Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:54 am

Thanks for that quote, Tiltbillings. I think I remember seeing somebody posting that before. I'm a bit skeptical that there's seriously a discernible difference between advaita and advaya. I'd like to know on what basis Guenther says that.

With that said, in Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, I remember him saying that reality is not two and not one.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:11 am

Individual wrote:Thanks for that quote, Tiltbillings. I think I remember seeing somebody posting that before. I'm a bit skeptical that there's seriously a discernible difference between advaita and advaya. I'd like to know on what basis Guenther says that.


I quoted it before here. And Guenther's basis would be a careful reading of the texts, being proficient in Sanskrit and Tibetan and being a highly regarded scholar of things Indian and Tibetan. He makes a distinction, but no one yet, were I have posted this, picks it up.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
The Dawn of Tantra; Herbert V. Guenther, Chogyam Trungpa; ed. Michael Kohn, illustrated Glen Eddy and Terris Temple; The Clear Light Series; Shambala; Berkley & London; 1975

Guenther: The term advaita, as we use it, stems from Shankara's Vedanta. The Buddhists never used this term, but used rather the term advaya. Advaya means "not-two"; advaita means "one without a second." The conception of "one without a second" puts us at once into the realm of dualistic fictions. Rather than remaining in immediate experience, with the idea of "one" we posit a definite object. This would then necessarily be over against a definite subject, which is the implication Shankara wanted to deny with the "without a second." By saying "not-two" you remain on solid ground, because "not-two" does not mean "one." That conclusion does not follow.

In the works of Saraha and other Buddhist teachers, it is said that it is impossible to say "one" without prejudgment of experience. But Shankara and his followers were forced by the scriptural authority of the Vedas to posit this One and so were then forced to add the idea "without a second." What they wanted to say was that only Atman is real. Now the logic of their position should force them to then say that everything else is unreal. But Shankara himself is not clear on this point. He re-introduced the idea of illusion which had previously been rejected by him. Now if only Atman is real, then even illusion apart from it is impossible. But he was forced into accepting the idea of illusion. So he was forced into a philosophical position which, if it were to be expressed in a mathematical formula, would make absolute nonsense. So intellectually, in this way, it could be said that the Vedanta is nonsense.


Yeah, i remember you posted this before, tilt. Where was that?

As i recall we all went on for at least a page or two with people challenging Guenther's views and rather dualistic definitions. Neither side seemed to budge. Guenther seems a bit hostile and intolerant towards Advaita, but i could be misunderstanding him...

"So intellectually, in this way, it could be said that the Vedanta is nonsense."


Yeah... okaaaay...

:coffee:
Last edited by christopher::: on Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:24 am

And you make my point of the msg that precedes your, you really do not address Guenther's point.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:26 am

tiltbillings wrote:And you make my point of the msg that precedes your, you really do not address Guenther's point.


Could you provide a link to the last time we discussed this, tilt? There's a very deja vu quality to this conversation...

I'm not a scholar of either Buddhism or Vendanta, but I do have a fairly good nose for word games and dualistic logic, which Guenther seems to employ, at least in these quotes. This is not the path, to argue logic. The way suggested both by more highly realized Advaita and Buddhist teachers (imo) is to keep awareness outside the bounds of dualistic conceptualizations, and avoid, such logic games...

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:42 am

christopher::: wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And you make my point of the msg that precedes your, you really do not address Guenther's point.


Could you provide a link to the last time we discussed this, tilt? There's a very deja vu quality to this conversation...


Here viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1236 and no one actually addressed Guenther's point.

I'm not a scholar of either Buddhism or Vendanta, but I do have a fairly good nose for word games and dualistic logic, which Guenther seems to employ, at least in these quotes. This is not the path, to argue logic. The way suggested both by more highly realized Advaita and Buddhist teachers (imo) is to keep awareness outside the bounds of dualistic conceptualizations, and avoid, such logic games...

:namaste:


Well, what you just said here is an attempt at trying to side step actually dealing with the issues.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks for the link, tilt. We went through this already. Individual's post over there is still pretty close to how i view this. But again, an intellectualized view is not reality or realization. You argued with Individual's points (below) over there before, and can do so again if you wish.

Many people agreed with you last time, some of us didn't.

Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
"The Dawn of Tantra; Herbert V. Guenther, Chogyam Trungpa; ed. Michael Kohn, illustrated Glen Eddy and Terris Temple; The Clear Light Series; Shambala; Berkley & London; 1975 pp. 74-76

"The term advaita, as we use it, stems from Shankara's Vedanta. The Buddhists never used this term, but used rather the term advaya. Advaya means "not-two"; advaita means "one without a second." The conception of "one without a second" puts us at once into the realm of dualistic fictions. Rather than remaining in immediate experience, with the idea of "one" we posit a definite object. This would then necessarily be over against a definite subject, which is the implication Shankara wanted to deny with the "without a second." By saying "not-two" you remain on solid ground, because "not-two" does not mean "one." That conclusion does not follow.


I'm not sure what he says is right. If Pali and Sanskrit are related languages, then they would share the same roots. According to this Sanskrit dictionary, Advaita means "non-duality" and Dvitva means "duality". According to the PTS dictionary, Dvaya means "two-fold" and thus, Advaya means "not-twofold", as he says.

But since the two sets of words seem to be of the same etymological roots, distinguishing them seems weird. Adding the a- prefix is a negation in Pali or Sanskrit. Now, of course early Buddhists didn't speak Sanskrit. But Dvitva also can be translated as "couple" or "pair". So, you could also interpret Advaita as meaning "not two" also. Furthermore, the common usage of language doesn't necessarily follow logic, so it's entirely plausible that Advaya in Pali could mean both non-dualism or monism, in addition to being a description of the Buddhist rejection of both dualism and non-dualism.

Also, I believe some the Advaitins reject monism and dualism as well, by saying that the individual atman (self or soul) is an illusion. The great "Atman" is upheld as supreme ideal, or ultimate, but you have the same notion in Buddhism, regarding Nirvana, the Deathless, etc., although it isn't referred to as Atman. Not referring to it as Atman is a difference, but only a trivial one, really. Both seem to be dialectical monism... Both "self is real" and "self is not real" are refuted as views in favor of direct insight. This disagreement really only arises out of a Theravadin stubbornness to take philosophical positions and conflating the Advaitin Atman with the idea of an existent agent or soul.


No offense, but i'd rather not re-hash all this again online, arguing philosophical positions.. which as you pointed out elsewhere, are fabrications of the mind.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:39 am

Yes the rather unfortunate fixation on a dictionary reading of adavita, ignoring how the tradition, past and living, define the term. You are still not addressing Guenther's point.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:Yes the rather unfortunate fixation on a dictionary reading of adavita, ignoring how the tradition, past and living, define the term. You are still not addressing Guenther's point.


How can I? Does Guenther have direct long-term experiential knowledge of the Advaita tradition past and living? Was he an Advaita practitioner who worked with a teacher? Did you, do I?

As Individual said:

Both "self is real" and "self is not real" are refuted as views in favor of direct insight.


Direct insight.

This is what the Zen Buddhist path is about. It seems this is what many Advaita teachers stress as well. Guenther's points are a scholar's critique. He calls Vendanta nonsense. For me, to discuss a respected spiritual tradition in this manner is nonsense. It has nothing to do with direct experience, which is what most traditions are really all about.

I'm gonna pull a Zen card on this one and bow to the nondual wisdom of Seng Tsan. This will be my last post in this discussion thread, for a day or two at least.

Hope you have a good weekend, Tilt. Take care everyone.

:namaste:

HSIN HSIN MING: Verses on the Faith Mind
by The 3rd Zen Patriarch, Seng T'san

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When attachment and aversion are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things nor in inner feelings of emptiness. Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance. Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions. Do not remain in the dualistic state -- avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when such a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way. When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (object)."
Last edited by christopher::: on Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:15 am

christopher::: wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Yes the rather unfortunate fixation on a dictionary reading of adavita, ignoring how the tradition, past and living, define the term. You are still not addressing Guenther's point.


How can I? Does Guenther have direct long-term experiential knowledge of the Advaita tradition past and living? Was he an Advaita practitioner who worked with a teacher? Did you, do I?


If you don't why are you saying all this stuff about it. As for Guenther, as far as I know he could have been a very realized man.

You are still not addressing his very fundamental point.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:37 am

christopher::: wrote:As i recall we all went on for at least a page or two with people challenging Guenther's views and rather dualistic definitions. Neither side seemed to budge. Guenther seems a bit hostile and intolerant towards Advaita, but i could be misunderstanding him...

