Universal Atman in Buddhism

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lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:04 pm

Malcolm wrote: The invoked principle is the homogeneity of cause and effect. Unconditioned phenomena are uncaused, and being uncaused, are incapable of acting as causes. For example, unconditioned space, defined as the simple absence of obstruction, can neither affect nor be affected by conditioned elements such as earth, water, fire or air. Why? Because the latter four elements are conditioned or compounded, and the former element, space, is unconditioned or uncompounded. "
I'm not quite sure I get it: when you bring an element such as earth into 'absence of obstruction', it is affected in that it is reduced by the presence of earth... Just like the emptiness in an empty room diminishes as I enter it.

lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:13 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The only other unconditioned phenomena which exist, according to Buddhadharma, are two the kinds of cessation: simple cessation, which is the mere absence of causes; and analytical cessation, which is a result of insight a.k.a., nirvana. .
How would he know that? how can one assert that one knows everything that exists?

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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:15 pm

lostitude wrote:
Malcolm wrote: The invoked principle is the homogeneity of cause and effect. Unconditioned phenomena are uncaused, and being uncaused, are incapable of acting as causes. For example, unconditioned space, defined as the simple absence of obstruction, can neither affect nor be affected by conditioned elements such as earth, water, fire or air. Why? Because the latter four elements are conditioned or compounded, and the former element, space, is unconditioned or uncompounded. "
I'm not quite sure I get it: when you bring an element such as earth into 'absence of obstruction', it is affected in that it is reduced by the presence of earth... Just like the emptiness in an empty room diminishes as I enter it.
No, unconditioned space is not affected in anyway by the presence or absence of anything.

The space your are referring to is conditioned space or volume.

If you want to understand Buddhadharma coherently, I suggest you start with Abhidharma, Vasuabandhu's critical presentation, then work your way through Yogacara and Madhyamaka.
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lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:
lostitude wrote:
Also, about conditioned and unconditioned phenomena being mutually exlusive, this also makes me think about ember that sometimes emits a flame, sometimes doesn't. The fact that the flames come and go indicates nothing about the ember changing or being the same.
This indicate that the ember changes state, with a resulting fluctuation in flames — hence an ember is conditioned.
I think that's the bit I haven't seen an explanation for so far. Why does change imply being conditioned?
Likewise when you wrote "Unconditioned phenomena are uncaused, and being uncaused, are incapable of acting as causes." What makes you say this? How many uncaused phenomena in our world have we been able to observe so as to draw the conclusion that they are incapable of acting as causes?

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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:17 pm

lostitude wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
The only other unconditioned phenomena which exist, according to Buddhadharma, are two the kinds of cessation: simple cessation, which is the mere absence of causes; and analytical cessation, which is a result of insight a.k.a., nirvana. .
How would he know that? how can one assert that one knows everything that exists?
A buddha is omniscient.
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—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
No, unconditioned space is not affected in anyway by the presence or absence of anything.
Then does unconditioned space even exist? If so, where?
If you want to understand Buddhadharma coherently, I suggest you start with Abhidharma, Vasuabandhu's critical presentation, then work your way through Yogacara and Madhyamaka.
Sure, but that will take me about, how many lifetimes exactly? :smile:
A buddha is omniscient.
That's not really answering the question...

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conebeckham
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by conebeckham » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:24 pm

lostitude wrote: I think that's the bit I haven't seen an explanation for so far. Why does change imply being conditioned?
Likewise when you wrote "Unconditioned phenomena are uncaused, and being uncaused, are incapable of acting as causes." What makes you say this? How many uncaused phenomena in our world have we been able to observe so as to draw the conclusion that they are incapable of acting as causes?
When something is subject to change, that change comes about due to causes and conditions, by definition. Increase, Decrease, Decay, Movement, transformation, all of these words imply a change of some sort.....age, for example, comes about due to a variety of causes and conditions, not the least of which is time.

That which changes does not and cannot change without causes and conditions.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:39 pm

conebeckham wrote:
lostitude wrote: I think that's the bit I haven't seen an explanation for so far. Why does change imply being conditioned?
Likewise when you wrote "Unconditioned phenomena are uncaused, and being uncaused, are incapable of acting as causes." What makes you say this? How many uncaused phenomena in our world have we been able to observe so as to draw the conclusion that they are incapable of acting as causes?
When something is subject to change, that change comes about due to causes and conditions, by definition. Increase, Decrease, Decay, Movement, transformation, all of these words imply a change of some sort.....age, for example, comes about due to a variety of causes and conditions, not the least of which is time.

That which changes does not and cannot change without causes and conditions.
Thanks, that answers the first question. I hope someone can answer the second one (why being uncaused makes you incapable of being a cause).

