Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

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Boomerang
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Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Boomerang » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:08 am

Defining panpsychism, Wikipedia states "the view that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of mind." From what I've heard, different philosophers have different definitions of panpsychism, some of which may not fit Tibetan Buddhism, but Wikipedia's definition seems broad enough to fit. Verily, the article explains that there are Mahayana teachings from East Asian Buddhism which sort of match panpsychism.

However, there is a section about Dzogchen which seems to do a 180. It's all about how the Evans-Wentz translation of Bardo Thodol was wrong, and this gives Wikipedia's readers the impression that Dzogchen (and similar Tibetan teachings) disagrees with East Asian Mahayana and Wikipedia's broad definition at the top of the page.

The Wikipedia page is like this because way back in 2010, somebody named hummingbird added a snippet about Dzogchen based on the Evan-Wentz translation, and then about nine months later an unnamed person changed the article to it's current form, explaining that Evan-Wentz is wrong but not elaborating on anything else.

So, do I deeply misunderstand Tibetan Buddhism, or is Wikipedia's Panpsychism page spreading misleading information about Tibetan Buddhism?
"All the suffering of the lower realms, whatever difficulty and unhappiness we may experience as human beings, as well as every other possible suffering of the three realms of existence, have their origin in cherishing ourselves more than others."

amanitamusc
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by amanitamusc » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:32 am

Read more on Tibetan Buddhism. If you are really interested. You could even go to some teachings.

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:38 am

amanitamusc wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:32 am
Read more on Tibetan Buddhism. If you are really interested. You could even go to some teachings.
That doesn't even respond to the post at all.
Do you think that this response could be taken as disrespectful?

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Wayfarer
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:33 am

There's a recent, much better translation of the text which Evans-Wentz had translated:

Self-Liberation through Seeing with Naked Awareness
by John Myrdhin Reynolds et al.
Link: http://a.co/dzqE8OE

Now, there's a pretty detailed commentary on Evanz-Wentz' translation in the foreword to that edition, which explains what exactly Evans Wentz got wrong. It's actually quite sympathetic to him, and I think Evans-Wentz was very well-intentioned. But he had soaked up all manner of ideas from theosophy and other forms of the popular mysticism of the day, and wasn't really that good a scholar. So the upshot is, his 'One Mind' is a kind of gloss on his reading of neo-Platonism and 'the One' of Plotinus. As Reynolds points out in that intro, it's a fairly tendentious comparison (to put it charitably).

There's quite a generous preview on the Amazon web page. Click on the View and then the ToC, you will see a link to the chapter on Evans-Wentz which provides the detail.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Lingpupa
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Lingpupa » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:32 am

Seconding Wayfarer.

Back in the 60s Evans-Wenz was one of the few sources easily available, and it's true he probably meant well. But his understanding had big holes, and he was, sadly, willing to fill them with his own largely theosophical speculations. So thanks for the start, Walter, but there is not a lot of point reading his books now. Unless you happen to be interested in the story of the Western reception of Buddhism, of course.

PS, nearly forgot - no, panpsychism does not sit well with Tibetan Buddhism. Both have many sides, so you could argue for several years, but that's the gist of it.
All the best
Alex Wilding
Stupa in the Snow blog at http://chagchen.org/

amanitamusc
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by amanitamusc » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:54 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:38 am
amanitamusc wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:32 am
Read more on Tibetan Buddhism. If you are really interested. You could even go to some teachings.
That doesn't even respond to the post at all.
Do you think that this response could be taken as disrespectful?
Perhaps.

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Grigoris
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:50 am

I have never seen something in Tibetan Buddhism that approximates pan-psychism. The word "psyche" in Greek does not refer to mind "nous", but to the soul "psyche". Even so, you will find no idea of a Universal Mind/Consciousness in Tibetan Buddhism. In Saivism (of the non-dual variety) you will, but not in TB.
"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."
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Javierfv1212
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Javierfv1212 » Fri May 11, 2018 4:31 am

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says:
Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West, and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy. For its proponents panpsychism offers an attractive middle way between physicalism on the one hand and dualism on the other. The worry with dualism—the view that mind and matter are fundamentally different kinds of thing—is that it leaves us with a radically disunified picture of nature, and the deep difficulty of understanding how mind and brain interact. And whilst physicalism offers a simple and unified vision of the world, this is arguably at the cost of being unable to give a satisfactory account of the emergence of human and animal consciousness. Panpsychism, strange as it may sound on first hearing, promises a satisfying account of the human mind within a unified conception of nature.
If this definition is maintained, I don't see why this theory can't be compatible with TB, since in TB mind is a central feature of the world and cannot be reduced to matter as in physicalism. However, since Buddhist ontology uses different language and concepts and is focused on a different goal than western philosophy, its going to be a little ... procrustean project IMO. Ultimately the western philosopher wants to get to an ideal and logically sound description of reality, the Buddhist on the other hand wants out of samsara and their description of reality are ultimately not taken as being ultimate but are merely soteriologically useful tools.
It is quite impossible to find the Buddha anywhere other than in one's own mind.
~Padmasambhava

Amid those who are self-constrained, the Stable One would not posit as categorically true or false
anything seen, heard, or sensed, clung to and considered truth by others.
Since they have already seen this dart to which people cling and adhere,
saying “I know, I see, it is just so,”
the Tathāgatas cling to nothing.
-Kalaka sutta

PeterC
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by PeterC » Fri May 11, 2018 5:42 am

Javierfv1212 wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 4:31 am
Ultimately the western philosopher wants to get to an ideal and logically sound description of reality, the Buddhist on the other hand wants out of samsara and their description of reality are ultimately not taken as being ultimate but are merely soteriologically useful tools.
Very good point. We use the term "philosophy" to describe Nagarjuna, Hegel and Confucius, but it stretches the term to the point where it isn't very useful as they're all doing very different things in their writing.

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Sherab
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Re: Is Tibetan Buddhism against panpsychism, or is Wikipedia wrong?

Post by Sherab » Fri May 11, 2018 9:34 am

Just my opinion:
In Buddhism, panpsychism would be considered a relative view of the world of phenomena but I don't think it would be considered an ultimate view.

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