Nihilistic view

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Astus
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Wed May 20, 2020 10:01 am

White Sakura wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:56 am
Then the person who asked says: "but who feels: Now I am free..I have freed myself by means of the path. Who feels that"
'Who feels?' is the wrong question. Dependent origination is the middle view because it shows cause and effect without an agent or subject. Please consider the following teachings:

Who acts? SN 12.17; SN 12.18
Who gets old? SN 12.35
Who experiences? SN 12.46
All exists or nothing exists? SN 12.47
Dependent origination is correct investigation: SN 12.51
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: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Wed May 20, 2020 12:30 pm

One way to approach the topic in hand is through describing the scientific/materialistic mindset. Knowledge is divided into deductive and inductive, or reason and inference. Truth is what is reproducible through time by artificially separating reason from feelings. This act of separation serves to avoid reducing what is true to how we feel about it considering that the observer himself continues through time and he is ambiguously aware of the unreliability of his feelings.

Through observing reality using inferences, the lack of ultimate truth is known through associating phenomena with conditions and causes. As such, the meaning of this endless change becomes the ultimate truth (in disguise) as it seems to endure the test of time (we are often encountered with the notion: the only constant is change itself).

In this state of affairs, the artificial separation of reason from feelings as well as the apparent lack of ultimate truth (and therefore purpose) becomes the basis for justifying behavior that does not take morality or social norms seriously (moral nihilism). This is why most nihilists are hedonists.

And yet, you can find nihilists who take morality seriously, but they would make sure to justify their actions based on humanistic values, not on the backward religious superstitions according to their views. This kind of nihilism/materialism would often conceive human achievements in arts, science and technology in very high regards. Letting go of the old and outdated belief systems becomes a driving force for human progress that has no limits where the human utopia can be eventually achieved, and where accepting a world without purpose (except what we decide) becomes a sign of maturity can we can decide on how create our own future. In this mindset, it is not uncommon to encounter notions such as "choice is everything" (as the shadow of interpreting phenomena through determinism)

More generally, the best approach to discussing philosophy with your son is through a dynamic conversation, especially when the topic is nihilism :tongue:
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Aemilius
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Aemilius » Thu May 21, 2020 8:13 am

White Sakura wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 5:17 pm
Which masters taught at what time in history of Buddhism about the nihilistic point of view? In a way that the explanations of other masters were called nihilistic?
Is the chittamatra school called nihilistic by madhyamaka school?
Chandrakirti writes about Yogachara in Chapter Six of Madhyamaka Avatara, Entering the Middle Way, explicitly mentioning his opponents as Yogacharins. The title is Refutation of Consciousness as Ultimately Real. The refutation goes on for six pages. Chandrakirti's refutations are somewhat unfair, in my opinion. He doesn't call Yogacharins nihilists though, he says that they give consciousness absolute existence, which is contrary to the meaning of Dharma. In the end he goes so far as saying that the Lankavatara sutra is a provisional teaching of the Buddha, not a final one!

translation in Indian Madhyamaka Buddhist Philosophy After Nagarjuna Volume 2, Richard H. Jones, Jackson Square Books, New York 2012
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Thu May 21, 2020 9:17 am

@Astus I read this now:

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.17/en/bodhi

I understand not much, but have the following thoughts: The opposite of ethernalism is here annihilationism. I think the text refers to reinkarnation and karma? Here in the thread was an explanation to nihilism which I remembered having read that before. In this explanation the term nihilism also refers to reinkarnation and karma.
It seems to me as if this sutra is the same teaching. If it is so, then the term "annihilationism" in the sutra means the same as "nihilism"?

how do you define the difference between the terms "nihilism" and "annihilationism"?
Last edited by White Sakura on Thu May 21, 2020 9:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Thu May 21, 2020 9:19 am

tobes wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:09 am

Yes, it is especially connected to denying that actions have effects, and for that reason, denying the basis for (Buddhist) morality. This obviously extends to rebirth, but it also suffices within the context of a given life.

The Charvakas adopted such a view, and they are the quintessential nihilists of ancient India - and critiqued on this basis by virtually all other Indian traditions.
This seems to me to correlate with this sutra?

