Mind-streams: Separate?

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Matt J
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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Matt J » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:54 pm

But minds are formless—- how can they be instantiated in anything? Plus in Buddhist creation stories, bodies arise in minds, not the other way around.
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:13 pm
Matt J wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:41 am
The issue with the Buddhist view is that the mind is not physical, so what keeps minds apart?
Minds are instantiated in bodies, that's what keeps them apart.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Malcolm
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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Malcolm » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:56 pm

Matt J wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:54 pm
But minds are formless—- how can they be instantiated in anything? Plus in Buddhist creation stories, bodies arise in minds, not the other way around.
If minds cannot be instantiated in bodies, how can there be rebirth?

As to you second remark, I am not sure what you mean. Citation helpful.
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.

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Queequeg
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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:28 pm

We're not quite connecting here. My point is, the onion or plantain tree as a metaphor leaves something to be desired.
Astus wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:41 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:27 pm
it suggests that it is possible to peel the layers back and get to some "zero".
In a way it is possible, and that is the standard analysis performed in vipasyana.

"when they are broken into subtle particles and the nature of the parts of these subtle particles is individually examined, no definite identity can be found."
(Bhavanakrama, in Stages of Meditation, p 129)
This is using a process of analysis which I suggested above leads to an infinite regression. If done meticulously. Why? Because there is always a remainder. In practice, one takes the analysis to the limits of one's experience, but if you're completely honest, there is always a remainder, and so one can't be sure all analysis has been exhausted; we can only extend to the limits of our analysis. Only a Buddha could analyze everything to confirm that nothing remains at the end of the analysis. But here we have a conundrum... seeking Buddhahood by analyzing to the point that nothing can be found, but only a Buddha can analyze that far.

I'm prone to miscalculation, though, and I don't think I've come close to exhausting the limit of my experience. I'm intuiting.
one utilizes concepts to remove concepts... in practice it would seem this would just lead to infinite regression
Not at all. One first has to eliminate wrong views with the right view, then it is possible to become free from views.

"Remedying illusion by means of an illusion is like rubbing sticks together to make fire: with the two sticks serving as cause to one another, flames burst forth, the sticks are consumed, their ashes fly away, and the smoke disappears, [leaving nothing behind]."
(Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch 2, in Apocryphal Scriptures, BDK ed, p 62)
So someone apocryphally claimed. :tongue:

I dunno. Something "Ole Farmer Brown" about that. How do you make a dollar out of 99 cents. But could be.

Whipping up illusions to neutralize illusions... I think I might end up just burning things down out of frustration but I don't think that's what is meant in that passage.
If I'm conceptualizing, I prefer the idea of a nexus of causes and conditions to illustrate the nature of self. One can leave the causes and conditions in place, without peeling them back, and still get some notion of the "self" to be some meta effect of these intersecting causes and conditions.
Either by contemplating the elements or dependent origination, in both cases one looks into how experiences lack an enduring essence.

"If a bodhisattva attains a fixed mind, he should observe that the twelve links are empty and without a proprietor. Ignorance does not perceive that it creates conduct. Conduct does not perceive that it has arisen from ignorance. Conduct simply arises conditioned by ignorance. It is just like a sprout arising from the seed of a plant. The seed does not perceive that it produces the sprout. Nor does the sprout perceive that it has arisen from the seed. Likewise up to old age and death. [The bodhisattva] observes and realizes that each of these twelve links has neither proprietor nor self. It is just like plants of the external [world] that have no proprietor. Merely out of wrong views one misconceives that there is self."
(Sutra on the Concentration of Sitting Meditation, BDK ed, p 74)
That is not how I would characterize the gist of that passage. But it might simply be that my sense of a "proprietor []or self" does not coincide with "enduring essence."

In any event, I think what I'm saying about the nexus fits with that passage very well.
Incidentally, I think the concept of a nexus of causes and conditions very aptly illustrates how discrete mindstreams can be posited while also illustrating how such mindstreams can relate to each other.
Minds cannot intersect, nor relate to each other directly.
Right. Two points cannot occupy the same coordinate. Otherwise they would be the same coordinate.

