Misunderstanding emptiness

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:35 am

asunthatneversets wrote:It gets a little more in-depth than just seeing that "things" are only dependent on constituent qualities (such as a tree is dependent on branches, leaves, space etc..). There's different "tiers" or levels of the emptiness investigation and it's application to reality. In seeing that nothing inherently exists separate from causes and conditions the study actually has to descend to the most fundamental of levels in order to have a profound effect, otherwise it merely stays on the level of conceptualization(which is all well and good, but there's "deeper" realizations to be had).

Hi Sunshine,

Forgive me if this is inappropriate, it feels awkward saying "Hi A Sun That Never Sets". Let me know what works best.

Thanks so much for your interesting discussion of emptiness. It reminds me of page 4 in the book I'm reading, "Essentials of Mahamudra",

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:It is important to know why we practice meditation. There are two main types of meditation: analytical meditation and placement meditation. The Madhyamaka school has given us extensive, clear explanations of how external things or phenomena are actually emptiness. In analytical meditation we meditate on these reasons and arguments; however it is very difficult to actually meditate on the emptiness of phenomena. In the tantric, or Vajrayana, tradition of Tibet, rather than meditating on the nature of external phenomena, we meditate on mind itself. The technique of mahamudra meditation is essential and unique to the Vajrayana tradition.

Your post is sort of like analytical meditation on steroids. I find this very helpful. Even sitting outdoors, looking at a tree, becoming aware of its branches, its bark, imagining its roots reaching into the ground, and going further, the rings in its trunk for every year, the wood cells, on and on and on. It relaxes me and does alter my perception of this wonderful "tree" in front of me. Is this an analytical meditation? It sure ain't shamata.

I tried to follow your exposition but, in all honesty, I get lost. You sound like someone who is quite knowledgeable on the original arguments surrounding Nagarjuna's life and legacy. From my modern naive perspective, I like Ken McLeod's definition of "mind" as the entire package of internal experience (feelings, thoughts, sense of self, aggregates) so some of your presentation, contrasting "mind" with "thought" and so on does not compute. Nevertheless, I attempt the exercise, I deconstruct my poor tree upward and downward into infinite graphs of bigger and smaller dependencies. At this point my poor tree is so empty you could spit. (Ph-tooeey.) Then I think you ask what my project itself is dependent on (this is an exercise in dependent origination) and you conclude that my project ("things depend on concepts and concepts depend on things?") depends on the tree it is deconstructing? Not really. If I were to continue this exercise, I might say my conceptual project depends on my interest in Buddhism which leads us to basic personality, disposition, genetics, random selection and things that may not have been popular in Nagarjuna's day.

So you lost me, friend!

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:08 am

Konchog1 wrote:
I understand that there are no labels without mind. And that there are no senses without phenomena. And that the mind is empty.


But more so that since 'senses and phenomena' are of interdependent origination they are not two separate things. Same goes for 'labels(thoughts/concepts) and mind(thought-based-mind)'... with any of these pairs, if emptiness is applied correctly, the direct intuitive knowing that the pair is in fact not-two or non-dual, should be very apparent. And this apperception should negate the inherent existence of said 'pair'.

Konchog1 wrote:So the following verse means that everything exists due to the labels the mind puts on them but the mind itself doesn’t exist inherently? What does subject mean?

22. The manner of all appearances is the creation of one's own mind; the nature of mind from the beginning is free from the extremes of [mental] elaboration. Knowing this, it is the practice of Bodhisattvas not to make mental distinctions between object and subject.

-37 Practices of a Bodhisattva


Yes that 'things' exist because of the labels projected by the mind, and the mind-itself has no inherent existence beyond the labels(thoughts/concepts). One way to look at it is; the supposed 'mind' is projecting labels onto seamless fields of sensory perception... but ultimately the notion of 'sensory perceptions' needs to be seen as empty too.

Subject and object is 'self and other'... so you are the subject, or at least you feel you are... you lack inherent existence as well. There's no separation between 'you' and 'what you experience'.

"extremes of [mental] elaboration" in that verse points to how concepts arise in a dualistic schematic... hot implies cold, dark implies light, life implies death, up implies down.... etc..

Every-thing is empty and therefore lacks inherent existence. Things have conventional existence as "labels/ideas/concepts" but beyond their conventionality they are unreal.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:02 am

yadave wrote:
Hi Sunshine,

Forgive me if this is inappropriate, it feels awkward saying "Hi A Sun That Never Sets". Let me know what works best.

Thanks so much for your interesting discussion of emptiness. It reminds me of page 4 in the book I'm reading, "Essentials of Mahamudra",

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:It is important to know why we practice meditation. There are two main types of meditation: analytical meditation and placement meditation. The Madhyamaka school has given us extensive, clear explanations of how external things or phenomena are actually emptiness. In analytical meditation we meditate on these reasons and arguments; however it is very difficult to actually meditate on the emptiness of phenomena. In the tantric, or Vajrayana, tradition of Tibet, rather than meditating on the nature of external phenomena, we meditate on mind itself. The technique of mahamudra meditation is essential and unique to the Vajrayana tradition.

