The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby ground » Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:07 pm

Dexing wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
Dexing wrote:Yogacara teachings first of all teach that everything ordinary beings perceive is merely the object of a subjective consciousness and not objective existence. Once realizing this, then obviously "exist" or "does not exist" both do not apply.

The first and the second sentence are contradicting.
Also how does Yogacara explain two individuals sharing the same "object of subjective experience". e.g. two individuals seeing fire and burning their fingers after they put their fingers in the fire and are holding them there?
How does Yogacara explain sucessful human activity based on thought and perception of objects shared by different individuals (e.g. science, mathematics)?

Kind regards


They are not contradicting. They are both saying there is nothing to point to and label as "existing" or "not existing". There is simply nothing there at all. But attaching to this non-existence saying something "does not exist" is still asserting "something" that does not exist.

It sounds contradictory, but the first instance is showing the unreality of illusory objects, and the second is cautioning you not to attach to the non-existence of the object, because that would assert "something" that does not exist. Like illusory flowers floating in the sky when the sight becomes fatigued. Actually nothing is there, but if you stubbornly cling to these flowers as "existing" or "not existing" then you make them real either way. But first you must realize what appears before you is an illusion.

Make sense?

No. Why should this make more sense than the conventional "view of the world"?
If you burn your fingers with fire it does not matter wether you conceive the fire as an "illusion" or you conceive it being an objective fire external of yourself.
If you are hungry you buy food. You buy your "illusory food" to get rid of your "illusory hunger" and another buys food that exists out there in the shop external of himself. But both of you are acting according to the conventional "view of the world" so what is the difference? You are attached to a speculative view that is contradicted by your own behaviour and the other simply acts and thinks about his acting in conventional ways. Who's view is consistent with his behaviour?

If the only purpose of your speculative view is to persuade yourself in order to alleviate your grasping at experiences and you temporarily succeed that does not validate that your view is correct. What about simply not grasping at experiences and thinking in conventionally valid terms?

Dexing wrote:... it is explained as "collective karma".

"collective karma" cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched but external objects can.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:39 pm

Shonin wrote:It seems to me - and I suspect to many other respondents here - that it is you who is attaching to non-existence as shown by the way you repeatedly insist on it and defend it as a transcendent ontological/metaphysical reality. It isn't just the non-existence of 'individual things' which is a mistaken view, but the non-existence of 'everything' ie. that there is any such non-existence at all. It is another form of self-view: reality has an essential/inherent/objective nature and that nature is nothingness.


Actually I have only been speaking in terms of the first step, because this must be completely understood first. First is to realize that Objects of Consciousness are illusory and unreal. They don't truly exist but appear to. This is the basic introductory realization taught in Yogacara.

Then it follows that, as found in Madhyamika, "exist" and "not exist" both do not apply. There is nothing to point to as "existing" or "not existing".

And in the Chan school it becomes open your mouth and you are already wrong.

Three kinds of teaching. Only false thinking makes them different. Genuine practice shows them all to be arriving at the same point.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:40 pm

dhamma follower wrote:Interesting, you've changed "all are illusion" into "all as illusion"....


It was only the grammar of the sentence. The "teaching of all as illusion" is that "all is illusion". I don't know what you are trying to catch me up in. lol

dhamma follower wrote:First, the self view is already eradicated at the sotapana level. For an Arahant, it's delusion which is eradicated, according to Theravada.
Second, how can self-view be eradicated if there's still a perceiver in the experience ? Where is it said in Theravada texts? and actually, Nibanna is even beyond the merging of the perceived and the perceiver, it is beyond nama and rupa.
Third, the "simple" non-identification with the process happens at much lower levels of insights.

So, this Mahayana perspective is based on a superficial if not erroneous understanding of Theravada.


Wait a minute. To be fair, you asked me how I understand the experience of Nibbana and whether or not there is a perceiver and perceived. Of course the first thing I said was "From a Mahayana perspective", which does not mean "a Mahayana perspective of Nibbana in Theravada tradition".

Now I also didn't affirm a Perceiver and Perceived in the experience, as that would be identification with the process. What I said was for an Arahant (as one who has realized Nibbana) it is the end of suffering associated with the false view of self (clinging is caused by the delusion of selfhood, which accounts for suffering), but there is still Consciousness and Objects of Consciousness, Inside and Outside. To identify with this process would be to apply a Perceiver and Perceived to the mix.

dhamma follower wrote:May be as some have suggested, it would be helpful to make definitions of some key terms in your position, such as: bodhicitta, illusion, arahant, bodhisattva, consciousness etc....

like when you say:
A Buddha does not have consciousness. Consciousness always belongs to Ordinary Beings.
then it gives rise to :thinking:


I've already said to make sense of it would take an understanding of the Eight Consciousnesses [of Orindary Beings] and Four Wisdoms [of Buddhas], teachings not found in Theravada to my knowledge.

