theravada equivalent of koan study?

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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:44 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I got that impression. There are an entire series of koans that are followed in an order. They cant all be about non-duality can they? I dont think you know what you are talking about on this subject and that you are misleading people.

Then please, by all means, correct my statements. It is not helpful to simply say that I am wrong.

alan... wrote:interesting. i posted a thread about non duality in theravada but it was largely inconclusive.

so the way you view non duality it's more literal than my version of it.

I don't have a view on non-duality any more than I have a view on transubstantiation - neither religious/philosophical concept is relevant to my practice.

i think what i meant to say was that i learned about non duality in fragments and now am trying to fit the ideas into a theravada frame work. not that it is a theravada view, but that i'm looking from inside theravada and trying to make sense out of non duality. in which case my version is likely plain wrong in the sense of it according with the mahayana view of the term.

My point is that non-duality is a concept which can't be made sense of through Theravada because Theravada is a religious system that affirms duality, or at the very least does not care about the concept of non-duality in any real way.

further there are points that can be made that make duality more complicated. for example left cannot exist without right, up without down, light without dark, sight without eyes, and so on. one exists only because of another, this can go on and on until it includes the whole universe and we are back to all being one thing. a non dual reality. for one to exist, all must exist, for all to exist, one must exist.

Yes, but there is a very big difference between concepts like direction, location, etc. and the actual realities of which the Buddha spoke.

one could also notice that we only think dualistically because we think in terms of past and future even though in reality all that exists is right now. if there is only this single moment then whatever is happening is the one and only thing that exists. all together. this is in accord with the bahiya sutta as i read it. so there is a kernel of the idea of non duality in that sense in theravada scripture. but this is again probably not the mahayana understanding of the doctrine.

This is not non-duality; it is a non-conceptual awareness of ultimate reality, a reality in which the Buddha affirmed there are boundaries and divisions and separations between things. Even if I feel the felt only as the felt, upon feeling a rock, I will feel something of a different quality than a pillow because that pillow's quality is ultimately different. It is true that the pillow and the rock do not ultimately exist, but it is not true that they are the same or that the divisions which separate them are somehow unreal ultimately.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:06 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:I got that impression. There are an entire series of koans that are followed in an order. They cant all be about non-duality can they? I dont think you know what you are talking about on this subject and that you are misleading people.

Then please, by all means, correct my statements. It is not helpful to simply say that I am wrong.

alan... wrote:interesting. i posted a thread about non duality in theravada but it was largely inconclusive.

so the way you view non duality it's more literal than my version of it.

I don't have a view on non-duality any more than I have a view on transubstantiation - neither religious/philosophical concept is relevant to my practice.

i think what i meant to say was that i learned about non duality in fragments and now am trying to fit the ideas into a theravada frame work. not that it is a theravada view, but that i'm looking from inside theravada and trying to make sense out of non duality. in which case my version is likely plain wrong in the sense of it according with the mahayana view of the term.

My point is that non-duality is a concept which can't be made sense of through Theravada because Theravada is a religious system that affirms duality, or at the very least does not care about the concept of non-duality in any real way.

further there are points that can be made that make duality more complicated. for example left cannot exist without right, up without down, light without dark, sight without eyes, and so on. one exists only because of another, this can go on and on until it includes the whole universe and we are back to all being one thing. a non dual reality. for one to exist, all must exist, for all to exist, one must exist.

Yes, but there is a very big difference between concepts like direction, location, etc. and the actual realities of which the Buddha spoke.

one could also notice that we only think dualistically because we think in terms of past and future even though in reality all that exists is right now. if there is only this single moment then whatever is happening is the one and only thing that exists. all together. this is in accord with the bahiya sutta as i read it. so there is a kernel of the idea of non duality in that sense in theravada scripture. but this is again probably not the mahayana understanding of the doctrine.

