Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

stevie
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by stevie »

smcj wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 6:45 pm
what can neither be experienced nor inferred is truly unknowable
The premise in Buddhism is that the Ultimate can be experienced. Therefore it’s not a mystery—except to those that haven’t had the experience.
Depends on how Kagyu buddhism defines "experience" ... other buddhisms may not agree but that's irrelevant in the Kagyu forum.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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It’s timely to recall here the differentiation of ‘experience’ from ‘realisation’.

‘Experience’ is a transitive verb, i.e. ‘I experience it’. So experience of anything is subtly dualistic. Experience actually strengthens the sense of self - ‘I have had this experience’ - and also of craving - ‘that is an experience I want to have’.

Realisation is of a different order. That is why it has to be approached through negation or un-knowing.

One place I have seen this spelled out is in Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche’s book Luminous Bliss (a.k.a. Mind at Ease, which incidentally is about Mahamudra):
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche wrote:In Buddhism, we distinguish between spiritual experiences and spiritual realizations. Spiritual experiences are usually more vivid and intense than realizations because they are generally accompanied by physiological and psychological changes. Realizations, on the other hand, may be felt, but the experience is less pronounced. Realization is about acquiring insight. Therefore, while realizations arise out of our spiritual experiences, they are not identical to them. Spiritual realizations are considered vastly more important because they cannot fluctuate.

The distinction between spiritual experiences and realizations is continually emphasized in Buddhist thought. If we avoid excessively fixating on our experiences, we will be under less stress in our practice. Without that stress, we will be better able to cope with whatever arises, the possibility of suffering from psychic disturbances will be greatly reduced, and we will notice a significant shift in the fundamental texture of our experience.
Letting Go of Spiritual Experience.

To help make sense of that, consider the description of dhyana states, such as ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. Are such states ‘experiences’? I have never entered such a state, but it seems to me that what is implied by the description is the cessation of just the sense of an experiencing self.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
stevie
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Wayfarer wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:45 pm ‘Experience’ is a transitive verb, i.e. ‘I experience it’. So experience of anything is subtly dualistic. Experience actually strengthens the sense of self - ‘I have had this eexperience’ - and also of craving - ‘that is an experience I want to have’.
...
To help make sense of that, consider the description of dhyana states, such as ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. Are such states ‘experiences’? I have never entered such a state, but it seems to me that what is implied by the description is the cessation of just the sense of an experiencing self.
That's nicely expressed. Not knowing the Kagyu view, based on my experience (!!!) I would say that 'experience' (of perception or an ultimate or whatever) is based on affirmation of 'I, my, mine'. And since 'I, my, mine' is not established ultimately, an ultimate cannot be experienced. If an ultimate could be experienced then it could be validly expressed as being this or that. Of course there are expressions of alleged ultimates as this or that but I do not think that these are valid expressions.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Wayfarer wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:45 pm It’s timely to recall here the differentiation of ‘experience’ from ‘realisation’.

‘Experience’ is a transitive verb, i.e. ‘I experience it’. So experience of anything is subtly dualistic. Experience actually strengthens the sense of self - ‘I have had this experience’ - and also of craving - ‘that is an experience I want to have’.

Realisation is of a different order. That is why it has to be approached through negation or un-knowing.

One place I have seen this spelled out is in Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche’s book Luminous Bliss (a.k.a. Mind at Ease, which incidentally is about Mahamudra):
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche wrote:In Buddhism, we distinguish between spiritual experiences and spiritual realizations. Spiritual experiences are usually more vivid and intense than realizations because they are generally accompanied by physiological and psychological changes. Realizations, on the other hand, may be felt, but the experience is less pronounced. Realization is about acquiring insight. Therefore, while realizations arise out of our spiritual experiences, they are not identical to them. Spiritual realizations are considered vastly more important because they cannot fluctuate.

The distinction between spiritual experiences and realizations is continually emphasized in Buddhist thought. If we avoid excessively fixating on our experiences, we will be under less stress in our practice. Without that stress, we will be better able to cope with whatever arises, the possibility of suffering from psychic disturbances will be greatly reduced, and we will notice a significant shift in the fundamental texture of our experience.
Letting Go of Spiritual Experience.

To help make sense of that, consider the description of dhyana states, such as ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. Are such states ‘experiences’? I have never entered such a state, but it seems to me that what is implied by the description is the cessation of just the sense of an experiencing self.
Seems to me that a Buddha would experience a sense of self (before their Mahaparinirvana), but they would not identify that experience as having any stable core. They would realise that it is dependently originated. Like all their experiences and sensations.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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The Buddha wrote:Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea.
MN 72 Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Rick
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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stevie wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:58 pm
Rick wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:44 pm .... But they did, and their word is taken as literal truth in Vedanta.
That's strange and totally alien to my native culture. That's why buddhism appears more familiar in the sphere of my experience..
It's strange and quite alien to me also ... although I did grow up with something similar in Catholicism. Which is why I worked hard to settle on a 'personal' understanding of brahman that doesn't depend 100% on scripture.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

To cut to the chase here, is the fundamental Buddhist assertion on Vedantic realisation something like this: "it is not liberation, it is merely (something like) the 4th Jhana (or equivalent) and a therefore a cause for further rebirth?"