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.17/en/bodhi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by SteRo » Thu May 21, 2020 10:02 am

White Sakura wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:56 am
I mean something else, I give an example of a situation in my home-Forum: A Buddhist explained to a beginner his understanding of Dharma. He wrote: "There is no inherently existing self" Then the person who asked says: "but who feels: Now I am free..I have freed myself by means of the path. Who feels that" Here I answered:" The experience is not: "I have attained freedom now! " The experience is: "There never was anybody who needed to attain freedom."....ok so far, nobody criticized my answer.
Since all these expressions are spontaneous speculations why prefer one over the other? All these might have their purpose for the holder of the speculative view.
"There is no inherently existing self" might have a purpose
"but who feels: Now I am free..I have freed myself by means of the path. Who feels that" might have a purpose
The experience is not: "I have attained freedom now! " The experience is: "There never was anybody who needed to attain freedom." might have a purpose
White Sakura wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:56 am
But one member wrote: "It is wrong to say there is no self. That would be nihilism. It is also not taught there is an independent and unchangeable self, that would be ethernalism. The Buddha taught there is a self dependent on mind and body. And this perceives with the senses."
This speculation might have a purpose as well.
White Sakura wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:56 am
So then I feel, my answer might be seen as nihilistic. But I feel it for right. Maybe I am a nihilist? Or maybe a Cittamatrin? And maybe this is why I answer differently to the others?
If your view serves a purpose which complies with the path then fine, if not then not fine.

To undermine the delusive perception that one of these concepts or several of them might be or represent actual reality is why the similes "like a mirage, like an echo, a dream, a magican´s show" have been introduced.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 21, 2020 10:23 am

In many of those verses, we find the phrase ‘...with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness...’ as If this in itself is the fulfilment of the teaching.

The question could be asked in respect of the question posed by the original post, how is the ‘cessation of consciousness’ NOT a nihilistic aim? Someone might say, well the aim of the Buddhist teaching is cessation of consciousness, how is that not simply non-existence or non-being? (I hasten to add, I myself am not claiming that it is, but I think it’s a fair question.)
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Thu May 21, 2020 12:27 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:13 am

Chandrakirti writes about Yogachara in Chapter Six of Madhyamaka Avatara, Entering the Middle Way, explicitly mentioning his opponents as Yogacharins. The title is Refutation of Consciousness as Ultimately Real. The refutation goes on for six pages. Chandrakirti's refutations are somewhat unfair, in my opinion. He doesn't call Yogacharins nihilists though, he says that they give consciousness absolute existence, which is contrary to the meaning of Dharma. In the end he goes so far as saying that the Lankavatara sutra is a provisional teaching of the Buddha, not a final one!

translation in Indian Madhyamaka Buddhist Philosophy After Nagarjuna Volume 2, Richard H. Jones, Jackson Square Books, New York 2012
Maybe it is better first to study the Buddha, then masters like Chandrakirti. I have no idea why, but it is often done other way round.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 21, 2020 1:15 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:23 am
In many of those verses, we find the phrase ‘...with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness...’ as If this in itself is the fulfilment of the teaching.

The question could be asked in respect of the question posed by the original post, how is the ‘cessation of consciousness’ NOT a nihilistic aim? Someone might say, well the aim of the Buddhist teaching is cessation of consciousness, how is that not simply non-existence or non-being? (I hasten to add, I myself am not claiming that it is, but I think it’s a fair question.)
The "consciousness" being to refered to here in the Buddha's teaching, is the vijnana of the five skandha of clinging. It is better translated as "discernment" as it is considered as being "awareness of an object and discrimination of its components and aspects".

So it is part of the afflicted mind.

This ceases functioning and what is left is enlightened consciousness, which is defined differently according to various traditions, but has as a common descriptor that it is free of afflictions and stains.
"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: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Thu May 21, 2020 2:42 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:15 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:23 am
In many of those verses, we find the phrase ‘...with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness...’ as If this in itself is the fulfilment of the teaching.

