Unreality of Thoughts

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kirtu
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by kirtu » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:36 pm

Astus wrote: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.
Whoa! That's messed up!

However he rescues it somewhat with:
Therefore, if you see for yourself that there is not a single thought that could be held on, you are enlightened.
You can see for real that thoughts don't truly exist but still be attached to them out of habit. You can certainly see this before the Path No More Learning!
What is there to stop one from this realisation?
So I'd change the question to: what stops one from actualizing this realization. There are other kleshas to be purified but it's mostly habit and certainly habitual tendencies esp. attachments that still manifest. Ignorance is only attenuated with the realization that thoughts don't truly exist. I'm surprised that he posted this (in this way - maybe there's a larger context that he intended).
If it is habit, one needs to clarify that the assumption of a self is based only on false thoughts. Habit needs repetition
Habits need repetition to be cut usually. They don't need habit to be invoked or to arise as they have become automatic.
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?
The actual realization is beyond the intellectual realization.

Still, that realization is definitely not Buddhahood.

So, what could help? More practice. Or just drop the attachment to thoughts as real. But it would be better to drop the attachments to conceptuality that the thoughts engender.

Kirt
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"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:42 pm

oushi wrote:I think that we all are perfectly aware of the fact that phenomena that we experience are not permanent.
To believe that there is anything enduring from one moment to the next, that is the belief in true existence, in permanence.
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 Rick » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:48 pm

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.
I'm confused. Per the two truths:

Thoughts certainly exist conventionally. Just as all feelings, perceptions, mind objects.

Ultimate truth asserts that thoughts, like all phenomena, are empty of inherent essence. I.e. they are impermanent, and dependently arisen. But they still exist ... as empty phenomena.

Yes? No?
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Simon E. » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:50 pm

Yes.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:50 pm

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:I think that we all are perfectly aware of the fact that phenomena that we experience are not permanent.
To believe that there is anything enduring from one moment to the next, that is the belief in true existence, in permanence.
Take this very post, divide your time into how many moments you want, and show me how it is not enduring.

But... when it comes down to thoughts, I can agree that no two thoughts are precisely the same. Every time I read this post it appears differently.

Every MU has a different meaning! :smile:
Last edited by oushi on Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by daverupa » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:55 pm

I think this covers the case:
SN 22.37 wrote:...alteration of that which stands
since a set of aggregates attends all experience, thus attending the colloquial 'thoughts' in every case and thereby having three aspects: arising, ceasing, and the above. Trying to parse the specifics of things in terms of e.g. flux is to go astray, I think. Seeing anicca doesn't require that.
  • "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 Wayfarer » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:53 am

Isn't seeing through thought, the whole point of the higher states of dhyana? These consist of going beyond discursive thought, don't they? That is why they are described as 'domains of neither perception nor non-perception', and the like.

My belief is that thinking - the inner dialogue that is constantly going on in your mind - is (obviously) the activity of brain-states. You can see it happening through fMRI images. That is why one teacher used to say that 'thought is of the nature of time'. It is essentially material in that it the actions of neuro-chemicals and the like. But he would also say, that there is a separate faculty, which is 'intelligence', and that intelligence and thought are not the same thing. So you can be aware in the absence of thought. That too is corroborated by fMRI investigation of brain-states of meditators - they get into an 'alpha-state' where all of the scattered frequencies associated with habitual thought are absent.

According to Advaita Vedanta, there is a 'fourth state' which is neither waking, sleeping, or dreaming, called 'turiya'. Not sure if that maps against some of the higher states in Buddhist meditation.
Astus wrote:Is it a matter of habit? Is it ignorance? Is it a lack of will?
I would think that it is simply a consequence of our 'mode of being' in the world. This is why ascetics and hermits go on long retreats, isn't it? Why monks take the vow of silence?

You have to tune your inner radio to the right wavelength. I think that is what it means to 'see unreality of thought'.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by muni » Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:59 am

Or just drop the attachment to thoughts as real.
Yes. Or the root thought is allowed to lose its ground. Without that sneaky one, there are no others which are mine/not mine and thoughts turn into useful tool for the sake of all instead of being a slave*of them.
(* that one who has the idea of having everything under control or is trying to have such )

Others-other is ego’s biased perception. Me-thought is a magician, making its own biased perception real and its’ world arises.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha.
Only the present moment makes it possible to see the groundless ground of thoughts. Since mind in past or future is forming images/ideas ( grasping).
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:58 am

