Saturday, February 04, 2012

THE LANKAVATARA SUTRA


First off, does anyone want a cat? His name is Crum and he is the best cat in the world. He belongs to my neighbor, Kim. But she can't keep him. He's been staying at my apartment for the last couple days. But at some point I'm gonna need to leave for an extended period, and then do that over and over and over again. So this isn't gonna last for long.

This cat is so sweet it's unreal. This is a photo of him keeping me company this morning while I wrote what you're reading now.

Oh. And someone find me a teaching gig in Southern California. Thanks.

Oh! And doesn't anyone out there want me to come speak anywhere? It's weird. I was getting so many offers I couldn't handle them last year and now here in 2012 -- nothing! Did I do something that offended everyone?

Now onto the main topic.

The nice folks over at Counterpoint Books sent me a review copy of Red Pine's The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary. Thank you, Counterpoint Books!

I gotta say that I was kind of intimidated at first. I don't do sutras very well. I managed to dig through Dogen's Shobogenzo and even write a book about it. But that doesn't mean I'm one of those guys who sits around reading ancient Buddhist texts for fun. Generally speaking ancient Buddhist writings baffle me about as much as they baffle everybody else.

Take the Lotus Sutra -- please! I mean, I know I'm supposed to love the thing. I know that Dogen loved it. People I know have read it and said it's the greatest thing since sliced cheese. But I have never been able to get through the confounded thing. I can't get past the part where the author is telling you the names of all the Bodhisattvas and their uncles and how many Buddha realms they've conquered and where they shop for shoes and why you should definitely copy the sutra a thousand times and how many dragon kings were sitting around while Buddha impressed everyone by shooting rays out of his forehead... and so on and on and on and on.

You think I'm making this up? Have a look for yourself.

So when I saw this book in my mailbox, I thought, "Good gosh, now I gotta read the thing!"

It turns out that the Lankavatara Sutra is much easier going than the Lotus Sutra. At least for me. It doesn't take nearly as long to get to the point. And its philosophical doctrines aren't expressed in extended metaphors or stories. In many ways it's a much more modern sounding piece. The author of the sutra frames it as a long Q&A session between a guy named Mahamati and Buddha. Of course, Buddha was long since dead by the time this sutra was composed. But the literary device works to express a lot of the then-developing theories in Buddhism that would later become the basis for much of what is taught in Zen Buddhist temples even today.

What really makes this book work for me is Red Pine's (aka Bill Porter) introduction. It's a very honest essay. The author even says that it was his need for the advance money from his publishers that really tipped the scales and finally got him working on the translation in earnest. Apparently he'd had it on the back burner for years. But when he ran out of other sutras to translate, he reluctantly went back to the Lankavatara.

I'm happy he did because it's a very good book. It's not an easy book to read. Nor would I recommend it to someone just starting out with Buddhist philosophy. Stick to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind or even Hardcore Zen if you want that. Or you can try one of the books on my Zen Books That Don't Suck page.

But if you've already got a foundation of basic Buddhist philosophy and you want to know where some of the peculiarly Zen stuff comes from, this is a pretty interesting and valuable book. It's a fine resource for some of the earliest manifestations of what coalesced into the Zen approach to Buddhist teaching and practice.

For example, you know how I'm always ranting against people who try to sell the idea of instant enlightenment? Remember how I compared thinking you could get enlightened right away to thinking you could learn to play Eruption by Eddie Van Halen after a single guitar lesson? Some of you assumed I just pulled that out of my ass. Well, in fact, I did. But in the Lankavatara Sutra, Mahamati asks, "How is the stream of perceptions of beings' minds purified?" Buddha answers, "By degrees and not all at once... like when people become proficient in such arts as music or writing or painting." So there!

On the matter of God, Mahamati asks, "In the sutras the Bhagavan (aka Buddha) says that the tathagatha-garbgha (womb of the Buddhas) is intrinsically pure, endowed with thirty-two attributes and present in the bodies of all beings, and that, like a precious jewel wrapped in soiled clothing, the ever-present unchanging tathagatha-garbha is likewise wrapped in the soiled clothing of the skandhas, dhatus and ayantas and stained with the stains of erroneous projections of greed, anger and delusion. How is it that what the Bhagavan says about the tathagatha-garbha is the same as what followers of other paths say about a self? Bhagavan, followers of other paths also speak of an immortal creator without attributes, omnipresent and indestructible. And they say this is the self."

Buddha says, among other things that, "The tathagatha-garbha is taught to attract those members of other paths who are attached to a self so that they will give up their projection of an unreal self and will enter the threefold gate of liberation." This doesn't mean there is no tathagatha-garbha. Just that Buddha considers it a better way to describe reality than to describe it as self.

Like I said, I'm working on a whole book to explain why I think it makes sense to use the word "God" in the context of contemporary Buddhism. And it's not just to play nice with religious folks. But I'm not gonna try and get into that here. It's just nice to see that this question goes back a very long way.

In any case, the foregoing quotes ought to give you an idea what to expect from a book like this. If you don't know what a skandha or a dhatu is you're going to have a tough time. Red Pine assumes his readers know at least the basic terms. However, he provides copious footnotes which are presented such that the sutra itself is on the page on your right and the footnotes are on the page on your left. This makes it very easy to go from one to the other. You don't have to skip to the back of the book or even to the bottom of the page to find them. This is very nice for people like me with short attention spans who forget what the term they're looking up even was by the time we manage to find the footnote explaining it. And there's a glossary of terms at the end in case you really do need to know what a skandha is.

I highly recommend this book for people who want to deepen their understanding of Zen Buddhist philosophy.

194 comments:

Anonymous said...

1 !!!!!

ROTFLHMCXV

;)

anon #108 said...

Hey Brad,

It ain't 'Mahatmi'. It's Mahaa-mati (or *Mahamati* if you like) - which means 'great-minded,' ie clever.

I don't believe there is such a word in Sanskrit as Mahatmi. It sounds a bit like Mahaa-atma (*Mahatma*) - which as you might know means something like 'great-soul'; having a great or noble nature - but that ain't this guy.

...Just so you don't embarrass yourself in front of any proper Buddhists you might meet ;)

Brad Warner said...

Oh sorry! Mahamati! I'll go fix it! Thanks.

Mumon said...

Oddly enough, I found the Lotus Sutra easier - much easier.

The Lankavatara needs a handy dandy glossary with it -which, maybe Mr. Pine supplies, because (was it Suzuki's?) text doesn't.

I can see why you think so about the two sutras: the Lankavatar's far more "linear" in its exposition whereas the Lotus Sutra is different.

To re-purpose the metaphor from Douglas Hofstadter on koans, the difficulty of the Lotus Sutra lies in the relationship between the metalanguage of the Lotus Sutra (i.e., what it "means") and the object language (the "plaintext" language of the Lotus Sutra itself). What makes that particularly profound for me is that the Lotus Sutra is self-referential, and quite obviously does not do so in the plaintext "meaning."

It's kind of like that Magritte painting of a pipe with the caption "This is not a pipe."

AND when you get PAST all the literary theory hoo-hah I've just written above - the "point" of the Lotus Sutra is indeed profound.

And I have to study it more.

Great topic though. I wonder if any Nichiren folks read your blog.

anon #108 said...

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Must buy! Strange how little is known and recogniced in the west about what happened filosofically from the days of buddha to those enigmatic statements of chinese zenmasters. I've read Zen was called the Lanka -sect early in china. This is like the indian sutra -background of those classic koans.

Mumon said...

To refine my comment above: that's not to say there isn't hairy dialectical reasoning in the Lankavatara - there is. That's the source of its own difficulties (but, as Brad said, well worth the read!)

But the Lankavatara "means what the text means" far more so than the Lotus, and isn't IIRC, as riddled with self-reference as the Lotus.

boubi said...

Hi Brad

For example, you know how I'm always ranting against people who try to sell the idea of instant enlightenment?

I don't know if you're talking about the new "zen cults" or about Linchi's branch of Zen. If it's about the latter they rant against the progressive one, taking as a proof "that day" in Bodhgaya, and their own experience.
But here i'm maybe just rooting for my first team, you know it's like your first love, it gets a special place, or rather a special attachement.

Now about the tathagatha-garbgha thing.

How is it that what the Bhagavan says about the tathagatha-garbha is the same as what followers of other paths say about a self? Bhagavan, followers of other paths also speak of an immortal creator without attributes, omnipresent and indestructible. And they say this is the self."

Resuming we should get:
the tathagatha-garbha is the same as what followers of other paths say about a self ... followers of other paths also speak of an immortal creator.... And they say this is the self.

So it seems to me that this sutra states that followers of other paths speak of an immortal creator and call it the self.

Hence it not the Buddha that says there is a god (immortal creator), but rather other people, using the same word (tathagatha-garbgha), say that the self is "god" (immortal creator).



Now it could be just a knee jerk reaction on my part, and saying the truth i don't give a damn about all encompassing divinity.

Devas/kami etc seem to me more possible, work "enough" your siddhis, at least Milarepa's way, and you could become one and reside in some higher realm. Why not?

And looking hard at "things", i really don't know what we are looking at, considering the state of the matter, just have a look at a Feynman's diagram.

But again who gives a damn

Anonymous said...

Heady stuff.
If you come back to Lawrence, KS bring the cat! Looks like a fine beast.

Indigo said...

Good! Curiously, I saw Red Pine's translation available on Amazondot just today as I was shopping for other things. Sometimes I like his translations, sometimes I don't. But on your recommendation, I'll definitely look into it. The Trip to Lanka, huh? Would that be the Sri Lanka we used to know as Ceylon?

john e mumbles said...

Very cool. I love Red Pine aka Bill Porter.

I quoted something from his Road To Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits in an old article on the Circulatum Minus I did for the Philosopher's Of Nature quarterly The Stone (essay available in its entirety online here: http://www.triad-publishing.com/stone27a.html)

My introduction to the Lankavatara sutra came v. early in my practice via Dwight Goddard's A BUDDHIST BIBLE, trans. by Goddard and Suzuki, & props to Kerouac, who mentioned it somewhere making me aware of it and seeking it out.

My favorite Red Pine stuff is his little book on the Heart sutra, and his much bigger one on the Diamond sutra. Will look for this new trans., thanks for the heads-up.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Edit: @12.08pm, while correcting a small error in Brad's initial posting, I wrote "mahaa-atma". That's wrong. I should have written mahaa-aatma - long As all the way down. Thank you.

Mark Foote said...

Crum, you'd best be leavin' them mouse at the door, now. Don't be scufflin' them feet on the keys and calling it blog post 4Feb!

I watched the lecture by Lawrence Krauss on cosmology, and was fascinated to learn that because the universe is flat, something can come out of nothing, and nothing can come out of something. Hope I'm getting that right. If the universe had followed the rules of the other two geometries, that would not be possible, according to current mathematics/physics.

In the Pali cannon, there's a sermon where the Gautamid gives a short history of the origin of God. Basically, a being fell from a higher energy state to a lower one, and into existence. Subsequently, other beings also fell and came into existence. The being who arrived first looked around, and realizing he was the first, declared himself god the creator.

