Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

muni
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by muni »

The Great Master Shantarakshita and Mind Only Middle Way
“The great Shantarakshita incorporated this Mind Only view of conventional reality in the Yogachara Madhyamaka school, which therefore describes relative reality in precisely the same manner as the Mind Only school. On the absolute level, however, Madhyamaka describes everything as empty. Even mind itself it seen to be empty and devoid of inherent self-existence.
Shantarakshita united these two profound philosophical systems—the Yogachara view of conventional reality and the Madhyamaka view of absolute truth—without any hardship or contradiction. To summarize, on the relative level, everything is a display of mind; on the absolute level, everything is completely beyond all characteristics and complexity.
In the Madhyamakalankara, Khenchen Bodhisattva himself describes the Yogachara Madhyamaka school as “riding the chariot of two great philosophical systems, holding the reins of logic and reasoning.” And what are these two great chariots? They are the profound Madhyamaka system of Nagarjuna and the vast philosophical system of Asanga and Vasubandhu combined together in a single state of practice. Based upon this profound system of logic and reason— applied in meditation—we will proceed directly to the perfect state of buddhahood.”
https://www.padmasambhava.org/2019/03/t ... iddle-way/
The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set out within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way. Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
All dharma abide in mind mind abide in space space abides nowhere. Master La.
https://samyeinstitute.org/philosophy/w ... -concepts/
Simon E.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Simon E. »

No Greg. I believe that conflation of doctrine is unlikely to be 'dissolved by practice' per se.

It might be the case that following particular practices to their respective ends, properly guided by a qualified hands-on teacher leads to a similar place.

But asserting similarity because we have a penchant for 'unity', cannot substitute for actually following given teachings in a disciplined way under fleshworld, hands-on, guidance.

The criterion must always be that we are consistent to a model under guidance.
Not that we are superficially adept at seeing commonalities in the abstract, by cognitive effort.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Since this is a Kagyu thread, we can mention that KTG says in Stages of Meditation on Emptiness that Buddhist philosophical schools are simply praxis.

Ao there is no real need for us to 'unify' them as such, only to make skillful use of them.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:52 pm Since this is a Kagyu thread, we can mention that KTG says in Stages of Meditation on Emptiness that Buddhist philosophical schools are simply praxis.

Ao there is no real need for us to 'unify' them as such, only to make skillful use of them.
Different views are appropriate for people with different karmas. As KTGR says in "Progressive Stages" (p.67), all Mahayana schools claim to be able to sit in uncontrived emptiness. If a school produces even one enlightened practitioner, that is the taste of the pudding that is the only required proof for the validity of their tradition.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris »

Simon E. wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:42 pm No Greg. I believe that conflation of doctrine is unlikely to be 'dissolved by practice' per se.
You don't think that realisation gained via practice dissolves conceptual proliferation and confusion?
"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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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Simon E. »

I suspect that realisation does do that Greg.

But I also suspect that a conflation of doctrines leads to prapanca and not to practice.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Simon E. wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:16 pm I suspect that realisation does do that Greg.

But I also suspect that a conflation of doctrines leads to prapanca and not to practice.
AFAIC being able to accept the different schools is actually a part of practicing in the Tibetan traditions, being that many lineages make use of all the philosophical schools. This is practically axiomatic in the Tibetan traditions, with certain lineages preferencing certain definitive interpretations of course. So, I don't really see how that's anything like "conflating" doctrines.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Grigoris »

Simon E. wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:16 pm I suspect that realisation does do that Greg.

But I also suspect that a conflation of doctrines leads to prapanca and not to practice.
So Rime practitioners, for example, are merely engaging in prapanca?

The 3rd Karmapa Ranjung Dorje?

Etc...
"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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Simon E. »

I would say that it is possible, even necessary to accept the teachings of different schools, and even honour those schools, while at the same time dedicating one's practice time to only one of them.
I don't claim to speak for anyone else, but doing justice to the teachings of one school of the Vajrayana takes all I have..and then some.

This is a practical matter for me. Not triumphalism.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Simon E. wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:59 pm I would say that it is possible, even necessary to accept the teachings of different schools, and even honour those schools, while at the same time dedicating one's practice time to only one of them.
I don't claim to speak for anyone else, but doing justice to the teachings of one school of the Vajrayana takes all I have..and then some.

This is a practical matter for me. Not triumphalism.
Who do you know who practices "only Madhyamaka" or something similar in the Vajrayana world?

