Discussion in Greg Goode's group, Emptiness

Patrick Dorsey

March 24 at 12:26pm

I'm curious Greg and anybody else what you might think of Ken Wilbers explanation of Emptiness, somehow doesn't seem the same as what's being referred to here.


Toward a Fourth Turning - The Fourth Turning

By Ken Wilber Buddhism has, of all the major religions, always had a very self-reflexive understanding of itself as growing, evolving, unfolding. Nowhere is this better seen than in Buddhism’s own notion of “Three (or Four) Turnings,” the...


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    James O'Neill, Anjin Bodhisattva and John Doughty like this.

    Greg Goode Can you summarize it in a few sentences?

    March 24 at 12:30pm · Edited · Like

    Patrick Dorsey Shunyata, typically translated as Emptiness (sometimes Nothingness, or the Plenum/Void), Ken's definition

    March 24 at 12:36pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode So far, that's in line with what we talk about. Although I happen like the Prasangika or Western anti-essentialist approach, the teachings have other angles that we talk about too. There are Yogachara and Mahamudra and Zen and science and linguistic and artistic approaches we've discussed. David Marshall contributed an Integralist approach. Do you know him? I see this group as open to all kinds of angles!

    March 24 at 12:39pm · Edited · Like · 3

    Patrick Dorsey Thanks Greg, I appreciate your openness. I don't know David, is there an article here somewhere that he wrote?

    March 24 at 12:54pm · Like · 1

    Greg Goode Try a search for his name here. I really liked his light touch with approaching emptiness from Integral. He is active in Integral fb groups, and a few Internet forums, I think.....

    March 24 at 12:57pm · Like · 4

    David Marshall Hi, Patrick. And thank you for the kind comments, Greg.

    I think Wilber favors an interpretation of emptiness where the ultimate view is simply unspeakable -- not empty, not full, not anything that can be spoken or written. Any description is simply metaphorical. In this view, emptiness is path, not ultimate. Ultimate is beyond words.

    He will tend to use positive metaphors like "nonduality" more than most Buddhists. His view (as written in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality) is that since ultimate is neither emptiness nor fullness nor anything else that can be spoken, it doesn't matter so much what sort of metaphor we use as long as it works. That's heretical in some paths that favor the emptiness metaphor or via negativa, so it does sometimes become a point of contention.

    My own view is that it is probably a personality type difference whether we use positive or negative metaphors. Some will say that if you're not using negative metaphors you must be attached to your ego or not really hardcore or something, and this may sometimes be the case, but I don't think it's always the case.

    March 24 at 2:30pm · Edited · Like · 9

    Patrick Dorsey Hi David,

    Thanks for the explanation, sounds good to me.

    March 24 at 2:19pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness [śūnyatā] isn't the opposite of 'fullness' though.

    March 24 at 2:21pm · Like · 3

    David Marshall I agree, Kyle. Emptiness has no opposite.

    March 24 at 2:25pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness allows for opposites, it's just that opposites are empty, meaning they lack inherency.

    Emptiness isn't really a thing that can or can't have opposites though.

    Meaning that if emptiness is viewed as an ontological non-duality or something of the like which is found in other teachings, then a statement like 'X has no opposite' is accurate.

    But emptiness (in the sense of śūnyatā) is not like that.

    March 24 at 2:44pm · Like · 2

    Patrick Dorsey David, what does "emptiness is path, not ultimate" mean, could you flesh that out in layman's terms for me please?

    March 24 at 2:55pm · Like · 1

    Dannon Flynn Maybe: like a black hole is empty, but who knows what happens when you go through the other side?

    March 24 at 5:07pm · Like · 1

    Dawid Dahl I think the way in which Ken tends to write emptiness with a capital E tells us so much about his perspective on this concept.

    Having read a lot of Ken's work, it is often very clear that he doesn't view emptiness simply as the absence of inherent existence. His view is that it is a kind of monolithic absolute reality, very similar to "Awareness" and "Brahman" in the Hindu tradition.

    Ken has developed a really intricate and all-encompassing theoretical framework called AQAL. AQAL, Ken says, is a Theory of Everything, which means that it should be able to "explain everything."

    In AQAL it is, mainly because it claims to be able to explain everything, very important that this kind of monolithic absolute reality exists. So what I believe happens is that Ken has to defend Emptiness as this monolithic absolute reality because if that concept of his were to be put in question, his entire Theory of Everything (and thereby his credibility), would be put in question. His emptiness with a capital E is like a card at the base of a card house—remove it, and the entire AQAL card house crumbles.

    This is a bit annoying because it means that it not possible to change his, or by extension his followers', minds in any way; they are closed to any explanation of emptiness that does not anchor it in a monolithic absolute reality.

    So when I say, "emptiness is simply the absence of inherent existence," a dedicated follower of Ken's AQAL theory will not listen, but will automatically - I argue as a kind of defense mechanism - be of the assumption that the emptiness of which I speak is simply another word for Awareness or Brahman or God.

    March 24 at 5:24pm · Edited · Like · 3

    Kyle Dixon What about Ken reinventing the (dharma) wheel with his "fourth turning"?

    March 24 at 6:15pm · Like

    David Marshall Greg, I mean that emptiness is a path to the inexpressible. Emptiness logic, emptiness meditations, and the like are used as a bridge to realize the inexpressible. Once the inexpressible is realized it is seen that emptiness, while perhaps a good metaphor, can't capture the whole truth.

    Dawid, awfully nice to chat with you again. Well, I think Wilber's view is not that it is a monolothic reality, but that you can't say it exists and you can't say it doesn't exist -- you can't say anything about it, ultimately.

    So . . . emptiness is not an absence of inherent existence, just like it's not Brahman, nonduality, and anything else you care to name it or how you try to describe it. But as a shorthand you can call it emptiness, nonduality, Buddha Nature -- as a convention.

    However, we could also take Almaas' view that rather than indescribable it is inexhaustible. That is, you can never run out of things to say about it. To say it is just one metaphor or describe it in just one way is reductive.

    However, you are very eloquent in your reduction!

    March 24 at 6:21pm · Like · 4

    Kyle Dixon The point of the buddhadharma is that there is no inherent 'it' which is inexpressible or inexhaustible etc. for if there was that would just be one more thing to be empty.

    So there is only the conventions. There is no referent that the conventions attempt to portray or express. The point of emptiness is realizing that all conventions are inferential, and that realization liberates you from the cage of conditioning which sees 'its' and 'thats' and 'things' and so on.

    March 24 at 6:32pm · Edited · Like · 5

    Tom Radcliffe Hmmmmm. I'm afraid I have always taken a bit of an amused view of our Ken. I had a lot of discussions about him when I worked at Watkins Books and was persuaded to read some of his musings. I think to be honest that Ken is all about Ken.

    March 24 at 8:57pm · Like

    Patrick Dorsey Thanks David for the further explanation of emptiness as path

    March 24 at 10:45pm · Like · 1

    Kyogan O'Neill ~ Hi Kyle, I'm not sure what you mean by :
    " So there is only the conventions. There is no referent that the conventions attempt to portray or express. "

    Would one little example of "a convention" be to use the label "Surf" or "Wave" to indicate "the turbulent movement of ocean water hitting the beach ? (and of course also using conventional labels for "ocean", "beach" etc)

    I ask that because the next question would be "Have you, Kyle, ever gone surfing and been caught in a very strong 'dumper wave', where you are swept off your feet, spun head over heels, and slammed down hard on the underwater sand, despite your spontaneous wish and desperate struggles to escape ? (Maybe you have to be on an Australian beach for the likelihood of such an experience.)

    Anyway, i have had that experience several times (conventionally speaking), and a most striking and undeniable feature of the whole event is that, altho i am utterly involved in it with my whole-body-mind, the overwhelming force of it occurs 'from the side of the ocean' (as it were). Not from the side of my inferential conventional labeling of conceptual constructs.

    This "oceanic force" is implacably powerful, and clearly non-human and just as clearly not constructed of contingent linguistic signs.
    Yet it is irresistible and will sweep me along, all without me being able to impose my will to escape the engulfing power of "the wave", or to impose my dialectical intellect to refute the implied inferential claim that "a wave" is an inherent "it" possessing a fixed "essence" and such "inherent characteristics" as a certain size, shape, momentum, density, weight etc. No such thoughts or inferential conventions have time to emerge as the desperate struggle of the organism to try to stay alive fully utilizes the energies of all body-mind faculties in the primal service of survival.

    This indicates to me that there is a real and significant difference between (1- any pre-conceptual engagement with the whole-body-mind in a process of non-human elemental force, and (2- reification of apparent phenomena based on conceptual labeling…
    Most significantly, (2) may indeed occur - and lead to multiple erroneous assumptions. But (1) can also occur even if (2) never raises it's ugly head. And whether (2) does occur or not, the actuality and potency of any (1) does not depend on, nor is generated or sustained by, the presence or function of any (2)

    In the midst of an actual energetic enactment of finding oneself "being dumped by a wave", (as we might later refer to it during leisurely reconsideration over a cold beer), then to proclaim that "the wave" is a mere convention of conceptual labeling, seems highly implausible, at best.
    But especially to claim that "there is no referent that the convention is attempting to convey", when speaking of "the dumper wave", seems to me (or anyone whose ever been dumped by a wave) to be little less than absurd.
    [Surely only french textural deconstructionists or gelugpa prasangikas who have never been surfing would make such an error]

    The attempt to validate such a wild-eyed claim still seems to me to depend on the equally implausible belief that the ancient (pre-human, thus pre-linguistic) forces of the elemental world are some kind of cultural by-product of human conceptual activity.

    This scholastic claim that "there is no referent that conventional labels refer to" is surely not true in any lived context of pre-reflexive immediacy. And the idea that it is true seems to depend on the highly unlikely speculative dogma that the emergence of the human conceptual faculty historically preceded the emergence (13.6 billion yrs ago) of the energetic plasma fields that condensed into galaxies, eventually producing planets (4.5 bill yr ago), one of which eventually produced our species, which eventually produced spoken language, which eventually produced monastic dialectical colleges, which eventually produced the capacity for dialectical refutation of the inferential attribution of inherent existence to conceptually designated entities, etc.

    With all due respect to the great dialectical subtlety and conceptual reach of the Madyamakan system, it still seems to me, that any mentalizing hominids who've lost the ability to clearly distinguish 'sensations and perceptions of the non-human elemental forces' from 'socially contingent conceptual structures' (including those that either affirm, or deny, the "inherent existence" of objects of awareness), are in serious danger of being "dumped" by "the implacable forces of interdependently originated life". (as it were)

    Altho we may be "liberated from the cage of conditioning" that's been built by attributing reified concreteness to mere conceptual constructs, by holding to the idea that there are no inherently fixed entities in the perpetual flux of appearances, alas we won't be able to navigate the implacable forces of non-human planetary nature by clinging to the conceptual formula that no conventional labels ever portray a non-linguistic referent. ~ Tell that to the next "dumper" !