Wayfarer wrote:Isn't seeing through thought, the whole point of the higher states of dhyana? These consist of going beyond discursive thought, don't they? That is why they are described as 'domains of neither perception nor non-perception', and the like.
From the second dhyana on there is no applied and sustained thought, that is, extra mental effort to keep the meditation object. The immaterial dhyanas are various levels of mental objects for the meditation. The (almost) complete cessation of mental processes happens only with the ninth dhyana (nirodha-samapatti). However, insight into the unreality of thoughts don't occur out of merely attaining any of those states, they are still bound to samsara. In fact, all mental states are conditioned and impermanent. Seeing that is the insight into their unreality.
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 Andrew108 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:07 am

rachmiel wrote:
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.
I'm confused. Per the two truths:

Thoughts certainly exist conventionally. Just as all feelings, perceptions, mind objects.

Ultimate truth asserts that thoughts, like all phenomena, are empty of inherent essence. I.e. they are impermanent, and dependently arisen. But they still exist ... as empty phenomena.

Yes? No?
Both truths - relative and ultimate are conventional. Or within the realm of the conventional. Ultimate truths are those that tend to be invariant or not reducible. It's not difficult to experience an ultimate truth. We are experiencing them all the time.
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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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:19 pm

Astus wrote:However, insight into the unreality of thoughts don't occur out of merely attaining any of those states, they are still bound to samsara. In fact, all mental states are conditioned and impermanent. Seeing that is the insight into their unreality.
Which is, perhaps, why that teacher said that intelligence and thought are not the same thing - intelligence being what 'sees that'.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by seeker242 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:35 pm

Astus wrote:
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.
I think the stages of learning, understanding and applying are still valid at the point before "the mistake won't happen again". But after that point, when there is no more potential for mistakes, I would say those things are probably no longer necessary.

As far as what understanding is enough, I don't know! But Bodhidharma probably does. But then again, it seems he was never big on the whole understanding thing. Always been fond of this passage from the wake up sermon:
If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both. Those who don’t understand, don’t understand understanding. And those who understand, understand not understanding. People capable of true vision know that the mind is empty. They transcend both understanding and not understanding. The absence of both understanding and not understanding is true understanding. Seen with true vision, form isn’t simply form, because form depends on mind. And mind isn’t simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other. That which exists exists in relation to that which doesn’t exist. And that which doesn’t exist doesn’t exist in relation to that which exists. This is true vision. By means of such vision nothing is seen and nothing is not seen. Such vision reaches throughout the ten directions without seeing: because nothing is seen; because not seeing is seen; because seeing isn’t seeing. What mortals see are delusions. True vision is detached from seeing. The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn’t stir inside, the world doesn’t arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is true vision. And such understanding is true understanding.

To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding.

True vision isn’t just seeing seeing. It’s also seeing not seeing. And true understanding isn’t just understanding understanding. It’s also understanding not understanding. If you understand anything, you don’t understand. Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding. Understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding.
As far as the OP: "If you see thoughts don't truly exist you are no longer a Buddhist, you are actually a Buddha". I don't think that is any different than what the heart sutra says when it says "avalokiteshvara depends on Prajnaparamita and perceives that all 5 Skandha are empty". I don't see the OP statement as a negation of thoughts, but rather simply a non-affirmation of their existence. A non-affirmation quite different from a negation. With simply a non-affirmation, rather than a negation, there can be a middle, so to speak, that is neither affirming or denying either existence or non-existence. "Thoughts don't truly exist" IMO is really just another way of saying "thoughts are emptiness". Seems to me that emptiness can't have existence or non-existence applied to it, because if it could, it would no longer be emptiness.

As far as what understanding is enough, for there to be no more potential for mistakes, I guess you could say at the point where one actually fully realizes that "all 5 Skandha are empty". But, that is really not a very good explanation because it still leaves open the question "Well, what does 'all 5 Skandha are empty' actually mean?" Personally, I don't think that question is adequately answered with words, language, conceptual or intellectual thinking. It's understood via "Prajnaparamita". But, that is really not a very good explanation either because it still leaves open the question "Well, what does 'Prajnaparamita' really mean? And then you could go on to explain what it means, but that won't work either because you would still have the same question about that explanation. These explanations could go on ad-infinitum, but they still won't ever reach the real truth of the matter IMO.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:25 pm

seeker242 wrote:As far as the OP: "If you see thoughts don't truly exist you are no longer a Buddhist, you are actually a Buddha". I don't think that is any different than what the heart sutra says when it says "avalokiteshvara depends on Prajnaparamita and perceives that all 5 Skandha are empty". I don't see the OP statement as a negation of thoughts, but rather simply a non-affirmation of their existence. A non-affirmation quite different from a negation. With simply a non-affirmation, rather than a negation, there can be a middle, so to speak, that is neither affirming or denying either existence or non-existence. "Thoughts don't truly exist" IMO is really just another way of saying "thoughts are emptiness". Seems to me that emptiness can't have existence or non-existence applied to it, because if it could, it would no longer be emptiness.
Well said!
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Astus » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:40 pm

