A Physicalist Theory of Mind

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Andrew108
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:33 pm

Abhidharma asserts a material objective condition. Substitute consciousness with energy and you are very close to what some materialists posit. Depersonalize consciousness and really what you have is energy.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:35 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Abhidharma asserts a material objective condition. Substitute consciousness with energy and you are very close to what some materialists posit. Depersonalize consciousness and really what you have is energy.

Yes, that is why the Abhidharmika perspective of realism is negated by higher tenet systems. Nevertheless, without understanding Abhidharma, one will not understand the object of negation of higher tenet systems, and one will also not understand how it is that modern physics and so on is also subject to the same refutations.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Grigoris
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Grigoris » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:38 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
oushi wrote:Dark Ages, welcome back!
If you consider Buddhism "Dark Ages" then yes, welcome back.
PS The Dark Ages was a historical period from 500-1500AD, the five elements model is much older than that. In India it predated Buddhism (that puts it somewhere before 500BC). In Europe it was developed by Pre-Socratic philosophers (physicists-naturalists), so that places it around 500-600BC. So quite clearly, historically, it has NOTHING to do with the Dark Ages, though it did influence Middle Ages philosophy.
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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:47 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
oushi wrote:Dark Ages, welcome back!
If you consider Buddhism "Dark Ages" then yes, welcome back.
PS The Dark Ages was a historical period from 500-1500AD, the five elements model is much older than that. In India it predated Buddhism (that puts it somewhere before 500BC). In Europe it was developed by Pre-Socratic philosophers (physicists-naturalists), so that places it around 500-600BC. So quite clearly, historically, it has NOTHING to do with the Dark Ages, though it did influence Middle Ages philosophy.
You have to understand, here, most people consider anything before the invention of the internet the dark ages.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:07 pm

You have to understand, here, most people consider anything before the invention of the internet the dark ages.
Nice. :applause:

Actually I put it as anything before the smartphone. How did we ever live without it?
Last edited by smcj on Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:11 pm

smcj wrote:
You have to understand, here, most people consider anything before the invention of the internet the dark ages.
Nice. :applause:

Actually I put as anything before the smartphone. How did we ever live without it?
Well, no, that would be the Renaissance. The invention of the smart phone was the Enlightenment.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

DGA
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by DGA » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:28 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jikan wrote:Good question, shel. Here's my attempt at an answer:

I'd understood the five elements generally to be a set of categories for understanding the phenomena of the world--names for specific bandwidth a thing might occupy, so to speak. It's possible to understand matter through the lens of the periodic chart; it's possible to understand phenomenal experience through the lens of the five elements, just as one can use the skandhas as a way to understand the components of one's experience of oneself.
You cannot use the periodic table of elements to achieve rainbow however, or to immolate yourself as Ananda did by entering the fire element, in order to save lay people from the hassle of dealing with his death.
Indeed. A Buddhist view has a certain value viz. Buddhist practice, no?

My point was that for mundane purposes, one hermeneutic is just as good as another. if one insists on a mundane view, as I think shel seems to, then either of these mundane views (that of the elements in a vulgar sense or the periodic chart you learned in the 7th grade) may be acceptable.

Back to the broader point, I think it's important for all of us to remember that the Buddha Dharma is taught in the way it's taught because it has some value in advancing people in practice, including some aspects that seem extraneous or hard to wrap one's mind around, as in the case of the 5 elements.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:46 pm

Jikan wrote:
Indeed. A Buddhist view has a certain value viz. Buddhist practice, no?
Indeed, it is a pity so few understand this.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:58 pm

:good:

I understood the five elements to be aids for practice. If I try to theorize them, I get very confused.
They perhaps help to show the emptiness, i.e. lack of inherency of even apparently objective material objects like a hunk of rock, a chemical reaction, or the periodic table.
That we can stick very refined numbers on things these days has made the position of an inherent physicality external to us difficult to examine critically.
I find the five elements to be just such a skillful means.

shel
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:20 pm

Jikan wrote:My point was that for mundane purposes, one hermeneutic is just as good as another. if one insists on a mundane view, as I think shel seems to, then either of these mundane views (that of the elements in a vulgar sense or the periodic chart you learned in the 7th grade) may be acceptable.
My question, which as far as I can tell hasn't been addressed, was what is the fundamental difference between these two hermeneutics?

