Emptiness

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
ashtanga
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Re: Emptiness

Postby ashtanga » Tue May 11, 2010 11:25 am

Thanks for all of your replies! I see the apparent distinction between a Theravada forum and discussing Nargajunas intention. Having said that the goal is the same surely - it realising a non-conceptual experience of 'Emptiness'? If Nargajuna developed The Buddhas original teachings on impermanance then thats ok isn't it?

Personally I think that the Tibetans have the monopoly where discussing the nature of reality stands - not that its a competition, I just think their explanations are infinitely more clear than other schools.

However, as my initial post asked, how can the various practices at the disposal of the Theravadin tradition bring about such an experience of Emptiness (ie the realisation of the lack of any inherently existing phenomena)? I can see how the analytical Tibetan schools can do this by directly analysing the nature of phenomena and our experience of it (including the 'self'). But how does a Theravadin do this?

Thanks again,

Tony...

PeterB
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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 11:40 am

The Tibetan ( or more correctly the Vajrayanists ) are certainly more adept at explaning issues that are basically non-issues outside of the Vajrayana. That includes providing an experience of Emptiness with a big ol' capital " E ".
The Theravada incorporates a number of skillful means to realise Anatta...many of us tend to reckon thats enough. :smile:

Shonin
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Tue May 11, 2010 1:12 pm

We've had enough emptiness! Too much in fact! Take it away! :jumping:

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Pannapetar
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 11, 2010 2:04 pm

PeterB wrote:The Theravada incorporates a number of skillful means to realise Anatta...many of us tend to reckon thats enough.


Isn't the elaboration of sunyata just that: a skillful means to realise anatta? :juggling:

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 2:14 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
PeterB wrote:The Theravada incorporates a number of skillful means to realise Anatta...many of us tend to reckon thats enough.


Isn't the elaboration of sunyata just that: a skillful means to realise anatta? :juggling:

Cheers, Thomas

Not in my experience.
It was a relief to turn from the gothic complexities of the vajrayana elaborations on Emptiness and return to The Pali Canon.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Emptiness

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue May 11, 2010 2:19 pm

ashtanga wrote:
Personally I think that the Tibetans have the monopoly where discussing the nature of reality stands - not that its a competition, I just think their explanations are infinitely more clear than other schools.



Their explanations and practices seem more highly conceptualized than some other schools, to the degree that i am familiar with them, whether that makes them more or less true is debatable.

"Reality" is about experience. Highly conceptualized explanations are empty too.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

Shonin
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Tue May 11, 2010 2:26 pm

Just because one person makes skillful use of Sunyata does not mean that all uses of Sunyata must be skillful. When Sunyata becomes metaphysics it's time to throw it out. Nagarajuna himself said: to cling to emptiness as a theory is like "a customer to whom a merchant has said that he has nothing to sell and the customer now asks to buy this 'nothing' and carry it home." This advice is transmitted within the Tibetan traditions, but doubtless, not everyone heeds this advice. No sect of Buddhism is perfect.

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Dan74
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 11, 2010 2:27 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
ashtanga wrote:
Personally I think that the Tibetans have the monopoly where discussing the nature of reality stands - not that its a competition, I just think their explanations are infinitely more clear than other schools.



Their explanations and practices seem more highly conceptualized than some other schools, to the degree that i am familiar with them, whether that makes them more or less true is debatable.

"Reality" is about experience. Highly conceptualized explanations are empty too.


I don't think it's about being "more or less true." In all schools these explanations are founded on realization of annata and sunna. Some resonate more with certain kind of practitioners and some with others. I am yet to see a substantial difference in these descriptions (apart from some Abhidhammic insistence on the ultimate reality of some dhammas, but what "ultimate reality" signifies I still have no clue), so to my way of seeing the difference is just in style.

PS Nice quote, Shonin.
_/|\_

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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 2:31 pm

Shonin wrote:Just because one person makes skillful use of Sunyata does not mean that all uses of Sunyata must be skillful. When Sunyata becomes metaphysics it's time to throw it out. Nagarajuna himself said: to cling to emptiness as a theory is like "a customer to whom a merchant has said that he has nothing to sell and the customer now asks to buy this 'nothing' and carry it home." This advice is transmitted within the Tibetan traditions, but doubtless, not everyone heeds this advice. No sect of Buddhism is perfect.