If so, how is this a. known? b. established?

How can we be so sure we Buddhists are not just expressing semantic polemics and fair bit of hubris?

Which is not to say we ought to sign up for all the Vedantic claims, or some kind of perennial view in which important distinctions are collapsed.

But why not leave a space for: we don't actually know, and it doesn't particularly matter that we don't know.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

But why not leave a space for: we don't actually know, and it doesn't particularly matter that we don't know.
That works for me!

But you can also add in “I don’t care” ’cause I like my buddhist practice.
:tongue:
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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tobes wrote: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:00 am ... we don't actually know ...
Rack em!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

smcj wrote: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:19 am
But why not leave a space for: we don't actually know, and it doesn't particularly matter that we don't know.
That works for me!

But you can also add in “I don’t care” ’cause I like my buddhist practice.
:tongue:
True in my case as well.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Wayfarer wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:45 pmIt’s timely to recall here the differentiation of ‘experience’ from ‘realisation’.
There are two generally recognised sources of knowledge (pramana): perception (pratyaksa) and inference (anumana). When it comes to scriptural sources (sabda), it can be used only where there is agreement between the debaters on what constitutes accepted works, therefore in arguments between very distinct systems (like Vedanta and Buddhism) it is practically useless. As for ascertaining the ultimate truth, it is called yogic perception (yogapratyaksa), attained on the path of seeing (darsanamarga), and for Kagyupas it is the introduction to the nature of mind.
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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Astus wrote: As for ascertaining the ultimate truth, it is called yogic perception (yogapratyaksa), attained on the path of seeing (darsanamarga), and for Kagyupas it is the introduction to the nature of mind.
I think that is what corresponds with jñāna, is it not? Or, more specifically to the Buddhist context, Prajñāpāramitā. Generally speaking, it's basically gnosis, higher knowledge, direct insight into the nature of reality. It is a faculty which to all intents and purposes is not recognised in current Western cultural discourse (as Western culture generally only recognises either individual belief or scientifically-validated knowledge,)

In any case, with respect to the distinction between realisation and experience, I understand that gnosis of any kind pertains to the realm of realisation rather than experience. That is why I think Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche stresses realisation over experience.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by haha »

There are five kinds of (wrong) views: satkayadrsti, antagraha-drsti, mithya-drsti, drsti-paramarsa and sila-vrata-paramarsa. (by Nagarjuna)

It is said that there are three kinds of cravings: craving for sensual desire, craving for existence and craving of non-existence. Believing in some kind of permanent entity is related to satkayadrsti. There is subtle desire for existence. So, one holds that this knowing capacity would always remain unchanged (i.e. in three times or states). With having some kind of paramarsa, one will not be free from Samsara. Don’t even think one will attain SamyakSambhodhi without Bodhicitta.

One can regard Arundhati (i.e. a star) as the moon. No problem. lol
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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Wayfarer wrote: Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:02 amI think that is what corresponds with jñāna, is it not? Or, more specifically to the Buddhist context, Prajñāpāramitā.
Yes, it is the direct experience of emptiness.
In any case, with respect to the distinction between realisation and experience, I understand that gnosis of any kind pertains to the realm of realisation rather than experience.
"If there is no fixation involved in the process, positive spiritual experiences (nyam in Tibetan) will start to lead you to having spiritual realizations (togpa in Tibetan)."
(Mind at Ease, p 46)

Realisation is not just any kind of knowledge, it is the knowledge of emptiness that means the absence of attachment. Experiences and realisation together is the ideal path (see: Mahamudra the Moonlight, p 312-315).
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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

What's at stake in this discussion though is this: that we Buddhists charge Vedantins with clinging to existence, in lieu of how Brahman is metaphysically described. I think if that is the assertion, one needs to genuinely enter into the metaphysical debates and make that case sufficiently. Particularly because some great scholars actually think that key texts in that tradition - eg Gaudapadiya Karika - were composed by Mahayana Buddhists.

I'm more interested in this question: how tenable is that charge really, in yogic practice?

Someone mentioned a Swami who watches a lot of tv during the day because of the notion of maya/illusion. I think this is a profound point of distinction, because the Buddhist will be much more careful about causation.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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tobes wrote: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:13 amWhat's at stake in this discussion though is this: that we Buddhists charge Vedantins with clinging to existence, in lieu of how Brahman is metaphysically described. I think if that is the assertion, one needs to genuinely enter into the metaphysical debates and make that case sufficiently. Particularly because some great scholars actually think that key texts in that tradition - eg Gaudapadiya Karika - were composed by Mahayana Buddhists.
Gaudapada, Sankara, and their followers are explicit in their rejection of Buddhism, so both parties actually agree that their systems are not the same, hence this is not a debated point. See e.g. Mandukya Karika and Bhasya 4.99. It is rather the avoiding of definitive statements regarding the views of Buddhists and Vedantins that results in confusion, while actually both sides put in immense efforts to elaborate and specify their doctrines.
how tenable is that charge really, in yogic practice?
Very much. Compare the methods of pancaskandha and pancakosa. One results in the skandhas without self, the other results in the affirmation of self and the negation of the kosas.
Someone mentioned a Swami who watches a lot of tv during the day because of the notion of maya/illusion. I think this is a profound point of distinction, because the Buddhist will be much more careful about causation.
This is how differently they view the two truths.
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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by stevie »

