Jeff

Non-Duality in Dzogchen vs Advaita Vedanta

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I thought this was very interesting and very well written. It touches on the difference between the two traditions, and ultimately the meaning of the word "emptiness"...

 

The primary difference is in the nature and implications of "non-dual".

The puruŠĻ£a of Vedanta is "non-dual", however it is an ontological, transpersonal, homogenous, unconditioned existent. Which means that Advaita is a substantial and reductive non-duality.

Whereas one's nature in Dzogchen is epistemic, personal, heterogeneous and free from the extremes of existence and non-existence. This means that one's nature in Dzogchen is insubstantial and a non-reductive non-duality.

An ontological non-duality is where everything is reduced to a single substance that exists alone by itself. For example if subject and object were merged and we then held a view that the union of the two as a single X is truly substantial and valid.

On the other hand, an epistemological non-duality is simply a recognition that the nature of phenomena is free from the dual extremes of existence and non-existence, hence "non-dual". This is a non-reductive non-duality because it does not leave anything in its wake, there is no X left over once the nature of phenomena is recognized. 

In epistemic non-duality the nature of a conditioned phenomenon [dharma] and its non-arisen nature [dharmatńĀ] are ultimately neither the same nor different, hence they are "non-dual", because the misconception of a conditioned entity is a byproduct of ignorance, and therefore said entity has never truly come into existence in the first place. This means that the allegedly conditioned entity has truly been unconditioned from the very beginning. And to realize this fact only requires a cessation of cause for the arising of the misconception of a conditioned entity, i.e., a cessation of ignorance. If dharmins and dharmatńĀ were not non-dual then it would be impossible to recognize the unborn nature of phenomena because that nature would be rendered another conditioned entity.

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=21068#p307812

 

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Non-duality just means not two, it doesn't necessarily mean there is a substantial one. In practical terms there is no difference between between Avaita or Dzogchen non-duality, it's the same terrain so no matter how it is analysed or categorised with our minds the territory is beyond mind and therefore beyond all categorisations we try to impose on it. 

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6 minutes ago, Jetsun said:

Non-duality just means not two, it doesn't necessarily mean there is a substantial one. In practical terms there is no difference between between Avaita or Dzogchen non-duality, it's the same terrain so no matter how it is analysed or categorised with our minds the territory is beyond mind and therefore beyond all categorisations we try to impose on it. 

yeah Brahmasutras say clearly that the Brahman is dvandvAteeta (beyond duality). It means neither existence nor non-existence.

I'd say the original post is just a bad/incompelte understanding of Vedanta darshana.

 

It's this hair-splitting that confuses things so. I remember clearly someone telling me that their zero is zero'er than my zero.. :rolleyes:

 

 

 

Edited by dwai
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22 minutes ago, steve said:

I've been deleting a lot of posts before posting lately

Well, don't delete mine, Okay?

 

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2 hours ago, Jetsun said:

Non-duality just means not two, it doesn't necessarily mean there is a substantial one. In practical terms there is no difference between between Avaita or Dzogchen non-duality, it's the same terrain so no matter how it is analysed or categorised with our minds the territory is beyond mind and therefore beyond all categorisations we try to impose on it. 

 

Ok, so Brahman is not "One without a second"? 

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51 minutes ago, steve said:

I've been deleting a lot of posts before posting lately

 

With the above, it seems that is really not the case... :)

 

Come on... Join the discussion... surely more interesting than another mopai debate or arguement about mods...

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26 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 

Ok, so Brahman is not "One without a second"? 

It is. But it is not "ontological, transpersonal, homogenous, unconditioned existent". It cannot be spoken about, described or categorized in anyway.

 

Claiming that it is "ontological, transpersonal, homogeneous, unconditioned existent" is precisely boxing it into descriptions that simply don't fit. Same thing with non-duality of any kind.

 

Why can't people get this? There cannot be different types of Non-duality :) 

 

How someone words it is really a matter of the mind/intellect and has nothing to do with the real thing. 

 

Ramana Maharshi said that it is that which is neither light nor darkness, but prefers to call it "lightless light". Paradox is all once can use.

 

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Learned scholars from both sides of the divide till this day have yet to indicate that they have found common ground in which to negotiate even one point of mutual agreement on the understanding of nonduality. 

