The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

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boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:03 am

Cheese or a mollifying idea perceived to be full of meaning - what's really the difference?
The former is pleasure or distraction and the latter is pacifying. Pacifying ideas like [insert Deepak Chopra aphorism] are generally not perceived to very meaningful. The kind of meaning being discussed has purpose, is based on real values, is social or otherwise offers a sense of becoming part of something greater than the self, and has a coherent narrative. A transcendent aspect may not be essential but would be ideal.

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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm

In Buddhist psychology, the difference between a pleasing physical sensation and a pleasing ideation is a matter of quality, not kind. Unguarded, we develop craving for them, perpetuating the cycle.

I get what you are talking about. It doesn't transcend samsara. Samsara has some very nice corners. The human realm is said to be marked primarily by contentment.

This search for meaning I suppose can be projected to interpret Buddhism, but it's not Buddhism and the category does not stand up to Buddhist analysis.

"Felt good in the hood being around the ni**as."
Tupac

Referring to the Rodney King Riots.

Meaning is a samsarric pursuit. Ultimately futile.

In our secular society, this is the foundation of the highest philosophies.

:shrug:
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
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Simon E.
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:24 pm

'Life is what happens while we are attempting to give it meaning' as J.Lennon nearly said.
'We have a physical body with its various needs. Each day we have to eat, sleep, rest and so on.
This is our reality and we can't ignore it'

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu.

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:56 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm
This search for meaning I suppose can be projected to interpret Buddhism, but it's not Buddhism and the category does not stand up to Buddhist analysis.
Does Buddhism have purpose? Absolutely!

Is Buddhism based on true values? The truest!

Is Buddhism social or offer joining with something greater than the self? Buddha Dharma Sangha, baby!

Does Buddhism have a coherent narrative? None better!

Does Buddhism have a transcendent aspect? Duh!

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:59 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:24 pm
'Life is what happens while we are attempting to give it meaning' as J.Lennon nearly said.
Great, very profound, Simon. :thumbsup:

Jeff H
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:36 pm
Queequeg wrote:A Buddhist reinterpretation of that myth might be something like this -

Mara, in the guise of Brahma, convinces Sisyphus that if he can roll the boulder to the top of the mountain, he will find eternal happiness. Little does Sisyphus know, however, that the mountain is a rigged carnival game that makes it impossible for the boulder to be balanced on the peak.
I can’t see how that would work. That Sisyphus would simply find something else to do, or walk away. The more apt comparison with ‘the death of God’ would be how Buddhism is viewed by Chinese Communist Party cadres: ‘look, the Buddha is a myth. There is no saṃsāra, no ‘enllightenment’, there are simply social classes who operate under social and political conditions. Now, get used to it, you have to learn to adapt to reality.’ Sisyphus is condemned to a meaningless existence - according to Camus, his only redemption is to heroically be happy regardless of his plight.

Queequeg wrote:Oooh, artisan bread and cheeses, and delicately balanced wine! Simply Divine!
I think you’re confusing ‘meaning’ with ‘pleasure’ in your analysis. The human ability to understand meaning is essential for there to even be a teaching. Humans are able to respond to it, because they can be shown the meaning of existence being ‘subject to the three marks’, and so on. That is why the Buddha’s discourses are generally very clear models of rational discourse, even while often referring to what is ‘beyond words’.
That Sisyphus was being punished, and therefore his labors had meaning, is irrelevant. Punishment is relative, implying subjective guilt and/or rehabilitative intention. This “punishment” could be seen as retribution and/or torture. And it’s eternal, so there is no walking away. Like conceptuality, which has value in helping us realize non-conceptuality, meaning in Dharma is merely a means, never an end.

The only thing we have to work with here is Sisyphus’ own attitude toward his experience. What makes it “suffering” is his attitude. If he hates what is happening, it’s only because he longs for but cannot find any redeeming meaning in his endless rock-pushing. It is only hateful suffering because he has an idea of other, more meaningful, things he could be doing.

Dharma is not meaningful in and of itself; it is only meaningful as an exit strategy –- the raft that gets abandoned. The exit is giving up on meaning without lapsing into depression. Rather, depression is related to seeing that the pervasive mental structure that generates samsara (which includes both manifest and changing suffering, pain and pleasure) is exactly like endlessly, meaninglessly, pushing a rock up a hill.

So I’d conjecture Buddha’s telling of the story to be that there was a great bodhisattva named Sisyphus who gleefully took up the task of rolling a rock for all time in order to demonstrate the suffering of samsara and inspire renunciation in those inclined to the Dharma. The meaning lies in demonstrating the attachment to meaningfulness that creates samsaric suffering.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:11 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:56 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm
This search for meaning I suppose can be projected to interpret Buddhism, but it's not Buddhism and the category does not stand up to Buddhist analysis.
Does Buddhism have purpose? Absolutely!

