Experience

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
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Rick
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Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 2:04 pm

I was taught (here) that the ultimate nature of reality is nondual: no subject/object division.

But experiencing requires this division: a subject (experiencer) experiences an object (experienced).

If both of these are true ... why is experiencing such a huge part of the Buddhist path? What is it that is experienced?

If either of these is not true ... or inaccurate ... please correct them!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Queequeg
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Re: Experience

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 01, 2019 2:43 pm

My understanding:

Subject arises because we posit a self. On examination that self does not hold up - it doesn't dissolve but we find it was a mistaken notion to begin with. Notwithstanding, there is an experienced... This is where Des Cartes ended his inquiry. But this insight about the insubstantiality of self is a nagging caveat. Solution to intractable problems have only one resolution - go beyond. One solution posits subject and object as derivative functions of a higher reality. That higher reality though does not go beyond this duality in substance. The solution then is in the dynamic itself. While this can be logically worked out, it defies logic.

In Tiantai that dynamic tension is called Middle Way Buddha Nature.

It directs back to the experience of the moment. Can't be found there definitively but can't be found anywhere else. It's there, unmistakably, but ungraspable.

That's the point that Buddhism goes woo woo.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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SunWuKong
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Re: Experience

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 01, 2019 4:20 pm

This is why we need communities of like minded-people who practice and perform nurturing compassion and loving kindness, because in this and our own practice, contentment and peacefulness arise, that restores our mind to it's original luminous-ness. There isn't a subject-object relationship between observer and observed when the notion of a self disappears.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 4:43 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:20 pm
This is why we need communities of like minded-people who practice and perform nurturing compassion and loving kindness, because in this and our own practice, contentment and peacefulness arise, that restores our mind to it's original luminous-ness. There isn't a subject-object relationship between observer and observed when the notion of a self disappears.
Does this mean that the kind of experiencing that Buddhism calls for (in practice) does not have an experiencer and experienced?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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SunWuKong
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Re: Experience

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 01, 2019 5:05 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:43 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:20 pm
This is why we need communities of like minded-people who practice and perform nurturing compassion and loving kindness, because in this and our own practice, contentment and peacefulness arise, that restores our mind to it's original luminous-ness. There isn't a subject-object relationship between observer and observed when the notion of a self disappears.
Does this mean that the kind of experiencing that Buddhism calls for (in practice) does not consist of an experiencer and experienced?
Do you mean in actuality or in how it appears to us? I think your questions are revolving around the issue, of the fact, that appearances can be deceiving. I mean you could scientifically determine that there is such a thing as a "person" but you can also scientifically determine that without the rest of it's environment, it is unsupported. This is basic Ecology 101. The idea we "emerged" from a primordial "soup" doesn't consider that we are a very special case of simply BEING primordial soup, and the tendency to see a "person" is only a social and learned convention that allows us to venture forth from the Paleolithic cave. There are probably hundreds of willing teachers out there willing to show us the innumerable ways they suggest to overcome the egocentricity, but the biggest step of all is to DROP THE ACT; everyone and everything is interconnected, and empty of a "self-nature." This is why we say even emptiness is empty.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 5:25 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:05 pm
Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:43 pm
Does this mean that the kind of experiencing that Buddhism calls for (in practice) does not consist of an experiencer and experienced?
Do you mean in actuality or in how it appears to us?
Either.

Again, my main goal in this thread is to understand why the Buddhist path is grounded so strongly in experience, when it seems to me that the deepest lessons of Buddhism transcend experience ... at least as the term is used conventionally: an experiencer (self) experiencing an object (other).
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Experience

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 01, 2019 5:48 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:25 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:05 pm
Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:43 pm
Does this mean that the kind of experiencing that Buddhism calls for (in practice) does not consist of an experiencer and experienced?
Do you mean in actuality or in how it appears to us?
Either.

Again, my main goal in this thread is to understand why the Buddhist path is grounded so strongly in experience, when it seems to me that the deepest lessons of Buddhism transcend experience ... at least as the term is used conventionally: an experiencer (self) experiencing an object (other).
Oh, that. Beyond experiencer and experienced is simply experience. When a sizable percentage of the experience is hi-jacked into delusional beliefs and narratives of a self, experience becomes limited. Experience at it's fullest expression is simply experience. Everything here is temporary and subject to change. It's the inflexibility of our mentality that tries to break things down into solids, abstractions, thoughts, ideas, which ultimately neither serve nor liberate. Yes, I agree so much it put on the experiential, and this is because here, in the experience, it is possible to truly See.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Vasana
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Re: Experience

Post by Vasana » Wed May 01, 2019 5:58 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 2:04 pm
I was taught (here) that the ultimate nature of reality is nondual: no subject/object division.

But experiencing requires this division: a subject (experiencer) experiences an object (experienced).

If both of these are true ... why is experiencing such a huge part of the Buddhist path? What is it that is experienced?

