Malcolm posted:

Life, personhood, pleasure and pain
— This is all that's bound together
In a single mental event
— A moment that quickly takes place.

Even the spirits who endure
For eighty-four thousand aeons
— Even these do not live the same
For any two moments of mind.

What ceases for one who is dead,
Or for one who's still standing here,
Are all just the same aggregates
— Gone, never to connect again.

The states which are vanishing now,
And those which will vanish some day,
Have characteristics no different
Than those which have vanished before.

With no production there's no birth;
With becoming present, one lives.
When grasped with the highest meaning,
The world is dead when the mind stops.

There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

The vanishing of all these states
That have become is not welcome,
Though dissolving phenomena stand
Uncombined from primordial time.

From the unseen, [states] come and go,
Glimpsed only as they're passing by;
Like lightning flashing in the sky
— They arise and then pass away. ... .olen.html




Also, the Buddha was quite clear that phenomena, including minds, were momentary. The Buddha may not have elaborated in detail upon what a "moment" was, but in the end, the basic unit of time in Buddhism is number of moments it takes to form a thought. In reality, moments are partless. Partless moments that perish as soon as they arise have no observable duration and are immune from Madhyamaka critique.

The notion that the mind is permanent (i.e. not momentary) is just a Hindu idea, Vedantic.



The great siddha Dombi Heruka sang:

Existence and peace are equality,
Free from all conceptuality,
So striving and straining to accomplish some goal—
Oh, what a tiring thing to do!
Body and mind, nonduality—
Spacious and relaxed transparency.
To think that body and mind are two different things
Is a neurotic, crazy, afflicted thing to do!
Self and other not two in dharmakaya,
To cling to good and bad—I pity the fool!

Someone by the name of Apollo Salim tried to message me but I am unable to reply somehow. Is your account removed?



Happy Vesak Day.
May we all fully awaken and actualize our Buddha-Nature.

Directly Experience the Nature of Mind

Instruction on Mahamudra vipashyana meditation by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

The two meditation practices of shamatha and vipashyana each have their place within Mahamudra practice, but they do not have the same objective. Shamatha’s aim is temporary, immediate. When our minds are disturbed or restless, they are not at peace. Cultivating the settled state of shamatha, we find that we are able to be more steady, more tranquil. That is the purpose of shamatha. Shamatha is not sufficient unto itself to attain enlightenment, but it is a support for Mahamudra practice and is therefore imperative.

What then is vipashyana, which literally means “clear seeing,” in the context of Mahamudra? First of all, we have bewildered ourselves into samsara. During this confused state, we do not see clearly the true nature of things, what reality is. The practice of vipashyana develops the ability to see clearly the actual state of affairs, to see the basic condition of what is. Training in vipashyana eliminates negative emotions and clarifies our lack of knowing, our ignorance. It also deepens our insight and wisdom.

Right now, while adrift on samsara’s ocean, we are confused about what is real, about the nature of things. In this state, there are many worries and a lot of fear and uneasiness. To be free of these we need to be free of the bewilderment and confusion. When you are free of confusion, the uneasiness, worry and fear evaporate all by themselves. For example, if there is a rope lying on the ground and someone mistakes it for a poisonous snake, he will be frightened. He worries about the snake and it creates a lot of anxiety. This uneasiness continues until he discovers that it is actually not a snake, but simply a rope. It was merely a mistake. The moment we realize the rope is just a rope, not a snake, our uneasiness, fear and anxiety disappear. In the same way, upon seeing the natural state of what is, all the suffering, fear and confused worries that we are so engrossed in will disappear. The focal point of vipashyana training is seeing what is real.

The Paths of Reasoning and Direct Perception

The pivotal difference between the path of reasoning and the path of direct perception is whether our attention faces out, away from itself, or whether the mind faces itself, looking into itself. The path of reasoning is always concerned with looking at something “out there.” It examines using the power of reason until we are convinced that what we are looking at is by nature empty, devoid of an independent identity. Whether on a coarse or subtle level, it is definitely empty. However, no matter how long and how thoroughly we convince ourselves that things are by nature empty, every time we stub our toe on something it hurts. We are still obstructed; we cannot move our hands straight through things, even though we understand their emptiness. The path of reasoning alone does not dissolve the mental habitual tendency to experience a solid reality that we have developed over beginningless lifetimes.

It is not that a particular practice transforms the five aggregates—forms, sensations, perceptions, formations and consciousnesses—into emptiness. Instead it is a matter of acknowledging how all phenomena are empty by nature. This is how the Buddha taught in the sutras. A person presented with such a teaching may often understand the words and trust the teachings, but personally he does not experience that that is how it really is. Nagarjuna kindly devised the Middle Way techniques of intellectual reasoning in order to help us understand and gain conviction. By analyzing the five aggregates one after the other, one eventually is convinced, “Oh, it really is true! All phenomena actually are empty by nature!”

While we use many tools to reach such an understanding, the reasoning of dependent origination is very simple to understand. For example, when standing on one side of a valley you say that you stand on “this” side, and across the valley is the “other” side. However, if you walk across the valley you will again describe it as “this” side, though it was the “other” side before. In the same way, when comparing a short object to a longer one, we agree that one is shorter and the other longer. Nevertheless, that is not fixed because if you compare the longer one to something even longer, it is then the shorter one. In other words, it is impossible to pin down a reality for such values; they are merely labels or projections created by our own minds.