Your post is sort of like analytical meditation on steroids. I find this very helpful. Even sitting outdoors, looking at a tree, becoming aware of its branches, its bark, imagining its roots reaching into the ground, and going further, the rings in its trunk for every year, the wood cells, on and on and on. It relaxes me and does alter my perception of this wonderful "tree" in front of me. Is this an analytical meditation? It sure ain't shamata.


Sunshine works for me! That is an analytical meditation, separating something into it's constituent pieces by means of mental deconstruction. There's many different types of analytical meditation, and especially in the theme of emptiness. It's good to start off with external objects, and then eventually move to yourself. If you google "Chandrakirti’s Sevenfold Reasoning" some good links come up... a guy by the name of Greg Goode, Ph.D has a great discourse on it, the link should pop up in that search close to the top. It's a similar meditation.

yadave wrote:I tried to follow your exposition but, in all honesty, I get lost. You sound like someone who is quite knowledgeable on the original arguments surrounding Nagarjuna's life and legacy. From my modern naive perspective, I like Ken McLeod's definition of "mind" as the entire package of internal experience (feelings, thoughts, sense of self, aggregates) so some of your presentation, contrasting "mind" with "thought" and so on does not compute. Nevertheless, I attempt the exercise, I deconstruct my poor tree upward and downward into infinite graphs of bigger and smaller dependencies. At this point my poor tree is so empty you could spit. (Ph-tooeey.) Then I think you ask what my project itself is dependent on (this is an exercise in dependent origination) and you conclude that my project ("things depend on concepts and concepts depend on things?") depends on the tree it is deconstructing? Not really. If I were to continue this exercise, I might say my conceptual project depends on my interest in Buddhism which leads us to basic personality, disposition, genetics, random selection and things that may not have been popular in Nagarjuna's day.

So you lost me, friend!

Regards,
Dave.


The term "mind" can actually have a lot of different meanings in teachings like this, depending on who's coining the term. Most, like it seems Ken McLeod did; try to make it clear what they mean by "mind", i should've done the same in writing all that. Mind in the way i presented it is just the thought and memory based "mind". So mind in the way i used it, is a collection of thoughts and memories.

That section where I asked "what your project itself is dependent on" I was just trying to show that the deconstructing and conceptualizing is a thought-based activity, so it's dependent on the mind, as an activity of mind. As you're sitting there looking at the tree, the act of analytically deconstructing the tree into all of those parts you mentioned is an activity going on in your mind; be it via cognitive visualizations or thinking or what-have-you. But i'm not saying that the "things depend on concepts and concepts depend on things", i'm attempting to convey that there are no 'things' apart from concepts or ideas. The concept IS the thing. There's no inherently existing 'thing' there. So there is no tree apart from the conceptualization of 'the tree'. There isn't even a 'you' apart from the conceptualization of 'you'.

Prior to, during and after the conceptualization of the tree; the clusters of sensation which are labeled as 'tree' are actually inseparable parts of un-fragmented fields of sensory perception. For example; the field of vision is only a field.. what is seen 'in' the field is not separate from 'seeing'. You can even say it's 'made' of 'seeing'. So as you sit there looking at the tree... the 'tree' is 'made' of seeing, it's made of vision.. and truly the tree 'is' vision. If you 'touch' the tree, there is no tree separate from the tactile sensation of 'touch'. What you call a tree is made of sensory perception. And sensory perception IS whatever is perceived. They are not separate, they are not two. What you call your 'body' is the same way. It's merely a part of sensory fields and is inseparable from sense perception. So there is no 'body' inherently. This is going to be counter-intutitive to how you normally accept experience to be, but that's the point of these inquiries and teachings. They are meant to bring about a radical change.

Ultimately 'sensory perception' or 'sense fields' will be seen as empty as well. And consciousness, awareness, life, death.... the rabbit hole gets deep.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:32 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Sunshine works for me! That [tree deconstruction] an analytical meditation, separating something into it's constituent pieces by means of mental deconstruction. There's many different types of analytical meditation, and especially in the theme of emptiness. It's good to start off with external objects, and then eventually move to yourself. If you google "Chandrakirti’s Sevenfold Reasoning" some good links come up... a guy by the name of Greg Goode, Ph.D has a great discourse on it, the link should pop up in that search close to the top. It's a similar meditation.

This is very good, thank you, but Oof!, it's a bit more complicated than Vedanta self-inquiry where the instruction is simply "find out who you are." One asks "Am I this body?" Then "Who is aware of this body?" One repeatedly pushes back in this way, not this, not that. I believe Vedanta and Buddhist schools hold different interpretations of the outcome but these are wonderful practices for head-cases like myself, turning one's busy mind back onto itself.

asunthatneversets wrote:That section where I asked "what your project itself is dependent on" I was just trying to show that the deconstructing and conceptualizing is a thought-based activity, so it's dependent on the mind, as an activity of mind. As you're sitting there looking at the tree, the act of analytically deconstructing the tree into all of those parts you mentioned is an activity going on in your mind; be it via cognitive visualizations or thinking or what-have-you. But i'm not saying that the "things depend on concepts and concepts depend on things", i'm attempting to convey that

1. there are no 'things' apart from concepts or ideas. The concept IS the thing.

