Peeling the onion

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Rick
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Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:04 pm

There are so many layers of stories we believe in (mistake for real) ... consciously or unconsciously. Like a set of (infinite?) nested dolls.

If we keep peeling back the onion layers — relentlessly, mercilessly! — to reveal the story (within the story (within the story (within the story))) ... do we eventually reach no-story? Is that enlightenment, liberation: the dropping of all stories of self and other and world and "reality?" Or is no-story yet another, albeit subtler, story?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:25 pm

I find it good practice (and great fun) to unpeel the story onion. Something like:

40-ish painter and loving husband/father.
Painter and husband/father.
Male human who paints, is married, has children.
Male human.
Human.
Aggregate of human body parts.
Organs, nervous system, tissue, etc.
Whole buncha cells that hold together and act in concert.
Molecules, atoms, elementary particles, that play nicely with each other.
Thoughts, emotions, feelings.
Skandhas, perceptions, appearances.
And so on, all the way down.

Is there a core, a ground, no-story? Pure awareness? Pure presence? Suchness = tathata = "this" ? The mystery?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Wayfarer
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:22 pm

Krishnamurti wrote:It is very difficult for most of us to see that there is no such thing as gradual understanding, gradual seeing, gradually acquiring deep meaning. We are conditioned to accept a gradual evolutionary process. Most of us are nationalists, English, German, French, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and we say that we will gradually become internationalists, European or American. After becoming international we will become supernational, and then ultimately there will be unity of man - when we are all dead, when we have all murdered each other, when every country with its politicians has wrecked the world. We say that ultimately there will be some unity, but it never takes place. If you see the nature of nationalism, the whole content of it, not merely the verbal, not just the flag-waving, or the pacifist, but the whole process of it, if you comprehend it totally, it is finished. You no longer belong to any country, any group, any race; but to do that you must give attention. That means that you must no longer be lazy, indolent, and be caught in this gradual stuff. Either you see the whole process, the whole fabrication of this mask-making, of these pretensions, immediately, or you don't see it at all. Don't say, ''I will gradually understand it; like peeling an onion, I will gradually undo peel after peel, take off skin after skin.'' Don't say to yourself that you will do it gradually. Either you see it instantly or you don't. If you don't, leave it alone. Don't say, ''I must see it; I must force myself to see it; I want a different kind of life.'' You won't get it. It doesn't happen that way. It is like a person who is rich but pretends that he is poor. It is a mask; he takes comfort in the mask. If you are rich, don't pretend. Then it is finished. What is important is not to have conflict.
Talks in Europe 1966
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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jkarlins
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by jkarlins » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:27 pm

rachmiel wrote:I find it good practice (and great fun) to unpeel the story onion. Something like:

40-ish painter and loving husband/father.
Painter and husband/father.
Male human who paints, is married, has children.
Male human.
Human.
Aggregate of human body parts.
Organs, nervous system, tissue, etc.
Whole buncha cells that hold together and act in concert.
Molecules, atoms, elementary particles, that play nicely with each other.
Thoughts, emotions, feelings.
Skandhas, perceptions, appearances.
And so on, all the way down.

Is there a core, a ground, no-story? Pure awareness? Pure presence? Suchness = tathata = "this" ? The mystery?
Yeah, it sounds like you're on the right track. But all of that is also an idea.

Best advice I could give for this kind of thing is to practice and see what happens. Then see if your life changes.


Jake

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CedarTree
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by CedarTree » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:33 pm

rachmiel wrote:I find it good practice (and great fun) to unpeel the story onion. Something like:

40-ish painter and loving husband/father.
Painter and husband/father.
Male human who paints, is married, has children.
Male human.
Human.
Aggregate of human body parts.
Organs, nervous system, tissue, etc.
Whole buncha cells that hold together and act in concert.
Molecules, atoms, elementary particles, that play nicely with each other.
Thoughts, emotions, feelings.
Skandhas, perceptions, appearances.
And so on, all the way down.

Is there a core, a ground, no-story? Pure awareness? Pure presence? Suchness = tathata = "this" ? The mystery?
rachmiel wrote:There are so many layers of stories we believe in (mistake for real) ... consciously or unconsciously. Like a set of (infinite?) nested dolls.