Every teacher I've had (both at the Vajrayana and Sutra/Mahayana level) teaches the different philosophical systems as part of their praxis, but never really adheres to one as "only" correct one. My Sakya teachers for instance, in terms of philosophy prefer Madhyamaka, but have told me that a meditator really needs to 'get' the premise of Yogacara.

In short, in Vajrayana and Dzogchen I've seen philosophical systems presented as the map, but not the territory.

So sticking to Vajrayana is not really the thing at issue in this thread, or at least it did not seem to be for the last few posts. It seems rather we were talking about the position of different philosophical points of view within Vajrayana.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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PeterC
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by PeterC »

Grigoris wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:32 pm
Simon E. wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:16 pm I suspect that realisation does do that Greg.

But I also suspect that a conflation of doctrines leads to prapanca and not to practice.
So Rime practitioners, for example, are merely engaging in prapanca?

The 3rd Karmapa Ranjung Dorje?

Etc...
I don’t think the study of multiple tenet systems is necessarily prapanca. You might be doing it to counter specific wrong views or tendencies that you hold; they might be tied up with a specific practice cycle (eg you’re studying a commentary on Kalacakra); you might be a very great practitioner writing a commentary to help confused people like ourselves. The Rime masters fell into the third and sometimes second categories.

Doing it as an intellectual exercise when you could be practising, and when you have no particular impediment to practice that you need to remove, however, probably is prapanca. Looking for some synthesis of Buddhist and non-Buddhist views, particularly where the latter doesn’t accept shunyata, is almost always prapanca. Might be fun, but serves no purpose.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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I think the one that’s most important to study is the Shravakayana “no self”. It’s the one the gets you to look at your own being from a different perspective.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

One of the things I've been trying to point out in this thread is that there is no such thing as a pure or 'non-conflated' form of Madhyamaka or Yogacara; the domain of discourse on these matters simply entails dialogues/dialectics across Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions.

i.e. Nagarjuna accepts a lot of Sarvastivadan Abhidharma but refutes the central root of its metaphysics. One simply can't understand Nagarjuna without understanding this dialectical quality - the actual arguments which establish emptiness depend on their being a prior set of views about qualities inherent in things.
Think about the very meaning of 'prasangika': one who does not assert any position oneself. Therefore, one can only understand Prasangika Madhyamaka if one first understands the positions of those who are being refuted/shown as untenable. So if one says "I don't need to know Samkhya in order to get Chandrakirti" then one is basically saying "I get the arguments about causation without knowing either the predicates or the conclusions." This to me is the real meaning of prapanca - a refusal to actually engage with the meaning of the discourse that one otherwise proclaims to be profound.

Now sure, one can obsess and proliferate on worthless matters, conflating doctrines or thinking for the sake of it. But this is very distinct from a sincere and genuine engagement with the most profound thinkers that Buddhism has produced - all of which entails dialectics. The very logic of emptiness induces us into this approach, because there cannot be any grounds or foundations from which we can proceed on first principles.

Final point: Kagyu Mahamudra is unthinkable and unrecognisable without all that. It depends on the Buddha, Nagarjuna and Asanga as much as it does on pointing out instructions.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Kagyu Mahamudra is unthinkable and unrecognisable without all that.
Well, yes and no. I live with a dozen 3 year retreat graduates and a good number of them were never schooled in this stuff. Others were schooled in it, with some getting schooled after retreat. And even the ones that heard KTGR personally teach probably couldn’t have understood what has been discussed in this thread.

That being said, I don’t have a great deal of confidence that any of them have mastered Mahamudra either. So maybe they should have been better educated about it.

:shrug:
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

smcj wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:03 am
Kagyu Mahamudra is unthinkable and unrecognisable without all that.
Well, yes and no. I live with a dozen 3 year retreat graduates and a good number of them were never schooled in this stuff. Others were schooled in it, with some getting schooled after retreat. And even the ones that heard KTGR personally teach probably couldn’t have understood what has been discussed in this thread.

That being said, I don’t have a great deal of confidence that any of them have mastered Mahamudra either. So maybe they should have been better educated about it.

:shrug:
One could consider Tilopa here, or someone like Sukasiddhi - transmission can simply occur in auspicious circumstances. But also Naropa and Gampopa - would either have been in a position to receive the transmission without knowing that they had to go beyond their prior knowledge?

It's usually both.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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PeterC wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:52 amLooking for some synthesis of Buddhist and non-Buddhist views, particularly where the latter doesn’t accept shunyata, is almost always prapanca. Might be fun, but serves no purpose.
But we are talking about Shentong here, a Buddhist view.