We superimpose labels onto temporary gatherings of parts, which in themselves are only other labels superimposed on a further gathering of smaller parts. Each thing only seems to be a singular entity. It appears as if we have a body and that there are material things. Yet, just because something appears to be, because something is experienced, does not mean that it truly exists. For example, if you gaze at the ocean when it is calm on a clear night you can see the moon and stars in it. But if you sent out a ship, cast nets and tried to gather up the moon and stars, would you be able to? No, you would find that there is nothing to catch. That is how it is: things are experienced and seem to be, while in reality they have no true existence. This quality of being devoid of true existence is, in a word, emptiness. This is the approach of using reasoning to understand emptiness.

Using reasoning is not the same as seeing the emptiness of things directly and is said to be a longer path. Within the framework of meditation, the intellectual certainty of thinking that all things really are emptiness is not a convenient method of training; it takes a long time. That is why the Prajnaparamita scriptures mention that a Buddha attains true and complete enlightenment after accumulating merit over three incalculable eons. Yet, the Vajrayana teachings declare that in one body and one lifetime you can reach the unified level of a vajra-holder; in other words, you can attain complete enlightenment in this very life. Though they would appear to contradict each other, both statements are true. If one uses reasoning and accumulates merit alone, it does take three incalculable eons to reach true and complete enlightenment. Nevertheless, by having the nature of mind pointed out to you directly and taking the path of direct perception, you can reach the unified level of a vajra-holder within this same body and lifetime.

Taking direct perception as the path, using actual insight, is the way of the mind looking into itself. Instead of looking outward, one turns the attention back upon itself. Often we assume that mind is a powerful and concrete “thing” we walk around with inside. But in reality it is just an empty form. When looking into it directly to see what it is, we do not need to think of it as being empty and infer emptiness through reasoning. It is possible to see the emptiness of this mind directly. Instead of merely thinking of it, we can have a special experience—an extraordinary experience—and discover, “Oh, yes, it really is empty!” It is no longer just a conclusion we postulate. We see it clearly and directly. This is how the great masters of India and Tibet reached accomplishment.

Instead of inferring the emptiness of external phenomena through reasoning, the Mahamudra tradition taught by Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa shows us how to directly experience emptiness as an actuality. Since we habitually perceive external objects as always having concrete existence, we do not directly experience them as being empty of true existence. It is not very practical to become convinced of the emptiness of external objects such as mountains, houses, walls, trees, and so forth. Instead, we should look into our own mind. When we truly see our mind’s nature, we find it has no concrete identity whatsoever. This is the main point of using direct perception: look directly into your own mind, see in actuality that it is empty, and then continue training in that.

This mind, the perceiver, does experience a variety of moods. There are feelings of being happy, sad, exhilarated, depressed, angry, attached, jealous, proud or close-minded; sometimes one feels blissful, sometimes clear or without thoughts. A large variety of different feelings can occupy this mind. However, when we use the instructions and look into what the mind itself really is, it is not very difficult to directly perceive the true nature of mind. Not only is it quite simple to do, but it is extremely beneficial as well.

We usually believe that all of these different moods are provoked by a material cause in the external environment, but this is not so. All of these states are based on the perceiver, the mind itself. Therefore, look into this mind and discover that it is totally devoid of any concrete identity. You will see that the mental states of anger or attachment, all the mental poisons, immediately subside and dissolve—and this is extremely beneficial.

To conclude this section, I will restate my previous point. On the one hand, we hear that to awaken to true and complete enlightenment, it is necessary to perfect the accumulations of merit through three incalculable eons. Then on the other hand, we hear that it is possible to attain the unified level of a vajra-holder within this same body and lifetime. These two statements appear to contradict one another. Truthfully, there is no way one could be enlightened in one lifetime if one had to gather accumulations of merit throughout three incalculable eons. However, if one could be enlightened in a single lifetime then there seems to be no need to perfect the accumulation of merit throughout three incalculable eons. Actually, both are right in that it does take a very long time if one takes the path of reasoning. Whereas it is possible to attain enlightenment within a single lifetime if one follows the tradition of the pith instructions, using direct perception as the path.

Establishing the Identity of Mind and the Various Perceptions

It should be clear now that our use of the term vipashyana refers to direct perception. To attain this direct perception, we must undertake two tasks: first, gain certainty about the identity of mind; second, gain certainty about the identity of mind’s expression, which includes thought and perceptions. Put another way, we need to investigate three aspects: mind, thought and perception.

The first of these—mind—is when one is not involved in any thoughts, neither blatant thought states nor subtle ones. Its ongoing sense of being present is not interrupted in any way. This quality is called cognizance, or salcha in Tibetan. Salcha means there is a readiness to perceive, a readiness to think, to experience, that does not simply disappear. Since we do not turn to stone or into a corpse when we are not occupied by thinking, there must be an ongoing continuity of mind, an ongoing cognizance.

Next are thoughts, or namtok. There are many different types of thoughts, some subtle, like ideas or assumptions, and others quite strong, like anger or joy. We may think that mind and thoughts are the same, but they are not.

The third one, perceptions, or nangwa, actually has two aspects. One is the perception of so-called external objects through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touch. Let us set those aside for the time being, though, as they are not the basis for the training at this point. The other aspect of perception deals with what occurs to the sixth consciousness: mental images. These mental impressions are not perceived through the senses but somehow occur to the mind in the form of memories, something imagined or thought of. Nevertheless, each of these mental impressions feels as if it is sight, sound, smell, taste or texture. Usually, we do not pay attention to any of this—it just happens and we are caught up in it; for example, when we are daydreaming or fantasizing.