If either of these is not true ... or inaccurate ... please correct them!
I would examine your second proposition some more- "But experiencing requires this division: a subject (experiencer) experiences an object (experienced)."

Think about dreams. The subject of the dream and the objects in the dream are evidently inseparable - non-dual. The objects in the dream are clearly arising from inside rather than being any external objectts. The subject then reifies its own subjective appearances as objects even though there are no objects. The subject then 'colours' the subjective content/objects it sees with its own reactions and more convincingly real (but unreal) stuff continues. When we don't recognize that the dream is an expression of the dreamer, we perpetuate the attachment, inversion and ignorance of that dream along with the dukkha that comes with that.

Its the same in 'real life' except that The mountain you see with your physical eyes is not non-dual with your subjective mindstream in a solipsist way in the sense that he mountain somehow *is* you and you keep it hidden in your pocket until you bring it out, but in the sense that it only ever occurs as an appearance *for* you at the moment in time you perceive it, with and within your consciousness. It's our superimposing of positive or negative qualities towards what are essentially neutral phenomena that creates problems yet we live our lives for the most part believing that phenomena are intrinsically agreeable or disagreeable and that dream phenomena are intrinsically existent from their own side.

(Attachment/aversion/indifference are in the eye of the beholder and not the beheld) Direct experience is emphasized so much because it's our own distinct mind streams that we are seeking to untangle from the above web of confused thinking and reactions that perpetuate samsara. If we don't experience appearances of the senses and mind with the wisdom that directly cognozed their nature then we are just experiencing appearances of the senses and mind with our own distorted cognition- just as someone with jaundice sees a conch shell as yellow.
it seems to me that the deepest lessons of Buddhism transcend experience
Buddhism is not about transcending experience as you say but not being duped by a misreading of what experience actually is, including the factors that shape it.
Only those seeking the cessation of an arhat have the cessation of experience as a goal.
Last edited by Vasana on Wed May 01, 2019 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 6:08 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:48 pm
... here, in the experience, it is possible to truly See.
To truly See ... what?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Vasana
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Re: Experience

Post by Vasana » Wed May 01, 2019 6:14 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:08 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:48 pm
... here, in the experience, it is possible to truly See.
To truly See ... what?
Dharmata / chittata.

The true essence of Dharmas and the true essence of mind.

Intellectual understanding is said to be like a patch th at inevitably falls off...even direct experience is transient unless it is cultivated and stabilized - hence all the emphasis on meditation and the actions that support it.
Last edited by Vasana on Wed May 01, 2019 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 6:16 pm

Vasana wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:58 pm
Direct experience is emphasized so much because it's our own distinct mind streams that we are seeking to untangle from the above web of confused thinking and reactions that perpetuate samsara. If we don't experience appearances of the senses and mind with the wisdom that directly cognozed their nature then we are just experiencing appearances of the senses and mind with our own distorted cognition- just as someone with jaundice sees a conch shell as yellow.
So you don't strive to experience ultimate reality (nonduality) ... rather to experience how your cognition distorts ultimate reality?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Vasana
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Re: Experience

Post by Vasana » Wed May 01, 2019 6:26 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:16 pm
Vasana wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:58 pm
Direct experience is emphasized so much because it's our own distinct mind streams that we are seeking to untangle from the above web of confused thinking and reactions that perpetuate samsara. If we don't experience appearances of the senses and mind with the wisdom that directly cognozed their nature then we are just experiencing appearances of the senses and mind with our own distorted cognition- just as someone with jaundice sees a conch shell as yellow.
So you don't strive to experience ultimate reality (nonduality) ... rather to experience how your cognition distorts ultimate reality?
Pretty much yeah - but they are connected. There is saying that is something like 'samsara properly understood is nirvana properly realized'. By directly seeing how/why invalid cognition has occurred , valid cognition can occur. By directly experiencing how samsara is dependently originated and perpetuated we can let those links untie themselves. Emphasis needed on direct experience rather than intellectual understanding again as our tendency to distort reality is stronger than our tendency to think about it correctly let alone experience it free of distortion.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 6:43 pm

Vasana wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:26 pm
Emphasis needed on direct experience rather than intellectual understanding again as our tendency to distort reality is stronger than our tendency to think about it correctly let alone experience it free of distortion.
So direct experience driven practice is a way to de-train the mind from cognizing wrongly, and re-train it to cognize rightly?

This makes good sense to me.

But, to play devil's advocate, isn't de-training/re-training the mind a <subtle and perhaps good-feeling> form of conditioning? And isn't the realization of unconditioned mind a goal in Buddhism?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Experience

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 01, 2019 7:02 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:08 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 5:48 pm
... here, in the experience, it is possible to truly See.
To truly See ... what?
"To See" is obviously a colloquialism. When thoughts/outflows cease in Samadhi, one must become open to the Wisdom of knowing, understanding directly what lies beyond the conditioned. To a mind not tamed by Samadhi, this is impossible.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Vasana
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Re: Experience

Post by Vasana » Wed May 01, 2019 8:00 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:43 pm
Vasana wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:26 pm
Emphasis needed on direct experience rather than intellectual understanding again as our tendency to distort reality is stronger than our tendency to think about it correctly let alone experience it free of distortion.
So direct experience driven practice is a way to de-train the mind from cognizing wrongly, and re-train it to cognize rightly?