Likewise, the famous sermon concerning the individual who sought to know where suffering ends, and pursued the question up the chain of wise men into the heavens and finally to God. None could answer him; God said, "I'm the might god, creator of all!" several times in response to the question, then finally leaned over and whispered that the seeker would have to return to Earth and speak to the Gautamid for the answer.

To my mind, that says it all. Maybe there are beings on higher energy planes, maybe the object is to depart this plane to some other plane (and never return), maybe there are a thousand angels on the head of a pin. It's suffering, stupid, is what I tell myself. And not "life is suffering"- not what the guy taught, he taught the escape, and the happiness of the meditative states. Happiness of the meditative states does not equate with suffering, life is not equated with suffering in the teaching of the Gautamid as near as I can find.

I'm not big on sutras composed after the four initial Nikayas. The fifth Nikaya is where you will find the famous lines about the "unborn". Suspect to me. Maybe I'll read the lankavatara sutra someday, but why not read the original, the Pali Suttas?

I don't view the Gautamid as all-knowing, I do regard him as an authority on the meditative states and their relationship to the experience of suffering. Where suffering exists, the four truths apply. That's the universe in which form is emptiness, and emptiness is form, as near as I can figure. Language that attempts to describe everything contains many contradictions, and my experience with the later sutras is that they are an attempt to do just that.

what is the deal with the capchas, like "quitio", fer instance?

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Becoming aware of fragility, of temporality, of the fact that we will surely all be lost to one another, sooner or later, mandates a clear imperative to be totally kind and loving to each other always.

Billy said...

Mr. Warner, even if you had made it past the first chapter of the Lotus Sutra you might have stopped once you got to the passages in the second and third that state that those who fail to understand or choose to reject the Lotus Sutra, will be destined for rebirth in a lower realm and possibly even the Avici Hell.

kristien said...

“In any case, the foregoing quotes ought to give you an idea what to expect from a book like this. If you don't know what a skandha or a dhatu is you're going to have a tough time.”

Exactly who will ever read this? Some Buddhist will do… and a few scholars among those will understand the philosophy of it… but no one will ever realizeanything through it.
I feel lucky and grateful to have found a true Buddha/ Realizer of my own time, who speaks my language , who was born in a western culture and understands it and therefore can guide me through and point me the Way.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

corrected link for

D. T. Suzuki

"Manual of Zen Buddhism"

a PDF File

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/manual_zen.pdf

Cidercat said...

Lovely pusscat! Can you ship him to Bedfordshire Brad?? Will pay for nibbles.

proulx michel said...

kristien wrote:

I feel lucky and grateful to have found a true Buddha/ Realizer of my own time, who speaks my language , who was born in a western culture and understands it and therefore can guide me through and point me the Way.

Please, please, please! Do not be such an egoist and give us the opportunity to share in the glory and wisdom of such a being! Give us his name!

buddy said...

pm, why it's our Brad of course!

proulx michel said...

Anyway, one of the most interesting aspects of the Lanka, is the more developed form of the famous verses attributed to Bodhidharma, in chapter 6, where (Suzuki's version) it says "The ignorant and simple-minded declare that meaning is not otherwise than words, that as words are, so is meaning. They
think that as meaning has no body of its own that it cannot be different from words and, therefore, declare meaning to be
indentical to words. In this they are ignorant of the nature of words, which are subject to birth and death, whereas meaning
is not; words are dependent upon letters and meaning is not; meaning is apart from existence and non-existence, it has no
substratum, it is un-born. The Tathagatas do not teach a Dharma that is dependent upon letters. Anyone who teaches a
doctrine that is dependent upon letters and words is a mere prattler, because Truth is beyond letters and words and books.
This does not mean that letters and books never declare what is in conformity with meaning and truth, but it means that
words and books are dependent upon discriminations, while meaning and truth are not; moreover, words and books are
subject to the interpretation of individual minds, while meaning and truth are not. But if Truth is not expressed in words
and books, the scriptures which contains the meaning of Truth would disappear, and when the scriptures there will be no
more disciples and masters and Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, and there will ne nothing to teach. But no one must become
attached to the words of the scriptures because even the canonical texts sometimes deviate from their straightfoward
course owing to the imperfect fuctioning of sentient minds."

__________

Ah! In response to those who have asked the reason for mentioning the captcha: it is generally because the one that the author of the comment has encountered was felt as being either funny or relevant or anything.
Mine now is "fadifart".

boubi said...

Hi Michel

I think that what you just described is called nominalism, as in nomina sunt rerum.

About the sutras. I believe they were all written long after Gautama's death, so while keeping with the original dharma core it could be that they got some influence of the cultural environment, of which Gautama himself was not exempt.

Tell me if i'm wrong.

proulx michel said...

Boubi, I'm afraid you're dead wrong! This is precisely the opposite of nominalism, because it says that words are not the meanings, and that those who stick to words are not disciples of the buddha. It's just, adds the author, that if it weren't for words, we could not transmit the meanings.

Broken Yogi said...

Kristien is a devotee of "he whose name shall not be spoken".

wink wink nod nod

say no more

Anonymous said...

"The tathagatha-garbha is taught to attract those members of other paths who are attached to a self so that they will give up their projection of an unreal self and will enter the threefold gate of liberation."

2007-10-25 #6 God & Buddhanature

A study of the Buddha's understanding of God (Brahma) as found in texts of the Pali Canon. The Buddha was an ironic atheist, who did not take a fanatic position against God. This is followed by a reflection on the idea of BUDDHANATURE, starting with its origins in the Pali Canon and seeing how it evolves in later Buddhist thought in ways that both complement and contradict the early tradition.


http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/talk/2303/

Harry said...

I found all the 'special effects' in the Lotus pretty hard to take... at the same time it does succeed in setting the proceedings in a very broad context in terms of time and space with its vast time spans and vast numbers of worlds and beings.

Michel wrote:'...words and books are
subject to the interpretation of individual minds, while meaning and truth are not...words are dependent upon letters and meaning is not; meaning is apart from existence and non-existence, it has no
substratum, it is un-born.'

I believe that is one viewpoint that may be looked at in terms of the 'dimensional difference' that Nishijima Roshi indicates as existing between what we think and Action.

It indicates the truth that real meaning, existence-meaning if you like, exists instantaneously from moment-to-moment and so words mean nothing outside their current, concrete context (which, of course, always changes).

This need not, and should not, be seen as some sort of negation of the conventional use of words and their attendant (if provisional) meanings though. That would be to slide towards an extreme view I think (a common extreme in Zen and Buddhism in general it seems).

It's a very interesting passage. Dogen would have had words to say about it (critical ones!) as he didn't discriminate in this way between true words and the very stuff/body of buddha.

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Oh my God, more books! As a Buddhist, I couldn't care less. I don't like sutras. I think they're stupid. But as a comparative religion student I love Buddhist texts and sutras! My main subject is Buddhism as a student, but as a Buddhist... no, thanks.

Boom boom!

Nice review, Brad! I hope your cat finds a new home and you find some gigs!

Uku said...

As a BUDDHIST, I am a BUDDHIST. I study BUDDHISM, I am a BUDDHIST.

I.

I study and practice BUDDHISM. I. As a BUDDHIST, I think that, I.

boubi said...

Hi Michel

Sorry i was not citing the reference in my previous post, i'm talking of this part.


"The ignorant and simple-minded declare that meaning is not otherwise than words, that as words are, so is meaning. They
think that as meaning has no body of its own that it cannot be different from words and, therefore, declare meaning to be
indentical to words.


It's just remains of notions of another time

thanks

king abdaoe said...

Thanks very possible, please visit my humble blog




مزيكا4ماتش

Anonymous said...

"Like I said, I'm working on a whole book to explain why I think it makes sense to use the word "God" in the context of contemporary Buddhism."

First you have to pretend the word "God" means something that it does NOT mean.

"God" is meant to be a dualist/eternal/thing-in-itself, just the "soul" is.

It you mean a kind of Spinoza-like pantheism, then o.k., but that is NOT what Christian/Jews/Muslims/etc. mean/believe in.

But then you are just playing semantic games which seem perhaps at times useful, but very misleading/dishonest.

Anonymous said...

"why I think it makes sense to use the word "God" in the context of contemporary Buddhism"

Believers are agnostics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFISW7M8uv0

Part 2 -- Believers are agnostics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWA3eUEzUWo

Mark Foote said...

"In this they are ignorant of the nature of words, which are subject to birth and death, whereas meaning
is not; words are dependent upon letters and meaning is not; meaning is apart from existence and non-existence, it has no
substratum, it is un-born. "
(lankavatara sutra, presumably)

Interesting and well-spoken, thanks for relating that, Proulx Michel.

I am driving at this, that anytime we look to use a symbol or a name to represent the transfinite, we have introduced paradox and contradiction to our symbol-set or language. That's why "the unborn" doesn't appear in the first four Nikayas, to my mind: the Gautamid was careful at several points to say to his questioners that their question went beyond what he taught, and then he would reiterate what he had taught.

As I've said before, Godel's incompleteness theorem is the most amazing philosophical statement in the history of humanity, in my opinion. If your initial assumptions can generate all of mathematics, those assumptions also generate contradictions. If your initial assumptions don't generate any contradictions, then your assumptions cannot describe all of what is known in mathematics.

The moral of the story is, there will be relationships that cannot be described in the language of the dharma laid out by the Gautamid, and the Gautamid showed an amazing awareness of the problem and made the only response possible when he rejected the question from the framework of his teaching.

That the Gautamid's teaching cannot be viewed from the outside nor extended to include ineffables is its strength and wisdom, and I reject as inferior the subsequent writers who speak of the truth in Platonic eternalistic terms.

I am also deeply suspicious of Cantor's proof than the infinity of the transfinite numbers is larger than the infinity of the counting numbers. What can I say!

Mumon said...

I am also deeply suspicious of Cantor's proof than the infinity of the transfinite numbers is larger than the infinity of the counting numbers. What can I say!

Umm...it just falls out of the math, so to speak.

If it's any consolation to you, if you have a countably infinite set of objects which each have cardinality c, then their union also has cardinality c.

Uku said...

Uku wrote:

As a BUDDHIST, I am a BUDDHIST. I study BUDDHISM, I am a BUDDHIST.

I.

I study and practice BUDDHISM. I. As a BUDDHIST, I think that, I.


Exactly! There is no reality without I.

Anonymous said...

It seems to use the word "God" would be counter productive for so many reasons. True it may be a useful upaya at times.

In the Buddha's day he was trying free his listeners from an atman, a separate eternal self. He taught anatman.

In our day, here in the U.S. for example eternalism/dualism is enshrined by the word "God". You have to really pretend the word means something it does not mean to get away from that fact.

It's clear through the many comments here in the comment sections just how persistent dualism is, and how even Buddhists will find any way to sneak it back in even if they have to play semantic games to do so.


2007-10-25 #6 God & Buddhanature

A study of the Buddha's understanding of God (Brahma) as found in texts of the Pali Canon. The Buddha was an ironic atheist, who did not take a fanatic position against God. This is followed by a reflection on the idea of BUDDHANATURE, starting with its origins in the Pali Canon and seeing how it evolves in later Buddhist thought in ways that both complement and contradict the early tradition.


http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/talk/2303/

Fred said...

