forestofemptiness

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  1. What happens to suicides?

    The analysis is not fully correct: the realization of the futility of the world is in fact something to note from a spiritual perspective. In fact, many traditions indicate that this is absolutely essential for any spiritual progress. In Buddhism, it is summarized by the First Noble Truth that there is suffering. It is this very suffering that makes it possible to turn away from the world at all. The issue with suicide is that there is an assumption that death is somehow an end or a cessation. However, nothing really begins or truly ends. The entire cosmos is in constant transformation. From a Tibetan Buddhist point of view, death is not unlike going to sleep. When we go to sleep, there is often a period of darkness and forgetting. Based on this experience during the dying process, we think that is the end. But if death is truly like sleep, after this initial period of unconsciousness, we will rise again in a dream. After the dream, we are reborn again into the world. Similarly, the it is taught that the dying process is the same. An initial cessation, dreamlike experiences, and a rebirth. Similarly, no matter how depressed or how much pain we are in, it is not a part of our true nature. Again, we experience this every night when we go into deep dreamless sleep. We let go of everything. Pain is transient. Because of this, it is possible to find an end to suffering. The only way to end suffering is to remove our ignorance that is the cause of it. Having been born in this time and in this place, with an interest in spirituality, and to see the futility of attachment and playing in the red dust of the world can be a great fortune. The curse can become a blessing showing us the way out. I would challenge anyone on this board who feels the same way as the OP to use this as an opportunity to choose a tradition and practice in it. Whether it is Buddhism, Vedanta, Daoism, or an another practice that has a proven record of liberation. Follow a single path, preferably with a single teacher, and do what they tell you to do. Having come to the conclusion that life is meaningless, please seek out and find a teacher you can learn from. Make it your life. See what happens. The result may be very surprising. I guarantee you will not regret it.
  2. The word that came to mind for me was "solidarity." Way back in the late 1800's to early 1900's, the French sociologist Emile Durkheim was warning about how solidarity was going from what he called mechanical to organic solidarity (if I recall correctly). In mechanical solidarity, each person was important, irreplaceable. Whereas in organic solidarity, you can cut out a person easily. He mused that this led to increased suicide rates. The terms may have made sense in his day, but today I would think the terms should be reversed--- old societies were well-connected and "organic" whereas modern societies are more "mechanical." The word used by military people to describe the unique structure of military culture is "camaraderie."
  3. The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism

    I don't know the causes behind the way you are posting here, but rest assured that the peace and happiness we seek is not found in using harsh speech with strangers on the internet. It is not wise, skillful, funny, or socially decent. It seems that you have a strong connection with Buddhism --- a negative connection is still a connection. If you want to uncover its treasures, you would need to find the right teacher (for you) who can guide you to the proper realization. If it doesn't suit you, then there is no use in trying to sow doubt among others--- I would suggest simply moving on to a tradition or a teacher who can give you teachings you can use and apply.
  4. The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism

    Perhaps a new thread?
  5. The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism

    The problem with Buddhist/Advaita comparisons are that the fruits are ultimately non-conceptual. How to compare non-conceptually? As the Zen master said "YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING!!!!" By mind, I mean that which is clear and knowing. Clear means objects such as perceptions, thoughts, emotions, etc. can arise. Knowing is just that--- knowing the objects that arise. Emptiness--- as stated, it is empty of a permanent, unitary, independent self. Self--- all of them! If you wish to continue to push the words until they lose all meaning, go ahead--- it will lead to a nice experience of the emptiness of words. If you want to freshen up the post and ask some relevant questions, feel free to do so. Or not. Your choice, because well--- emptiness!
  6. The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism Many people question whether the Buddha secretly taught a self. Although the vast majority of Buddhists suttas and sutras deny the existence of a self, some people believe that this is a provisional teaching and not to be taken as an ultimate teaching. I offer some conceptual thoughts on the matter, understanding that concepts cannot really capture the teaching. After many years of study with great masters, I have come to realize that not only is no self important to Buddhism, it is at the very heart of the teachings. I encourage people who are really interested to find a proper teacher and practice to fruition. 1. From a Mahayana point of view, the self is empty. People often mistake “emptiness” and think “nothingness.” In English, when we say the glass is empty, we mean nothing is in the glass. But this is not what the Buddhists mean. Buddhist usually explain emptiness in one of two ways: a. Emptiness means the lack of an independent, unitary, permanent self. b. Emptiness means that what appears is not graspable. These two are not opposed. If something is graspable, then it would have an independent, unitary, permanent self. Likewise, if something has an independent, unitary, permanent self, it should be graspable. If we can grasp something, it should be fixed and findable. 2. The first consequence of emptiness is change or impermanence. Because nothing is fixed, everything changes. If things has fixed, permanent selves, they would not change (i.e. they would be permanent). In other words, ice would always be ice. Atoms couldn’t change position or move. Our bodies would never age, grow sick, or die. From a spiritual point of view, this is good news. If a person is ignorant, such a person would always be ignorant. If a person is bound, such a person would always be bound. But because these things are empty, this is not the case. Freedom is possible. Even more important, creation is possible. From a Buddhist point of view, because there is nothing fixed, anything can arise. In this case, the universe has arisen. 3. The second consequence of emptiness is dependent origination. Dependent origination means that everything is interdependent. Remember, emptiness means there is no independent self. If things were independent, they could not have any effect on one another. An ice cube in a glass would never melt, or cool the ice because the ice would always be ice and the water would always be water at a certain temperature. Consider all the causes and conditions that led me to write this and you to read it: first we need a universe, a sun, the earth, a body, parents, civilization, etc. Everything has come together to produce this moment. Emptiness allows for relationship. Without emptiness, two things would never relate to one another. Things would either be permanently the same, or permanently different. There could be no interaction. 4. The third consequence of emptiness is karma. Actions have consequences. If people had fixed, permanent, immutable selves, then there would be no point in spiritual practice. One would be as one is, and there is nothing that can be done about. There would be no problem with murder, theft, and lying. 5. The fourth consequence of emptiness is dissatisfaction, or dukkha. Because nothing is permanent, nothing can give us permanent satisfaction. 6. The fifth consequence of emptiness are the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble truths state that there is suffering, there is a cause for suffering, there is a cessation to suffering, and there is a way to end suffering. From a Buddhist point of view, the problem is clinging and grasping. However, because things are empty, we cannot cling or grasp onto them. This fundamental ignorance is the cause of suffering. Accordingly, we try to cling and grasp onto what cannot be clung to or grasped. The solution in this case is to see things are they are (empty) and cease clinging and grasping (cessation). 7. As stated, emptiness is also not nothingness--- this would be nihilism. So how to things appear? The typical Buddhist examples are to compare the mind to space and phenomenon to a dream. a. The mind is compared to space. It has no fixed characteristics. Because it has no fixed characteristics, anything can appear. Unlike space, the mind has an ability to know the objects that arise within it. Some people are unable to understand this, because they think that one prevents the others. If the mind knows, it must have a self. Or if it is empty of characteristics, it must know. However, experience shows that this is not the case: the mind is empty, and yet it knows. Consider the electron that can appear sometimes as a wave and sometimes as a photon. Things don’t always fit into tidy boxes. b. Objects are compared to dreams. When we dream at night, we may have bodies, eat, swim, run and play like we would normally do. The substance of dreams and the substance of the waking state are the same: we experience colors, sounds, sensations and so on. However, it is easy to see that a dream is completely unreal. Accordingly, the doctrine of emptiness is woven very deeply into Buddhist teachings. If we eliminate emptiness and no self, then the entire teaching is incoherent. There is a lot of resistance to some of these Buddhist teachings. One of my teachers has said that when we find resistance to a teaching, we often find the ego trying to steer us away from teachings that threaten it. And there is no more threatening teaching to the ego than no self. I know other paths take other approaches. I am not putting forth the Buddhist path as the supreme or only path, but only as one possibility.
  7. Great article. Of course, as the author points out, not everyone can walk away from a very high paying job into a university professorship. I would not recommend spiritual practice to anyone with worldly ambitions--- it does tend to undermine it. On the other hand, I highly recommend aging as a spiritual practice. I find that getting older highlights the impermanence of the world and the futility of accomplishment. And you don't even have to put in any effort!
  8. Tantra...

    The no self teaching isn't as much of a doctrine as an experiential pointing. A lot of people struggle with it --- I know I did for many years. It is very subtle--- so subtle in fact that the Buddha almost didn't teach at all. Also keep in mind that when we talk about the teachings, there is the conceptual and the non-conceptual. The conceptual points the way, but in the end the fruition is non-conceptual. Even conceptually, non-self is often misinterpreted as nihilism (i.e. if there is no self, who is typing this post?) or eternalism (no self applies to everything but not the True Self). It is a fine line to walk. That's ok, Buddhism is not for everyone. No self was something of a koan for me, driving me to different traditions: Theravada, Zen, and finally Tibetan Buddhism. I also have friends in many other traditions. All the people with experience who I trusted repeated the same thing about the lack of self. I didn't like it and I wanted there to be a self. Finally, I realized that I either trusted the teachers and the traditions or I didn't. Only then was I able to drop my preconceptions and see things a bit more clearly. Now, if the Buddha himself appeared and said he didn't teach no self, it wouldn't matter. The truth is plain. I doubt he would given the very, very numerous recorded no-self teachings captured in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan sources. Ironically, given the emptiness of all things, people are free to create the patterning that they want. I never said the position I am putting forth is universal, but I have found it to be overwhelmingly the majority position in all the schools I have encountered. Usually, the people who state that the Buddha taught a True Self tend to fall into two categories in my experience: Vedantins and crack-pots. For Vedantins, I sometimes find a tendency try to reduce all religions to one universal religion: Vedanta. The crack-pots are usually self-appointed, messianic, and quite self-centered. In an article I posted earlier, Vajranatha states that the position can be found in some strains of Chinese Buddhism, but such teachings are not reflected in the Indian sources. So I admit that it is possible that True Self may be taught in such schools, but as I stated it is very much a minority position. Sheng Yen was a very orthodox teacher. He did teach about a universal mind, but only as a stage of practice. I would be surprised that despite his many public proclamations, he would find a atman/Brahman in Buddhism. I did not study with him, so I am not privy to his oral teachings as your friend may. I am vaguely acquainted with some of his students and dharma heirs, and they have also denied an underlying true self in his teachings (and I certainly looked!). Given emptiness, anything is possible.
  9. Tantra...

