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Is non-dual experience an illusion ?

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Is non-dual experience an illusion ? ixtlan eleutheria 3/14/10 4:28 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Daniel M. Ingram 3/14/10 11:36 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? ixtlan eleutheria 3/15/10 5:56 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Jackson Wilshire 3/15/10 9:23 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? ixtlan eleutheria 3/17/10 12:53 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Jackson Wilshire 3/17/10 11:17 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? mico mico 8/13/10 5:00 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? mico mico 8/14/10 6:08 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Ian And 8/15/10 11:25 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Eran G 8/15/10 11:39 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Ian And 8/15/10 12:43 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Eran G 8/15/10 2:16 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Ian And 8/16/10 5:29 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Eran G 8/16/10 4:56 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? mico mico 8/17/10 6:15 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Ian And 8/18/10 7:13 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? mico mico 8/19/10 6:59 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Ian And 8/21/10 12:57 PM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? mico mico 8/26/10 8:53 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion? Ian And 8/30/10 1:59 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? Bodhi Yogi Dharma 9/3/11 4:01 AM
RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ? goba g gobasson 9/14/12 12:09 PM
Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/14/10 4:28 PM
In Japan,there are some people who claim that they are just the same as what they see.
For example trash can, a stone in the garden, a sack on the table.
This is not thought but real perception, they say.

In Japanese, these experience are called typically "ken-sho" which means to see oneself.
Ken means to see, and sho(long o) means essence or character or -hood.
And it is said that ken-sho experience can occur many times in one's life.

I sometimes doubt whether these experiences are really "enlightenment".
Because these experience are strongly similar to the case of Jill Bolte Taylor
who underwent CVA, stroke of head.
She says everything she saw was just herself, that is, there is nothing to distinguish
herself from her environment. And she felt so happy, peaceful, no never-mind.

Ken-sho can be a kind of material phenomenon, and its cause can exist at purely
physical level. Non-dual experience can be only an illusion caused by brain's hard wiring .

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/14/10 11:36 PM as a reply to ixtlan eleutheria.
Alright, that's one way to look at it.

However, as one who does actually perceive reality this way whenever sensations arise, I can say you are missing a few points, at the very least, and they are of relevance.

One can speculate all one wants to at this point about the exact physiological or neurological basis for this experience: I am not sure we are quite there yet with the science, but I suspect it will likely not be that much further down the road that someone will come to some at least basic structural understanding of what has changed.

Everything we perceive, every sensation, thought, intention, conception, and all the rest is clearly due, at a purely physical, biochemical level, to the wiring of the brain, or largely due to it. I don't think mysticism gets us around that, though it can't be proven one way or the other that there is not something else going on, but regardless of those mechanistic explanations, the thing has value.

As one who has integrated the sense field through years of long, hard work and careful training and application, I can tell you that it is the greatest thing I ever did, and I can't imagine doing anything more fundamentally important than that.

It answered and laid to rest large numbers of questions and areas of confusion, such that now I perceive directly what most philosophers, modern physicists, the blindly faithful and the like merely speculate about.

It solved the Dark Night problem that I got into when I first crossed the A&P: this is a gigantic benefit to me, one that I am extremely grateful for.

It opened doors of perception, avenues of experience, and other options that were closed but somehow at some deep level seemed should be available.

I hesitate to go here, but the fact is that it greatly increased my mental, emotional and perceptual clarity in radical and profound ways: those who are familiar with my critique of the models that go there: those specific critiques still hold.

Slice it any way you like, this beats the pants off the way I perceived things before, and everyone who has ever attained to it that I have had the honor to know personally will tell you their own version of the same thing.

If you say this is illusion, you could just as easily say that duality is an illusion, or that perception is an illusion, but given that we live this flesh and blood "illusion", and this way of perceiving reality is so vastly superior to the other, I say: go ahead and get it, and if you don't like it, I am sorry, but you will be the only one who I have ever heard of who had that reaction.

Just curious, why did you post that post here, where so many who have done this or done parts of it hang out and help others to do the same? What did you think would happen? What were you looking for?

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/15/10 5:56 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
>As one who has integrated the sense field through years of long, hard work and careful training and application, I can tell you that it is the greatest thing I ever did, and I can't imagine doing anything more fundamentally important than that.

I am hearing the same thing almost every night, in a forum at yahoo Japan community.

In a Japanese zen discussion forum at yahoo, for more than three or four years,
I have been talking to a person who has experienced so-called Non-Duality,
and got "ninka"(I don't know how to say in English, sort of letters given by guru)
in Rinzaish? Soto temple "Tosho-ji" in Tokyo.

He is nearly 60 years old and an businessman, going to zazen almost every weekend.
I have much fun and looking forward to hear his story, that is very copious,instructive.

After all, however, what he says he solved seems to be just a problem
which is inside of mind, not in the physical level. So I want to call those matters
"psychological" according to Krishnamurti's locution. He also evaluates K and Bohm.

But sometimes I hear from him a little different context. Of course I say so because
I don't know anything, probably. For example "I" ,that is,"He" is born in his body,
beginning at the left foot, passing by the left thigh, and the left abdomen, reaching the heart.
He want to know if this has something to do what people speak about chakra phenomenon,
but he know nothng esoteric school's story.