But in this teaching, consciousness always belongs to Ordinary Beings who function from a Subject-Object position, their perception is slow and dull. But when fully awakened, an Ordinary Being becomes a Buddha by a transformation of Eight types of Consciousness into Four types of Wisdom, which is spontaneous liberating action which doesn't rely on Subject-Object perception, deduction, contemplation.

A situation appears and an Ordinary Being may perceive 'here I am and there is a suffering being. I should help them, and if I do so I should attain great merit and they should be very grateful to me'. Then their actions based on deluded consciousness may or may not be of actual benefit.

A Buddha on the other hand is not relying upon slow and ignorant consciousness. A situation appears and boom- the most proper spontaneous liberating action. And because it is based on very clear Mirror-like Wisdom it can never be mistaken.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:42 pm

TMingyur wrote:Why should this make more sense than the conventional "view of the world"?
If you burn your fingers with fire it does not matter wether you conceive the fire as an "illusion" or you conceive it being an objective fire external of yourself.
If you are hungry you buy food. You buy your "illusory food" to get rid of your "illusory hunger" and another buys food that exists out there in the shop external of himself. But both of you are acting according to the conventional "view of the world" so what is the difference? You are attached to a speculative view that is contradicted by your own behaviour and the other simply acts and thinks about his acting in conventional ways. Who's view is consistent with his behaviour?


Objects of Consciousness being illusory does not mean we are no longer subject to Karma or World-System Cause & Effect. As long as there is the Karma for this physical body there will be sensations of pain, hunger, etc., but it is still created by false thinking.

If the only purpose of your speculative view is to persuade yourself in order to alleviate your grasping at experiences and you temporarily succeed that does not validate that your view is correct. What about simply not grasping at experiences and thinking in conventionally valid terms?


Right. As stated in the Shurangama Sutra; "The Sages and the Ordinary People's path are not two."

That means; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. Ordinary people conceptualize and grasp at these experiences, creating falseness in reality. A Buddha does not follow their thinking, but just sees, just hears, just smells, etc..

So the Buddha says in the Avatamsaka Sutra; "I see that all living beings have the virtuous qualities of the Tathagata's wisdom, yet due to conceptualizing the unreal and grasping, they are unable to realize it."

But the point is not just to stop grasping, but to break through illusion to reveal reality. As long as one takes the Five Aggregates for granted, even if no longer identifying with them, one cannot break through their illusion and see true nature- thereby transforming Consciousness into Wisdom and properly functioning to save all beings.

TMingyur wrote:"collective karma" cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched but external objects can.


This is the very problem I'm trying to address. You think you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch external objects.

Your eyes only see color. Your ears only hear sound. Your nose only smells fragrances. Your tongue only tastes flavors. Your body only feels tactile sensations.

Color is not an external object. Sound is not an external object. Fragrance is not an external object. Flavor is not an external object. Sensation is not an external object.

You can never see, hear, smell, taste, or touch external objects. You cannot even think of an object that is not color, sound, fragrance, flavor, feeling, or any combination of those.

Taking these experiences of subjective consciousness and imputing the existence of an external object is the fundamental mistake.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Hoo » Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:25 am

Dexing,my apologies for yet another long post. But a thought occurred to me and I'll share it in case it's relevant. What benefit is it to you to continue stating your beliefs when others don't seem to agree? Isn't that just "I-making" activity? "Your beliefs" = self and views? To apply energy to arguing with others seems to be a sign of potential attachment. Not accusing you of being attached, mind you, just thinking in my own terms of seeing rising passion or energy as a sign to attend to.

I sometimes hear the criticism of Theravada that a focus on enlightenment is simply reinforcing the sense of self. But it seems like a Mahayana version exists, too - restating your "truth" when no one buys it. Isn't that just another version of ego building or reinforcing a sense of self through holding a sort of view that needs repeated teaching to an unhearing crowd? A friend of mine and I one day were talking about personal benefit getting in the way of the benefit of all sentient beings and how that was a change in motivation. We decided we couldn't decide that about each other, so we looked at it just within ourselves :)

You can never see, hear, smell, taste, or touch external objects. You cannot even think of an object that is not color, sound, fragrance, flavor, feeling, or any combination of those.