It is important to become clear about what mind, thoughts and perceptions actually are—not in a theoretical way but in actuality. In the past, we may not have paid much attention to mind’s way of being when not occupied with thoughts or perceptions. We may not have looked into what the mind itself—that which experiences or perceives—actually consists of and, therefore, we may not be certain of it. When there are thoughts, mental images or perceptions, the usual habit is simply to lose control and be caught up in the show. We continually get absorbed in what is going on, instead of taking a good, clear look at the perceiving mind. We tend not to be aware that we are thinking or daydreaming; we tend to be in a rather vague, hazy state. Meditation training lets these thoughts and mental images become quite vivid. They can become as clear as day. At this point, we should take a good look and in an experiential way personally establish what their actual nature or identity is.

We use the word examine repeatedly. When you establish the nature of things by means of reason, examining refers to intellectual analysis; but that is not what we are talking about now. Unlike an intellectual investigation, examining should be understood as simply looking at how things actually are.

Establishing the Identity of Mind—the Basis

The Mahamudra sense of vipashyana does not mean to examine concepts, but to look into what the mind actually is, namely a sense of being awake and conscious, continuously present and very clear. Whenever we do look, no matter when, we cannot help but discover that mind has no form, color or shape—none at all. Then we may wonder, “Does that mean that there is no mind? Does the mind not exist?” If there were no consciousness in the body, the body would be a corpse. Yet we can see and hear, and we can understand what we are reading—so we are not dead, that’s for sure. The truth is that while mind is empty—it has no shape, color or form—it also has the ability to cognize; it has a knowing quality. The fact is that these two aspects, being empty and able to know, are an indivisible unity.

Mind does exist as a continuing presence of cognizance. We are not suddenly extinct because there are no thoughts; there is something ongoing, a quality of being able to perceive. What exactly is this mind? What does it look like? If mind exists, then in what mode does it exist? Does the mind have a particular form, shape, color and so forth? We should simply take a close look at what it is that perceives and what it looks like, then try to find out exactly what it is.

The second question is, where is this mind, this perceiver, located? Is it inside or outside of the body? If outside, then exactly where? Is it in any particular object? If it is in the body, then exactly where? Does it pervade throughout the body—head, arms, legs, etc.? Or is it in a particular part—the head or torso, the upper part or the lower part? In this way, we investigate until we become clear about the exact shape, location and nature of this perceiving mind. Then if we do not actually find any entity or location, we may conclude that mind is empty. There are different ways in which something can be empty. It could simply be absent, in the sense that there is no mind. However, we have not totally disappeared; we still perceive and there is still some experience taking place, so you cannot say that mind is simply empty. Though this mind is empty it is still able to experience. So what is this emptiness of mind?

By investigating in this way, we do not have to find something that is empty or cognizant or that has a shape, color or location. That is not the point. The point is simply to investigate and see it for what it is—however that might be. Whether we discover that the perceiver is empty, cognizant or devoid of any concreteness, it is fine. We should simply become clear about how it is and be certain—not as a theory, but as an actual experience.

If we look for a perceiver, we won’t find one. We do think, but if we look into the thinker, trying to find that which thinks, we do not find it. Yet, at the same time, we do see and we do think. The reality is that seeing occurs without a seer and thinking without a thinker. This is just how it is; this is the nature of the mind. The Heart Sutra sums this up by saying that “form is emptiness,” because whatever we look at is, by nature, devoid of true existence. At the same time, emptiness is also form, because the form only occurs as emptiness. Emptiness is no other than form and form is no other than emptiness. This may appear to apply only to other things, but when applied to the mind, the perceiver, one can also see that the perceiver is emptiness and emptiness is also the perceiver. Mind is no other than emptiness; emptiness is no other than mind. This is not just a concept; it is our basic state.

The reality of our mind may seem very deep and difficult to understand, but it may also be something very simple and easy because this mind is not somewhere else. It is not somebody else’s mind. It is your own mind. It is right here; therefore, it is something that you can know. When you look into it, you can see that not only is mind empty, it also knows; it is cognizant. All the Buddhist scriptures, their commentaries and the songs of realization by the great siddhas express this as the “indivisible unity of emptiness and cognizance,” or “undivided empty perceiving,” or “unity of empty cognizance.” No matter how it is described, this is how our basic nature really is. It is not our making. It is not the result of practice. It is simply the way it has always been.

The trouble is that for beginningless lifetimes we have been so occupied with other things that we have never really paid any attention to it—otherwise we would have already seen that this is how it is. Now, due to favorable circumstances, you are able to hear the Buddha’s words, read the statements made by sublime beings, and receive a spiritual teacher’s guidance. As you start to investigate how the mind is, when you follow their advice, you can discover how mind really is.

Establishing the Identity of Thoughts and Perceptions—the Expression

Having briefly covered establishing the identity of mind, we will now discuss establishing the identity of thoughts and perceptions, which are the expressions of mind. Though empty of any concrete identity, mind’s unobstructed clarity does manifest as thoughts and perceptions.

Thoughts can be of many types and, in this context, include emotions. The Abhidharma teachings give a list known as the fifty-one mental events. You may have noticed thangka paintings depicting Vajrayogini wearing a garland of fifty-one freshly cut-off heads to illustrate the need to immediately sever any obvious thoughts that arise. Blatant thoughts include hate, obsessive attachment, compassion and moods such as feeling hazy or very clear. When these arise, either on their own or by us provoking them in order to have something to investigate, we do not need to analyze why we are angry. Instead, immediately upon the arising of a strong thought or emotion, look into where it is, what its identity is and what it is made of. Also, when it arises you should try to find the direction it came from, and when it subsides, where it goes. Whether it is a thought, emotion, feeling or mood, the principle is the same: look into where it comes from, where it abides and where it goes. By investigating in this way, you will find that no real “thing” came from anywhere. Right now the feeling, thought or emotion does not remain anywhere, nor does it actually exist in any concrete way, and, finally, no “thing” actually disappears.