Where does suffering end. Suffering is just a concept. It
doesn't begin or end. Life and
death aren't problems. They are what they are without positive or
negative connotation.

Red Pine said something like that
Buddha was treating people with
spiritual disease. He made up stuff
like the word suffering to keep
them busy while they healed.
spiritually.

Anonymous said...

I should have clarified that previous comment,
the problem in ancient Inida was Brahma and atman,
today in the U.S. it's God and soul,
which are dualistic

boubi said...

Hi

A silly question: "what is time?"

How comes there is this timelessness?

Is there any sutra about it?

anon #108 said...

That's a very excellent talk by Stephen Batchelor that you linked, anon @ 12.53pm. Thanks.

Fred said...

Zennist:

"There is not a single case in the LS in which mind is a subject of an activity such as thinking or perceiving. Mind is really absolute substance (tathata)—not subject—when mind is set free (Red Pine and Suzuki, XLIII). As such, the everyday world is illusory and dreamlike—only Mind is real."

buddy said...

The Aramaic word for god in the Bible is 'Alaha'. It's not a name for a dude with a long white beard, but rather means 'essence', 'substance of all being', 'breath' and 'life-force'. Plus it sounds nice when you say it.

buddy said...

The Aramaic word for god in the Bible is 'Alaha'. It's not a name for a dude with a long white beard, but rather means 'essence', 'substance of all being', 'breath' and 'life-force'. Plus it sounds nice when you say it.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buddy said...

apologies for double post, not sure what happened there..

Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...

Mumon,

Mumon,

"The most widely accepted formal basis for arithmetic is called Peano's Axioms (PA). Giuseppe Peano based his system on a specific natural number, 1, and a successor function such that to each natural number x there corresponds a successor x' (also denoted as x+1). He then formulated the properties of the set of natural numbers in five axioms:

(1) 1 is a natural number.
(2) If x is a natural number then x' is a natural number.
(3) If x is a natural number then x' is not 1.
(4) If x' = y' then x = y.
(5) If S is a set of natural numbers including 1, and if for every x in S the successor x' is also in S, then every natural number is in S.

These axioms (together with numerous tacit rules of reasoning and implication, etc) constitute a formal basis for the subject of arithmetic, and all formal “proofs” ultimately are derived from them. The first four, at least, appear to be “clear and distinct” notions, and even the fifth would be regarded by most people as fairly unobjectionable. Nevertheless, the question sometimes arises (especially in relation to very complicated and lengthy proofs) whether theorems based on these axioms (and tacit rules of implication) are perfectly indubitable. According to Goedel’s theorem, it is impossible to formally prove the consistency of arithmetic, which is to say, we have no rigorous proof that the basic axioms of arithmetic do not lead to a contradiction at some point."
(Kevin Brown, Math Pages, Set Theory and Foundations, Is Arithmetic Consistent?

Broken Yogi said...

"Brahma and atman, today in the U.S. it's God and soul, which are dualistic"

Actually, in ancient India the commonly accepted Vedic understanding of "atman" was not much different from the modern concept of the individual immortal soul. The earliest Upanishads began to advance the notion of a non-dual atman, and these preceded Buddhism by a few hundred years (at most), but these were primarily "secret" teachings. The generally accepted Brahmanical teaching that Buddha was criticizing didn't have much of that higher non-dual sensibility going on. They were quite dualistic.

Most of Vedic Humanism, even to this day, had been dualistic. The non-dual schools of Hinduism have often been highly regarded, but have generally been confined to "esoteric" circles. This was especially true in ancient times. Buddhism was in many respects a non-dual reaction to the dualistic notions of Vedism about God and soul that were prevalent at the time. It's not even clear that Buddha had much familiarity with the Upanishadic schools that were developing a non-dual viewpoint on these matters. Certainly very few Hindus were so aware.

boubi said...

Alaha = bibble?

Interresting, where did you get it?

Alakha should be the corpus of the jewish religious law, the do and don't do.

Not all the bibble is about rules, it contains a lot of stories, myths, prophesies and so on.

boubi said...

Reading the comments, it seems to me a mad house, me included, where everybody talks about anything, anyhow, whatever the f*-+.

Bradu san wa kawaisso desnè!

Joop said...

The Lankavatara Sutra has nothing to do with Sri Lanka, aka Ceylon (except perhaps in the mind of the men who composed it)
Cf http://books.google.nl/books?id=SlDArya3YvcC&pg=PA241&dq=lankavatara+inauthor:kalupahana&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=drovT-bCIcfe8APEppmcDw&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
David Kalupahana (a Sri Lanka born buddhist scholar) is very clear about that.
I have never met a Theravadin who liked the Lankavatara: some hate it, some ignore it and most simply never heard about it

mieledi said...

Oh! I like this published, christian louboutin will pay attention to it.

Anonymous said...

good talk about the Platform Sutra, Red Pine's translation, and points out how the Platform sutra starts out with a departure/critique from/of the Lankavatara sutra


Platform Sutra, Red Pine edition

http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?Itemid=26&option=com_teaching&sort=date&pgLimits[book]=0&pgLimits[audio]=460&pgLimits[text]=0&task=viewTeaching&id=audio-483-325

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Re the title of the Lankavatara Sutra and Sri Lanka/Ceylon: This is from Red Pine's intro (from "Look inside" via the Amazon link Brad gave).

"The title of this book...is a combination of the Sanskrit words lanka and aavataara [...] The only definition that I can find is that the word refers to the island we now call Sri Lanka, or to its principle town. [Mr Pine here undertakes a short and inconclusive survey of the possible derivation of the word Lanka] And according to Buddhist chronicles...the Buddha himself reached Lanka on three occasions, one of them being to transmit the teaching of this sutra. [...] Such chronicles, however, were complied centuries after the Buddha's reported visits. The earliest recorded appearance of Buddhism on the island did not occur until 150 years after the Buddha's Nirvana [...] As for the second part of the title, aavataara, this means "to alight or descend," and usually refers to the appearance of a deity on Earth - and from which we get the word avatar. Thus the sutra's title could be translated as Appearance on Lanka, referring to the Buddha's reputed visit to the island."

Makes sense to me.

hana shin said...

Yes - maybe instead of handing out cookies at your talks you can bring the cat and stroke it's head like the villain in Austin Powers... it would then find a home soon enough!

I stepped down from my zendo board, but who knows? Maybe we can get you something in New Jersey/New York area.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Shake said...

Oh, what tools these portals be!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Alexander said...

I read this with interest. I googled “Brad Warner” and “God” and up popped a talk on God and Dogen you did a while ago at a Zen center. In it you touched on a classic evidence for God’s existence – the fact that we have an intuitive moral sense. I also resonated with your lack of comfort with bare bones materialism. If the highest truth is that in the end we are just raccoon road kill along the highway of death and life returning to our constituent atoms I want out of here! I dabbled in Buddhism/Hinduism/New Age but have been a Christian for decades. Your humility, candor, and humor in your God talk was refreshing. Best regards.

Harvey Daiho Hilbert - Roshi said...

Great review, Brad, thanks.

Uncle Willie said...

Re: Jeff Alexander's comment at 12:06PM

"An intuitive moral sense" is not evidence for the existence of god. It can very easily be explained by natural selection. In species that have evolved to be very social, such as humans, the ethic of reciprocity has a survival value. Individuals who act ethically have a greater probability of survival.
Just because someone doesn't understand something or hasn't heard of an explanation for it doesn't mean that "god must have done it". That type of logical fallacy can be called either "the argument from ignorance" or "the god of the gaps".

"Lack of comfort" with materialism is not evidence against materialism or in support of spiritualism. An individual's comfort level may be useful when selecting a bed or a chair but it has no value when determining whether or not something is true.

Shodo said...

Uncle Willie said...
""An intuitive moral sense" is not evidence for the existence of god. It can very easily be explained by natural selection. In species that have evolved to be very social, such as humans, the ethic of reciprocity has a survival value. Individuals who act ethically have a greater probability of survival.
Just because someone doesn't understand something or hasn't heard of an explanation for it doesn't mean that "god must have done it". That type of logical fallacy can be called either "the argument from ignorance" or "the god of the gaps".

"Lack of comfort" with materialism is not evidence against materialism or in support of spiritualism. An individual's comfort level may be useful when selecting a bed or a chair but it has no value when determining whether or not something is true."


Excellent post Uncle!=)

I will read Brad's book on how he think Buddhists believe in "God" (still waiting on that definition tho...)
But goodness gracious, for Brad's sake I suuuuuure hope he brushes up on the various arguments for/against such a being - because I have a feeling it will be a feeding frenzy if a argument that has been long disproven/discarded is presented.... and then used as a point in his greater thesis that buddhists believe "it" exists.

It will be like blood in the water on this blog...:3

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...

"But for karma to work and the wheel of dharma to turn, a transmigration across the death barrier is necessary?"- Julius Henry

The universe disappears into nothingness, that's possible according to the latest cosmology; another universe appears out of nothing, that's also possible. No connection? Coincidence? Or, could this comment column perhaps have entered a dimension of no-sound, a dimension of no-sight, a dimension of non-thinking...

Anonymous said...

"Shiro is the 3003rd manifestation of Krishna."

Shiro is not very far removed from my pork chop dinner tonight.

Brad Warner said...

But goodness gracious, for Brad's sake I suuuuuure hope he brushes up on the various arguments for/against such a being

I think I'm going in a completely different direction from what you're imagining, Shodo. But I'm curious. What, in your estimation, are the various arguments for/against such a being (God)? Stuff like Wikepedia lists (the ontological argument, argument from beauty, argument from reason, etc as well as empirical argument against, problem of evil and so on)? God please let me never write a book about that stuff!

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the God book. "God" is a loaded word. Say it - and most people instantly think you are talking about "their version" of what they believe God is. "Love" is a loaded word too. Most people who talk about love rarely live it.

Shodo said...

Brad Warner said...
"I think I'm going in a completely different direction from what you're imagining, Shodo. But I'm curious. What, in your estimation, are the various arguments for/against such a being (God)? Stuff like Wikepedia lists (the ontological argument, argument from beauty, argument from reason, etc as well as empirical argument against, problem of evil and so on)? God please let me never write a book about that stuff!"

Yes, those are a few of the arguments... Is this the kind of God you are going to argue that Buddhists believe in with this book you are writing?

Shodo said...

This is my favorite site with many of them.

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

kristien said...

Please, please, please! Do not be such an egoist and give us the opportunity to share in the glory and wisdom of such a being! Give us his name!

Dear Michel, you will know who It is. But first you will need to pass the Lions at the Gate. Unbroken Yogi is putting the Lions right in front of you.
To me it looks like you are not passing the test. Not yet, sorry.

By the way, Unbroken Yogi. .. I like you. You know what .. I sense that you are a secret admirer of this Great Being that He Is. You will never find His equal anywhere else, One’s You know Him there is no other to be found. Once the Truth is recognized, the heart is at peace, the search can finally stop,. Disregard your mind ( the Lions), listen to your heart. .. He is already your Guru

proulx michel said...

Unbroken Yogi's last intervention is so remote that it is a bit difficult to find. There is none on this thread.

Broken Yogi said...

