minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

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Supramundane
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minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

I heard a very pithy explanation of the difference between Mahayana and Theravada:

Theravada = what the Buddha wrote.
Mahayana = what the Buddha did.

It is super reduced but does convey a certain truth and helps encapsulate a Buddhist concept in a phrase. It could be useful for beginners to grasp difficult ideas.

So over the weekend I challenged myself to do the same for various difficult concepts, sum them up in Zen-like haiku; this is what I came up with:

There is no True Self or False Self but truth of the self.

Dharma is the Way: Karma are the wrong turns you take.

Eight-fold Path: New Year’s Resolutions for Buddhists

Sunyata = inevitability of change

Samsara is a way of experiencing Nirvana, just not the one we want.

Four Noble Truths: The executive summary of Buddhism.

Nirvana is where you aren’t

Dependent arising: Everything that is a thing is things.

Interconnectedness: the Lego-nature of reality

Dependent Origination: the momentum of impermanence

Math formulas
Dependent Origination + Interconnectedness + Karma = Rebirth
Nirvana +Samsara = reality
Dependent Origination + interconnectedness = karma
muni
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by muni »

Eight-fold Path: New Year’s Resolutions for Buddhists. LOl.

Lego? :applause:
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
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Supramundane
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

I think in the sutra I read the word Lego was used but have to re-check lol.
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Aemilius
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

Supramundane wrote: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:32 am I heard a very pithy explanation of the difference between Mahayana and Theravada:

Theravada = what the Buddha wrote.
Mahayana = what the Buddha did.
Buddha didn't write anything. There is a good explantion of Indian culture at the time of Buddha, and in chapter VII why the sutras were not written but memorized, in T. W. Rhys Davids' Buddhist India : http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documen ... Davids.pdf
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Supramundane
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

Aemilius wrote: Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:39 am
Supramundane wrote: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:32 am I heard a very pithy explanation of the difference between Mahayana and Theravada:

Theravada = what the Buddha wrote.
Mahayana = what the Buddha did.
Buddha didn't write anything. There is a good explantion of Indian culture at the time of Buddha, and in chapter VII why the sutras were not written but memorized, in T. W. Rhys Davids' Buddhist India : http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documen ... Davids.pdf
Well, you know what they say --- all generalizations are false.

.... oops!
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Simon E. »

THAT is not a generalisation. The Buddha wrote nothing. He spoke a language which is now extinct. That was rendered into Pali which was a a largely artificial language created because the Buddhas language had no written form.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

no one gets my sense of humor hehe i guess it is too dry.

i was referring to my generalization...

i :)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Simon E. »

Point taken.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

Simon E. wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:14 am THAT is not a generalisation. The Buddha wrote nothing. He spoke a language which is now extinct. That was rendered into Pali which was a a largely artificial language created because the Buddhas language had no written form.
Etienne Lamotte thinks that Buddha probably spoke several languages, he has some proof of this. Lamotte further mentions a canonical source where Buddha speaks a dravidian language, i.e. a non-aryan or aboriginal-indian language.
T. W. Rhys Davids says in his book Buddhist India, that writing existed at the time of Buddha, but its use was limited to commerce, law and governmental uses. Writing must have been well known, because there was a childrens game involving the guessing of letters. Rhys Davids thinks the memorizing of sacred instructions was highly regarded, and it was the norm in spiritual matters for centuries after the Parinirvana of the Blessed One.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Aemilius
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

Supramundane wrote: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:32 am
Sunyata = inevitability of change

Dependent Origination: the momentum of impermanence
You can't reduce Shunyata and Dependent Origination to mere impermanence. Something else, or some other aspect of reality, is said in both of them.
You could try to illustrate dependent origination with a figure of speech, like "things are hanging on a thread", or something similar.

Shunyata itself is a figure or an image, that illustrates something. There are several alternative images for it, it is "like a pith of a banana tree" (which is hollow, banana tree is a grass species botanically). I can't think of anything that has not been said already (for Shunyata).
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
Simon E.
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Simon E. »

Aemilius wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:55 am
Simon E. wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:14 am THAT is not a generalisation. The Buddha wrote nothing. He spoke a language which is now extinct. That was rendered into Pali which was a a largely artificial language created because the Buddhas language had no written form.
Etienne Lamotte thinks that Buddha probably spoke several languages, he has some proof of this. Lamotte further mentions a canonical source where Buddha speaks a dravidian language, i.e. a non-aryan or aboriginal-indian language.
T. W. Rhys Davids says in his book Buddhist India, that writing existed at the time of Buddha, but its use was limited to commerce, law and governmental uses. Writing must have been well known, because there was a childrens game involving the guessing of letters. Rhys Davids thinks the memorizing of sacred instructions was highly regarded, and it was the norm in spiritual matters for centuries after the Parinirvana of the Blessed One.
The point is ...The Buddha did not write the Pali Canon.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Madhyamaka = How phenomena abide is beyond your powers of imagination.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by LastLegend »

smcj wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:49 pm Madhyamaka = nothing is how you can imagine it to be.
That imagines is perceptions?
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

LastLegend wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:12 pm
smcj wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:49 pm Madhyamaka = nothing is how you can imagine it to be.
That imagines is perceptions?
Fundamental ignorance = how you currently see things, including how you see yourself (no-self). The tetralemma demonstrates that every way we can possibly think about phenomena—and ourselves—is incorrect. Therefore how phenomena abide is beyond our imaginations.