No matter what the thought or emotion may be, we should look into it. But we will fail to find any “thing”—we can’t find where it is, what it looks like or what it is made of.

This failure is neither because we are incapable of looking nor because we have been unsuccessful in finding it, but simply because any movement of the mind is empty of a concrete identity. There is no substance to it, whether it is anger, fear, joy or sorrow—all are merely empty movements of the mind. We discover that looking into thoughts is no different from looking into the quiet mind. The identity of calm mind is empty cognizance and when we look into a thought movement, we also see an empty cognizance. The great masters of the past phrased it like this: “Look into the quiet mind when quiet and look into the moving mind when moving.” We discover that mind and thoughts—the basis and the expression—have the same identity: empty cognizance.

The same holds true for sensory perceptions and memories. The Buddhist teachings define two aspects of reality: relative truth and ultimate truth. From the relative point of view, we cannot deny that there are mental images and memories, but from thepoint of view of the ultimate truth, we are forced to admit that they do not exist. This appears to be a contradiction. However, while experientially such images do occur to us, when we investigate what they really are, there is no thing to find, no location for them, and no identity or substance from which they are made.

You might wonder what is the use of understanding that our thoughts and perceptions are all by nature empty of any concrete identity. Sometimes we get so happy. It feels so wonderful and we love it; we cling wholeheartedly to whatever we experience or whatever we think of. At other times it is very painful and we feel like we can’t take it. This is simply due to attaching some solid identity to our thoughts and perceptions. These experiences are not so overwhelming once we clearly see the reality of these thoughts and perceptions—that their identity is not real or concrete. They become much lighter and do not weigh us down so much anymore. That is the immediate benefit. The lasting benefit is that our experience and understanding of the natural state of mind becomes clearer and clearer, more and more stable.

In this method, we do not become clear about what mind, thoughts and mental impressions are by intellectually building a theory of what they must be like and then forcing our experience to agree with our preconceived ideas. Instead, we go about it in an experiential way. We simply allow mind, thoughts or mental perceptions to be whatever they are and then look at them, investigate them. With no need to maintain any set notions about how they must be and forcing them to fit such a description, simply take a close look at the situation as it is. This is neither very complicated nor strenuous, because you are not looking into something other, but rather into this very mind that you already have right here. All you need to do is look at what it actually is. You do not have to imagine any inaccessible thoughts; simply look at your available thoughts and emotions, investigate where they are and what they are made of. The same goes for any mental impressions—simply investigate what they are as they occur. That is the training. Please spend some time giving mind, thoughts and mental impressions a close look and establish some certainty about what they actually are.

Here we have dealt with establishing the identity of mind, thoughts and mental impressions. We could have decided that mind, thoughts and mental impressions are empty, or perhaps not empty. Either way, in the context of Mahamudra training, one should not create any ideas about them. Instead, one should get to know them as they are, without any concepts as handles, by simply looking closely into them. One should not try to infer their nature, but rather see what the nature of mind, thoughts and perceptions actually is through direct experience. When we speak of “establishing their nature” or “cutting through misconceptions about mind, thoughts and perceptions,” therefore, we are referring to attaining clarity or certainty through personal experience. It means to see for ourselves, without any preconceived ideas.

This teaching was adapted from Crystal Clear: Practical Advice for Meditators, by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang. Compiled and edited by Michael Tweed. Published by Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2003.

[11:00 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: Kyle dixon:

The middle way is actually a freedom from the misconceptions of existence and non-existence. Holding that things exist (whether they are conditioned or unconditoned phenomena) is eternalism, holding that things do not exist (whether they are conditioned or unconditioned) is nihilism. Annihilationism is the belief that something existent becomes non-existent.
The way to avoid these various extremes is emptiness, which means (i) a lack of inherent existence, (ii) a freedom from extremes, (iii) a lack of arising [non-arising], (iv) dependent co-origination. All of those definitions being synonymous.
Dependent origination is the proper relative view which leads one to the realization of the ultimate view; which is emptiness. Many people misunderstand emptiness to be a negative view, but it is actually the proper middle way view which avoids the extremes of existence, non-existence, both and neither.
All in all there is really no way to ELI5 with this topic, you'll just have to ask questions. It is simple once understood, but very, very few people actually understand dependent origination.
Here is a collection of stuff I wrote awhile ago on dependent origination for the sake of the discussion:
the general definition of independent origination, the very idea that things are endowed with their own-being/essence [svabhāva], or self [ātman]. In order for something to be independently originated it would have to be unconditioned, independent and uncaused, but this is considered an impossibility in the eyes of Buddhism. The correct conventional view for emptiness is that of dependent origination, and so we see that in order to have objects, persons, places, things and so on, they must possessed of causes and conditions. Meaning they cannot be found apart from those causes and conditions. If the conditions are removed, the object does not remain.
The adepts of the past have said that since a thing only arises due to causes, and abides due to conditions, and fails in the absence of cause and condition, how can this thing be said to exist? For an object to inherently exist it must exist outright, independent of causes and conditions, independent of attributes, characteristics and constituent parts. However we cannot find an inherent object independent of these factors, and the implications of this fact is that we likewise cannot find an inherent object within those factors either. The object 'itself' is unfindable. We instead only find a designated collection of pieces, which do not in fact create anything apart from themselves, and even then, the parts are also arbitrary designations as well, for if there is no inherently existent object, there can be no inherent parts, characteristics or attributes either. Therefore the object is merely a useful conventional designation, and its validity is measured by its efficacy, apart from that conventional title however, there is no underlying inherent object to be found.
Dependent origination is pointing to a species of implied interdependency; the fact that an allegedly conditioned 'thing' only arises via implication from the misperception of other conditioned things, and so each 'thing' is simultaneously a cause and an effect of each other, and everything else. Dependent origination isn't a case in which we have truly established things which are existing in dependence on other truly existent things, for instance; that we have objects which are truly constructed of parts which are in turn made of smaller parts such as atoms etc. This is of course one way of looking at dependent origination, but this would be considered a very coarse and realist/essentialist view. One that subtly promotes a sense of own-being or essence to things. So instead what dependent origination is pointing out, is that there is no inherent object to be found apart from (or within) the varying conventional characteristics we attribute to said object. On the other hand there would also be no inherent objects found in relation to (or within a relationship) with the various characteristics attributed to said objects. For each would only be valid when contrasted with the other, and upon discovering a lack of inherency in regards to one, the validity of the other would be compromised as well. Our experiences are merely interdependent conventional constructs composed of unfounded inferences.
In this way, the object 'itself', as an essential core 'thing' is unfindable. We instead only find a designated collection of pieces, which do not in fact create anything apart from themselves, and even then, the parts are also arbitrary designations as well, for if there is no inherently existent object, there can be no inherent parts, characteristics or attributes either.
So for example, if a table were truly inherently existent, meaning it exists independently, then we would be able to find that table independently of its varying characteristics. The table would be able to exist independently of being observed, independent of its color or texture, independent of its parts and pieces, independent of its designated name, independent of its surroundings etc. In contrast, if observation - or consciousness for example - were truly existent, we would likewise be able to find it apart from the perception of the table, surrounding environment, and so on. There is no essential, 'core' nature that a table in fact 'is' or possesses, and the same goes for consciousness and anything else.
For sentient beings afflicted with ignorance, conceptual imputation and conventional language are mistaken as pointing towards authentic persons, places, things, etc. When ignorance is undone, there is freedom to use conventional language, however it doesn't create confusion because wisdom directly knows ignorance for what it is. In Buddhism conventionality is allowed to be a tool implemented for communication, so we're allowed to be John Doe or Mary Smith, trees, rocks, cars are allowed to be designations. Conventionality is simply a useful tool which doesn't point to anything outside of itself. The conventional truth is relative... words, concepts, ideas, persons, places, things etc., and is contrasted by ultimate truth, which is emptiness.
All apparent phenomena which fall under the category of 'conditioned' - meaning they accord with one or more of the four extremes (existence, nonexistence, both, neither) - originate dependently. We know this is so because there is no such thing as phenomena which doesn't arise dependent upon causes and conditions.
"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."
-- Nāgārjuna
level 1
· 9m
how exactly is something like that mountain not separate from me?
Conventionally, on the level of what Dzogchen calls the “rol pa” expression of our consciousness, the mountain is conventionally separate and distinct.
But when we realize the nature of the mountain we recognize that the appearance is actually the display of our own rigpa.
Also there is no actual internal point of reference in the mind, no actual subject. No actual self. Nevertheless, a self appears through the influence of delusion.
level 2
· 9m
holy just made me think of something:
so basically, like when we forget when we dream at night: in a "dream", the mind has the potential-power and habit of making a "world" within its scope. because it doesnt recognize the dream is really itself, still stuck in ignorance from lifetimes ago, it takes the "dream"-world seriously as "outside" of itself. is it pretty much like that? (of course i dont want to get into extremes of whats 'real' vs. 'dream', but this was just an analogy i thought of)
level 3
· 9m
like when we forget when we dream at night: in a "dream", the mind has the potential-power and habit of making a "world" within its scope. because it doesnt recognize the dream is really itself, it takes the world seriously. is it pretty much like that? (of course i dont want to get into extremes of whats 'real' vs. 'dream', but this was just an analogy i thought of)
The wheel [of the twelve links] is set in motion because one's own nature is not recognised, just like the deception that occurs when a magical illusion is not recognised as a magical illusion or when a dream is not recognised as a dream.
— Jamgon Kongtrul
level 2
· 6y · edited 6y
Eternalism is the idea that you are born and then you can live forever in your current body.
No, eternalism is simply reifying existents, whether allegedly conditioned or unconditioned... your assertion that eternalism only applies to conditioned phenomena but not to unconditioned phenomena is nothing more than a guise you employ to veil and hide your eternalist view. If you suggest that there is a truly existent ultimate nature, you are an eternalist plain and simple and your position is no different than Vedanta.
So the realm of the uncreated/Nirvana has none of the flaws of the theories of eternalism
Your interpretation certainly does, for it is precisely eternalism, i.e. reification of a truly existent, unconditioned nature.
the Buddha was not against all eternalism
Yes, śrāvakas usually believe that the Buddha advocated for some species of eternalism, however this notion is refuted by Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna.
To step out of impermanence, you need to be timeless - without time affecting you, bringing with it change, decay and death - this is the eternal that the Buddha actively told us to seek. This is called akaliko - timeless.
This is just Śrāvakayāna dualism.
As the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra states:
"Outside of the saṃskṛtas [conditioned dharmas], there are no asaṃskṛta [unconditioned dharmas], and the true nature [bhūtalakṣaṇa] of the saṃskṛta is exactly asaṃskṛta. The saṃskṛtas being empty, etc. the asaṃskṛtas themselves are also empty, for the two things are not different. Besides, some people, hearing about the defects of the saṃskṛtadharmas, become attached [abhiniveśante] to the asaṃskṛtadharmas and, as a result of this attachment, develop fetters."
Going on to say that the person who rejects the saṃskṛtas is attached to the asaṃskṛtas by attributing to them the characteristics of non-production [anutpāda], and by the very fact of this attachment those asaṃskṛtas are immediately transformed into saṃskṛtas. Which, as I have pointed out before; is equivalent to the act of turning dharmatā into a dharmin by considering it to be a separate, existent, unconditioned, free-standing nature. It should instead be understood that the very non-arising of conditioned dharmas [saṃskṛtadharmas] is the unconditioned [saṃskṛta] dharmatā. It is an epistemic realization which dispels ignorance by severing the causes and conditions for invalid cognition... not an ontological X that exists on its own (that is what Vedanta teaches).
And so in this vein Nāgārjuna states:
"Neither saṃsāra or nirvāṇa exist; instead, nirvāṇa is the thorough knowledge of saṃsāra"
-- Yuktiṣāṣṭika
Saṃsāra is the result of confusion, nothing is ultimately established in saṃsāra (conditioned phenomena or otherwise)... and if nothing is ultimately established in saṃsāra, saṃsāra is itself never truly established at anytime. If saṃsāra is not established, nirvāṇa is not established. Recognizing the true nature [satyalakṣhaṇa] of saṃsāra, as innately unproduced [anutpāda] is to realize that the allegedly conditioned [saṃskṛta] is a misconception of ignorance, and therefore the conditioned has in fact been unconditioned [asaṃskṛta] from the very beginning. That is awakening to the unconditioned, and that is the awakening which is the doorway to the cessation of suffering.
"Since arising, abiding and perishing are not established,
the conditioned is not established;
since the conditioned is never established,
how can the unconditioned be established?
-- Nāgārjuna
So it is not that there is indeed an unconditioned nirvāṇa which abides apart from conditioned phenomena. The 'unconditioned' is merely knowledge of the actual nature of 'conditioned' phenomena. Phenomena [dharmins] are themselves, in essence, unconditioned, their unconditioned nature is their dharmatā.
"Good son, the term 'unconditioned' is also a word provisionally invented by the First Teacher. Now, if the First Teacher provisionally invented this word, then it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination. And, if it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination, then, in the final analysis, such an imagined description does not validate a real thing. Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist."
-- Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra
This is why nirvāṇa is a cessation; it is the exhaustion of one's ignorance regarding the nature of phenomena. What ceases, is cause for the further arising and proliferation of the very delusion which lends to the misperception of arising, abiding and destruction in conditioned phenomena.
For this reason, nirvāṇa is said to be 'permanent', because due to the exhaustion of cause for the further proliferation of saṃsāra, saṃsāra no longer has any way to arise. However nirvāṇa is also a conventional designation which is only relevant in relation to the delusion of saṃsāra which has been exhausted, and so nirvāṇa is nothing real that exists in itself either, it is merely the absence of affliction, an exhaustion, an unbinding, a release, an extinguishing, a liberation, a cessation... that is nirvāṇa. There is sickness and there is health... health is simply the absence of sickness.
So the correct understanding of phenomena, reveals that phenomena (as misperceived via ignorance) have never occurred in the way one's ignorance made them appear. As a result it is seen that there has never been anything which was bound, nor anything which required liberation. That seeing reveals the unreality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa as inherent entities, and the definitive and living freedom from saṃsāra [bondage] and nirvāṇa [liberation] is itself liberation.
Eternalism; in the vein of reifying a truly existent ultimate, is never necessary, and is a ridiculous notion.
[11:01 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: - kyle wrote six years ago
[11:07 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: 👍
[11:09 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Actually mmk is a very good exercise post anatta for mature understanding of the anatta insight. However in order to do that one must adhere to the padaegogy and methodology of reasoning of two truth in madhyamaka which can take some time.
[11:11 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: I m fairly clear of mmk after all these years of studies. Thought of writing mmk and comparing with the anatta insight and spells out what it lacks.
[11:11 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Problem is it will take up too much of my time unless I go into retiring
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: lol
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: can slowly start writing bit by bit
[11:13 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Yeah that is what I thought also.