I think that those things corresponding to chakra or aura or anything like these might be
not merely illusion ,so a realistic world. But it is too individualistic. Those experiences
belong to only himself.
Nevertheless, he is talking to other people so passionately everynight.
He says everybody can be enlightend, must be enlightend.

I don't want to be enlightend. I want to know just if there is another world,
after life world. Because I want to escape rebirth. To live on earth is too hard.

By the way I have bought your book two months ago, only 50 pages read.
Your Eniglsh is difficult for my ability. Maybe it will take a year.
Thank you very much for this post. It is beyond my expectation.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/15/10 9:23 AM as a reply to ixtlan eleutheria.
Daniel M. Ingram:
If you say this is illusion, you could just as easily say that duality is an illusion, or that perception is an illusion, but given that we live this flesh and blood "illusion", and this way of perceiving reality is so vastly superior to the other, I say: go ahead and get it, and if you don't like it, I am sorry, but you will be the only one who I have ever heard of who had that reaction.


Daniel's above quote points to something I would say is critical for a correct understanding of duality/non-duality.

In assuming that one perspective - let's say the subject/object duality perspective - is a true perspective while non-duality or Unity is a merely an illusion of the mind, I feel that one makes a grave error. For, this position implies that things are either dual or non-dual, as if either of these perspectives are the one and only True perspective.

But as they say in Zen - "no fixed position." It's important to see that all perspectives are transient. I wouldn't say that this is all there is to say about realization, but it's an important aspect of it.

We should get stuck in the world of particulars (Jap: ji) nor the world of Unity (ri). We make our way into seeing what is called ri ji muge - from the world of Unity to the world of particulars, there is "no block." And eventually, even that subtle distinction may dissolve, resulting in ji ji muge - from thing to thing, no block.

So, as you can see, it's not only about taking on a new transcendent viewpoint. I think it may be more about gaining insight about reality in such a way as to release any "blocks" we may have from one perspective to another. This is one way of defining "freedom" or "liberation."

Thoughts?

Jackson

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/17/10 12:53 AM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Those who touch non-dual world often say, "At first this non-dual reality, and then the dual".

Waht is the relation of these two ?

They say both are real, and attached, packed together. They are apt to find a pair like this couple throughout the discours.

For example, identity and difference, eternity and vicissitude, equality and discrimination, equanimity and bustle, transcendence and immanence, light and darkness, death and life.

So it is not surprising that one regards the non-dual reality as in the side of death, the dual as life.

There is a zen slogan, that it is the most important thing for Buddha's desciple to see clearly "life and death".

I asked some people, what is really wating after our death. Is there life after death ? Is there something called karma ?

All of non-dualist reply telling a resemblant story. Thay say when one experiences this non-dual reality, those kind of question vanishes,

Are you satisfied? When the question vanishes, does the life after death also vanish ?

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
3/17/10 11:17 AM as a reply to ixtlan eleutheria.
ixtlan, I'll have to refer to Zen master Eihei Dogen's Genjo Koan in reply:

As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, and birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings.

As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death.

The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas.

Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.


The first stanza is about diversity. The second, unity. But neither Shakyamuni Buddha nor Dogen emphasized remaining in some non-dual, unitive, transcendent state that disregards diversity; nor did he advocate exclusive identification as a separate self in the world of diversity. This is clear in the third stanza, which asserts that the way of liberation (the "Buddha way") is not found in either diversity or unity alone, but in "leaping clear of the many and the one."

It's not a question of either/or, but rather attaining that which is not caught by either perspective. So whether the world of appearances are merely illusory, or if birth, death, re-birth, heaven, or hell exist is beside the point in terms of liberation.

You will never fully understand this unless you practice.

~Jackson

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
8/13/10 5:00 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
The first stanza is about diversity. The second, unity. But neither Shakyamuni Buddha nor Dogen emphasized remaining in some non-dual, unitive, transcendent state that disregards diversity; nor did he advocate exclusive identification as a separate self in the world of diversity.

Perhaps I have misunderstood the terminology, but I thought Kensho was the realization of the simultaneity of the unitive and the diverse. (A dual vision, so to speak...and a resolution of opposites; the point from which all our apparent spiritual paradox's spring.)

The non-duality is precisely that simultaneity.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
8/14/10 6:08 AM as a reply to mico mico.
Shinzen Young gets analytic on the non-dual(s), and describes his 'more ambitious' non-duality:

Non-Dual Awareness ~ Shinzen Young

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
8/15/10 11:25 AM as a reply to mico mico.
Mic Hoe:
Shinzen Young gets analytic on the non-dual(s), and describes his 'more ambitious' non-duality:

Non-Dual Awareness ~ Shinzen Young

Hi Mic,

Do you have a direct link to this Shinzen material? Because this link is not working. I get a "The message could not be found" error.

Written material would be acceptable also. Even more so because of my slow Internet connection. I would be interested to see Shinzen's take on this.

Thanks,
Ian

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
8/15/10 11:39 AM as a reply to Ian And.
I believe this is the video Mic was referring to: Non-Dual Awareness ~ Shinzen Young

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/15/10 12:43 PM as a reply to Eran G.
Eran G:
I believe this is the video Mic was referring to: Non-Dual Awareness ~ Shinzen Young

Thank you, Eran.