This is not non-duality; it is a non-conceptual awareness of ultimate reality, a reality in which the Buddha affirmed there are boundaries and divisions and separations between things. Even if I feel the felt only as the felt, upon feeling a rock, I will feel something of a different quality than a pillow because that pillow's quality is ultimately different. It is true that the pillow and the rock do not ultimately exist, but it is not true that they are the same or that the divisions which separate them are somehow unreal ultimately.


well how can you be so sure in shooting down all of my ideas of non duality if you don't even have a view of what it means for you personally? the bahiya sutta is a non dual thinking. if you are thinking only in terms of what is immediately happening then you are thinking in terms of the singular and therefore there is no duality. the moment you compare your rock to a pillow, there is duality. if there is ONLY the feeling of the pillow, there is just a singular event. then later there would be ONLY the rock, again, no duality, singular event. i keep saying "but this is likely not the mahayana view on it", assuming that you are speaking from this standpoint, if you're not, and you have no view on it, then why in the world are you so adamant about expressing your non view of the idea? if you truly have no view then my ideas are not wrong, they are irrelevant.

where did the buddha affirm there are boundaries and divisions and separations between things in ultimate reality? if nibbana is what you mean by "ultimate reality", being that nibbana was never clearly defined, it could be defined as non duality. so it's not firmly ruled out in theravada by any means. it's not found in the practice, but it could exist as the goal.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:30 am

alan... wrote:well how can you be so sure in shooting down all of my ideas of non duality if you don't even have a view of what it means for you personally?

I hope I'm not coming off as shooting your ideas down at all; I'm just trying to explain the tradition Theravadin view of reality, which I believe is very much a "duel" system, or one that differentiates between things.


the bahiya sutta is a non dual thinking. if you are thinking only in terms of what is immediately happening then you are thinking in terms of the singular and therefore there is no duality. the moment you compare your rock to a pillow, there is duality. if there is ONLY the feeling of the pillow, there is just a singular event. then later there would be ONLY the rock, again, no duality, singular event.

If this is what you mean by non-duality, then absolutely it is found in Theravada. I just think, perhaps, that the term is a misleading one.


i keep saying "but this is likely not the mahayana view on it", assuming that you are speaking from this standpoint, if you're not, and you have no view on it, then why in the world are you so adamant about expressing your non view of the idea? if you truly have no view then my ideas are not wrong, they are irrelevant.

I think this is the point of contention; I am only familiar with a more "classic" Mahayana perspective and perhaps I'm just not good at redefining it in a Theravada perspective. If non-duality is the best way you can think of to express the "seen as the seen" mentality, then I don't mind it; just be clear that, from the concept of non-duality, many ideas and concepts have arisen that are not in line with the Buddha's teachings.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:37 am

If this topic interests you, Alan, try reading up on papañca, which seems to be the Pali term that describes what you're talking about the best. Thanissaro talks about it in the introduction to his translation of the Madhupindika Sutta, which is one of my favorite suttas ever.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Aloka » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:40 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Non-duality is not a particularly relevant doctrine to Theravada...


This is from a section called "Non-Dualism" from "The Way it Is" by Ajahn Sumedho:


NON-DUALISM

The significant offering of the Buddhist teaching lies in what we call non-dualism. Its the 'neither-nor' approach to philosophical questions. Monistic religion tends to talk about the One, the One God, or the Whole or the Buddha Nature, or the One Mind, and that's very inspiring. We turn to monistic doctrines for inspiration. But inspiration is only one level of religious experience, and you have to outgrow it. You have to let go of the desire for inspiration, or the belief in God or in the Oneness or in the One Mind or the all embracing benevolence or in the universal fairness.

I am not asking you to not disbelieve in those things either. But the non-dualistic practice is a way of letting go of all that, of seeing attachment to the views and opinions and perceptions, because the perception of one's mind is a perception, isn't it? The perception of a universal benevolence is perception which we can attach to. The Buddha-Nature is a perception. Buddha is a perception. The one God and everything as being one universal system, global village, all is one and one is all and everything is fair and everything is kind, God loves us: these are perceptions which might be very nice, but still they are perceptions which arise and cease. Perceptions of monistic doctrines arise and cease.

Now what does that do, as a practical experience, when you let things go and they cease? What's left, what's the remainder? This is what the Buddha is pointing to in teaching about the arising and cessation of conditions.

CONTINUED :

http://www.amaravati.org/documents/the_way_it_is/18nod.html




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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:16 pm

Hi LonesomeYogurt,

It seems like there is some misunderstanding, and you've been letting it run.

Do you actually think that when someone works with a koan, that he would end up seeing things in the way that you said?

:anjali:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:19 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi LonesomeYogurt,

It seems like there is some misunderstanding, and you've been letting it run.

Do you actually think that when someone works with a koan, that he would end up seeing things in the way that you said?

:anjali:

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "the way that I said." Please clarify, and I apologize if I've misunderstood something.