2. There's no inherently existing 'thing' there. So there is no tree apart from the conceptualization of 'the tree'.

3. There isn't even a 'you' apart from the conceptualization of 'you'.

Thanks for clarifying. I have no trouble with (3). In fact, (3) agrees, in both meaning *and* language use, with modern cognitive science. The brain is complex and most of what we experience happens prior to "us" "seeing" "it."

As they stand, your (1) and (2) are solipsism. To hijack a quote from Greg Goode, Ph.D.:
Buddha wrote:What the world accepts, I accept. What the world does not accept, I do not accept.

I do not accept us casually saying "that car does not really exist" as we watch it pass by together or capture it with a hidden camera for later viewing. This language is too far from the world. If "shared reality does not really exist" then we must diverge into a lengthy discourse on why reality no longer means existence as it is used in modern science and philosophy. Granted, my existence project may go nowhere since the Heart Sutra is already loaded with "no nose, no eye" rather than "no nose Essence, no eye Essence", but hopefully I'll still get to Rome.

I have no trouble saying "the car is empty" -- Buddhism has a patent on "empty" and can say whatever it likes -- and when anyone asks what "the car is empty" means, we walk them through the deconstruction practice, help them see how the car's existence depends on innumerable factors, help them appreciate how the car is much more than it seems. But the car still exists, otherwise we would not agree it was a car.

Or something like that.

Maybe there is no clear discussion in Buddhism on the elephant in the dream (no external referent) versus the elephant in the waking state (external referent, shared reality).

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:59 pm

Take a careful look at this list of ingredients:
Water: 78%
Fat: 11%
Protein:8%
Soluble organic substances: 2%
Inorganic salts: 1%
That is the material composition of the human brain.
So, who is reading the list - Is it "you" or is it these these composites?
.
...or is it something else?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:01 pm

I am sorry can you all repeat the question? Just put all of your concern about emptiness into one question.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:26 pm

yadave wrote: Or something like that.

We have a shared reality because we have, as humans,
evolved a nearly identical process of processing stimuli.
All animals are like this.
We perceive the same events the same way because we are built in much the same way.
But different animals perceive the same things differently.

Consider the situation of a house cat, a snail, and a hummingbird
passing through a garden on a warm spring day.
Each one perceives their pace, their speed, as "normal" speed.
The cat sees the humming bird moving in a blur,
and the snail as creeping along at what we would call a snail's pace.
This is similar to what a human sees.
But the snail sees the cat as a blur, and cannot perceive the hummingbird at all.
Likewise, the hummingbird perceives the cat as moving in 'slow motion'
and cannot detect any movement by the snail at all,
just a we cannot easily see the movement of the hour hand on a clock.
So, the snail sees the cat the way the cat sees the bird
and the bird sees the cat the way the cat sees the snail.

Two snails were watching flowers bloom one summer day.
"Wow--did you see that one open?" says one snail.
"Darn!" says the other snail, "I blinked, and missed it!"

We can put together parts and call them cars, and even say we are hit by a car, and ten witnesses can identify the same grouping of parts and say it is the same car, and the police can take a picture of it and call it a picture of the car that hit you.

At the same time, if you put that photo of a car into a dark sealed box, the picture of the car no longer exists. The causes for that image exist, embedded in the coating of the photo paper. And as soon as you take the lid off the box, the image will reappear, on the paper, at the speed of light.

Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if no ears are there to hear it? No. It will cause air molecules to vibrate, and even these vibrations can be recorded, but until those vibrations (live or recorded) hit ear drums and are processed by the brain and experienced by the mind, there is no sound.

.
.
.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:36 pm

yadave wrote: If "shared reality does not really exist" then we must diverge into a lengthy discourse on why reality no longer means existence...


I think, what exists is the fact that we all share something the same way.
What may not exist, is the thing we think we are sharing.
The car is a little bit of an illusion,
but our perceptions are even more of an illusion.

Speaking of cars, I saw a great bumper sticker. It read:
Don't Believe Everything You Think.
.
.
.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:29 pm

yadave wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:That section where I asked "what your project itself is dependent on" I was just trying to show that the deconstructing and conceptualizing is a thought-based activity, so it's dependent on the mind, as an activity of mind. As you're sitting there looking at the tree, the act of analytically deconstructing the tree into all of those parts you mentioned is an activity going on in your mind; be it via cognitive visualizations or thinking or what-have-you. But i'm not saying that the "things depend on concepts and concepts depend on things", i'm attempting to convey that

1. there are no 'things' apart from concepts or ideas. The concept IS the thing.