 

I will leave it to them to trash it out for another few decades. In the meantime let me not simply accept or reject anything without first reflecting such against the light of my own experience. Otherwise it's just dogma-peddling and intellectual indulgences, both of which are equally trivial and has no real benefit to anyone. Harmful in the long run, in fact.

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My simple thought is that non-dual is simply, not seeing or perceiving reality as dual.  The understanding and experience is One/Unity. 

 

One can perceive duality, yet experience Unity.   

 

The understanding of Duality is Unity.   The understanding of Unity is Duality.

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52 minutes ago, C T said:

Learned scholars from both sides of the divide till this day have yet to indicate that they have found common ground in which to negotiate even one point of mutual agreement on the understanding of nonduality. 

 

Very good point.

 

Quote

 

I will leave it to them to trash it out for another few decades. In the meantime let me not simply accept or reject anything without first reflecting such against the light of my own experience. Otherwise it's just dogma-peddling and intellectual indulgences, both of which are equally trivial and has no real benefit to anyone. Harmful in the long run, in fact.

 

Another good point about how we all tend to reflect such views on the light of our own experiences. But, if one never examines their views in the light of other views, is there not the danger of never broadening the light of your own experiences? In my own experience, I often find a different perspective/view helpful in my own reflections.

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2 hours ago, dwai said:

It is. But it is not "ontological, transpersonal, homogenous, unconditioned existent". It cannot be spoken about, described or categorized in anyway.

 

Claiming that it is "ontological, transpersonal, homogeneous, unconditioned existent" is precisely boxing it into descriptions that simply don't fit. Same thing with non-duality of any kind.

 

Why can't people get this? There cannot be different types of Non-duality :) 

 

 

Non-duality is simply a word phrase, it can easily have different meanings to different people as CT has pointed out.

 

2 hours ago, dwai said:

 

How someone words it is really a matter of the mind/intellect and has nothing to do with the real thing. 

 

Ramana Maharshi said that it is that which is neither light nor darkness, but prefers to call it "lightless light". Paradox is all once can use.

 

 

Lightless light is also called "clear light" in many traditions. Clear light is a "state" of the One and to me would go perfectly with the concept of "one with no second". But, to me, that is not the same as zero.

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The OP seems to be confusing non-duality with oneness.  I had never heard the idea that purusha is non-dual - actually prursha in the Samkhya is dual with prakriti (!).

 

There is a difference between the advaita with brahman 'one without a second' and the madhyamaka non-dualism but this dharmawheel post does not capture it.

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Based on the ideas in the OP, I tend to take the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, which is the 'New Age' (for lack of a better way of putting it) perspective.

 

From that point of view, everything is inseparably one, and that one thing absolutely IS - it eternally EXISTS, it's 100% REAL.

 

This is also the Hindu view of yogis such as Paramhansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Meher Baba, and Muktananda.

 

The one real thing that is all things is God, Self, and perfect divine love. It is Tao, the universal, eternal, absolute divine reality.

 

I know you guys are already familiar with this perspective. I'm guessing this is what is called Advaita Vedanta, although I've never learned the meaning of that particular term.

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8 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

Very good point.

 

 

Another good point about how we all tend to reflect such views on the light of our own experiences. But, if one never examines their views in the light of other views, is there not the danger of never broadening the light of your own experiences? In my own experience, I often find a different perspective/view helpful in my own reflections.

That wasn't exactly what I meant to convey. I'm saying that I ought to remember not to form overly harsh opinions or be rigid in thought in general. 

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5 hours ago, Apech said:

The OP seems to be confusing non-duality with oneness.  I had never heard the idea that purusha is non-dual - actually prursha in the Samkhya is dual with prakriti (!).

 

There is a difference between the advaita with brahman 'one without a second' and the madhyamaka non-dualism but this dharmawheel post does not capture it.

 

Then how would you describe that difference that you perceive?

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4 hours ago, roger said:

Based on the ideas in the OP, I tend to take the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, which is the 'New Age' (for lack of a better way of putting it) perspective.

 

From that point of view, everything is inseparably one, and that one thing absolutely IS - it eternally EXISTS, it's 100% REAL.

 

This is also the Hindu view of yogis such as Paramhansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Meher Baba, and Muktananda.