Kristien,

All are equal, and I have found many such equals.

And yes, I am a great admirer of being great, or great being, however you prefer.

Unbroken Yuga said...

Did Franklin have a virgin birth?

In 100 years will people be going to Da church and calling themselves kristiens?

It could happen. For that matter, there could also be a cult of the Madonna based on videos of her recent half-time show.

Soft Troll said...

To Mysterion

Thought you'd enjoy this, Mystie-Pie

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

Soft Troll and Mysterion (and anybody else, just relating this to their last comments here), check this out:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/julian-assange-the-rolling-stone-interview-20120118

Soft Troll said...

Mystie, The Daily mail is a right-wing (conservative voter's) tabloid. It appears to enjoy blaming single mom's, the unemployed and Jonny Foreigner et al for much of the world's ills. The attitudes it expresses are often mocked by the kind of Brit humour in the tradition of Python.

As Charlie Brooker (Guardian) was pointing out, its online copy ran with an article which annoyed its readers, some of whom left less than intelligent remarks in response to the suggestion they were less intelligent than lefties.

Soft Troll said...

Thanks for the link, John. I'd forgotten about Julian Assange.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ViCKi LEEKX said...

Whoo ees dees "ViCKi LEEKX"?

Jeff Alexander said...

Another resonating item from your “Dogen and God” talk at the Zen center was you sharing (though you didn’t use the term) as a result of your practice you see you are a “sinner” in other words, that you have a capacity and a tendency to do wrong against Primal Truth that needs to be overcome.

Anonymous said...

Video evidence that Brad Warner is a pantheist who believes in "an underlying ground to the universe and that...that we all partake in it and we're all manifestations of that and that this underlying ground is not just dead matter, it's something alive".

www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwUOxNpv5GA

Anonymous said...

Is there any value in spirituality? As an atheist you may expect me to say no; but if I'm being honest, I'd have to consider myself a spiritual person. Of course I'm not talking about some ghostly ethereal soul that lives inside my body. There's no reason to think there's anything like that. I'm talking about the essence of human. There aren't many words in our language that capture what that is. at least for me. And so I use the word spirit, in the same way I use the phrase bless you. For rhetoric's sake. I can only describe it as the action or ability to see beauty. to feel wonder. and to be in awe.

Religion and all groups faith of course serve only to prostitute the awe, and the mystery we all feel as humans. they bottle our essence and try putting lid on the wonder we naturally feel. They fail of course. Religion points to the man behind the curtain in an attempt answer the mystery. when in reality, there is no man. the mystery is just that. a mystery.

But even though I don't believe in the supernatural, I try to be as honest as I can to myself, about my spirituality.

On my trip out west just a couple months ago I remember a moment standing in a field that looked up at the grand tetons. the tetons in wyoming are these massive glacier capped mountains that just cut into the sky. I remember thinking to myself. Something much greater than me must have caused this. I know it.

I also remember sleeping out underneath a cool and clear sky next to the dunes in white sands national park. Looking up all I could see was just a pile of stars. More than I'd ever understood to exist. Looking at them all, still and perfect, and vast beyond my ability to comprehend, I felt uncommonly humble. And grateful just to be alive.

There are moments when I'm with good friends, where it just feels good to breath. The taste of chilled apple butter on a warm buttermilk biscuit is often more than delicious, to me it feels enlightening. And a soft kiss to me can honestly stop time and space.

At times I can be so overwhelmed by the sensation of being alive, that I cry. or I laugh. or I scream. or I just breath deeply.

And no, I never once imagine that to be supernatural. I understand, that the thing that is so much greater than me, to have caused the Tetons has a name. and it's called plate tectonics.

That being humble is simply the feeling of recognizing the reality of ones small significance to a universe so massive. And being grateful to be alive doesn't require a person to be grateful toward.

I recognize that being happy in a comfortable social setting is a evolutionary trait of my species. That my body naturally craves specific foods for nutritional or maybe even psychological reasons. And that the intoxication of romance is most likely driven by the need to procreate.

But I am one with the universe. Not metaphysically, but physically. I am as much the universe as a supernova. made of the same particles, governed by the same forces. I am Genes that mutated randomly, then were selected naturally based on their success at survival.

And I love applebutter on a biscuit. I collapse in awe at the magnificence of this place. I crave romance. and I breath appreciation for it all..

I have to, with all my essence. with all my spirit. because imagine, in all the universe, we may be the only things that can, and that's beautiful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2nfXfTg92E

Anonymous said...

by Kosho Uchiyama

I eat food from the garden of the universe
I drink water from the fountain of the universe
I breathe the air of the whole universe
My life comes out of the whole universe.
Being pulled by the gravitational force of the whole universe
I become pure and clear.
The whole universe is where I return.
__________________________
Out of the Stars
Robert Weston

Out of the stars in their flight, out of the dust of eternity,
here have we come,
Stardust and sunlight,
mingling through time and through space.

Out of the stars have we come,
up from time.
Out of the stars have we come.

Time out of time before time
in the vastness of space,
earth spun to orbit the sun,
Earth with the thunder of mountains newborn,
the boiling of seas.

Earth warmed by sun, lit by sunlight;
This is our home;
Out of the stars have we come.

Mystery hidden in mystery,
back through all time;
Mystery rising from rocks
in the storm and the sea.

Out of the stars, rising from rocks
and the sea,
kindled by sunlight on earth,
arose life.

Ponder this thing in your heart,
life up from sea:
Eyes to behold, throats to sing,
mates to love.

Life from the sea, warmed by sun,
washed by rain,
life from within, giving birth,
rose to love.

This is the wonder of time;
this is the marvel of space;
out of the stars swung the earth;
life upon earth rose to love.

This is the marvel of life,
rising to see and to know;
Out of your heart, cry wonder:
sing that we live.
______________________

Spirituality of Atheism

http://www.uuca.org/spirituality-of-atheism

Anonymous said...

Spirituality of Atheism

http://www.uuca.org/spirituality-of-atheism

Anonymous said...

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

source

Broken Yogi said...

I'm curious about Brad's take on God and Buddhism. Hope he lets us in on the secret.

I think Buddhism does have something very interesting to say about God, but not as many seem to think.

I say let Buddhism do for God what it does for the ego-soul. The anatta approach sees that we have no actual "self" in us, that is us. This frees us from the illusion of the ego, but it doesn't leave us dead and dry and loveless - quite the opposite. It merely takes away what is binding and stupidly delusional in us.

Do the same thing for God. Take away the illusion that there's some "God-self" there at the core, some big Daddy ego-creator, and yet leave behind the living, breathing, magical quality of God. The ego-creater role God is made to play out by popular religion is disposable, just as the ego-self role that we think we are supposed to play out is disposable. Take that away from God, and enjoy the liberating and liberated God that remains. That God is just as real as our own Buddha-Nature, and just as silly to put it in a jar and sell it as a "religion".

Are you listening, Kristien?

Anonymous said...

mysterion, You must read this book.. It proves without a doubt that Heaven and God and yes, even a horseback riding Jesus is real.. (Insert organ music here) Little children don't always tell stories of reincarnation.

From the book; "Heaven Is for Real" is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Shodo said...

Lol Anon 1:47

What a pile of horse shit.

Lemme guess... just out of the blue here... speaking from the cuff... pulling this out of my ass a moment.

10 dollars says this boy's dad is a pastor.:)

Shodo said...

HA! Called it...

(I only made it as afar as the sentence: "From the book; "Heaven Is for Real"..." before I knew all about what this book is supposed to be.)

I bet you loved Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" right...?:)

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

Anonymous(s?)from 1:09 - 1:32PM, that was a nice string of thoughts and poems. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

What if Dennis Rodman turns out to be God? Any of you geniuses ever considered that possibility? Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

ROFLMAO

john e mumbles said...

"A Minty Fresh Mind" Five Sure-Fire Tips To Get Yourself On The Cushion Every Day

"On The Cushion" A new column by Brad Warner in the latest issue (Spring 2012) of Tricycle - The Buddhist Review

kristien said...

Are you listening, Kristien?
Dear Broken Yogi,
Yes,I am reading… but I am not grasping what you want to say specifically to me.
Ha, I like that : ”the breathing living, magical quality of God.” That is It. .
But is your magical God the same as what I experience it is? It must be because God is the same for every one. Yes although I have different ways of perceiving then you. So we will describe God somewhat different

Sorry that I called you Unbroken Yogi…that was a slip of the tongue.. hmmm … still to be broken, was I thinking?

A-Bob said...

Thanks John E.. Here's the link!

Five sure-fire tips to get yourself on the cushion every day by Brad Warner

CAPTCHA : pinglis : I kid you not

Broken Yogi said...

Kristien,

I was just sarcastically referring to the "Big Daddy" God that you have turned "he who shall not be named" into. You know, Mr. Great Being. Are you still into that fantasy, or have you found a better Way?

Leah McClellan said...

Pffft.

"Oh! And doesn't anyone out there want me to come speak anywhere? It's weird. I was getting so many offers I couldn't handle them last year and now here in 2012 -- nothing! Did I do something that offended everyone? "

Told you I'd ask around for a paying gig (not just a bookstore or whatever like that) in the Philly area but you didn't say yay or nay if that's a good idea or whatever. So pfft. In a good-natured way. Of course. :)

Looks like a good book. Will have to check it out.

anon #108 said...

Yesterday @12.05pm anonymous provided video evidence that Brad is a pantheist. From that clip and from what Brad's occasionally written here I think anonymous may be right. I say the smart money is on "Brad Warner, pantheist."

Is that ok? Can Brad Warner be a pantheist and be ok? Is pantheism right? Is Brad Warner wrong? What's wrong with pantheism? Pantheism sounds ok to me. No? Am I wrong? Is pantheism wrong? What's wrong with pantheism?


Brad, are you a pantheist?

Anonymous said...

108 are you calling Brad a panthy?

Soft Troll said...

To Anon 1:09 - 1:32

Thanks for your thoughts and poems. I thought I'd make a few responses as they touch upon some things of interest to me (and I've nothing better to do, while waiting for the plumber!)

You wrote:

Religion and all groups faith of course serve only to prostitute the awe, and the mystery we all feel as humans. they bottle our essence and try putting lid on the wonder we naturally feel. They fail of course. Religion points to the man behind the curtain in an attempt answer the mystery.

I suppose that when people do conceive of God as some being (often male) they might be involved in a limiting act which encourages themselves and others to be distracted from what you call the 'awe' and 'mystery' of their lives, settling instead for the seeming safety and comfort of a 'bottled' belief.

I think it's also reasonable to claim that certain belief systems often lead to such frames of mind and group ideologies that cause and have caused problems.

But I think it's too simplistic and one-sided to 'bottle religion' in such a way or by implication the experiences of those who practice certain religions. Intimacy with truth doesn't reside in the words or rituals but through them.

In a time of great need, say, someone's literal belief in even a cartoon-like Man-God persona, and in the meanings of a particular prayer, as they kneel beside their bed or towards an alter, can effect an act of 'surrender', an expression of intimacy with what goes beyond the ordinary framework of their lives. This may bring them back to that sense of awe and mystery you have expressed and also have a salvic effect on their lives and how they act with others.