I found a little more material here and here in case others might be interested in reading more about his views. This was written, I think, sometime between 2003 and 2006, from what I can gather, so no telling whether it is still the way he views these matters today. Despite sounding somewhat mainstream Buddhist in many of his descriptions, he does make some glaring errors in a few of his presumptions (inferences), enough to indicate that he is not fully "baked" or "steeped" so to speak. Others can come to their own conclusions; but I've seen enough to be satisfied that I wouldn't recommend anyone take his material very seriously, much less that they waste their time reading his articles.

For anyone who doubts me, consider the following description of the topic of one of his interviews: "How to contact one's spiritual source by experiencing the moment completely." One's "spiritual source"? What is that all about and what does it have to so with what the Buddha taught? This guy has taken one too many comparative religion courses and apparently believes what he has learned.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/15/10 2:16 PM as a reply to Ian And.
I'm certainly in no position to explain Shinzen Young. He seems to have created a practice that while based on tradition and experience is unique to himself. I'm still struggling to understand some of his terms but in this case I just came across something that may be relevant.

First it's important to remember that while Shinzen teaches Mindfulness (which here in the west is usually based on Theravada) his main training was actually in Zen. While looking for info about the 10 Ox Herding Pictures, I learned that one of them (number 9) is sometimes called Returning to the Source (note: the linked page is not by shinzen young and used just as an example).

It's interesting that in a video about the 10 ox herding pictures, Shinzen says of the last 3 that they represent the substance, form and purpose of enlightenment. The Source, being number 9 corresponds to the appearance of Enlightenment and this is what he has to say about it: "what's the form of Enlightenment? the mountains and the cherry blossoms the ordinary appearances of the world, every single thing, is the appearance of Enlightenment." (from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PQonSiGkVE around 8:15).

Eran.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/16/10 5:29 PM as a reply to Eran G.
Eran G:
I'm certainly in no position to explain Shinzen Young. He seems to have created a practice that while based on tradition and experience is unique to himself. I'm still struggling to understand some of his terms but in this case I just came across something that may be relevant.

Well, I certainly can't disagree with you here, Eran. It's for sure that Shinzen has his own unique way of explaining things. A lot of that may depend upon the level of his audience, though. Yet, this is where one can easily get into trouble. By playing to the audience's level of understanding in attempting to communicate something that is very subtle, you run the risk of becoming ambiguous. And this is where I have a difference of opinion about modes of communication.

Eran G:

First it's important to remember that while Shinzen teaches Mindfulness (which here in the west is usually based on Theravada) his main training was actually in Zen. While looking for info about the 10 Ox Herding Pictures, I learned that one of them (number 9) is sometimes called Returning to the Source (note: the linked page is not by shinzen young and used just as an example).

Yes. It is that Zen training that is peaking through in his presentation. The trouble I'm having is verfiying any understanding he has of one of Gotama's primary insights, that of paticca-samuppada or dependent co-arising, and seeing any of that being expressed in Shinzen's discourse.

Eran G:

It's interesting that in a video about the 10 ox herding pictures, Shinzen says of the last 3 that they represent the substance, form and purpose of enlightenment. The Source, being number 9 corresponds to the appearance of Enlightenment and this is what he has to say about it: "what's the form of Enlightenment? the mountains and the cherry blossoms the ordinary appearances of the world, every single thing, is the appearance of Enlightenment." (from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PQonSiGkVE around 8:15).

Here is a bit of what Shinzen has to say about his term "Source" from the video that you linked to: "Then, this is non-dual in the sense that there's not a separation between Source and the daily life that's born from Source. . . . So there's not a fundamental cleft from a practical point of view between the transcendent and the ordinary. That's the real non-duality as I would have it. Creator and creation, that duality has been seen through. . . . In terms of the Zen ox herding pictures, that is somebody that is firmly mounted on the ox. Okay. Can never be bucked off the ox no matter what life throws at them. So, you're riding this powerful ox called consciousness or emptiness or source or god or nature, and you can't be bucked off by whatever wells up from the inside or hits you from the outside. You're still fundamentally never separate from nothing. I would use the term non-dual awareness for that."

Statements like "there's not a separation between Source and the daily life that's born from Source" and "So there's not a fundamental cleft from a practical point of view between the transcendent and the ordinary" invite the reader to infer or imply the "what" of life rather than the "how" of processes. Can others truly not see this, too?

Yet, giving him a bit of a benefit of the doubt, I can certainly understand what he means by the highlighted section in the above quotation. This is the internal and external circumstance of a person who is awakened. In explaining that sense of awakening, he is certainly within the bounds of early Buddhist thought, whether or not he uses their same terminology. It just seems to me that the thrust of his discourse, when heard by untrained and unenlightened minds, carries with it an ambiguity in communication which emphasizes more of the "what" than of the "how" about the method one uses to get to this point.

The best way I know how to communicate this is to quote Richard Gombrich, in his book How Buddhism Began, The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, who explains it this way: "The Buddha's interest in how not what, his emphasis on process rather than objects, could be said to be summarized in his teaching of the paticca-samuppada, conditioned origination." Earlier on in this essay, Gombrich states correctly that: "Consciousness is, for the Buddha, a process which illuminates objects. So when there is nothing to illuminate, there is no illumination: 'consciousness has no attribute' (anidassanam)." That last statement, "consciousness has no attribute" really nails the point.