Taking these experiences of subjective consciousness and imputing the existence of an external object is the fundamental mistake


With kindness, it appears you have made the other fundamental mistake. It is a well known criticism of strict mind-only theories. Because You can never see, hear, smell, taste, or touch external objects, you can neither impute their existence or their nonexistence. Imputing either one enters the world of personal belief. Whether or not objects are there, you don't have direct experience of them so you can't tell either way. You can't prove the truth of your theory or the untruth of the other because there is only consciousness to work with.

As has been pointed out in posts above, neither choice matters, one is just theorizing when there's no way to prove or disprove. The Kalama Sutta becomes more appropriate when you move to practice or teaching. When I see you as a sage who has come to town teaching, "My way is true and all the others are false," I turn to the Dhamma, not to printed materials about the Dhamma, not to another sage who has a different view, etc. I'm sure we all have read it.

Just my personal view....You will still go to sleep and eventually wake up in any system, eat some breakfast. etc. If you really like strict mind-only, decide to skip the sleep and eating meals for a while. Whether you choose to call it mind-only or the body, you will not be able to control what happens next - you will get sick. But that's OK, it's only mind and the sickness isn't real...until you lose conciousness, non-existent body systems shut down, etc. And that's why there aren't billions of mind-only adherents. They have to eat the fundamental mistake of externally existing meals, take care of bodily functions, etc. The burden of experience falls on the side that strict mind-only doesn't describe a reality in which you can survive, yet you do survive as long as you act like the conventional world really exists. Of course, there is a good mind-only argument against that, too, and those adherents get just as sick.

I believe there is a clearer understanding of the varieties of mind-only beliefs without taking a bunch of survey courses in philosophy and its specialties. A good teacher should be able to take you through some of these pitfalls in known argument. They may not have philosophy backgrounds, but their practice of the four immeasurables and knowledge of Dharma should make them very reasonable guides to discuss it with. Some of the best advice I was given is not to throw out what I disagree with in Buddhism. Set it aside - it may become more relevant someday. If your teacher is not able to see beyond the limits of strict tradition, perhaps another teacher could help.

My apologies for the long post but it seemed like you were stuck in a loop that wasn't improving. I hope this helps. Maybe there is better help on this topic with your teacher, or on the other forum, Dharma Wheel, where there may be others who have run across this before and have more to add from the Mahayana perspective.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:57 am

Dexig,

Lest your forget:

tiltbillings wrote:A very simple question:

Dexing wrote:Yogacara teachings first of all teach that everything ordinary beings perceive is merely the object of a subjective consciousness and not objective existence. Once realizing this, then obviously "exist" or "does not exist" both do not apply.
And the Pali suttas do not teach that?

And another very simple question, which you have refused to answer and which is very much related to the over all question of this thread: Is an arahant (as understood in the Pali suttas {not the later Mahjayana redefinition}) tathagata?
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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:03 am

Hoo wrote:Dexing,my apologies for yet another long post. But a thought occurred to me and I'll share it in case it's relevant. What benefit is it to you to continue stating your beliefs when others don't seem to agree? Isn't that just "I-making" activity? "Your beliefs" = self and views? To apply energy to arguing with others seems to be a sign of potential attachment. Not accusing you of being attached, mind you, just thinking in my own terms of seeing rising passion or energy as a sign to attend to.


Whatever my belief or your belief, we are discussing Dhamma together which is a form of practice, so long as we keep it in that frame. One makes a statement, others respond. One asks questions, others respond. This is group practice. I think that's the point of having such a discussion board. But I appreciate your concern and reminder.

It is a well known criticism of strict mind-only theories. Because You can never see, hear, smell, taste, or touch external objects, you can neither impute their existence or their nonexistence. Imputing either one enters the world of personal belief. Whether or not objects are there, you don't have direct experience of them so you can't tell either way. You can't prove the truth of your theory or the untruth of the other because there is only consciousness to work with.


I have already addressed this issue somewhat by saying that holding something as "existing" or "not existing" is creating and grasping a "something".

Actually, what we can prove about what we call "external objects" is that they are merely concepts that we have deduced from the experience of our subjective consciousness. They are creations of our own conceptualization based on colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, and tactile sensations. This is directly observable right here and now.

What we can't prove is that these so-called "external objects" exist or do not exist, because there simply is nothing there to point to as existing or not existing. Neither "exist" nor "not exist" can be applied to nothing. We only talk about external objects, but that is only conceptualization.

We must first find these actual external objects before we can attach a mark to them.

However, we can see right now that the "external objects" that we deduce from our subjective conscious experience are merely concepts based on colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, and tactile sensations, and actually do not exist as external objects.