    I think that shows a lack of history on the Theravadans part because if Mahayana Buddhism was corrupted, it would have been corrupted by Tantra, specifically Nondual Shaiva Tantra. The problem with reading books is that Buddhism is not a religion of the book, like Protestant Christianity. Buddhism relies on oral transmission, and proper transmission requires that the teacher has realized the teachings. In that way, the teacher can guide the student experientially toward the same goal (or non-goal). The terms are coded, and the meaning on the terms can vary depending on the context in which they are taught. Accordingly, the only way to really learn Buddhism is to interact with a teacher and a sangha over an extended period of time, learning the practices experientially, and receiving feedback. To put it another way, it is an experiential transmission. This is especially true when dealing with Zen, Dzogchen, and Mahamudra. The teachings are put forth in a specific way for specific reasons. The idea of any self, universal or not, works crosswise against the techniques of Buddhism. This isn't to say that Self teachings aren't useful and liberating, say in a NST or a Vedanta context. It just isn't the case in a Buddhist context.
  10. Tantra...

    I am no expert in the Lankavatara. Can you please point me out where that is the case? Some of the older translations used terms like "Universal Mind" for alayavijnana, but that is bad translation. Alayavijnana is the base or storehouse consciousness, but it is not a grand cosmic mind. It may be "universal" in the sense that everyone has it, but it is not "universal" in the sense that there is a single universal consciousness.
  11. Tantra...

    I have found that most people who think that are coming at it from a Vedantic or a Western idealist perspective. In addition, many of the early translators (i.e. E.E. Evans Wentz) took a theosophical view in early translations of some of the Buddhist texts. However, according to people who specialize in this field (scholars and lamas), this is not at all the case. The Indian sources do not support this view. There may be some schools of Chinese chan who hold this view, but it is by no means widely accepted. I do not know any Buddhist teachers trained in a lineage, Zen or otherwise, who holds to a universal mind. This is not to say that they aren't out there, but if they are, I believe they would be in a minority. Here are some articles if people want to read about it. Of course, reading about Zen and Tantra is very limited in that the oral instructions are absent. https://www.vajranatha.com/articles/dzogchen-chinese-buddhism-and-the-universal-mind.html http://www.acmuller.net/yogacara/articles/intro.html
  12. Tantra...

    Most Buddhist schools I am familiar with reject the notion that everything is mind. Everything we experience is mind, but that is not the same as saying everything is mind like Western idealism. And emptiness is not energy. In addition, most Buddhist teachers reject the idea of a universal mind. It is important because all of this has an experiential component.
  13. Tantra...

    The difference for a Mahayana Buddhist is that all things are empty—- there is no underlying substratum. Buddhist typologies of beings vary vastly between traditions.
  14. Tantra...

    Mind is usually described as having two aspects: clear and knowing. Clear as in allowing objects to arise—- thoughts, feelings, perceptions. Knowing as in being aware of them. A good explanation is in HHDL’s Gelug-Kagyu tradition of Mahamudra.
  15. Qi/Energy Practice Over Years

    I think that's a key point --- most of us don't want to spend years (or even 20-30 minutes a day) waving arms and imagining things. But I would bet that 99.99% of energy practices are exactly that. I suppose the same can be said for mind-based practices. With Buddhist meditation, you may end up spending many hours practicing with no noticeable result. Then one day, some large chunk breaks off and things are different. I couldn't stick with it in the absence of the class. I have only met one other teacher in the same vein--- you could feel the heat radiating from his lower dan tien. But he was very demanding and wanted people to spend all their free time on Tai Chi. And he lived pretty far away. I took Hsing-I recently for a couple of years--- but those guys wanted to fight and I kept getting hurt. I could not abide by the violent mentality. I had a meditation teacher who once said it doesn't matter if you meditate perfectly for an hour if you spend the other 23 training in distraction. So in this case, you would have to choose between mind-practice and energy-practice in daily life? Nice!