In this sense 'religion' serves not so much to 'prostitute' the very thing it claims to help people understand or believe in, but really has the potential to serve up many types of experience - some good and some bad.

Any to attempt to express experience or understanding of the 'ineffable' or otherwise has us 'bottling' such in words and conceptions.

In this light, what is so different about your previous assessment of religion to your later:

I recognize that being happy in a comfortable social setting is a evolutionary trait of my species. That my body naturally craves specific foods for nutritional or maybe even psychological reasons. And that the intoxication of romance is most likely driven by the need to procreate.

Here you frame, or 'bottle' things, in terms of evolutionary biology. But however these make reasonable sense in terms of popular, contemporary scientific understanding, they can also be seen to be part of, while also reconstituting, reductive narratives - often put forth as in opposition to a 'religious' worldview.

For instance, what does it really mean to say 'my body naturally craves food'? This experience called 'craving' can be unpacked as dependent on biological processes, which can be unpacked as dependent on chemical processes and then on to the physical and quantum levels etc. All of which are ways to conceive of reality by reducing it to usefully manageable bits that can be strung together into something comfortable for humans to deal with and to some extent manipulate.

One might just as easily state 'atoms maintain larger structures such as Tetons or human beings through processes of recombination' or 'reality reconstitutes itself as form', or 'God is expressed through the processes of life manifest as discrete yet dependent forms' and so on. I could say that, as a human being, one of the ways my body expresses this is by what I feel and identify as 'craving'.

cont...

Soft Troll said...

Indeed, why should 'craving' be only seen as some by-product or epiphenomenon of material processes? Why not 'craving naturally feeds(creates, maintains and dissolves) my body'? In other words craving can be seen to constitute atoms and molecules and human beings and the environment, as equally the other way round - what we call the material seen as epiphenomena of what we think of as our ideas.

Perhaps both sides are 'right' - and then what does that do to our temporal notions to do with 'process'?)

You wrote that your experience of seeing the Grand Tetons led you to think to yourself 'something much greater than me must have caused this.' I have had similar experiences. But it's an odd revelation, don't you think? After all, I don't suppose you or I go around at other times thinking we have 'caused' the rivers and mountains we view on occasion?

Such a common sense 'realization' appears to be 'humbling' because, perhaps, in the face of such experiences, we relinquish for a moment the little god we carry around in us for a sense of something greater, something beyond us, yet just as intimately us. After all, whose Grand Tetons were they as you perceived them and experienced what you have recollected at that particular time?

What I'm getting at, I think, is that the opposition of science v religion doesn't really make that much sense when we look more closely, and that we can see the same sort of things things going on in both.

Take the poems you offered. All of them as poems in English had cadences and rhythms which echoed religious forms - especially the King James Bible and common prayer book. Without this these poems would lose much of their primary force, their very concrete life, and become dry, prosaic statements.

For example, try reading the Lord's Prayer out aloud and then the Robert Weston poem.

...cont

My suggestion is that if you have intimately connected with and actualized this poem you have also intimately connected with and actualized the heart of a religious tradition - amongst other things.

I don't think this is merely a case of the 'spiritual' - one has to have in some way put one's body into it too.

Captcha: exokerap (probably!)

Uncle Willie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Willie said...

Anon #108,

It seems to me that pantheistic tenets directly contradict fundamental Buddhist tenets such as anatta and shunyata.
Brad's assertion in the video that "we're all manifestations" of "an underlying ground to the universe" that "is something alive" sounds very similar to "Atman is not separate from Brahman". That would be fine if he was purporting to explain Hinduism but not Zen Buddhism.
Am I wrong?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

mysterion, your Mom is part of the problem! Next thing you'll say is that Jesus was a Jew..

anon #108 said...

Willie said:

Brad's assertion in the video that "we're all manifestations" of "an underlying ground to the universe" that "is something alive" sounds very similar to "Atman is not separate from Brahma [= Hinduism]"

Does sound similar, doesn't it. What if I say that all temporary manifestations, all phenomena, are manifested co-dependant aspects of a Universe, and that Universe has temporal, spatial and kinetic reality (= ‘lives’). What's that called? Is that ok?

Captcha = deolees. No? Never mind.

anon #108 said...

Mysti -

I think I know what you mean about Buddha being a Hindu. But my guess is that he was a very naughty boy who didn't pay attention during Hindu lessons.

I've no idea what this "self-aware" Universe thing is about, BTW.

john e mumbles said...

Shodo @ 10:09 PM, don't expect Brad to issue "spoilers" on this book he's working on. This is how he did the initial marketing for his "sex" book as well as found various topics to include. We are the guinea pigs.

I'm not saying this is "wrong" or anything, in fact its a pretty good way to sample an audience/do research.

Perhaps it's a controversial topic (I guess "sex" was, ...yawn) but the whole "debate" -even the idea OF a debate, bores me, I'm afraid. Just sayin'.

Believe whatever you want to believe, just don't get any on me.

Uncle Willie said...

Anon #108,

I mostly agree with you up until "(= ‘lives’)".
To me, the word "lives" specifically means that something performs metabolic processes. Certain parts of the universe (such as me and you and a dog named Boo) can clearly be classified as living or alive but I don't think that classification can accurately be extended to include the universe as a whole (if I'm correctly understanding the meaning of what you wrote). Additionally, even though metabolism is simply "a set of chemical reactions", they are so specific that I don't think one could reasonably say that all chemical reactions are an indication of life.

My current, and continually revised, description/definition of the universe, its constituent parts and/or reality is something along the lines of "the impermanent, non-continuous, interdependent arising of conditional phenomena". I don't think that conflicts with any generally accepted Buddhist dharma but I welcome all comments and criticism.

Uncle Willie said...

Mysterion,

Do you believe that your entire body is self-aware or just your brain?

john e mumbles said...

Uncle Willie: Some Native Americans, specifically the Lakota, consider the universe to be "alive" in the same sense as the old European Alchemists did.

Everything is "wakan" = sacred, in the sense of everything being on a basically level playing field, ie; this is not more or less important or insignificant than that, no distinctions between animate and inanimate.

Rocks, for example, are Inyan, first born (of matter) and therefore the grandparents of everything materially manifest.
..........................
During an ayahuasca/harmaline session almost 15 years ago I was laying outside on the ground near a guardian cedar tree looking up at the beautiful clear night sky and it hit me that the stars watch over us like ancient, patient grandparents. This realization penetrated matter to the core (for me at the time), revealing the building blocks of "the impermanent, non-continuous, interdependent arising of conditional phenomena."

'Course, I was trippin' my balls off...

Shodo said...

John Mumbles said:
Shodo @ 10:09 PM, don't expect Brad to issue "spoilers" on this book he's working on. This is how he did the initial marketing for his "sex" book as well as found various topics to include. We are the guinea pigs.

Very true...
That is why i sure hope Brad defines his terms well. Buddhism is at it's core non-theistic... I can pretty much gather that Brad's definition will be a strange one, and that any theist will think "oh, well if that is what he means by God then that doesn't match my theistic definition"...
It will probably be something like God = love... or God = creativity, or God = the ground of being or some other strange thing.

One may wonder why folks don't just use love, creativity or whatever phrase they craft up, rather than try to inject god into it.

Broken Yogi said...

Buddhism can admit to a "ground of being" while also asserting that this ground of being is "empty" of individual or innate
"thingness" or selfhood.

Uncle Willie said...

John E.,
Technically speaking, the stars that we can see (and the rocks around us) are more like ancient, distant cousins than ancient, patient grandparents.

"You are recycled stardust. The atoms in our bodies were manufactured in stars or supernovae and recycled by supernova explosions."

http://paul-a-heckert.suite101.com/origin-of-the-chemical-elements-a23458

I find that even more amazing and awe inspiring than any amount of anthropomorphic poetry.
Thank you for pointing out that you were tripping your balls off when you had that realization. :)

Anonymous said...

"Buddhism can admit to a "ground of being" while also asserting that this ground of being is "empty" of individual or innate
"thingness" or selfhood"

shunyata is only an explication of anatman, one of the three marks of existence

no ground

I have no problem with Brad's using dualistic or pantheistic language as "bridging" language as upaya to people

I myself have had to do so, one woman was a catholic so I used words that she could relate to,

I asked her if "God" is "One" and "All things are One" what are you??

she had to pause before speaking

she dared not say "God", but if she had it could not feed her ego because she would be no more this "God" than anyone else or anything else,

"God" is shit on a stick !!

but we must remember these are all just words,

I know what "God" really is,
it's a three letter word and a concept

Anonymous said...

Symphony of Science - 'We Are All Connected'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGK84Poeynk

Anonymous said...

I'ts "obvious."

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...

"shunyata is only an explication of anatman, one of the three marks of existence"

Shunyata does not mean that there is no ground of experience, only that this ground is "empty" of self- or thing-ness.

Much of the conflict between Buddhists and non-dual Vedantists centers on the use of words like "Self" and "ground of being". Yet most advaitins are also advocates of anatman, in that they do not acknowledge the existence of any individual self, Divine or otherwise.

They call the supreme reality "the Self" not to name an actual reified "thing" or God, but as a directional pointer. They point to the "place" where one finds out this truth, which is in the self-position, where we presume the ego to be, and declare that this is where the investigation into reality should be directed. How is this different from Buddha's admonition to "be a refuge unto yourself"?

john e mumbles said...

Hey Shodo, "I can pretty much gather that Brad's definition will be a strange one, and that any theist will think "oh, well if that is what he means by God then that doesn't match my theistic definition"..."

But that's the point, see, to stir up "controversy" so there is some modicum of interest in the subject matter of the book.

"Buddhist Author Believes In God" and whatever idiosyncratic view that might be as opposed, say, to the Dalai Lama's opposite (but waaaay more lucrative?) approach.

As if, just because a person is coming from "a Buddhist perspective," their opinions one way or the other matter more than someone else's.

john e mumbles said...

Yeah, Uncle Willie, somewhere here on this blog maybe a couple years ago I think I ran down the alchemist's (but by no means ltd to them) point of view that everything is made of the same stuff, just reconfigured endlessly, -a great recycling operation! Long time ago I ran across this concept in Brian Swimme's The Universe Is A Green Dragon, something about the fire you see in a match is the same fire you see in the stars, all reaching back to the Big Bang, or Extra Loud Fart, or whateveryouwannacallit.

P.S. FWIW: As far as arbitrary names go I've always preferred Blake's Nobodaddy to "God." More poetry in that...and humor.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What did the Zen Master say to the hotdog vendor?

"Make me one with everything".

The vendor hands him the hotdog and says, "That'll be $2".

The monk hands him a five and after a few minutes asks for change.

The vendor replies, "Change comes from within!"

Cidercat said...

Does the pusscat have a home yet?? Such a noble little face.

I venture to suggest that Eriugena's Periphyseon is an excellent source book for some fascinating thoughts on God. And the English translation I have is such fun too! "Quite so."! And Meister Eckhart is essential, frankly. There's nothing new under the sun.

Shodo said...

john e mumbles said:
"But that's the point, see, to stir up "controversy" so there is some modicum of interest in the subject matter of the book."

Yup. It's akin to that poster advertisement that has in a huge font the word "SEX" and in much smaller words "and now that I have your attention..." at the bottom...