Two points can, however, relate to each other; each does not exist in a vacuum. But more to the point: beings interact. The terms of that interaction may be completely veiled in delusion to those beings.
"The conscious construction of the difference between oneself and others is engendered from the seminal permeation of belief in self."
(Summary of the Great Vehicle, BDK ed, p 37)

And,

"Knowledge of those,
[Who claim] to know other minds,
Is unreal,
Just as one’s knowledge of one’s own mind
[Is unreal]."

(Vimsatika, v 21, in A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience, p 274)
Right. So, the nexus of causes and conditions does not amount to a self. The whole point of the metaphor suggests that the mistake that the nexus is a self is unsupported.

In the final analysis, its just a metaphor. Just like the onion/plantain tree.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:59 pm

Queequeg -- I like your nexus idea, but now curious how you use it over the onion one. Is it a better remedy for the emotional attachment to a sense of self?

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:43 pm

Snowbear wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:59 pm
Queequeg -- I like your nexus idea, but now curious how you use it over the onion one. Is it a better remedy for the emotional attachment to a sense of self?
Its still conceptualization, so I think it would fail as a definitive teaching. Is it better? I don't know. I think its a more versatile metaphor, which actually might be worse - if it works well as a shorthand, it might be harder to let go of...

When bodhi, I'll report back.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:56 pm

As an aside, even though I could not get through calculus even though I tried at least 3 times... too many bong hits getting in the way of class at 830 am... so I opted for the Bull Shit degree in history... I've wondered if the dharma could be translated into math. That got me to conceptualizing dependent origination of the self as a point on a graph, and the wonder of the point, which itself take up no space, but is only implied by its context.

That's about as far as I've gotten with it.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:28 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:56 pm
As an aside, even though I could not get through calculus even though I tried at least 3 times... too many bong hits getting in the way of class at 830 am... so I opted for the Bull Shit degree in history... I've wondered if the dharma could be translated into math. That got me to conceptualizing dependent origination of the self as a point on a graph, and the wonder of the point, which itself take up no space, but is only implied by its context.

That's about as far as I've gotten with it.
A little bit counterproductive to equanimity, I think. Just a little bit. :lol:

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:39 am

Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:28 am

A little bit counterproductive to equanimity, I think. Just a little bit. :lol:
Which part? Translating Dharma into math or the bong hits?

The latter is my misspent youth; the former a feature of the present that should have been. Shoulda been a physicist.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:43 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:39 am
Which part? Translating Dharma into math or the bong hits?
Both are actually on the same playing field.

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:15 am

I think this is one of those traps that people often get caught in;
trying to deconstruct something that was never, or should never have been constructed to begin with.
So, it's kind of like saying, "this table is not a table" because, as soon as you identify it as "this table" you are asserting that something is a table.
The mistake people often make, is in understanding the direction from which the buddhist argument is coming.
Buddhism doesn't say, "this table doesn't exist".
Rather, it says, "nothing exists which can be called this table".
It's a very fine distinction. Can you see the difference?
The second statement never asserts the occurrence of the table to begin with.

So, it is the same when talking about Mind.

There is nothing that arises that can be identified as essentially a thing called Mind. Looked for, it cannot be found. there is no color or shape of anything that can be then called Mind.

What occurs is awareness, and the experience of skandhas which manifest differently depending on the karma.
It's somewhat like having lots of boxes of LEGOS. Different LEGO kits, for houses or pirate ships or whatever.
They are all essentially the same thing. All interchangable, and all indistinguishable until we build them into one shape or another.
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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:37 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:56 pm
As an aside, even though I could not get through calculus even though I tried at least 3 times... too many bong hits getting in the way of class at 830 am... so I opted for the Bull Shit degree in history... I've wondered if the dharma could be translated into math. That got me to conceptualizing dependent origination of the self as a point on a graph, and the wonder of the point, which itself take up no space, but is only implied by its context.

That's about as far as I've gotten with it.

Plenty of mathematicians and physicists have done plenty of bong hits, so don't blame the herb.

