The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

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boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 am

Queequeg wrote:
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.
How do I reduce something like emptiness to meaning?

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PuerAzaelis
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by PuerAzaelis » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:05 am

That was a hell of a retreat led by Alan Wallace. Still working through the sessions. Wish I could have done it in person.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:17 am

Wayfarer wrote:
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:
I agree about the necessity of distinctions and meaning on the conventional level. I disagree with the position that Buddhism supports those distinctions and meanings. I think Buddhism uses them (as in Madhyamaka) to bring out the internal contradictions of those meanings and ultimately to collapse the whole structure of samsara; going beyond meaning.

(I probably won't respond to boda until tomorrow.)
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 Jeff H » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:22 am

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:05 am
That was a hell of a retreat led by Alan Wallace. Still working through the sessions. Wish I could have done it in person.
Yeah, I'm really enjoying it! My cardiologist told me to get 30-40 minutes of "vigorous" exercise, 3 or 4 times a week ... so that retreat has been my walking companion for almost a year now. (I don't actually hit the "3 or 4" times a week objective every week :emb: )
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 DGA » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:34 am

boda wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:23 am
DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:04 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:09 pm
I would associate the feeling that life is meaningless, with a state of depression. Would I be mistaken in that?
I'm not sure. Perhaps for some.

I feel strongly that life is meaningless most of the time, and the more I remember this, the happier I am.
I think the feeling that Wayfarer is alluding to is nihilistic in nature, if I’m not mistaken.

I get the impression you’re not talking about the same thing at all. It sounds like you’re basically saying that secular life is meaningless and spiritual life is not. Is that right?
That's close.

I'd say that ordinary life (samsara) is meaningless, and that attempts to make it feel or seem meaningful or purposive don't help. They may make matters worse.

You said in a different post that Buddha Dharma presents a meaningful narrative. That's true, but I'd also argue that the big Dharma narrative is more or less a trick to help beings get unstuck. Provisionally, meaning. Ultimately, I don't know if it's meaningful to say there's a meaning there or not. I'll leave that as an open question because I don't know.

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by DGA » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:35 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:41 pm
DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:04 pm
I feel strongly that life is meaningless most of the time, and the more I remember this, the happier I am.
Without the context of Buddha's teachings, I think that sounds deranged. From the Buddhist perspective, I think reaction says volumes about the assumptions embodied in the search for meaning.

I'm with you, though. I don't know if I can call it happy, but the "happiest" I feel is when the world blows like a wind through me as though I wasn't even there. I think without the Buddhist context, that can sound like nihilism, or non-existence-ism.
That feels about right, yes.

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:39 am

‘Absence of self’ is not ‘absence of meaning’. Nihilism is precisely the attitude that ‘nothing is real’. It’s a trap for Buddhists, in my opinion, but it’s also endemic in modern culture; as Heidegger observed, nihilism is kind of the default for the secular intelligentsia. But I don’t see the realisation of śūnyatā as being absent of meaning, quite the contrary in fact.

I have been perusing the Suzuki commentary on the Lanka, and he uses the term ‘meaning of life’ in his Introduction:
From the Mahayana point of view, beings are divisible into two heads: those that are enlightened and those that are ignorant. The former are called Buddhas including also Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Pratyekabuddhas while the latter comprise all the rest of beings under the general designation of bāla or bālapṛithagjana—bala meaning "undeveloped", "puerile", or "ignorant", and pṛithagjana "people different" from the enlightened, that is, the multitudes, or people of ordinary type, whose minds are found engrossed in the pursuit of egotistic pleasures and unawakened to the meaning of life. This class is also known as Sarvasattva, "all beings" or sentient beings. The Buddha wants to help the ignorant, hence the Buddhist teaching and discipline.
...
Transcendental wisdom (prajñā) and a heart of all-embracing love (mahākaruṇā) constitute the very reason of Buddhahood, while the desire or thirst for life (tṛishṇa), and ignorance as to the meaning of life (avidyā), and deeds (karma) following from the blind assertion of life-impulse— these are the factors that enter into the nature of Sarvasattva, all ignorant and infatuated ones.
My bolds.

Granted, Suzuki is a bit dated, but anyway, this is close to my understanding of it. (I will acknowledge that it may well be because I first encountered. Buddhism via his books.)
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Grigoris
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am

boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 am
How do I reduce something like emptiness to meaning?
Via conceptualisation.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:39 am
‘Absence of self’ is not ‘absence of meaning’. Nihilism is precisely the attitude that ‘nothing is real’.
Lacking meaning does not amount to lacking reality.

This is where you read too much into the subject.

If Suzuki is translating avidya as ignorance of the meaning of life, he's wrong.

I don't see how wisdom adds up to something as complex as the meaning of life.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:26 pm

Comedy gold in man's search for meaning captured in three minutes:
“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

ItsRaining
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by ItsRaining » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:38 pm

Wouldn't something like meaning be the first of the Three Natures in the Yogacara? The totally non-existent delusional nature we impute on to the dependently arisen nature?

Jeff H
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:43 pm

boda wrote:
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


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?
Your point is well taken, boda. I think you’re a very good gadfly; thanks for that. By way of preface, I don’t post because I know the answers. When I think I know an answer, I write to formulate my thoughts. If they still sound reasonable to me, I post them to see what it sounds like in public and to invite correction or reinforcement. In point of fact, I believe it is very important to get the meaning of the teachings right. It's part of the process of internalizing them, then letting them go.