Is Buddhism based on true values? The truest!

Is Buddhism social or offer joining with something greater than the self? Buddha Dharma Sangha, baby!

Does Buddhism have a coherent narrative? None better!

Does Buddhism have a transcendent aspect? Duh!
These are projections. Buddhism would not be analyzed in these terms from within the tradition. While these observations might find acquiescence at some level, the caveat would be to point out the expediency of these observations and deny further significance.

"Old farmer boda, sittin' on a fence,
Tryin'a make a dollar out of fifteen cents"

:smile:
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
-The Grateful Dead

Jeff H
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:16 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:56 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm
This search for meaning I suppose can be projected to interpret Buddhism, but it's not Buddhism and the category does not stand up to Buddhist analysis.
Does Buddhism have purpose? Absolutely!

Is Buddhism based on true values? The truest!

Is Buddhism social or offer joining with something greater than the self? Buddha Dharma Sangha, baby!

Does Buddhism have a coherent narrative? None better!

Does Buddhism have a transcendent aspect? Duh!
I agree with these statements.

However, buddhadharma teaches one perspective for “self” and another for “other”. The objective is not to improve samsara -– that’s impossible. For ourselves, as practitioners, it is to willingly take on whatever samsara can throw at us in order to transcend it (see Shantideva’s chapters 4 and 5). For others, it is that we ease the negative experiences of all beings while preparing ourselves to guide them out of their samsaric misery once and for all (see Shantideva’s chapter 6).
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:48 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:11 pm
While these observations might find acquiescence at some level...
Lol, and I was hoping you would try to argue explicitly against them. Darn!

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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:48 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:48 pm
Lol, and I was hoping you would try to argue explicitly against them. Darn!
Image
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
-The Grateful Dead

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:54 pm

Jeff H wrote:The meaning lies in demonstrating the attachment to meaningfulness that creates samsaric suffering.
I can’t agree with any of that, nor with the general sentiment in this thread - that Buddhism somehow ‘nullifies meaning’, or that seeking meaning is the same as seeking emotional or sensory gratification. The ability to even speak or think relies on the ability to grasp meaning. I acknowledge that the Buddha points to an understanding beyond words, but that doesn’t nullify reason, it transcends it.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:25 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:54 pm
Jeff H wrote:The meaning lies in demonstrating the attachment to meaningfulness that creates samsaric suffering.
I can’t agree with any of that, nor with the general sentiment in this thread - that Buddhism somehow ‘nullifies meaning’, or that seeking meaning is the same as seeking emotional or sensory gratification. The ability to even speak or think relies on the ability to grasp meaning. I acknowledge that the Buddha points to an understanding beyond words, but that doesn’t nullify reason, it transcends it.
"nullifies meaning" assumes there was something substantial to nullify. Buddhist analysis would reveal "meaning" as empty from the go, though provisionally posited. Same as all compounded dharmas.

As Nagarjuna taught, and I'm paraphrasing, we rely on conventions because that's all we have. There is no "meaning" beyond words, beyond conventions. Buddha does not transcend dharmas, but teaches nondualism, which is different.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
-The Grateful Dead

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:38 pm

I’m sorry, but I think the word ‘provisional’ is being interpreted here as ‘non-existent’ - which is the very risk of nihilism that Nāgārjuna warned against. And furthermore, I think you’re interpretation here owes far more to PoMo than to Madhyamika.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:08 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm
Dharma is not meaningful in and of itself; it is only meaningful as an exit strategy –- the raft that gets abandoned.
Nothing exists in and of itself according to dependent origination.

When does this abandonment happen? This is a particularly pertinent question for the Mahāyāna tradition in which fundamental principles are based on the possibility of universal liberation from dukkha for all being. Kind of a 'no one left behind' ethic.

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:27 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:38 pm
I’m sorry, but I think the word ‘provisional’ is being interpreted here as ‘non-existent’ - which is the very risk of nihilism that Nāgārjuna warned against. And furthermore, I think you’re interpretation here owes far more to PoMo than to Madhyamika.
No. That's not how I'm using provisional. Can't speak for others.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
-The Grateful Dead

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Tiago Simões » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:29 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:08 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm
Dharma is not meaningful in and of itself; it is only meaningful as an exit strategy –- the raft that gets abandoned.
Nothing exists in and of itself according to dependent origination.

When does this abandonment happen? This is a particularly pertinent question for the Mahāyāna tradition in which fundamental principles are based on the possibility of universal liberation from dukkha for all being. Kind of a 'no one left behind' ethic.
This question often comes up. The question is quite easy, Buddhas don't abide in Nirvana, unlike arahats. The end of the Bodhisattva path is a provisional goal.
That's how I understand it.