    March 24 at 10:56pm · Like · 1

    Greg Goode Kyogan, welcome back! I've surfed, body-surfed, and had skating and bicycle accidents on the street. As for dumping, dumpers, oceans, elemental forces - they can be powerful and overwhelming. But why must they be inherent? What does that add?

    By inherent, I don't mean "really strong" or "not imagined" or "existed before hominids." I mean it in the Madhyamika way, independent of designation, independent of pieces and parts, and independent of conditions.

    A good example would be the way the Tibetan Kagyus think of awareness in their Mahamudra meditations. Awareness is taught and experienced as powerful and elemental and global, but still empty, non-inherent.

    (BTW, I am not saying that "there is nothing inherent." I'm just saying that this is what the emptiness teachings say, if you get my difference.....)

    March 25 at 12:06am · Edited · Like · 3

    David Marshall Kyle, there are many different buddhadharmas, as much as some schools want to say that they're the one true school.

    The schools I like regard emptiness and buddha nature as equals. This view includes a dynamic feature of emptiness or sees emptiness and buddha nature as two sides of the same coin. This dynamism is not explained or brought out so well with a strong emptiness interpretation. Francisco Varela gives us a taste of this view in the following passage:

    "We touch here on an extremely important and philosophically delicate point: Is there a ground underlying the nonsolidity of the self? Or more succinctly, What is left in sunyata? The Tibetan Buddhist tradition talks about the constituents of virtual mind as being transformed by the continued boddhisattva journey into wisdom. This sense of transformation does not mean going away from the world and getting out of mental functioning, since the very constituents on which the inaccurate sense of self and world are based are also the basis of wisdom. The means of transforming mental constituents into wisdom is intelligent awareness, that is, the moment-to-moment realization of the virtual self as it is -- empty of any egoistic ground whatsoever, yet filled with wisdom. Here one is positing that authentic care resides at the very ground of Being, and can be made fully manifest in a sustained, successful ethical training. A thoroughly alien thought for our nihilistic Western mood, indeed, but one worthy of being entertained."

    Ethical Know-How, p. 73

    March 25 at 11:07am · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon Oh I didn't suggest there was one true school. The schools I like also posit an empty dynamism, however they accomplish this without reifying wisdom into a ground of being. Most schools in the buddhadharma do not advocate for a 'ground' underlying the emptiness of the relative etc. the ones which do are perhaps the Jonang gzhan stong pas.

    There are many who severely confuse other traditions in the buddhadharma as upholding a 'ground of being' when those traditions do not. These views are very subtle. I'm not sure what tradition Francisco Varela is championing but he also may very well be a victim of these common misconceptions.

    March 25 at 12:15pm · Edited · Like

    David Marshall Varela takes the Madhyamika view that you can't say it exists and you can't say it doesn't exist. You can't reify it, and you can't not reify it either. To say that you can't reify it would be as much of a mistake in this school as reifying it. It is neither emptiness nor being, ultimately.

    In the end, meditation is the important thing, not nomenclature. Emptiness is revealed through meditation, not thinking.

    March 25 at 12:30pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness is not a negative. So it is not contrasted by being. Emptiness is the freedom from extremes.

    March 25 at 12:40pm · Like · 3

    Greg Goode David, Fransicso Varela was a Chogyam Trungpa student. I'm not aware that they collapse the existence and reification distinctions. For Prasangika, existing/not-existing is very different from reifying/not-reifying. Is that a Madhyamika approach?

    For the Prasangika approach, reification is something we do or don't do. We reify if we exaggerate the kind of existence we think a thing has. We don't reify if we don't exaggerate. By "exaggerate" is meant attributing true, inherent existence to something.

    Prasangika wouldn't want to avoid saying that we can reify, and it wouldn't want to avoid saying that we don't have to reify. They'd like to say that our emptiness realizations will help us avoid reifying. To disallow saying these things would in effect wash out the conventional distinction between attachment and freedom, for the Prasangikas.

    Prasangika also value a kind of realization that happens through thinking. For them, it is a necessary stage for the non-conceptual realization that transcends thinking.....

    March 25 at 1:31pm · Edited · Like · 2

    David Marshall That's an interesting point, Greg, the difference between existence/non-existence and reifying/not reifying. They seem somewhat related. With regard to the existence/non-existence issue, Varela explicitly presents the view that you can't say it exists and you can't say it doesn't exist as the Madyhamika interpretation.

    Then -- and this is the point that a lot of people don't like -- if neither is true, then either can be used conventionally as a metaphor. So I think that is why Varela is comfortable switching back and forth between emptiness and being. When he says "Being" I don't think he is reifying, but just using the term as a metaphor. But to some people it does look like reifying.

    Shunryu Suzuki takes a similar view, a kind of paradoxical integration of the two where you don't always have to say both, neither, etc. but sometimes you can say one or the other -- emptiness, true nature, buddha nature. He bounces around from one to the other, saying that it's important to see all sides, but I wouldn't say he is reifying when he says true nature or buddha nature; I would just say he is lighting on a particular view for a moment.

    Both Being and Emptiness can be a trap, can't they? People can get stuck in viewing things from just one perspective, so another perspective is necessary to knock them free. That's how I view the integration between the two -- they're both necessary, they can both be helpful, and they can both be a trap. We need both, but can't take either with ultimate seriousness.

    March 25 at 2:18pm · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness is generally not a trap, because emptiness proper is the pacification of views.

    You still seem to be misinterpreting emptiness as a quality which contrasts 'being'. As if emptiness was non-being or something.

    March 25 at 2:23pm · Like · 2

    Kyle Dixon Traditionally, the aspect which cannot be said to exist nor not exist etc., is the nature of mind. The saying goes, paraphrased; it is not existent, even the conquerors cannot see it. It isn't nonexistent, for it is the basis of samsara and nirvana.

    This is just pointing to the non-dual emptiness and clarity which is the nature of mind. Clarity alone is mind, when clarity is realized to be empty i.e. non-arisen, that is the nature of mind.

    The knowledge of non-arising [dharmatā] is wisdom, and wisdom is also empty.

    March 25 at 2:23pm · Like · 2

    David Marshall So, yes, Greg, I was using the term "reify" a little loosely earlier, partly because people often take metaphorical use as reification. To reify is to believe the ultimate is Being with no ifs, ands, or buts. To be nihilistic is to believe the ultimate is emptiness with no ifs, ands, or buts. But metaphorical use of either or both can be helpful as a bridge.

    March 25 at 2:24pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness does not suggest nihilism. Emptiness is the freedom from eternalism and nihilism. You seem to be misinterpreting or misunderstanding emptiness.

    March 25 at 2:26pm · Edited · Like · 1

    David Marshall Being is also free from eternalism and nihilism, Kyle. No need to fixate on one word as if it's the ultimate truth. It's reification if someone is fixated on Being, nihilism if someone is fixated on emptiness. You have a particular view of emptiness, which is fine, but it's not the only way to interpret it.

    March 25 at 2:29pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Being by definition is suggesting existence. If something has 'being' then it exists. So there is no way 'being' is free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Being is an extreme view.

    Again it is not nihilism if someone suggests emptiness is the proper ultimate view, which it is, according to Buddhism.

    The particular view of emptiness I'm exploring is the proper view of a lack of inherency, or a freedom from extremes, both notions are synonymous.

    March 25 at 2:34pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness is a freedom from (i) being, (ii) non-being, (iii) both being and non-being, and (iv) neither being or non-being.

    March 25 at 2:36pm · Like · 1

    David Marshall By that logic, emptiness suggests a lack of existence and is also an extreme view. You're simply choosing to give "emptiness" a transcendental meaning, as if it's some kind of super signifier, and arbitrarily denying the right to give any other signifier that same transcendental meaning.

    March 25 at 2:41pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Emptiness denies inherent existence, but allows for conventional existence.

    I can assure you I'm not simply choosing to see emptiness this way.

    The signifiers are simply the varying conventional designations which constitute relative experience. If there is something which is posited in that conventional sense, be it anything, such as a car, a dog, a thought, time, dimension, etc., then that is something which is empty, because it lacks inherent existence. The conventional application of said 'thing' is not denied, but that thing cannot be found when sought. That 'not finding' is the emptiness of that thing. The traditional view is that this lack of findability is not a negation, because the thing in question cannot be found to begin with, and we cannot truly negate something which never arose to begin with.

    So things appear, and have relative and conventional functionality, however they have no true core, or essence, or being. They are merely a temporary coming together of cause and condition. And that which arises due to a cause, and only lasts in accordance with conditions, cannot be said to exist. If it cannot exist then it cannot not-exist, if it cannot do either it cannot do both (exist and not-exist), and if it cannot do both it cannot do neither.

    March 25 at 2:51pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Greg Goode I don't mind "being" talk, but which emptiness teachings is it part of? I've never seen any emptiness teachings present Being (David capitalized it) as necessary.

    I can imagine a view that likes to integrate/dominate both emptiness and substantialist teachings, having access to all if them. That's fine, but it's too much a stretch to call something like that an emptiness teaching. Language is vast! New names can be created!

    March 25 at 2:53pm · Edited · Like · 3

    Greg Goode David, are you saying that there are transcendental meanings in the emptiness teachings?? Can you cite Madhyamika sutras or commentaries to that effect? Usually it's accused of nihilism, not transcendentalism....

    March 25 at 3:01pm · Like

    David Marshall Well, it probably isn't part of an emptiness teaching as such, but it can be part of an integrated teaching such as that of Shunryu Suzuki, whose picture is at the top of the page here. Below is one example of Suzuki speaking with a being-like metaphor -- "true self." It's an unedited teaching, so it may be a little difficult to parse out at times:

    "So before you understand what is non-self or selflessness, it is necessary to understand, maybe, teaching of non-being. Nothing exist, although it exists, but on the other hand, it is not permanent. It is tentative being, including ourselves. We say “self”—if we—when we say “self,” it is already self projected outside of yourself. It is objective self, not true self.

    "So that kind of objective being is—is not constant, not substantial. It is projected figure of something, or you may say it is just tentative form and color of something great. Or you may say it is like a wave in the ocean. Wave doesn’t exist—it exist, you know [laughs], but actually if someone ask you what is wave, it is difficult to answer. So you will give up to seek for what is true self, you know. True self is always [laughs] on your side. It cannot be object of anything. It is always subject. It is always independent, and it is universal to every phenomenal being."


    So he says, "True self is . . . always subject" -- Absolute Subjectivity or Being.

    I think Absolute Subjectivity could qualify broadly as an "emptiness" teaching because if you think about it, one without a second can't be a one.

    March 25 at 3:09pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Great discussion! I wish I could have jumped in earlier.

    What David is saying resonates a lot with me, especially the points about ineffability earlier in the discussion.