Longchenpa on Nihilism

From Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind.

    Those who scorn the law of karmic cause and fruit
    Are students of the nihilist view outside the Dharma.
    They rely on the thought that all is void;
    They fall in the extreme of nothingness
    And go from higher to lower states.
    They have embarked on an evil path
    And from the evil destinies will have no freedom,
    Casting happy states of being far away.

    ”The law of karmic cause and fruit,
    Compassion and the gathering of merit -
    All this is but provisional teaching fit for children:
    Enlightenment will not be gained thereby.
    Great yogis should remain without intentional action.
    They should meditate upon reality that is like space.
    Such is the definitive instruction.”
    The view of those who speak like this
    Of all views is the most nihilist:
    They have embraced the lowest of all paths.
    How strange is this!
    They want a fruit but have annulled its cause.

    If reality is but a space-like void,
    What need is there to meditate?
    And if it is not so, then even if one meditates
    Such efforts are to no avail.
    If meditation on mere voidness leads to liberation,
    Even those with minds completely blank
    Attain enlightenment!
    But since those people have asserted meditation,
    Cause and its result they thus establish!
    Throw far away such faulty paths as these!

    The true, authentic path asserts
    The arising in dependence of both cause and fruit,
    The natural union of skillful means and wisdom.
    Through the causality of nonexistent but appearing acts,
    Through meditation on the nonexistent but appearing path,
    The fruit is gained, appearing and yet nonexistent;
    And for the sake of nonexistent but appearing beings,
    Enlightened acts, appearing and yet nonexistent, manifest.
    Such is pure causality’s profound interdependence.
    This is the essential pith
    Of all the Sutra texts whose meaning is definitive
    And indeed of all the tantras.
    Through the joining of the two accumulations,
    The generation and completion stages,
    Perfect buddhahood is swiftly gained.

