems** to imply the presence of an ego entity. No such entity exists. However, the process is real enough, just as the sensations are. And these in themselves are aware. But they are fleeting, lacking in self-nature (i.e., they are caused by conditions), occurring as the result of natural processes, and completely ordinary.

In fact, even Bodhi (Enlightenment, Awakening, Realization) is completely ordinary, even though it is not conditioned or transient. How could it be otherwise, when it is just natural, and not fundamentally separate or different from anything else?

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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allow me to add my two cents on this excellent discussion. but first, just wanted to say that i'm coming from this from a non-experiential perspective. in short, it's a conceptual view which i find very useful. then again, since we're using language, we can only discuss concepts and whatever we say about "ultimate reality" is not that. neti, neti as the old wisdom tradition would say emoticon

from a scientific perspective, i think using quantum model in describing ultimate reality is very useful. Shinzen Young's description is especially very insightful for me. here's how it goes...

in our current understanding of quantum physics, "reality" (e.g. light) has two different behaviors: as a particle, and as a wave. in Shinzen's lingo our awareness (or consciousness) also has these two qualities. however, most people are stuck at the "particulate" sense of self. meditation practice is one approach to experience the "wave" nature of the self. enlightened beings are those who can shift awareness between the "particulate" and "wave" nature of self, at will. however, there is still one step in the "reduction" into ultimate reality, and this is when the "waves" cancel each other out. i believe that this is the "cessation", the unborn, Nirvana, God, or whatever name we want to call it.

that said, Shinzen doesn't makes claim on the "ultimate" reality of the objective. this is only true for our subjective experience. in short, this is the ultimate view of reality from the first person. that's why some mystics could only describe it as "I am That".

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Author: garyrh

C4chaos - I would like to restate your "non-experiential perspective" qualification here, these conceptual discussions are not for everyone but I too find them helpful.

Earlier I considered all realities required an observer and therefore reasoned there could not be an ultimate reality in the objective. This view of no reality didn't fit the way things actually are and I then reasoned that reality requires a knower and not an aparent observer. "I am That" makes sense when there is a "knower" and no apparent observer.

Meanwhile do two enlightened beings experience the reality of the objective or the subjective? If we go with the subjective their reality is refined to know "their ultimate reality", if we go with the objective this whole universe is one big "knower".

Meanwhile it is back to practice so I can get the answeremoticon
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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good point. however, based on my conceptual understanding of "ultimate reality", as expressed by those who have experienced it, "ultimate reality" can never be described precisely because there is no observer nor a thing being observed (e.g. total cessation of perception and the thing being perceived). we can only describe the "after glow" or "trail of glory" of that ultimate reality. that's why nondual sages could only express it in a "neti, neti" (not this, not that) approach. in short, anything we could say about it is at best a pointer, a concept. and the best way to understand its ultimate essence is to experience it in the first person.

at least that's my understanding of whatever it is emoticon

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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That's why it is the reality territory of mindful approach that is carefully investigated because what I call the "words fail" points are what they are, self explanatory but non-verbalizable. Nature of the unbeast. heh. So never take the 'this can't be understood' approach. It can and must be understood rightly. Step by step. Which is great if you think about it.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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c4chaos above refers to the "ultimate reality" described by the term Fruition, in which everything vanishes and reappears, which is not as interesting to discuss as the "ultimate reality" of the sensate world, as described above in various posts.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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actually, why are cessations considered a kind of ultimate reality? i dont get this. it just seems to be something that helps break duality, or like an aftershock of duality being broken or something.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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These are designated by tradition as much as anything else, thought I suppose I see their point. It is really just conceptual designations for things that are as they are, and it doesn't matter so much what you call them, just so long as people achieve them.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Further, Fruition is designated as ultimate to distinguish it from the "relative" attainments such as the formless realms to help practitioners who are working on stream entry. It also has something seemingly transcendent about it, as the non-experience is clearly beyond conditions, though its setup clearly is not. Further, it does somehow continue to write something good on the mind, and its entrance and exit hint at something extremely profound happening to reality and subject/object that smacks of ultimate truth. Thus, these designations are not all that bad as things like this go.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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I'll try to put it a simple way. Most people are a mystery unto themselves, largely an unknown. To learn you, right observations of you must be made rightly. All of the knowns are examined on the sensate and physical levels. Functions are observed and probed until there is a comprehensive awareness of the available forms of consciousness and sensate conditions. Then these conditions of awareness are deselected in one manner or another in favor of more simplified and limited known conditions. When all of the necessary conditions are well accounted for and deselected from attention they all cease arising together. Being stops on a whole bunch of levels at once. That is one level of a functionally adequate full self accounting. Then the whole investigation continues again in greater detail with the newly sharpened minds eye. Gnosis then wants to happen on it's own. It finally relaxes on full awakening.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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yeah, agree with all those points. i guess im just dissatisfied with the 'ultimate' label. it seems to inevitably lead to language tossery, and a dogma builds up about how it cant be spoken about, etc.

