Emptiness

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Wed May 12, 2010 6:51 am

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

Which one can easily see stated.


And likewise for Sunyata.

tiltbillings wrote:
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.


From a Theravadan this view is to be expected and you are entitled to it. As I see it no one school is free from problems or misunderstandings. Different schools are good for different people and times. There is more than one valid way to practice Buddhism.
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 12, 2010 6:55 am

Shonin wrote:
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!
Yes, it is; it is a good example of pushing anatta into an area the Buddha likely did not intend.
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.

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

Postby PeterB » Wed May 12, 2010 7:21 am

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. 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.


It may be Shonin that Zen has more of a problem with ontology in this specific area than does the Theravada, where it is not a dirty word when conisistent to the Pali Canon.
Remember we are more inclined to validate the experiential against the Canon rather than by an ontological postulate like "Buddhadhatu".
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Wed May 12, 2010 8:03 am

PeterB wrote:It may be Shonin that Zen has more of a problem with ontology in this specific area than does the Theravada, where it is not a dirty word when conisistent to the Pali Canon.
Remember we are more inclined to validate the experiential against the Canon rather than by an ontological postulate like "Buddhadhatu".


No, my gang's better than your gang. :jumping:

It is human nature to cling to concepts as ontological truths. Probably indeed Mahayana as a whole is more prone to metaphysics than Theravada. Zen is different. The Zen that I've been taught uses concepts like Anatta, Sunyata, Buddhadhatu and so on, flexibly and without dogmatic attachment for soteriological purposes. It teaches the provisionality of all concepts and non-attachment to them. They are just means of awakening us. Correctly understood, Zen transcends such notions - 'correctly understood' being the operative phrase. There are no doubt Zen students who do cling to concepts as ontological absolutes falling into eternalism, annihilationism, absolutism, nihilism etc. The koan literature is all about these mistakes and the liberation from them.

It is not necessarily the case that either Theravada is right OR Zen is right, Peter.
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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Wed May 12, 2010 8:12 am

I think that one of them is closer to what the Buddha taught as recorded in the Pali Canon, Shonin.
I am a Theravadin by choice having looked hard and long at the alternatives.
(And I am personally disinterested in the Mahayana canon..)
I leave you to decide which if either.
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Shonin » Wed May 12, 2010 8:31 am

PeterB wrote:I think that one of them is closer to what the Buddha taught as recorded in the Pali Canon, Shonin.


I agree. And that is where my interest in the Nikayas comes from (and in much Theravada too). But reading about a dead sage's understanding is one thing and awakening oneself is another. Also, Gautama Buddha is not the only sage I respect or regard as awakened.

Horses for courses
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Pannapetar » Wed May 12, 2010 9:16 am

PeterB wrote:I think that one of them is closer to what the Buddha taught as recorded in the Pali Canon, Shonin.
I am a Theravadin by choice having looked hard and long at the alternatives.


Have you considered the emptiness of all dhammas?

Is a blue shirt inherently better than a white shirt?

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Dan74 » Wed May 12, 2010 9:29 am

Pannapetar wrote:
PeterB wrote:I think that one of them is closer to what the Buddha taught as recorded in the Pali Canon, Shonin.
I am a Theravadin by choice having looked hard and long at the alternatives.


Have you considered the emptiness of all dhammas?

Is a blue shirt inherently better than a white shirt?

Cheers, Thomas


No. In fact a white shirt is inherently better than a blue shirt, thank you very much.

Tories just won elections in the UK.

:tongue:
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Re: Emptiness

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed May 12, 2010 1:27 pm

TMingyur wrote:
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?

maybe there are better ways to say it but i liked the emphasis of saying it twice :)
TMingyur wrote:"Empty of whatever is not there" does this entail "impermanence" still being there?

To what would one ascribe the quality of impermanence?

TMingyur wrote:Where is "there"?


I would guess the sutta quote is referring to ones perceptual field or awareness. What do you think?
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: Emptiness

Postby ground » Thu May 13, 2010 4:34 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
TMingyur wrote:"Empty of whatever is not there" does this entail "impermanence" still being there?

To what would one ascribe the quality of impermanence?

To "something" which is identifiable and that which is "identifiable" as "this" (which is said to be "impermanent") may appear so based on the construction of "own being" of "this". Otherwise if there is no "own being" to what does "this" (which is said to be "impermanent") refer to?

m0rl0ck wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Where is "there"?


I would guess the sutta quote is referring to ones perceptual field or awareness. What do you think?

Maybe.

Kind regards
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Re: Emptiness

Postby Dmytro » Thu May 13, 2010 5:21 am

Hi Tony,

ashtanga wrote:Cacn someone explain how Theravadin meditation practices - following the breath, vipassana etc... - can bring about an experience of Emptiness.


There's an in-depth description of this practice at the website:
http://emptyuniverse.110mb.com

Metta,
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 13, 2010 7:20 am

Dmytro wrote:http://emptyuniverse.110mb.com

Metta,
Dmytro
Where is the rest of the Emptyuniverse stuff?
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.

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

Postby PeterB » Thu May 13, 2010 7:52 am

Is "Emptiness" an adequate or satisfactory rendition of Anatta ? Even when adorned with a capital E ?
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 13, 2010 8:04 am

PeterB wrote:Is "Emptiness" an adequate or satisfactory rendition of Anatta ? Even when adorned with a capital E ?

"Empty of self" is a possibility.
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.

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

Postby PeterB » Thu May 13, 2010 8:08 am

I am not being pedantic here ..does "Empty of self."..differ from "empty of self." ?
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 13, 2010 8:32 am

PeterB wrote:I am not being pedantic here ..does "Empty of self."..differ from "empty of self." ?

Well, not sure that I understand the question, but "Empty of self" are three words that would start at the beginning of a sentence, and "empty of self" would be used elsewhere with a sentence. Seriously: There are no capital letter in Sanskrit, out which Pali comes, so I would rather doubt that the that "empty" would be emphasized in such a way.

The "an" in anatta is a cognate to the "an" in a word such as "anurous" - having no tail. How would you gloss anurous? Free of a tail, without a tail, empty of a tail, tailless, but I'll defer here to a Pali-wallah such a the infrequent Ven Dhamanando, whose reading of Pali I trust greatly. English translators sort get stuck on no, not and un for translating words with the prefix of a/an. Asankhata is a prime example: unconditioned being a really crappy translation of the word, which gives the horrifying locution: the unconditioned, as if it were some thing out there.
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.

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

Postby PeterB » Thu May 13, 2010 8:39 am

Yeah...maybe its me..really..but " Empty " when the word does nor start a sentence is a little similar. That capital E seems to suggest something portentious . Not a mere absence .
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Re: Emptiness

Postby PeterB » Thu May 13, 2010 8:45 am

Its probably just me Tilt. The years spent on cushions listening to discourses on the" Seventeen Kinds of Emptiness " during my time in the Vajrayana have no doubt left their scars..
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Re: Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 13, 2010 8:48 am

PeterB wrote:Yeah...maybe its me..really..but " Empty " when the word does nor start a sentence is a little similar. That capital E seems to suggest something portentious . Not a mere absence .

Portentous. [cue the portentous oooh voices]. Maybe we can do without a portentous reading of empty. Too much of that going around as it is, which gives rise to such notions as buddhanature or luminous mind and such other things from which we should run away.
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.

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

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 13, 2010 8:50 am

PeterB wrote:Its probably just me Tilt. The years spent on cushions listening to discourses on the" Seventeen Kinds of Emptiness " during my time in the Vajrayana have no doubt left their scars..

Well, the nice things about the 17 kinds of Emptiness is that they are all empty.
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.

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