2. There's no inherently existing 'thing' there. So there is no tree apart from the conceptualization of 'the tree'.

3. There isn't even a 'you' apart from the conceptualization of 'you'.

Thanks for clarifying. I have no trouble with (3). In fact, (3) agrees, in both meaning *and* language use, with modern cognitive science. The brain is complex and most of what we experience happens prior to "us" "seeing" "it."

As they stand, your (1) and (2) are solipsism.


Definition of Solipsism: the philosophical idea that only one's own mind, alone, is sure to exist.

They would be solipsistic if there was in fact an individual(subject) who possessed a mind, which was the center of activity. This isn't so.

As for (3) I'd advise not seeking to compare or validate any of these teachings with findings of modern cognitive science. Sure there may be some parallels on a relative level but modern cognitive science isn't of the same nature. Same goes for 'the brain'. Don't take my word for it, but if you treat the brain as the all powerful source of things, and that you are a product of cerebral processes there won't be much progress made. Reality isn't subject to materialism, idealism, solipsism or any of these designations, and neither are these teachings. Step outside of the modern cognitive scientific paradigm which reigns supreme in our culture, for it is just that... a mere paradigm.


yadave wrote: To hijack a quote from Greg Goode, Ph.D.:
Buddha wrote:What the world accepts, I accept. What the world does not accept, I do not accept.

I do not accept us casually saying "that car does not really exist" as we watch it pass by together or capture it with a hidden camera for later viewing. This language is too far from the world. If "shared reality does not really exist" then we must diverge into a lengthy discourse on why reality no longer means existence as it is used in modern science and philosophy. Granted, my existence project may go nowhere since the Heart Sutra is already loaded with "no nose, no eye" rather than "no nose Essence, no eye Essence", but hopefully I'll still get to Rome.


We're not saying "the car does not really exist"... it certainly does conventionally. But not inherently. Conventionally, you're projecting "a car" and projecting "two of us" to "watch" it "pass by". Everything in that sentence in quotations is a projection. I'm not sure if this language is too far from the world, or the world is too far from this language. More-so that the world is a product of this language. Again diverging into a lengthy discourse to prove whether this (i guess you'd label it as "un-modern philosophy?" according to your point of view) does or doesn't compare to the notion of 'existence' in "modern science and philosophy"; is again assuming that 'modern science and philosophy' is somehow 'more mature' or 'of greater substance'. This simply isn't the case. You're taking 'modern science and philosophy' to be a 'truth' and then creating a point of reference based on that projected truth. And then using that point of view/reference to judge these teachings and discourses. If you insist the 'truth' is in these modern schools of thought then you're shooting yourself in the foot to begin with. There will need to be a willingness to be open to the idea that these 'modern' paradigms may not be what you take them to be. Otherwise you're not open to reconfiguring how you experience reality, you're shut into a certain mode of thinking, taking that to be 'the truth' and then comparing all to it. Your 'truths' haven't liberated you thus far, maybe try being open to the idea that they aren't 'ultimate truths' but merely a product of the intellectual state of western man trying to prove it's misguided assumptions of a materialistic world. Your road to Rome seems to be crossing the himalayas backwards and naked. While these teachings are trying to show you that you never left Rome to begin with.

yadave wrote:I have no trouble saying "the car is empty" -- Buddhism has a patent on "empty" and can say whatever it likes -- and when anyone asks what "the car is empty" means, we walk them through the deconstruction practice, help them see how the car's existence depends on innumerable factors, help them appreciate how the car is much more than it seems. But the car still exists, otherwise we would not agree it was a car.

Or something like that.

Maybe there is no clear discussion in Buddhism on the elephant in the dream (no external referent) versus the elephant in the waking state (external referent, shared reality).

Regards,
Dave.


This isn't some mere philosophical pondering one does for fun. The elephant(or car) in the 'dream' is of the same nature of the elephant(or car) in the 'waking state'... and apart from conventionality there is no external or internal. It's the same empty 'screen' images are appearing on(the images being inseparable from the screen), only in the 'waking state' time and space appear to be more solidified due to ignorance. Reality isn't shared between anyone, in truth there is only a timeless display of nondual perfection. But I cannot ask you to believe that, and I hope that someday this apperception dawns upon you for the sake and benefit of all sentient beings.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:35 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Take a careful look at this list of ingredients:
Water: 78%
Fat: 11%
Protein:8%
Soluble organic substances: 2%
Inorganic salts: 1%
That is the material composition of the human brain.
So, who is reading the list - Is it "you" or is it these these composites?
.
...or is it something else?

A fundamental challenge for hard materialism is just this: if the universe is deterministic, nothing more than a giant machine of causes and effects, then how can we have free will?

Mystics have the same dilemma: if there is no "you", then who is free to change anything? I think Vedanta gives up, like Descartes, and says "OK, God is doing the looking, you're God, have a nice day." I don't think Buddhists go that far being fascinated as they are with voids and the like.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:We have a shared reality because we have, as humans, evolved a nearly identical process of processing stimuli. All animals are like this. We perceive the same events the same way because we are built in much the same way. But different animals perceive the same things differently.