If we keep peeling back the onion layers — relentlessly, mercilessly! — to reveal the story (within the story (within the story (within the story))) ... do we eventually reach no-story? Is that enlightenment, liberation: the dropping of all stories of self and other and world and "reality?" Or is no-story yet another, albeit subtler, story?
Time for a good teacher :)

Especially if your meditation is allowing you to experience these realms rather than it be a logical abstract.

Practice, Practice, Practice

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Dan74
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Dan74 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:36 pm

As ideas go, it's all good. But ideas isn't where it's at, I think :) (no emoji for self-conscious irony)

There's a difference between thinking of an apple and eating it. Something's gotta snap us out of ideas and into the juicy appleness of this very moment. Right here and now, nowhere else. Right now, what is missing? What is here? How is it? Whatever brings us into its raw suchness, is where it's at. Whatever takes us out, is ok too, as long as we notice it, we are not out, or turning in. Notice the movement. The inquiry even if it last only moment. The reaction, whatever it is.

So onion or no onion, it's what we do with it. Accept all the stories wholesale, but don't be fooled by them. Or get lost inside. The difference is subtle, but it's not trivial.

So it seems to me. And yes, a good teacher is best. I am missing one too.

_/|\_

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TharpaChodron
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:50 pm

Reminds me of a story (ahem) I once heard. Marpa found out his son had died in an accident and he was crying. His students said to him, "Why are you crying? We thought you told us it's all an illusion?"

Marpa replied, "yes, but it's a very big illusion."

If it's all an illusion, does it make any difference
when your heart breaks? Just playing devil's advocate here. :P

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Rick
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:22 am

All good responses. Good stories. :-)

Does the indivisibility of the two truths show us that story is ultimately no different from not-story? Does every layer of the onion contain every other layer? Indra's onion?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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jkarlins
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by jkarlins » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:14 am

rachmiel wrote:All good responses. Good stories. :-)

Does the indivisibility of the two truths show us that story is ultimately no different from not-story? Does every layer of the onion contain every other layer? Indra's onion?
don't know

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Vasana
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Vasana » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:02 am

rachmiel wrote:All good responses. Good stories. :-)

Does the indivisibility of the two truths show us that story is ultimately no different from not-story? Does every layer of the onion contain every other layer? Indra's onion?
Valid-cognition of the mind's nature is what you're after, remember. 'The ultimate is not the sphere of cognition.' Shantideva.

The ultimate is not in the sphere of stories nor is it found in stories about non-stories. When you can abide beyond thinking in terms of the 4-extremes* then you have a moment of valid cognition of mind's nature and you gain knowledge of mind's ground/basis. Story and non-story are still two extremes.

It sounds like your vippassana and analysis is sharp but that there's not enough spaciousness/emptiness from the shamatha side. Valid yogic cognitons are moments where shamatha and vippassana are indivisible. One without the other is conceptual but when they are experienced simultaneously, the groundlessness of mind and the movement of concepts and percepts are known and released simultaneously. (This isn't to be confused with simply being aware of the rising and passing of thoughts though, although that can be a gateway)

Mahamudra and Dzogchen don't require intellectual analysis but if you are a person with a prelediction for mental analysis and MMK, them learning about Pranama/ direct valid cognition can really help contextualize the intent and result of MMK style analysis.

The Sword of Wisdom by Mipham Rinpoche is a good overview of this,

80. When taking the definitive meaning into experience,
Do not rely upon the ordinary dualistic mind
That chases after words and concepts,
But upon non-dual wisdom itself.

81. That which operates with conceptual ideas is the ordinary mind,
Whose nature is dualistic, involving ‘perceiver’ and ‘perceived’.
All that it conceptualizes in this way is false,
And can never reach the actual nature of reality.

82. *Any idea of something real or unreal, both or neither—
Any such concept, however it’s conceived—is still only a concept,
And whatever ideas we hold in mind,
They are still within the domain of Māra.

83. This has been stated in the sūtras.
It is not by any assertion or denial
That we will put an end to concepts.
But once we see without rejecting or affirming, there is freedom.

