Illusion and Emptiness

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Illusion and Emptiness

Postby ashtanga » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi all,

Could someone explain to me if Theravada looks at the nature of reality in much the same way as the Tibetan schools do - ie Nargajuna and the Prasangikas. I see this as critical in the path to liberation - everything we experience is illusory and has no real substance, like a dream. Surely the realisation of this is fundamental to enlightenment. I dont see (in my limited experience) that Theravada has any analytical meditation process on Emptiness...or am I off the mark?

Thanks,

Tony...
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:16 pm

ashtanga wrote:Hi all,

Could someone explain to me if Theravada looks at the nature of reality in much the same way as the Tibetan schools do - ie Nargajuna and the Prasangikas. I see this as critical in the path to liberation - everything we experience is illusory and has no real substance, like a dream. Surely the realisation of this is fundamental to enlightenment. I dont see (in my limited experience) that Theravada has any analytical meditation process on Emptiness...or am I off the mark?

Thanks,

Tony...

Nagarjuna does not say things are illusions, but are like illusions. The Theravada Pali suttas state:

Form is like a mass of foam
And feeling - but an airy bubble.
Perception is like a mirage
And formations a plantain tree.

Consciousness is a magic-show,
A juggler's trick entire,
All these similes were made known
By the 'Kinsman-of-the-Sun."
S.III.142.

As for meditaion, vipassana is a practice for seeing the interdependent rise and fall of what it is the we are/expereince.

As for dhammas, the "ultimate things," what kind of "ultimate things" are they? Piatigorsky, in his studies of the Theravadin Abhidhamma Pitaka texts (THE BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY OF THOUGHT 1984, 181) points out dharmas are not substances; they are not 'things' in and of themselves:

We simpy cannot say that 'a dharma is... (a predicate follows)', because a dharma, in fact, 'is' no thing, yet [it is] a term denoting (not being) a certain relation or type of relation to thought, consciousness or mind. That is, dharma is not a concept in the accepted terminological sense of the latter, but a purely relational notion.
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: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:16 pm

ashtanga wrote:I dont see (in my limited experience) that Theravada has any analytical meditation process on Emptiness...or am I off the mark?

For non-mahayana it is utterly nihilistic to say that, an apple for example, does not come from its own side.

Of course it comes from its own side! It is made up of fundamental particles (ie. ultimates). If it wasn't, there would be nothing to appear to your eye sense power. Since nothing could appear to your eye sense power, an eye sense consciousness is impossible. And of course you could never cognize apples with your mental consciousness.

Interestingly Mind-Only calls Madhyamika nihilistic because they over-negate reality. Lower Madhyamika calls 'Higher' Madhyamika nihilistic because they over-negate reality. 'Higher' Madhyamika asserts that all other schools have grosser and grosser dualistic appearance.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:50 pm

5heaps wrote:
ashtanga wrote:I dont see (in my limited experience) that Theravada has any analytical meditation process on Emptiness...or am I off the mark?

For non-mahayana it is utterly nihilistic to say that, an apple for example, does not come from its own side.

Of course it comes from its own side! It is made up of fundamental particles (ie. ultimates).

Of course for the Theravada those "fundamental particle" are not self existing things and "exist" dependent upon conditions.
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: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:13 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:
ashtanga wrote:I dont see (in my limited experience) that Theravada has any analytical meditation process on Emptiness...or am I off the mark?

For non-mahayana it is utterly nihilistic to say that, an apple for example, does not come from its own side.

Of course it comes from its own side! It is made up of fundamental particles (ie. ultimates).

Of course for the Theravada those "fundamental particle" are not self existing things and "exist" dependent upon conditions.

Yep, and hopefully no buddhist system will ever live to assert that things could be self existing in this way (ie. as non dependent arisings, as being able to endure for a second moment through their own accord).
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby seanpdx » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:23 am

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Of course for the Theravada those "fundamental particle" are not self existing things and "exist" dependent upon conditions.