Pretty much. Purifying the emotional and cognitive afflictions.
But, to play devil's advocate, isn't de-training/re-training the mind a <subtle and perhaps good-feeling> form of conditioning? And isn't the realization of unconditioned mind a goal in Buddhism?
You're right that certain training can be another form of conditioning but then Not all conditioning or retraining is bad. Eventually that retraining is uncontrived rather than contrived until ithe unconditioned is realized. To use a physical metaphor : Stretching tight muscles or getting a massage is a form of conditioning but the result is that conditioned knots in the muscles become untied and the limberness and flexibility you were already born with is restored. It's more like de-conditioning. It's the same for the mind. By practicing and training, you're making it serviceable in the same way. Another analogy is when you retune an out of tune lute. It can be over or under tuned.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: Experience

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 01, 2019 9:14 pm

Vasana wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 8:00 pm
You're right that certain training can be another form of conditioning but then Not all conditioning or retraining is bad. Eventually that retraining is uncontrived rather than contrived until ithe unconditioned is realized. To use a physical metaphor : Stretching tight muscles or getting a massage is a form of conditioning but the result is that conditioned knots in the muscles become untied and the limberness and flexibility you were already born with is restored. It's more like de-conditioning. It's the same for the mind. By practicing and training, you're making it serviceable in the same way. Another analogy is when you retune an out of tune lute. It can be over or under tuned.
Interesting.

I understand those de-conditioning practices to be conditioning that requires de-conditioning itself, with an infinite regression. This is the basically the strategy of the the Gradual Path: an infinitely more refined cat and mouse game without end. Sooner or later, there has to be a direct encounter with Buddhahood, and Buddhahood is the only basis of awakening. This is what is referred to as the Sudden Path in some traditions.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 9:34 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:14 pm
I understand those de-conditioning practices to be conditioning that requires de-conditioning itself, with an infinite regression.
Do you mean that the process is: 1) Re-condition yourself, 2) de-condition your re-conditioning ... ?

That makes sense to me, and it sounds like the raft story: Build a raft, use it to cross an otherwise-uncrossable river, then let it go.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Experience

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 01, 2019 9:59 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:34 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:14 pm
I understand those de-conditioning practices to be conditioning that requires de-conditioning itself, with an infinite regression.
Do you mean that the process is: 1) Re-condition yourself, 2) de-condition your re-conditioning ... ?

That makes sense to me, and it sounds like the raft story: Build a raft, use it to cross an otherwise-uncrossable river, then let it go.
Yes, except this raft, with each row of the oar can only get half way to the other shore. The raft can get infinitely close to the other shore, but sooner or later, one has to leap off the raft to the other shore. Its easier when you get the raft within a hairs breadth of the other shore, though.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Experience

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed May 01, 2019 10:16 pm

Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 2:04 pm
I was taught (here) that the ultimate nature of reality is nondual: no subject/object division.

But experiencing requires this division: a subject (experiencer) experiences an object (experienced).

If both of these are true ... why is experiencing such a huge part of the Buddhist path? What is it that is experienced?

If either of these is not true ... or inaccurate ... please correct them!
"Nondual reality" or whatever you call it isn't an experience. If you listen to Dzogchen teachers, some will elucidate on this. Once "it" becomes experience it is part of perception, usually a recall of a subject-object experience. Experiences are a bridge to the nondual reality, but that reality itself is not actually an experience. Yes I know it seems confusing, but this is something that some teachers make a definite point of. If you meditate arduously enough and have "experiences", you can also grok this....the experience can be the map, but it can never be the territory.

As to the conditioning part...well, not all vehicles and approaches recommended "re-conditioning" as the primary approach, some (Zen, Dzogchen, Vajrayana in places) advocate recognition of the nondual reality as the foundation, rather than the standard approach of "changing your thinking", following specific ethical codes, doing analysis etc.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttaniddeso

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Rick
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Re: Experience

Post by Rick » Wed May 01, 2019 10:21 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:59 pm
Rick wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:34 pm
Do you mean that the process is: 1) Re-condition yourself, 2) de-condition your re-conditioning ... ?

That makes sense to me, and it sounds like the raft story: Build a raft, use it to cross an otherwise-uncrossable river, then let it go.
Yes, except this raft, with each row of the oar can only get half way to the other shore. The raft can get infinitely close to the other shore, but sooner or later, one has to leap off the raft to the other shore. Its easier when you get the raft within a hairs breadth of the other shore, though.
Zeno's Raft? :thumbsup:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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