    Actually, Dannon said something early on which blew me away a little:

    Dannon wrote:
    > Maybe: like a black hole is empty, but who knows what happens when you go through the other side?

    So lemme share something about that.

    When I try to make sense of the, let's just call it, "events of ineffability", that has occurred, I find that the idea of "event horizon" is so extremely pertinent that I have actually contemplated "the mind", as in 'ignorance' or 'self-consciousness', as literally some kind of black hole.

    From the perspective of mind, everything is subsumed or appropriated by way of reference to itself—the mind grasps *everything* and makes it a mirror-image of itself.

    Beyond that—and such a "beyond" (which of course is just an expression) is accessible—... well the problem is that nothing can be said of it. Nothing can qualify it, because nothing exists in relation to it—no references obtain.

    Of course, one could spin all kinds of ways of speaking of it—as I have just done above—for example, instead of saying that "there is nothing" one could just as well say that "everything is it"; that it is the Mind that is not our experiences, yet is also not separate from it.

    Anyway, my point was in regards to the idea of "event horizon". This analogy resonates extremely well with me. But actually, the problem is that I can't describe how or why. The significance is what it is that happens on that very edge which 'event horizon' designates; how from within the event horizon there is just absolutely nothing outside of it, one cannot see outside it because even light does not escape the pull, yet by some glitch as-by-grace one can escape the pull and then, suddenly, ...

    March 25 at 4:20pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Before the emptiness hammer falls on my head, I'd like to clarify this:

    Stian wrote:
    > Nothing can qualify it, because nothing exists in relation to it—no references obtain.

    At first glance this seems to be a statement heavy with inherency, and I'm sure some prasangikas here are smugly rubbing their hands over the upcoming satisfaction of logically destroying this statement.

    But what is lost on those, is that what is pointed to here is what is beyond the mind which attributes inherency. In the mere attempt to communicate this (hint! hint!) there must be recourse to the web of interdependent conceptual structures, and the person who has not seen the absolute coincidence of ultimate and relative will, of course, attribute inherency to those conceptual structures.

    March 25 at 5:05pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode No prob with true self talk either, as long as you aren't attributing it to emptiness teachings!

    Integral theories are under no obligation to pass muster with emptiness. They have their own desiderata. Though David, I find your Integral patter lighter than most I've seen!

    March 25 at 3:22pm · Like · 2

    David Marshall Greg, just so we're communicating, what is your understanding of the word "transcendental"?

    March 25 at 3:23pm · Like · 1

    Greg Goode You go first - you used it first!!

    March 25 at 3:24pm · Like · 1

    David Marshall Well, you asked me why I associated it with emptiness or Madhyamika, so I just wanted to be clear that we're getting the same signified there before I went ahead and tried to answer your question.

    March 25 at 3:25pm · Like

    Greg Goode Yeah, so go ahead, why were you saying that? Does Nagarjuna do it?

    March 25 at 3:33pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Kyle wrote:
    > Being by definition is suggesting existence. If something has 'being' then it exists. So there is no way 'being' is free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Being is an extreme view.

    No Kyle. Being is interdependently arisen, i.e. empty. It’s even explicitly mentioned as one of the nidanas.

    Is or is not does not apply. Instead, it depends.

    As long as being (Capitalized or not) is seen as actually positing inherent existence, how can one be said to have seen emptiness?

    Likewise, as long as emptiness (Capitalized or not) is seen as actually positing lack of inherent existence, how can one be said to have seen emptiness?

    March 25 at 3:35pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode Stian, because emptiness is empty, it can't actually posit anything....

    March 25 at 3:36pm · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The prasangika school does not even posit emptiness. As discussed before, prasangika only specifically refutes specifically posited inherencies.

    As such it is a fantastic wink to ineffability.

    It's a hint for one to "shut up", not only verbally, but entirely.

    This is also why it is seen as the highest view in Tibetan Buddhism. The view is not emptiness—there is no view.

    March 25 at 3:41pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yea, so where does that leave one? "Groundlessness" is saying too much

    March 25 at 3:38pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Greg Goode But they call it emptiness for convenience. Check Nagarjuna's Treatise 24:18.

    March 25 at 3:41pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yea, of course. But the realization is entirely private and, one could say, silent. The emptiness communicated is not the emptiness realized. Any trace of emptiness is proof of lack of realization of emptiness.

    March 25 at 3:43pm · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Or, as some old, dead dude said, paraphrased: The Way that can be spoken, is not the true Way.

    March 25 at 3:45pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode G'night peeps, going to bed now!!

    March 25 at 3:45pm · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon Being as a notion suggests existence. In order to dissolve that illusion of being, the correct conventional view of dependent origination is applied so that emptiness can be recognized.

    But being doesn't truly originate dependently, because that which arises dependently never truly arises.

    Is or is-not are the fabricated abstractions of deluded cognition.

    For something to have true 'being' it would have to exist. Since inherent existence is impossible, inherent being is impossible, and conventional being isn't truly being.

    Emptiness does actually posit a lack of inherent existence, that is the function of the conventional designation we refer to as emptiness. We can only work with conventional designations, the fact that none of them posses inherency goes without saying.

    The actual seeing of emptiness is not going to be found within the conventional descriptions either way, so no use in pulling that card.

    March 25 at 3:45pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Nothing suggests (inherent) existence—that, I claim, is seeing emptiness.

    This is how it is always-already and why 'being' doesn't truly originate dependently.

    Kyle wrote:
    > For something to have true 'being' it would have to exist.

    Nothing has (inherent) existence, it's like the horns of a rabbit. One might just as well stop talking about it.

    The very positing of the problem is the problem—i.e. is based on 'mind'.

    Kyle wrote:
    > Emptiness does actually posit a lack of inherent existence.

    In realization of emptiness, lack of inherent existence is not known, because its referent, inherent existence, is not known. This is wisdom.

    Anyway, I meant the prasangika school. It does not posit emptiness. Svatantrika does. Read up on it if you care to

    March 25 at 3:53pm · Like

    David Marshall Greg, I used it because of something Kyle said. He said:

    "Emptiness is a freedom from (i) being, (ii) non-being, (iii) both being and non-being, and (iv) neither being or non-being."

    Now whether we mean "transcendental" in a meditative sense or as some kind of meta-cognition, there is at least something transcendental about this use of "emptiness." It is not the common usage of the word, which implies its opposite. It is being used as some kind of super signifier.

    I interpret Nagarjuna to be using it in a more meditative sense as he was clarifying the Buddha's teachings, and the Buddha was not involved with emptiness logic, but with sitting under the bodhi tree and recommending that people count their breaths.

    March 25 at 5:12pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Well, I don't know about the counting of breaths, but as far as I have studied, his teaching can be emphasized in many ways but with a common message. One way that I particularly like is the separation of the interdependent functions of "discrimination" and "name-and-form".

    In one type of expression in the suttas, 'discrimination' remains, but now non-discriminative, while 'name-and-form' takes its leave. Now if that's not a description of "ineffable", literally, then I don't know

    March 25 at 4:00pm · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon I'm not getting the 'nothing suggests inherent existence equals seeing emptiness'.

    Nothing has inherent existence, and inherency is like horns on a rabbit, however you can't just sweep conditioned inclinations of inherency; being and a lack thereof, under the rug. That isn't piercing the veil.

    No the very positing of the problem is not the problem, the problem is delusion and habitual propensities. Overturning delusion does not overturn the propensities, but it removes the basis for their continued proliferation.

    In the realization of emptiness, lack of inherent existence is explicitly known, like a slap to the face. Why is that? Because it is the sudden cessation of delusory proliferation, and the epiphany which accompanies the cognition of that sudden cessation.

    March 25 at 4:05pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland "Emptiness is a freedom from (i) being, (ii) non-being, (iii) both being and non-being, and (iv) neither being or non-being."

    The fault is in believing that this, in some peculiar way or another, somehow references a state of affairs; that there is some quasi-form of being that is not really like "being", and not really like "non-being", not reality like both and not really like either, but still... somehow... something.

    First of all, it is a remnant of ancient Indian logic, which often took this form of argumentation.

    Second, the point is not some inexplicable quasi-being, but—and this is just one way of expression—to leave it alone. It's a question, problem or positing that entirely lacks determinability and should therefore be entirely wiped out, forgotten. It occurs within a scope which is incompatible with its resolution.

    March 25 at 5:09pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Knowing the lack of inherent existence is just knowing the other side of the independent pair of existence-and-non-existence.

    A logical proof for that is that absence can not be known unless in reference to presence.

    I agree about the momentum of habitual propensities, though

    March 25 at 4:08pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon No, you're not understanding. Emptiness is a freedom from those extremes, because the X which could adhere to those extremes is unfindable.

    It in no way suggests any quasi-anything.

    March 25 at 4:08pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Sure. I did say that the fault was believing that the statement references some kind of quasi-state-of-affairs.

    March 25 at 4:09pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Again, no it isn't. Knowing the lack of inherency is knowledge of the non-arising of the X which could adhere to an interdependent pair of existence and non-existence. The cessation of the cause for the arising of that misconception.

    Yes, the absence is in reference to the career of inherent views that your life revolved around prior to the collapse of the debilitating ignorance which sustained the illusion of inherency. Suddenly, in mere arising there is no arising.

    March 25 at 4:13pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon The unfindability of an essential nature is not a quasi-state of affairs.

    March 25 at 4:15pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Okay, I see, Kyle (or maybe you don't agree with that!)

    I have seen both of these: (1) the direct, immediate piercing through inherency and (2) the penetration through to the totally referenceless ineffable (which is just as expression).

    I know where I'm putting my money

    March 25 at 4:25pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Will you please read my comment again (the one about 'quasi')? You have misunderstood it.

    Oh, but anyway, I don't think I'll be following up on this topic, but thanks for playing

    March 25 at 4:17pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon Your quasi-comment, if it was even directed at me to begin with, I don't see how - was suggesting that the freedom from the tetralemma somehow implies a 'somehow something' much like you'd find in ancient Indian logic, such as descriptions of Brahman or the like. An assertion that I don't agree with.

    The freedom from the tetralemma is not because there is an ontological ground or a 'somehow something' which evades the suggested extremes. That would make no sense.

    And your second point - of leaving it alone - will only be a sufficient and efficient praxis if dharmatā has been ascertained and one is resting with that direct cognition.

    March 25 at 4:25pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yeah, that's exactly why I asked for you to re-read it. In short, that (i.e. that there is "somehow something" suggested by the tetralemma) is the fault.

    March 25 at 4:27pm · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon If my interpretation is incorrect then correct me. But being that I've read the post numerous times at this point in having to reference your statements, I most likely will not suddenly discover that I've misread it. So spell it out for me and break it down for me.

    March 25 at 4:29pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I'm sorry, I didn't mean to seem presumptions: I could have clarified in a separate comment, but instead edited the one above with a clarification; maybe you didn't catch the edit.