It may sound contradictory, but look deeper. If you see that what we hold as external objects are illusory, i.e. that they are mere concepts based on our conscious experience, then they are actually unreal and non-existent as actual external objects. And since that is the case if we say something does exists or does not exist it is fabricating a "something" to which "existence" and "nonexistence" can be attributed.

:namaste:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:Dexig,

Lest your forget:

tiltbillings wrote:A very simple question:

Dexing wrote:Yogacara teachings first of all teach that everything ordinary beings perceive is merely the object of a subjective consciousness and not objective existence. Once realizing this, then obviously "exist" or "does not exist" both do not apply.
And the Pali suttas do not teach that?

And another very simple question, which you have refused to answer and which is very much related to the over all question of this thread: Is an arahant (as understood in the Pali suttas {not the later Mahjayana redefinition}) tathagata?


I have not forgotten. I've read it every time. But since I don't always have the most time to respond here before work, recently I have responded to the largest questions with the most support from others who also wanted to hear a response.

As for your first question, perhaps you are more familiar with the Pali Suttas than I. Are external objects or the Form Aggregate for example ever refuted in Theravada as not being objective existence?

As for your second question, it is only related to the overall question of this thread if Tathagata has the same meaning between Theravada and Mahayana, as Arahant. I think Arahant has the same meaning and same level of attainment in both, it is just that the attainment and level of a Buddha is expanded in Mahayana, leaving the Arahant with a little more left to accomplish, while their accomplishment is still equal to a Buddha's accomplishment in that respect. Tathagata on the other hand might be a different story. You may like to lay out a definition.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby ground » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:27 am

Dexing wrote:Taking these experiences of subjective consciousness and imputing the existence of an external object is the fundamental mistake.


I would say that the view of dependent arising is the middle way and postulating the existence of external phenomena and postulating the non-existence of external objects are extreme views dependently arisen too.
However in terms of communication one should comply with the conventions of the world, especially in Mahayana, because the way of the individual arises from the individual's interrelation with other beings.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Hoo » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:55 am

...However, we can see right now that the "external objects" that we deduce from our subjective conscious experience are merely concepts based on colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, and tactile sensations, and actually do not exist as external objects...


"WE" are not in agreement, though :) If all we have to base our deduction on is subjective consciousness, some may deduce that there is an external object. Some may deduce that there is none. Neither position is provable when the limit is subjective consciousness. Nor are any others that flow from other deductions unless there is an another standard or process that is inserted. By definition, strict mind-only subjective consciousness allows no existing outside anything, so this other standard or process is also subjective consciousness and also not a proof.

So it appears to me that your position may or my not have merit but I can't tell, your approach has hit the barrier again. To make your point, you must make a personal choice of which unprovable position you will adopt. Or you must restate your personal choice and insert Mahayana texts as an outside standard of proof- not possible in a strict mind-only sustem. They are also no more than subjective consciousness, which is already established as no more than a basis for deduction.

I would make the point like this: 'The "external objects" that we deduce from our subjective conscious experience may be merely concepts based on colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, and tactile sensations, though we cannot truly determine if they exist or not as external objects.'

JMHO, but when seen this way, lots of doors open up to why different people favor different traditions. But the questions change from who is right and who is wrong into "How do you see it and how does that work for you?" Is there a Sutta/Suttra basis for that approach? Etc.

I don't follow Mahayana practices, so take this with a big grain of salt. When you open the door to others being right, or at least doing what they believe is right, you open the door for skillful means that benefit all. If you are teaching your favorite tradition, to a crowd that quit listening or disagrees with you, whose benefit is that for? This is the discussion my friend and I had. He is Mahayana and to him, he thought that motivation needed to be looked at. You'd be much more informed than I on what that means and how that works.

TMingyur, well said. The middle way does seem to resolve much of the debate, doesn't it? It becomes less neccesary to prove a point and more beneficial for learning how other see things.

But I got to go to bed :) I need some of that sleep and breakfast before I go to the doctor tomorrow.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:06 am

Dexing wrote:
As for your first question, perhaps you are more familiar with the Pali Suttas than I. Are external objects or the Form Aggregate for example ever refuted in Theravada as not being objective existence?
Interestingly, you have criticized and characterized the Theravada and the Pali suttas in terms of the Mahayana polemic against what the Mahayana calls the hinayana, but you seem not to have a real handle on what is found in the Pali suttas. In terms of realization, in terms of practice, show us where in the Pali suttas the Buddha talks about “objectively existing” khandhas?

