Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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dudette
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Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by dudette » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:52 pm

So I am Theravada Buddhists, and recently I went to meditation center for Tibetan Buddhists (The diamond way which is westernized form of Kagyu).
When I was in this meditation center, couple of guys started explaining the Tibetan form of Buddhism, and for some reason we went into this weird territory of Buddhism, and the language and philosophy was just a copy of Hinduism.

Don't misunderstand me, but in Theravada Buddhism, we have doctrine of anatman (there is no Atman); furthermore, we have doctrine of two truths which state that on one level we have this sensual world, but in deeper reality there is only emptiness because everything is continuously changing, and nothing is eternal or unchanging.

However, the claimed that in Tibetan Buddhism, the self/mind is eternal and non-changing (like in Hinduism, there is eternal atman); furthermore, they argue that according to Tibetan Buddhism there are two truths, but they are referring to the idea that on one level there is the sensual world, but in deeper reality there is the "universal self/mind which is everywhere and in everything" which is eternal and non-changing (like in Hinduism, there is eternal brahman). Furthermore, they continued that in order to achieve enlightenment the self/mind has to reunite with the universal self/mind (this concept is in Hinduism, the atman has to reunite or realize brahman).

What tha hell are they talking about? I have never heard this kind of ideology/philosophy in Buddhism (Theravada and Mahayana), but only in Hinduism.
They did not use the words atman or brahman, but they were using words such as "eternal and unchanging mind/self" and "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything".

Does anyone of you know what they are talking about? Is this actually Tibetan Buddhism?
Is it possible that they have misunderstood some concepts in Tibetan Buddhism? If so which concepts they have misunderstood, and what they were trying to refer to by saying "eternal and unchanging mind/self", "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything" and "in order to achieve enlightenment the self/mind has to reunite with the universal self/mind"?

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Grigoris
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:53 pm

dudette wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:52 pm
So I am Theravada Buddhists, and recently I went to meditation center for Tibetan Buddhists (The diamond way which is westernized form of Kagyu).
When I was in this meditation center, couple of guys started explaining the Tibetan form of Buddhism, and for some reason we went into this weird territory of Buddhism, and the language and philosophy was just a copy of Hinduism.

Don't misunderstand me, but in Theravada Buddhism, we have doctrine of anatman (there is no Atman); furthermore, we have doctrine of two truths which state that on one level we have this sensual world, but in deeper reality there is only emptiness because everything is continuously changing, and nothing is eternal or unchanging.

However, the claimed that in Tibetan Buddhism, the self/mind is eternal and non-changing (like in Hinduism, there is eternal atman); furthermore, they argue that according to Tibetan Buddhism there are two truths, but they are referring to the idea that on one level there is the sensual world, but in deeper reality there is the "universal self/mind which is everywhere and in everything" which is eternal and non-changing (like in Hinduism, there is eternal brahman). Furthermore, they continued that in order to achieve enlightenment the self/mind has to reunite with the universal self/mind (this concept is in Hinduism, the atman has to reunite or realize brahman).

What tha hell are they talking about? I have never heard this kind of ideology/philosophy in Buddhism (Theravada and Mahayana), but only in Hinduism.
They did not use the words atman or brahman, but they were using words such as "eternal and unchanging mind/self" and "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything".

Does anyone of you know what they are talking about? Is this actually Tibetan Buddhism?
Is it possible that they have misunderstood some concepts in Tibetan Buddhism? If so which concepts they have misunderstood, and what they were trying to refer to by saying "eternal and unchanging mind/self", "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything" and "in order to achieve enlightenment the self/mind has to reunite with the universal self/mind"?
I have been practicing in the Karma Kagyu for over a decade and I can assure you that there is no Brahman and Atman in Kagyu doctrine. There is no eternal and unchanging mind.
"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

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:07 pm

It’s obviously a hot topic, but there is a Tibetan interpretation of what constitutes “Buddha Nature” that appears to mimic Hindu views.