Thats rich because no one did before Nagarjuna... :smile:


" Please Do Not Throw Stones At This Notice " apocryphal sign in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors...... 8-)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 2:56 pm

ashtanga wrote:
Personally I think that the Tibetans have the monopoly where discussing the nature of reality stands - not that its a competition, I just think their explanations are infinitely more clear than other schools.
Given that the Tibetans have argued rather pointedly with each other about such things, which schools?

However, as my initial post asked, how can the various practices at the disposal of the Theravadin tradition bring about such an experience of Emptiness (ie the realisation of the lack of any inherently existing phenomena)? I can see how the analytical Tibetan schools can do this by directly analysing the nature of phenomena and our experience of it (including the 'self'). But how does a Theravadin do this?
I know how the Teravadins do it, but how do the Tibetans directly analyze "the nature of phenomena and our experience?"
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Shonin
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Tue May 11, 2010 3:16 pm

PeterB wrote:Thats rich because no one did before Nagarjuna... :smile:


Anatta itself is frequently misunderstood as a metaphysical/ontological claim about the non-existence of self. Before Nagarjuna and after, Pali Buddhism has been misunderstood as metaphysics of both annihilationism and eternalism. And in other ways too.

If Sunyata doesn't serve your practice (as it appears it doesn't) I would suggest the best action is simply to put it to one side.

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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 3:21 pm

Well rather than putting on one side Shonin maybe I will just continue my humble efforts to practice in accordance with the Theravada..
Which I think means to realise the teachings on Anatta, on the rocks, with no soda. :smile: I doubt that I will reach the limits of knowledge in that area.

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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Tue May 11, 2010 3:25 pm

Jolly good. :smile:

PeterB
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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 3:41 pm

What ? Jolly good that I wont reach the limits.....just pulling your leg.

:anjali:

Good 'ere aint it ?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 3:43 pm

Shonin wrote:
PeterB wrote:Thats rich because no one did before Nagarjuna... :smile:


Anatta itself is frequently misunderstood as a metaphysical/ontological claim about the non-existence of self.
Which one can easily see stated.

Before Nagarjuna and after, Pali Buddhism has been misunderstood as metaphysics of both annihilationism and eternalism. And in other ways too.
As I have said here and more than once on the deceased Gray Forum, the Theravada, Pali Buddhism, does not need Nagarjuna, who, if we accept him, gives a whole bunch of other problems.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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retrofuturist
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Re: Emptiness

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 11, 2010 11:18 pm

Greetings Peter,

PeterB wrote:Well rather than putting on one side Shonin maybe I will just continue my humble efforts to practice in accordance with the Theravada..


Enjoy the Tathata topic then : viewtopic.php?f=13&t=223

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Pannapetar
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Pannapetar » Wed May 12, 2010 1:35 am

Shonin wrote:Anatta itself is frequently misunderstood as a metaphysical/ontological claim about the non-existence of self.


Anatta is is an ontological concept. It clearly fits the definition.

on·tol·o·gy
–noun
1.
the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.
2.
(loosely) metaphysics.

Cheers, Thomas

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ground
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Re: Emptiness

Postby ground » Wed May 12, 2010 5:47 am

m0rl0ck wrote:Since somebody else started the thread, this qoute from the Cula-suññata Sutta really got my attention when i read it:
Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed.


When the identity of compound things is realized as impermanent and void of own-being and they are seen as "empty of whatever is not there", what remains?


"own-being" and "identity" are different phenomena?
"Empty of whatever is not there" does this entail "impermanence" still being there?
Where is "there"?

Kind regards

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tiltbillings
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 12, 2010 5:54 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Shonin wrote:Anatta itself is frequently misunderstood as a metaphysical/ontological claim about the non-existence of self.


Anatta is is an ontological concept. It clearly fits the definition.

on·tol·o·gy
–noun
1.
the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.
Assuming we are talking about existence and not experience.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Shonin
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Wed May 12, 2010 6:46 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Shonin wrote:Anatta itself is frequently misunderstood as a metaphysical/ontological claim about the non-existence of self.


Anatta is is an ontological concept. It clearly fits the definition.


Good example, thanks! :smile:


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