As far as "translating" dharma into math goes, that is too strong but I think advanced mathematics could be a fertile source of metaphors for use in the expression of the dharma. However, the target audience for that kind of thing would be quite small, I'd imagine.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:50 am

Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:43 am
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:39 am
Which part? Translating Dharma into math or the bong hits?
Both are actually on the same playing field.
That's quite a playing field.
dzogchungpa wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:37 am
Plenty of mathematicians and physicists have done plenty of bong hits, so don't blame the herb.
Maybe. The herb definitely affected my ability to get up for class and faced with the choice of math homework and stoned corousing, I opted the latter... But yeah, I was the common denominator.
As far as "translating" dharma into math goes, that is too strong but I think advanced mathematics could be a fertile source of metaphors for use in the expression of the dharma. However, the target audience for that kind of thing would be quite small, I'd imagine.
Is translating too strong? It's another language with vocabulary, grammar, syntax, etc. But as Bertrand Russel said, it's all metaphor.

Given the weight accrded math and science these days and STEM emphasis, is it really that small? Might actually reach people who might not otherwise give much thought to ancient stories. Nagarjuna could prettly easily be translated into math, I think.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:57 am

Queenqueg wrote:Nagarjuna could prettly easily be translated into math, I think.
He would be rolling in his grave. :rolling:

That's just not the point of his writings.

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:09 am

Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:57 am
Queenqueg wrote:Nagarjuna could prettly easily be translated into math, I think.
He would be rolling in his grave. :rolling:

That's just not the point of his writings.
He'd object to having the karika translated into another language?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:23 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:09 am
Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:57 am
Queenqueg wrote:Nagarjuna could prettly easily be translated into math, I think.
He would be rolling in his grave. :rolling:

That's just not the point of his writings.
He'd object to having the karika translated into another language?
Sure...Quantitative Reality Analysis for Dummies by Nagarjuna. It’s really the irony of conceptualizing on something meant to stop conceptualizing that gets me.

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:39 am

Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:23 am

Sure...Quantitative Reality Analysis for Dummies by Nagarjuna. It’s really the irony of conceptualizing on something meant to stop conceptualizing that gets me.
That's an awful conceptualized level of humor.

I'm into slapstick, myself.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Snowbear » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:51 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:39 am
Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:23 am

Sure...Quantitative Reality Analysis for Dummies by Nagarjuna. It’s really the irony of conceptualizing on something meant to stop conceptualizing that gets me.
That's an awful conceptualized level of humor.

I'm into slapstick, myself.
You're on to something. Get into the slapstick mood and ask why bamboozling people into thinking that doing math is doing Dharma is a good outreach strategy when people can be encouraged to translate Nagarjuna in visceral experience - where it is meant to be applied. Encourage a personal meditation practice, not comforting certainties by translating fairies into root squares.

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Re: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:12 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:28 pm
My point is, the onion or plantain tree as a metaphor leaves something to be desired.
Is your objection that "it assumes characteristics to peel back, suggestive of a process replete with all manner of concepts - one utilizes concepts to remove concepts... in practice it would seem this would just lead to infinite regression."? If so, let me answer to the below point.
This is using a process of analysis which I suggested above leads to an infinite regression. If done meticulously. Why? Because there is always a remainder.
The quoted example of sticks burned by their fire is quite universal in Mahayana. Let me give here Tsongkhapa's (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path, vol 3, p 344-345) more extensive response to the objection.