And I don't insist on any particular view. Why would I? I just don't see the fundamental difference between the two models. It seems to me that if there were a fundamental difference, and someone understood what that fundamental difference was, they could easily explain it.
Back to the broader point, I think it's important for all of us to remember that the Buddha Dharma is taught in the way it's taught because it has some value in advancing people in practice,
Or maybe it's just tradition. Can you, for instance, immolate yourself using the five element model to spare your friends the cost of cremation? I'm thinking probably not, right? That doesn't mean the Ananda story doesn't have significant meaning for practitioners.
including some aspects that seem extraneous or hard to wrap one's mind around, as in the case of the 5 elements.
I don't see what's hard to wrap ones mind around.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Lotus_Bitch » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:24 pm

Malcolm wrote: So, solidity can be measured in a modern element by its atomic weight and so on. Matter does not remain in one form, it moves through three phases depending on the presence or absence of heat. The three phases of matter with heat governing phase transition is merely a modern way of recasting the four elements. However, it is not as comprehensive as the four or five element model.
IMO, it is not applicable to make these comparisons between the 5 elements and physical science, the outlook of the former primarily correlating to one's personal experience of phenomena. An example for those reading this:
http://www.abhidhamma.org/Rupa%201.htm

The Element of Earth (in Pali: pathavi dhatu), which has been translated into English as “solidity” or “extension”, has the characteristic of hardness or softness. It can be directly experienced when we touch something hard or soft.
...

As to function, rupas have functions in relation to other rupas or in relation to nama. Solidity acts as a foundation, namely for the other rupas it arises together with in a group, that is its function. Smell, for example, could not arise alone, it needs solidity as foundation. It is the same with visible object or colour which can be experienced through the eyesense. Visible object or colour needs solidity as foundation or support, it could not arise alone. Solidity which arises together with visible object cannot be seen, only visible object can be seen. As regards manifestation, this is the way a reality habitually appears. Solidity is manifested as receiving, it receives the other rupas it arises together with since it acts as their foundation.
...

The element of water or cohesion cannot be experienced through the bodysense, only through the mind-door. When we touch what we call water, it is only solidity, temperature or motion which can be experienced through the bodysense, not cohesion. Cohesion has to arise together with whatever kind of materiality arises. It makes the other rupas it accompanies cohere so that they do not become scattered.
...

The element of heat or temperature can be experienced through the bodysense and it appears as heat or cold. Cold is a lesser degree of heat. The element of heat accompanies all kinds of materiality which arises, rupas of the body and materiality outside. It maintains or matures them. The element of heat is one of the four factors which produce rupas of the body. Kamma produces rupa from the first moment of life and after that temperature also starts to produce rupas of the body.
...

The element of wind or motion arises with all kinds of materiality, both of the body and outside the body. There is also motion with dead matter, such as a pot. It performs its function so that the pot holds its shape and does not collapse.
...

We should remember that the element of water or cohesion cannot be experienced through the bodysense, only through the mind-door, and that the elements of earth, fire and wind can be directly experienced through the bodysense. The element of earth appears as hardness or softness, the element of fire as heat or cold and the element of wind as motion or pressure.
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But only a few know how to dismantle [mental clinging].
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Andrew108
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Abhidharma asserts a material objective condition. Substitute consciousness with energy and you are very close to what some materialists posit. Depersonalize consciousness and really what you have is energy.

Yes, that is why the Abhidharmika perspective of realism is negated by higher tenet systems. Nevertheless, without understanding Abhidharma, one will not understand the object of negation of higher tenet systems, and one will also not understand how it is that modern physics and so on is also subject to the same refutations.
Which higher tenets negate Abhidharma's realist perspective? If we follow your views on textual criticism we would have to accept that Abhidharma was taught by the Buddha or at least is representative of what the Buddha wanted his followers to understand. Scholars believe that earliest Abhidharma came about in 300 BCE. Still these teachings are close to how Buddhism was presented originally. But I think only some later Buddhist developments negated Abhidharma. I'm not sure that Dzogchen (which you think is 90% a Tibetan invention) for instance negates the realism as outlined in early Buddhist Abhidharma.

On the whole I think you have misunderstood 'scientific materialism'. But that is o.k because there are a few varieties. Perhaps in your mind you equate materialism with a view that is nihilist or simply a view that reduces all to the physical. Not all materialism is like this. The materialism in the Abhidharma texts being a case in point.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:53 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Lotus_Bitch wrote: IMO, it is not applicable to make these comparisons between the 5 elements and physical science, the outlook of the former primarily correlating to one's personal experience of phenomena. An example for those reading this:
Since we are relying on Abhidharma here, this not really the case. For example, Vasubandhu writes:
  • The so-called four great elements [mahābhūta] are great for the reason that they support all other matter [rūpa].
You are mistaken their action, bearing, cohesion, and so on for their material nature, which are respectively, hardness, moistness or lubricity [sneha], etc.

Clearly, in this instance the four elements are merely describing some category of perception.