    March 25 at 10:00pm · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon The state of affairs it references is (i) removing the extremes the mind and phenomena naturally fall to, in both projection and status, and (ii) conveying that the definitive insight is the pacification of views, for a view can only be in reference to an existent and/or a non-existent.

    This is prescriptive, not descriptive.

    March 25 at 4:40pm · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I would not have put it like that, but I kind-of agree, haha

    March 25 at 4:47pm · Like

    Kyle Dixon How would you have put it?

    March 25 at 4:49pm · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland The way in which prasangika refutation leaves one groundless. The way Zen koans are meant to halt conceptualizing. The way name-and-form is cut from consciousness. The way all-pervasive spaciousness has no place to land.

    That there is nothing "to figure out" as such—there's no more and no less correct way of apprehending it. Rather that the impulsion to "figure out" is the issue.

    As such, the tetralemma references nothing. It means nothing. One is not meant to interpret it and enumerate various points of significance, but instead to drop the very gesture to grasp its meaning, to stop signifying.

    March 25 at 5:11pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon Ah, well likewise I would not have put it like that, and I respectfully disagree.

    March 25 at 4:59pm · Like · 1

    Dawid Dahl Kyle Dixon: "The traditional view is that this lack of findability is not a negation, because the thing in question cannot be found to begin with, and we cannot truly negate something which never arose to begin with."


    March 25 at 5:24pm · Like · 1

    Dawid Dahl David Marshall: "[...] the Buddha was not involved with emptiness logic, but with sitting under the bodhi tree and recommending that people count their breaths."

    You know when he sat under the tree, and Mara tempted him, and armies launched countless arrows his way in response to which he turned them into harmless lotus petals?

    This, I personally believe, is clearly poetic metaphors of a Gautama in deep emptiness contemplation. It is phrased in this way to make people kind of understand what was going on there - emptiness analysis - without going into a language that would confuse the non-intellectual (in integral-speech meaning: Amber and lower) people at the time.

    He thought the arrows (metaphor for attachments) were inherently existent, and thus harmful and dangerous. But then he through emptiness analysis realized that they were empty of inherent existence, so the arrows turned into something non-harmful, because whatever is only conventional and not inherently existent is not harmful at all.

    I had a dream myself some years ago. I was chased on a highway by some men who had the intention to beat me or worse. But then I realized that I was dreaming. So I sat down on the road in the lotus position, and suddenly they all stopped running and became very peaceful. They just wandered around awkwardly and aimlessly. I had in effect pacified them by realizing their illusory nature.

    (For the record, for reasons we can discuss elsewhere I don't recommend doing that in waking life if you are chased by some madmen.)

    The point here to you David is that I didn't realize that I was dreaming because some ineffable wisdom which would be independent of my cognitive functioning somehow mysteriously descended on me. No, I realized it because I had been practicing lucid dreaming (exercises not independent of cognitive functioning) as well as doing a lot of emptiness meditation, which of course involves calming the mind, but also logic and thinking. And I argue it was similar with Gautama under that tree—his realization was not independent of cognitive functioning, of emptiness analysis.

    March 25 at 6:09pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Greg Goode Stian, you mention Prasangikas a lot. What are your sources? Check out the Jeffrey Hopkins's works on emptiness, or the Dalai Lama's "How to See Yourself As You Really Are," and see that they teach emptinesses as objects of cognition: both inferential knowledge and direct yogic (nonconceptual) perception. For them, emptinesses are specific absences, they are not ineffabilities. There is a difference between the experience, the quality of mind, and the object that is cognized. It's not all mushed together. And it all happens conventionally, with reference to "emptiness" but without reification.

    Especially check out Hopkins's "Meditation on Emptiness."

    I know the Tibetan followers of Tsong-Kha-Pa have a huge pedagogical edifice that one won't find in Nagarjuna. Not everyone likes all that, including the other Tibetan schools!! But they are also counted as Prasangikas or Consequentialists.

    March 25 at 9:56pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Greg Goode David, check out Nagarjuna's Treatise, 24:18, which gives a definition of emptiness that shows that it is quite pragmatic and conventional. I don't see anything transcendental or meditative in that sloka.

    Maybe by "transcendentalist" you mean what I mean by "realist" or "representationalist," the view that the referents of words exist inherently. If so, then the tetralemma when used as per Madhyamika, doesn't assert this sense, it is designed to deflate it.

    So it is a good question - when are the cotuskoti or tetrelamma appropriate, and when not? I think it's a fascinating question. It sort of has to do with the conversational context, and purpose of that specific offering. They usually occur when the writer is showing the absurdity of interpreting words in a realist or representationalist sense. If conversant A seems to be imputing a realist sense to a key term in a discussion, then conversant B, a Madhyamika smart-aleck dialectician, can respond with a tetrelamma. But this kind of utterance of a tetralemma is a dialectical, reductio-ad-absurdum move, using the realist's ontological commitments against him - it's the heart of the Prasangika dlalectical method in communication. It is used in debate as well (in Gelugpa moasteries). Sort of like we do here! I'm not sure of Kyle's sense there, but the tetralemma shouldn't be used to state a conventional, empirical matter of fact.

    "I didn't see Divergent on Saturday. I didn't not-see Divergent on Saturday. I didn't see and not-see Divergent on Saturday. I didn't fail to see and fail to not-see Divergent on Saturday."

    So if the discussion isn't about those kinds of issues, then the tetralemma seems out of place with a WTF? kind of off the wall feeling!

    March 25 at 9:54pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode BTW, I did see Divergent. I liked it more than Hunger Games, and got the sequel for Kindle. That one is slow going, but I'll make a few more efforts.....

    March 25 at 9:55pm · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland When I say 'prasangika' I mean the dialectic of specific refutation of specific inherencies, which I understand is the topic intended by the majority of those who use the term.

    As for sources in physical book form (I do *a lot* of reading online) directly concerned with the topic, there is the Dalai Lama's "How to See Yourself As You Really Are", "Introduction to Emptiness" by Guy Newland and "The Heart Attack Sutra" by Karl Brunnholzl, and probably one or two more that I can't remember off the top of my head. So, nothing as hardcore as I gather most of Jeffery Hopkins' works are.

    I have experienced direct, immediate piercing through inherency and it is fantastically freeing and joyful in the sense of lightness and ease.

    Now I don't actually know what would happen if there was not a single moment in which there was not that immediate piercing through attribution of inherency—maybe it would be Buddhahood as advertised.

    But given other experiences I have had, I intuit that it would not be—but I don't know for sure.

    My current hypothesis and speculation is that what I have singled out as my guiding light is 'omniscience' as advertised in some Buddhist traditions.

    If you would have asked me a couple of months ago about omniscience, I would have laughed at this notion, but not anymore, and I feel a little apprehensive about sharing this.

    March 25 at 9:56pm · Like · 1

    Greg Goode I think what you are trying to get at is how the Prasangikas don't state premises to be accepted by both parties. And they don't accept inherent existence, even conventionally. I like those aspects of their school. But they are a lot friendlier towards knowledge and inference than you were saying. They have to be, since all they can work with are conventionalities. They have to squeeze all they can from conventionalities, because they can't assert inherent anythings.

    I'm with you on omniscience. It is the goal of that Tibetan school. But notice that it is a post-human state. Please don't begin to claim omniscience in the next several months, or you'll be in Bentinho-land and start charging $300 for facebook posts!

    March 25 at 10:02pm · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Lol! Let's hope it doesn't come to that!

    Again, in an attempt to clarify my stance, the prasangika has no position. The prasangic method is non-existent as such. It is only in reference to, in response to, an assertion of an impossible way of being (inherent existence) that the prasangic method can prove the absurdity of such an assertion. Immediately after, and going no further than, the refutation or reductio-ad-absurdum of the assertion of inherent existence, the prasangic method stops. Nothing is posited in place of the negated statement, i.e. it's a non-affirming negation.

    So what is the prasangic view? Well, it depends—on the positing of an impossible way of being. Independent of that, there is no prasangic view.

    This goes deep into the method and most would probably agree that it is the defining characteristic of the school: no (inherent) object, no emptiness.

    I actually think we agree on this?

    March 25 at 10:16pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I'd go further, to make the point about ineffability, by imagining the default or "resting" position of a prasangika. That (no-)position is what is so often called "free from conceptual extremes". Nothing can be said about it, because "by itself" it's nothing. But introduce the notion of inherent existence, and it springs up to refute that notion, only to fall back into that ineffable (or as David mentioned, "inexhaustible") position of no-position.

    March 25 at 10:17pm · Edited · Like

    Mara Rosolen Ahh Greg, I was starting to wonder if you were post-humanly omninclusive! So bentinho is the limit. Sweet to find out you are human after all

    March 25 at 10:19pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode "No emptiness?" Where does it say that? Just no *inherent* emptiness. I suppose you want to say that this ineffability is what Jackson calls Awareness or Rigpa? The truth of all our nature and the non-arisng nature of all things? The same thing that all spiritual teachings point to? Here, let me check my wallet for $300....

    March 25 at 10:23pm · Edited · Like · 2

    Greg Goode Mara, I love post- and trans- and non-human figures. Amitabha, Kwan Yin, La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Catrina, Jesus.

    March 25 at 10:22pm · Like · 3

    Mara Rosolen So do I. I'd add Osho to the list.

    March 25 at 10:23pm · Like · 1

    Mara Rosolen ps: so Greg, your posthuman omninclusivity is still on. Are you a post, non or trans would you say?

    March 25 at 10:37pm · Like

    Greg Goode Mara! Honey! I'm a friend of Ru Paul's. A certain emphasis on "trans." I'm in corporate drag now! Gotta go to work!

    March 25 at 10:39pm · Edited · Like · 1

    Mara Rosolen laughing out loud uncontrollably and embarrassing myself...and happy to hear that you keep good company.

    March 25 at 11:25pm · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland What do you mean, "no emptiness", Greg?

    I'm taking a guess that you were reffering to my sentence, "no (inherent) object, no emptiness"?

    Oh, it just occured to me, reading that sentence, how it might have been misunderstood. I meant to express a dependency, not a dual negation, i.e. if there is no (inherent) object, then there is no emptiness (of said object).

    And this is a (if not 'the') primary characteristic of the school, 's all I'm sayin'

    No need to bring Jackson into this

    March 25 at 11:04pm · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode Stian, let's say we're having coffee at a diner. A table is there in front of us. So we do a Chandrakirti sevenfold reasoning meditation. We look for the inherent table. We look amongst the parts, and we look elsewhere too. We don't find an inherent table anywhere. Right where the inherent table is supposed to be, we find a void or lack or absence. We call that absence of inherent table the emptiness of the conventional table. It could be another word too. Nothing special about the e-word. And we call our finding of the absence our realization of the emptiness of the (conventional) table. If we combine this realization with calm-abiding meditation, the realization can become direct and non-conceptual, like water poured into water, and which realizes the emptiness of all things simultaneously.