I expect a strange definition of god. One that no theist would accept.

What would be the R E A L L Y interesting book is one where brad argues for the existence of some great cosmic being of theism... I would totally read THAT book:3

Uncle Willie said...

Mysterion,

The reason that I asked if you believe that your entire body is self-aware or just your brain was because I was trying to understand what you meant by your statement that the universe is self-aware. I wondered if you meant that because human beings are self-aware, not separate from the universe and aware of the universe, then the universe is self-aware through the agency of human beings. I was trying to draw an analogy between that and the human body. I would still like to know more details about your assertion that the universe is self-aware.

If you truly "hold no beliefs dear", does that mean that you don't believe any of the things that you write here, either?

Jeff Alexander said...

MICHELANGELO AND WILLIAM BLAKE WERE RIGHT!!!

From a Biblical perspective the nature of God is seen as reflected in aspects of the created order. Yes, God to a certain degree does have the nature of space, wind, emptiness, mist, air, sky, force, energy, light, darkness so congenial to Buddhist/Hindu/New Age types. However humans as being made in the image of God, the most complex, intelligent structures known, are seen as the best representation of what God is like – especially a human at their highest development, a mature, wise, good, vital 50+ man or woman. I knew a dynamic, spiritual woman in her sixties. She reminded me of a female God the Father.

To me saying God is less than personal and NOT like a man is dumbing God down, making God less than what he is, flattening the divine out, a less than human orgasmic gas. In a true sense since humans are made in the divine image, there is a humanness intrinsic to God, though divine humanness is a infinite multidimensional cube compared to our simple squares.

There is much wisdom and truth in Michelangelo’s and William Blake’s renditions of God as his a dynamic, active, wise older man. Far from being simplifications of God they present his depth, his danger, his joy and

Anonymous said...

What the F... The Rapture!! The Rapture!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mysterion asked...

What did the Zen Monk sat to the hot dog vendor?

sat me down with everything?

proulx michel said...

Uncle Willie said...

It seems to me that pantheistic tenets directly contradict fundamental Buddhist tenets such as anatta and shunyata.
Nobody says that such a pantheistic "god" would be free from impermanence (anicca). In such a configuration, I don't see the problem, even though I am personally a bit hostile to attributing the Universe the three letters name...

As for a creator, I am quite fond of the creator god of the Ojibway, Nanabush, the Great Hare, a goofer, a trickster, and (probably) the model for the cartoon character Bugs Bunny...

captcha: enesema...

Anonymous said...

@Broken yogi

Advaita Vedanta:
BRAHMAN
God, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Brahman is the One, the whole and the only reality. Other than Brahman, everything else, including the universe, material objects and individuals, are false. Brahman is at best described as that infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all Being.

ATMAN
The soul or the self (Atman) is identical with Brahman. It is not a part of Brahman that ultimately dissolves into Brahman, but the whole Brahman itself.

Salvation
Advaitins believe that suffering is due to Maya, and only knowledge (called Jnana) of Brahman can destroy Maya. When Maya is removed, there exists ultimately no difference between the Jiva-Atman and the Brahman.

Anonymous said...

Buddhism:
Pratitya samutpada (Sanskrit), often translated as "dependent arising," is central Buddhist insight. Common to all schools of Buddhism, it states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The enlightenment (or bodhi, a word that means "to awaken") of the Buddha was simultaneously his liberation from suffering (dukkha) and his insight into the nature of the universe – particularly the nature of the lives of sentient beings (principally humans and animals). What the Buddha awakened to was the truth of dependent origination / interdependence.

This is the understanding that any phenomenon exists only because of the existence of other phenomena in an incredibly complex web of cause and effect covering time past, time present, and time future. This concept of a web is symbolized by Indra's net, a multidimensional spider's web on which lies an infinite amount of dew drops or jewels, and in these are reflected the reflections of all the other drops of dew ad infinitum.
Stated in another way, everything depends on everything else. A human being's existence in any given moment is dependent on the condition of everything else in the world at that moment, but in an equally significant way, the condition of everything in the world in that moment depends conversely on the character and condition of that human being. Everything in the universe is interconnected through the web of cause and effect such that the whole and the parts are mutually interdependent. The character and condition of entities at any given time are intimately connected with the character and condition of all other entities that superficially may appear to be unconnected or unrelated.

Three Marks of Existence
Anitya - impermanence, is one of the essential insights or Three Marks of Existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that every conditioned existence, without exception, is inconstant and in flux. According to the impermanence doctrine, human life embodies this flux in the aging process, and in any experience of loss. The doctrine further asserts that because things are impermanent/transient, attachment to them leads to suffering Dukkha. Under the impermanence doctrine, all compounded and constructed things and states are impermanent.
Anatman = no-self. Buddhism teaches that all empirical life is impermanent and in a constant state of flux, and that any entity that exists does so only in dependence on the conditions of its arising, which are non-eternal. Therefore, any Self-concept, any sense one might have of an abiding Self or a soul is regarded as a misapprehension; since the conceptualization of the Self or soul is just that.
Buddhism holds that the notion of an abiding self is one of the main causes of human conflict, and that by ceasing to reify our perceived selves, we can come to a state of perfect peace/wellbing.

Anonymous said...

“The young brahmin Vasettha said: ‘This is the only straight path, this is the
direct path, the path of salvation that leads one who follows it to union with
Brahma, as is taught by brahmin Pokkharasati!…
“’But, Vasettha, is there then a single one of these brahmins learned in
the three Vedas who has seen Brahma face to face?’ ‘No, Reverend Gotama.’
“’Well, Vasettha, when these brahmins learned in the Three Vedas
teach a path that they do not know or see, saying: “This is the only straight
path…”, this cannot possibly be right. Just as a file of blind men go on,
clinging to each other, and the first one sees nothing, the middle one sees
nothing, and the last one sees nothing – so it is with the talk of these brahmins
learned in the Three Vedas…. The talk of these brahmins turns out to be
laughable, mere words, empty and vain.’

“’Well, Udayin, what is taught in your teacher’s doctrine?’ ‘It is taught in our
teacher’s doctrine: “This is the perfect splendour (upamo vanno), this is the
perfect splendour!”
“’But, Udayin, what is that perfect splendour?’
“’Venerable sir, that splendour is the perfect splendour which is
unsurpassed by any other splendour higher or more sublime!”
“’But, Udayin, what is that perfect splendour which is unsurpassed by
any other splendour higher or more sublime?’
“’Venerable, sir, that splendour is the perfect splendour which is
unsurpassed by any other splendour higher or more sublime!’

gniz said...

Nothing to add. Just great conversation so far!

Skest said...

Los Angeles artist-musician (Destroy all Monsters) Mike Kelley passed away a few days ago, an apparent suicide. "No. I never believed in anything," he said "I'm having a really hard time in my life right now with a lot of personal and family problems and I don't need more art-world bullshit to make my life difficult. I'm overworked and exhausted."

http://youtu.be/lsd1bWZ1Xbo

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Willie said...

Chas (Mysterion),

Thank you for answering my questions. I appreciate that your answer "showed me your true face". I'll admit that I am one of the people on here that sometimes (often?) gets tired of your seemingly "academic pontificating" and multiple hyperlinks. I prefer when you just write what YOU really think (or feel or have experienced) instead of repeating what "respected academics" have said, even if it's only what you think or believe for the duration of the time that you are writing.

Respectfully,
Willie

Anonymous said...

I prefer butter & salt to mustard. on my brussel sprouts.

anonymous anonymous said...

mysterion said in 2007: "As a point of fact, where believing starts, thinking stops. Beliefs are 'crystallized structures' in your brain which are resilient to change.

That is why you cannot engage a True Believer (TM) in a discussion - there IS no discussion with a dead rock." - Sunday, June 24, 2007 HCZ Blog

What is this thing you hold so closely to if not a long held confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof?

If it quacks like a duck..

Anonymous said...

"No. I never believed in anything"

that's usually the problem with dualism, it gives a false choice between the false dichotomies of eternalism and nihilism.

you hear this all the time from christians "either there is a "God" or it's all just meaningless"
hopelessness, which trivializes our precious human lives and our precious human friendships

Buddhism is Middle Way between the extremes of these two views.

Anonymous said...

Science Saved My Soul.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6w2M50_Xdk

Anonymous said...

mysterion said on HCZ Blog 2007: Beliefs are 'crystallized structures' in your brain which are resilient to change. Some beliefs can, like glass, be shattered.

mysterion said on HCZ Blog 2012: "beliefs are crystallized structures in the brain which are resilient to change. beliefs can be "shattered"

Five years later and almost word for word.. and you're saying you don't believe it?

Korey said...

Hey Brad,

I've read your four Buddhist books.

I'm eager to read your new book on God. Have any idea when it'll be out? And will it be released as physical copies or will it just be an e-book exclusive like your last work of fiction?

Broken Yogi said...

Anon,

Not really seeing the contradiction between Advaita and Buddhism you (and some others) think is essential. You must take into account, for example, that Advaita didn't really develop fully (through Guadapada) until Buddhism had been around for over a thousand years. And that like post-Buddha Buddhism, there's no advaitic catechism that all must follow, but many schools, teachers, realizers, and teachings, many of which disagree with one another on basic matters. It's also important to realize that Advaita essentially developed out of the Vedanta-Buddhist debates and reformulations of their own teachings taking into account the best arguments for and against one another. You can't really understand Mahayana Buddhism without taking this the Vedantic debating influence into account, and you can't really understand Advaita without taking the Buddhist influence into account.

Take a look at Nagarjuna, for example:

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE MIDDLE WAY
(Mulamadhyamaka-Karika)

http://www.bergen.edu/phr/121/NagarjunaGC.pdf

1. Nothing whatever arises. Not from itself, not from another, not from both itself and another, and not without a cause.

7. If there are no existents, nor non-existents, nor existent non-existents, how can there be any causes? If there were a
cause, what would it cause?

9. If things do not begin to exist, then they cannot cease to exist. If things do not begin to exist, how can they have precipitating conditions? If something has ceased to exist, how can it be a condition or cause of anything else?

10. If things have no substantial essences, then they have no real xistence; and, in that case, the statement, "This is the cause or condition of that," is meaningless.

If you're familiar with the founding document of Advaita, Guadapada's Karika on the Mundakya Upanishad, you'd see that there's little difference between Nagarjuna and the Ajata Vada, which conceives of "Brahman" as the causeless and content-less "ground" of all Being, which neither causes nor partakes of any existent arising. It's doctrine is summarized as "nothing ever happened".

Now, these two doctrines are in many respects meant to oppose one another, but they end up being very much the same as one another. You are going to have to spell out the contradictions between these much more clearly than you have thus far to make a meaningful distinction.

Broken Yogi said...

For example, here's Gaudapada's defintion of Atman:

http://swamij.com/upanishad-mandukya-karika.htm

VII: Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized.

34 The diversity in the universe does not exist as an entity identical With Atman, nor does it exist by itself. Neither is it separate from Brahman nor is it non—separate. This is the statement of the wise.

35 The wise, who are free from attachment, fear and anger and are well versed in the Vedas, have realized Atman as devoid of all phantasms and free from the illusion of the manifold and as non—dual.