84. Although it is without any perceiving subject or object perceived,
There is naturally occurring wisdom that is aware of itself,
And all ideas of existence, non-existence, both and neither have ceased completely—
This is said to be supreme primordial wisdom.


http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... -of-wisdom
Last edited by Vasana on Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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CedarTree
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by CedarTree » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:26 am

rachmiel wrote:All good responses. Good stories. :-)

Does the indivisibility of the two truths show us that story is ultimately no different from not-story? Does every layer of the onion contain every other layer? Indra's onion?
Lol you really like the onion references.

I would suggest a teacher and practice. If your coming at this from the "thinking-mind" venue your gonna have near limitless perspectives and thoughts to go through ;)

Answers may come up from a conceptual and conventional sense but answer may lay in non-conceptual places. Best of luck.

Practice, Practice, Practice

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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by muni » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:13 am

rachmiel wrote:All good responses. Good stories. :-)

Does the indivisibility of the two truths show us that story is ultimately no different from not-story? Does every layer of the onion contain every other layer? Indra's onion?
Are there as the indivisibility of the two truths any possible layers? Are there levels? Or is it so that illusion only has layers, levels?

Since it seems there must be at least two experienced in order to be there levels and the indivisibility is not one nor two.
No subject nor object(s).


ps But perhaps the example of peeling onion is very much "making mind flexible/ready/open" for liberating Dharma, which is not created.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it.

Only if you have developed the love and compassion of relative bodhichitta can absolute bodhichitta – the very essence of the Great Perfection and the Great Seal – ever take birth in your being. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Supramundane » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:19 pm

i'm not sure if the onion is the best analogy for searching for enlightenment.

after all, finding nothingness is tantamount to nihilism, not buddhism.

and in peeling the onion you would be crying (to follow the analogy) which is not appropriate either lol.

i think the analogy of the moon is the best: imagine someone living in darkness all their life until one day through careful patience and effort, they locate the bright side of the moon. to their astonishment, after living their whole life in darkness, they realize that the bright side had been there the whole time. and on another level, it was right there under their feet, since in fact "bright" side and "dark" side are interchangeable and simply depend on the rotation of the moon. the two are interconnected since without a bright side there is no dark side. the truth is right here under our feet: if we try and find it somewhere else we cannot because we are always on the same planet... always in the same paradigm... maybe we can't find because it is everywhere.

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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Malcolm » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:28 pm

Cue:

Since there is no onion, there are no peels.

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Losal Samten
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:44 pm

Malcolm wrote:Cue:

Since there is no onion, there are no peels.
My conventional illusory onion as seen under impure confined perception functionally peels just fine and dandy thankyouverymuch.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Rick
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:16 pm

Malcolm wrote:Since there is no onion, there are no peels.
Have you been studying Advaita ... ? :reading:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:21 pm

Supramundane wrote: in peeling the onion you would be crying (to follow the analogy) which is not appropriate either lol.
Image
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Losal Samten
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:42 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Since there is no onion, there are no peels.
Have you been studying Advaita ... ? :reading:
The "Cue:" part of Malcolm's post was the crux of it; taking a jibe at pseudo-Buddhist nihilists.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Rick
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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by Rick » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:46 pm

Dammit! I missed the joke ... ! I feel so stupid.

:oops:

Fortunately, there is no joke, no I, no feeling ... though stupid might still hold.

(Well done, Sir Malcolm.)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Peeling the onion

Post by White Lotus » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:16 pm

On the level of emptiness there is no onion to be peeled, nor is there 1 nor 2. That's emptiness and is the lesser non duality. "This" is still conceptual. However, "this" points towards direct perception and so will be very important until it drops off. The word "this" needs to cease and to loose all reality. It was a very enlightening little word. The time comes when there is not a drop of emptiness left and things have become real just as they are (only words lack reality). Going beyond emptiness, going beyond "this". Reality hides within shunyata shunyata. It is non-dual, but not empty. It is 1. A point at the centre of two circles. The point of Buddha's eye. It can be very helpful to peel away the layers. The time comes when there is no more peeling only things just as they are. As real as the day you were born.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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