Wayfarer wrote:Which is, perhaps, why that teacher said that intelligence and thought are not the same thing - intelligence being what 'sees that'.
A seer/knower separate from thoughts couldn't even be aware of thoughts. Such an ultimate seer is the mistaken belief in a self, an incorrect thought.
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 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:48 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Both truths - relative and ultimate are conventional. Or within the realm of the conventional.
As conceptual constructs the two truths are relative. There is however a non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth.

It's not difficult to experience an ultimate truth. We are experiencing them all the time.
No, A108, this is false. The definition of an ultimate truth in Madhyamaka is that it is an object of a truthful cognition. In general, our cognitions are not truthful, that is to say the objects we apprehend are not apprehended with truthful cognitions. Thus, it is completely wrong to say that we are experiencing ultimate truths all the time. Making such claims undermines the path, and causes foolish sentient beings like you and I to imagine that our deluded perceptions are veridical when in fact they are false and merely lead to suffering.
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 Rick » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Andrew108 wrote: Both truths - relative and ultimate are conventional. Or within the realm of the conventional.
As conceptual constructs the two truths are relative. There is however a non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth.
Please speak a bit more about this. Thanks. :-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:08 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Andrew108 wrote: Both truths - relative and ultimate are conventional. Or within the realm of the conventional.
As conceptual constructs the two truths are relative. There is however a non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth.
Please speak a bit more about this. Thanks. :-)
There isn't anything really more to say. The non-enumerable ultimate truth is inexpressible, can only be realized, not discussed.
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 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:19 pm

seeker242 wrote:I don't see the OP statement as a negation of thoughts, but rather simply a non-affirmation of their existence. A non-affirmation quite different from a negation. With simply a non-affirmation, rather than a negation, there can be a middle, so to speak, that is neither affirming or denying either existence or non-existence. "Thoughts don't truly exist" IMO is really just another way of saying "thoughts are emptiness". Seems to me that emptiness can't have existence or non-existence applied to it, because if it could, it would no longer be emptiness.
Emptiness means empty of permanence, of essence, of self. That is, thoughts are conditioned and impermanent. Anyone can see for themselves that thoughts don't stay around and they cannot even be held up or kept. One can also see in their first hand experience how thoughts define everything we do and experience. So, once there is certainty that thoughts come and go without any hindrance, there is no need even to train one's mind. In other words, they are already empty as they are.
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 Rick » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
rachmiel wrote:
Malcolm wrote:As conceptual constructs the two truths are relative. There is however a non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth.
Please speak a bit more about this. Thanks. :-)
There isn't anything really more to say. The non-enumerable ultimate truth is inexpressible, can only be realized, not discussed.
What I meant was could you speak a bit more about the "non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth" you mentioned in the context of Buddhist teachings.

I understand the ultimate truth of two truths to be simply:

Everything is empty of inherent existence: impermanent, dependent on causes and conditions.

This is something that can be expressed quite clearly. It seems like you're talking about another type of (take on) ultimate truth. One that's closer to the notion of an ultimate ground, Brahman: beyond thought and mind. Yes? No?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:44 pm

There is a distinction between Buddhist non-dualism (advaya) and Advaita:
Advaya is knowledge free from the duality of the extremes (antas or dristis) of ‘is’ and ‘is not’, ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ etc. It is knowledge freed of conceptual distinctions. Advaita is knowledge of a differenceless entity: Brahman (Pure Being) or Vijñana (Pure consciousness).
...

Advaya is purely an epistemological approach; the advaita is ontological. The sole concern of the Madhyamaka advaya-vada is the purification of the faculty of knowing. The primordial error consists in the intellect being infected by the inveterate tendency to view Reality as identity or difference, permanent or momentary, one or many etc. These views falsify Reality, and the dialectic administers a cathartic corrective. With the purification of the intellect, Intuition (prajña) emerges; the Real is known as it is, as Tathata or bhutakoti. The emphasis is on the correct attitude of our knowing and not on the known..
T.R.V. Murti Central Philosophy of Buddhism.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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