As for your second question, it is only related to the overall question of this thread if Tathagata has the same meaning between Theravada and Mahayana, as Arahant. I think Arahant has the same meaning and same level of attainment in both, it is just that the attainment and level of a Buddha is expanded in Mahayana, leaving the Arahant with a little more left to accomplish, while their accomplishment is still equal to a Buddha's accomplishment in that respect.
And this nicely makes my point. The Mahayana - based upon what? - has, to use your word, “expanded” - that is, redefined - the definition of what it is to be a Buddha, putting, within their system, the arahant in a lesser position, which is itself a redefining of what it is to be an arahant. In other words, the words “Buddha” and “arahant” may be cognate between the two traditions, but that hardly means they carry the same meaning. And even within the Mahayana as a whole these terms carry differing meanings as differing Mahayanists “expanded” what they mean by these things.

So, the point is, given that the Mahayana has “expanded” the meanings of these terms, they are no longer talking about what the Pali suttas are talking about, which is to say that Mahayana critique has no bearing upon the Pali suttas, which means it cannot meaningfully critique or even talk about in any objective way the Theravada - apples and watermelons.
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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:15 am

Dexing wrote:
This is the very problem I'm trying to address. You think you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch external objects.

Your eyes only see color. Your ears only hear sound. Your nose only smells fragrances. Your tongue only tastes flavors. Your body only feels tactile sensations.

Color is not an external object. Sound is not an external object. Fragrance is not an external object. Flavor is not an external object. Sensation is not an external object.
But is there color, etc to be seen, etc? In what way is there color, etc? If this is all a product of the mind, then what need would there be for the other sensory organs?
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: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby dhamma follower » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:10 am

Dexing wrote:
dhamma follower wrote:Interesting, you've changed "all are illusion" into "all as illusion"....


It was only the grammar of the sentence. The "teaching of all as illusion" is that "all is illusion". I don't know what you are trying to catch me up in. lol

dhamma follower wrote:First, the self view is already eradicated at the sotapana level. For an Arahant, it's delusion which is eradicated, according to Theravada.
Second, how can self-view be eradicated if there's still a perceiver in the experience ? Where is it said in Theravada texts? and actually, Nibanna is even beyond the merging of the perceived and the perceiver, it is beyond nama and rupa.
Third, the "simple" non-identification with the process happens at much lower levels of insights.

So, this Mahayana perspective is based on a superficial if not erroneous understanding of Theravada.


Wait a minute. To be fair, you asked me how I understand the experience of Nibbana and whether or not there is a perceiver and perceived. Of course the first thing I said was "From a Mahayana perspective", which does not mean "a Mahayana perspective of Nibbana in Theravada tradition".

Now I also didn't affirm a Perceiver and Perceived in the experience, as that would be identification with the process. What I said was for an Arahant (as one who has realized Nibbana) it is the end of suffering associated with the false view of self (clinging is caused by the delusion of selfhood, which accounts for suffering), but there is still Consciousness and Objects of Consciousness, Inside and Outside. To identify with this process would be to apply a Perceiver and Perceived to the mix.

dhamma follower wrote:May be as some have suggested, it would be helpful to make definitions of some key terms in your position, such as: bodhicitta, illusion, arahant, bodhisattva, consciousness etc....

like when you say:
A Buddha does not have consciousness. Consciousness always belongs to Ordinary Beings.
then it gives rise to :thinking:


I've already said to make sense of it would take an understanding of the Eight Consciousnesses [of Orindary Beings] and Four Wisdoms [of Buddhas], teachings not found in Theravada to my knowledge.

But in this teaching, consciousness always belongs to Ordinary Beings who function from a Subject-Object position, their perception is slow and dull. But when fully awakened, an Ordinary Being becomes a Buddha by a transformation of Eight types of Consciousness into Four types of Wisdom, which is spontaneous liberating action which doesn't rely on Subject-Object perception, deduction, contemplation.

A situation appears and an Ordinary Being may perceive 'here I am and there is a suffering being. I should help them, and if I do so I should attain great merit and they should be very grateful to me'. Then their actions based on deluded consciousness may or may not be of actual benefit.

A Buddha on the other hand is not relying upon slow and ignorant consciousness. A situation appears and boom- the most proper spontaneous liberating action. And because it is based on very clear Mirror-like Wisdom it can never be mistaken.

:namaste:


Dear Dexing,

I begin to see that there's little point to continue this discussion, since you keep repeating the same statements and avoiding answer directly some fundamental questions to prove your case.

In short, your argument has been:
- The Bodhisattva Path can not exist in Theravada
- The reason for it is because
1. A higher insight into the nature of reality is needed for Bodhicitta
2. With the teaching found in what you call Theravada, there's no chance for this insight to occur.

