Unreality of Thoughts

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Dan74 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:30 am

oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
oushi wrote: 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?
It's not about useful and useless. Thoughts are a tool that become the master. Who is the master of thoughts? Which is the host and which is the guest, that's what I was getting at.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by LastLegend » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:33 am

Astus wrote:
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.
Are you talking about maintaining this view all the time or you talking about the mind seeing itself clearly all the time? There is still some training for the latter case.
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 Dan74 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:53 am

This "without hindrance" is pretty much what I was saying. As long as there is a narrative one is invested in, there will be hindrance, there will be bias. Thought and perceptions will cluster around it.

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by muni » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:04 am

Metaphor: the sky is vast and includes all clouds (thoughts) and is not conditioned by clouds (thoughts). When we ourselves are a cloud (thought), we are conditioned by other clouds. This keeps the circle of conditioned state turning.

Metaphor: the mirror and its reflections (thoughts). They are not separate (inseparability dependence-emptiness) and so not different but it depends whether we are the mirror or we are the reflection. In that way what we are is conditioned or not. The mirror has no any problem with the reflections. But a reflection maybe tries to throw another reflection out: “ I was here first! Go away, you are boring me..”

These metaphors I find very useful to see there is no separate seer, and there is no nihilism.
But I think, it all depends on recognizing conditioned or not by practice.
Last edited by muni on Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Andrew108 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:06 am

Malcolm wrote: As conceptual constructs the two truths are relative. There is however a non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth.
Which you have now introduced as an idea, bringing this non-conceptual, unconstructed ultimate truth well within the conventional. Just by talking about it you have made it a convention.
It's not difficult to experience an ultimate truth. We are experiencing them all the time.
Malcolm wrote: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.
There is nothing wrong with perceptions in and by themselves. As you know it is the grasping and craving that goes along with perceptions that is the problem.

What you are doing here is creating an ultimate that no one can get or that is so far away that to even bring it to mind is to create more clinging and more frustration. I think that is the problem I've found with your approach over the years. You are not giving space or allowance for a natural fact - the fact that things are released in themselves. As soon as they have arisen they are gone. This natural process is a depersonalized process not dependant on a subjective experiencer. I find the picture you paint of 'the ultimate' to be essentially a personal projection rather than natural invariance. This is much the same as a person who maintains that thoughts are unreal but who hasn't depersonalized the experience and is therefore creating thoughts about the unreality of thoughts.
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 oushi » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:16 am

Dan74 wrote:It's not about useful and useless. Thoughts are a tool that become the master.
Tools are by definition useful. If you stop perceiving me as someone who is only trying to show his patronizing superiority, then you will see, that I am trying to help.
Dan74 wrote: Who is the master of thoughts? Which is the host and which is the guest, that's what I was getting at.
Master is the one who decides whether thoughts are useful on useless. This is precisely what we are doing here on this forum. But to be able to decide, differentiate, we need a baseline, which is nothing but a set of tools called views. So, there is no master, only a toolset that is perpetuating itself in chase of more useful views. In our case, we are incorporating tools from Buddhism, because we believe that they are useful in removing suffering. The only thing we are arguing about, is whether this or that interpretation is useful or useless.
I gave you a tool that you called "BS", that was your choice, fine. But I have another tool that is called reason, which says that before you discard something you need to first prove it is useless. Moreover, I think that this reasoning is indispensable for civilized discussion. Wouldn't you agree?
As long as there is a narrative one is invested in, there will be hindrance, there will be bias. Thought and perceptions will cluster around it.
That is called education, a very useful thing. Practicing detachment from something perceived as useful is an inner fight that only causes suffering.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by muni » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:41 am

A thought takes decision to share views. Nondual awareness' spontaneous action is for the welfare of all. But that is practice, I think.
Or "where" the thoughts arise/subside, to be that and not the thoughts. That I guess, has nothing to say, nothing to prove.
Last edited by muni on Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:43 am

muni wrote:
Master is the one who decides whether thoughts are useful on useless.
Then that one is another thought who takes decision.
That is why I wrote:"So, there is no master, only a toolset that is perpetuating itself in chase of more useful views."
No independent self, in other words.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by muni » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:50 am

oushi wrote: That is why I wrote:"So, there is no master, only a toolset that is perpetuating itself in chase of more useful views."
I think the example of the master is nonconditioned nature or nondual awareness. This a thought cannot chase, like the cloud cannot chase the sky. And the sky is not chasing what is not different from its own being, is not chasing at all.