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:44 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:54 pm
Jeff H wrote:The meaning lies in demonstrating the attachment to meaningfulness that creates samsaric suffering.
I can’t agree with any of that, nor with the general sentiment in this thread - that Buddhism somehow ‘nullifies meaning’, or that seeking meaning is the same as seeking emotional or sensory gratification. The ability to even speak or think relies on the ability to grasp meaning. I acknowledge that the Buddha points to an understanding beyond words, but that doesn’t nullify reason, it transcends it.
Wayfarer, if you have 25 minutes I think you will enjoy this discussion by Alan Wallace. I heard it yesterday and I think it is right on topic. I recommend listening from 0:45:00 to 1:10:00.

First he presents some scientific work done to see how quantum mechanics applies to the entire universe. As it turns out, according to quantum, time stops. Evolution is impossible because there’s no outside observer, like God, to be the timekeeper. It’s called the paradox of frozen time. However, if one doesn’t accede to the metaphysical materialists' demand for "pure" objectivity, one can posit, not an outside observer but an inside participant as a timekeeper. From that subjective position the objective universe comes alive and evolves relative to that internal perspective.

With that metaphysical underpinning, he returns to the 17th century text of Panchen Rinpoche who is asking, “How do you identify yourself and, having made the identification, how do you exist?” To illustrate that point, Wallace creates/discovers a “smordge” (at 1:01:00). It’s entertaining, clear, and pithy.

In the end, I think he shows how it is only by assigning meaning to ourselves (and our experiences) that we create samsara and nirvana. When we grasp at the meaning we experience samsara; when we let go of the meaning we experience nirvana. Then we can use meaning, like concepts, to help guide beings out of the house of mirrors that is samsara. Giving beings more meaning (or more concepts) to cling to is not the objective.

boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:08 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm
Dharma is not meaningful in and of itself; it is only meaningful as an exit strategy –- the raft that gets abandoned.
Nothing exists in and of itself according to dependent origination.

When does this abandonment happen? This is a particularly pertinent question for the Mahāyāna tradition in which fundamental principles are based on the possibility of universal liberation from dukkha for all being. Kind of a 'no one left behind' ethic.
To your point, Boda,you're right, the raft doesn't exist and yet it is there. I don't "exist" and here "I" am saying "Jeff does not exist from his own side." We have many, many experiences. The more we cling to them as "real" the deeper our samsaric experience. But even though they aren't real they are experienced and we can use some of our experiences to overcome our grasping. Buddhism distinguishes the helpful experiences (and meanings) from the unhelpful. When one reaches a point where one truly experiences the non-reality of the undeniable experiences, one is dharmakaya and doesn't need the raft any more -- and yet it remains a useful tool for helping others escape.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:55 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:44 pm
boda wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:08 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm
Dharma is not meaningful in and of itself; it is only meaningful as an exit strategy –- the raft that gets abandoned.
Nothing exists in and of itself according to dependent origination.

When does this abandonment happen? This is a particularly pertinent question for the Mahāyāna tradition in which fundamental principles are based on the possibility of universal liberation from dukkha for all being. Kind of a 'no one left behind' ethic.
When one reaches a point where one truly experiences the non-reality of the undeniable experiences, one is dharmakaya and doesn't need the raft any more -- and yet it remains a useful tool for helping others escape.
The curious thing is that you seem to suggest that the "useful tool" is no longer meaningful to the user. Is that right? If that is your suggestion, does that make sense?

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:33 pm

Jeff H wrote: I think he shows how it is only by assigning meaning to ourselves (and our experiences) that we create samsara and nirvana.
No, can't agree. I've read Wallace's book Taboo of Subjectivity and am familiar with the implications of quantum. But again, for you to even interact on the forum, you need to use words, and to do that you need a grasp of meaning. What was that Nietzsche saying? 'I'm afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.'

'What exists' is the level of conventional truth, saṃvṛti-satya, - but within that domain there is a definite and important distinction between what is real and what is not, what exists and what doesn't. There are fake things, and real things, the difference between them might be 'ultimately provisional' but on the level of saṃvṛt satya they're actual differences. If you're sick with an illness and you take fake medicine, then the consequences aren't merely 'provisional'!

Anyway, I can see we're all talking past one another here, although I must admit I get a kind of enjoyment about disagreeing with everyone about something. :twisted:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:36 am

The problem isn't with "meaning". The problem is with the primacy that Boda tends to ascribe to it, here and everywhere. Everything is reduced to meaning for him. To the extent "meaning" is the lens used to interpret Buddhism, that's just not a very helpful perspective IMHO. YMMV.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
-The Grateful Dead

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