Rick wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:13 pm
In Advaita Vedanta, pure awareness (brahman) is considered to be the ultimate, unchanging, eternal substrate of reality.
In Buddhism, consciousness (vijnana) is considered to be one of the five skandhas, thus empty of independent existence.
Are Advaita and Buddhism talking about the same thing here -- i.e. does pure awareness = vijnana -- but interpreting this thing radically differently?
Is there a Buddhist equivalent to Advaita's pure awareness / brahman? Is there any ultimate substrate/reality in Buddhism? Or does Buddhism see "what is" as just a buncha ever-changing impermanent stuff in a grand web of inter-dependence?
To your original question. Firstly Brahman as per Advaita Vedanta cannot be conceptualized or named or brought into any idea. There is a way to understand how this works and is understood. It will depend on your understanding of Advaita Vedanta, there are many systems, the modern neo advaita is far from it.
Vijnana is not the same as Brahman vi is in insight or when mind turns inwards, to get experiential knowledge of what is Brahman, through vijnana, vijnana is indirect or state of consciousness when one acquires direct understanding/experience of the nature of brahma~Absolute Reality, indirect reflection on the nature of the Absolute, so vijnana is a prefix in technical terms to jnana or true nature of consciousness, vijnana precedes jnana, jnana is direct experience of Brahma, a Self Realized Rishi would be the pure brahma jnani. Jnana can also relate to wisdom, its related directly to sun, light joyti illumination, Sun is synonymous with Brahma. Pure awareness is a loose term, by that it would mean something closer to an unobstructed chitta chitta vritti nirodha~Patanjali Muni,nirodha samapatti pali 9th jhana , pure awareness is really a very vague term to put on any Sanskrit dharma equivalent. We could lightly conclude that vijnana is direct perception of ultimate reality, both mundane in the skandas and Absolute.
In terms of Etymology Tathagata is a complete way to fully describe Brahman. Tat is from the Upanishads tat, which is cit Absolute consciousness beyond all becoming, essence of Upanishads. agartha in sanskrit means one who has arrived at and gata and agata are also concealed in the compound as all pervasive or both here and there in transcendent but also appearing in the lokas. This is translation from Maha Thera Punnaji, I made the connection to Brahman, he translates Tathagata as one who has arrived at tat, tat is Brahman, he obviously hesitates to say at this moment due to certain climates.
In the pali suttas you will also find reference to Brahman in Kevatta sutta Buddha guides Kevatta through the inner cosmos and arrives back at Tathagata where he reveals or gives direct insight into Viññanam anidassanam~ signless, featureless consciousness. Its another synonym for Brahman. Tathagatha gave Viññanam vijnana to Kevatta the seeker on signless, featurless non conceptualized Absolute reality. Sign-less and featureless is just another name for nirguna or beyond all conditions who is described in Mandukya upanishad as acnitya, inconceivable. Neither the Buddha of the Pali suttas nor the Upanishadic rishi gave any description of Brahman, its ineffable, but not unknowable.
Its useless to compare one translated tradition against another, mainly because a lot were to written to oppose each other, by anthropomorphic monotheism and is corrupted by empirical study, Advaita Vedanta is also not whats considered as monism, thats also another anthropomorphic manmade theory, which distorts what is Advaita Vedanta .
Buddha~ Tathagata is the substratum, what it is nobody can truly define, especially with limited outward going senses and manas, which constantly measures. Intellect Buddhi is activated in prajna or sushupti which is the awakened state, arupa jhana in Abhidhamma and Mahayana in Mahayana traditions. Boddhisattvas are also descending, but its a good sentiment to have in the external outward going sadhana, but all external sadhanas have to end in pure and umoving perfect equanimity.
This may annoy some, but its time to catch up. Cant be learned through books, external guru can give some yukta or method and upaya skill for outside balancing of duality to bring one to equanimity, but to get real jnana, true buddhi it needs intermediate state in whatever way you want to call, its the dawn of realization and universal realm of dharma. When you come back ones individual yukta and dharma will be established.
jai guru datta