    Thus all the causal processes
    Whereby samsara is contrived should be abandoned,
    And all acts that are the cause of liberation
    Should be earnestly performed.
    High position in samsara
    And the final excellence of buddhahood
    Will speedily be gained.


 - Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind (vol 1)




 Also by Longchenpa: 

"To reject practice by saying, ‘it is conceptual!’ is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided.”
— Longchenpa 
Din Robinson
"It is astonishing to expect the result while abandoning the cause."
Isn't the cause always grasping (from the point of view of the separate self... of someone who exists in time and space and needs to know in order to navigate this existence) ?

Soh Wei Yu
Din Robinson The cause is referring to the two accumulations of merit and wisdom.
“The Fifteenth Word of Advice
Proffering mindless talk on emptiness and disregarding cause and effect,
You may think that non-action is the ultimate point of the Teaching;
Yet to abandon the two accumulations will destroy the good fortune of spiritual practice.
Integrate them both! This is my advice from the heart.”
“Just as is the case with the sesame seed being the cause of the oil and the milk being the cause of butter,
But where the oil is not obtained without pressing and the butter is not obtained without churning,
So all sentient beings, even though they possess the actual essence of Buddhahood,
Will not realize Buddhahood without engaging in practice.
If he practices, then even a cowherd can realize liberation.
Even though he does not know the explanation, he can systematically establish himself in the experience of it.
(For example) when one has had the experience of actually tasting sugar in one's own mouth,
one does not need to have that taste explained by someone else.” -
Acarya Malcolm:
“That does not matter. Let's say you have a house, and in your house is a million dollars. If you never discover the million dollars or it is never shown to you, you will have a million dollars and never know it. Likewise, unless those buddha qualities are discovered by you in a direct perception, or pointed out to you, even if you have them, they are of no use to you. 
As far as Dzogchen view goes, such qualities exist in the form of potential only. The analogy Longchenpa uses is that even though you may not need to gather the two accumulations ultimately in order to possess the kāyas and wisdoms, practicing the two accumulations is like polishing a dirty gem. One is not really adding anything new, but instead one is revealing what is already there, but hidden from ordinary sight.”
"Dzogchen teaching make a clear distinction between the basis (the time of non-realization) and the result.
The real issue which causes argument is whether tathagatāgabha, a.k.a., the dharmakāya at the time of the basis, is something that is naturally perfected or something which requires development. In general, the Sakyapas for example argue that the natural perfection of the qualities of awakening in the person does not conflict with transformation in the same way the natural presence of the quality in milk which produces butter does not mitigate or render unnecessary the process of transformation which produces butter (churning). Longchenpa for example argues that while the two accumulations have always been perfected, they need to be reaccumulated in the same sense that a gem that has been lost in a swamp needs to be polished in order to restore its former luster."

    Soh Wei Yu
    As for the so called accumulation of wisdom, you can take it to mean rigpa/vidyā (knowledge) achieving its full measure and maturity. In Dzogchen teachings there is the unripened rigpa, which is the mere recognition of clarity, the unfabricated Instant Presence (that sometimes John Tan and I calls the "I AM realization"), and then rigpa/vidyā ripens with the recognition of selflessness and emptiness.
    As Kyle Dixon pointed out before:
    "The total realization of emptiness does not then occur until the third vision, which is called “the full measure of vidyā” because at that time, upon realizing emptiness and non-arising, our knowledge [vidyā] of phenomena is complete, and has reached its “full measure.”"
    "We don’t have any misunderstanding. Again this is rhetoric versus reality, up until the third vision, “emptiness” is obscured and therefore at the time of direct introduction it is merely rhetorical. The nature of mind, as non-dual clarity and emptiness is not truly known until the third vision, again per Longchenpa, per Khenpo Ngachung, etc., not something I have made up. What do we generally recognize in direct introduction? We recognize clarity [gsal ba], and the aspect of vidyā that is concomitant with that clarity. Vidyā is then what carries our practice, but vidyā is not the citta dharmatā, the nature of mind.
    This is why the first two visions are likened to śamatha, and the last two are likened to vipaśyanā."
    And as to the nature of this prajna/gnosis/wisdom of emptiness, Kyle Dixon wrote:
    "Raw awareness is called vijñāna in unrealized sentient beings, which is dualistic and comprised of a threefold division of sensory faculty [eye], sense function [sight] and sensory object [visual appearances].
    In everyday people, even if conceptualization is absent, vijñāna is still experienced as dualistic because we feel we remain in an internal reference point and that objects are “over there” at a distance.
    Through practice however we have the opportunity to experientially realize emptiness, and when emptiness is realized, vijñāna reverts to its natural state as jñāna. Jñāna is a non-dual modality of cognition where the inner reference point and external objects are realized to be false."
    "Selflessness means there is ultimately no actual subject, which means there is no actual internal reference point that is apprehending sensory phenomena.
    In describing this simply it means through your practice you will hopefully, eventually, awaken to recognize that there is no actual seer of sights, no hearer of sounds, and so on. The feeling of an internal seer or hearer, etc., is a useful but false construct that is created and fortified by various causes and conditions.
    We suffer when we cling to this construct and think it is actually real. Recognition of the actual nature of that construct is liberating and freeing."