The question could be asked in respect of the question posed by the original post, how is the ‘cessation of consciousness’ NOT a nihilistic aim? Someone might say, well the aim of the Buddhist teaching is cessation of consciousness, how is that not simply non-existence or non-being? (I hasten to add, I myself am not claiming that it is, but I think it’s a fair question.)
The "consciousness" being to refered to here in the Buddha's teaching, is the vijnana of the five skandha of clinging. It is better translated as "discernment" as it is considered as being "awareness of an object and discrimination of its components and aspects".

So it is part of the afflicted mind.

This ceases functioning and what is left is enlightened consciousness, which is defined differently according to various traditions, but has as a common descriptor that it is free of afflictions and stains.
It’s a doubled edged sword generally it’s followed by karma. It becomes differentiating wisdom when enlightened.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Thu May 21, 2020 3:19 pm

How consciousness functions is first it differentiates, then it shifts itself involving other skandhas perceptions receiving feelings emotions or suffering, intention simultaneously whether subtle or coarse, from one differentiation to the next it shifts itself. Karma and ignorance grasping is this.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by SteRo » Thu May 21, 2020 3:49 pm

White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 12:27 pm
Maybe it is better first to study the Buddha, then masters like Chandrakirti. I have no idea why, but it is often done other way round.
Since you are quoting sravaka suttas from Sutta Central you might think "study the Buddha" = "study sravaka suttas". If so then be informed that it is not usual in Mahayana to begin with studying the sravaka sutta but on the contrary it is better to have a good understanding of Nagarjuna and other madhyamaka masters before studying the sravaka suttas, if the sravaka suttas are studied at all.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Thu May 21, 2020 3:52 pm

White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:17 am
The opposite of ethernalism is here annihilationism.
That specific discourse is about the origin of suffering, whether the agent (who creates the cause of suffering) is identical to the subject (who experiences the effect: suffering) or different from it. You can take it either as referring to different births, or different moments. Saying that they are identical is eternalism, as it assumes an enduring self. Saying that they are different is annihilationism, because it assumes that the previous self has disappeared and now there is a new self. What cuts through these extremes is dependent origination, that there is no self of any sort, but rather a chain of causes and effects.
how do you define the difference between the terms "nihilism" and "annihilationism"?
It depends on one's definition of nihilism. If one equates nihilism with "nothing exists", that is likely a view not accepted by anyone, so there's usually a qualification, for instance "nothing really/ultimately exists" at least, but then it still accepts some sort of existence, and that is either a meaningful or a meaningless distinction. The Buddha was clear about what is called a self (identification with the five aggregates), and that such a self is not just delusional but also painful.
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: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Thu May 21, 2020 3:56 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:19 pm
How consciousness functions is first it differentiates, then it shifts itself involving other skandhas perceptions receiving feelings emotions or suffering, intention simultaneously whether subtle or coarse, from one differentiation to the next it shifts itself. Karma and ignorance grasping is this.
But first differentiating, then intention, then a bunch of more differentiating.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Thu May 21, 2020 4:21 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:52 pm
White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:17 am
The opposite of ethernalism is here annihilationism.
That specific discourse is about the origin of suffering, whether the agent (who creates the cause of suffering) is identical to the subject (who experiences the effect: suffering) or different from it. You can take it either as referring to different births, or different moments. Saying that they are identical is eternalism, as it assumes an enduring self. Saying that they are different is annihilationism, because it assumes that the previous self has disappeared and now there is a new self. What cuts through these extremes is dependent origination, that there is no self of any sort, but rather a chain of causes and effects.
how do you define the difference between the terms "nihilism" and "annihilationism"?
It depends on one's definition of nihilism. If one equates nihilism with "nothing exists", that is likely a view not accepted by anyone, so there's usually a qualification, for instance "nothing really/ultimately exists" at least, but then it still accepts some sort of existence, and that is either a meaningful or a meaningless distinction. The Buddha was clear about what is called a self (identification with the five aggregates), and that such a self is not just delusional but also painful.
So it is said aggregates are not self, but a sense of self is created by reception of feelings and emotions. If end both causes of delusional perceptions as well, then no sense of self is left.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 21, 2020 4:23 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:42 pm
It’s a doubled edged sword generally it’s followed by karma. It becomes differentiating wisdom when enlightened.
That is another view, yes.