36 Therefore, knowing Atman as such, fix your attention on Non—duality. Having realized Non—duality, behave in the world like an inert object.

37 The illumined sannyasin does not praise any deity, does not salute any superior and does not perform rites to propitiate departed ancestors. Regarding both body and Atman as his abode, he remains satisfied with what comes by chance.

38 Having known the truth regarding what exists internally as also the truth regarding what exists externally, he becomes one with Reality, he exults in Reality and never deviates from Reality.

2 Therefore I shall now describe Brahman, which is unborn, the same throughout and free from narrowness. From this one can understand that Brahman does not in reality pass into birth even in the slightest degree, though It appears to be manifest everywhere.

10 All aggregates are produced by Atman's maya, as in a dream. No rational argument can be given to establish their reality, whether they are of equal status or whether some are superior to others.

13 The identity of the jiva and Atman is praised by pointing out their non—duality; multiplicity is condemned. Therefore non— dualism alone is free from error.

25 Further, by the negation of the creation, coming into birth is negated. The causality of Brahman is denied by such a statement as "Who can cause It to come into birth?"

26 On account of the incomprehensible nature of Atman, the scriptural passage "Not this, not this" negates all dualistic ideas attributed to Atman. Therefore the birthless Atman alone exists.

27 What is ever existent appears to pass into birth through maya, yet from the standpoint of Reality it does not do so. But he who thinks this passing into birth is real asserts, as a matter of fact, that what is born passes into birth again.

30 There is no doubt that the mind, which is in reality non—dual, appears to be dual in dreams; likewise, there is no doubt that what is non—dual, i.e. Atman, appears to be dual in the waking state.

32 When the mind, after realizing the knowledge that Atman alone is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not cognize anything, for want of objects to he cognized, it ceases to be the mind.

36 Brahman is birthless, sleepless, dreamless, nameless and formless. It is ever effulgent and omniscient. No duty, in any sense, can ever be associated with It.

37 Atman is beyond all expression by words and beyond all acts of the mind. It is great peace, eternal effulgence and samadhi; It is unmoving and fearless.

38 Brahman is free from mental activity and hence from all ideas of acceptance or relinquishment. When knowledge is established in Atman it attains birthlessness and sameness.

Anonymous said...

TLDNR

Mysterion said...

Anonymous anonymous anonymous said...
"mysterion said in 2007: "As a point of fact, where believing starts, thinking stops. Beliefs are 'crystallized structures' in your brain which are resilient to change...

What is this thing you hold so closely to if not a long held confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof?"

Back in 1991 and 1992 I was against motorcycle and bicycle helmets. Why?

Because brain injuries used to tell the folks neuroscience bits and pieces regarding how the brain functioned - based on lost brain function in the injured.

(You never know what you got 'til it's gone)

My thinking about belief handicaps has not - to date - changed much.

Furthermore, in the 1990s, a husband-wife team of neurosurgeons were making peer-reviewed news by isolating certain "Belief Nodes" in the human brain. With chemical or electrical treatment, some slow learners with strong beliefs could become average learners with far fewer beliefs. Unfortunately, the authorization that they held for working with human subjects in this research was lifted (by the 'George W.' Feds) and the research ceased.

Belief addicts will not give up their opium easily!

Nonetheless, one of the reasons "Johnny has difficulty learning" remains that self-inflicted injury we call a strong belief system. I suspect that I could dig up about 70 rears of supporting studies over the course of a couple of months. I've read half a dozen studies - one from the Progressive Education Association in the 1930s.

I dealt with learning disorders for a number of years - as a charity. "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

well, "There are none so stupid as those who will not learn."

Just this a.m. I received that old Urban Legend about Einstein...

"Stories about atheist professors being bested by true believers who
_did_ have answers at the ready are both ventings of this frustration and expressions of delight in finally seeming to have been armed with deft responses to fling back. These are tales of affirmation, modern-day parables of trials overcome and fierce adversaries bested by those who held fast to what they believed in, even in the face of ridicule rained down by authority figures."

Do whatever you want to do...

If you Believe that there is a New, Improved Pure Land® waiting for you, I'll sell you a lot you can develop!

Otherwise, it's just not my rice bowl.

Broken Yogi said...

46 When the mind does not lapse into inactivity and is not distracted by desires, that is to say, when it remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

47 This Supreme Bliss abides in the Self. It is peace; it is Liberation; it is birthless and cannot be described in words. It is called the omniscient Brahman, being one with the birthless Self, which is the true object of knowledge.

48 No jiva ever comes into existence. There exists no cause that can produce it. The supreme truth is that nothing ever is born.

3 Some disputants postulate that only an existing entity can again come into existence, while other disputants, proud of their intellect, postulate that only a non—existing entity can come into existence. Thus they quarrel among themselves.

4 An existing entity cannot again come into existence (birth); nor can a non—existing entity come into existence. Thus disputing among themselves, they really establish the non—dualistic view of ajati (non—creation).

5 We approve the ajati (non—creation) thus established by them. We have no quarrel with them. Now hear from us about Ultimate Reality, which is free from all disputations.

6—8 The disputants assert that the unborn entity (Atman) becomes born. How can one expect that an entity that is birthless and immortal should become mortal? The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is never possible for a thing to change its nature. How can one who believes that an entity by nature immortal becomes mortal, maintain that the immortal, after passing through change, retains its changeless nature?

18 If the cause is produced from the effect and if the effect is, again, produced from the cause, which of the two is born first upon which depends the birth of the other?

19 The inability to reply to the question raised above, the ignorance about the matter and the impossibility of establishing the order of succession if the causal relation is admitted clearly lead the wise to uphold, under all conditions, the doctrine of ajati, or non—creation.

55 As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, he will find cause producing effect. But when this attachment to causality wears away, cause and effect become non—existent.

56 As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, samsara will continue to expand for him. But when this attachment to causality wears away, samsara becomes non—existent.

57 The entire universe is created by false knowledge; therefore nothing in it is eternal. Everything, again, as one with Ultimate Reality, is unborn; therefore there is no such thing as destruction.

58 Birth is ascribed to the jivas; but such birth is not possible from the standpoint of Reality. Their birth is like that of an illusory object. That illusion, again, does not exist.

61—62 As in dreams the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality, so also in the waking state the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality. There is no doubt that the mind, which is in reality non—dual, appears to be dual in dreams; likewise, there is no doubt that what is non—dual i.e. Atman, appears to be dual in the waking state.

6—8 The disputants assert that the unborn entity (Atman) becomes born. How can one expect that an entity that is birthless and immortal should become mortal? The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is never possible for a thing to change its nature. How can one who believes that an entity by nature immortal becomes mortal, maintain that the immortal, after passing through change, retains its changeless nature?

74 Atman is called birthless (aja) from the standpoint of false knowledge based upon imagination; in reality It is not even birthless. The unborn Atman is said to be born from the standpoint of the false knowledge cherished by other schools of thought.

Anonymous said...

"Advaita didn't really develop fully (through Guadapada) until Buddhism had been around for over a thousand years"

yes, Advaita copied Buddhism

the rest of your comments illustrate beautifully the differences and problems with "Adaviata"

I need say no more

Broken Yogi said...

Man, and I thought the Indian Advaitsts were smug.

gucci outlet said...

Gucci outlet, gucci bags, cheap gucci shoes 2012 sale. It's very fashion in 2012, I also concern on gucci outlet, especially, I love gucci bags most. Do best, no regret, also gucci shoes is highly recommended. I also love GUCCI in
www.discount-sell.com

Anonymous said...

"Man, and I thought the Indian Advaitsts were smug."

I apologize if I came across as "smug" or snarky, not my intention.

I could go back and copy and paste,
yes there are significant similarities between Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jainism
(as well as the Ajivika, Carvaka, Lokayata, Mimamsa, Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika)

But there are also even more significant differences between Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jainism.

I'd recommend:
Stephen Prothero, "God is Not One," interviewed by Sally Quinn

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/11556/After+Words+Stephen+Prothero+God+is+Not+One+interviewed+by+Sally+Quinn.aspx

mieledi said...

I really like this article, is really great, and the christian Louboutin to continue to pay attention to it.

Zara said...

Great stuff Brad! I love style of making zen accessible to the modern minds.

john e mumbles said...

Hey Anon 108 (and any other possibly interested parties):

Here's an online internship opportunity for translators via Dalkey Archive Press and the Center for Translation Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/aboutus/?fa=Educational

Anonymous said...

http://uk.reuters.com/video/2012/02/09/monk-tackles-fukushima-nuke-hotspots?feedName=TopNews&feedType=VideoRSS&videoChannel=1&videoId=229936010

Broken Yogi said...

Yes, there are significant differences in Buddhism, Advaita, Jainism, etc. Most of these are merely on the level of concept and discursive mind, however.

For example, my quotes were meant to show that the Advaitic concept of "Atman" is free of the very things that the Buddhist concept of "Shunyata" criticizes, and amounts to a selfless "Self" with no reified substance or content to it. Formless form.

It's like saying that a landscape painted in oils is fundamentally different from the same landscape painted in watercolors. Differences do exist based on style and medium, but they are not fundamental differences.

Anonymous said...

broken yogi your words are beautiful paintings :0)

Cidercat said...

I just want to hear some more about Crum.

Anonymous said...

Deleuze expresses two main problems with the traditional style and institutional location of the history of philosophy. The first concerns a politics of the tradition:

The history of philosophy has always been the agent of power in philosophy, and even in thought. It has played the repressors role: how can you think without having read Plato, Descartes, Kant and Heidegger, and so-and-so’s book about them? A formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought – but which also makes those who stay outside conform all the more to this specialism which they despise. An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it effectively stops people from thinking. (D 13)

The second criticism directed at the traditional style of history of philosophy, the construction of specialists and expertise, leads directly to the foremost positive aspect of Deleuze’s particular method: “What we should in fact do, is stop allowing philosophers to reflect ‘on’ things. The philosopher creates, he doesn’t reflect.” (N122) And this creation, with regard to other writers, takes the form of a portrait:

The history of philosophy isn’t a particularly reflective discipline. It’s rather like portraiture in painting. Producing mental, conceptual portraits. As in painting, you have to create a likeness, but in a different material: the likeness is something you have to produce, rather than a way of reproducing anything (which comes down to just repeating what a philosopher says). (N 136)

Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)

sañña said...

Producing mental, conceptual portraits.

Do you mean like...

Crystallized Structures in the Brain !?!?

john e mumbles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

I recall 20 years ago breaking open my head with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's ANTI-OEDIPUS (1972).

These Deleuze quotes make me think of historian William Fredrick Kohler referring to his mentor Magus Tabor{"Mad Meg"}, how "historical truth is not made by those who do things, but by those who tell the stories about what has been done. Thus, for example, "when a man writes the history of your country in another language, he is bent on conquest, [by replacing] your past, all of your methods of communication, your habits of thinking, feeling, and perceiving, your very way of being, with his own." (H. L. Hix / Wm H. Gass)

Is the philosopher Deleuze here simply articulating his own revisionist method? Is Anonymous
"just repeating what a philosopher says"?