More generally, isn't then the difference between brahmanism and buddhism that one accepts transcendance even of wordly logic while the other holds that logic is universal and cannot 'not be valid' (ie cause and effect)?

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:56 pm

(By the way, is the big bang singularity unconditioned? it seems to meet the criteria of being uncaused, doesn't it?)

Russell
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Russell » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:05 am

lostitude wrote:
Soar wrote:
I think there is still room for gray areas, the basic principle is that they are mutually exclusive, then the degree to which you consistently and deeply realise emptiness will be the degree to which you eliminate ignorance. The rest of that paragraph:
This kind of ascertainment can be strengthened, reinforced as it has a valid support. Therefore the more one develops it, the more one strengthens it, and it will become more and more reinforced so that one can develop it to a much higher level of power. Also one of the unique characteristics of the qualities of mind is that after one has developed it to a certain point, then one does not need to reinforce it again. It becomes a natural part of your habit.
It may well be the case, but then just like HHDL talks about ignorant grasping when seemingly referring to theists, likewise said theists might say the same about those buddhists who use meditation to brainwash themselves into seeing emptiness everywhere. I honestly don't know where the truth lies, but on the face of it I just see a lot of certainties with no really logical basis for them. At least until now, and of course I'm not saying there is no logic, I'm simply saying I don't see it.
Well, how can you know the true nature of something and be ignorant about it at the same time? You can at least agree in theory these two are mutually exclusive, in practise maybe you dont know if you are still deluded or not etc but the basic principle is simple.

And the point isnt to brainwash yourself with something you havent quite grasped, but to develop that which you are sure of. For example, you can see the nonsense the mind believes quite easily if you observe yourself well, but unless you fully develop and integrate your insights you will continue to be conditioned by beliefs you know to be false.

lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:17 am

Soar wrote:
lostitude wrote:It may well be the case, but then just like HHDL talks about ignorant grasping when seemingly referring to theists, likewise said theists might say the same about those buddhists who use meditation to brainwash themselves into seeing emptiness everywhere. I honestly don't know where the truth lies, but on the face of it I just see a lot of certainties with no really logical basis for them. At least until now, and of course I'm not saying there is no logic, I'm simply saying I don't see it.
Well, how can you know the true nature of something and be ignorant about it at the same time? You can at least agree in theory these two are mutually exclusive, in practise maybe you dont know if you are still deluded or not etc but the basic principle is simple.

And the point isnt to brainwash yourself with something you havent quite grasped, but to develop that which you are sure of. For example, you can see the nonsense the mind believes quite easily if you observe yourself well, but unless you fully develop and integrate your insights you will continue to be conditioned by beliefs you know to be false.
Of course, I am not saying that buddhists are being brainwashed. I am saying that theists could well believe it and use it as an argument against buddhists, just the way the Dalai Lama says that theists grab at ignorance, thus suggesting that their meditation and its results are void or illusory.
This kind of ascertainment can be strengthened, reinforced as it has a valid support. Therefore the more one develops it, the more one strengthens it, and it will become more and more reinforced so that one can develop it to a much higher level of power. = this is usually called conditioning. Again, I see what you are saying, but what bothers me is the way the Dalai Lama just classifies other trends as ignorance.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Russell » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:35 am

I guess it is conditioning in the sense of developing a new habit that will free you from all conditioning, which is necessary because we are in the wrong habits to begin with. But repeating seeing reality correctly is not really conditioning yourself. And of course different traditions disagree about what reality is and can use this arguement against each other. Anyway my point was merely to show how I understood the mutually exclusive thing.
Last edited by Russell on Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:52 am

Soar wrote:It is not conditioning if you are developing a correct perception of reality, it is the opposite, but this is a seperate arguement, I was merely pointing out how I understood the mutually exclusive thing.
Yes now I think I understand it too, as long as it supposes that you are talking about one thing that can have no parts, then of course it's either or.

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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:41 am

lostitude wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
No, unconditioned space is not affected in anyway by the presence or absence of anything.
Then does unconditioned space even exist? If so, where?
It exists as the characteristic of absence of obstruction. It exists everywhere.

If you want to understand Buddhadharma coherently, I suggest you start with Abhidharma, Vasuabandhu's critical presentation, then work your way through Yogacara and Madhyamaka.
Sure, but that will take me about, how many lifetimes exactly? :smile:
Seven years.
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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:42 am

lostitude wrote:(By the way, is the big bang singularity unconditioned? it seems to meet the criteria of being uncaused, doesn't it?)
No, since it produces effects, it [the big bang] itself must have a cause.
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The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Dan74 » Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:26 am

Malcolm wrote:
lostitude wrote:(By the way, is the big bang singularity unconditioned? it seems to meet the criteria of being uncaused, doesn't it?)
No, since it produces effects, it [the big bang] itself must have a cause.
A kind of a timeless cause, maybe, because there was no time prior to the Big Bang and causation generally implies time?? Not sure how that would work, but...