Nor is it the case that they are doing so in the Garbhāvakrānti-sūtra:
  • In the same way, since those four great elements mutually support and maintain one another, for that reason, the bodies in the oval stage arise because of the cause of the four great elements of the male, the female and the karmic wind.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

krodha
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by krodha » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:00 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Which higher tenets negate Abhidharma's realist perspective?
Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā is a good (easily accessible) example of a rather extensive critique or refutation of Abhidharmic principles.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:09 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Which higher tenets negate Abhidharma's realist perspective?
Yogacara and Madhyamaka of course.
If we follow your views on textual criticism we would have to accept that Abhidharma was taught by the Buddha or at least is representative of what the Buddha wanted his followers to understand.
The Sarvastivada tradition, the dominant Indian school in this regard, maintains that Abhidharma was not directly taught by the Buddha, but rather by senior Arhats such as Śāriputra and so on, in such texts as the Saṇgīti-paryaya, the Dharma-skandha and so on. So we can accept that Abhidharma sketches what the śravaka Sangha in India understood to be the Buddha's intention. Of course, the views of the Sarvastivadins were challenged by the Sautrantikas, a slightly higher position represented by the autocommentary on Vasubandhu's Kośakarikas.
I'm not sure that Dzogchen for instance negates the realism as outlined in early Buddhist Abhidharma.
It does so most completely and thoroughly in countless texts, beginning for example in Sems sde.
The materialism in the Abhidharma texts being a case in point.
Abhidharma is realist, not materialist.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Which higher tenets negate Abhidharma's realist perspective?
Yogacara and Madhyamaka of course.
…with the caveat that Malcolm considers Tsongkhapa's Madhyamaka to be realist--in a sense. Tshongkahapa does not accept the Pali Abhidharma's view that atoms are real for instance.

I don't agree that Tshongkahapa is a "realist", but I can't argue the point effectively.
I'm not sure that Dzogchen for instance negates the realism as outlined in early Buddhist Abhidharma.
I'm not into Dzogchen, but that sounds like you've missed the point. You might want to review the material. Dzogchen view is pretty out-there.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:38 pm

[quote="smcj"]
…with the caveat that Malcolm considers Tsongkhapa's Madhyamaka to be realist--in a sense. Tshongkahapa does not accept the Pali Abhidharma's view that atoms are real for instance.[/quote[]

It tends towards realism because Tsongkhapa makes great pains not to violate ordinary people's sense of what is conventionally termed "real".

But of course Tsongkhapa is not realist in the sense that A108 is a realist.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Wayfarer
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:02 am

Malcolm wrote:
Wayfarer wrote:
There is not one scintilla of evidence for the existence of the 'five elements', which is a primitive form of physics that dates back to before the Common Era.
Of course there is. Just take off your materialist blinders and look around you.
And I don't for a minute accept the idea that if you criticize it, that makes you 'a materialist'.
I understand that you do not have allegiance to scientific materialism, but nevertheless, you have adopted it as your worldview and conceptual framework.

By doing so you have for example invalidated kashina meditation and the results that arise from it and so on. There are many, many negative consequences to abandoning the Buddha's teaching on the five elements.
I think the real issue here is that I have had the temerity to challenge your authority and the religious dogma you are invested in. It seems very important to you that you have the last word in any given debate on Dharma Wheel. Now that I have questioned the literal intepretation of ancient Buddhist texts I have been cast in the role of a Materialist.
Sherab Dorje wrote: can quite easily go into an analysis of each element of the periodic table based on the ratios present of each of the five elements. Would that convince you? Would that be evidence enough? Probably not. Mainly because you consider the five element model archaic, primitive and outdated, surpassed by the periodic model. That means that you prefer the periodic paradigm (a materialist paradigm) over the five element paradigm (a Buddhist paradigm, and qualitative to boot). So, weirdly enough, that makes you a materialist in regards to the subject at hand.
I am not hurt, but surprised, because I expected better.

The periodic table is neither materialist, Buddhist, nor idealist, any more than the times table or the alphabet or the laws of the land. Recognizing the elements of the periodic table does not in any way mean 'acceptance of the materialist paradigm'. Hey, Max Planck, one of the leading physicists of the modern age, argued against materialism his entire life. So did many others.

Furthemore, scientific progress has done immense amounts to relieve human suffering - many of us would not even be here were it not for medicine. Of course science is also responsible for atomic weapons and nerve gas and many other horrible things, but that doesn't invalidate science. People can use religion to justify pretty horrible things too.

I am taking a break from Dharma Forum. I've enjoyed it, but it becomes habit-forming, and I have other things that need attention.

So long for now.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:20 am

Malcolm wrote: It tends towards realism because Tsongkhapa makes great pains not to violate ordinary people's sense of what is conventionally termed "real".
That's why I like it!
Wayfarer wrote:I am taking a break from Dharma Forum. I've enjoyed it, but it becomes habit-forming…
That's why I like it!
... and I have other things that need attention.
We'll yeah, there's always that. Sorry to see you go. :cry:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:56 am

Wayfarer wrote: I think the real issue here is that I have had the temerity to challenge your authority and the religious dogma you are invested in. It seems very important to you that you have the last word in any given debate on Dharma Wheel. Now that I have questioned the literal intepretation of ancient Buddhist texts I have been cast in the role of a Materialist.
The real issues is that when it is pointed out to you that your stated opinions render harm to such phenomena as the results of kashina meditation and so on, not to mention the attainment of rainbow body, etc., what is your response? To flee.

Ok.

M
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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