 

The one real thing that is all things is God, Self, and perfect divine love. It is Tao, the universal, eternal, absolute divine reality.

 

I know you guys are already familiar with this perspective. I'm guessing this is what is called Advaita Vedanta, although I've never learned the meaning of that particular term.

 

Thanks, that does sound like you are saying something exactly like "One without a second (permanently existing)"  for Advaita Vedanta. 

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14 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

With the above, it seems that is really not the case... :)

 

No, it really is the case. Whether here or on social media, I find myself composing long replies to a variety of topics and then rereading and deleting. There is this feeling that no matter what I write, silence is better. It's interesting just to watch that tendency in myself. 

 

 

14 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

Come on... Join the discussion... surely more interesting than another mopai debate or arguement about mods...

 

I do appreciate your invitation to join the conversation and will offer something experiential, for what it's worth. My initial and most powerful connection with non-dual experience had a distinct flavor of Oneness. That feeling was overwhelmingly powerful and offers the thinking mind a relatively easy way to try and grasp and rationalize the experience. On reflection and through other experiences, especially those in sleep yoga and sitting practice, and through both Daoist and Bönpo teachings, I feel that the concept of Oneness is flawed in that it offers me something to become attached to, something that allows the rational mind to say to itself, "I understand, this makes sense, I've got this and can move on." This very opportunity to grasp onto something conceptual that explains the experience and view is what I think is the entire point of the doctrine of emptiness and the process of Madhyamaka. We need to be able to let go of ALL preconceptions and explanations, whether they refer to self or other, and open ourselves fully and directly to the whole of experience. Most importantly we need to let go of the one who is looking at the very time of that experience. That is the view I take. Reducing, expanding, or defining beyond that is no longer the view.

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26 minutes ago, steve said:

 

No, it really is the case. Whether here or on social media, I find myself composing long replies to a variety of topics and then rereading and deleting. There is this feeling that no matter what I write, silence is better. It's interesting just to watch that tendency in myself. 

 

I was really just kidding, as in this case you posted something, rather than deleting and not posting at all. :)

 

Quote

 

 

I do appreciate your invitation to join the conversation and will offer something experiential, for what it's worth. My initial and most powerful connection with non-dual experience had a distinct flavor of Oneness. That feeling was overwhelmingly powerful and offers the thinking mind a relatively easy way to try and grasp and rationalize the experience. On reflection and through other experiences, especially those in sleep yoga and sitting practice, and through both Daoist and Bönpo teachings, I feel that the concept of Oneness is flawed in that it offers me something to become attached to, something that allows the rational mind to say to itself, "I understand, this makes sense, I've got this and can move on." This very opportunity to grasp onto something conceptual that explains the experience and view is what I think is the entire point of the doctrine of emptiness and the process of Madhyamaka. We need to be able to let go of ALL preconceptions and explanations, whether they refer to self or other, and open ourselves fully and directly to the whole of experience. Most importantly we need to let go of the one who is looking at the very time of that experience. That is the view I take. Reducing, expanding, or defining beyond that is no longer the view.

 

Thank you for sharing this point. I think it is excellent and a very useful point to make. If I may be so bold, it sounds to me like you are saying something different that Roger was above.

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12 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

Non-duality is simply a word phrase, it can easily have different meanings to different people as CT has pointed out.

 

 

Lightless light is also called "clear light" in many traditions. Clear light is a "state" of the One and to me would go perfectly with the concept of "one with no second". But, to me, that is not the same as zero.

Nonduality is only a word. Yet that which is not-dual is beyond words. How then are we ascribing so many descriptions to it?

 

i am afriad to say that the OP does not understand non-duality. When looked at merely from the intellect, all those descriptions make sense. When there is direct knowing, none of the descriptions make sense. 

 

We might make up a story afterwards, but it is not the real thing. Even your story about clear light is just a story. 

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7 minutes ago, dwai said:

Nonduality is only a word. Yet that which is not-dual is beyond words. How then are we ascribing so many descriptions to it?

 

i am afriad to say that the OP does not understand non-duality. When looked at merely from the intellect, all those descriptions make sense. When there is direct knowing, none of the descriptions make sense. 

 

We might make up a story afterwards, but it is not the real thing. Even your story about clear light is just a story. 