In general, Therevadans think Vajrayana is Buddhism that has been contaminated and corrupted by Hinduism. If that’s how you see things that says to me you’re karmically best suited for Therevadan practice.

There’s a sister website for that group of people called “dhammawheel.net”. It is owned by the same man that owns this website. But issues like this makes it necessary for them to have their own forum. If you go there they will be more than happy to give you more information on the subject.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

dudette
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by dudette » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:13 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:53 pm
I have been practicing in the Karma Kagyu for over a decade and I can assure you that there is no Brahman and Atman in Kagyu doctrine. There is no eternal and unchanging mind.
But then do you know or have any idea what they are referring to by saying "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything", and other things which I have mentioned?

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:33 pm

PM
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Grigoris
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:35 pm

dudette wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:13 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:53 pm
I have been practicing in the Karma Kagyu for over a decade and I can assure you that there is no Brahman and Atman in Kagyu doctrine. There is no eternal and unchanging mind.
But then do you know or have any idea what they are referring to by saying "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything", and other things which I have mentioned?
There is no Universal Mind in Tibetan Buddhism. There are universal characteristics of enlightened "mind", but there is no Universal Mind.
"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

Rinchen Samphel
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Rinchen Samphel » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:58 pm

dudette wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:52 pm
Is it possible that they have misunderstood some concepts in Tibetan Buddhism?
If so which concepts they have misunderstood, and what they were trying to refer to by saying "eternal and unchanging mind/self", "eternal and unchanging universal mind/self which is everywhere and in everything" and "in order to achieve enlightenment the self/mind has to reunite with the universal self/mind"?
I wouldnt say, based on this, that they have misunderstood some concepts, instead it seems they have blatently denied some fundamental Buddhist philosophy.

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:41 pm

Since this is in the Kagyu forum it is appropriate to reference Kagyu authorities.

Book 1 of Kongtrul's "Treasury of Knowledge" is concerned with cosmology. it starts with the crudest and goes up to the most sophisticated. So it starts with Mr. Meru, then Kalachakra (with the introduction of Shambhala), and ends up at the Dzogchen view of the universe.

p.204:
What is the fundamental nature of the original, primordial ground of being before Buddhas appear by realizing it and before sentient singh appear by not realizing it? To answer this the tradition fo the Great Perfection states that...
(highlighting mine)
And then it goes on to correct the lower views of the ground.

I must admit that I only have a lower division college reading level, so I don't totally understand what comes next, but the premise of the question is clear; there is an Ultimate Reality that is NOT the minds of Buddhas or sentient beings. If somebody with a better education wants to look at it and explain the next six defective understandings of "the ground", please feel free to contribute. However please do so from the understanding that Kongtrul was an unapologetic Shentongpa.

Does that make the ground "an Ultimate Mind"? Well, it does have the the attributes of love, wisdom, and freedom. So we get into a semantics debate.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Grigoris
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:46 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:41 pm
Since this is in the Kagyu forum it is appropriate to reference Kagyu authorities.

Book 1 of Kongtrul's "Treasury of Knowledge" is concerned with cosmology. it starts with the crudest and goes up to the most sophisticated. So it starts with Mr. Meru, then Kalachakra (with the introduction of Shambhala), and ends up at the Dzogchen view of the universe.

p.204:
What is the fundamental nature of the original, primordial ground of being before Buddhas appear by realizing it and before sentient singh appear by not realizing it? To answer this the tradition fo the Great Perfection states that...
(highlighting mine)
And then it goes on to correct the lower views of the ground.

I must admit that I only have a lower division college reading level, so I don't totally understand what comes next, but the premise of the question is clear; there is an Ultimate Reality that is NOT the minds of Buddhas or sentient beings. If somebody with a better education wants to look at it and explain the next six defective understandings of "the ground", please feel free to contribute. However please do so from the understanding that Kongtrul was an unapologetic Shentongpa.