That's why I'm skeptical. One person hostile to Advaita citing a scholar hostile to Advaita... So what if he's proficient in ancient languages and cultures. There are Christian creationists with similar knowledge of history and biology. I'd like to know on what basis he says Advaya and Advaita are different. At what point did someone decide that such etymologically connected words would have such a nuanced contrast of meaning? Is the entire Sanskrit language really defined by Advaita and the entire Pali language is defined by Buddhism? I just don't find it to be very credible, without understanding why he makes such an extraordinary claim.

christopher::: wrote:How can I? Does Guenther have direct long-term experiential knowledge of the Advaita tradition past and living? Was he an Advaita practitioner who worked with a teacher? Did you, do I?

I don't think it matters at all. The validity of a claim depends on the basis of the evidence cited, not who said it or in what context. Also, would he not have to be alive for several centuries to meet the critera you just set? Long-term experiential knowledge of the Advaita tradition -- past and living? How could he achieve that without being some kind of immortal? That's a very strict criteria. Would you say you need to be a long-time Christian to have an informed opinion of it? I've heard Biblical fundamentalists tell me that before -- that you can't rightly judge Christianity until you're born again.

christopher::: wrote:As Individual said:

Both "self is real" and "self is not real" are refuted as views in favor of direct insight.


Direct insight.

This is what the Zen Buddhist path is about. It seems this is what many Advaita teachers stress as well.

You seemed to skip over the distinction I made and focused on two words to draw a tenuous comparison. Lots of religions and philosophies could try to attach themselves to "direct insight."

Do followers of Advaita regard "self is not real" and "self is real" as both convoluted views? If not, then it's a bit confusing to call them "Advaita" (contrasted with Dvaita schools of Hinduism). If so, then there's a distinction there between Buddhism and Advaita.

christopher::: wrote:Hope you have a good weekend, Tilt. Take care everyone.

:namaste:

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:23 am

For all the above stated in the immediately above msg, still no one is addressing Guenther's point. Lot of inappropriate huffing and puffing about hostility. Oh, well.
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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby nathan » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:37 am

I have recently been presenting my dependently originated causally compounded consciously conceptual considerations on these issues, in contradistinction to essentialist/eternalist conceptions here:

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/th ... +Amoral%3F

metta & upekkha
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:For all the above stated in the immediately above msg, still no one is addressing Guenther's point. Lot of inappropriate huffing and puffing about hostility. Oh, well.

I don't know on what basis Guenther says advaya is distinguished from advaita, and without knowing that, I don't accept what he says as true on the basis of him being one among many biased experts. I don't require your source to be an Advaita guru, but at least cite several independent scholars who don't sound like they're trashing a belief system, as if they have a personal stake in the matter... Guenther is a Tibetan Buddhist too. Let's say he has an article which trashes Theravada or exalts Tibetan Buddhism. If such an article contains extraordinary claims which are unsubstantiated, would you simply take Guenther at his word?

A fair analysis would involve hearing what others say, both Guenther's supporters and critics. You're suggesting we accept a one-sided point-of-view at face value, because of his credentials.

nathan wrote:my dependently originated causally compounded consciously conceptual considerations

:?
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:50 am

Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:For all the above stated in the immediately above msg, still no one is addressing Guenther's point. Lot of inappropriate huffing and puffing about hostility. Oh, well.

I don't know on what basis Guenther says advaya is distinguished from advaita,


You want citations and all? Guenther's comment was an aswer in Q&A part of a more formal talk. His source for avdaita is, obviously Shankara's writings. Have you read Shankara? Guenther is pretty much on the mark.

and without knowing that, I don't accept what he says as true on the basis of him being one among many biased experts.


He said, displayimng a distinct bias. Even if he is biased, it still does not negate Guenther's point, which no one has actually addressed, yet.

Let's say he has an article which trashes Theravada or exalts Tibetan Buddhism. If such an article contains extraordinary claims which are unsubstantiated, would you simply take Guenther at his word?


He has criticized the Theravada. I have no problem with that. It does not mean he is right about it, but I can at least address the poinrt he raised.

A fair analysis would involve hearing what others say, both Guenther's supporters and critics. You're suggesting we accept a one-sided point-of-view at face value, because of his credentials.


I am not suggesting any dumb-assed thing of the sort. I simply saying there is a small but vital point that Guenther makes, which has yet to be addressed.
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.