In order to prove that the above is right,you would need to:
- explain the nature of this insight - how it happen - this is yet to be done
- explain how this "insight" is related and is the condition for Bodhicitta - this is yet to be done
- explain your understanding of the nature of the highest experience of reality in Theravada, and how it is incomplete compared to the Mahayana one, not just by affirming than it is, but by looking deeply into the nature of each experience. You have explained your understanding of the experience from Mahayana's point of view. But then when it was shown to you that this understanding is inacurate, let alone comparing it with the Mahayana one (since you have not yet described it precisely), your reply was just an evasive answer,leading to nowhere.
Now I also didn't affirm a Perceiver and Perceived in the experience, as that would be identification with the process. What I said was for an Arahant (as one who has realized Nibbana) it is the end of suffering associated with the false view of self (clinging is caused by the delusion of selfhood, which accounts for suffering), but there is still Consciousness and Objects of Consciousness, Inside and Outside. To identify with this process would be to apply a Perceiver and Perceived to the mix


You can't just say it is like that because from Mahayana perspective is like that. It's the same to say to a Thai that in their country there's no church because your priests say that. Without a real understanding of Theravada, how can you convince Theravadins about your statements ? It is where I say there doesn't seem to be investigation from your part.

In the end, it doesn't matter whether you want to carefully examine what others are trying to point out or not. But,then what's the point of a discussion if it doesn't clarify some understandings, open some other perspectives, or simply to realize that one's current beliefs and convictions are to be further explored for deeper understanding?

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Shonin » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:27 am

Dexing wrote:
Shonin wrote:It seems to me - and I suspect to many other respondents here - that it is you who is attaching to non-existence as shown by the way you repeatedly insist on it and defend it as a transcendent ontological/metaphysical reality. It isn't just the non-existence of 'individual things' which is a mistaken view, but the non-existence of 'everything' ie. that there is any such non-existence at all. It is another form of self-view: reality has an essential/inherent/objective nature and that nature is nothingness.


Actually I have only been speaking in terms of the first step, because this must be completely understood first. First is to realize that Objects of Consciousness are illusory and unreal. They don't truly exist but appear to. This is the basic introductory realization taught in Yogacara.

Then it follows that, as found in Madhyamika, "exist" and "not exist" both do not apply. There is nothing to point to as "existing" or "not existing".

And in the Chan school it becomes open your mouth and you are already wrong.

Three kinds of teaching. Only false thinking makes them different. Genuine practice shows them all to be arriving at the same point.


Madhyamaka philosophy is not dependent on Yogacara philosophy. Chan may be influenced by both, but is not a third step in a process normally. And if the first step is not robust the the whole endeavor is going to falter. As for this step failing to be completely understood first there are many here who already have a more profound understanding and realise the limitations of the naive anti-realism / Idealism you have presented (and who may have investigated Madhyamaka and Chan). It's not that we struggle to abandon our naive realism ('everything is as it appears and there really are external objects existing in an objective, absolute way') but that we long outgrew it and take on a naive Idealism / anti-realism that we considered and outgrew in our youth. Where does this 3-step method come from? Did you invent it or is it part of your lineage?

There are many good questions being asked of you here. They are not the questions of the naive and deluded, clamouring to understand what you do; they are genuine philosophical problems with the Idealism/anti-realism that you are presenting. As well as with your Mahayana polemics.

Buddha too rejected this view that nothing exists (sabbaa natthii ti) along with other extreme theories. Instead he taught the Middle Way of Dependent Origination.

To believe that 'objects of consciousness are unreal' is metaphysical/ontological dogma. If direct experience unmediated by perception is the criterion for something being real then to experience the non-existence of objects of consciousness (rather than simply believe it an an intellectual position) one would have to be directly experienced. However this is impossible, we cannot transcend our subjectivity to meet the world 'as-it-is-in-itself' and find the non-existence of external objects. This would actually make the very mistake that this kind of argument is criticising - namely making a claim about an objective, absolute world outside of what is actually experienced.

There are many more criticisms of Idealism here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism#Criticism

Note the interesting comment about Yogacara:
Early Buddhism was not subjective idealistic. Some have misinterpreted the Yogācāra school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed the consciousness-only approach as a form of metaphysical idealism, but this is incorrect. Yogācāra thinkers did not focus on consciousness to assert it as ultimately real (Yogācāra claims consciousness is only conventionally real since it arises from moment to moment due to fluctuating causes and conditions), but rather because it is the cause of the karmic problem they are seeking to eliminate.
Last edited by Shonin on Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Hoo » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:54 am

:goodpost: Tilt, I think you have given the answer from the Theravada understanding and I think Dexing has stated the crucial difference from the Mahayana perspective. I believe you have both ended the discussion at the salient point. The systems see the answer differently, similar words and concepts but different meanings assigned. They disagree, and each cites its teachings as the reason (in this discussion, at least).

