Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

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Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:09 am

http://melong.com/merging-true-self-dying/

The Melong resurrected this talk given by Elio in 2011, revised now in 2018 and republished.

A nice article in itself, but why Elio insists on the tirthika overtones, such as needlessly including “true self” in the title of this article which otherwise does not mention anything of that sort, is something I don’t get. Seems to be a continual theme in his contributions, which are otherwise quite nice.

This article was originally published 2 years prior to Elio’s Marvelous Primordial State which featured the controversial addition of a Ramana Maharshi quote as the epigraph. Elio later stated that this was perhaps a mistake, or at the very least something he should have reconsidered.

Why do I care? Because with Rinpoche passing, individuals like Elio are going to end up being spokespeople for Norbu Rinpoche’s organization and legacy.

ChNN was always very careful with his translation choices and what he decided to publish in written form. There was a clear and thorough attention to detail on his part.

Despite arguments that could be made in relation to the principle of bdag nyid chen po, the implementation of “true self” in such a cavalier manner — in the title of an article where it isn’t even necessary no less — is a bit reckless in my opinion.

While I should take Elio’s advice from this article, that ”...most of the time the opinions we hold on to with great attachment are useless.” I’m still marginally concerned and am airing my grievances.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:15 am

It really seems like much ado about nothing, how different is it to use "True Self" vs. "True Nature"? I'm almost positive I've seen "True Nature" used in things in a similar or identical manner that you've never complained about, but I could be wrong. Seems perhaps you're finding an Advaitic conspiracy where none exists.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by climb-up » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:24 am

TWR uses “true self” often, as do at least a few other Buddhist teachers.

True self/true nature/etc. seems the same to me too.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:09 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:15 am
It really seems like much ado about nothing, how different is it to use "True Self" vs. "True Nature"? I'm almost positive I've seen "True Nature" used in things in a similar or identical manner that you've never complained about, but I could be wrong. Seems perhaps you're finding an Advaitic conspiracy where none exists.
It’s no doubt much ado about nothing, but so be it. Stating that “true self” and “true nature” are synonymous or carry the same connotation is a far stretch.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:54 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:09 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:15 am
It really seems like much ado about nothing, how different is it to use "True Self" vs. "True Nature"? I'm almost positive I've seen "True Nature" used in things in a similar or identical manner that you've never complained about, but I could be wrong. Seems perhaps you're finding an Advaitic conspiracy where none exists.
It’s no doubt much ado about nothing, but so be it. Stating that “true self” and “true nature” are synonymous or carry the same connotation is a far stretch.
I depends on context, in this context it in fact, does appear to mean the same thing. Unless you just think that Buddhist or Dzogchen teachers should make a point of never using "self", because you think the word itself (lol) is dangerous...then I don't really see the issue. The only way for an issue to arise if the teacher in question reifies "self' to a degree that they are no longer teaching Dharma, instead of simply using it as a stand in for "nature" or whatever. I don't understand your issues with the article.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Sherab Rigdrol » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:23 am

I hear you krodha. Self is a loaded word and not in a good way. There are plenty of words he could have used. Trye self just gives fuels to the perennealists.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:35 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:54 am
I don't understand your issues with the article.
I was clear from the beginning that I have no issue with the article itself.

I’m simply questioning Elio’s reoccurring habit of introducing non-Buddhist themes into his writings on Dzogchen. While at the same time questioning whether this activity accurately represents the intention of our late master.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:35 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:54 am
I don't understand your issues with the article.
I was clear from the beginning that I have no issue with the article itself.

I’m simply questioning Elio’s reoccurring habit of introducing non-Buddhist themes into his writings on Dzogchen. While at the same time questioning whether this activity accurately represents the intention of our late master.

Him using the term "self", and quoting Maharishi Ramana once is "introducing non-Buddhist themes"? Can you unpack that a little more please?

It seems more like some Buddhists have an unnecessarily reactive relationship with some English words, even when contextually they seem fine.

Beyond that, honestly, don't you think Rinpoche would have had something to say if he'd had this concern? Trying really hard to take this seriously, but having a hard time.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:58 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am
Him using the term "self", and quoting Maharishi Ramana once is "introducing non-Buddhist themes"? Can you unpack that please?
“True self” is the term used, which is predominantly non-Buddhist.