Does that make the ground "an Ultimate Mind"? Well, it does have the the attributes of love, wisdom, and freedom. So we get into a semantics debate.
You would have to give the rest of the passage before jumping to a conclusion like that. What does the Great Perfection state according to Kongtrul?
"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

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:06 pm

You would have to give the rest of the passage before jumping to a conclusion like that. What does the Great Perfection state according to Kongtrul?
That's a LOT of typing to do. It's several pages. Plus I don't really understand it.

Give me some time. If I get bored I'll try to tackle it. Probably won't happen today.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Rick
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Rick » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:15 pm

Here's the entire passage:
[II.B.3.b.ii.B' .1 ']

Proof that Six Grounds of Being, as Believed from Partial Perspectives, are Mistaken
Six [claims] concerning the fundamental nature of the
original ground are mistaken.
What is the fundamental nature of the original, primordial
ground of being, before buddhas appear by realizing it and
before sentient beings appear by not realizing it? To answer
this, the tradition of Great Perfection states that six claims
concerning the ground based on the perspectives of persons who
adhere to philosophical tenets are mistaken: the claim that [the
ground] is (1) spontaneous; or (2) indeterminate; or (3) determinate;
or (4) transmutable into anything; or (5) can be defined
in any possible way; or (6) that it is manifold and multifaceted.

These six impressions of the ground are erroneous in that they
are partial descriptions of the ground. The reasons for their
erroneousness is as follows:

(1) The claim that [the ground of being] is spontaneous is
mistaken because if both faults and qualities existed primordially
in the ground, their presence would contradict primordial
purity. Furthermore, such a ground would constitute an unsuitable
basis for the practice of a path [to freedom], and even
if practice were undertaken, freedom would be an unsuitable
goal.

(2) The claim that [the ground] is indeterminate is mistaken
because if the ground were indeterminate, it would become
whatever it is intellectually designated to be, leading to the
illogical conclusion that deception might be experienced even
after freedom has been attained.

(3) The assertion that [the ground] is determinate is mistaken
because [if this were the case], the ground would be unchange-
able, which implies that the stains of unawareness could never
be purified.

(4) The assertion that [the ground] can change into anything
whatsoever is mistaken because the ground would not be
permanent; the result (freedom) could therefore turn again into a
cause [of cyclic life].

(5) The assertion that [the ground] can be defined in any possible
way is mistaken because if phenomena are infinite, the
ground would also be infinite. [If this were the case,] one would
have to assert the ground to be either permanent or terminated.

(6) The assertion that [the ground] is manifold is mistaken
because such a ground would be unsuitable as the basis for
authentic freedom, since a ground related to many thought
constructs cannot be a primordially pure ground.

These six impressions, each in its own way, are erroneous in
that they give one-sided views of the ground. Thus, they do
not provide adequate descriptions of the "ground of being,"
permitting only a partial comprehension of the fundamental
nature of the ground.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 pm

Here's the entire passage:
First of all, thanks for saving me from a chore. But that's not the entire passage. It's just the beginning where his lists the incorrect understandings. The next few pages are where he addresses and corrects those misunderstandings.

Please feel free to do a more complete cut & paste. Let's see if anybody really reads it.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Rick
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Rick » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:43 pm

Oi ... that's alotta cutting and pasting and reformatting!

Which I'll happily do ... IF it's kosher (legal) to post such a long passage in the forum.

Grigoris, what does your moderatorly expertise say about this?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Astus » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:53 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:41 pm
Since this is in the Kagyu forum it is appropriate to reference Kagyu authorities.
See chapter 20 of Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Primordial wisdom (or "pristine awareness" in Holmes' translation) is twofold in nature: ultimate and conventional. The ultimate is non-conceptual, free from elaboration, so it is very much pointless to try to categorise it as something. The conventional is how all appearances are seen as illusory.
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"

smcj
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:56 pm

Hey, I personally am satisfied with the premise of the question. The discussion is about what the Dzogchen basis is like sans Buddhas and sentient beings. Kongtrul obviously was making the point he wasn’t talking about a being’s mind—either sentient or enlightened.
See chapter 20 of Jewel Ornament of Liberation
Gompopa was writing before Dolpopa. It was HH Karmapa III that brought Shentong into the Karma Kagyu lineage.