And I suppose that what I'm saying here is that I'm not seeing anything like this understanding coming out of the mouth of Shinzen Young and being communicated to his listeners. Maybe this is what he means to say, but the words he uses certainly don't make that very clear or unambiguous.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/16/10 4:56 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Thank you for your reply, Ian. I think I understand the nature of your criticism better now.

Ian And:

The best way I know how to communicate this is to quote Richard Gombrich, in his book How Buddhism Began, The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, who explains it this way: "The Buddha's interest in how not what, his emphasis on process rather than objects, could be said to be summarized in his teaching of the paticca-samuppada, conditioned origination." Earlier on in this essay, Gombrich states correctly that: "Consciousness is, for the Buddha, a process which illuminates objects. So when there is nothing to illuminate, there is no illumination: 'consciousness has no attribute' (anidassanam)." That last statement, "consciousness has no attribute" really nails the point.

And I suppose that what I'm saying here is that I'm not seeing anything like this understanding coming out of the mouth of Shinzen Young and being communicated to his listeners. Maybe this is what he means to say, but the words he uses certainly don't make that very clear or unambiguous.


One of the reasons I enjoy your postings here and on other forums as well is that you tend to include this practical information on the How of practice and the unfolding of experience. I agree that this kind of information, coming from an experienced mind is invaluable.

From this viewpoint, I can see why the Shinzen Young discourses we have been discussing can seem limited in their usefulness. He seems to point to a certain experience but it is hard to tell how authentic that description is and the discourses themselves are quite theoretical and lacking in advice for practice. However, Shinzen Young is known for his analytic and even algorithmic approach to the practice and to describing experiences which may come up during practice. This, I think, is a big factor in his appeal to many yogis today but requires some investment in getting to know his basic lingo. Here are a few examples, I'd love to hear what you think about those articles:

* Working with Images
* Meditating on the thought process (both of these were brought to my attention on a previous thread here, discussing thoughts and were quite helpful to me in illuminating the experience)
* Four facets of Body Sensations

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/17/10 6:15 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
Statements like "there's not a separation between Source and the daily life that's born from Source" and "So there's not a fundamental cleft from a practical point of view between the transcendent and the ordinary" invite the reader to infer or imply the "what" of life rather than the "how" of processes. Can others truly not see this, too?

Now that you point it out, yes. Upon reflection I find it very easy to hear what I want to hear in his teachings ;) But whilst he is certainly talking in terms of the 'what' of things, what he is pointing to cannot be resolved within the same paradigm, except in fantasy. I'd be surprised if he didn't know this with his zen background. But any teacher knows they have to use the language of the student to communicate.

However, now that you've brought it up, I'm filtering all my memories of teachings via this process/whatage split, and it's much more common than I'd ever realized. Just imagine if teachers refused to do the 'what' thing, and spoke only of process. I imagine it would bring the students' real condition (and our mistaken 'problems') into sharper focus immediately, and a lot of current misunderstandings wouldn't be possible. At the same time a process approach can still provide people with waypoints to help them find their way, and it's the 'whatage' teachings that really have no choice but to become all or nothing teachings if they are to remain effective. Or am I getting carried away?

Thanks for the interesting angles, it's much appreciated.

Ian And:
Gombrich states correctly that: "Consciousness is, for the Buddha, a process which illuminates objects. So when there is nothing to illuminate, there is no illumination: 'consciousness has no attribute' (anidassanam)." That last statement, "consciousness has no attribute" really nails the point.

And this point is why, is it not, that there can be 'no self nature', or 'emptiness' at all? And where we finally see no difference between 'the transcendent and the ordinary', or 'between source and the daily life that's born from source'? So then, the same thing is being said, no?

Curiously though, 'no self nature' and 'emptiness' also (albeit negatively, but nevertheless) belong to the category you are objecting to, or highlighting at least.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/18/10 7:13 PM as a reply to mico mico.
Mic Hoe:

Now that you point it out, yes. Upon reflection I find it very easy to hear what I want to hear in his teachings ;) But whilst he is certainly talking in terms of the 'what' of things, what he is pointing to cannot be resolved within the same paradigm, except in fantasy.

And this is my whole point, Mic. It seems to be a "metaphysical mystery" type thingy that he's playing around with here, and from any standpoint that supports the Buddhadhamma, this is pure and simple "wrong view." At the very worst, it is ambiguous, which can be dangerous to untrained minds used to seeing things in terms of substantial entities. To even be playing in this neighborhood is anathema to the Buddha. If you read the discourses, he shut down many an enquirer when they wanted to corner him about metaphysics. (Read the Vacchagotta suttas in the Majjhima Nikaya -- MN 72 and 73.) When it comes to attempting to explain these subtle points in the teaching, there's no need to reinvent the Wheel. Gotama did a fine job of inventing it all by himself. It's up to us to figure out the innovation he gained insight into (paticca samuppada or dependent co-arising) by following the path he laid out and observing our own experience of it in verification.

Mic Hoe:
I'd be surprised if he didn't know this with his zen background. But any teacher knows they have to use the language of the student to communicate.

Well, you see, I'm not so certain that he does know the difference. If he does, he certainly doesn't talk like he does. Nor does he write like he does. I've been taken in by this kind of "reasoning" myself, which is why I'm so sensitive to its being preached. Until one truly has insight into dependent co-arising and how it works, such talk will always be enticing. When you know dependent co-arising thoroughly, you see through the smoke and mirrors of the mysterious and the metaphysical explanations of phenomena.