Different people perceive the same things differently. ;)

I concur with you. I think my emphasis here is to avoid drifting into solipsism where the only thing real is whatever you happen to be thinking about at the moment.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Two snails were watching flowers bloom one summer day.
"Wow--did you see that one open?" says one snail.
"Darn!" says the other snail, "I blinked, and missed it!"

LOL, this is hilarious!

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if no ears are there to hear it? No. It will cause air molecules to vibrate, and even these vibrations can be recorded, but until those vibrations (live or recorded) hit ear drums and are processed by the brain and experienced by the mind, there is no sound.

You just admitted that air molecules, vibrations, and tape recorders have a reality external to or separate from you and I. This is my point. Yes they are all empty, yes they depend on many causes and conditions for their existence, but they do not depend on my mood or whether you are taking a nap.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Speaking of cars, I saw a great bumper sticker. It read: Don't Believe Everything You Think.

That's great. Another of my favorites is the Zen tee-shirt that reads: Just Don't Know.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:12 am

asunthatneversets wrote:Definition of Solipsism: the philosophical idea that only one's own mind, alone, is sure to exist. [My points (1) and (2)] would be solipsistic if there was in fact an individual(subject) who possessed a mind, which was the center of activity. This isn't so.

You are correct. I will try to dot my i's in future and use "idealism" rather than "solipsism" to describe the view that "reality is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial."

asunthatneversets wrote:As for (3) I'd advise not seeking to compare or validate any of these teachings with findings of modern cognitive science.

I did not know you were a guru. Right on.

asunthatneversets wrote:Sure there may be some parallels on a relative level but modern cognitive science isn't of the same nature.

I would need you to unpack this for me before I know how to respond.

asunthatneversets wrote:Same goes for 'the brain'. Don't take my word for it, but if you treat the brain as the all powerful source of things, and that you are a product of cerebral processes there won't be much progress made.

Well, there is no "me" as you pointed out above and my concern was how your (1) and (2) treat the brain as a source of things. I compare the brain to the heart. Some years ago, Israeli scientists successfully coerced stem cells into heart cells and the damn things were beating. It's amazing, they know how to be a heart on the cellular level. Similarly, brains know how to think, brains exude thoughts.

asunthatneversets wrote:Reality isn't subject to materialism, idealism, solipsism or any of these designations, and neither are these teachings.

"Reality" is a word. It is subject to the world's shared definition of it if we are to heed Buddha's advice and "accept what the world accepts."

asunthatneversets wrote:Step outside of the modern cognitive scientific paradigm which reigns supreme in our culture, for it is just that... a mere paradigm.

But it is a new paradigm, my Lord. I think that should count for something.

asunthatneversets wrote:We're not saying "the car does not really exist"...

Actually, lots of people are saying "the car really doesn't exist" or "ultimately, the car doesn't exist." It's awful. If this Ultimate Reality is not unreal then the car really doesn't exist and Buddhism reduces to Idealism.

asunthatneversets wrote:[the car] certainly does [exist] conventionally. But not inherently.

Seems simpler to just say "for Buddhists, the car is not what it seems" and if anyone is curious we explain how the car depends on many factors. I mean, look at the expression "inherently existing". Does *anything* have this property? No? The darn thing (i.e., the concept "inherently existing") is metaphysical to start with yet it litters every other sentence. I appreciate its importance but wonder if we could leave existing language conventions, like "exists" and "reality", out of it and simply say "the car is empty" which has a specific meaning that differs from the notion of "empty space" which is what "nonexistent" brings to mind.

asunthatneversets wrote:Conventionally, you're projecting "a car" and projecting "two of us" to "watch" it "pass by". Everything in that sentence in quotations is a projection.

The car will pass by and we will see it regardless of whether:

4) We both somehow magically create mental projections of the same blue car moving at the same speed; or

5) The car possesses an external reality / existence that causes us both to experience the same thing.

I'm a Number 5. I think both (4) and (5) require us to grow up in similar environments where there are cars and such.

asunthatneversets wrote:I'm not sure if this language is too far from the world, or the world is too far from this language.

The language is too far from the world. Trust me on this one.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:55 am

yadave wrote:You just admitted that air molecules, vibrations, and tape recorders have a reality external to or separate from you and I. This is my point. Yes they are all empty, yes they depend on many causes and conditions for their existence, but they do not depend on my mood or whether you are taking a nap.


There are people who say that nothing exists outside of the mind
but I believe they misinterpret the meaning of that.
They think that an objective universe began when they were born.
This isn't what the Buddha taught or what great teachers have taught.
It's true that everything is a projection of mind
But not this way.

Buddha sat under a tree.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:01 am

yadave wrote:You are correct. I will try to dot my i's in future and use "idealism" rather than "solipsism" to describe the view that "reality is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial."