However even Gompopa stressed the teachings on Buddha Nature. If I’m not mistaken he starts the JOoL with a chapter on Buddha Nature, even before the 4 Thoughts. So I see JOoL as a precursor to later KK Shentong view.

Post HH Karmapa III various Karmapas and lineage holders weighed in on the subject and gave their own personal spin on it. Brunnholzl has a whole section of "When Clouds Part" dedicated to a few paragraphs to how a number of Karma Kagyu lineage holders saw the issue. Some of the things they had to say were quite eyebrow raising. For instance, HH Karmapa VIII said that since Buddha Nature was empty of anything other than purity, that meant that sentient beings were exactly what Buddha Nature was not. Therefore you could not say that sentient beings either were or had Buddha Nature. That is 180 degrees away from the whole original intent of Asanga and Vasagandhu. Pretty weird if you ask me.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Grigoris
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:36 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 pm
Here's the entire passage:
First of all, thanks for saving me from a chore. But that's not the entire passage. It's just the beginning where his lists the incorrect understandings. The next few pages are where he addresses and corrects those misunderstandings.

Please feel free to do a more complete cut & paste. Let's see if anybody really reads it.
I read it and it seems to me to be nothing more than Madhyamaka in Dzogchen drag (though I admit I am no expert).

Why don't you post the bits that you believe support your idea of a Universal Mind?
"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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Grigoris
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:41 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:56 pm
For instance, HH Karmapa VIII said that since Buddha Nature was empty of anything other than purity, that meant that sentient beings were exactly what Buddha Nature was not. Therefore you could not say that sentient beings either were or had Buddha Nature.
That is going to need a quote or citation. ;)

This statement also means that sentient beings cannot achieve liberation. Or that they are already enlightened.

We know both of these claims don't hold any water.
"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

smcj
Posts: 6310
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:48 pm

Why don't you post the bits that you believe support your idea of a Universal Mind?
I’m not arguing for a Universal Mind per se. I am putting forward the idea of a transcendent or primordial (depending on how you want to talk about it) substratum. Since this substratum has the qualities of love, wisdom and freedom you could spin it that way. But I’m not suggesting that.
That is going to need a quote or citation. ;)

This statement also means that sentient beings cannot achieve liberation. Or that they are already enlightened.

We know both of these claims don't hold any water.
I’ll have to find it. That’s going to be a chore. But when I find it I’ll bookm it so I can access it next time. It’s pretty outrageous.

Anyway the point being that there’s many possible interpretations and not all of them are going to fit into our preconceived ideas.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:52 pm

You could definitely spin that portion of Myriad Worlds as being shentong-ish. I love that book by the way, I found it one of the most profound things I've read in years.

It's another question as to whether or not Shentong is Advaita. I would argue that it is not, I'll repeat what I said in the last conversation on this topic: It's a big mistake to take fragments of Buddhism and say they are "the same" as another philosophy without putting them in their practice context, simply because they resemble one another on paper incidentally.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Seeker12 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:52 pm

dudette wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:52 pm
...The diamond way which is westernized form of Kagyu...
FWIW, I have a fairly extensive history with DW and in all honesty, I have found that many of the public talks done at various centers are fairly low quality and from people who don't really know what they are saying. I have attended a talk, for example, where the person got the 4 noble truths wrong, and in general there's a lot of sort of 'internal' language used that is basically seemingly repeated without much understanding.

Take that as you will, FWIW.
Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.

Uttaratantra Shastra

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