Also refer to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html


The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on the outrageous. This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and enlightenment. For the Mahayana, the enlightenment which the Buddhist path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this non-dualistic perspective. The validity of conventional dualities is denied because the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness, the lack of any substantial or intrinsic reality, and hence in their emptiness all the diverse, apparently opposed phenomena posited by mainstream Buddhist doctrine finally coincide: "All dharmas have one nature, which is no-nature."

The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali canon does not endorse a philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's discourses. At the same time, however, I would not maintain that the Pali Suttas propose dualism, the positing of duality as a metaphysical hypothesis aimed at intellectual assent. I would characterize the Buddha's intent in the Canon as primarily pragmatic rather than speculative, though I would also qualify this by saying that this pragmatism does not operate in a philosophical void but finds its grounding in the nature of actuality as the Buddha penetrated it in his enlightenment. In contrast to the non-dualistic systems, the Buddha's approach does not aim at the discovery of a unifying principle behind or beneath our experience of the world. Instead it takes the concrete fact of living experience, with all its buzzing confusion of contrasts and tensions, as its starting point and framework, within which it attempts to diagnose the central problem at the core of human existence and to offer a way to its solution. Hence the polestar of the Buddhist path is not a final unity but the extinction of suffering, which brings the resolution of the existential dilemma at its most fundamental level.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:25 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "the way that I said." Please clarify, and I apologize if I've misunderstood something.

Also refer to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html


The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on the outrageous. This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and enlightenment. For the Mahayana, the enlightenment which the Buddhist path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this non-dualistic perspective. The validity of conventional dualities is denied because the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness, the lack of any substantial or intrinsic reality, and hence in their emptiness all the diverse, apparently opposed phenomena posited by mainstream Buddhist doctrine finally coincide: "All dharmas have one nature, which is no-nature."

The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali canon does not endorse a philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's discourses. At the same time, however, I would not maintain that the Pali Suttas propose dualism, the positing of duality as a metaphysical hypothesis aimed at intellectual assent. I would characterize the Buddha's intent in the Canon as primarily pragmatic rather than speculative, though I would also qualify this by saying that this pragmatism does not operate in a philosophical void but finds its grounding in the nature of actuality as the Buddha penetrated it in his enlightenment. In contrast to the non-dualistic systems, the Buddha's approach does not aim at the discovery of a unifying principle behind or beneath our experience of the world. Instead it takes the concrete fact of living experience, with all its buzzing confusion of contrasts and tensions, as its starting point and framework, within which it attempts to diagnose the central problem at the core of human existence and to offer a way to its solution. Hence the polestar of the Buddhist path is not a final unity but the extinction of suffering, which brings the resolution of the existential dilemma at its most fundamental level.


Just that.

I think the koans were supposed to stop these kind of conceptualizing (which you even said so yourself), including the so-called non-duality. This isn't something that I'm guessing.

I liked the talk by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho.

:anjali:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Viscid » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:10 pm

beelbebrox wrote:I think the koans were supposed to stop these kind of conceptualizing (which you even said so yourself), including the so-called non-duality. This isn't something that I'm guessing.

I'm inclined to agree, even Chah intended it this way, note:

Chah wrote:There is no birth, no old age, no sickness or death. Our conventional understanding of flag and wind is only a concept. In reality there is nothing. That's all! There is nothing more than empty labels.

If we practice in this way, we will come to see completeness and all of our problems will come to an end.

Though he did seem to affirm the positive ontological status of voidness/emptiness, he encouraged his students, much more importantly, to contemplate that status as an exercise toward liberation. He is both saying 'there is nothing' as a statement of fact, and as a pragmatic belief to end pointless conceptualization.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Gena1480 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:41 am

i have read some stuff of what you guys wrote
and i have no idea what duality and non-duality mean
can someone explain
where in the suttas they talk about such things
is this argument of whats real and whats not real?
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Gena1480 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:27 am

both duality and not duality
is a way of expression.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:17 am

Gena1480 wrote:and i have no idea what duality and non-duality mean

These terms mean what you cause them to mean.

Therefore all discussions about these terms are ludicrous.

It is like people discussing about a ghost that they have not seen based on individual imagination. :sage:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:37 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:...

Also refer to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html


...

The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali canon does not endorse a philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's discourses. At the same time, however, I would not maintain that the Pali Suttas propose dualism, ...