Ok, but it isn't "mentally constructed" either, a mental construction would have to originate from a mind.

yadave wrote:I did not know you were a guru. Right on.


I didn't know I was either, but yes... right on!

yadave wrote:I would need you to unpack this for me before I know how to respond.


Modern cognitive science and buddhism may have some parallel similarities on a relative level but ultimately they're not of the same nature.

yadave wrote:Well, there is no "me" as you pointed out above and my concern was how your (1) and (2) treat the brain as a source of things. I compare the brain to the heart. Some years ago, Israeli scientists successfully coerced stem cells into heart cells and the damn things were beating. It's amazing, they know how to be a heart on the cellular level. Similarly, brains know how to think, brains exude thoughts.


I didn't say there's no "you", i said there's no "you" apart from the concept of "you", apart from the conventionality of language the self or agent has no inherent existence. But i suppose that's irrelevant since you're thoroughly convinced you're not equipped with any frame of reference with which to gauge what i'm saying. I'm essentially some guy talking on an internet forum, you can't believe there's no self or substratum, it isn't a philosophy, it requires first hand experience for validation. How can the brain be the source of things?

yadave wrote:"Reality" is a word. It is subject to the world's shared definition of it if we are to heed Buddha's advice and "accept what the world accepts."


Yes reality is a word, so is every other word on this forum. I'm using the term reality to describe this "happening" called life. If the Buddha truly believed that one should "accept what the world accepts" then everyone would remain in ignorance.

yadave wrote:But it is a new paradigm, my Lord. I think that should count for something.


I'm sure that day countless centuries ago when someone declared the world is indeed flat, that paradigm counted for something then as well.

yadave wrote:Actually, lots of people are saying "the car really doesn't exist" or "ultimately, the car doesn't exist." It's awful. If this Ultimate Reality is not unreal then the car really doesn't exist and Buddhism reduces to Idealism.


Why would that be awful? Idealism asserts that reality is fundamentally a mental construction, again a mental construction would depend on the existence of a mind.

yadave wrote:Seems simpler to just say "for Buddhists, the car is not what it seems" and if anyone is curious we explain how the car depends on many factors. I mean, look at the expression "inherently existing". Does *anything* have this property? No? The darn thing (i.e., the concept "inherently existing") is metaphysical to start with yet it litters every other sentence. I appreciate its importance but wonder if we could leave existing language conventions, like "exists" and "reality", out of it and simply say "the car is empty" which has a specific meaning that differs from the notion of "empty space" which is what "nonexistent" brings to mind.


Why would this only apply to "Buddhists"? No-thing has inherent existence, every-thing is empty, including emptiness. It's no more metaphysical than believing you're a subjective entity encased in a body experiencing a physical world which is separate from you. And sure say "the car is empty".

yadave wrote:The car will pass by and we will see it regardless of whether:

4) We both somehow magically create mental projections of the same blue car moving at the same speed; or

5) The car possesses an external reality / existence that causes us both to experience the same thing.

I'm a Number 5. I think both (4) and (5) require us to grow up in similar environments where there are cars and such.


Ok, if you want to believe the car has an external existence have at it! I'm not here to win you over, i have no way to convey to you that essentially all that is, is timeless "consciousness" devoid of duality. Those are just words typed onto a computer screen, I really wouldn't want you to believe what i'm saying anyways in all honesty... adopting that as a belief and attaching to that would be just as counterproductive as insisting any other point of view.

yadave wrote:The language is too far from the world. Trust me on this one.


Yes that point of view certainly mirrors what you believe to be true.

I don't really understand the nature of this debating going on, refuting what's said, i mean it's all well and good refute what's said all you want it's just a conversation... but what is your perception of buddhism? Are you just here to stir the pot? Because that's great if that's the case, debates of this nature are good to get people thinking and answer questions for not just the ones debating but for others reading it. Or are you just attempting to have someone thoroughly convince you out of your conditioned point of view you've had your whole life? Only YOU can do that. You don't seem to be very "open" to the teachings, insisting the point of view you champion is some kind of ultimate truth.... almost like you're trying to convince yourself that your point of view is correct for reassurance. I'm not here to propagate some belief system or philosophy, the teachings may be presented in that manner but ultimately they're to be applied to yourself and to your experience, empirically, to bring about a change in perception and being. Buddhism is meant to radically alter life in it's entirety. The effects of the teaching are real, the change is real, but you have to want it, and you have to be open to it, otherwise you remain attached to an archaic conditioned point of view which only leads to suffering.... liberation is here for the taking, everyone wants you to know that love, but nobody can save you except yourself.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:07 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:
yadave wrote:I will try to dot my i's in future and use "idealism" rather than "solipsism" to describe the view that "reality is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial."

Ok, but it isn't "mentally constructed" either, a mental construction would have to originate from a mind.

But you said "mind is a collection of thoughts and memories" and "things" are just "concepts or ideas." Make up your mind.

asunthatneversets wrote:How can the brain be the source of things?