And with all due respect, I have to disagree somewhat with your second sentence. While a teacher may "need to use the language of the student" at times in order to communicate, if he truly understands what the Buddha taught, he generally won't use the same definitions that the student assumes of those terms, especially if they do not apply to what he is teaching. And the perfect example of this is Gotama himself. Gotama redefined the terms he borrowed from Brahminism in order to present his own insightful innovation. A perfect example of this is the word kamma (karma). Rather than to define kamma in terms of spiritual retribution (as it is commonly misunderstood to be), the Buddha defined it in terms of the psychological process which he saw taking place: "It is volition, monks, that I declare to be kamma. Having willed, one performs an action by body, speech, or mind."

Mic Hoe:
However, now that you've brought it up, I'm filtering all my memories of teachings via this process/whatage split, and it's much more common than I'd ever realized. Just imagine if teachers refused to do the 'what' thing, and spoke only of process. I imagine it would bring the students' real condition (and our mistaken 'problems') into sharper focus immediately, and a lot of current misunderstandings wouldn't be possible. At the same time a process approach can still provide people with waypoints to help them find their way, and it's the 'whatage' teachings that really have no choice but to become all or nothing teachings if they are to remain effective. Or am I getting carried away?

My exact point. Now you're starting to see how insidious this kind of reification of an object can be when it is misunderstood in light of the teachings of early Buddhism. People remain caught in its vicious cycle while fruitlessly endeavoring to figure out what it is they are doing wrong. It all comes back to "wrong view." Follow the path (Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Contemplation/Concentration) as you are learning to discern and see the truth and you won't go wrong.

Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
Gombrich states correctly that: "Consciousness is, for the Buddha, a process which illuminates objects. So when there is nothing to illuminate, there is no illumination: 'consciousness has no attribute' (anidassanam)." That last statement, "consciousness has no attribute" really nails the point.

And this point is why, is it not, that there can be 'no self nature', or 'emptiness' at all? And where we finally see no difference between 'the transcendent and the ordinary', or 'between source and the daily life that's born from source'? So then, the same thing is being said, no?

No. The same thing is not being stated. That is, if I am understanding correctly what you are saying here. It seems to me that first sentence is attempting to conflate what the Buddha taught (not self and emptiness) with what Shinzen is saying about the terms "source" and "transcendence" juxtaposed against "ordinary" and "daily life" as these terms are commonly understood to be defined by untrained minds. I think one walks a fine line when one tries to get too cute here using other terminology in order to communicate. It provides a space for ambiguity to creep in.

Now we are seeing Shinzen using terms in which the Buddha never spoke, putting words in his mouth. I'm speaking of the juxtaposition of the concepts proposed in the phrases "the transcendent and the ordinary" and "source and the daily life." People like Shinzen use those terms (perhaps because he has an incomplete understanding of them in relation to what the Gotama of early Buddhism taught), but Gotama did not. Gotama spoke in terms of "not self."

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. For if, bhikkhus, form were self, this form would not lead to affliction, and it would be possible to have it of form: 'Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.' But because form is not-self, form leads to affliction, and it is not possible to have it of form: 'Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.'

"Feeling is not-self. . . . Perception is not-self. . . . Volitional formations are not-self. . . . Consciousness is not-self. For if, bhikkhus, consciousness were self, this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and it would be possible to have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus; let my consciousness not be thus.' But because consciousness is not-self, consciousness leads to affliction, and it is not possible to have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus; let my consciousness not be thus.'

"What do you think, bhikkhus, is form permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable sir." — "Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?" — "Suffering, venerable sir." — "Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'?" — "No, venerable sir."

"Therefore, bhikkhus, any kind of form (feeling, perception, volitional formation, consciousness) whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all form should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.

Gotama never brought up concepts in terms like "source" or "the transcendent." There is no source but the mind; nothing transcendent other than the mind (although he is not recorded as ever having spoken using such terminology). He spoke only about the processes of the mind and how to recognize them in action in order that people would begin to see that these processes themselves were the cause, the source, if you will, of the problems they created for themselves. I don't discern that Shinzen is talking at all using this outlook.

Mic Hoe:

Curiously though, 'no self nature' and 'emptiness' also (albeit negatively, but nevertheless) belong to the category you are objecting to, or highlighting at least.

Only if you read them in that way. The category I am objecting to is the reification of "Self," and the misunderstanding that such phrases as "no self nature" and "emptiness" can become attached to as the mind attempts to find a "self" of which it is "empty" of "self nature." There is no such thing in existence; only in conceptions. The differences in meaning is so subtle here that it goes over most people's heads the first time they are exposed to it.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/19/10 6:59 AM as a reply to Ian And.
If I understand the Buddhist dialogue, his premise is that self is not something dependently co-arising, and argues that nothing is like this.

Ian And:
...as the mind attempts to find a "self" of which it is "empty" of "self nature."

(okay, I promise I won't mention it again, once last time...)
And this is attempted/supported/made possible as long as there is the belief in the existence of the 'transcendent' and the 'ordinary', and necessarily, consequently, in their difference. I agree it would be better to dispense with the terminology, but whilst they don't point to anything real as referents, they do 'point out' something real about the activity of the mind employing the terminology, and perhaps their convergence could be the end of them? But yeah, why start with them? (This is why I called them 'all or nothing', for what could be a stage of understanding within this paradigm?)