    We go into stuff like this in detail in the How to See Yourself group, following the Dalai Lama's book. Prasangika with a Gelugpa twist.

    But none of these things is inherent, not the parts or absence or designations of "emptiness" or the realization.

    We could do similar investigations on any of these other things and not find inherencies. The lack of inherency we call emptiness. We just call it that in Prasangika. It's not inherently emptiness, we just designate it as such.

    Therefore there's no reason to utterly deny emptiness, just as there's no reason to utterly deny the table.....

    March 25 at 11:37pm · Edited · Like · 4

    Greg Goode I'm not saying that the above scenario is how things really are, as if judged from an omniscient neutral meta-view. Just that if you engage the Gelugba Prasangika teaching resources, this is how they go about it... There are other presentations of the emptiness teachings as well. Karl Brunnholzl's is a bit different, more like the Tibetan Shentong view. I like Nagarjuna's stripped-down approach very much too. It avoids the Yogachara/Sautrantika and Shentong/Rangtong polemics and rigpa wars that we see in Tibetan Buddhism.... You might have yet another. And I really love the Western approaches!

    Yesterday at 12:00am · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yeah, Greg, I know how the drill goes (and it's often a table, isn't it ).

    I wonder what point you are making, or rather, how you see this relevant in the discussion—it seems a little irrelevant or non sequitur to me. What am I saying that your comment is a reply to (for example, why make a point that "Nothing special about the e-word", and who here is utterly denying emptiness)?


    The lack found is dependent, it relies on the object and on the inherency of the object. If one has no object, or that object has no inherency, then there is no emptiness (or lack-of-inherency) to be found.

    Nothing fantastical about that—it's very straightforward—but it's a crucial point.

    I haven't been able to determine if you agree with this single point. Do you?

    22 hours ago · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode Is this the point you are making?

    "The lack found is dependent, it relies on the object and on the inherency of the object. If one has no object, or that object has no inherency, then there is no emptiness (or lack-of-inherency) to be found."

    If so, no, "the drill" doesn't agree with it.

    22 hours ago · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Huh. That comes as such a big surprise to me that I'm rather inclined to think there's a misunderstanding.

    This would mean that "the drill" asserts/confirms an independent, self-existent Emptiness.

    Please tell me how (an) emptiness is not dependent on its object!

    22 hours ago · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode You say,

    ""The lack found is dependent, it relies on the object and on the inherency of the object."

    To focus on the part I want to talk about:

    "the lack depends on the inherency of the object"

    Where the teachings disagree is here: per the teachings, the lack doesn't depend on the inherency of the object because the inherency doesn't exist. We just think it does....

    Yes, the lack depends on lots of things - the conventional table and its parts, a conceptualization of the table, the way the emptiness teachings are set up, etc. This includes the conception of inherency, and a clear notion of what an inherent table would be like. This is a very specific part of the Gelug meditations that not everyone likes (even many Gelugs - but there are other ways....). Anyway, the lack of inherent table depends on the conception of inherency among other things. We see this in practice, where a lot of the emptiness meditations depend on getting clear on what inherency is supposed to be, if it existed. Rob Matthews worked on that one issue alone for perhaps 6 months. I was such an essentialist and realist for so much of my life, I WANTED things to be inherent! I had a pretty good sense for what is was supposed to be. My bad!

    But there's a big difference between (a) the conception of inherency (which exists conventionally), and (b) inherency (which doesn't exist inherently or conventionally).

    So, according to these teachings, since inherency doesn't exist, nothing can depend on it.....

    The whole goal of these meditations is to become free from the conception of inherency. We do this by realizing more and more clearly that inherency "itself" can't be found.

    14 hours ago · Edited · Like · 5

    David Marshall Dawid: "You know when he sat under the tree, and Mara tempted him, and armies launched countless arrows his way in response to which he turned them into harmless lotus petals?

    This, I personally believe, is clearly poetic metaphors of a Gautama in deep emptiness contemplation."

    I think this is pretty imaginative revisionism, Dawid. I will give you credit for the imagination, but I don't buy the revision. I'm not aware of any evidence that the Buddha or his early followers engaged in emptiness logic.

    He (or whoever wrote the book attributed to him) called it something like the "deathless state" or the "unborn." Realize the deathless, and you will be free of the cycle of birth and death, etc.

    I understand that some, like Stephen Bachelor, want to revise the whole thing and interpret the Buddha as some kind of postmodernist. But this is, ironically, philosophical colonialism. Most Buddhists for centuries have interpreted the Buddha as teaching a meditative soteriology, not logic or whatever it is that Bachelor sells.

    "Meditate, and in your wisdom realize Nirvana, the highest happiness." -- Dhammapada

    12 hours ago · Edited · Like

    David Marshall Greg, with regard to Nagarjuna, we know so little about him, like the Buddha, it is hard to say anything with certitude. But I think mostly likely he was referring to a meditative referent, not a conceptual referent. (I know some people don't like the word "referent," but I am using it metaphorically.) This is the way most Buddhists have interpreted it for centuries. His treatise is open to more than one interpretation.

    12 hours ago · Like

    David Marshall "Whatever is dependently co-arisen / That is explained to be emptiness.

    That, being a dependent designation, / Is itself the middle way.

    Something that is not dependently arisen / Such a thing does not exist.

    Therefore a non-empty thing / Does not exist."

    Many people interpret this as a statement of nonduality, which is not a thing. Emptiness is form, and form is emptiness.

    12 hours ago · Like

    Greg Goode I like the word referent!

    12 hours ago · Like · 1

    Greg Goode What Batchelor is selling... As Tom Radcliffe, former zen teacher quipped, "beliefs without Buddhism."

    12 hours ago · Like · 2

    David Marshall That's exactly it!

    12 hours ago · Like

    Kyle Dixon Nāgārjuna is pointing to a non-dual insight, but not an ontological non-duality.

    I feel it is vital to understand and differentiate these three forms of non-dualism that Malcolm points out here:

    "It depends on what you mean by nondual. There are three kinds of non dualism. One is cognitive non dualism, i.e., everything is consciousness, for, like example Yogacara. The second is ontological nondualism, i.e. everything is brahman, god, etc. The third is epistemic nondualism, i.e., being, non-being and so on cannot be found on analysis and therefore do not ultimately exist.

    The indivisibility of the conditioned and the unconditioned is based on the third. We have only experience of conditioned phenomena. Unconditioned phenomena like space are known purely through inference since they have no characteristics of their own to speak of. When we analyze phenomena, what do we discover? We discover suchness, an unconditioned state, the state free from extremes. That unconditioned state cannot be discovered apart from conditioned phenomena, therefore, we can say with confidence that the conditioned and the unconditioned are nondual. The trick is which version of nonduality you are invoking. This nonduality of the conditioned and unconditioned cannot apply to the first two nondualities for various reasons."

    11 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon I find that Buddha Śākyamuni is describing exactly emptiness. The prajñāpāramitā sūtras are without a doubt expositions on emptiness.

    11 hrs · Like

    David Marshall One alternative to saying that Emptiness or Buddha Nature (or any phenomenon) exists or doesn't exist is a paradoxical or integrative view, such as that of Shunryu Suzuki:

    "Each of you is independent, but you are related to each other. Even though you are related to each other, you are independent. You can say it both ways. Do you understand? Usually when we say 'independent' we have no idea of 'dependent.' But that is not a Buddhist understanding of reality. We always try to understand things completely so we will not be mixed up. We should not be confused by 'dependence' or 'independence.' If someone says, "Everything is independent,' we say, 'Okay, that is so.' And if someone else says, 'Things are interrelated,' that is also true. We understand both sides. So whichever you say, that is okay. But if someone sticks to the idea of independence only, we will say to him, 'No, you are wrong.' There are many koans like this. For example: 'If the final karmic fire burns everything up, at that time will the buddha nature exist?' Sometimes the teacher will answer, 'Yes, it will exist.' But at another time he will answer, 'No, it will not exist.' Both are true. Someone may ask him, 'Then why did you say it will exist?' That person will get a big slap. 'What are you thinking about? Don't you understand what I mean? That buddha nature will not exist is right, and that it will exist is also right.' "

    Shunryu Suzuki, Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 87-8

    11 hrs · Like · 1

    Greg Goode I like that from Suzuki. A bit like joyful irony. But what makes it Integral? Someone told me you need to weigh and rank views using an evolutionarily more advanced view in order to be Integral. I don't see any of that in this passage.

    11 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon Suzuki is describing upāya or skillful means, not a declaration of inherent truth.

    For those who negate too much, the teacher will pull them back to a more moderate position, for those who affirm too much the teacher will pull them back to a more moderate position.

    Emptiness proper usually avoids these extreme views though, if understood properly. The two truths are perfect upāya.

    11 hrs · Like · 2

    David Marshall I find it integral because it integrates both the emptiness school and the buddha nature school. There may not be an explicit ranking, but there has always or almost always been an explicit ranking of views in Buddhism.

    For example, those who are compassionate rank higher than those who are not compassionate. Those who see both sides (or just see the right side if you're from one of the one-sided schools) are higher than those who see it a different way. Suzuki has his Six Ways of True Living, so ostensibly people who live in that way are higher than those who don't. There is right view and wrong view, right action and wrong action. They tend to at least have some implicit two-stage ranking system (and then, of course, there are stage schemes like the ox-herding pictures or Mahamudra stages).

    The way I see it, integrating emptiness and buddha nature is the middle way and what we need to avoid extreme views. If we cling to emptiness, it is a one-sided, extreme view. Of course, I respect those who see it otherwise. But that's just my view. As Suzuki puts it, we should not have a problem saying that buddha nature will exist if the universe burns up, and we should not have a problem with saying it won't exist if the universe burns up. Both are true. And neither are true, etc.

    10 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Buddha nature and emptiness are generally considered to be synonymous. All beings have Buddha nature because all beings truly lack inherent existence.

    Buddha nature [tathāgatagarbha] is just a way to say that we all posses this innate lack of inherency, but it hasn't been discovered yet. Buddha nature is said to be one's latent perfection, which goes back to the nonduality of the conditioned and unconditioned mentioned above.

    All objects [dharmins] are never apart from their non-arisen nature [dharmatā], because they are empty and have never arisen in the first place. When this is directly realized, then there is a release from the delusion which sees conditioned entities.

    10 hrs · Like

    David Marshall I don't think everyone sees buddha nature and emptiness as synonymous, Kyle. I went to a retreat with a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana teacher, for example, and he said that buddha nature and emptiness are equals, not that they mean the same thing. I wouldn't reduce buddha nature to emptiness.

