The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

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coffeebeans
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by coffeebeans » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:08 am

This may be relevant here:
Ken Mcleod (unfetteredmind.org) wrote:I always recall a radio interview I translated for Kalu Rinpoche, my teacher, in Canada, in which the interviewer started off with the question: “Rinpoche, what is the meaning of life?”

And I tried to translate this, and I quickly wound up tied up in knots because I could not convey that question in Tibetan. So I interrupted the interviewer and asked if we could start again. Fortunately it was being taped, it wasn’t live, that would have been very embarrassing!

Then I translated the question again and Rinpoche’s reply was: “Life is the time between birth and death.” [Laughter]

I just let the interviewer, who was a very skilled interviewer, struggle with it, and by the end of the half-hour he was just sweating because of these different ways of interpreting things. But I realized I couldn’t ask this question in Tibetan.

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:11 am

aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:05 am
he pursuit of the cessation of-affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction- is meaningful, isn't it?
What difference does it make when it all ends...the destruction of the Universe...over & over again.....
So even if we destroy our afflictions...the Universe will still destroy life and all we've strived for...as if we strived for nothing for nothing...and it just starts all over again....
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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aflatun
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by aflatun » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:20 am

coffeebeans wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:08 am
This may be relevant here:
Ken Mcleod (unfetteredmind.org) wrote:I always recall a radio interview I translated for Kalu Rinpoche, my teacher, in Canada, in which the interviewer started off with the question: “Rinpoche, what is the meaning of life?”

And I tried to translate this, and I quickly wound up tied up in knots because I could not convey that question in Tibetan. So I interrupted the interviewer and asked if we could start again. Fortunately it was being taped, it wasn’t live, that would have been very embarrassing!

Then I translated the question again and Rinpoche’s reply was: “Life is the time between birth and death.” [Laughter]

I just let the interviewer, who was a very skilled interviewer, struggle with it, and by the end of the half-hour he was just sweating because of these different ways of interpreting things. But I realized I couldn’t ask this question in Tibetan.
Very cool, thanks for sharing that!
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:33 am

As I note above, ‘I wonder if the question as to whether ‘life has a purpose’ was ever really articulated in traditional Buddhist narratives. It’s not until you reflect on the question that you can really ask it. And I think asking that question is very characteristic of modern and post-modern thinking. I can’t ever recall a passage from the Buddhist texts or commentaries where the question ‘what is life all about, anyway?’, or ‘what does it all mean?’ is explicitly asked. I think it might be regarded as a pretty indolent question by many traditional Buddhist teachers. But not because life or the teaching is or isn’t meaningful - more, because it was just not the kind of question which used to be entertained. It was simply understood that the business of Buddhism was getting on with the teaching and practicing of it.’

I still say the statement that ‘life has no meaning’ is nihilistic, and nothing said here will persuade me otherwise. Over and out.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by fuki » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:02 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:11 am
What difference does it make when it all ends...the destruction of the Universe...over & over again.....
So even if we destroy our afflictions...the Universe will still destroy life and all we've strived for...as if we strived for nothing for nothing...and it just starts all over again....
Just because nothing is permanent it doesnt mean it has no value, if nothing was a composition, nothing could move or appear, you could not kiss your child goodnight, look at a sunset, write a letter to a loved one. Just because it is transient and subject to change we can perceive beauty, ugliness comes from not wanting things to change, to go against nature. Ofcourse movement is not seperate from non-movement nor is samsara seperate from nirvana. That everything comes and goes is according to nature, if every being would understand that the pure land is right here. Change is not suffering, fixation is.
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TharpaChodron
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:12 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:42 am
TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:58 am
What about falling into the trap of extreme views? The argument that life has no meaning seems to fall into one of the two extreme views: nihilism.

that life's meaning is relative and subjective is not to say it has no meaning. It has many meanings, perhaps.
Life has no meaning because life by definition is just affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction.

In reality, questions like, "Is there meaning" are not Dharma language. From the point of view of Dharma, life has no meaning. This is why we have compassion for sentient beings who engage in constant meaningless toil life after life. We have compassion for sentient beings because life is meaningless. There is no point to it at all.