Ramana Maharshi is a teacher of Advaita Vedanta.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:04 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am
It seems more like some Buddhists have an unnecessarily reactive relationship with some English words, even when contextually they seem fine.
Possibly. However at the same time these principles are quite foreign, despite your insistence that they are mere synonyms for more common tenets.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am
Beyond that, honestly, don't you think Rinpoche would have had something to say if he'd had this concern? Trying really hard to take this seriously, but having a hard time.
Elio clarified that he did not get permission from Rinpoche to use the Ramana Maharshi quote, and that if he had the opportunity to go back in time and leave the quotation out, he would.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:09 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:04 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am
It seems more like some Buddhists have an unnecessarily reactive relationship with some English words, even when contextually they seem fine.
Possibly. However at the same time these principles are quite foreign, despite your insistence that they are mere synonyms for more common tenets.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am
Beyond that, honestly, don't you think Rinpoche would have had something to say if he'd had this concern? Trying really hard to take this seriously, but having a hard time.
Elio clarified that he did not get permission from Rinpoche to use the Ramana Maharshi quote, and that if he had the opportunity to go back in time and leave the quotation out, he would.
I'm still failing to see how he is "introducing non-Buddhist concepts" into anything, he's used a contentious term - and sure, we can debate the merit of that term for sure, but then the other thing you are complaining about, apparently he already walked back. You had no issue with the rest of the article, So really, what is the problem?

Additionally, while I think the "true self" thing can be loaded in some instances, Zen teachers have been talking in a similar manner for years, so while it might trigger the sirens of Vajrayana/Dzogchen-oriented practitioners, saying it is "non Buddhist" is debatable, not wrong, just debatable. While you might dislike "true self", and have legitimate issues with it's use, it is in fact used by other Buddhist teachers, so the assumption that it must be connected to a non-Buddhist doctrine is demonstrably incorrect.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:21 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:09 am
I'm really failing to see how he is "introducing non-Buddhist concepts" into anything, he's used a contentious term - and sure, we can debate the merit of that term for sure, but then the other thing you are complaining about, apparently he already walked back. You had no issue with the rest of the article, So really, what is the problem?
Again, the issue is that Elio, amongst other individuals are now the spokespeople for my teacher’s organization and are representing his legacy in the sense that they comprehend the subject matter and can effectively communicate Norbu Rinpoche’s view.

Notions of a “true self” completely deviate from ChNN’s teaching.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:09 am
Additionally, while I think the "true self" thing can be loaded in some instances, Zen teachers have been talking in a similar manner for years, so while it might trigger the sirens of Vajrayana/Dzogchen-oriented practitioners, saying it is "non Buddhist" is debatable, not wrong, just debatable.
Well it does indeed go against the grain in a Dzogchen context.

East Asian traditions were in further proximity from the climate of polemics that the Indians and Tibetans regularly encountered, and thus yes, are at times a bit more loose with their terminology and ideas.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:21 am

Again, the issue is that Elio, amongst other individuals are now the spokespeople for my teacher’s organization and are representing his legacy in the sense that they comprehend the subject matter and can effectively communicate Norbu Rinpoche’s view.

Notions of a “true self” completely deviate from ChNN’s teaching.
IDK, I think it's kind of not the best idea that so shortly after Rinpoches death you are publicly appointing yourself as a guardian of what he would or would not support, but that's up to you. Beyond that, what "notions" do you see in the article, other than your objection to a specific term?
East Asian traditions were in further proximity from the climate of polemics that the Indians and Tibetans regularly encountered, and thus yes, are at times a bit more loose with their terminology and ideas.
The point stands, saying that anything here is fundamentally "non-Buddhist" is your biases and experiences, not a reflection of the situation. Someone simply using the term "true self" a couple times is not the same as teaching of Buddha nature as a fundamental substance or something, there's a distinction.
Well it does indeed go against the grain in a Dzogchen context.
According to your understanding of Dzogchen. I can think of one Dzogchen teacher off the top of my head who uses the term occasionally, could probably think of more if I dug, and again, using a term once or twice is not the same as elucidating a concept of "Self" with a capital S... and so far you haven't convincingly demonstrated that the latter is going on here.

it's not that I don't get the concern, it just seems way overboard to me, given the article.