B. Bodhi may be trying to demonstrate a kind of non-dualism here ...

LonesomeYogurt wrote:...

Also refer to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html
... In contrast to the non-dualistic systems, the Buddha's approach does not aim at the discovery of a unifying principle behind or beneath our experience of the world. ...
...

This is where B. Bodhi demonstrates dualistic intellectualism :sage:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:53 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Then please, by all means, correct my statements. It is not helpful to simply say that I am wrong.



I dont have the expertise to correct you. I have spent at least a year doing "mu", have been a somewhat serious student of zen /chan since the early 90's and have been working on chan huatou for the past 4 years. Despite that i dont feel qualified to make the kind of blanket statements you have made and i think that a few months of koan study hardly qualifies you as an expert. Of course its always possible that im just exceptionally slow on the uptake :)
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Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:32 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:Then please, by all means, correct my statements. It is not helpful to simply say that I am wrong.



I dont have the expertise to correct you. I have spent at least a year doing "mu", have been a somewhat serious student of zen /chan since the early 90's and have been working on chan huatou for the past 4 years. Despite that i dont feel qualified to make the kind of blanket statements you have made and i think that a few months of koan study hardly qualifies you as an expert. Of course its always possible that im just exceptionally slow on the uptake :)


Go beginners mind!

But where would the forums be, if beginners mind was really practiced?

Mostly quiet, I guess...
_/|\_
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:33 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I dont have the expertise to correct you. I have spent at least a year doing "mu", have been a somewhat serious student of zen /chan since the early 90's and have been working on chan huatou for the past 4 years. Despite that i dont feel qualified to make the kind of blanket statements you have made and i think that a few months of koan study hardly qualifies you as an expert. Of course its always possible that im just exceptionally slow on the uptake :)

I don't think I'm an expert in any way. I'm just stating what I believe to be the Theravada position of Mahayana concepts of non-duality, based on the suttas and the work of others like Bhikkhu Bodhi and Buddhadasa. I hope I haven't come off as claiming any kind of authority or expertise in the area; if I spoke outside my bounds, I apologize.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:12 pm

"non-duality" may be the most ridiculous and pointless idea ever presented within a Buddhist context.
Don't waste your time with it.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby ground » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:15 am

alan wrote:"non-duality" may be the most ridiculous and pointless idea ever presented within a Buddhist context.
Don't waste your time with it.

Ideas are just ideas. Human being waste all of their lives with ideas. There is no alternative. Human dilemma. :sage:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Nyorai » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:07 am

Theravada is foremost to understand the four noble truth and applying several methods like breathing to achieve emptiness. And koan can be applied like breathing and other methods as well. However, for koan in zen, it directly bypasses the study of four noble truth first. Upon attainment, it relies upon enlightened teacher or sutra or sttua to authenticate/verify their attainment. Generally in Theravada, mostly stated in sutta on emptiness is sort of "suppressing" the alaya mind/consciousness into emptiness. It is still the alaya consciousness at work but a purer version of consicousness than all alaya minds.
"When there is no intellect, when there are no ideas, when there is no intellect-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When thMadhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey
six consciousness - When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

"When there is no ear...
"When there is no nose...
"When there is no tongue...
"When there is no body...

ere is no delineation of contact, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is no delineation of feeling, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is no delineation of perception, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.


However, the theravada sutta also revealed the non dualism aspect of Mahayana but in a lesser scale as you need to know that the theravada was taught by Buddha for 12 consecutive years mainly to prepare most theravadists then into mahayana doctrine. And amongst them, they were quite a number had already developed the awareness of mahayana. Below mentioned:
Bāhiya Sutta - "Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."[2]


This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and enlightenment. For the Mahayana, the enlightenment which the Buddhist path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this non-dualistic perspective.

Also refer to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_27.html

Upon realization, samsara and Nirvana has no ultimate difference because there is no samsara and nirvana at all, henceforth is known as non-dualism.
:anjali:
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If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:11 am

Nyorai wrote: Generally in Theravada, mostly stated in sutta on emptiness is sort of "suppressing" the alaya mind/consciousness into emptiness. It is still the alaya consciousness at work but a purer version of consicousness than all alaya minds.
Would please expand on that a bit. Not all us here are grounded in Yogachara.

And this really could use some further expansion: "mostly stated in sutta on emptiness is sort of "suppressing" the alaya mind/consciousness into emptiness."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

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