Existence

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

Post by Rick » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:30 am

Per Buddhism, what does "to exist" mean? Can this be answered (satisfactorily) without reference to the two truths? If so, please do. :namaste:
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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:35 pm

I'm tempted to say that "X exists" means "X is aware'd."

Two problems with this view:

1. If Being A awares X, "X exists" is true from Being A's point of view, but not necessarily from Being B's, C's, etc. So instead of "X exists" it would be "X exists for Being A." This is kind of like saying that existence is in the eye of the beholder. (And has a soupçon of solipsism about it.)

2. If no being is sensing X, X does not exist. Does a tree yo-yo between existence/non-existence when it is/isn't being awared? (Berkeley was sneaky with this and said that things continue to exist even when not being observed by sentient beings because God was always observing everything!)

What would Buddhism say to:

"X exists" = "X is aware'd"
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muni
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Re: Existence

Post by muni » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:16 pm

The tree exist because there is aware'd of tree?

But when a child never learned: this is a tree, will there be a tree? And if not will there be nothing? What about existence by labeling?
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:18 pm

muni wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:16 pm
The tree exist because there is aware'd of tree?
Yes, given the view "X exists" = "X is aware'd" the tree only exists when it is being aware'd (by any entity capable of awareness).

For the record, I'm not asserting this view is right, I'm just kind of testing it out.
But when a child never learned: this is a tree, will there be a tree? And if not will there be nothing?
There will be something, not nothing. But this something (that the child sees/experiences) will not be named: tree.
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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:36 pm

This just in! Small but important change to my proposition for a working 'definition' of existence:

X exists = X can be aware'd

The old version:

X exists = X is aware'd

The new version takes care of the problem of things not currently being aware'd not existing. If an object is hurtling through space and no sentient entity is aware'ing it, the old version says the object does not exist, the new version says it does exist as long as it could be aware'd by an entity with the ability (might require tools: microscope, telescope, etc.) to see/detect it.
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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:23 am

Yep, I think this does the trick for me:

X exists = X can be aware'd

Now I can sit back and take a well-earned rest, knowing that 'existence' has been taken care of. :thumbsup: :stirthepot: :spy:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Wayfarer
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Re: Existence

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:20 am

I think, in Abhidharma, 'what exists' all boils down to what can be understood as the Five Skandhas. And - they're empty. :smile:

Next question?
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

ItsRaining
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Re: Existence

Post by ItsRaining » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:54 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:20 am
I think, in Abhidharma, 'what exists' all boils down to what can be understood as the Five Skandhas. And - they're empty. :smile:

Next question?
So you are saying only the five skhandas exist?

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Re: Existence

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:19 am

don’t they? isn’t that what the texts say?
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

muni
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Re: Existence

Post by muni » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:07 am

Rick wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:18 pm
muni wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:16 pm
The tree exist because there is aware'd of tree?
Yes, given the view "X exists" = "X is aware'd" the tree only exists when it is being aware'd (by any entity capable of awareness).

For the record, I'm not asserting this view is right, I'm just kind of testing it out.
But when a child never learned: this is a tree, will there be a tree? And if not will there be nothing?
There will be something, not nothing. But this something (that the child sees/experiences) will not be named: tree.
O yes. Dependence on consciousness.

I agree, not nothing, something in the way as not nothing.

That temporary little child looking around, not experiencing "my "arm and moms' hand and things as somehow things around it as things on themselves, how can there be "some thing"? Would it be possible it has not that experience of "some thing is there" because it lacks the experience "me"?
This just in!
:D
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:08 pm