actually, applying the ultimate reality label to anything seems to do that.. even when you turn around say 'it is just things as they are, sensations as they are', then folks just go ahead and codify and revere that, and things that seem to have significance or be special are shunned like poor unwanted bastard sensations.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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Yes, "absolute" and "reality" don't go very well together, even for the rare awakened individual. Instead of "absolute", there is therefore "ultimate" as that which remains when everything is recognized to be contingent, dependently arisen etc., then there is "fundamental" as that which makes appearances be recognized as mere appearances etc. The traditional term was "lokuttara" meaning beyond the world [of dualistic appearances], i.e. transcendent, but Mahayana replaced that notion with "paramartha" or the "highest meaning" usually used with "satya" meaning truth, or simple that which is (sat). Another way to express this is "non-relative", and I find it quiet useful, since even some pretty profound experiential layers (such as bhavanga or alaya-vijnana accessed in dhyana) are still only relative, conditioned, non-ultimate. Further on, the term suchness or thusness (tathata) comes closest to conceptual neutrality, evoking a transparency, serving as a pointer and an activating signifier, inviting one to experience and understand for oneself, firsthand.

The problem with "ultimate" and "absolute" is definitely in their being easily constructed as something apart from what one is and knows at this very moment, or any moment. Still, there is a moment when only That remains.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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again the trouble in discussing anything "ultimate" or "absolute" is the limitation inherent in language. the moment we say something we're already in the relative "space". nothing wrong with that, as long as we're aware of the limitation.

that said, i find the Buddhist two-truths doctrine to be very useful: "absolute" and "relative" truths.

for the sake of discussion i'll riff on Kenneth's definition of "ultimate" which means that it *cannot* be further reduced. with this definition "ultimate" can only be assigned to the "absolute" truth (in which the subjective perspective is "Fruition").

"relative" truth is the never-ending forms (or formless) manifestations wherein the only constant "thing" are the three qualities: impermanence, suffering, no-self (which i prefer to roll up into one: just impermanence). and this is the beauty of the Buddhist notion of "dependent origination" or "interdependence".

the two truths doctrine are paradoxical, similar to the quantum qualities in string theory (e.g. light behaving as wave *and/or* particle). personally, i'm no longer bogged down by this conceptual paradox. what i'm lacking at the moment is the *conscious* experience.

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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no man thats not what he's talking about (fruition). what ken likes to call 'the simplest thing' is right here right now, not off in the non-experience of cessation, nor metaphysical abstractions about it. see, this misunderstanding is a clear example of why im not into calling fruitions 'ultimate' - cos they get confused with 'things as they are' and that leads to the idea that phenomenal experience can be 'reduced' into some kinda nothingness, which is *not* what vipassana is about.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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actually, i was riffing on what Kenneth and Daniel had mentioned on previous posts in this thread. this is an exact quote from Kenneth which i riffed on:

" I believe it was Jed McKenna who wrote that ultimate reality "is that which cannot be further reduced." This is useful; if we move in the direction of simplicity, on the assumption that true wisdom is simple, what is the simplest thing? I think of it as going upstream. Things get simpler and simpler until you finally arrive at the source. You cannot go further upstream than the source, so you have arrived at the simplest thing. What does that look like? Of course, each of us must find out. "

what does it look like? to answer that, one must experience "fruition" first-hand. well, at least that's my understanding. but in case my understanding is wrong, i'm more than happy to be corrected emoticon

in any case, the great Ramana Maharshi even went further: "That which is not present in deep dreamless sleep is not real."

i'm still chewing on that emoticon

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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yeah he's not talking about fruition there, he means the simplest thing - things as they are, sensations as they are, uncomplicated by the knot of dualistic perception, subject/object suffering, centrehood, etc. which is to say not the world's absence but its immediacy.

..helpful?
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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yes, helpful. but it still doesn't (and it won't) resolve the paradox of the nondual take on "reality." such as the Ramana Maharshi quote i've added above emoticon

what's your take on that?

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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The state of deep dreamless sleep is the same state as deep meditation. Primordial awareness for a practitioner is potential in both.

Ramana was hard-core about this. He also reported that, in the years before his Realization, he slept a lot and also sleepwalked. I suspect that these phenomena were indications that his neurology was naturally favorable for the type of spontaneous spiritual unfoldment he displayed later.