I enjoyed this discussion, all 22 pages :jawdrop: , and learned a thing or two. Thanks everyone for adding to it.

Hoo


tiltbillings wrote:
Dexing wrote:
As for your first question, perhaps you are more familiar with the Pali Suttas than I. Are external objects or the Form Aggregate for example ever refuted in Theravada as not being objective existence?
Interestingly, you have criticized and characterized the Theravada and the Pali suttas in terms of the Mahayana polemic against what the Mahayana calls the hinayana, but you seem not to have a real handle on what is found in the Pali suttas. In terms of realization, in terms of practice, show us where in the Pali suttas the Buddha talks about “objectively existing” khandhas?

As for your second question, it is only related to the overall question of this thread if Tathagata has the same meaning between Theravada and Mahayana, as Arahant. I think Arahant has the same meaning and same level of attainment in both, it is just that the attainment and level of a Buddha is expanded in Mahayana, leaving the Arahant with a little more left to accomplish, while their accomplishment is still equal to a Buddha's accomplishment in that respect.
And this nicely makes my point. The Mahayana - based upon what? - has, to use your word, “expanded” - that is, redefined - the definition of what it is to be a Buddha, putting, within their system, the arahant in a lesser position, which is itself a redefining of what it is to be an arahant. In other words, the words “Buddha” and “arahant” may be cognate between the two traditions, but that hardly means they carry the same meaning. And even within the Mahayana as a whole these terms carry differing meanings as differing Mahayanists “expanded” what they mean by these things.

So, the point is, given that the Mahayana has “expanded” the meanings of these terms, they are no longer talking about what the Pali suttas are talking about, which is to say that Mahayana critique has no bearing upon the Pali suttas, which means it cannot meaningfully critique or even talk about in any objective way the Theravada - apples and watermelons.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby pt1 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:00 pm

Dexing wrote:I've already said to make sense of it would take an understanding of the Eight Consciousnesses [of Orindary Beings] and Four Wisdoms [of Buddhas], teachings not found in Theravada to my knowledge.

But in this teaching, consciousness always belongs to Ordinary Beings who function from a Subject-Object position, their perception is slow and dull. But when fully awakened, an Ordinary Being becomes a Buddha by a transformation of Eight types of Consciousness into Four types of Wisdom, which is spontaneous liberating action which doesn't rely on Subject-Object perception, deduction, contemplation.

Thanks for replying in more detail on this issue. I think you're right that it's hard to make sense of what you're saying without being familiar with that particular system/teaching and the way terminology is used in it. E.g. I can't make sense of how consciousness can be transformed into wisdom - in the system I'm familiar with, citta (consciousness) is one sort of dhamma, and cetasika (like wisdom) is another. They might condition each other, but one can't become the other. Moreover, both are conditioned and their arising is dukkha, and they completely cease (to arise) only with parinibbana.

Perhaps you could suggest a book (in English) where the particular system you are talking about (8 consciousnesses and their transformation into 4 kinds of wisdom) is explained succinctly? Thanks.

Best wishes
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:48 am

Been busy folks!

Looking back to see where I left off, I read again:

Shonin wrote:It isn't just the non-existence of 'individual things' which is a mistaken view, but the non-existence of 'everything' ie. that there is any such non-existence at all. It is another form of self-view: reality has an essential/inherent/objective nature and that nature is nothingness.


Wow, you have really gone off the deep end with this. This is actually nothing like what I've been saying. If the nature of reality is "nothing" then there would be no reality to speak of.


Shonin wrote:Where does this 3-step method come from? Did you invent it or is it part of your lineage?


I didn't mean it was three steps taught separately in different traditions. It's just a sequence of practice and realization.

Buddha too rejected this view that nothing exists (sabbaa natthii ti) along with other extreme theories.


I disagree with it too. What I've said to be illusory is what "ordinary beings take as reality". Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are a different story.

To believe that 'objects of consciousness are unreal' is metaphysical/ontological dogma. If direct experience unmediated by perception is the criterion for something being real then to experience the non-existence of objects of consciousness (rather than simply believe it an an intellectual position) one would have to be directly experienced. However this is impossible, we cannot transcend our subjectivity to meet the world 'as-it-is-in-itself' and find the non-existence of external objects. This would actually make the very mistake that this kind of argument is criticising - namely making a claim about an objective, absolute world outside of what is actually experienced.