Objection: Since analytical discrimination of the meaning of selflessness is conceptual, it is contradictory that it should produce the nonconceptual sublime wisdom. This is because there must be harmony between an effect and its cause.
Reply: The Bhagavan himself spoke about this using an example. The Kasyapa Chapter Sutra (Kasyapa-parivarta-sutra) says:
Kasyapa, it is thus. For example, two trees are dragged against each other by the wind and from that a fire starts, burning the two trees. In the same way, Kasyapa, if you have correct analytical discrimination, the power of a noble being's wisdom will emerge. With its emergence, correct analytical discrimination will itself be burned up.
This means that the wisdom of a noble being emerges from analytical discrimination. Kamalasila's second Stages of Meditation says:
Thus, yogis analyze with wisdom and when they definitely do not apprehend the essence of any thing ultimately, they enter into the nonconceptual concentration. They know that all phenomena lack essence. There are some whose meditation does not involve the use of wisdom to investigate the essence of things; they only cultivate the sheer and complete elimination of mental activity. Their conceptions never end and they never know the absence of essence because they lack the light of wisdom. Thus, when the fire which is a precise understanding of reality arises from correct analytical discrimination, then - as in the case of the fire from the friction of two sticks rubbed together - the wood of conceptual thought is burned up. This is what the Bhagavan said.
Otherwise, since it would be impossible for an uncontaminated path to arise from a contaminated path, an ordinary being could not attain the state of a noble being because of the dissimilarity between the cause and the effect. In the same way, it is evident that there are limitless cases of dissimilar causes and effects, such as the production of a green seedling from a gray seed, the production of smoke from fire, and the production of a male child from a woman. A noble being's nonconceptual sublime wisdom is perceptual knowledge of the meaning of selflessness - the emptiness of the object of the conception of the two selves. In order to develop that sort of wisdom at a higher stage, your meditation must now precisely analyze the object of the conception of self and realize that it does not exist. Therefore, although this is conceptual, it is a cause which is very conducive to the nonconceptual sublime wisdom. As previously cited, the King of Concentrations Sutra says:
If you analytically discriminate the lack of self in phenomena
And if you cultivate that precise analysis in meditation,
This will cause you to reach the goal, the attainment of nirvana.
There is no peace through any other cause.

Therefore, Kamalasila's third Stages of Meditation says,
Even though it has a conceptual nature, its nature is one of proper mental activity. Therefore, because it engenders the nonconceptual sublime wisdom, those who seek the sublime wisdom should rely upon it.
In practice, one takes the analysis to the limits of one's experience, but if you're completely honest, there is always a remainder, and so one can't be sure all analysis has been exhausted; we can only extend to the limits of our analysis.
There are very clear boundaries given in Buddhism, commonly in the format of the five aggregates and six sensory areas (see the Loka Suttas at SN 35.82 and 12.44).

"Subhuti: How does perfect wisdom instruct the Tathagatas in this world, and what is it that the Tathagatas call ‘world’?
The Lord: The five skandhas have by the Tathagata have declared as ‘world’ [loka]. Which five? Form, feeling, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness."

(PP8K, 12.2, tr Conze)

A larger list of "all things" is found in the abhidharma works.
The whole point of the metaphor suggests that the mistake that the nexus is a self is unsupported.
One relevant issue here is whether that nexus is real or not. If there is a network of things, one could just call that one's true nature, one's self, like one can call the conglomeration of parts one's body.
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: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:32 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:28 pm
Right. So, the nexus of causes and conditions does not amount to a self. The whole point of the metaphor suggests that the mistake that the nexus is a self is unsupported.

In the final analysis, its just a metaphor. Just like the onion/plantain tree.
What do you find when you dissect the factors compromising the nexus?
"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: Mind-streams: Separate?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:28 am

Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:51 am
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:39 am
Snowbear wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:23 am

Sure...Quantitative Reality Analysis for Dummies by Nagarjuna. It’s really the irony of conceptualizing on something meant to stop conceptualizing that gets me.
That's an awful conceptualized level of humor.

I'm into slapstick, myself.
You're on to something. Get into the slapstick mood and ask why bamboozling people into thinking that doing math is doing Dharma is a good outreach strategy when people can be encouraged to translate Nagarjuna in visceral experience - where it is meant to be applied. Encourage a personal meditation practice, not comforting certainties by translating fairies into root squares.
Are you scolding me?

Tell me, if the karika can be translated and conveyed in a language it is yet to be translated into, one that some among us are fluent in, and that such translation would lead them to a "visceral experience", then it would seem to me that this would very much be a worthwhile endeavor. Whether math is a language in which teachings as emptiness could be expressed is another question... I've here proposed a feature of geometry to express emptiness and dependent origination. Whether this is a constructive teaching, whether it is Buddha vacana, that's up for consideration. I can understand if this proposal is too unorthodox for some to even consider. It may also be misleading, in which case it should be put aside. I'm not convinced yet.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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