Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It will be gone with the other

I think it's a mistake to regard Rinzai and Soto Zen as opposing schools or even as teaching something different. Sometimes it seems to be a mistake to think that other religions are teaching something different from Zen. I've been listening to audio downloads from an American Rinzai Zen temple called Cho Bo Ji. You can hear these on the RSS feed on the right hand column of my blog, but the best place to get them is as podcasts on iTunes. I've really been enjoying these. Genjo Marinello is as entertaining as he is profound. I can't recommend them enough. This morning he was talking about one of the Koans in the Blue Cliff Record - Daizu's "It will be gone with the other".

A monk asks Daizu if, when this incarnation of the universe comes to an end, 'It' (meaning Buddha, the Tao, the absolute) will be destroyed. Daizu says, much to the monk's dismay, 'It will be gone with the other'. Daizu is sabotaging the monk's attempt to clutch onto the essence of reality as something fixed and permanent.

Genjo Marinello then talks about getting to know the eccentric Zen Master and poet Soen Roshi when he was in Japan and recites some of his beautiful haiku:
Clearness
Sky and water reflecting
My heart

He juxtaposes the monks question from the koan with the haiku:

'Will it be gone with the other?'
'It will be gone with the other'.
Yet 'Clearness. Sky and water reflecting my heart'. No talk of 'It'.

Hearing that on the podcast as I drove to work, after a weekend of Zen and visiting old friends in the south west, I had a sense of something profoundly sublime, which was quite overwhelming. It even brought me to tears for a few moments - I had to compose myself so that I didn't crash the car. I can only feebly try to describe it as a sense of a hand reaching out to grasp something and encountering empty space, only to be caressed by a gentle breeze blowing on the skin. Perhaps it shows how much further poetry can go than philosophy.

'Will It perish at the end of the universe?' really means 'is impermanence permanent or impermanent?' or 'does emptiness have a self-nature or not'? Daizu did not want the monk to cling to 'It' as a fixed thing. There are a significant number of Buddhists who interpret the meaning of their religion just like this: all phenomena are empty and impermanent apart from Buddha Nature which is permanent. I think the real meaning of Daizu's response was not 'emptiness has no self'. Nor, I think, did he just want to deny the unborn, undying nature of Buddha just as a teaching device to bring the student away from clinging merely to the idea of it. Reality is not to be regarded as a thing, which either passes out of existence or remains in a state of stasis. Reality is where concepts of birth and death and stasis have no meaning - these are conventions of thought and language - ultimately reality is beyond all of these terms. This is what Nagarjuna meant when he taught the 'emptiness of emptiness'.

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 nonempty thing
Does not exist.

A monk once asked Joshu “If I have nothing in my mind, what should I do?”
“Throw it out.” Replied Joshu.
“But if there is nothing in my mind how can I throw it out?”
“Then,”
said Joshu, “you will have to carry it out.”

39 Comments:

At March 22, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

Insightful post, Justin.

'Will It perish at the end of the universe?' really means 'is impermanence permanent or impermanent?' or 'does emptiness have a self-nature or not'?


When such a question is asked it demonstrates a fundamental confusion regarding the true nature of impermanence (or emptiness). It makes that which is not a thing, into a persisting, on-going thing. Very understandable. But incorrect nonetheless.


There are a significant number of Buddhists who interpret the meaning of their religion just like this: all phenomena are empty and impermanent apart from Buddha Nature which is permanent.

Yes. I've personally seen this firsthand. It is a basic misunderstanding. It is founded on an inability to grasp what empty and impermanent truly mean.


Reality is not to be regarded as a thing, which either passes out of existence or remains in a state of stasis. Reality is where concepts of birth and death and stasis have no meaning - these are conventions of thought and language - ultimately reality is beyond all of these terms. This is what Nagarjuna meant when he taught the 'emptiness of emptiness'.

Excellent! Spot-on!! And two thumbs-up for Nagarjuna. The dude taught that to call any "thing" empty or impermanent was a primary error (but very common).

Believing any thing to be impermanent involves a contradiction. First, we posit a separate, persisting thing (in effect, absolute objects), then we refer to them as impermanent or empty (that is, relative). What is not seen, when doing this, is that there is still a subtle view of substance being held. The thoroughgoing nature of change, of selflessness, is not understood.

Nagarjuna maked it abundantly clear (and as the Buddha taught, there is the potential for this to be verified by each bodymind mechansim) that impermanence (the relative) is total, complete, thoroughgoing, Absolute.

It's not that the universe is made up of innumerable objects in flux. There is only flux. Nothing is (or can be) riding along in the flux, like a cork in a stream; nothing actually arises or passes away. There's only stream.

Forms appear to come and go. That can't be denied. But to assume the existence of persisting entities, and then to attach to them these apparent comings and goings, is delusion.