This will likely be my last attempt to explain it a bit more clearly for you, briefly.

These "objects of consciousness" are merely colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, tactile sensations and concepts based upon them. Therefore, the so-called "external objects" we refer to are interpretations of our sensations, not actual objects. It's very plain to see.

Based on a feeling of hardness, smoothness, a color of brown, etc. we say there is a table here. But all we are experiencing are sensations.

There is no way to speak of an "actual" external object. The only "external objects" we speak of are compounds of various sensations. So those so-called external objects actually do not exist as such.

I don't know how to make it any more clear than that.

Note the interesting comment about Yogacara:
Early Buddhism was not subjective idealistic. Some have misinterpreted the Yogācāra school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed the consciousness-only approach as a form of metaphysical idealism, but this is incorrect. Yogācāra thinkers did not focus on consciousness to assert it as ultimately real (Yogācāra claims consciousness is only conventionally real since it arises from moment to moment due to fluctuating causes and conditions), but rather because it is the cause of the karmic problem they are seeking to eliminate.


I find it interesting you share this quote, when it's actually saying what I've been saying.

I never said consciousness is ultimately real, but is a cause of the karmic problem of creating falseness, conceptualizing the unreal, which keeps us from seeing reality, etc..

Using the Buddha's teachings we can break through the illusion, at which point consciousness is transformed into wisdom and true reality is perceived and correct function happens spontaneously.

:namaste:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:56 am

Dexing wrote:This will likely be my last attempt to explain it a bit more clearly for you, briefly.

These "objects of consciousness" are merely colors, sounds, fragrances, flavors, tactile sensations and concepts based upon them. Therefore, the so-called "external objects" we refer to are interpretations of our sensations, not actual objects. It's very plain to see.

Based on a feeling of hardness, smoothness, a color of brown, etc. we say there is a table here. But all we are experiencing are sensations.

There is no way to speak of an "actual" external object. The only "external objects" we speak of are compounds of various sensations. So those so-called external objects actually do not exist as such.

I don't know how to make it any more clear than that.


This is no different from the Theravadin view of it as far as I understand it.

So where did the "everything is an illusion" notion go? What has 20+ pages of argument been about?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:01 am

pt1 wrote:I can't make sense of how consciousness can be transformed into wisdom - in the system I'm familiar with, citta (consciousness) is one sort of dhamma, and cetasika (like wisdom) is another. They might condition each other, but one can't become the other. Moreover, both are conditioned and their arising is dukkha, and they completely cease (to arise) only with parinibbana.


These are like "right view" and "wrong view", both are ordinary consciousness. Consciousness only works in dual terms.

So the Heart Sutra says "neither pure nor impure", meaning no "right view" no "wrong view", no "Dhamma" and no "non-Dhamma".

Dhamma is only set up to confront non-Dhamma, but both rely on ordinary consciousness.

So "no wisdom and no attainment", but then Sutra turns around and says "All Buddhas of the three periods of time attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi through reliance on Prajna Paramita."

Prajna Paramita is again wisdom, and Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi is again attainment.

How can this not be contradictory? It means there is no "wisdom and attainment" that ordinary beings conceptualize. The pure vs impure.

When one becomes a Buddha, that type of consciousness is transformed into true Wisdom.

Perhaps you could suggest a book (in English) where the particular system you are talking about (8 consciousnesses and their transformation into 4 kinds of wisdom) is explained succinctly? Thanks.


I don't read books. Learned from my master and Sutras, such as the Yogacara texts and Shurangama Sutra, Lankavatara Sutra, etc..

But here is something: http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/Y ... USNESS.htm

I haven't read through it in detail yet, but it seems accurate from what I have seen so far.

:namaste:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:09 am

Goofaholix wrote:This is no different from the Theravadin view of it as far as I understand it.

So where did the "everything is an illusion" notion go? What has 20+ pages of argument been about?


I don't think it went anywhere. That "everything" always referred to "what ordinary beings hold has reality"... which is an illusion. Reality is perceived by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

This point has been disagreed upon for over 20 pages. People have been saying it is totally wrong to say that external objects don't exist when you can obviously see, touch, hear, smell, and taste them.... which is the fundamental mistake- thinking you can see, hear, smell, and so on, external objects. But attachment to false views that have been held since time without beginning is very very strong.

I've also been asking for someone to share Theravada teachings that either say what I've been saying, or say it is wrong. No one has been able to do that. They just keep saying to the effect of "you're wrong"....

Maybe you can help share some Pali texts to this point then?

:namaste:
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