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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@c4chaos: "actually, i was riffing on what Kenneth and Daniel had mentioned on previous posts in this thread. this is an exact quote from Kenneth which i riffed on:

" I believe it was Jed McKenna who wrote that ultimate reality "is that which cannot be further reduced." This is useful; if we move in the direction of simplicity, on the assumption that true wisdom is simple, what is the simplest thing?"

If you've not seen Genpo Roshi's facilitation series on "Big Mind", you might find it useful - I thought it was very well done at a simple level: http://www.youtube.com/user/BigMindNetwork. It gave me a much better perspective on what it all boils down to.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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thanks for bringing up the "Big Mind" process. i actually participated in one of the Big Mind workshops. it's very different from traditional Zen or Theravada style. it incorporates a "psychotherapeutic" technique called voice dialogue which is not done in traditional meditation.

as i understand it, the "technique" of the Big Mind process is to *shift* to different aspects (or "personalities") of our awareness (e.g. controller, protector, damaged child, etc.) and then eventually shift to the non-seeking mind (aka the Big Mind).
i try to incorporate this in my daily sitting in conjunction with affirmation. for example, i mentally say "let me talk to the non-seeking non-grasping mind" before i sit in meditation.

i've heard of people who swear by the effectiveness of this technique (e.g. takes them directly to Big Mind). however, i have yet to prove its effectiveness on myself. probably because of my very thick skull. will keep an open mind though emoticon

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

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hmm.. i dont know what my take on it is. right after i got 2nd path, i was conscious in deep dreamless sleep a lot, like pretty much all the time, but that stopped when i started getting into new territory a week later. i talked to an arahant about that who said yeah that happened for him too, and it came in cycles.

regarding sri ramana, you should remember that he was a concentration master as well as lived a hermetic lifestyle. so unless all our board arahants agree that being awake in deep sleep is their constant experience at all times, i'd just chalk that up to being an idiosyncratic trait and not necessarily indicative of anything. and actually, i dont really understand how the quote was related to the conversation. how is looking for something in deep dreamless sleep (instead of, say, a fruition) a way of seeing things as they are, or the simplest thing? as far as i know it, the reduction that ken was talking about isn't a reduction in strata of mind.
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
C4chaos and Theprisonergreco,

This is good. We are defining our terms. Daniel and I have spent years defining, refining, and re-defining terms so that we can communicate precisely about dharma. We still spend much of each dharma conversation trying to agree on terminology. Language is the only tool we have to share our thoughts and experiences, so time spent working on language is eminently worthwhile. I’m glad we’re talking about this now.

Let’s establish two different ways to experience the absolute:

1. To see everything as one.
2. To see one thing as all.

Another way to say the same thing:

1. To go downstream into complexity, and see it all at once (Daniel’s favorite).
2. To go upstream, to the source, before the split occurs (my favorite).

The prisoner is correct that by “the simplest thing,” I do not mean cessation/fruition, as defined by the Mahasi school. I’m talking about being wide awake; the simplest thing is aware of being seen. But I’m not talking about # 1, as stated above. I’m talking about # 2. (By numbering them in this way, I am not establishing a hierarchy. They are equal in profundity. They are ultimately the same.)

Imagine being in a river delta, with all of the various strands of the river extending into the distance. The river appears complex. In order to see the unity of it, you’d have to take a very broad perspective; maybe you’d get in a spaceship and look down on the entire river, including the source, the main channel, and all its tributaries. This is seeing everything as one.

(continued below)
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
(continued from above)

Alternatively, you could follow any one of the strands of the river upstream. Eventually they would merge into one channel. Farther upstream still, you find the source. At the source, the river has not yet diverged; it is one. This is seeing one thing as all.

It’s the same river, either way. The simplest thing is a perspective. You look at your experience before it splits into self and other. This is primordial awareness. Everything arises from it and passes cleanly away into it, leaving not a trace. It’s always present, but we are distracted by the apparent complexity of the downstream phenomena. To see the simplest thing, you simply follow your own mind upstream.

Kenneth
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
Kenneth,

thanks for the definition. glad that you clarified this because we'll just end up in circles without proper context.

in my posts on this thread, my context has always been your definition #2.