I also believe that when it comes to the realm of relative truth, especially ethical issues, the synthesis of views is invaluable. Consider HHDL's praise of Gandhian Ahimsa, or Chinese Buddhists adoption of Confucian values, or Thai adoption of the Ramayana, etc...

Then there is the issue of religious syncretism. What would Tibetan Vajrayana be without Bon and Persian influence? Indian Tantra without "Hindu" influence? Japanese Zen without Shinto? etc...

There is no purity when it comes to ideology. I believe that Hegel's concept of dialectics is actually one of the best models explaining the development of thought/practice (secular and religious).
"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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by PeterC »

Grigoris wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:11 am
PeterC wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:52 amLooking for some synthesis of Buddhist and non-Buddhist views, particularly where the latter doesn’t accept shunyata, is almost always prapanca. Might be fun, but serves no purpose.
But we are talking about Shentong here, a Buddhist view.
Yes, but you have people on this board (and this thread) who persist in arguing that if we want to study mahamadhyamaka we also need to study vedanta, islam, mormonism, pastafarianism, whatever. Of course you *can* study these things: the issue is whether it's a good use of your time

I also believe that when it comes to the realm of relative truth, especially ethical issues, the synthesis of views is invaluable. Consider HHDL's praise of Gandhian Ahimsa, or Chinese Buddhists adoption of Confucian values, or Thai adoption of the Ramayana, etc...
I don't think there's any particular harm in studying other ethical systems - or that the Buddhadharma ever claimed to have a monopoly on knowledge of ethics. However: that's quite different from topics like shunyata and tathagatagharba, brahman/atman, etc.

Then there is the issue of religious syncretism. What would Tibetan Vajrayana be without Bon and Persian influence? Indian Tantra without "Hindu" influence? Japanese Zen without Shinto? etc...
That does play a major role in making the Dharma accessible to those cultures. It's not just cultural window-dressing. It's clear that the Dharma did get repackaged a little each time it went into a new country. But it's the bottle, not the wine.

There is no purity when it comes to ideology. I believe that Hegel's concept of dialectics is actually one of the best models explaining the development of thought/practice (secular and religious).
Agree. The question is whether we need to be engaging in Buddhist/non-Buddhist synthesis of our own. Unless my understanding was on a par with Nagarjuna or Asanga, it would be very presumptuous of me to do it.

I mentioned above the book on Khenpo Gangshar's text where he talks about the path of the pandita and the path of the kusulu: he's in no way putting down the path of the pandita, just explaining that one doesn't have to read a library of philosophy to be a successful practitioner.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by smcj »

The question is whether we need to be engaging in Buddhist/non-Buddhist synthesis of our own.
If that is the question that answer is no. I’ve not done it here.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Simon E. »

What I think I see and I am open to being proved wrong, is a small number of posters who start from an idealised universalist position and then look for confirmation in Buddhist texts.

I can easily imagine those posters making exactly the same points on a Vedantic forum while constantly asserting an affinity between Vedanta and Buddhadharma from the other direction.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

Pulled from ye olde Malcom thread. I am not one who usually leans on his authority, but by any measure his knowledge of Buddhist philosophy was very admirable:

Malcolm wrote:
I once forced Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso to admit (I have a witness, incidentally) that there was no substantial difference between Advaita Vedanta and Gzhan stong in terms of how they presented their view. His only response was a sectarian polemic "But there is no buddhahood in Vedanta!" Now, mind you, I am not saying that there is such a thing. But when you study these texts, you come to realize, even as Bhavaviveka and Shantaraksita both observed, that language of Advaita and the language of Madhyamaka are more or less identical. Shantaraksita complains in his Tattvasiddhi to the effect "If you accept the nature of things is non-arising, why do you not become Buddhist!?"

Now, again, I am not saying that if you practice Advaita you will become a buddha -- I honestly do not know. But I am saying that when you study these things, philosophically, at any rate, it is very hard to show the difference between Advaita and Madhyamaka. The main difference between them is that Hindus accept the Vedas as self-originated and Buddhists do not.

Malcolm wrote:
All conditioned phenomena are impermanent.
All afflicted phenomena are suffering
All phenomena lack identity
Nirvana is bliss.

You can find these four seals in Advaita Vedanta as well. Just substitute brahman for nirvana and you have a perfect match. It is very hard to differentiate brahman from nirvana. Really, go ahead and try.


What I see on this thead is a few people recognising what is quite obviously there in the texts and traditions, and some people ruling this out whilst refusing even the merest scent of an argument or textual engagement.
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