The Three Doors of Liberation - Emptiness, Signlessnes and Aimlessness

Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

The Three Doors of Liberation - Emptiness, Signlessnes and Aimlessness

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi all

Following a hunch I came across an alternate description of the Three Doors which Thich Nhat Hanh talks about (at least all the references to them so far that I've seen are from him) rather differently to Daniels coverage in MCTB.

The Culavedalla Sutta from the Pali Canon describes them in those terms so theoretically it's not a Mahayana view as opposed to a Theravada one.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html

Anyway in these terms, signlessness and aimlessness make a lot more sense to me than impermanence and suffering.

Are these really just different ways to describe the same things, or is there a more fundamental difference here eg descriptions guided by solid practice vs translation error or insistance on dogma?

Perhaps someone with experience into these matters can shed some light on this? I hope other people may also find this topic helpful to look at these fundamental aspects of reality in a new light.

Craig
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: The Three Doors of Liberation - Emptiness, Signlessnes and Aimless

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Oh I thought I should add a bit more for those unfamiliar with this terminology.

Aimlessness is apparently also translated as wishlessness, and refers to knowing that nothing needs to be done, that in one sense everything is OK just the way it is. No urgency to be something other than what you are. Does motivation to be enlightened count? You bet it does. This is why some talk about the end of seeking.

Signlessness refers to the sign we "see" not truly being the thing itself.

Finally Joan Halifax translates emptiness as boundlessness, which I haven't explored yet since I'm on lunch at work but I thought I'd drop in the discussion to muddy the waters further emoticon

Here is a google books link on what Thich Nhat Hanh has to say about the topic in "Understanding Our Mind":

http://tinyurl.com/esa-oh-my

[edit: to make this page wrap properly!]
Craig
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: The Three Doors of Liberation - Emptiness, Signlessnes and Aimless

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Yo.

I'm not at all familiar with his works, but they seem like separate things. Signless sort of alludes to no-self, but I would not draw that conclusion. Signless/Aimless seem in line as a "non-dual" school. If that is the case, they will differ fundamentally simply by their emphasis on the subject (rather than the Theravada focus on the object). That's not to say they aren't useful, though. I've heard a lot of people speak highly of his works and the non-dual teachings have loads to offer us.

Trying to draw parallels to other tradition's lexicons, and even the lexicon from individual to individual takes a great deal of work. The amount of substance implied by each of the Three Characteristics is quite vast, and the scope of that substance will vary from person to person. As with anything, there is much more going on behind the scenes. Forming a complete concept of impermanence, no-self or suffering (or any other complex topic) is like building a castle, with each brick being one piece of that understanding. A castle that vast is bound to be a unique structure. That said, I do not think any topic as complex as these will translate to each other without many problems arising.

Thinking about concepts in that way helps us see a lot of the problems that go on around here. For instance, I use the word "language" with the qualification of years of studying philosophy and rhetoric. The word inspires a complex understanding as deep as one of the three characteristics. If the audience receiving that word does not share my lexicon, we will fundamentally disagree regardless of what we say to each other.

Sorry for the tangent, didn't mean to derail on you =p.

Trent

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