"2. To go upstream, to the source, before the split occurs (my favorite)."

this is similar to going back to simplicity. meaning, this is a process of "reduction". the reason i prefer this perspective is that it is the same approach of objective science and theoretical physics (e.g. reduction from cells, to molecules, to atoms, to quantum packets, strings, and who knows what). if we go in the other direction, then it becomes a "transcend and include" context.

in theoretical physics, a theory of "everything" is an equation which could fully explain and link together all known physical phenomena. so far, we've got M-Theory (or string theory) as the prime candidate (good luck with that emoticon) for physicists this is the description of the nature of physical (or objective)reality, whether we agree with them or not. on my part, i prefer to riff in parallel with the scientific context of reality. hence, my previous posts.

this is the reason why i like vipassana because it is science-like. it's a process of (subjective) reduction: reduction of sensory phenomena into their separate components (touch, sight, sound, feel, etc...). when viewed this way, then what is the best description of ultimate reality then? (for sure it's not an elegant mathematical equation emoticon) Shinzen Young describes it as the polarity of (positive and negative) "waves" canceling each other out: "the zero" which is nothing but contains everything. now, you guys tell me what corresponds to this in the Theravada developmental map emoticon

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: garyrh

Hi Kenneth,

Thanks for this clarification.

Can you expand on the "other" here, is it all other perceptions other than the "apparent self"? What perceptions are there not thru the "apparent self" when down stream past the apparent self ?
If we go up stream to where there is no "apparent self" from where does your experience come from? - Is it from the primordial awareness so at the point of the "apparent self" no other layers exist?

Is the vertical path all done at the moment there is no "apparent self"?
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Gary,

When you are doing vipassana practice, focus closely on an obvious sound, like the ticking of a clock in the room. Give all of your attention to the click each time it comes around. Pay very close attention to the "click" and your reaction to the click. Keep this up for as long as you can until you can sense the delay between the "first click" and the mental echo which indicates "oh, there was a click."

No matter how quickly you try to react to the "actual click," the mental, linguistic echo WILL always lag behind the "actual click." The first click has no meaning, because you have not impressed meaning upon it. The first click is absolutely, utterly empty. It is only "the known." The mental-echo, which is composed of linguistic elements (picture, sound) is where duality arises.

I am not sure if you can sense this right now or not, to be honest, but the further realized one becomes (and the better your concentration) the more obvious this pre-impressed ground becomes. It may help to think about these two phenomena as being two different strata of consciousness-- a "pre-cognized, non-dual" consciousness, and a "relative, linguistic" consciousness. One is much more subtle than the other, and penetration of that most fundamental level is arhatship. Of course, there are many more strata than these-- it is just a conceptual tool.

Also, for the philosophers out there, the "actual click" is what Derrida called "the first guess," and the mental-echo/language-impression/relative-world is what he called "the second guess." I like the words he used. The "actual click" and the "mental echo" are technically not separable. You always take two guesses, the "second guess" simply has relative context, whereas the "first guess" is of absolute nature.

Helpful?
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
that's exactly how Ken Wilber describes it: "Kosmos is built of perspectives." he even created an Integral Mathematics of Primordial Perspectives. very geeky.
see http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/appendix-B.cfm

still, others like Deepak Chopra would say that Consciousness is primary.

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
You're correct that being aware in deep dreamless sleep is not always the case for anyone, whatever their level of attainment. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes--most of the time--it doesn't.

And you're right again to dismiss the notion that one should be "looking for something in deep dreamless sleep." First of all, there is no "thing" to be found there. Second, the only possible discovery in dreamless sleep is realization of one who "looks". In other words, I am pointing to the possibility of Fruition occuring in dreamless sleep. I know of only one person who ever reported such an event. I would have been sketpical of her report except that her Teacher (who was also mine) confirmed her Awakening.

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
Just to add a bit of Zen to Yabaxoule's excellent posting here: There is a Chinese Zen [Ch'an] term for this primary "thing" ("first click" in Yaba's example), which translates as "pre-word." It is a sort of tacit, preverbal knowledge before words and concepts arise, in which the knower and the known are continuous, non-separate, non-dual, or just simply One.

Gozen
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
serendipitously, i was just listening to Christine Skarda's talk on "Perception's Illusion: The Origin of Suffering". this is the audio of her talk -- http://bit.ly/VtQwq --- on "Religion and Cognitive Science" conference at UC Berkeley - see also http://bit.ly/HCkfj

Skarda is a theoretical neuroscientist and a Buddhist nun (student of HHDL). see http://www.christineskarda.com/ - her story is fascinating and similar in ways with Ken Wilber and Shinzen Young.
check it out on Buddhadharma - http://bit.ly/mC9Ih

quotable quote: "There are no gaps. There is nothing to bridge. Reality is a seamless web."

enjoy.

here's to the seamless web!

~C
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Serendipitously, as you are fond of saying ~C, I just today read the free-ebook by Skarda.

http://www.heumanwrites.com/christineskarda/pdf/The_Perceptual_Form_of_Life_%20ebook.pdf
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RE: Is there an absolute reality?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
dang. that's too much serendipity already coz i'm actually reading it now emoticon good stuff!

~C

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