    10 hrs · Like

    Greg Goode I see what you mean by integrating, thanks. To me, Suzuki doesn't seem to be trying to integrate views , but rather teach (and enact) positionlessness. I think dependence, independence and Buddha Nature were just examples. It seems like he would have declined to put his foot down about any doctrine that might have arisen in the conversation. That's what I like about it.

    10 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Buddha nature, emptiness, luminosity, dharmakāya etc. are all synonymous terms.

    Well, technically tathāgatagarbha is latent dharmakāya.

    10 hrs · Like

    Greg Goode Kyle, you forgot Truth, Being, Awareness, Rigpa, God and True Self!!

    10 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon You're still incorrectly viewing emptiness as a negative which must be balanced out with what you interpret as a positive, such as Buddha nature.

    Your assertion that emptiness suggests a one-sided extreme view means you're misunderstanding emptiness.

    10 hrs · Like

    David Marshall I think positionless is an important part of it, Greg. I think that's an important point. Jean Gebser called it "aperspectival awareness" or "integral-aperspectival."

    But I think it also has to be integral. Not just aperspectival, but integral-aperspectival. For example, consider crossing a street.

    We could see the entire scene --cars, buses, and motorcycles-- as empty, but that's not quite enough, is it? They don't exist, and yet they do have an existence relative to our bodies.

    So we need to see both views -- they exist and they don't exist. If we understand or realize emptiness, we will be free of the turmoil of opposites to some degree. But that won't keep us from getting run over by a bus.

    We need to integrate both views (both independence and dependence, in Suzuki's words) if we're going to realize emptiness AND not get run over by a bus at the same time.

    10 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Ha Greg

    10 hrs · Like

    David Marshall No, to me emptiness is not a negative. I have no problem, for example, with Varela speaking about Emptiness and Being (with a capital 'B') in the same paragraph. But it does look to me like those who can't accept a Being or Absolute Subjectivity view are interpreting Emptiness in an overly negative sense. Some interpret Nargarjuna as opening the door to views like Absolute Subjectivity as legitimate metaphors for the ultimate.

    10 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon A proper view of emptiness forbids a capital 'B' Being or an Absolute subjectivity in an inherent sense. We can have those things conventionally, but a true Being or Absolute Subjectivity is impossible.

    10 hrs · Like

    Greg Goode I agree, Kyle! Emptiness already is the middle way. It's not an extreme that needs counterbalancing.

    Of course people can attach to the emptiness approach. That is a pretty dangerous attachment t to have. "Incurable," as Nagarjuna says.

    I think David might be warning against this attachment. But I don't think we need to adopt a substantialist view towards Being or Buddha Nature in order to not attach to an emptiness view, or to give our life balance. Realizing emptiness of views is already freedom from views.

    BTW, I talk about emptiness a lot in this forum because that's its topic. It can sound like I'm attached to it. Thats joyful irony. Emptiness is this group's topic! But right around the corner is our Direct Path group, which is intense, active and concentrated on that approach. Now that talk over there very different!

    10 hrs · Like · 1

    David Marshall Kyle, that's a proper view for your school (Prasangika?), but it is a big mistake to get infected by this sectarianism and start telling other schools what the proper view is. The Vajrayana teacher I saw said that many Tibetan Buddhists were like the Taliban (his analogy) and that their Western students were even worse. He asked us to quote him on this and plaster it on their foreheads.

    The proper view, in my view, is not one that holds rigidly to one concept and speaks derisively of others. The proper view (again in my view) is maintaining a positionless position, letting all views arise and fall as they wish, and then employing each in a pragmatic way as necessary. I think it does a disservice to the dharma and Buddhism in general to be rigid about this.

    10 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon You're welcome to that allegedly positionless view, even though you're taking a position against my position in the name of 'positionlessness'.

    Traditionally there is no issues with taking a position in conventional parlance, since all views are ultimately empty this really just comes down to hashing out an accurate representation of emptiness i.e. dependent origination.

    10 hrs · Like · 1

    Greg Goode Aperspectival. That sounds like old imperialist Lockean modernism. A perspective that fails to realize it. Pre-green.

    10 hrs · Edited · Like

    Greg Goode Kyle, I like the hashing out. Good reminder that these things have social dependencies.

    9 hrs · Like · 1

    David Marshall "Aperspectival" could mean a number of things, I suppose, depending on how we want to use it. I suppose some people might use that word to describe an infant's adual cognition. For others "aperspectival" sounds like postmodern relativism. That's why I almost always say "integral-aperspectival," because there is the awareness or emptiness (aperspectival) and also the pragmatic integration.

    9 hrs · Like · 1

    Greg Goode David, I'm sure you can come up with something that sounds better!! Be creative!

    9 hrs · Like · 1

    David Marshall Thank you for the encouragement, Greg. I will work on that.

    9 hrs · Like

    Patrick Dorsey I'm wondering Greg how you hold those two different perspectives, the emptiness perspective and the direct path perspective? Do you see them as two differing systems in their own right and try not to mix them up and/or compare them, not try and make sense of one using the perspective of the other?
    I have read your articles here on the differences, just wonder about how you hold those two in your own mind?

    9 hrs · Like

    Patrick Dorsey You can save it till morning, I know it's getting late there

    9 hrs · Like

    Greg Goode That's one part of Integral I like - they love to babble about views. Like I do.

    9 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon David, and yes that is a view that is proper and accurate to the traditions I am personally involved with; Prasangika Madhyamaka, Dzogpa Chenpo, Drikung Kagyu Mahāmudrā / Vajrayāna.

    9 hrs · Like

    Greg Goode Patrick, I could talk about it all day. It is very different from a combination an integration or ascension to a metaview, It's an outcome of joyful irony, a realization of the emptiness of views plus interest in the topic. Dare I say, positionlessness. It's like bilingualism, or liking mysteries and science fiction, or ambient music and R&B.

    9 hrs · Edited · Like

    Patrick Dorsey I can tell, you're fluid and joyful and despite being quite knowledgeable you don't seem stuck in any one view, that's admirable in my book!

    9 hrs · Like · 2

    Dannon Flynn David Marshall, the 'emptiness' that we are speaking of here, that Kyle is pointing out and Greg, is already free of extremes, is not nihilsitic, already fully accepts conventional reality and allows one to acknowledge the bus so as to not get run over. That is the proper view of what 'emptiness' means, that conventional reality does exist conventionally, and that is why compassion to yourself and others is important. This is the Buddha-nature, the union of compassion and emptiness, the union of relative reality and absolute reality.... This is already free from extremes. This is what the emptiness teachings point to. Emptiness as a nihilistic void is an extreme view and is not the middle way and is not what the Buddha or Nagarjuna mean by 'shunyata'...

    It is good that you are arguing against that nihilistic interpretation of emptiness, but that is not what we are putting forth here. Inherent "Being" is also an extreme view, see? The Buddha-nature is not some inherently existing core of self or anything, but emptiness free from extremes itself.

    9 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Greg Goode Thanks, Patrick. That means a lot to me!

    9 hrs · Like · 2

    Greg Goode G'night peeps! You are keeping this place hopping!

    9 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon True good point Greg, the social dependencies are an integral part of these things, I'll try to remain mindful of that.

    Hard for me sometimes because I feel the only tradition which seems to posit a non-empty Buddha nature is the black gzhan stong found in the Jonang school... which is pretty much Advaita.

    But it all does come down to interpretation, will keep that in mind!

    9 hrs · Like

    David Marshall Dannon, I agree with much of what you wrote there. I just think that a truly middle way wouldn't have an allergy to views like Absolute Subjectivity or Being, because those signifiers can function in the same way that "Emptiness" does. That is, just like Emptiness doesn't necessarily mean a void or nihilism, Being doesn't necessarily mean reification. For example, Ramana Maharshi has said that the Self is neither Sat (being) nor Asat (non-being). His was a middle way position, even though few recognize that. Similarly, those Buddhists who don't take a strong emptiness view aren't necessarily reifying either. I am not trying to bring those views in here exactly (as it's an "emptiness" group); I am just saying that there is more than one middle way.

    9 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Whoops! Fell off the discussion!

    Greg wrote:
    > Anyway, the lack of inherent table depends on the conception of inherency among other things.

    > But there's a big difference between (a) the conception of inherency (which exists conventionally), and (b) inherency (which doesn't exist inherently or conventionally).

    > So, according to these teachings, since inherency doesn't exist, nothing can depend on it.....

    Yes this was my point—I just didn't put "conception of" in front of "inherency". (As you can read in a previous comment, I already made the point that (b) does not exist even conventionally.)

    I'm glad you say that (an) emptiness depends on its object. This means that if there is no object, there is no corresponding emptiness. But, just to be sure, again, you agree with this, yes? If no object, then no emptiness.

    I'll make the point even more clear: I'm not denying (at all) the unfindability called emptiness, only making the point (over and over again) that the unfindability is dependent.

    In the end, my point is how this ties in with the teaching from which the whole emptiness enterprise arose, pratityasamutpada (often glossed in English as "dependent origination"). This teaching sprung from a yet more basic principle called idappaccayata (often glossed "specific conditionality"). The historical Buddha observed an immutable law or principle and this was idappaccayata. He gave expression to it like this:

    > When this is, that is.
    > From the arising of this comes the arising of that.

    This is close to the Western understanding of causality, but they are not quite the same. One could say that idappaccayata is "wider in scope", because it concerns not just causality but causal dependence or dependent causality.

    Anyway, the Buddha didn't actually express idappaccayata the way I quoted above—his expression was more comprehensive and included another clause:

    > When this isn't, that isn't.
    > From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.

    I can not explain the significance of this in words. It is an intuitive insight related to the fact that (an) emptiness is dependent on its object.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland David wrote:
    > I just think that a truly middle way wouldn't have an allergy to views like Absolute Subjectivity or Being

    I'm in full agreement with this—I think we are on the same wavelength here.

    "True" emptiness, as dependent origination, has no issue whatsoever with being (Capitalized or not). It is wholly accounted for (not reductively) by way of conditionality. There is no resistance, dissonance or friction between being (C or n) and emptiness. I'm pretty, freakin' sure that the opposite view is exactly what is referred to as "incurable emptiness"

    7 hrs · Edited · Like

    Dannon Flynn David: Well, if you are not reifying a self or being, then it is a conventional self or being, a conditioned personality that exists according to the skandhas nidanas.... Not reified, this is cool, I have an empty self as well, a temporary personality, a subjectivity that is dependent on causes and conditions.

    But saying "Absolute Subjectivity" sounds like reification to me, as if there is an absolute subjectivity that is not merely some very subtle sensations that we are fooled into thinking is some kind of eternal background. This is very subtle territory here and like Greg points out, the awareness teachings are fine with such claims.

    In Vajrayana there is the basic space and it is the space of both samsara and Nirvana, and it happens to be inseparable from bliss/compassion/clarity, perhaps that is what you mean by "being" that is not reified? It is completely unestablished, free from all extremes.