Conditioned clouds can use other pointing clouds to recognize not to be merely a cloud. Wait a minute, this becomes here too cloudy!
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by oushi » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:07 am

muni wrote:Or "where" the thoughts arise/subside, to be that and not the thoughts.
Obviously. The question is, is there such a thing? Is there a Master creator of thoughts?
"Someone who seeks the Way doesn’t look beyond himself. He knows that the mind is the Way. But when he finds the mind, he finds nothing. And when he finds the Way, he finds nothing. If you think you can use the mind to find the Way, you’re deluded. When you're deluded, buddhahood exists. When you’re aware, it doesn’t exist. This is because awareness is buddhahood." - Bodhidharma
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by muni » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:26 am

oushi wrote:
muni wrote:Or "where" the thoughts arise/subside, to be that and not the thoughts.
Obviously. The question is, is there such a thing? Is there a Master creator of thoughts?
"Someone who seeks the Way doesn’t look beyond himself. He knows that the mind is the Way. But when he finds the mind, he finds nothing. And when he finds the Way, he finds nothing. If you think you can use the mind to find the Way, you’re deluded. When you're deluded, buddhahood exists. When you’re aware, it doesn’t exist. This is because awareness is buddhahood." - Bodhidharma
No, there is not such thing and not nihilism. Buddhahood is nondual awareness, therefore there is no thingness. Like the moon in the pond. Wisdom - Compassion.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Yuren » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:41 am

If you see thoughts don't truly exist you are no longer a Buddhist, you are actually a Buddha.
Thoughts are as real as any other phenomenon. Why say that if something is impermanent it "doesn't truly exist"? Why not say "it exists for the time being"?

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Dan74 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:49 pm

oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:It's not about useful and useless. Thoughts are a tool that become the master.
Tools are by definition useful. If you stop perceiving me as someone who is only trying to show his patronizing superiority, then you will see, that I am trying to help.
Dan74 wrote: Who is the master of thoughts? Which is the host and which is the guest, that's what I was getting at.
Master is the one who decides whether thoughts are useful on useless. This is precisely what we are doing here on this forum. But to be able to decide, differentiate, we need a baseline, which is nothing but a set of tools called views. So, there is no master, only a toolset that is perpetuating itself in chase of more useful views. In our case, we are incorporating tools from Buddhism, because we believe that they are useful in removing suffering. The only thing we are arguing about, is whether this or that interpretation is useful or useless.
I gave you a tool that you called "BS", that was your choice, fine. But I have another tool that is called reason, which says that before you discard something you need to first prove it is useless. Moreover, I think that this reasoning is indispensable for civilized discussion. Wouldn't you agree?
As long as there is a narrative one is invested in, there will be hindrance, there will be bias. Thought and perceptions will cluster around it.
That is called education, a very useful thing. Practicing detachment from something perceived as useful is an inner fight that only causes suffering.
Oushi, I guess we were both trying to help and we both failed. But no point going over it. Better than adding something else is perhaps to listen carefully to what's already been said.
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:06 pm

Yuren wrote:Thoughts are as real as any other phenomenon. Why say that if something is impermanent it "doesn't truly exist"? Why not say "it exists for the time being"?
Which "time being" does it exist in? The past? The present? The future? All of them? None of them? Some of them?
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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:52 pm

rachmiel wrote: 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.
That is the enumerated ultimate, i.e., it is conceptual, verbally formulated, a construction.

It seems like you're talking about another type of (take on) ultimate truth.
Ultimate truth is inexpressible, as the Ārya-pitāputrasamāgamana-sūtra states:
  • Whatever is ultimate, that is inexpressible.
Ārya-sarvabuddhaviṣayāvatārajñānālokālaṃkāra-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra states:
  • Mañjuśrī, so-called "emptiness" is an expression for stopping clinging to the non-empty, but, Mañjuśrī, it is said a dharma called "empty" is never perceived in the ultimate, it is a proliferation.
As Śantideva clearly points out:
  • The ultimate is not within the experiential sphere of the mind,
    the mind is described as relative.
One that's closer to the notion of an ultimate ground, Brahman: beyond thought and mind. Yes? No?
No, not that.

