Unreality of Thoughts

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Astus
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Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:30 am

Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche posted the following on 21 June:
If you see thoughts don't truly exist you are no longer a Buddhist, you are actually a Buddha.
Therefore, if you see for yourself that there is not a single thought that could be held on, you are enlightened.

What is there to stop one from this realisation?

Is it a matter of habit? Is it ignorance? Is it a lack of will?

If it is habit, one needs to clarify that the assumption of a self is based only on false thoughts. Habit needs repetition
If it is ignorance, once one understands that thoughts are unreal, the mistake won't happen again.
If it is lack of will, one has to learn that there is suffering only because the objects of attachment are illusory thoughts.

Seeing the unreality of thoughts then should be a remedy for all problems.
Is it? Is it not? Why?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:10 am

It's easy to say, but what does it actually mean that something "don't truly exist"?
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:59 am

Astus wrote:Is it a matter of habit? Is it ignorance? Is it a lack of will?
All of the above!
Seeing the unreality of thoughts then should be a remedy for all problems.
Is it? Is it not? Why?
I believe that it is, mainly because all experience has to pass through mind. Once one realises the nature of experience, then what is left? Compassion, love and wisdom then spontaneously arise, instead of being products of mind. To tell the truth, this was more or less what I was reading about last night in Trungpa Rinpoches book "Spiritual Materialism". It definitely struck a chord.
"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."
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Astus
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:59 am

oushi wrote:It's easy to say, but what does it actually mean that something "don't truly exist"?
That it seems reliable only as long as one does not look into it. True existence is something permanent, something one can attach to, identify with, possess. It means a thought stays for ever as it is. However, thoughts don't do that. We only imagine that thoughts are hidden in our mind or exist on another realm, but that is just our imagination. In actual experience thoughts cannot be grasped.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by seeker242 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:12 pm

Astus wrote:
If it is ignorance, once one understands that thoughts are unreal, the mistake won't happen again.
I would say that is the case. If there is no more ignorance, then there is no more clinging to phenomena. If there is no more clinging to phenomena, there is no more mental suffering. Although, if you define "understanding" as mere intellectual understanding, I don't think that's good enough.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by LastLegend » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:26 pm

Will and strong courage, or should I say conviction like what the prince had before he became Buddha.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:46 pm

seeker242 wrote:Although, if you define "understanding" as mere intellectual understanding, I don't think that's good enough.
What understanding is enough? I think the stages of learning, understanding and applying are still valid here.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:50 pm

Astus wrote: What is there to stop one from this realisation?

Obscuration.
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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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:59 pm

Malcolm wrote:Obscuration.
Is that different from ignorance? If so, how?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:05 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Obscuration.
Is that different from ignorance? If so, how?
Ignorance is an obscuration. Even tenth stage bodhisattvas have it, though at that point it is very sheer.
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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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by White Lotus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:37 pm

If you see thoughts don't truly exist you are no longer a Buddhist, you are actually a Buddha.
the above quote is very subtle, but to say thoughts dont exist is like saying there is instant awakening. both statements are discriminations and falling into the realms of logic. get wrid of all thoughts and notions and concepts. what do you see right now? thats it. (for now).

what is a buddha? do you see? do you hear? do you smell? taste and touch? so does the buddha, just like this.

scrunch scrunch, a fine apple! [an example of non discriminative thought without thinking].
best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:40 pm

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:It's easy to say, but what does it actually mean that something "don't truly exist"?
That it seems reliable only as long as one does not look into it. True existence is something permanent, something one can attach to, identify with, possess. It means a thought stays for ever as it is. However, thoughts don't do that. We only imagine that thoughts are hidden in our mind or exist on another realm, but that is just our imagination. In actual experience thoughts cannot be grasped.
I think that we all are perfectly aware of the fact that phenomena that we experience are not permanent. Since the smashing of an atom, there is nothing left that we could call permanent. Not even for a moment was I thinking that thoughts can be permanent. People strive to make their thoughts lasting, and there are few that succeed in spreading their words around the globe for centuries, but even those will vanish someday. We can easily accept that.