When this is Seen (as opposed to simply being understood intellectually, which is often the first step, and there is nothing inappropriate about that)...when this is seen, it's actually quite funny (which is why they're often yukking it up in zen monasteries!) ...

When this is seen on more than a conceptual level,

nothing changes and

everything is transformed.

As is said in zen, one still does the laundry and cooks the rice. But it is done in a fundamentally different way. There may be an instance of clinging or aversion, ("I hate cleaning the toilet bowl!") but that knee-jerk reaction is momentary and doesn't carry with it the emotional "baggage" of a lifetime of belief in an "I" that either hates or loves something.

It is the end of suffering. Why? Because it is the end of the illusion that there is someone present to suffer.

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger guyropes said...

thanks for your post justin. I a) enjoyed it, and b) downloaded the podcasts from itunes...which I c) also enjoyed.
another thing justin - I'm going to attend a zazen sitting (for the first time!) at the North London AZI centre, which was linked on your blog. I will blame you if they force me in to a ritualistic initiation ceremony.
One other thing - Anatman, can you please send me an invite to be a contributor on this blog again please? I followed the instructions in your last email, but don't appear to be signed up fruitfully.
(I've lost your email address..)

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

insightful comments, endofthedream

I agreed with everything you said. (Is that why I felt it was insightful?)

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

guyropes,

It's AZI (IZAUK) that I sit with. North London is the first dojo I went to. I hope you enjoy it. The ritualistic initiation ceremony isn't too bad - just don't forget the black rooster.

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

Guyropes, I think I see the problem. You had listed your address with the suffix "@googlemail.com"... I think it probably should be "@gmail.com".

Hopefully you will get the updated instructions now.

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

Justin, that was a very thought-provoking post, as was Endo's response. Very subtle stuff that borders on symantics, but still, gives me pause. I don't care what anybody says, this flapping is a serious part of my dharmic path.

Hey, I just made up a new term! "Dharmic Path"! Ah, probably not new... "nothing under the sun" and all that.

Hey Guyropes, good luck with the first Zazen session. Just remember, everybody takes their turn in the barrel after their first sitting. It doesn't mean anything, it is just part of the tradition.

 
At March 22, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

“If I have nothing in my mind, what should I do?”

“Throw it out.” Replied Joshu.

“But if there is nothing in my mind how can I throw it out?”

“Then,” said Joshu, “you will have to carry it out.”

Oh, that is golden. I just had to re-post it.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger guyropes said...

Thanks for the info Justin. The initiation was ok but I did forget the black rooster and so they beat me . No, no. I enjoyed myself, and they all seemed like very nice people.

I've been doing a bit of research on Taisen Deshimaru, the founder of AZI, and was quite concerned that some of the stuff he was saying seemed a bit spiritual mumbo-jumbo-y. I'd welcome your thoughts on some of this, especially since, from what I have read of your blog, you have quite a no-nonsense approach to this zen-thing.

Comments from others would of course be welcomed as well..

When asked what he meant by 'natural consciousness', Deshimaru replied with:

Bioconsciousness. I call it body consciousness, the scientists say bio-consciousness. It is what explains the fact that we can think with the body. Ordinarily people use only the left side of their brains to think with; but if you concentrate hard enough on your posture and breathing, the entire body can begin to think. According to Dr. Paul Chauchard every cell has a soul, so we don't think just with the brain anyway. During zazen the consciousness of the left hemisphere becomes less intense and the soul in the cells can receive transmissions from the cosmic consciousness. That is what I mean when I speak of body consciousness, bioconsciousness. Nowadays the right hemisphere of the brain, the seat of intuition and instinct, has grown weak; but we can reconnect it through zazen. When a fly senses danger, instinctively it flies away. That form of sensation is body consciousness, but in most people today it is weak and we can no longer understand or sense danger.
---

Basically, the mention of cells having a soul and receiving transmissions from the cosmic consciousness does seem a little far-fetched.

What do you think?

Thanks,

gr

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hi guyropes ~

You wrote:

I've been doing a bit of research on Taisen Deshimaru, the founder of AZI, and was quite concerned that some of the stuff he was saying seemed a bit spiritual mumbo-jumbo-y...Basically, the mention of cells having a soul and receiving transmissions from the cosmic consciousness does seem a little far-fetched. What do you think?


Trust your deeper, wiser self.

Given the information you provided, the response that comes up is: Non-Sense (as in nonsense, as in "does not make sense"). As a caveat, it is noted that I am responding second-hand and haven't heard the dude-in-question actually say what you say he has said, but it sounds like the same old baloney, just repackaged with an alternate spin to it. There's a lot of that going around. Has been for millennia.

An old zen koan concludes with the lines, "Trust yourself, really be yourself, and you will meet it, everywhere."

According to Dr. Paul Chauchard every cell has a soul

Another myth. Such silliness. But that is how the game is played. Until is isn't any longer.