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby nathan » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:18 am

Conceptions of an essence or eternal consciousness quality fail under the reality testing of direct examination and in no other way. Thus right view, 'all conditions are dependently originated', 'what arises passes', is both preliminary to the right path and ultimately conclusive in full release.

metta & upekkha
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:28 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:For all the above stated in the immediately above msg, still no one is addressing Guenther's point. Lot of inappropriate huffing and puffing about hostility. Oh, well.

I don't know on what basis Guenther says advaya is distinguished from advaita,


You want citations and all?

I want his sources and his claim verified. He says advaya is distinct from advaita. Is this claim standard knowledge or is it his own view? In either case, upon what does he base it on?

There's nothing about the words themselves that suggest advaya means "not-two" but advaita means "one without a second", because they're both formed the same way, to my knowledge, as a negation of dvaya or dvaita. Dvaita, dvaya... dualism. Thus, advaita, advaya, the negation of dualism. Same with Atta and Anatta, Mula and Amula, Dosa and Adosa, etc.. It's a definition through negation of another term, like in English, there's do and undo, fold and unfold, make and unmake, etc.. If you were asked what these words meant, you could say they meant "the opposite of do, the opposite of folding, the opposite of making", but if you were to translate these terms into a foreign language, people might come up with a diversity of possible translations, and the process of translation can obscure the meaning.

Now, in virtually every literature that uses this term, do they ALWAYS use it in such a way that it's explicitly "not-two" for advaya and "one without a second" for advaita? You couldn't use the term both ways? I don't know if that's true, but if Guenther is biased, I can't accept this claim at face-value; he's only one scholar.

But if they are a negation, it suggests a duality. There is the obvious duality between dualism and non-dualism, pluralism and monism. Advaya means "not-two" and "advaya" means two. A very simple and obvious duality. But with advaita, Guenther claims that advaita means "one without a second," but then what does dvaita mean? Two without one? If dvaita does indeed mean pluralistic, dualistic, many, etc., than it seems pretty plausible than advaita means a negation of that, and Guenther's just wrong, obscuring the meaning of the word by creating a peculiar rendering of it that narrows the meaning to avoid any possible overlap with Buddhist ideas.

tiltbillings wrote:Guenther's comment was an aswer in Q&A part of a more formal talk. His source for avdaita is, obviously Shankara's writings. Have you read Shankara? Guenther is pretty much on the mark.

Is that his only source for it? That is, did Shankara invent the term "advaita," does he always use it in such a way that it means "one without a second," and did every Indian or follower of Advaita since then use the term in the same manner? This is relevant to Guenther's point. If he doesn't have the evidence to back up such a claim, his point doesn't stand.
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:47 am

Individual wrote:I want his sources and his claim verified. He says advaya is distinct from advaita. Is this claim standard knowledge or is it his own view? In either case, upon what does he base it on?


Upon years of study of primary sources and studying with Indians in India. You might do well to actually read Shankara and some classic Advaita stuff.

There's nothing about the words themselves that suggest advaya means "not-two" but advaita means "one without a second", because they're both formed the same way, to my knowledge, as a negation of dvaya or dvaita. Dvaita, dvaya... dualism.


Your knowledge, as has been shown when you brought this up before, is - at very best - limited. "One without a second" is a classic gloss of advaita, by Advaita Vedantins and it is still used by traditional Advaitans to this day, as has been very carefuilly shown to you. Dictionaries are extremely useful, but are not always the last word on how a term is used and understood within a tradition.

Thus, advaita, advaya, the negation of dualism. ....


Your "thus" is not grounded in any actual working with the traditions in question, but that aside, you are still not addressing the very interesting, fundamental point Guenther is making.
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.

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:01 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:I want his sources and his claim verified. He says advaya is distinct from advaita. Is this claim standard knowledge or is it his own view? In either case, upon what does he base it on?


Upon years of study of primary sources and studying with Indians in India.

Does he wear a large, impressive-looking hat too?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:08 am

Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:I want his sources and his claim verified. He says advaya is distinct from advaita. Is this claim standard knowledge or is it his own view? In either case, upon what does he base it on?


Upon years of study of primary sources and studying with Indians in India.

Does he wear a large, impressive-looking hat too?


No. He is presently quite dead, but your snotty answer is not worthy of you. There is a point Guenther made that is worth looking at. Rather than all your side track stuff, maybe you might want to look at that.
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.

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