It thinks. I think we've even done this with computers now, cat brains: you put enough neural nets together and it starts having brain waves, it dreams. Remarkable.

asunthatneversets wrote:
yadave wrote:"Reality" is a word. It is subject to the world's shared definition of it if we are to heed Buddha's advice and "accept what the world accepts."

Yes reality is a word, so is every other word on this forum. I'm using the term reality to describe this "happening" called life. If the Buddha truly believed that one should "accept what the world accepts" then everyone would remain in ignorance.

Hey, it was your quote. Are you saying that we should accept only some of the Buddha's teachings and you know which ones to choose? I'm telling Greg.

asunthatneversets wrote:I don't really understand the nature of this debating going on, refuting what's said, i mean it's all well and good refute what's said all you want it's just a conversation... but what is your perception of buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha.

asunthatneversets wrote:Are you just here to stir the pot? Because that's great if that's the case, debates of this nature are good to get people thinking and answer questions for not just the ones debating but for others reading it. Or are you just attempting to have someone thoroughly convince you out of your conditioned point of view you've had your whole life? Only YOU can do that.

I was reading a book and wanted to understand emptiness a little better. I feel this was successful, thank you, and then there's various projections and things flying by in addition which, I suppose, is par for these forums.

asunthatneversets wrote:You don't seem to be very "open" to the teachings, insisting the point of view you champion is some kind of ultimate truth.... almost like you're trying to convince yourself that your point of view is correct for reassurance.

Sorry, I may state a question or position forcefully, as do you, in order to elicit a response, pro or con, but I am not trying to sell anything new, just better understand what is.

asunthatneversets wrote:I'm not here to propagate some belief system or philosophy, the teachings may be presented in that manner but ultimately they're to be applied to yourself and to your experience, empirically, to bring about a change in perception and being. Buddhism is meant to radically alter life in it's entirety. The effects of the teaching are real, the change is real, but you have to want it, and you have to be open to it, otherwise you remain attached to an archaic conditioned point of view which only leads to suffering.... liberation is here for the taking, everyone wants you to know that love, but nobody can save you except yourself.

We do agree on some things.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:11 pm

yadave wrote: Similarly, brains know how to think, brains exude thoughts.

Brains provide the physical apparatus for chemical interactions which are experienced by a mind as thoughts and emotions. But they are not thoughts and emotions. They are merely chemical interactions.

The mind is aware that it is thinking.
None of the other organs are cognitively aware of their own existence.
Please tell me what exists in the physical brain that can cognitively witness its own existence?
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:47 pm

The physical brain is like a saxophone. You can push different parts of it (lobes) to get different mental "notes". You can map out a brain and see that a certain type of brain activity goes on in one area and another type in another area. Just like on a saxophone, one valve produces a certain note and another valve a different note. But a saxophone doesn't play by itself. It needs a reed, and it needs air forced through the reed to make it vibrate, and it needs a person to blow that air and it needs ears to hear that vibrating air as music.

But thoughts, like sounds, don't take up space. They only last for durations of time (well, from the Buddhist understanding, not even that).

That's why, if you take apart a saxophone you won't find any music and if you dissect a brain you won't find any thoughts.
You might say that the mind plays the brain the way a musician plays a saxophone.

So, what is it that plays the brain like a saxophone?
My understanding is that

um.... wait a minute, somebody is at the door.

I'll be back.
.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The mind is aware that it is thinking.

I would say the mind is aware that it was thinking. Then it thinks some more. ;)

There's a lot of fascinating work going on between meditators and cognitive scientists. I think both domains of inquiry will be enriched.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:48 pm

Gee dat Fo Ming monk sure is taking his time at the door. But it's all good, I'm behind on my vippissana so I'll just sit here. Forever, if necessary.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:36 pm

yadave wrote:But you said "mind is a collection of thoughts and memories" and "things" are just "concepts or ideas." Make up your mind.


I'm not sure if you do understand emptiness to the full extent of it's implications. If it's grasped thoroughly it should give you a "holy shit" moment... it can't be left as merely an idea, it has to be applied empirically to your experience.

There is inherent existence as an actuality and there is conventional existence as an abstractive concept. Apart from conceptualization none of these "things" inherently exist. What I've been saying hasn't faltered or contradicted itself once, you just aren't comprehending what i'm saying because you're approaching it from a position of taking your point of view to be a solidified actuality.