Personally, I feel everything and every action is deeply meaningful. I think this attitude corresponds to what I have been taught re: karma, etc. So, I have a difficult time accepting that the four seals of Buddhism includes thinking that life is meaningless, even on an existential level. I guess if one thinks that Samsara is pointless is the same as saying life is meaningless, maybe then that makes sense.

Aren't we warned against falling into the two extreme views of nihilism and eternalism? If not thinking of life as either ultimately meaningful OR meaningless, what does that exactly mean?

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Malcolm
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Malcolm » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:20 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:12 am
Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:42 am
TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:58 am
What about falling into the trap of extreme views? The argument that life has no meaning seems to fall into one of the two extreme views: nihilism.

that life's meaning is relative and subjective is not to say it has no meaning. It has many meanings, perhaps.
Life has no meaning because life by definition is just affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction.

In reality, questions like, "Is there meaning" are not Dharma language. From the point of view of Dharma, life has no meaning. This is why we have compassion for sentient beings who engage in constant meaningless toil life after life. We have compassion for sentient beings because life is meaningless. There is no point to it at all.

Personally, I feel everything and every action is deeply meaningful. I think this attitude corresponds to what I have been taught re: karma, etc. So, I have a difficult time accepting that the four seals of Buddhism includes thinking that life is meaningless, even on an existential level. I guess if one thinks that Samsara is pointless is the same as saying life is meaningless, maybe then that makes sense.

Aren't we warned against falling into the two extreme views of nihilism and eternalism? If not thinking of life as either ultimately meaningful OR meaningless, what does that exactly mean?

Understanding that life is meaningless is not nihilistic, it is how things are. The four summaries of the Dharma actually prove that life has no meaning. Everything compounded is impermanent. Everything compounded is suffering. All phenomena lack self. Nirvana is peaceful.

Since there are no aggregates in nirvana, how can life be meaningful?
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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Malcolm
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Malcolm » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:21 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:33 am
As I note above, ‘I wonder if the question as to whether ‘life has a purpose’ was ever really articulated in traditional Buddhist narratives...
I still say the statement that ‘life has no meaning’ is nihilistic, and nothing said here will persuade me otherwise. Over and out.
As to your first point, this question was never articulated at all in any traditional Buddhist narrative.

As to your second point, things have meaning until one discovers they don't. Over and out.
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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Malcolm
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Malcolm » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:23 am

aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:05 am

But the cessation of, and the pursuit of the cessation of-affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction- is meaningful, isn't it? Perhaps we're using the word "meaning" in different ways though.
The Dharma is meaningful. Life isn't.
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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TharpaChodron
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:29 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:20 am
TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:12 am
Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:42 am


Life has no meaning because life by definition is just affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction.

In reality, questions like, "Is there meaning" are not Dharma language. From the point of view of Dharma, life has no meaning. This is why we have compassion for sentient beings who engage in constant meaningless toil life after life. We have compassion for sentient beings because life is meaningless. There is no point to it at all.

Personally, I feel everything and every action is deeply meaningful. I think this attitude corresponds to what I have been taught re: karma, etc. So, I have a difficult time accepting that the four seals of Buddhism includes thinking that life is meaningless, even on an existential level. I guess if one thinks that Samsara is pointless is the same as saying life is meaningless, maybe then that makes sense.

Aren't we warned against falling into the two extreme views of nihilism and eternalism? If not thinking of life as either ultimately meaningful OR meaningless, what does that exactly mean?

Understanding that life is meaningless is not nihilistic, it is how things are. The four summaries of the Dharma actually prove that life has no meaning. Everything compounded is impermanent. Everything compounded is suffering. All phenomena lack self. Nirvana is peaceful.

Since there are no aggregates in nirvana, how can life be meaningful?
The good thing about the Dharma is that it is not about niceties, rather it is about the truth. whatever it may be, I'm open to it.