Yep, and hopefully no buddhist system will ever live to assert that things could be self existing in this way (ie. as non dependent arisings, as being able to endure for a second moment through their own accord).


Well... not quite the same as an apple, but the sarvativada abhidharma states that space is unconditioned. =)
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:30 am

seanpdx wrote:
5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Of course for the Theravada those "fundamental particle" are not self existing things and "exist" dependent upon conditions.

Yep, and hopefully no buddhist system will ever live to assert that things could be self existing in this way (ie. as non dependent arisings, as being able to endure for a second moment through their own accord).


Well... not quite the same as an apple, but the sarvativada abhidharma states that space is unconditioned. =)

No problem, 'things' means conditioned things, meaning objects produced through causes and conditions. Therefore space never could have the problem of enduring for a second moment of its own accord, because it never had a first moment.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:19 am

Hi ashtanga
I second Tilt's statements above.
I would also like to add to the verses he reproduced with this fine verse from the Dhammapada, reprinted in the Visuddhimagga which touches on the subject of 'emptimess and 'illusion'
And he who looks upon the world
As one who looks upon a bubble,
As one who looks upon a mirage,
Is out of sight of Death the King

-- Dhp 170 in Vism XXI, 27

kind regards

Ben
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:31 am

The Theravada position is a lot like the Sautrantikas, but not the Vaibhasika / Sarvastivadins.
This Theravada / Sautrantika position is in turn similar to, but not identical with, the basic Madhyamaka.
However, the Madhyamaka, especially if it is read through Mahayana sutras (which is almost always the case) has some other ideas, besides.

All are "illusory" (like illusion, mayopama), but they don't quite mean the same thing.
Likewise for "empty", too.
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:17 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:This Theravada / Sautrantika position is in turn similar to, but not identical with, the basic Madhyamaka.

In line with ashtanga's question, in what way are they similar?

I can give 1000 reasons why they are completely dissimilar, without explicitly relying on the fact that for 2000 years Sautrantika has laughed at Arya Nagarjuna etc for simply being nihilist.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby ashtanga » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:44 pm

Hi all,

Not sure how Nargajuna could be seen as nilhistic(?) As there is nothing that exists inherently, independently without relying upon anything else (ad nauseum) then our experiences of inherent existence (which is how we experience all phenomena) must be illusory.

This isn't nilhistic, its just true... ;)
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:32 pm

ashtanga wrote:This isn't nilhistic, its just true... ;)

Well, there's a way of testing it.

What caused the death of almost 300,000 people by tsunami?

Mahayana emptiness asserts that the wave that crushes you is devoid of arising from a separate karmic seed than the subject consciousness that is experiencing it. This is outright nihilism to a non-Mahayanist, who further calls it meaningless drivel because, as everyone knows, and which Shravaka Aryas confirm, physical things are dependent about physical cause and effects (ie. based on findable physical ultimates, or some lesser explanation).
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:38 pm

5heaps wrote:
ashtanga wrote:This isn't nilhistic, its just true... ;)

Well, there's a way of testing it.

What caused the death of almost 300,000 people by tsunami?

Mahayana emptiness asserts that the wave that crushes you is devoid of arising from a separate karmic seed than the subject consciousness that is experiencing it. This is outright nihilism to a non-Mahayanist, who further calls it meaningless drivel because, as everyone knows, and which Shravaka Aryas confirm, physical things are dependent about physical cause and effects (ie. based on findable physical ultimates, or some lesser explanation).

The Mahayana [read Tibetan scholastic Madhyamaka] jargon is a pain in the ass.

You might want to put this into clear, concise English, given that majority here are not versed in Mahayana jargon. Also, you want to take some time to unpack the following so we know what actually is and who actually is that is being referred to here: ". . . which Shravaka Aryas confirm, physical things are dependent about physical cause and effects (ie. based on findable physical ultimates, or some lesser explanation)."
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: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:31 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The Mahayana [read Tibetan scholastic Madhyamaka] jargon is a pain in the ass.