ItsRaining wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:54 am
So you are saying only the five skhandas exist?
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:19 am
don’t they? isn’t that what the texts say?
From Introduction to the Middle Way :
Anyway, in the Lankavatara Sutra, the
Buddha talks about the existence of alaya, or ground of all, and also the existence of individuals.
He says things like, “Monks, sangha, the five aggregates are a load. The one who carries this
load is a person, an individual”. In other sutras, he says that only the skandhas exist. He says
that there is no person, but only mind, consciousness, a form.
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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:17 pm

muni wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:07 am
That temporary little child looking around, not experiencing "my "arm and moms' hand and things as somehow things around it as things on themselves, how can there be "some thing"? Would it be possible it has not that experience of "some thing is there" because it lacks the experience "me"?
I would think that for a very young child all there is is a stream of sensory input, of objects in consciousness. Later they learn how to parse and make sense of this stream of objects. And then later they start attaching stories to the objects. Sound about right to you?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:52 am

Been wading back into the Madhyamaka pool.

No wonder hardly anyone responded to this thread. Nagarjuna and da Middle Way boys made mincemeat of (impassioned questions about) existence!

The Madhyamaka is a wonderful antidote to Existential Groping Syndrome. :crazy:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

muni
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Re: Existence

Post by muni » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:13 am

Rick wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:17 pm
muni wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:07 am
That temporary little child looking around, not experiencing "my "arm and moms' hand and things as somehow things around it as things on themselves, how can there be "some thing"? Would it be possible it has not that experience of "some thing is there" because it lacks the experience "me"?
I would think that for a very young child all there is is a stream of sensory input, of objects in consciousness. Later they learn how to parse and make sense of this stream of objects. And then later they start attaching stories to the objects. Sound about right to you?
Yes, then I guess, our human dimensional show starts. :smile:
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Re: Existence

Post by haha » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:29 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:30 am
Per Buddhism, what does "to exist" mean? Can this be answered (satisfactorily) without reference to the two truths? If so, please do. :namaste:
At this point Mañjuśrī asked Vimalakīrti, “How should the bodhisattva view sentient beings?”
Vimalakīrti said,
i) “As if he were a magician seeing a conjured person, so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.
ii) “Like a wise person seeing the moon in water,
iii) like seeing the image of a face in a mirror,
iv) like a mirage when it is hot,
v) like the echo of a shout,
vi) like clouds in the sky,
vii) like water collecting into foam,
viii) like bubbles upon water,
ix) like the firmness of the banana tree,
x) like the prolonged abiding of lightning,
xi) like a fifth element,
xii) like a sixth skandha,
xiii) like a seventh sense,
xiv) like a thirteenth entrance (āyatana),
xv) like a nineteenth realm (dhātu)—so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.
xvi) “Like form in the formless realm,
xvii) like a seedling emerging from burned grain,
xviii) like a stream-enterer’s mistaken view of the body,
xix) like a non-returner’s (anāgāmin) entrance into a womb,
xx) like an arhat’s three poisons,
xxi) like a bodhisattva who has achieved forbearance breaking the prohibition against anger,
xxii) like a buddha’s latent influences of the afflictions,
xxiii) like a blind man seeing forms,
xxiv) like the inhalation and exhalation of someone who has entered the concentration of extinction,
xxv) like the tracks of birds in the sky, like the child of a barren woman,
xxvi) like a conjured person generating the afflictions, like waking up in a dream,
xxvii) like one who has entered nirvana being reborn, like fire without smoke—so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.”

The Vimalakīrti Sutra
This is how the meaning of exist I have understood. :thumbsup:

In this world hatred never ceases with hatred
With non hatred it ceases, this is the ancient lore.

Upakilesasuttaṃ

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:36 pm

muni wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:13 am
Rick wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:17 pm
I would think that for a very young child all there is is a stream of sensory input, of objects in consciousness. Later they learn how to parse and make sense of this stream of objects. And then later they start attaching stories to the objects. Sound about right to you?
Yes, then I guess, our human dimensional show starts. :smile:
And quite a show it is. Must-watch tv!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:40 pm

haha wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:29 pm
Rick wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:30 am
Per Buddhism, what does "to exist" mean? Can this be answered (satisfactorily) without reference to the two truths? If so, please do. :namaste:
At this point Mañjuśrī asked Vimalakīrti, “How should the bodhisattva view sentient beings?”
Vimalakīrti said, ... ... ...
Rack 'em! :namaste:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

ItsRaining
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Re: Existence

Post by ItsRaining » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:03 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:19 am
don’t they? isn’t that what the texts say?
Some hinayana schools follow this but not the Mahayana.