    There also is the indestructible bindu at the heart? hmmm...

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon David, 'Being' and 'Absolute subjectivity' are in no way whatsoever able to function in the same way emptiness does.

    Being by definition means a reification of existence.

    Ramana Maharshi's view was not a middle way position at all. He was describing the 'Self' as an ontological X which escapes notions of being and non-being. This is entirely different than the freedom from extremes that the buddhadharma asserts.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon Ramana Maharshi also asserted various times the 'Self' is 'Being'.

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon The 'basic space' in Vajrayāna is the dharmadhātu, which is emptiness free from extremes.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I don't understand why ontology is a special category, Kyle. Why is the assertion of existence or being any more special than any other designation whatsoever?

    Kyle wrote:
    > Being by definition means a reification of existence.

    No, it is not. How could it be? The reification is dependent on an ignorant mind attributing inherency to such notions. Being is not inherently reified. It is not "by definition" any particular thing (free from conceptual extremes and what-not). Being is not a forbidden or inherently ignorant category.

    The issue above is a great example of what is known when the the point-instant equality of ultimate and relative is seen.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Dannon Flynn The Dharmadhatu, exactly, there is no 'absolute self' or 'being' when it is 'free from extremes'... Even in the Pali Canon sunyata means the 'anatta' or 'not self' of all dharmas, conditioned or not. Of course everyone is always accusing the Buddha of teaching nihilism, and that is what it sounds like, but that is not the case.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Dannon Flynn If being is not inherently reified then we are talking about conventional being.

    8 hrs · Like

    Dannon Flynn Unless by "being" we mean something other than some inherent self nature.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Dannon wrote:
    > If being is not inherently reified then we are talking about conventional being.

    What other being is there?

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon Stian, being is an extreme view. The proliferation of extreme views and the tangential abstractions which ensue from them are ignorance and suffering. The point is to cut through these things.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland They don't need to be cut through, because they were always already empty. Nothing is off limits.

    8 hrs · Like

    Dannon Flynn There is only conventional being, but that doesn't seem to be what David or Ramana Maharshi are pointing to. David is claiming an "absolute subjectivity, absolute being".

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Being and non-being are extreme views. Synonymous with existence and non-existence as far as the buddhadharma is concerned. If you want to posit your own philosophical renderings of these terms you are welcome to. But that doesn't mean the system of the dharma sees it that way.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Dannon Flynn If being is empty then it is free of being or not being. So it is redundant to posit an empty beingness.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon My point being that if you are going to posit and champion your own renderings of these terms, and I'm obviously going to stick with the context they are found within the dharma, then we are undoubtedly going to reach an impasse and be talking past one another.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I'm sure you don't mean to pose as a representative for "the system of the dharma", Kyle? You're just a guy on the Internet sharing you opinions, is what you usually say.

    "Extreme views" is skillful means. One finds no things, no views, that fit into the basket of "extreme views". "Extreme views" is empty of any views.

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Being and non-being are considered extreme views in the buddhadharma.

    It's fairly straightforward. In fact, I'm not sure one could paint a more blatant picture with these terms.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Everything is subject to the tetralemma. Being is not something which exclusively falls into one of the prongs of the tetralemma—nothing special about it (unless, of course, one is reifying it).

    Being is not being, nor not-being, or both, nor neither.

    Yes, indeed, how much more straightforward can it get.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon No, extreme views are the views which are attributed to the delusory perception of conditioned entities. They can either exist (being) or not exist (non-being). The other possible extremes which involve combinations of those two are equally extreme.

    The 'freedom from extremes' is the freedom from the dharmin that could adhere to those extremes. Because the inherency of that dharmin cannot be found when sought.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland And so it comes to be known that 'being' is free from 'being' and as such is free to be 'being'.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon "Being is not-being, nor not-being or both or neither" is a nonsensical statement.

    You're employing one of the extremes of the tetralemma as the subject that the extremes apply to.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Dannon Flynn We tread dangerous territory when we create cognitive feedback loops of concepts regarding emptiness to justify intellectual fantasies of how ambiguous we can conceive conceptions.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Yes, a demonstration of the ultimate ambiguity or arbitrariness of the tetralemma—which is just to say that it is a conventional implementation.

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon The fact that it is a convention does not mean it's arbitrary. You're erring into your nihilist gleanings again.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Dannon, yes, great. That is how it feels here. The loop is cut and loops no more. Being is totally free to be being. Being has no special condition for which it must take a different route of cognition, to be regarded as special in any way (i.e. reified). It's just the same in its conventionality as everything else.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Dannon Flynn Okay, being= existence, is true conventionally. agreed. But an 'absolute being' is another claim, an extreme view. Conventionally things exist and are free to. But "absolute" does not equal "conventional".

    8 hrs · Like

    Kyle Dixon Conventional being is totally free to be being, when it is explicitly known to be merely conventional. Otherwise conventional being is not related to as just a convention, the convention is treated as referencing an actual inherent being, and that is delusion. The point of these teachings is to rectify those errors.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland When you condition being with 'absolute', there is a belief that 'absolute' references a status or way of existence that is impossible (inherent, absolute existence), which then invalidates the statement because such status is impossible. But this is not the case. The arrow pointing to inherency, here by the word 'absolute', is a dangling pointer. It's not that it points to something incorrect—it doesn't point at all. Never was there inherency even to begin with. And so "absolute being" passes muster.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland In other words,

    Dannon wrote:
    > But "absolute" does not equal "conventional".

    This is not correct. Also not incorrect.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon It doesn't matter if such a status is impossible, what matters is that the majority of sentient beings view and relate to said status as unquestionably possible. Most do not even question it.

    In the ultimate sense though, the fact that these signifiers do not point at all, but merely infer, means that the perception of pointing is incorrect. From the perception of pointing, the pointed at and pointer both arise as well, just as you referenced above with 'this arises, that becomes'. The latter part, 'with the cessation of this, that also ceases' is precisely what occurs when the pointing is realized to be an impossibility.

    8 hrs · Like

    David Marshall As I said Kyle, you use "emptiness" as some kind of a super signifer, free of extremes, and then arbitrarily deny people the right to use other signifiers in the same way. This is logocentrism.

    Vedanta, Yogacara, and Madyhamika all agree that the ultimate is beyond words. Yet they use signifers metaphorically, to communicate, as a bridge. I think you might read Murti's Central Philosophy of Buddhism, in which he describes the commonalities and differences in these schools. I don't think they are as different as you seem to think.

    "Emptiness" is not the only word that can signify freedom from extremes. Other words can function in the same way. There is nothing special about "emptiness" in this regard.

    Zen master Shibayama, for example, thought that Absolute Subjectivity was the ideal metaphor, not emptiness. That doesn't mean he was reifying.

    The ultimate is beyond words, period. So it doesn't matter so much which words we use to signify it.

    8 hrs · Like · 2

    Kyle Dixon You cannot forget that these notions are a soteriological means, they are methods which are applied to meet an end, the boat to cross the water.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Dannon Flynn Stian: Huh?!

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Sup, Dannon?

    8 hrs · Like

    Dannon Flynn " it doesn't matter so much which words we use to signify it."

    Well, then accept Jesus Christ into your heart as the one and only son of God who died for your sins.

    Yet we are in an emptiness group, we are talking about emptiness. If you do not like emptiness, you will have to forgive us.

    8 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Oh, but David is talking about emptiness, allright 'ts not about the words, as he said.

    8 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Kyle Dixon David, you're viewing emptiness as pointing to an 'ultimate beyond words' like the Brahman of Vedanta or something of that ilk.

    The view of Vedanta is nothing like Madhyamaka, they are completely different paths.

    I'm sure other words can signify a freedom from extremes if you really want them to, but it isn't the word which is important in this context. Rather, it is the principle and view the word is denoting, and the principles upheld by the sanatanadharma are not the same as those found in the buddhadharma.

    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland That's not how I'm reading him.

    7 hrs · Like · 1

    Dannon Flynn Quoting Ramana Maharshi to validate his views of "Absolute Being" and equating emptiness with nihilism sounds like he thinks that the Advaita and the Buddhadharma are pointing to the same realization. I think that is how I am reading him.

    Stian, I think you are talking about emptiness alright... even though it is hard to follow your conceptual acrobatics

    7 hrs · Like

    David Marshall I don't mean to crash anyone's emptiness party. I am here because Greg hotlinked me to this thread.

    I like this group and the people in it, but I don't stop by often because I favor an integral view, and every discussion in which I expressed my views would likely end up like this.

    Anyway, I think I've said what I've had to say -- twice, at least. So I don't think there is a need to keep running around in circles. Also, it is rather late. Goodnight, everyone.

    7 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Thanks for playing, David

    7 hrs · Like · 1

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Dannon, acrobatics are supposedly good for you; I've seen lots of healthy-looking people do it!

    7 hrs · Edited · Like

    David Marshall I wouldn't say that the Advaita path and the Buddhist path (speaking broadly in both cases) are the same, but I think there is a larger overlap than some like to believe. The basic injunction for most schools within each involves meditation. They sit there and don't do anything or very much. Then they have meditative experiences, recognitions, realizations, etc. There are differences, but often large overlaps well. There have also been studies that have detailed these similarities. Anyway, that's more than enough. Goodnight again, everyone.

    7 hrs · Like · 2

    Kyle Dixon For the record I do respect your opinion David. I'm glad you are in this group and sharing your views and insights. I don't take my view as seriously as it seems I do in these discussions. I personally will be quite vehement and adamant in expressing my opinions on these matters in these threads but I don't carry that with me outside of these discussions. I'm a quiet guy who appreciates diversity and different opinions, so I hope my conduct doesn't deter you from posting. I aspire to be like Greg with his conduct in these discussions, gentle yet assertive and making everyone's opinions feel welcome and honored, but I haven't mastered that quite yet. And I tend to get a little animated and polemic. I leave it on the field though I promise, and I mean well. At any rate, hope you continue to post, and please disagree with me and give me hell!

    7 hrs · Like · 2

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Greg's something, eh?

    7 hrs · Like · 2

    Kyle Dixon Greg's mastered the 'it's not what you say but how you say it' thing in all of its dimensions. He's even given me tips before on how to say something and avoid sounding bellicose. And it's incredible, the smallest twist to the way you approach a subject when addressing someone makes a world of difference. Definitely a wonderful skill, whether natural gift or cultivated talent. Very inspirational.

    7 hrs · Edited · Like · 2

    Neony Karby Greg says:
    "I'm with you on omniscience. It is the goal of that Tibetan school. But notice that it is a post-human state"
    Now there's joyful irony for ya ........

    7 hrs · Like

    Neony Karby Kyle says:
    "The view of Vedanta is nothing like Madhyamaka, they are completely different paths."...........might be, but to what?

    7 hrs · Edited · Like

    Kyle Dixon To their respective results.