 

The OP was only a starting point for a discussion. But also I think many here (like in Steve's example) have also raised a very good point about even what you call "direct knowing" and how even that perception may change. Just because someone has directly experienced something, it does not prove there is not more deeper or refined to "know".

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44 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 

Then how would you describe that difference that you perceive?

 

i think that the essential difference lies in both the starting point and subsequent analysis by both systems.

 

Vedanta (as the 'end' or summation of the vedas) has a starting point which asks what is fundamentally real - this from the point of view of the observer and the observed.  In the older system of Samkhya this was ultimately expressed as purushas (plural) as pure observers and prakriti as the finest of fine substances which underlies all objective reality.  Later forms of Vedanta explored this duality and attempted to resolve it as the existence of two absolutes is fundamentally irreconcilable.  the most developed and sophisticated of these schools is Advaita Vedanta which resolves the observer as Atman the eternal 'self' and the observed as brahaman, which is 'one' as there is nothing other than it but 'without a second' because its 'oneness' was not the head of a series as in number 1,2,3,4 and so on.  Then finally saying that the observer (Atman) and brahman are both not the same but not different - without an appeal to a third which was both and neither.  All this in answer to 'what is real?'

 

Buddhism on the other hand does not start with the question 'what is real?' but with the an analysis of experience as evidenced in the 4 Noble Truths - and then goes on to explain the apparent arising of 'things' as dependent origination which is founded on avidya - ignorance.  In other words the 'real' that others are searching for is based on 'not knowing'.  The consequence of this appears in Nagarjunas negation of any putative fundamental reality by dismissing all such candidates as 'conceptual' - and of phenomena of lacking any 'self' and thus svabhava - self-being.  So the answer to 'what is real' is silence -  in the sense that it cannot be defined or spoken.  Thus non-duality in Buddhism arises form the emptiness of any proposed dualities - like observer and the observed.

 

Not a very good or complete answer but the best I can manage after lunch :)

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

 

The OP was only a starting point for a discussion. But also I think many here (like in Steve's example) have also raised a very good point about even what you call "direct knowing" and how even that perception may change. Just because someone has directly experienced something, it does not prove there is not more deeper or refined to "know".

:) The story/narrative after the "experience" is what causes so much mischief. If we say that Be Silent and simply be, it doesn't make much sense.

 

And so, there is much syntactical jugglery to be done and intellectual chasms to be crossed before, commentary after commentary to be read before one finally "gets" it. And that "it" is one's own nature, it is empty, it is free and it is beyond all other conceptions and perceptions  :)

 

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4 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

i think that the essential difference lies in both the starting point and subsequent analysis by both systems.

 

Vedanta (as the 'end' or summation of the vedas) has a starting point which asks what is fundamentally real - this from the point of view of the observer and the observed.  In the older system of Samkhya this was ultimately expressed as purushas (plural) as pure observers and prakriti as the finest of fine substances which underlies all objective reality.  Later forms of Vedanta explored this duality and attempted to resolve it as the existence of two absolutes is fundamentally irreconcilable.  the most developed and sophisticated of these schools is Advaita Vedanta which resolves the observer as Atman the eternal 'self' and the observed as brahaman, which is 'one' as there is nothing other than it but 'without a second' because its 'oneness' was not the head of a series as in number 1,2,3,4 and so on.  Then finally saying that the observer (Atman) and brahman are both not the same but not different - without an appeal to a third which was both and neither.  All this in answer to 'what is real?'

 

Advaita Vedanta is actually the true essence of the Upanishads. If you read the Upanishads, it is clear and 100% congruent with AV. However, I wanted to point out a minor thing here. AV doesn't recognize the Atman and Brahman as "both not the same but not different". AV instead says, that since there cannot be two non-duals, and since Brahman is non-dual, and atman is non-dual, they are one and the same. 

 

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4 minutes ago, dwai said:

Advaita Vedanta is actually the true essence of the Upanishads. If you read the Upanishads, it is clear and 100% congruent with AV. However, I wanted to point out a minor thing here. AV doesn't recognize the Atman and Brahman as "both not the same but not different". AV instead says, that since there cannot be two non-duals, and since Brahman is non-dual, and atman is non-dual, they are one and the same. 

 

 

Are there not many other traditions that would disagree about AV being the true essence of the Upanishads? Or is that now something that is universally agreed? 

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