Rick wrote: Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:23 am
stevie wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:58 pm
Rick wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:44 pm .... But they did, and their word is taken as literal truth in Vedanta.
That's strange and totally alien to my native culture. That's why buddhism appears more familiar in the sphere of my experience..
It's strange and quite alien to me also ... although I did grow up with something similar in Catholicism. Which is why I worked hard to settle on a 'personal' understanding of brahman that doesn't depend 100% on scripture.
I've also been born as a catholic. However at that time atheism was quite common among catholics. ;)

From my perspective a 'personal' understanding of any kind of scripture cannot be avoided due to one's individual conditionings. However in my sphere of experience I can completely rely one buddha nature when it comes to understanding, so there is no reason for being anxious about possible 'wrong' understanding. Everything levels out finally.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

Astus wrote: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:44 am
tobes wrote: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:13 amWhat's at stake in this discussion though is this: that we Buddhists charge Vedantins with clinging to existence, in lieu of how Brahman is metaphysically described. I think if that is the assertion, one needs to genuinely enter into the metaphysical debates and make that case sufficiently. Particularly because some great scholars actually think that key texts in that tradition - eg Gaudapadiya Karika - were composed by Mahayana Buddhists.
Gaudapada, Sankara, and their followers are explicit in their rejection of Buddhism, so both parties actually agree that their systems are not the same, hence this is not a debated point. See e.g. Mandukya Karika and Bhasya 4.99. It is rather the avoiding of definitive statements regarding the views of Buddhists and Vedantins that results in confusion, while actually both sides put in immense efforts to elaborate and specify their doctrines.
how tenable is that charge really, in yogic practice?
Very much. Compare the methods of pancaskandha and pancakosa. One results in the skandhas without self, the other results in the affirmation of self and the negation of the kosas.
Someone mentioned a Swami who watches a lot of tv during the day because of the notion of maya/illusion. I think this is a profound point of distinction, because the Buddhist will be much more careful about causation.
This is how differently they view the two truths.
Well yes, I said this much earlier in the thread - that the distinction between the two traditions seems to pertain much more to how conventional reality is understood (and practiced), than it does how the ultimate is defined - in part because both traditions agree that the ultimate cannot be ontologically defined.

Even so, I have seen many debates with learned Madhyamikas who assert that when Nagarjuna uses the metaphor to describe phenomenal things as 'like a dream, an illusion, a city of Ghandharavas' this means that conventional reality is in fact an illusion. Rather than a way of asserting the arising, abiding and ceasing of things, which is precisely their dependent co-arising.

In this case, a great deal hinges on the difference between 'like an illusion' and 'is an illusion'. If one takes the latter route, one is sailing mighty close the Vendantic sea.
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Re: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

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tobes wrote: Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:11 amhow conventional reality is understood (and practiced), than it does how the ultimate is defined
It is important to remember that the two truths in Mahayana are not opposites, nor parallels, but complementary. There is no ultimate apart from the conventional, no emptiness apart from appearances. On the other hand, in Vedanta only one is affirmed as real and everything else is negated as unreal.
In this case, a great deal hinges on the difference between 'like an illusion' and 'is an illusion'. If one takes the latter route, one is sailing mighty close the Vendantic sea.
Buddhism doesn't get to the point where phenomena are utterly negated. Appearances can be likened to an illusion or called an illusion, what matters is the intended meaning of those terms. Things are/like illusions because they are not substantial, i.e. empty, but being empty is not denying things, it's negating the misunderstanding about things that causes attachment.
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: Brahman and Atman in Kagyu?

Post by tobes »

Astus wrote: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:52 am
tobes wrote: Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:11 amhow conventional reality is understood (and practiced), than it does how the ultimate is defined
It is important to remember that the two truths in Mahayana are not opposites, nor parallels, but complementary. There is no ultimate apart from the conventional, no emptiness apart from appearances. On the other hand, in Vedanta only one is affirmed as real and everything else is negated as unreal.
In this case, a great deal hinges on the difference between 'like an illusion' and 'is an illusion'. If one takes the latter route, one is sailing mighty close the Vendantic sea.
Buddhism doesn't get to the point where phenomena are utterly negated. Appearances can be likened to an illusion or called an illusion, what matters is the intended meaning of those terms. Things are/like illusions because they are not substantial, i.e. empty, but being empty is not denying things, it's negating the misunderstanding about things that causes attachment.

Indeed. I entirely agree with everything you state here.

But there are always caveats. Samvrti is still explicitly defined by Tsong Khapa as 'concealing' - and he is one of the most robust defenders of the notion of two truths being complementary. There are plenty of people on these boards who reject that notion, and indeed, plenty of Kagyus. And that is why it is worth talking about this topic.
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