Please read any good commentary on the Bodhicaryāvatara concerning this verse for more clarification.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


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-- 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 Malcolm » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:58 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
There is nothing wrong with perceptions in and by themselves. As you know it is the grasping and craving that goes along with perceptions that is the problem.
Perceptions, in and of themselves, are conditioned, afflicted phenomena, unless they are connected with the path dharmas.
What you are doing here is creating an ultimate that no one can get or that is so far away that to even bring it to mind is to create more clinging and more frustration.
I am reporting the ultimate that is described by the Buddha in many sūtras. I am not creating anything.
I think that is the problem I've found with your approach over the years. You are not giving space or allowance for a natural fact - the fact that things are released in themselves.
Sure, and yet sentient beings like you and I continue to suffer, take things personally, wander in delusion -- so obviously this "fact that things are released in themselves" is not very useful.
I find the picture you paint of 'the ultimate' to be essentially a personal projection rather than natural invariance.
Blame the Buddha, it is his Dharma I report, not mine.
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 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:28 pm

LastLegend wrote:Are you talking about maintaining this view all the time or you talking about the mind seeing itself clearly all the time? There is still some training for the latter case.
Neither maintaining nor seeing. Seeing emptiness means not being fooled by appearances, not superimposing, not projecting an essentialist view. Once the mistake has been removed there is only clear perception.

"If you know the illusions and are separated from them, then you will not create expedient means. If you are separated from illusions and are awakened, then also there will be no (need for) gradual stages."
(Hyujeong: Seonga gwigam, §34; Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol. 3, p. 100)
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 LastLegend » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:54 pm

Astus wrote:
LastLegend wrote:Are you talking about maintaining this view all the time or you talking about the mind seeing itself clearly all the time? There is still some training for the latter case.
Neither maintaining nor seeing. Seeing emptiness means not being fooled by appearances, not superimposing, not projecting an essentialist view. Once the mistake has been removed there is only clear perception.

"If you know the illusions and are separated from them, then you will not create expedient means. If you are separated from illusions and are awakened, then also there will be no (need for) gradual stages."
(Hyujeong: Seonga gwigam, §34; Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol. 3, p. 100)
Ok. If mind is not seeing, what is it doing then? Clear perception all the time?
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 Rick » Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:31 am

Malcolm wrote:
rachmiel wrote: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.
That is the enumerated ultimate, i.e., it is conceptual, verbally formulated, a construction.

Ultimate truth is inexpressible, as the Ārya-pitāputrasamāgamana-sūtra states:
  • Whatever is ultimate, that is inexpressible.

Oy, this Two Truths thingie is gonna drive me bonkers! I've read so many apparently different descriptions of what it means.

For example, from Wikipedia:

Relative or common-sense truth describes our daily experience of a concrete world. Ultimate truth describes the ultimate reality as empty of concrete and inherent characteristics.

This definition of ultimate reality seems well within the realm of thought and expression: the ultimate truth is that reality is empty of inherent essence. Inherent essence -- and the lack thereof -- can be explained and observed and thought about.

From Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:

Moving on then to the explanation of the two truths in terms of the tradition of the Prasangikas, the root text says that the conventional truth is what is imputed by thought, the expressions of the world. The ultimate truth is free from elaboration, beyond thought and expression.

This definition of ultimate truth is more like what you've been saying: beyond thought and expression.

Fwiw the second take makes much more intuitive sense to me. Conventional truth is story; ultimate truth is not-story. By definition, story can be thought about and expressed; not-story cannot.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Unreality of Thoughts

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:05 am

Spiritual insight as distinct from empirical analysis, would be pretty close to it.

Which explains why it is that many of the best and brightest in the scientific world refuse to accept that there can be a 'realm of value' (for want of another term) - it is not something that can be detected by any kind of scientific analysis. So - does it exist? Answer - it is not among those things which can be said to exist or not exist, i.e. does not arise or perish.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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