Ian And:
The differences in meaning is so subtle here that it goes over most people's heads the first time they are exposed to it.

It's difficult to even think about this stuff, and a change of approach can lead to opposite sounding conclusions, which is why I don't want to argue any points, but to see if we can communicate something around the issues, and perhaps clarify ourselves. We don't seem to be doing too badly.

Ian And:
There is no such thing in existence; only in conceptions.

This is what bothers me when people describe their experience as 'empty'. As 'empty' is shorthand for 'empty of self nature', one's experience could not have the quality of emptiness unless you were noticing the absence of the very thing that's agreed not to exist. In other words, the notion of self nature is being reflected upon or is still operative in some way. And yet, "consciousness has no attribute".

Ian And:
People remain caught in its vicious cycle while fruitlessly endeavoring to figure out what it is they are doing wrong.

emoticon yeah. Thanks for the post.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/21/10 12:57 PM as a reply to mico mico.
Mic Hoe:
If I understand the Buddhist dialogue, his premise is that self is not something dependently co-arising, and argues that nothing is like this.

If you are referring to the video that was linked to of Shinzen's, I don't come away from that with any kind of notion that he is speaking about or even referring to dependent co-arising at all. It's as though the idea is foreign to him, or that he doesn't understand it fully enough to be able to articulate about it. Everything he is saying, though, sounds fine as far as it goes. It's just that if you understand the words he's using and how he's using them, it leaves the impression that there is something more behind the "emptiness" and "self nature" (meaning god, or source, or whatever) that is at stake when in reality the Buddha never, ever mentioned such ideas or conclusions.

Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
...as the mind attempts to find a "self" of which it is "empty" of "self nature."

(okay, I promise I won't mention it again, once last time...)
And this is attempted/supported/made possible as long as there is the belief in the existence of the 'transcendent' and the 'ordinary', and necessarily, consequently, in their difference. I agree it would be better to dispense with the terminology, but whilst they don't point to anything real as referents, they do 'point out' something real about the activity of the mind employing the terminology, and perhaps their convergence could be the end of them? But yeah, why start with them? (This is why I called them 'all or nothing', for what could be a stage of understanding within this paradigm?)

It is unfortunate that we are, by the rules of grammar, forced, so to speak, to reference things in language as though they actually exist and are permanent constituents of reality when in truth they are mere fabrications of the mind being used so that so that we can more easily and clearly communicate with one another in conventional speech. In this sense, language very much does play a role in the misunderstanding of what we are attempting to describe.

Yet, with regard to your first sentence, perhaps yes, belief in the dichotomy of the "transcendent" and the "ordinary" might play a role in the mind's clinging to these two concepts. But more importantly to the point is the mind's inability to make out the actual process of dependent co-arising taking place. And this is a matter of mere ignorance (the inability to see one's experience clearly enough to see the truth in it), and not belief.

Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
There is no such thing in existence; only in conceptions.

This is what bothers me when people describe their experience as 'empty'. As 'empty' is shorthand for 'empty of self nature', one's experience could not have the quality of emptiness unless you were noticing the absence of the very thing that's agreed not to exist. In other words, the notion of self nature is being reflected upon or is still operative in some way. And yet, "consciousness has no attribute".

It is sometimes unfortunate that the Mahayana introduced phrases like "self nature" and "emptiness" into the Buddhist lexicon as it can sometimes tend to confuse and confound the mind of the literal reader. Rather than referring to it as "empty of self nature," had we just said "empty of self" that might have been an improvement on the actual intended meaning of the insight. I maintain that one is better off not using such terminology for this very reason: it makes for confusion and ambiguity. And furthermore, it is always much better to examine the content and context of the originator of the system of thought (the Buddha in this case) rather than those who came after him and changed his words! I'm not saying that we shouldn't bother to make an attempt to update our way of expression in order to communicate these ideas to contemporary audiences; only that we should first refer to the original way it was initially expressed so that there is no confusion about what was said, and then from there we can make our attempt to explain it in our modern idiom.

Ask yourself sometime whether or not form is permanent or impermanent. Whether or not feeling, perception, volitional formations, or consciousness are permanent or impermanent. Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness? Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'? Think about these questions and really try to answer them to yourself from your experience of whatever insight you have into the matter. There was a reason why I mentioned that sutta extract for you to ponder on. It was to get you to begin thinking about and examining your own experience. If all form (feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness) is impermanent, suffering, and not self, what does that tell you about their existential essence? It should be quite easy to agree that anything that is impermanent and in flux, by definition, is not substantial. Insubstantial means there is no substance, lasting or otherwise.

The Buddha defined his insight of dependent co-arising with this standard statement: "When there is this, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises. When this is absent, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases." This points to a principle which suggests the arising of phenomena in dependence on conditions. As Bhk. Bodhi wrote in his book: "This gives the principle in the abstract, stripped of any reference to a content. But the Buddha is not interested in abstract formulas devoid of content: for him content is all-important. His teaching is concerned with a problem — the problem of suffering (dukkha) — and with the task of bringing suffering to an end. Dependent arising is introduced because it is relevant to these concerns, indeed not merely relevant but indispensable. It defines the framework needed to understand the problem and also indicates the approach that must be taken if that problem is to be resolved." If you are truly serious about learning to see this process in earnest, then I would recommend finding, reading, and contemplating Bhikkhu Bodhi's book The Great Discourse on Causation, The Mahanidana Sutta and Its Commentaries.

