tiltbillings wrote:No. If you read this with any care, you would see that I am describing this; I am describing my own experience.
Ah, apologies. I misunderstood that. However my response still applies.
Nothing can be expressed without concepts - it seems that much of the baggage attached to 'Nonduality' for you, you have brought here yourself.
Are you sure you really want to say that
? So, I have to pick and choose what concepts to velcro to "non-duality" and what to leave off, but never mind how others commonly view this term. It seems it would be better all together to leave that word aside, given that it is a concept that carries way, way more than is necessary for a discussion of things from and experiences derived from the suttas.
Feel free to do so. There are many Buddhist terms that are widely misunderstood, and may require some explanation. In my experience the two most commonly misunderstood terms are 'Anatta' and 'Sunyata' (which actually mean basically the same thing as I see it). Non-duality may be similar in this regard. However, the way it is used in Mahayana (or at least Zen circles) is non-philosophical as simply as another way of describing experience which is not characterised by division into self and other ie the same way that you are using 'suchness', 'openness' etc. In some circles however - a Theravada forum for example - it may indeed cause more confusion and upset that it's worth.
And given that the Buddha did not use the word "non-duality," giving it his own definition, it would be better not to use it, given that "non-duality" is mired in all sorts of traditions and conceptual stuff that have not a thing to do with what the Buddha taught.
So rather than learn from the Buddha's skillful means of harmonisation with pre-existing conceptual/linguistic frameworks we must constrain ourselves to the conceptual frameworks that he himself used? There is an advantage of more precise use of terms perhaps, however it turns Buddhism into something rather insular - or dhamma based on imitation or purely theoretical understanding rather than true, deep understanding which can be expressed in any number of ways. An Einstein or Stephen Hawking of this world can explain theoretical physics in any number of ways. Lesser minds are forced to imitate and to teach in parrot-fashion. The Buddha communicated with everyone on terms they could understand. He wasn't constrained by attachment to particular formulations. But you can do as you prefer. And I agree that precision is valuable at times.
"Non-duality" does not have a context within the Pali suttas or the Theravadin tradition. It is a later concept that is being read backwards into the suttas and the Theravada, and such a reading is foisting the idea of "non-duality" on to the Pali sutta experience and the Theravada tradition, and it is misrepresenting the suttas and the Theravada tradition causing, as we see here sectarian strife.
I agree that we would have a basis for challenging Vedanta-like reinterpretations of Buddhism as undermining the radical nature of Buddha's vision. There are various universalists who try to do this, and some interpretations of the Yogacara school take a similar view, however as the notion of some sort of Ultimate Essence (Nondual or not) would contradict the teachings of Anatta and Sunyata, this is not compatible with the mainstream Mahayana view. And even those Mahayanists who do take a 'Vedanta-like' position, usually argue that this 'truth' was not revealed in the Pali canon but is revealed only in certain Mahayana Sutras. The only serious Vedanta-like reinterpretation of the Pali Canon that I have heard of, was a Heterodox Thai school - an offshoot of Theravada. I can try to dig up the name if you're interested.
As for 'Non-duality' in the sense of Sunyata, it is again widely seen in Mahayana that this depth of understanding was not revealed until the Mahayana sutras. Again there is no revisionism of the Pali Canon. I'm not aware of anyone who is suggesting that the Pali Canon is teaching such things as 'Samsara and Nirvana are not different'. Where is this 'foisting'?
As for whether the Pali Canon supports the idea that 'all phenomena lack an absolute self' as opposed to more narrowly 'human beings have no absolute self' or 'we don't care whether people and things have an absolute self or not, but we're going to follow a Non-Self Strategy' - these are disagreements within Theravada Buddhism itself. There is certainly enough evidence in the Nikayas for the former position for me to find persuasive.
So I don't see any kind of large-scale distortion of the Pali Canon that Bodhi seems to imply. He also misrepresents what Non-duality really means in a Mahayana context. Non-duality in this regard means the same as Sunyata/Sunna: that phenomena don't have an Atman, an absolute, unchanging or independent essence. "The validity of conventional dualities is" NOT denied. It's just that they are
conventional - conventionally things are distinct but ultimately nothing stands alone and distinct and exists independently from everything else. And this can been seen from the state of Samadhi that you described: everything just 'is'. There is little or no suffering. In the midst of a glimpse of Nibbana, there is only reality, suchness, no clinging to ideas about 'Nibbana' vs 'Samsara'. Even Nibbana is not and has no Atman - this too is just this matrix of dependent arising. Conventionally Samsara is not the same as Nirvana any more than up is the same as down. But they are not distinct essences just as up and down are not. Yet this fact alone is not enough to end human suffering. It has to be experienced and cultivated. And nor is Sunyata "a metaphysical zero".
The claimed Non-dual revisionism of the Pali Canon is not occuring to any significant extent. Rather Bodhi is just using this essay to bash Vedanta and Mahayana concepts that he disagrees with. Healthy criticism can be a good thing. Intolerance can be a source of strife.