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:39 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:29 am
The good thing about the Dharma is that it is not about niceties, rather it is about the truth. whatever it may be, I'm open to it.
What if the truth wasn't the truth ? How can there be truth with all concepts are false ?
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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TharpaChodron
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:44 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:39 am
TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:29 am
The good thing about the Dharma is that it is not about niceties, rather it is about the truth. whatever it may be, I'm open to it.
What if the truth wasn't the truth ? How can there be truth with all concepts are false ?
I agree, but the Dharma seems founded on the idea there is some truth out there...albeit meaningless. ;)

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fuki
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by fuki » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:48 am

Glad to be a Zenny, we dont give birth to concepts and then discuss if they have meaning haha

meaning depends on how you use your life, not in chatting about it!
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:50 am

Jeff H wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:08 pm
boda wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:51 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:08 pm
We infuse everything we think, say, and do with meaning, but it is mostly misguided, pre-programmed, and/or habitual. And it is always reifying, meaning that in a Buddhist sense it must eventually be abandoned despite its temporarily expedient value on a transcendent path.
I've pointed out that when a secular goal has been achieved its meaning diminishes, not unlike the metaphorical superfluous raft. In this aspect, there is no difference between secular and religious goals and their associated meaning.
The gist of my Shantideva quotes and the point about intention were that the same fallacies that keep us bound to samsara can be turned to our advantage in order to subdue samsara.
I don't think that "subduing samsara" is a good description of the Buddhist path.
Secular goals merely propagate more goals, in the same way that conventional anger or pride beget ever greater anger and pride. But Buddhist goals, and the superior forms of anger and pride Shantideva spoke of do not do that.
No, that's not true. For instance, if I had the meaningful secular goal of attaining a college degree in a particular subject, once that goal was attained it would be meaningless to go through the same curriculum to get the same degree. Of course, other interest may be gained in the process and new knowledge sought after, but this isn't a meaningless cycle overall because our knowledge and cultural development is passed on to new generations. There is progress. Secular goals could only be considered meaningless if there was no development or evolution, but in fact there is.

Essentially, your argument is apparently that secularity or samsara is cyclical in nature and therefore meaningless, like Sisyphus endlessly pushing the rock up the hill over and over again. Buddhism is not cyclical because it leads to cessation, and is therefore truly meaningful. The problem here is that we don't know the outcome of either secular or religious goals, so we really can't say that one is or isn't meaningful, based on the outcome.

To an ancient people, secular life probably looked rather stagnant and unprogressive. They had no concept of evolution, and perhaps no record of much cultural change. For them, secular life must have appeared to be endlessly stagnant.
At this point I see we're just talking past each other. So why don't we drop it?
We're not talking past each other, much less "screaming" past each other. If you don't want to respond to me that's your choice.

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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:51 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:44 am
the Dharma seems founded on the idea there is some truth out there
Yeah...pick your truth to follow....there is much division within Buddhism as to what Buddha taught...
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:57 am

fuki wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:02 am
Just because nothing is permanent it doesnt mean it has no value,
We are the meaning makers. Nature just want's to survive. Life is programed to proliferate.
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

boda
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by boda » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:00 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:21 am
things have meaning until one discovers they don't.
Indeed, when one discovers that they no longer value that thing.

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Sherab
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Sherab » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:09 am

My previous argument seemed to have little purchase with most posters on the thread. So I will try another tack.

Delusion and enlightenment are mutually exclusive. Therefore, a life in delusion and a "life" in enlightenment are mutually exclusive. If a life in which delusion is not expunged is meaningful or has purpose, then an enlightened life must necessarily be meaningless or purposeless. Therefore if you hold the view that life is meaningful or has purpose, practising the Dharma in order to attain an enlightened "life" is meaningless, useless and therefore ultimately a waste of life.

(I bet that someone to going to counter-argue that samsara and nirvana are ultimately not different and therefore delusion and enlightenment are not mutually exclusive ultimately! If so, let us all practise samsara diligently so that we can keep cycling through the six realms forever and ever, living happily ever after. Why? Because ultimately, samsara is meaningful and purposeful.)
Last edited by Sherab on Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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aflatun
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by aflatun » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:11 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:23 am
aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:05 am

But the cessation of, and the pursuit of the cessation of-affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction- is meaningful, isn't it? Perhaps we're using the word "meaning" in different ways though.
The Dharma is meaningful. Life isn't.
Agreed :)
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Anatman

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:22 am

aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:11 am
Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:23 am
aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:05 am

But the cessation of, and the pursuit of the cessation of-affliction --> action --> suffering --> affliction- is meaningful, isn't it? Perhaps we're using the word "meaning" in different ways though.
The Dharma is meaningful. Life isn't.
Agreed :)

But without life, Dharma would be meaningless....Dharma needs life....without life...no Dharma...so then, Life is for us to discover the Dharma, so we end our life in this life...of suffering ????
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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