Right?
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

Simon E. wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:59 am
Aemilius wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:55 am
Simon E. wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:14 am THAT is not a generalisation. The Buddha wrote nothing. He spoke a language which is now extinct. That was rendered into Pali which was a a largely artificial language created because the Buddhas language had no written form.
Etienne Lamotte thinks that Buddha probably spoke several languages, he has some proof of this. Lamotte further mentions a canonical source where Buddha speaks a dravidian language, i.e. a non-aryan or aboriginal-indian language.
T. W. Rhys Davids says in his book Buddhist India, that writing existed at the time of Buddha, but its use was limited to commerce, law and governmental uses. Writing must have been well known, because there was a childrens game involving the guessing of letters. Rhys Davids thinks the memorizing of sacred instructions was highly regarded, and it was the norm in spiritual matters for centuries after the Parinirvana of the Blessed One.
The point is ...The Buddha did not write the Pali Canon.
Sure, we agree on that point.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

smcj wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:50 pm
LastLegend wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:12 pm
smcj wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:49 pm Madhyamaka = nothing is how you can imagine it to be.
That imagines is perceptions?
Fundamental ignorance = how you currently see things, including how you see yourself (no-self). The tetralemma demonstrates that every way we can possibly think about phenomena—and ourselves—is incorrect. Therefore how phenomena abide is beyond our imaginations.

Right?
That is too much self-deprecating, even if it is true. You have your inherent buddha-nature. You should appreciate, value and love yourself, and be a psychologically healthy person.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

That is too much self-deprecating, even if it is true. You have your inherent buddha-nature. You should appreciate, value and love yourself, and be a psychologically healthy person.
The teachings on Buddha Nature use a series of analogies to describe how it is present in sentient beings. Whether it is a statue covered in dirty rags, a jewel hidden under a pauper’s house, or butter in unchurned milk, it is always depicted as something present yet hidden and unknown.

What understanding Madhyamaka does is allow us to do is have a fresh start in our search for this hidden treasure. Following Madhyamaka reasoning, we can let go of our attachment to appearances in a healthy and reasoned way. Trying to do that without Madhyamaka usually results in internal conflict, or mental illness, or some other kind of disaster.

We can make a clean sweep of our mental baggage of issues, dramas, attachments, opinions and such. What are we left with? The way I’ve been taught is that our curiosity (which will ultimately become Wisdon) and our good intentions (which will become Bodhicitta) are not to be dismissed. They are legitimate indicators of the presence of our Buddha Nature, albeit in diminished form. Starting afresh we begin to work from there.

Anyway that’s how I’ve seen it presented. YMMV.

:focus:
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

Aemilius wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:32 am
Simon E. wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:59 am
Aemilius wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:55 am

Etienne Lamotte thinks that Buddha probably spoke several languages, he has some proof of this. Lamotte further mentions a canonical source where Buddha speaks a dravidian language, i.e. a non-aryan or aboriginal-indian language.
T. W. Rhys Davids says in his book Buddhist India, that writing existed at the time of Buddha, but its use was limited to commerce, law and governmental uses. Writing must have been well known, because there was a childrens game involving the guessing of letters. Rhys Davids thinks the memorizing of sacred instructions was highly regarded, and it was the norm in spiritual matters for centuries after the Parinirvana of the Blessed One.
The point is ...The Buddha did not write the Pali Canon.
Sure, we agree on that point.
Yes, we all agree.

The original statement is inaccurate, as are all generalizations to an extent.
I guess i could change it to be:

Theravada: paper Buddhism
Mahayana: Buddhism in action
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Supramundane »

Aemilius wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:09 am
Supramundane wrote: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:32 am
Sunyata = inevitability of change

Dependent Origination: the momentum of impermanence
You can't reduce Shunyata and Dependent Origination to mere impermanence. Something else, or some other aspect of reality, is said in both of them.
You could try to illustrate dependent origination with a figure of speech, like "things are hanging on a thread", or something similar.

Shunyata itself is a figure or an image, that illustrates something. There are several alternative images for it, it is "like a pith of a banana tree" (which is hollow, banana tree is a grass species botanically). I can't think of anything that has not been said already (for Shunyata).
"like the pith of a banana tree" probably leaves most people cold though, A.
i think we will have to keep working on that one:).
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Re: minimalist definitions of difficult concepts

Post by Aemilius »

There is a list of 32 similes for the nature of samsara in Life and Teaching of Naropa, transl Herbert Von Guenther, Shambhala 1995. It is probably the original source of the metaphor "like honey on the razor's edge"; another simile is "samsara is like a merciless hunter".
Another list of metaphors is in the Holy Teachng of Vimalakirti, Chapter 7, The Goddess, transl Robert Thurman, Motilal Banarsidass 1991. Here are some of the unusual ones: "like the erection of a eunuch"; "like the fun of games for one who wishes to die"; "like the core of the plaintain tree (i.e. banana tree)" is also found there.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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