Now, that's fine for a conceptual analysis of dependent co-arising, but it does very little for the practical, everyday mind which is attempting to see these concepts reflected in its everyday experience. This is why these concepts are called matters for insight and reflection. They require a much sharper discernment of the movements of the mind than are normally available to people who never meditate and are in general not very mindful of the underlying mechanisms of the mind.

The reason that the "notion of self ... is being reflected upon or is still operative in some way" is because of ignorance. Ignorance in not being able to see this process (the process of dependent co-arising) occur as it is happening. The process of creating a "self" within the mind in order to create a dichotomy of "self" and "other" to be able to refer to in communication. These dichotomies are just conventional social fabrications, which Gotama acknowledged and recognized have some value in normal social dialog, yet which get invested in the language itself, making it doubly as difficult for the untrained, unrealized mind to see and negotiate through.

A perfect example of this is the thread you started about Bernadette Roberts. I was going to respond to that, but then decided not to. I downloaded the What Is Self PDF and only had to read as far as the Forward to learn what her take was on all this. It was made clear that she came from a Catholic background and that she viewed the Buddha's teaching in light of that Catholic background rather than in the terms that the Buddha meant them to be viewed. It also made clear that she was speaking out of "her own tradition," which I took to mean her own understanding of what was true according to how she views phenomena and not those views of the Buddha. So, there was really nothing to comment on, since it was admitted up front that she was not coming from a Buddhist perspective. She even went so far as to reinterpret a verse out of the Dhammapada according to her own perspective, and Jeff Shore, who wrote the forward, readily admitted as much by stating: "This is incompatible with the Pali text," in reference to her reinterpretation of the ridge pole verse (page 13).

Both Mr. Shore and Ms. Roberts have not the slightest idea about what the Buddha was teaching because they live in an eternalist/annihilationist worldview where things and people have substantial beingness. Gotama taught the Middle Path between these two extreme ideas of eternalism and annihilationism. And this Middle Way is explained by his principles on dependent co-arising. Many times in the discourses Gotama is heard repeating the refrain: "He who sees dependent arising sees the Dhamma, he who sees the Dhamma sees dependent arising." (MN 28)

So, perhaps now you have a slightly better understanding of why I use a person's understanding of dependent co-arising and their ability to articulate that understanding to others as a guide as to whether or not they understand what the Buddha taught. When I see that fundamental principle of Dhamma missing or go by unmentioned in a person's discourse, I can only conclude that the person has no understanding of it.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/26/10 8:53 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
It is sometimes unfortunate that the Mahayana introduced phrases like "self nature" and "emptiness" into the Buddhist lexicon as it can sometimes tend to confuse and confound the mind of the literal reader. Rather than referring to it as "empty of self nature," had we just said "empty of self" that might have been an improvement on the actual intended meaning of the insight.

But similarly, is there not a huge difference between pointing out that things are 'empty of self' and saying that they are 'not-self'. The latter at worst not only doing nothing to counter the notion of self but also allowing the 'thing' to retain identity (whether self or not).

(I've met so many Buddhists who see thoughts as something to get some 'distance' from, as they are not-self, etc. I've asked some of them 'why not try going in the other direction?' but whilst intrigued, it didn't seem something they could take seriously.)

Ian And:
Ask yourself sometime whether or not form is permanent or impermanent. Whether or not feeling, perception, volitional formations, or consciousness are permanent or impermanent [...] If all form (feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness) is impermanent, suffering, and not self, what does that tell you about their existential essence?

It tells me nothing about their existential essence, but it tells me something about how my categories of thought apply to my experience. But if I wasn't thinking (existentially) in terms of 'things', 'objects' and 'form', but in terms of processes, then the questions would become redundant and/or inappropriate.

Do you think there might be something similar between 'process' and 'dependent co-arising'...? emoticon

Ian And:
The reason that the "notion of self ... is being reflected upon or is still operative in some way" is because of ignorance. Ignorance in not being able to see this process (the process of dependent co-arising) occur as it is happening.

And similarly (as the way I've addressed this notion of emptiness) would it not be ignorant to continue to see 'impermanence' once the process of dependent co-arising was apparent? (For, what then of 'form' and whither 'impermanence'?)

Ian And:
A perfect example of this is the thread you started about Bernadette Roberts. I was going to respond to that, but then decided not to. I downloaded the What Is Self PDF and only had to read as far as the Forward to learn what her take was on all this. It was made clear that she came from a Catholic background and that she viewed the Buddha's teaching in light of that Catholic background rather than in the terms that the Buddha meant them to be viewed.

I must point out that the Bernadette Roberts thread was entirely about the apparent convergence of her thinking with that of Actualism. The Buddha's poem referenced as a valuable insight into what she was trying to find (thinking like her own). The correctness of her interpretation of Buddhism is wholly beside the point. I'm still surprised it's had so little interest...

