Karma Dorje wrote:What we are talking about is whether realization is possible without having the specific conceptual frameworks of Buddhist dharma.
I personally know of many people who have had prior experience working with the Vedanta path before coming to learn and contemplate and realize the Buddhadharma. They have said that 1) Vedanta path leads to Self-Realization, however, 2) the content of realization is not exactly the same as with Buddhadharma. Certainly, some Buddhists might disagree, because Buddhism in its current state of affairs is a mixed bag of different views, opinions, practices, experiences, etc. But I'd say that their insights shared by these people I mentioned, that contemplated and had experiential realizations from both paths do indeed reflect the definitive view of the Buddha's teachings.
I can give lots of names and articles written about this including my own but will just mention two persons for now since they are lineage teachers and hopefully give some credence in terms of authority (not that it really matters to me, but maybe for some readers it might):
Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche, he used to practice the Hindu tantras and Vedanta under a qualified Vedanta teacher for nine years intensely in the cemetaries, etc. Eventually he realized the Atman-Brahman, the ultimate goal of Hinduism, and his realization was confirmed by his Vedantic masters to be correct and profound. However, still unsatisfied with his realization, he continued searching, first into Zen Buddhism, then later into the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, and eventually reached a deep profound state of realization. He recognised from his own experience the difference between the Vedantic and non-substantialist insights of Buddhadharma and Madhyamika. He wrote many well written articles in his site http://www.byomakusuma.org/
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; , including the article comparing Vedanta with Madhyamika: http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/Ma ... danta.aspx
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . He emphasizes that the comparison was done not in order to demean one system of teaching over another but to provide greater clarity on the essential doctrines of each system so that they could each be understood correctly, as he says, "I must reiterate that this difference in both the system is very important to fully understand both the systems properly and is not meant to demean either system."
Soto Zen Teacher/Priest Alex R. Weith, too had a rather similar background, worked with Vedanta and Vedantic masters and was confirmed, but later due to further contemplation in the Buddhadharma he found the profundity and uniqueness of the 'anatta' doctrine when he finally realized it directly for himself. I'll quote some from him:
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com. ... sutta.html
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A few excerpts from the URL:
What I realized also is that authoritative self-realized students of direct students of both Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj called me a 'Jnani', inviting me to give satsangs and write books, while I had not yet understood the simplest core principles of Buddhism. I realized also that the vast majority of Buddhist teachers, East and West, never went beyond the same initial insights (that Adhyashanti calls "an abiding awakening"), confusing the Atma with the ego, assuming that transcending the ego or self-center (ahamkara in Sanskrit) was identical to what the Buddha had called Anatta (Non-Atma).
It would seem therefore that the Buddha had realized the Self at a certain stage of his acetic years (it is not that difficult after all) and was not yet satisfied. As paradoxical as it may seem, his "divide and conquer strategy" aimed at a systematic deconstruction of the Self (Atma, Atta), reduced to -and divided into- what he then called the five aggregates of clinging and the six sense-spheres, does lead to further and deeper insights into the nature of reality. As far as I can tell, this makes me a Buddhist, not because I find Buddhism cool and trendy, but because I am unable to find other teachings and traditions that provide a complete set of tools and strategies aimed at unlocking these ultimate mysteries, even if mystics from various traditions did stumble on the same stages and insights often unknowingly.
This also means that the first step is to disembed from impermanent phenomena until the only thing that feels real is this all pervading uncreated all pervading awareness that feels like the source and substance of phenomena. Holding on to it after this realization can hower become a subtle form of grasping diguised as letting go.
The second step is therefore to realize that this brightness, awakeness or luminosity is there very nature of phenomena and then only does the duality between the True Self and the appearences arising and passing within the Self dissolve, revealing the suchness of what is.
The next step that I found very practical is to push the process of deconstruction a step further, realizing that all that is experienced is one of the six consciousness. In other words, there is neither a super Awareness beyond phenomena, not solid material objects, but only six streams of sensory experiences. The seen, the heard, the sensed, the tasted, the smelled and the cognized (including thoughts, emotions, and subtle thougths like absorbtion states, jhanas).
At this point it is not difficult to see how relevent the Bahiya Sutta can become.
Practically speaking, the above mentioned method works in the same way. One can either split each of the 5 aggregates into 6 streams of consciousness, to see how the sense of "a body" (aggregate of form) arises when all senses working together create the illusion of substantiality, pretty much like the images track and the sounds tracks of a movie that together create the illusion of reality. Using the same method we can also see how the illusion of a solid body dissolves when we look deeply and see that what we had assumed to be a body is nothing more than an illusion created by 6 impermanent, separate-yet-interdependent streams of consciousness.
We can also investigate the sense of self as such.
In the seen, only the seen. We first realize that we cannot know the objects seen as such, but only the seen (shapes, colors, textures, etc.). We also realize that there is no separate entity that sees. There is seeing, but no seer. Seeing is seeing. Same with the other streams of sense consciousness.
Then, what I do is to look for a sense of self, and see whether it is more assocated to one of these 6 streams of consciousness. It is generally associated with a physical sensation around the solar plexus or gut, and is therefore related to the stream of sensing-consciousness. When this is seen for what it is, the sense of self drops. There is nothing beside the spontanious functioning of the senses.
Here the purpose is not to lock and make permanent a special state of consciousness, but only to gain deeper and deeper insights into Anatta and Shunyata until we become absolutely unable to make anything into "me" or "mine".
Just for the sake of clarification, I would like to make it clear that I never said that "these luminous self-perceiving phenomena which are craving-free and nondual are the Ultimate", if there could still be any ambiguity about that.
On the contrary, I said that what I used to take for an eternal, empty, uncreated, nondual, primordial awareness, source and substance of all things, turned out to be nothing more than the luminous nature of phenomena, themselves empty and ungraspable, somehow crystallized in a very subtle witnessing position. The whole topic of this thread is the deconstruction of this Primordial Awareness, One Mind, Cognizing Emptiness, Self, Atman, Luminous Mind, Tathagatgabha, or whatever we may call it,
As shocking as it may seem, the Buddha was very clear to say that this pure impersonal objectless nondual awareness (that Vedantists called Atma in Sanskrit, Atta in Pali) is still the aggregate of consciousness and that consciousness, as pure and luminous as it can be, does not stand beyond the aggregates.
"Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'" (Anatta-lakkhana Sutta).