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tomschwarz
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Re: Existence

Post by tomschwarz » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:13 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:30 am
Per Buddhism, what does "to exist" mean? Can this be answered (satisfactorily) without reference to the two truths? If so, please do. :namaste:
its a great question, in short, Buddhism and buddhists poorly/inaccurately and often dogmatically/didactically abuse this wonderful word. First off, it is a word in the English language. Disrespect that meaning and all bets are off:

Exist means to 1.
have objective reality or being.

Buddhism goes on and on about reality and beings (particularly "sentient" ones) so of course Buddhism focuses almost 100% on existence and things existing. Then comes the sadly ignorant use of a "loaded" meaning of "exist" as in the ignorant assumption that if something "exists" it must exist forever, and if it changes to any degree it does not "exist" -- really sad-low level of language use there in buddhism... enter the three marks:

https://www.clear-vision.org/Schools/St ... marks.aspx

So my suggestion is forget about Buddhism with regard to the loaded negative word "exist" as in "nothing really exists because of impermanence" ouch....

Now, what is interesting, and very simple, and very Buddhist about "existence" is that everything really does exist, sambogakaya. And that is why we need to accept reality as is, as a basis for all practice, because it all really does exist. Then comes respecting existence, that those shadows of beings in our mind often correlate directly to a real and sentient being that deserves our 100% caring consideration for their happiness. That helps to build the foundation of love.

Then comes advanced topics, like how is the best way to love? And you look deeper into existence, "objective being", and we see infinite webs of interdependence, dependent origination, interaction, regeneration, cyclic existence (ya that is right, existence on steroids from beginningless time) and so on. so as we go deeper into our own sable happiness and happiness of others, we find that this respect for the existence of others is the basis for our ethics practice, a big part of our meditation practice, and a lion share of our wisdom practice.

So in all fairness for those who are trying to build value on the "nothing exists" mantra (e.g. to overcome attachment, one of the three poisons), no problem, I respect that. But my tip is that, it is not "nothing exists" that you are trying to understand, it is selflessness. Quite different word, but the same (probably) idea...
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

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Rick
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Re: Existence

Post by Rick » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:14 am

tomschwarz wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:13 pm
Rick wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:30 am
Per Buddhism, what does "to exist" mean? Can this be answered (satisfactorily) without reference to the two truths? If so, please do. :namaste:
Then comes the sadly ignorant use of a "loaded" meaning of "exist" as in the ignorant assumption that if something "exists" it must exist forever, and if it changes to any degree it does not "exist" -- really sad-low level of language use there in buddhism... enter the three marks:
I don't like this very restricted definition of "existent" either. I'm much more of a fan of the process philosophy view that change is not only possible for existents, it is the nature of ALL existents. As a student of Advaita (along with Buddhism) it has always bothered me that brahman is depicted as unchanging. If I were the Boss of Advaita, I'd make brahman be an ever-changing ultimate substrate, so that everything everywhere (i.e. brahman) was always changing, becoming. (I know, I know ... there'd be a bit of a ripple-through effect!)

And yes I agree with you that because Buddhism is laser-focused on ending human suffering, all of its teachings, concepts, philosophies are skewed in a way that optimizes their effectiveness in ending suffering. (See Buddha's unanswered questions.) By definition, a skewed worldview is one that is not 100% correct/complete, because it presents 'truth' through a colored filter. That said, Madhyamaka/emptiness's filters seem pretty darn close to perfectly transparent to me. (Not that I have anything but the foggiest of a clue!)

Always fun/enlightening to talk with you, brother. :-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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