Ian And:
So, perhaps now you have a slightly better understanding of why I use a person's understanding of dependent co-arising and their ability to articulate that understanding to others as a guide as to whether or not they understand what the Buddha taught. When I see that fundamental principle of Dhamma missing or go by unmentioned in a person's discourse, I can only conclude that the person has no understanding of it.

Yes. I really appreciate your posts Ian. I like your style, and I get a lot out of them, thank you.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion?
Answer
8/30/10 1:59 AM as a reply to mico mico.
Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
It is sometimes unfortunate that the Mahayana introduced phrases like "self nature" and "emptiness" into the Buddhist lexicon as it can sometimes tend to confuse and confound the mind of the literal reader. Rather than referring to it as "empty of self nature," had we just said "empty of self" that might have been an improvement on the actual intended meaning of the insight.

But similarly, is there not a huge difference between pointing out that things are 'empty of self' and saying that they are 'not-self'. The latter at worst not only doing nothing to counter the notion of self but also allowing the 'thing' to retain identity (whether self or not).

Semantics and differing perception about the meaning of the words + imprecise communications = confusion about said communication. In attempting to use phrases that you had introduced into the conversation, I inadvertently allowed them to be misinterpreted.

I don't generally use phrases like "self nature" and "emptiness" in discourse, and generally only respond to them when they are being used from a Mahayana foundation. I much prefer starting from the base Pali words and seeking a precise English definition from there. In that spirit, then, what we are discussing is the term used by the Buddha: anatta. The "an" before the "atta" signifies negation, as with such prefixes as "un-" or "not-" and even "without" which significantly points to "not having," as in "not having self." I much prefer to express the term anatta as "without self" rather than "not-self" or the other phrase "no-self," although I've come to see that there are many people who, in Theravada discourse, use the former as it has come to be accepted by so many diverse circles, and so I've sometimes used it, too, when the reader I'm conversing with uses it.

I think the term which best fits the implication you made above highlighted in red is the term "no-self," since it implies the non-existence of either a metaphysical or ontological entity which may be persistent and eternal in some way. Whereas the term "not-self" simply implies the lack of identification of a "self" with any specific phenomenon (as in "this or that is not-self"). (You must understand that endeavoring to communicate these ideas in writing can be a very difficult and slippery undertaking as readers can vary in how they interpret what is being said from how the author intended them to be interpreted.)

The term "not-self" comes more from the discourses where the Buddha is stating that "This-or-that is not-self" (or as I like to say, "without self"), meaning that no eternal soul-entity can be found in phenomena such as form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, or consciousness. Such statements are meant to have the listener begin to examine his own experience of form, feeling, perception etcetera to verify directly that no essential entity can be found in such phenomena. This realization, when it takes place and is absorbed in the psyche, then, releases identification with those phenomena such that the person does not identify a "self" with form, feeling, perception etc.

Therefore, when I used the phrase "empty of self" in response to your comments, I used it within the context that I have been discussing above, as "without self." If it was taken in any other manner or connotation, then it was a mistake.

Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
Ask yourself sometime whether or not form is permanent or impermanent. Whether or not feeling, perception, volitional formations, or consciousness are permanent or impermanent [...] If all form (feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness) is impermanent, suffering, and not self, what does that tell you about their existential essence?

It tells me nothing about their existential essence, but it tells me something about how my categories of thought apply to my experience. But if I wasn't thinking (existentially) in terms of 'things', 'objects' and 'form', but in terms of processes, then the questions would become redundant and/or inappropriate.

Do you think there might be something similar between 'process' and 'dependent co-arising'...? emoticon

With regard to the highlighted sections above: precisely. With regard to the middle sentence above, this is exactly what the Buddha was pointing at. That our experience is an experience involved with "consciousness processes" (my description, not the Buddha's) rather than with a substantial (and possibly eternal) reality.

Mic Hoe:
Ian And:
The reason that the "notion of self ... is being reflected upon or is still operative in some way" is because of ignorance. Ignorance in not being able to see this process (the process of dependent co-arising) occur as it is happening.

And similarly (as the way I've addressed this notion of emptiness) would it not be ignorant to continue to see 'impermanence' once the process of dependent co-arising was apparent? (For, what then of 'form' and whither 'impermanence'?)

I think the way you've worded this question is not the way you meant it to be taken. It is never ignorant to see the impermanence in phenomena that are impermanent. The realization that all phenomena arise dependent upon conditions is just seeing with more precision just how this process (dependent co-arising or paticca-samuppada) arises and passes away in each moment.

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
9/3/11 4:01 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Forgetting quantum gravity? Orch-OR? Neutral monism where everything is quantum information? These are far more compelling models then a strictly biochemical physicalist view. Avoids so many problems and paradoxes found in physics and philosophy. Why do quantum computer scientists say that a three dimensional spacial world is the most mystical belief one can have? Quantum mechanics does in fact get us around physicalism. The mind is necessarily quantum mechanical, as hydrogen atoms can be made to tunnel (using a quantum process provoked by the mind) through dendrite barriers to make way for neurotransmitters.
Moreover, Orch-OR gains serious traction every year, no one has come close to refuting it (I have serious reason to think no one ever will).

RE: Is non-dual experience an illusion ?
Answer
9/14/12 12:09 PM as a reply to ixtlan eleutheria.
Maybe this is helpful? Consciousness is non-dual