So, either this quote is false, or this is not what is meant by not truly existent.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:48 pm

Thought are the building blocks of narratives and thoughts perpetuate existing narratives. For as long as the narratives are important, even vital, thoughts will seem real.

The narrative of "me", "mine", "me & others", "what I do", even the narratives of practice and liberation as we've constructed them, are all perpetuated by thoughts. On the cushion there is a narrative of the observer, of knower, of practitioner, of time, all these are made 'real' by the perceived reality of thoughts.

Realising the unreality of thoughts, or I would say 'putting down thoughts' is avoiding picking and choosing, no? (deja vu!)

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:58 pm

Dan74 wrote:Realising the unreality of thoughts, or I would say 'putting down thoughts' is avoiding picking and choosing, no?
It is not possible as long as we see thinking as something useful. There is nothing that can be done.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Simon E. » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:05 pm

Dan74 wrote:Thought are the building blocks of narratives and thoughts perpetuate existing narratives. For as long as the narratives are important, even vital, thoughts will seem real.

The narrative of "me", "mine", "me & others", "what I do", even the narratives of practice and liberation as we've constructed them, are all perpetuated by thoughts. On the cushion there is a narrative of the observer, of knower, of practitioner, of time, all these are made 'real' by the perceived reality of thoughts.

Realising the unreality of thoughts, or I would say 'putting down thoughts' is avoiding picking and choosing, no? (deja vu!)

I think that you are jumping the gun. The driver of the self sense prior to cognitions is sparsa..cognitions serve to bed in sense contacts already present and which form the raw material of the eventual narrative.
Reality or unreality of cognitions is neither here nor there.
They have to be seen in the context of the nidanas.
Which has to be seen in the context of Sunyata.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:21 pm

oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Realising the unreality of thoughts, or I would say 'putting down thoughts' is avoiding picking and choosing, no?
It is not possible as long as we see thinking as something useful. There is nothing that can be done.
Thinking is still going to happen, but thoughts will just not be invested in, nor clung to.

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:29 pm

You can freeze thinking (by controlling breathing), but since breathing is a characteristic of living, then so will be thinking.

Since we cannot stop thought then our only option is to realise what is the nature of thoughts, ie emptiness, ie realising that "thoughts don't truly exist"
"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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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by daverupa » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:30 pm

Sanna is thinking to that extent, conjoined as it is with vedana & vinnana. What should go missing is papanca, objectification, self-making, and so forth. Thinking qua sanna, or even the sense sphere manas, isn't a problem in and if itself.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:34 pm

Dan74 wrote:
oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Realising the unreality of thoughts, or I would say 'putting down thoughts' is avoiding picking and choosing, no?
It is not possible as long as we see thinking as something useful. There is nothing that can be done.
Thinking is still going to happen, but thoughts will just not be invested in, nor clung to.
Yes, I can see how you are trying to picture the effect, but... to stop investing in you thoughts you need to see them as useless, unimportant. How are you going to do that? If you know by year of experience that thinking is useful, very useful, how would you like to convince yourself that it should be let go of? If you know that something good can be done through thinking, you will never stop doing it.
Even if doing something causes suffering, we are often willing to do it anyway, simply because we know that the future benefits can outgrow the costs. This is the bane of samsara, suffering is self-imposed. It's the cost of achieving something, whatever it may be. If we are not able to give it up even if it hurts, how can you give it up when it doesn't?
Last edited by oushi on Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Simon E. » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:35 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:You can freeze thinking (by controlling breathing), but since breathing is a characteristic of living, then so will be thinking.

Since we cannot stop thought then our only option is to realise what is the nature of thoughts, ie emptiness, ie realising that "thoughts don't truly exist"
This.

Seeing cognitions as 'useless' or even unimportant, misses the point.
To dismiss something is to cling to it.
Beside which in this relative world thoughts are not useless.
They have their function.
Last edited by Simon E. on Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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