Uhhh, you don't know the half of it. Try dealing with each english scholar (ie. Dr Berzin, Dr Hopkins, Geshe Michael Roach, etc) each using their own unique english translations for the same ideas. You spend half your time working out what they're trying to refer to with the word they have chosen to use (until you understand the ideas very well and can recognize the meaning of the word based from how its being used - which takes years. Or until you learn tibetan well, which is much quicker). But, I really did try to talk as plainly as possible when giving the example.

I'll try to elaborate further. For example, the tactile sense consciousness of the body sense power and the object of that consciousness are devoid (empty) of arising from different sources (ie. they have a common natal source). In other words, although there is a subject and object, and an interaction between subject and object, they are the same essential nature.

This is very different to the, much more normal idea, that they ARE different natures, and that this must necessarily be the case in order to cognize a taxi. For example, if the taxi wasn't there you couldn't see it. How is it there? Well, a physical taxi is there through its physical causes and conditions, ultimately reducible down to its indivisible particles, which are also there. (Furthermore, Aryas, Arhats and Buddhas cognize these indivisible particles [and indivisible moments of mind], because that's for example how they gain powers over the elements, and their liberation from the cycle.) In other words if you accept this senseless mahayana emptiness stuff you not only negate taxis, you not only negate external indivisible particles, but you even negate nirvana - and what could possibly be more terrible than that?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:40 pm

5heaps wrote: Uhhh, you don't know the half of it. Try dealing with each english scholar (ie. Dr Berzin, Dr Hopkins, Geshe Michael Roach, etc) each using their own unique english translations for the same ideas.
Hopkins' poly syllabic use of English is abysmal. I could not take Roach seriously if my life depended upon it.

I'll try to elaborate further. For example, the tactile sense consciousness of the body sense power and the object of that consciousness are devoid (empty) of arising from different sources (ie. they have a common natal source). In other words, although there is a subject and object, and an interaction between subject and object, they are the same essential nature.
Common natal source means what?

Well, a physical taxi is there through its physical causes and conditions, ultimately reducible down to its indivisible particles, which are also there. (Furthermore, Aryas, Arhats and Buddhas cognize these indivisible particles [and indivisible moments of mind], because that's for example how they gain powers over the elements, and their liberation from the cycle.) In other words if you accept this senseless mahayana emptiness stuff you not only negate taxis, you not only negate external indivisible particles, but you even negate nirvana - and what could possibly be more terrible than that?
[/quote] Indivisible particles? Who holds that view?

Some of this is word games. What, in fact, are you "negating?"
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: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Hopkins' poly syllabic use of English is abysmal. I could not take Roach seriously if my life depended upon it.

lol... very good.

Common natal source means what?

Dr Berzin says:

"Two items share the same natal source (rdzas-gcig, same natalsubstance) if they arise from the same source. They may or may not be inseparable.
For example, a clay pot and its belly arise from the same potter’s wheel as their natal source and are inseparable, as is the case with a flame and the heat of the flame arising from the same match.
Two clay pots, however, may come from the same potter’s wheel, but are not inseparable. Likewise, two rebirths may arise from the same karmic legacy (sa-bon, karmic seed, karmic tendency) as their shared natal source, but are not inseparable."


Also, Dr Hopkins has a thorough explanation in “Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism”. Michael Roach explains in ACI Course 15 http://acidharma.org/aci/online/course15.html

Some of this is word games. What, in fact, are you "negating?"

No it’s not. The negation here would be external physical form because such form derives from itself (its own substance, its own nature). According to emptiness, the reality of physical objects which appear to us is that they are devoid of such a self.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:55 pm

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Mahayana [read Tibetan scholastic Madhyamaka] jargon is a pain in the ass.