Yet another view is that differentiating wisdom was there all along (as vijnana) but it was "filtered" through the afflictions and one just needs to remove the afflictions for it to become apparent.
"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: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Thu May 21, 2020 4:48 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:52 pm
If one equates nihilism with "nothing exists", that is likely a view not accepted by anyone, so there's usually a qualification, for instance "nothing really/ultimately exists" at least, but then it still accepts some sort of existence, and that is either a meaningful or a meaningless distinction. The Buddha was clear about what is called a self (identification with the five aggregates), and that such a self is not just delusional but also painful.
this seems to be quite clear to me.
So one can apply that for the self as well. To say: "There is no self" is nihilistic view. "There is no ultimately existing self" is what Buddha taught.
So I only need to watch out to make the sentence not too short.

But what is if I turn it other way round and say: "There is a self depending on body and mind." I feel this is wrong. Because you have to avoid sounding nihilistic on one hand. On the other hand, it must sound like Anatman. "An" is a negation, right? So what I say about the self should be in form of a negation. Or is right to say: "There is a self depending on body and mind" because this is dependent origination?

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Thu May 21, 2020 4:52 pm

SteRo wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:49 pm
White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 12:27 pm
Maybe it is better first to study the Buddha, then masters like Chandrakirti. I have no idea why, but it is often done other way round.
Since you are quoting sravaka suttas from Sutta Central you might think "study the Buddha" = "study sravaka suttas". If so then be informed that it is not usual in Mahayana to begin with studying the sravaka sutta but on the contrary it is better to have a good understanding of Nagarjuna and other madhyamaka masters before studying the sravaka suttas, if the sravaka suttas are studied at all.
Tibetan masters always do it like that. I just said I don´t know why.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Thu May 21, 2020 5:18 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:23 pm
LastLegend wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:42 pm
It’s a doubled edged sword generally it’s followed by karma. It becomes differentiating wisdom when enlightened.
That is another view, yes.

Yet another view is that differentiating wisdom was there all along (as vijnana) but it was "filtered" through the afflictions and one just needs to remove the afflictions for it to become apparent.
Consciousness is just what distinguishes even very subtle but eons of habits followed. We can see it in our sleep we are deluded as well. What I’ve been taught is you can have consciousness clarity without arising intention, but consciousness clarity isn’t final. It’s final for Arahant because they have completely cut off cause of suffering and delusional perceptions and left with pure consciousness. But the issue is they see this pure consciousness as final Nirvana and still distinguishes Nirvana from Samsara. This is when Mahayana kicks in, ‘No no that’s not final there is another layer of Buddha nature that goes beyond this, not anything itself, original Wisdom (using this word to avoid nihilistic thought).’ Another term is non-appearance (Wisdom) from Mahaprajnaparamita Sutras, but I avoid using this term because I think it gives delusional thoughts to people. Consciousness is still appearance. Buddha Dharma is spoken from Buddha’a consciousness (wisdom at this point), that’s why he had said nothing or denied he had said anything or when raising a flower up Mahakanhip (sp?) smiled. Buddha nature is inexpressible but what describes it is consciousness which we have to distinguish it to describe it right but here it becomes an object of skandhas. :lol:
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by SteRo » Thu May 21, 2020 6:02 pm

White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:52 pm
SteRo wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:49 pm
White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 12:27 pm
Maybe it is better first to study the Buddha, then masters like Chandrakirti. I have no idea why, but it is often done other way round.
Since you are quoting sravaka suttas from Sutta Central you might think "study the Buddha" = "study sravaka suttas". If so then be informed that it is not usual in Mahayana to begin with studying the sravaka sutta but on the contrary it is better to have a good understanding of Nagarjuna and other madhyamaka masters before studying the sravaka suttas, if the sravaka suttas are studied at all.
Tibetan masters always do it like that. I just said I don´t know why.
Because one might end up taking the wrong path when starting with the pali suttas, i.e. one might aim at attaining a sravaka's nirvana and not care about other beings.

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