Am I, in fact, quoting a couple of fictional characters as historical authorities?

What is "real?"

Peace dawgs.

Mysterion said...

John E:

That's Finklestein's take on the OT. Josiah took what I describe as "a constrained collection of regional folklore" and weaved it into what Finklestein calls "a brilliant work of political propaganda."

By creating the myth of the United Monarchy (e.g. David & Solomon) he justified his attacking the fertile valley to the north of Judah. He briefly controlled both the farmers and shepherds. But that's not the point.

Josiah apparently created a myth to justify his military conquest.

Like George W. and his WMD, he was just another in a long string of dishonest politicians.

So, to summarize, John E. (in his comment immediately above) stated an almost universal truth: History isn't a lie, it's just a convenient re-framing of the truth with fanciful substitutions inserted as needed.

Anonymous said...

"Is the philosopher Deleuze here simply articulating his own revisionist method?"

Deleuze? Of course you mean Louboutin.

Anonymous said...

a hell of a review: HERE

Interview of Gass in (pun) The Believer.

There are other fictional characters that people believe in - John Galt comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

mysterion@10:30

Who do you think you're foolin?

proulx michel said...

Interestingly enough, Pirsig, in Lila, makes a difference between philosophy as it is taught in schools, and which, he says, is really philosophology, and real philosophy which is something that is enacted in everyday life.

He compares it to a case where, in schools of music, you wouldn't learn to play music, but only musicology. And when you'd have completed your diploma, you would have the right to call yourself a musician, yet without knowing how to play any music.

Anonymous said...

@ proulx michel said...

good point between a kind of academic study of philosophy rather than doing/practicing philosophy

*************************

some Anonymous said...

"broken yogi your words are beautiful paintings :0)"

the Deleuze comment

"The history of philosophy isn’t a particularly reflective discipline. It’s rather like portraiture in painting. Producing mental, conceptual portraits. As in painting, you have to create a likeness, but in a different material: the likeness is something you have to produce, rather than a way of reproducing anything"

was agreeing that we can make all kinds of mental conceptual portraits with words and concepts and we often mistake our beautiful conceptual portraits for being real things.

"God" "soul" "Brahma" etc. etc. etc....

"The talk of these brahmins turns out to be laughable, mere words, empty and vain.’"
Buddha

gassho

anon #108 said...

Thanks for the link to the Dalkey Archive Press internship, john e. I'm not sure of they're interested in translation of old languages like Sanskrit (might be), but the fee of $5K is well out of my reach, and it's not clear to me how the loan/award scheme works. But if I do get around to translating something substantial one day, I may check it out properly :)

john e mumbles said...

Apologies! I thought they awarded the 5k on acceptance of a translation upon completion of the 6 mo internship!

Plus, you'd have to move to Dublin. Not that that is a bad thing, but it is still a move.

I love their publications.

john e mumbles said...

...and I see I am wrong about that as well! No need to move anywhere...

anon #108 said...

Apologies! I thought they awarded the 5k on acceptance of a translation upon completion of the 6 mo internship!

Now THAT would have been sweet - and well worth considering!

Anonymous said...

"What is God?" Since it is not possible to positively and coherently define what believers call 'god', theism is really just a form of agnosticism

check out youtube videos:

Believers are agnostics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFISW7M8uv0

Part 2 -- Believers are agnostics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWA3eUEzUWo&feature=related

Broken Yogi said...

"The talk of these brahmins turns out to be laughable, mere words, empty and vain.’"
Buddha

The Brahmins, then and over the centuries, made exactly the same criticism of Buddha and Buddhism.

If all is shunyata, then what is being described by the concept of shunyata? And what is realized in Nirvana, if Nirvana is the merely the cessation of desiring?

To answer those questions, Buddhists have been forced to use concepts like "suchness" or "Tathagatagarba" or "the unborn". But once That is given a name, how is it different from a God, a State, or a Form of the same variety spoken of by Brahmins? And so the Buddhists end up with their own Gods, and yet claim theirs are "different" and "superior".

One has to learn to laugh at oneself if one is to be a Buddhist.

Anonymous said...

"what is realized in Nirvana"

Nagarjuna's take on Nirvana, from his Original Verses on the Middle Way - the Mulamadhyamakakarika:

There is absolutely no difference between everyday life and nirvana.
There is absolutely no difference between nirvana and everyday life.

Nirvana extends just as far as everyday life.
There is not the slightest difference between them.

Views on what is beyond cessation, what is the end of existence, eternity and so on,
Are based on ideas of life starting somewhere and stopping at nirvana.

If things are empty, finite and infinite have no meaning.
How can something be both? How can something be neither?

This? That? Infinite? Finite?
Both? Neither?

The Buddha never taught about things;
He taught us how to stop wanting, how to get rid of what hinders us, how to be happy.

(Verses 19-24 of Chapter 25, "Examination of Nirvana")

The Unconditioned

“At Savatthi. ‘Monks, I will teach you the unconditioned and the path leading
to the unconditioned. Listen to that…
“And what, monks, is the unconditioned? The ending of desire, the ending of
hatred, the ending of delusion: this is called the unconditioned.
“And what, monks, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Mindfulness
directed to the body: this is called the path leading to the unconditioned…”
[S. 43:1, p. 1372; cf. S. III, 22:23, 27, p. 872, where “full knowing” is defined
with the same words as the unconditioned.]



“When, brahmin, a person is impassioned by greed, depraved by hatred,
bewildered through delusion, overwhelmed and infatuated by delusion, then
he plans for his own harm, for the harm of others, for the harm of both; and
he experiences in his mind suffering and grief. But when greed, hatred and
delusion have been abandoned, he neither plans for his own harm, nor for the
harm of others, nor for the harm of both; and he does not experience in his
mind suffering and grief. In this way, brahmin, nibbana is directly visible,
immediate, inviting one to come and see, worthy of application, to be
personally experienced by the wise.” [A. III, 55, p. 57.]

Broken Yogi said...

“There is absolutely no difference between everyday life and nirvana.”

Nagarjuna makes it clear that the (only) reason there is no difference between everyday life and nirvana, is that both are empty (shunyata). The experiential difference is that only in nirvana are we aware of shunyata. Only by knowing nirvana can we see that ordinary life is also shunyata.

This summarizes Nagarjuna's view on “ordinary happenings”:

“2:25. Therefore, neither an existent nor a non-existent happener's happening happens in any of "the three ways." The happening, the happener, and the happened are all non-existent

“The Buddha never taught about things;
He taught us how to stop wanting, how to get rid of what hinders us, how to be happy.”

Ah, but he taught about “the Unconditioned”, as you quote next. And what is that, but another way of refering to “Brahman”, the unconditional Reality beyond all objects, desires, conditions, forms, names, etc?

This is where the Hindus pretty much trap the Buddhists into admitting that they are just approaching the same unconditional realization of Brahman by differing semantic and logical approaches. Except the Buddhists will never admit to it. Because then they couldn't really claim to have the one and only truth.

Anonymous said...

Nagarjuna makes it clear that the (only) reason there is no difference between everyday life and nirvana, is that both are empty (shunyata)

"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 exit."

Nagarjuna


"The emptiness of the conquerors was taught in order to do away with all philosophical views. Therefore it is said that whoever makes a philosophical view out of “emptiness” is indeed lost."

Nagarjuna

"Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions.
Believers in emptiness
Are incurable."

Nagarjuna

"Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form. Form is exactly emptiness; emptiness exactly form. Sensation, conception, discrimination, and consciousness are also like this."

"The emptiness of the conquerors was taught in order to do away with all philosophical views."

Nagarjuna

"Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions."

Nagarjuna

"Emptiness is proclaimed by the victorious one as the refutation of all viewpoints;
But those who hold "emptiness" as a viewpoint—the true perceivers have called those "incurable" (asadhya)"

(Frederick J. Streng translation)
_______________________

8. The Conquerors taught emptiness as the forsaking of all views. Those who view emptiness are taught to be without realisation [incurable/incorrigible].

(Stephen Batchelor translation)
_______________________

Tsongkhapa quotes a large chunk of the Kasyapaparivarta, which concludes with this passage:

“The Bhagavan said: ‘Likewise, Kasyapa, if emptiness is the emerging from (forsaking of) all views, then Kasyapa, he who views emptiness alone cannot possibly be cured.”
__________________________
confer

Sandokai

"To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment."
or
"according with sameness is still not enlightenment."

Anonymous said...

"Ah, but he taught about “the Unconditioned”, as you quote next."

being unconditioned by greed hate and delusion

the Buddha took a lot of Vedic/Upanishadic terms but gave them very different meanings.

In Buddhism there is NO "unconditioned" that stands out side of causality, that would be dualism/eternalism

_______________________

"Buddhists into admitting that they are just approaching the same unconditional realization of Brahman by differing semantic and logical approaches"

not at all

"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 exit."

Nagarjuna

there is NO "Brahma" and there is NO "unconditioned" something that is not dependently arising does NOT exist

now we see the fundamental difference between Advaita which is dualistic and Buddhism which is not

Anonymous said...

Sabba Sutta - The All

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you the all. Listen to this.
“And what, bhikkhus, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and
sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile
sensations, the mind and dhammas. This is called the all.
“If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I
shall make known another all’ – that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that all
would not be within his domain.” [S. 35.23, p. 1140, also cf. 35:92]

Sabba Sutta: The All

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

which again illustrates the fundamental difference between the Vedic traditions (which are dualistic) and Buddhism (which is not dualistic)

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse the "nonduality" of the Advaita Vedantins, which is of the identity of Brahman and the Atman where the identity is "objectless consciousness, as awareness nondualistically self-aware"

Advaita Vedānta is a scripturally derived philosophy centred on the proposition, first found in early Upaniṣads (800-300 BC), that Brahman - the Absolute, the supreme reality - and the self (ātman) are identical. The identity is understood as an objectless consciousness, as awareness nondualistically self-aware. Arguments in support of the view that nondual awareness is the sole reality are developed by classical and modern Advaitins, from Gauḍapāda (c.600 AD) and Śaṅkara (c.700 AD), in hundreds of texts. Some of these are suggested in Upaniṣads.



But that is NOT the Buddhist Middle Way

Anonymous said...

Overcoming Dualism

http://www.ecoeating.com/project02/css%20based%20website%20zen/pages/dualism.html

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"...Overcoming Dualism."

Thank you for the link.

Chas

ghamarha said...

Hjatta zen krolo bjat. Noorkaha hanto njelemas, ento klosseram ulko.
Hatt froshat tattahana gjaal ento tuttaremaka men neemo fjal. Kless vjatta prataha drul.

Anonymous said...

The thing I hope Brad addresses is WHY a Buddhist needs to use the word "God." It doesn't come under the heading of Things Useful for Becoming Enlightened. Whether there's a creator or not, it's just a distraction.

NanoFiberKnot said...

Did you ever find a home for the cat?

hemgan said...

Read this piece with great interest. I will agree with you on Lotus sutra being far tough to read than the Lankavatara. I have not read this particular translation on which you have writted. Reading the Master DT Suzuki's translation and the later abridged version wrote by Suzuki's student - Goddard very very useful in appreciating Lankavatara in all its beauty.

Kind Regards
Ganesh