The "idea" of a "mind" is an entity comprised of a collection of phenomena labeled as "thoughts and memories" by the phenomena called thought itself. The existence of this "idea" called "the mind" is dependent on the phenomena called "thoughts" in that 1) as a conceputal entity it is supposedly composed of "thought/memory" and 2) such an idea's origin clearly depends on conceptualization because the idea is not separate from conceptualization. So conventionally speaking, in order to bring about a realization in someone who wishes to apply "emptiness" to their experience in a holistic way, one approaches the presupposed conceptual entity called "the mind" and inquires as to what this notion is dependent on. Within the scope of conventional language we find that this idea is dependent on the arising of the phenomena labeled "thought" by thought itself - in "time" - as a series of consecutive arisings. When I say "mind is a collection of thoughts and memories" I'm conveying that what you take to be "the mind" is merely a concept composed of phenomena labeled as "thought and memory"(by the phenomena 'thought' itself) with the addition of another concept called "time". Time - is an idea... experientially there is only ever this present moment; the past is memory, which is vestigial imprints arising in this present moment. And the future is projected ideation about something that may 'happen', arising in this present moment. So experientially there is ONLY this present moment, which cannot even be called a moment because such a label would imply 'other moments'. "The mind" is actually dependently originated with aid from both of these concepts; time and conceptualization. The idea of a "mind" is dependent on the presence of "time" in order to be a "series of thoughts". The idea of "Time" is dependent on mind(thought/conceptualization). Likewise the "mind" is none other than the phenomena called "thought and memory". There is no entity "mind" as a separate container of thought or memory. Thought coupled with the illusion of time is telling a story about itself called the mind.

But not one of these "things" exists apart from conventional language and/or conceptualization.

And as i said before; when one looks at the mind, you see that the mind is made of constituents called thought and memory. So so far this intellectual deconstructing is dependent on mind(aka thought) and the mind(aka thought) is dependent on that which the thought is conceptualizing. So there is no mind separate from thought/memory... and no thought/memory separate from that which they(thought/memory) objectify. What is objectified is not separate from the thought/memory... and the thought/memory is not separate from mind. If that can be assimilated thoroughly what's seen is that there's no separation between any of them. And that there are no 'things' (branches, leaves, space) separate from conceptualization. And the collection of conceptualizations (in time; which is dependent on conceptualization) constitutes that which we call mind.

Once 'things' such as branches, leaves, space are seen to dependently exist on concepts (and the concepts dependent on those 'things'). And the concepts are seen to be dependent on mind (and the mind a conglomerate of concepts) one starts to see that a web of dependent origination starts to form and that these different designations are only a product of conventional language. Apart from the conventional language(which is useful!) these 'things' do not inherently exist.

yadave wrote:It thinks. I think we've even done this with computers now, cat brains: you put enough neural nets together and it starts having brain waves, it dreams. Remarkable.


Consciousness(innate "being") manifests sound-like-phenomena labeled as "thought" which is no different than itself 'consciousness'. What we label as "consciousness" dreams, scans cat brains and all of these things but any activity is never separate from consciousness itself.

yadave wrote:Hey, it was your quote. Are you saying that we should accept only some of the Buddha's teachings and you know which ones to choose? I'm telling Greg.


It was my quote? How so? Well obviously one should only accept some of the Buddhas teachings, a lot of those teachings were geared towards the people and circumstances of those times, in the frame of those peoples world-view. That being said, the buddha is just a story, the "Buddha" isn't treated like "Jesus" as some deity like actual historical figure which people worship. The buddha was merely a man who woke up, had a realization about the nature of being, and he shared this knowledge. A lot of practitioners of buddhist teachings who had high realizations after the "original buddha" was long gone actually attributed what they realized or wrote down to "the buddha" because the buddha is the symbolism or archetype which represents the awakened wisdom within themselves. The innate "buddha nature" everyone possesses, your pure timeless conscious-awareness. The buddha is no different than your own awareness or consciousness, "mind" whatever label you give it. So yes only accept what is going to work for you, otherwise you're a slave to a belief system scrambling to do things to try and make yourself happy.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense" - The Buddha

"Followers of the way (of Zen), if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma(method), never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with on the road, kill it! If you meet the buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet the patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go." - Linji

"The cause of bondage is mental construction; give that up. Liberation comes through the absence of mental construction; practice it intelligently" - Annapurna Upanishad

yadave wrote:Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha.


Something like that... it is a religion of no-religion and if it's merely left as a philosophy entertaining intellectual gymnastics it will not flower in it's full potential. Belief is slavery. Siddhartha Gautama is just a name. You are the power.

yadave wrote:I was reading a book and wanted to understand emptiness a little better. I feel this was successful, thank you, and then there's various projections and things flying by in addition which, I suppose, is par for these forums.


I think that's great, good for you for seeking out a means to understand it better. Yes i'm sure there's lots of projections and things flying which are par for these forums, know them to only be projections though!

yadave wrote:Sorry, I may state a question or position forcefully, as do you, in order to elicit a response, pro or con, but I am not trying to sell anything new, just better understand what is.


Well then we're much alike!

yadave wrote:We do agree on some things.


I would hope so.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:43 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwHI-CJWsFk

the part about schizophrenia is what I was thinking about in relation to emptiness. Namdrol said that samadhi is a mental factor, and that we experience it all the time.

Maybe emptiness can't really be understood, ultimately. If it's our true nature. Like the other thread, where we were saying that cognizing self-nature is like trying to jump over your own shadow.

This confusion and the suffering I feel about my own nature I want to use to cultivate more compassion for others' confusion.
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