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:03 am

lostitude wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:Well, unconditioned = unaffected. How can X affect Y without being in the least affected by Y, or by the fact that it is affecting Y? If I change something, I necessarily change myself as I do it.
But X can change without being affected by Y, it could even change in order to affect Y. Why equate change = being affected by an external cause?
When I want to lift an object from the ground, I bend in order to grab it. The object doesn't bend me.
You are bending because of the object.
And even if the cause were purely internal, it would still mean that that which changes is neither unconditioned nor an entity (as well as prove that the word *internal* does not really work here).
lostitude wrote:Also, if you think about a certain quantity of water: whether you pour it into a bowl or into a glass or a cup, the only thing that will change is its spatial distribution, but no inner change will occur. So how do you equate change with being conditioned?
Way more complicated than that. But even on the level of everyday Western science, if your pour water somewhere, tiny bits of it will evaporate.
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:34 am

Dan74 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
lostitude wrote:(By the way, is the big bang singularity unconditioned? it seems to meet the criteria of being uncaused, doesn't it?)
No, since it produces effects, it [the big bang] itself must have a cause.
A kind of a timeless cause, maybe, because there was no time prior to the Big Bang and causation generally implies time?? Not sure how that would work, but...
What makes you think there was no time prior to the big bang? The big bang happened in time. In any case, Buddhist thinking about these issues is predicated on serial expansions and contractions of the physical universe.
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lostitude
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by lostitude » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:54 am

Malcolm wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
No, since it produces effects, it [the big bang] itself must have a cause.
A kind of a timeless cause, maybe, because there was no time prior to the Big Bang and causation generally implies time?? Not sure how that would work, but...
What makes you think there was no time prior to the big bang? The big bang happened in time. In any case, Buddhist thinking about these issues is predicated on serial expansions and contractions of the physical universe.
Actually according to the theory, time started with the big bang, as time is just one of several dimensions along with spatial ones. There was no time before the expansion, according to the theory. This does not mean that the theory is right, but at least it points to the fact that logic and mathematics allow the possibility of time having a beginning and being caused by something apparently uncaused.
Stephen Hawking wrote:At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang. The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang.
Malcolm wrote:
lostitude wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
No, unconditioned space is not affected in anyway by the presence or absence of anything.
Then does unconditioned space even exist? If so, where?
It exists as the characteristic of absence of obstruction. It exists everywhere.
Where does it exist? The universe we know is not empty, so it's bound to have its emptiness obstructed here and there, even if there was more emptiness than matter in it.
You may have 'absence of obstruction' on a local level, but then it would be limited, hence conditioned if I got you right.
Also, can a 'characteristic' really be considered as a phenomenon? it looks more like a purely conceptual thing to me.
Because similarly one could then say that logic is unconditioned, since it is (supposedly) always the same and not influenced by anything (you can't change logic). And yet of course logic pervades our conditioned world.

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Malcolm
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:12 pm

lostitude wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
What makes you think there was no time prior to the big bang? The big bang happened in time. In any case, Buddhist thinking about these issues is predicated on serial expansions and contractions of the physical universe.
Actually according to the theory, time started with the big bang, as time is just one of several dimensions along with spatial ones. There was no time before the expansion, according to the theory. This does not mean that the theory is right, but at least it points to the fact that logic and mathematics allow the possibility of time having a beginning and being caused by something apparently uncaused.
Stephen Hawking wrote:At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang. The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang.
Yes, I understand this is the theory — from a Buddhist point of view, it is wrong.
Where does it exist? The universe we know is not empty, so it's bound to have its emptiness obstructed here and there, even if there was more emptiness than matter in it.
You may have 'absence of obstruction' on a local level, but then it would be limited, hence conditioned if I got you right.
I told you already, space is everywhere. Matter obstructs, space does not.

Also, can a 'characteristic' really be considered as a phenomenon? it looks more like a purely conceptual thing to me.
The earth is actually the characteristic of matter we call solidity, and so on. Unconditioned space is not a characteristic of matter, but because of space, matter can form and perish.

This space is not the same kind of space referred to in physics. They do not have a math for this.
Because similarly one could then say that logic is unconditioned, since it is (supposedly) always the same and not influenced by anything (you can't change logic). And yet of course logic pervades our conditioned world.
Which logic are you referring to? Certainly not the logic of Aristotelian propositions and so forth.

In any case, even space is not something which is ultimate, according to Madhyamaka reasonings. It is still unconditioned though.
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—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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