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    Din Robinson
    Soh wrote:
    "The cause is referring to the two accumulations of merit and wisdom."
    In my case it can also be called "grace". 🤓

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    Din Robinson
    there I was... minding my own business... when I got smacked on the back of the head and told to "wake up!" 😆

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Usually these spontaneous awakenings are the initial unripened form of rigpa. Sometimes the Dzogchen master trying to do a direct introduction shouts Phat! or the Zen master shouts Katz! and the student snaps out of his mental bullshit into Instant Presence, and there is a sudden recognition of one's radiance clarity. That is the said 'recognition of clarity' but must be further refined and 'ripened' through the realization of selflessness [anatman] and emptiness [sunyata].
    "I’ve never met anyone who gained any insight into emptiness at direct introduction. Plenty who recognized rigpa kechigma though.
    I don’t presume to know better than luminaries like Longchenpa and Khenpo Ngachung who state emptiness isn’t actually known until third vision and so on. You may presume otherwise and in that case we can agree to disagree."
    John Tan's reply on something Malcolm wrote in 2020:
    “This is like what I tell you and essentially emphasizing 明心非见性. 先明心, 后见性. (Soh: Apprehending Mind is not seeing [its] Nature. First apprehend Mind, later realise [its] Nature).
    First is directly authenticating mind/consciousness 明心 (Soh: Apprehending Mind). There is the direct path like zen sudden enlightenment of one's original mind or mahamudra or dzogchen direct introduction of rigpa or even self enquiry of advaita -- the direct, immediate, perception of "consciousness" without intermediaries. They are the same.
    However that is not realization of emptiness. Realization of emptiness is 见性 (Soh: Seeing Nature). Imo there is direct path to 明心 (Soh: Apprehending Mind) but I have not seen any direct path to 见性 (Soh: Seeing Nature) yet. If you go through the depth and nuances of our mental constructs, you will understand how deep and subtle the blind spots are.
    Therefore emptiness or 空性 (Soh: Empty Nature) is the main difference between buddhism and other religions. Although anatta is the direct experiential taste of emptiness, there is still a difference between buddhist's anatta and selflessness of other religions -- whether it is anatta by experiential taste of the dissolution of self alone or the experiential taste is triggered by wisdom of emptiness.
    The former focused on selflessness and whole path of practice is all about doing away with self whereas the later is aboutt living in the wisdom of emptiness and applying that insight and wisdom of emptiness to all phenomena.
    As for emptiness there is the fine line of seeing through inherentness of Tsongkhapa and there is the emptiness free from extremes by Gorampa. Both are equally profound so do not talk nonsense and engaged in profane speech as in terms of result, ultimately they are the same (imo).”
    Dalai Lama - "Nature - there are many different levels. Conventional level, one nature. There are also, you see, different levels. Then, ultimate level, ultimate reality... so simply realise the Clarity of the Mind, that is the conventional level. That is common with Hindus, like that. So we have to know these different levels...." - Dalai Lama on Anatta and Emptiness of Buddha Nature in New Book
    How exactly does one realize "emptiness"? (1st bhumi)
    How exactly does one realize "emptiness"? (1st bhumi)
    How exactly does one realize "emptiness"? (1st bhumi)

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    • Din Robinson
      Soh wrote:
      "Jñāna is a non-dual modality of cognition where the inner reference point and external objects are realized to be false."
      "False" could also be described as "conditioned" since it's with the belief in a separate sense of self that exists in and as a physical body that internal and external come to be.
      "In describing this simply it means through your practice you will hopefully, eventually, awaken to recognize that there is no actual seer of sights, no hearer of sounds, and so on. "
      Whether you practice with intent (to practice) or whether it happens naturally and spontaneously with no sense of doing something, it happens that thoughts relating to the separate sense of self can be seen for the empty thoughts that they are through "insight", which is what I experienced. One moment of insight is worth a lifetime of practice!!! 🤓
      "The feeling of an internal seer or hearer, etc., is a useful but false construct that is created and fortified by various causes and conditions."
      Yes, we are brought up in world that sees separation as natural and ordinary, it's a world of conditioning, what the catholics refer to as "being born in sin" with "sin" meaning "off the mark" or missing something truthful or important to see or discover.

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    • Soh Wei Yu
      ""False" could also be described as "conditioned" since it's with the belief in a separate sense of self that exists in and as a physical body that internal and external come to be."

      Not just that. One could also identify as formless spirit, as Eternal Witness, as an Awareness that permeates but transcends all phenomena, etc. All these are still subtle identifications and reifications that are to be seen through with the realization of anatman.

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    • Soh Wei Yu
      "it happens that thoughts relating to the separate sense of self can be seen for the empty thoughts that they are through "insight","

      It is not only labels and coarse concepts that are the target of refutation, but also the very deeply held sense and referencepoint of being a hearer hearing sound, a seer seeing a sight, an experiencer, doer, be-er, watcher, knower, etc.

      This delusion is quite persistent and goes beyond coarse level conceptual imputation, as Kyle Dixon said, "even if conceptualization is absent, vijñāna is still experienced as dualistic because we feel we remain in an internal reference point and that objects are “over there” at a distance."

      For my case, my breakthrough to anatta happened while contemplation on Bahiya Sutta -- in seeing only the seen, on hearing only the heard, (no seer or hearer besides) and same for all other senses. Until it is suddenly realized that the whole structure of Seer-Seeing-Seen doesn't apply and there is no seeing besides colors -- no seer, no hearing besides sound -- no hearer, no awareness besides manifestation. This is not just realising the lack of borders or duality but realizing the Absence of an inherently existing Self/Agent/Awareness behind manifestation. This is the realization of anatta.
      The Buddha on Non-Duality
      The Buddha on Non-Duality
      The Buddha on Non-Duality

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