I can also think of a bunch of legitimized Buddhist terms that use "self", but which are understood contextually, I wonder why this is different.

e.g. Self-arisen primordial wisdom, self-perfected state etc. Anyone who has read some of the subject knows these aren't Advaita and understands them contextually, i don't understand why a few instances of "True Self" are any different, unless someone is actually teaching things contrary.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:40 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
IDK, I think it's kind of funny that so shortly after Rinpoches death you are publicly appointing yourself as a guardian of what he would or would not support,
I’m writing in a public Buddhist discussion forum, in the Dzogchen section. That is hardly “publicly appointing” myself. Don’t be rude.

Norbu Rinpoche had many opportunities to translate numerous terms as “true self” and never did.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
Beyond that, what "notions" do you see in the article, other than your objection to a specific term?
The article is generally just fine, as I’ve stated.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
The point stands, saying that anything here is fundamentally "non-Buddhist" is your biases and experiences, not a reflection of the situation.
A “true self” is not a concept used in Dzogchen.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
Someone simply using the term "true self" is not the same as teaching of Buddha nature as a fundamental substance or something, there's a distinction.
I would disagree but to each their own.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
According to your understanding of Dzogchen
Not my own understanding, according to the teaching itself, which adamantly rejects all notions of a self.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:28 am
I can think of Dzogchen teacher off the top of my head who uses the term occasionally, and again, using a term once or twice is not the same as elucidating a concept, and so far you haven't demonstrated that the latter is going on here.
Again I disagree with the use of the term, and the author in question is a bit of a repeat offender.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:44 am

Not my own understanding, according to the teaching itself, which adamantly rejects all notions of a self
Again, there are other Dzogchen teachers who have used the term, say nothing of Tibetan teachers generally, context is everything, asnd using the term doesn't suddenly make someone an Advaitin.

While I think this is absolutely silly, i'll let the thread continue if it generates something productive, but IMO given the recent requests regarding behavior, it's pretty borderline.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:57 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:44 am
Again, there are other Dzogchen teachers who have used the term,
My teacher did not. None of my teachers have. I’ve really never encountered any Dzogchen teachers who use the term, and I’ve been interacting with individuals who would love fodder of that nature to substantiate their colorful predilections for nearly a decade.

If it exists, it is exceptionally rare.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:44 am
say nothing of Tibetan teachers generally, context is everything, asnd using the term doesn't suddenly make someone an Advaitin.
At no point in this discussion did I assert it makes someone an “Advaitin,” I simply said it is potentially misleading, and misrepresentative of the teacher and legacy said author is writing on behalf of.

As for the rest of what you said, very well.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:20 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:44 am
While I think this is absolutely silly, i'll let the thread continue if it generates something productive, but IMO given the recent requests regarding behavior, it's pretty borderline.
The thread is absolutely silly, and the timing is very bad.
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by Grigoris » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:46 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:57 am
If it exists, it is exceptionally rare.
Not in Shengtong literature it isn't. There it is basically an epithet for Buddha Nature / Tathagatagarbha.

Why don't you contact Elio and ask him about his use of the term?
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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:52 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:20 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:44 am
While I think this is absolutely silly, i'll let the thread continue if it generates something productive, but IMO given the recent requests regarding behavior, it's pretty borderline.
The thread is absolutely silly, and the timing is very bad.
“Silly” is not a valid assessment or critique. If you have an issue with the subject matter then at least attempt to use your words an explain your opinion like our friend Johnny did.

As for the timing, that is what prompted concern in the first place.

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Re: Merging With The True Self While Dying by Elio Guarisco: Why?

Post by krodha » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:57 am

Grigoris wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:46 am
krodha wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:57 am
If it exists, it is exceptionally rare.
Not in Shengtong literature it isn't. There it is basically an epithet for Buddha Nature / Tathagatagarbha.
Gzhan stong rhetoric has nothing to do with Dzogchen. And no Indian tathāgatagarbha literature ever used the term “true self” [satyātman].
Grigoris wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:46 am
Why don't you contact Elio and ask him about his use of the term?
I appreciate Elio’s contributions in terms of translations etc., but I’m not at all interested in why he harbors an affinity for tirthika type verbiage and ideas in general.

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