Uhhh, you don't know the half of it. Try dealing with each english scholar (ie. Dr Berzin, Dr Hopkins, Geshe Michael Roach, etc) each using their own unique english translations for the same ideas. You spend half your time working out what they're trying to refer to with the word they have chosen to use (until you understand the ideas very well and can recognize the meaning of the word based from how its being used - which takes years. Or until you learn tibetan well, which is much quicker). But, I really did try to talk as plainly as possible when giving the example.

I'll try to elaborate further. For example, the tactile sense consciousness of the body sense power and the object of that consciousness are devoid (empty) of arising from different sources (ie. they have a common natal source). In other words, although there is a subject and object, and an interaction between subject and object, they are the same essential nature.

This is very different to the, much more normal idea, that they ARE different natures, and that this must necessarily be the case in order to cognize a taxi. For example, if the taxi wasn't there you couldn't see it. How is it there? Well, a physical taxi is there through its physical causes and conditions, ultimately reducible down to its indivisible particles, which are also there. (Furthermore, Aryas, Arhats and Buddhas cognize these indivisible particles [and indivisible moments of mind], because that's for example how they gain powers over the elements, and their liberation from the cycle.) In other words if you accept this senseless mahayana emptiness stuff you not only negate taxis, you not only negate external indivisible particles, but you even negate nirvana - and what could possibly be more terrible than that?


Hi Five heaps,

I am not a scholar just a practitioner but I do have an impression of what is being negated when the word shunyanta is used. It is my impression that the value of establishing the actuality of objects, relationships, or qualities goes no further than the momentary actionable and otherwise practical purpose of seeing reality as it is. Upon the passing away of this object, relationship, or quality the question of whether it in actuality had or has any objective provable reality of its own is not valuable. What this means if one uses shunyata as a practice is that you act upon your assumptions to the degree that you think they are practical while keeping in mind that they are assumptions. What a practitioner of shunyata is doing is attempting to negate the need or the desire to have their assumptions established.

Metta

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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby 5heaps » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:47 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:What this means if one uses shunyata as a practice is that you act upon your assumptions to the degree that you think they are practical while keeping in mind that they are assumptions. What a practitioner of shunyata is doing is attempting to negate the need or the desire to have their assumptions established.

That's true of every buddhist because we are all trying to find the object of negation in order to negate our ignorance leaden obscurations.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:04 pm

5heaps wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:What this means if one uses shunyata as a practice is that you act upon your assumptions to the degree that you think they are practical while keeping in mind that they are assumptions. What a practitioner of shunyata is doing is attempting to negate the need or the desire to have their assumptions established.

That's true of every buddhist because we are all trying to find the object of negation in order to negate our ignorance leaden obscurations.


Very Good Then.

Sadhu


Gabe
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Re: Illusion and Emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:58 pm

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Hopkins' poly syllabic use of English is abysmal. I could not take Roach seriously if my life depended upon it.

lol... very good.

Common natal source means what?

Dr Berzin says:

"Two items share the same natal source (rdzas-gcig, same natalsubstance) if they arise from the same source. They may or may not be inseparable.
For example, a clay pot and its belly arise from the same potter’s wheel as their natal source and are inseparable, as is the case with a flame and the heat of the flame arising from the same match.
Two clay pots, however, may come from the same potter’s wheel, but are not inseparable. Likewise, two rebirths may arise from the same karmic legacy (sa-bon, karmic seed, karmic tendency) as their shared natal source, but are not inseparable."


Also, Dr Hopkins has a thorough explanation in “Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism”. Michael Roach explains in ACI Course 15 http://acidharma.org/aci/online/course15.html

Some of this is word games. What, in fact, are you "negating?"

No it’s not. The negation here would be external physical form because such form derives from itself (its own substance, its own nature). According to emptiness, the reality of physical objects which appear to us is that they are devoid of such a self.

Do you know anything about Theravada?
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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