That said, here’s how I approach your observation: with subjective perspective. Earlier in the retreat podcasts I referenced above, Wallace points out the different perspectives of Lamrim and Dzogchen; Lamrim describes the path from the perspective of an ordinary being and Dzogchen describes the path from the perspective of an enlightened being. The point I’m making in this thread is that imputed meaning is what we ordinary beings use to create samsara. Enlightened beings don’t need to impose meaning. So in between, how do the bodhisattvas and lineage masters guide us out of the conventional morass? I suggest it’s by turning our penchant for meaning against itself.

I very much want to “get it”. I want to understand the meaning behind the words of my teachers. But more and more I’m finding that the meaning is elusive. It cannot be grasped because it is a fluid state. I think those who successfully plumb the depths of Dharma find the onion has no core, and that’s how things are. “Meaning” is for grasping and concretizing; but that’s samsara.

(I still think I said it best in my original post.
And QQ provides the key with this: “Lacking meaning does not amount to lacking reality.”)
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 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:44 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:26 pm
Comedy gold in man's search for meaning captured in three minutes:
Just occurred to me the double rainbow video has some resonance with the Dzogchen "creation myth" if you cross your eyes and don't look too closely.
“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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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm

ItsRaining wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:38 pm
Wouldn't something like meaning be the first of the Three Natures in the Yogacara? The totally non-existent delusional nature we impute on to the dependently arisen nature?
In some cases... And then there is Upaya, I think.
“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

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:19 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am
boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 am
How do I reduce something like emptiness to meaning?
Via conceptualisation.
I’m in good company then, but why single me out as the bad guy?

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:26 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:26 pm
Comedy gold in man's search for meaning captured in three minutes:
I think you’re confusing the search for meaning with the effects of good drugs.

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:25 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:43 pm
I think you’re a very good gadfly; thanks for that.
No, you're wrong, I've merely been pursuing a line of inquiry that interests me. My mission isn't to upset the status quo or corrupt the innocent. That is pure fantasy. And this is not a temple, it's an online discussion forum. Granted it's a religious forum, and being so demands a degree of deference. Ironically, it demands this deference because of its 'meaningful' nature.

I didn't know that Queequeg had an issue with my interest in the topic but now that I do know I'll try to not bring it up in the future. The admin can run the site however they like, it's their house and I'm just a visitor.

Indulging your gadfly insinuation, a note of warning from Socrates: "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me."
Jeff H wrote:I still think I said it best in my original post.
Okay let's look there.
Jeff H wrote:Buddha says his suffering arises not from the lack of meaning, but from the delusion that the experience ought to have meaning or be real. There is only the experience.
I don't know what that means or how it relates, that experience ought to have meaning to be real. Buddha says that suffering is due to ignorance of our true nature. This ignorance makes us grasp at things that can't be grasped, and so we suffer.
Overlaying meaning or solidity or permanence on the experience necessarily generates suffering. Removing those delusions results in harmony. And the reason for practicing buddhadharma is that all beings instinctively recoil from suffering and prefer a state of harmony.
As long as we are alive things will have meaning, and yeah, in life there is suffering.
Buddhadharma is the opposite of imposing meanings then chasing them.
Because the purpose is liberation, I see what you're saying. Buddhadharma is meaningful nevertheless, in part because of its purpose.

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Grigoris
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:57 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:19 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am
boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 am
How do I reduce something like emptiness to meaning?
Via conceptualisation.
I’m in good company then, but why single me out as the bad guy?
I didn't. You asked a question and I answered it. If anybody else had asked it (including me) I would have given the same answer. Don't be paranoid!
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Queequeg
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:40 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:25 pm
I didn't know that Queequeg had an issue with my interest in the topic but now that I do know I'll try to not bring it up in the future. The admin can run the site however they like, it's their house and I'm just a visitor.
You can unbunch your panties. No particular issue with your interest, just that it is the one note you play here. This subject has been addressed by multiple people, from different angles. If you're feeling picked on over it, maybe its because your approach to Buddhism is off.
Because the purpose is liberation, I see what you're saying. Buddhadharma is meaningful nevertheless, in part because of its purpose.
And here again, your premise that "meaning" is the defining standard, dismissing everything else that's been addressed to you.

That about brings the discussion to an end.

: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!"
-The Grateful Dead

Jeff H
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Jeff H » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:54 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:25 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:43 pm
I think you’re a very good gadfly; thanks for that.
No, you're wrong, I've merely been pursuing a line of inquiry that interests me. My mission isn't to upset the status quo or corrupt the innocent. That is pure fantasy. And this is not a temple, it's an online discussion forum. Granted it's a religious forum, and being so demands a degree of deference. Ironically, it demands this deference because of its 'meaningful' nature.
You may have misunderstood me. I meant gadfly as a good thing, specifically in the Socratic sense. I like the way you challenge things that I sometimes fail to examine closely enough, due to my paying them too much deference. Despite the ad hom criticisms you sometimes get, I consider you to be a thoughtful enquirer and, at least for the past several months, quite civil in your presentations.
boda wrote:...
Jeff H wrote:Buddhadharma is the opposite of imposing meanings then chasing them.
Because the purpose is liberation, I see what you're saying. Buddhadharma is meaningful nevertheless, in part because of its purpose.
That's close enough for me. I have no interest in pursuing debate for debate's sake ... or convincing anyone my thought is right. I had a thought, you gave me reason to question it, I did. I appreciate that. It remains a working hypothesis for me until I find reason to adjust it or toss it out.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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