    6 hrs · Like

    Neony Karby Oh.......nice clarification....hahahhaaaa

    Neony Karby's photo.

    6 hrs · Edited · Like · 2

    Neony Karby Greg says:
    "The whole goal of these meditations is to become free from the conception of inherency. We do this by realizing more and more clearly that inherency "itself" can't be found."
    Yeah, and neither can 'non-inherency' or emptiness. This is where the word 'transcending' comes to me as concept .

    4 hrs · Edited · Like

    Dannon Flynn David, I also want to be clear that I am only discussing ideas here, and don't wish any effect on our feelings here. These are only ideas, and I appreciate all ideas, and I am only speaking about my own understanding of Buddhist shunyata. I am not claiming that my own understanding is complete or definitive. I also appreciate integral vision and have my own ways of integrating different views.
    One that I really like is:
    "Wherein Sorrow is Joy, and Change is Stability, and Selflessness is Self. Seeing first the truth and then the falsity of the Three Characteristics"

    5 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

    Greg Goode David, I hope you don't go. I like hearing about Integral. I'd like to hear about other aspects of it, not just whether it passes muster with emptiness. Personally, I'm interested in how it is practiced by its followers, how important is it in one's Integral path to learn about all the teachings they talk about, how/whether they learn them, and how its soteriology works . For example, Darryl Snaychuk contributes here a lot, he is a follower of traditional Advaita. He says some interesting things about Advaita without saying that it's really like emptiness after all. We can all learn something that way!

    2 hrs · Edited · Like · 3

    Tom Radcliffe I am feeling a little ashamed of my Ken poking. I suppose my perspective comes from my own experience which is of sticking to one path for a long time until it fell apart and then beginning to look at others and cherry pick - mainly in an effort to communicate somehow what was happening. I have no experience of cherry picking AS a path. I am sceptical I suppose of a person's ability to do that. I suspect that what might happen in the absence of a good teacher and a path with consistent terminology and practices is that the seeker would just go for what already suited them and endlessly create more path rather than be forced into confronting things they didn't like and getting to actual realisation. My feeling is that path hopping/integrating is for post awakening. It is amazing how we always view the world through our own lens. What do you think of these opinions?

    2 hrs · Like

    Neony Karby I think that no matter what the seeker does to find a solution, will bring him/her into a situation to confront the very seeking, and who or what is seeking. From this point it will be clear that going deep means sticking to a practice that makes sense to the heart.

    2 hrs · Like

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Oh jiggery pokery! Just occurred to me that I forgot to mention Emptiness and Joyful Freedom as one of my emptiness books!

    37 mins · Like

    Tom Radcliffe It's beginning to be one of mine too.

    35 mins · Like

    Darryl Snaychuk Greg - I was actually going to comment on what I read in the start of this attachment [op], and didn't because I only read the beginning. But now that you have made reference to my comments, I think I will. I know that you know I'm not expecting or trying to turn everyone around, but am just offering an alternate view.

    I'm struck by the 'form and emptiness / nirvana' distinction. From where I am, 'emptiness / nirvana' would also be a form - simply because it's arrival is known of [by you, awareness].

    27 mins · Like

    Soh David: "The basic injunction for most schools within each involves meditation. They sit there and don't do anything or very much. Then they have meditative experiences, recognitions, realizations, etc."

    Sure, but there are different experiential realizations, such as described in Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment  , A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta , etc

    David: "I'm not aware of any evidence that the Buddha or his early followers engaged in emptiness logic."

    The original words of Buddha, the Pali Suttas, have used the analogy of the 'chariot' in reference to the teaching of anatta, which later become the basis for the sevenfold reasoning of Chandrakirti, etc, also there countless teachings on anatta, and shunyata, references to the freedom from extremes such as 'being' or 'non-being' (e.g. Cula-sihanada Sutta), 'existence' and 'nonexistence' (e.g. kaccayanagotta sutta), the empty-of-substance and illusoriness of all dharmas (phena sutta, etc etc) and of course the countless suttas expounding on anatta (my favourites include bahiya sutta, anattalakkhana sutta, etc etc). Even if he did not provide very detailed logical reasonings for contemplating emptiness such as what you see in Madhyamika, emptiness teachings are certainly a core part of Buddha's teachings. Later teachers merely expanded its explanation, but the basis of emptiness teachings are found in scriptures.

    On the other hand you'll never hear any original teachings of Buddha eluding to anything like 'Absolute Subjectivity'. That is Advaita, and yes of course certain late forms of Buddhism may elude to such a thing, but it all depends - for example Dogen (the founder of Soto Zen) clearly distinguished his view against the Advaita view (Non-duality of Essence and Form  ), etc. So what one Zen master say may not be representative of the views of all the other Zen masters.

    David: "He (or whoever wrote the book attributed to him) called it something like the "deathless state" or the "unborn." Realize the deathless, and you will be free of the cycle of birth and death, etc."

    This is most often cited, and always misunderstood, by the eternalists trying to find grounds in the early teachings.

    As I often wrote in my group dharma connection:

    Soh Hi Justin Struble we have to be very careful in interpreting that Nibbana sutta. First of all we have to understand what 'Nirvana/Nibbana' means in context. As Ven Hui-feng puts it, "keep in mind the basic metaphorical meaning of the term nirvana, the extinguishing of a flame". The main analogy given by Buddha for nirvana is the extinguishing of a flame. As Ven Nanananda also pointed out,

    "Regarding this concept of Nibbàna too, the worldling is generally tempted to entertain some kind of ma¤¤anà, or me-thinking. Even some philosophers are prone to that habit. They indulge in some sort of prolific conceptualisation and me-thinking on the basis of such conventional usages as `in Nib­bàna', `from Nibbàna', `on reaching Nibbàna' and `my Nib­bàna'. By hypostasizing Nibbàna they de­velop a substance view, even of this concept, just as in the case of pañhavi, or earth. Let us now try to determine whether this is justifi­able.

    The primary sense of the word Nibbàna is `extinction', or `extin­guishment'. We have already discussed this point with reference to such contexts as Aggivacchagottasutta.[8] In that dis­course the Bud­dha explained the term Nibbàna to the wan­dering ascetic Vaccha­got­ta with the help of a simile of the ex­tinction of a fire. Simply be­cause a fire is said to go out, one should not try to trace it, wondering where it has gone. The term Nibbàna is essentially a verbal noun. We also came across the phrase nibbuto tveva saïkhaü gacchati, "it is reck­oned as `extinguished'".[9]"

    Extinction of what? Extinction of passion, aggression and delusion driving the whole mass of samsara. Extinction of the the whole mass of suffering/samsara in the twelve links from ignorance up to old age, sickness and death.

    Next is the terms 'unconditioned/death-free/etc' it is very easy to reify this in terms of a metaphysical entity. This is not the case.

    Here are some quotations which should hopefully clarify:

    Nana/Geoff: "“Firstly, while the translation of asaṃskṛta as “the unconditioned” is fairly common, it’s a rather poor translation that all too easily leads to reification. The term asaṃskṛta refers to a negation of conditioned factors, and the meaning is better conveyed by “not-conditioned.” Secondly, for Sautrāntika commentators, and many mahāyānika commentators as well, an analytical cessation (pratisaṃkhyānirodha) is a non-implicative negation (prasajyapratiṣedha), i.e. a negation that doesn’t imply the presence of some other entity, and therefore nirvāṇa simply refers to a cessation that terminates the defilements and fetters that are abandoned by the correct practice of the noble path. It doesn’t refer to an entity or state that is substantially existent (dravyasat).” "

    Nana/Geoff: "One has to be careful with such descriptions which may seem to be pointing to some sort of truly existent "unconditioned ground." Nibbāna is the extinguishment of the mental outflows (āsavā). The liberated mind is measureless (appamāṇa). This is not a "state of oneness with all of existence." It's an absence of identification (anattatā). It's non-indicative (anidassana), unestablished (appatiṭṭha), and not-dependent (anissita). None of these adjectives entail any sort of metaphysical "ground of being" or "unconditioned absolute." They are all negations. An arahant has simply "gone out."

    tiltbillings: "There is no "deathless." That is a bad translation leading to an objectification/reification of the idea of awakening. With awakening, there is no more rebirth, one is free from death. (31 words.)""

    Loppon Namdrol/Malcolm: “When you have eradicated all afflictions which cause rebirth, this is all the deathlessness you need. No more birth, BAM! no more death.”

    Buddha: "And what, monks, is the not-fabricated (asaṅkhata)? The elimination of passion, the elimination of aggression, the elimination of delusion: this is called the not-fabricated. " .... "And what, monks, is the death-free (amata)? The elimination of passion, the elimination of aggression, the elimination of delusion: this is called the death-free." - SN 43 Asaṅkhata Saṃyutta - more in http://measurelessmind.ca/pariyosana.html

    I can provide many more quotations but this will suffice for now, I think. Nirvana is extinction, like the blowing out of a flame, it is simply and merely the end of suffering and afflictions and does not imply a metaphysical substantial existent as some may postulate. There is no "The Unconditioned" or "The Unborn" or "The Deathless" as some sort of metaphysical essence. There is an unconditioned dharma - analytical cessation (nirvana) - that is the end of birth and death (death-free), is not conditioned (by afflictive causes and manifestations) etc.

    All these are classic Nirvana stuff found in the earliest teachings in Pali suttas. In Mahayana emptiness, there is another understanding of "unconditioned" and that is as what Kyle said which I find to be very well said:

    "The unconditioned is the emptiness of the skandhas.

    Recognition of the emptiness of the skandhas means that the skandhas are non-arisen, what has not arisen cannot be conditioned."

    In any case, whether the classical nirvana understanding of the earliest text, or the emptiness understanding of unconditioned/non-arisen, there is no postulating of a truly existing metaphysical essence.
    The Holy Life Has A Specific Destination | Parāyana
    The noble eightfold path has a clearly defined and very specific final goal (par...See More
    December 7, 2013 at 11:26am · Edited · Like · 1 · Remove Preview"

    Awakening to Reality: Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment


    I understand very little of what Thusness has said. The path that Thusness descr...See More

    10 mins · Edited · Like · Remove Preview

    Soh David: "Buddha... ...recommending that people count their breaths."

    Buddha did not teach breath counting, breath counting is a technique invented by later teachers as an expedient means for beginners, who are not yet able to practice bare awareness of sensations. As soon as one is able to gain some degree of concentration it should be dropped for bare mindfulness of breathing, which is what the Buddha taught. I personally do not advise people on counting breathe but lead them straight away to direct mindfulness of breathing without counting.

    Also, although mindfulness of breathing is the most well known Buddhist meditation technique, it is far from being the 'only' technique being taught (there are many, many techniques methods of practices taught by Buddha), and furthermore anapanasati as taught by Buddha is also used as a basis for developing Buddhist insight into impermanence, dependent origination etc so it is not merely a concentration technique.

    5 mins · Edited · Like