On a personal note, gr, I'm curious:

what are you shopping around for? What is it that drives your seeking? What are you looking/searching for?

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

"When a fly senses danger, instinctively it flies away. That form of sensation is body consciousness, but in most people today it is weak and we can no longer understand or sense danger."

When a human senses danger, he also "flies" away or prepares to fight. We call it the physical, instinctual, "flight or fight" reaction. It shows up as increased pulse rate, adrenaline pump, and muscular tension. But we have learned to over-ride this sometimes with our mind.

Does this "flight or fight" reaction mean our cells have tiny little "souls"?

I think not.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

"When a fly senses danger, instinctively it flies away. That form of sensation is body consciousness, but in most people today it is weak and we can no longer understand or sense danger."

Thank you, Anatman, for picking up this piece of idiocy. There was so much stupidity in Deshimaru's statements that this was overlooked.

I really don't know anyone who "no longer understands or senses danger" when that danger is imminent.

Sure, certain people such as cops and soldiers are trained to, as you say, over-ride the message, but there are very few people (other that potential suicides or those who are both blind and deaf) who will not hop out of the way of an on-coming truck.

Regarding Deshimaru's comment about not understanding danger...yes, sure, there is the occasional brain-injured person who will not understand that one doesn't get into a bathtub with an electric hair dryer. :-)) But in the main, I feel safe in asserting that most people "understand danger," or at least some forms and aspects of danger.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger Jinzang said...

Well, where is consciousness? If it's correct to say it's the activity of the brain, isn't it more correct to say it's the activity of the entire body, since the brain cannot exist without the body? The nervous system reaches throughout the body and we are aware of the sensation of touch in the toes. Are the toes any less conscious than the brain? The brain is washed in a chemical bath and exchanges neuro-peptides through the circulatory system. Consciousness does go down to the cellular level.

"Cosmic consciousness" is not a second consciousness that opposes our normal way of thinking, it's what precedes our conceptualization and is normally covered over by it. But as we practice meditation, our concepts become sparser and it becomes more apparent.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

Well, where is consciousness?


Perhaps the better question is:

what is consciousness?

We don't have a clear idea of what consciousness really is. There are lots of books about it, but all the conversations currently veer into discussions of matter -- that is, brains, nerves, synapses, and such -- rather than into consciousness itself. And that's because no one knows what consciousness actually is.

Which is kinda amusing given that all of us are intimately familiar with consciousness. It's with us all the time. (And we are with it all time, except when we are in deep sleep or zonked out of our heads on weed or whiskey.) We can experience consciousness and note it clearly any moment that we turn our attention to it. Yet we think of it as vague and mysterious. And perhaps it is.

Actually, we're just as confused about matter as we are about consciousness. :-))) For the most part, we consider matter to be the foundation of Reality itself, as if matter were a solid, stable, enduring thing. And it isn't.



If it's correct to say it's the activity of the brain, isn't it more correct to say it's the activity of the entire body, since the brain cannot exist without the body? The nervous system reaches throughout the body and we are aware of the sensation of touch in the toes. Are the toes any less conscious than the brain?


They can be. That's what "peripheral neuropathy" is. As thousands of diabetics will tell you. Many of them are living with peripheral neuropathy because the nerves in their limbs have been deadened as a result of a persitant over supply of insulin (this can happen as a result of chemotherapy also). So one may be fully conscious (brain-wise) and not have any sensation in the toes (or fingertips).


"Cosmic consciousness" is not a second consciousness that opposes our normal way of thinking, it's what precedes our conceptualization and is normally covered over by it. But as we practice meditation, our concepts become sparser and it becomes more apparent.


Why add the label "cosmic"? Is there more than one consciousness?

And I would not say that consciousness "precedes" our conceptualization. Rather, it is the source [Source] of it. (In fact, I'd point to it as being the Source of Everything.)

I'm fond of the Advaita pointer that notes Consciousness is all there is...all there is, is Consciousness.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

Guyropes

I've been doing a bit of research on Taisen Deshimaru, the founder of AZI, and was quite concerned that some of the stuff he was saying seemed a bit spiritual mumbo-jumbo-y. I'd welcome your thoughts on some of this...

It might seem odd, since I've been practicing for several years with an organisation that was set up by Deshimaru, but until this week I barely knew anything about his teachings at all. His teachings were rarely discussed and I took my guidance from all over the place.

Some of what he said does seem like mumbo-jumbo and some of what he said was helpful and profound. But there is no direct connection between a person being a good and insightful Zen teacher and their having a realistic understanding of the way the world works.

Also, you don't have to believe Deshimaru's theories. There are people in AZI with all sorts of beliefs about the world or next to none.

Futhermore, there may be aspects of truth in the concept of body-consciousness. Firstly, it does seem realistic to be able to 'take consciousness away' from the cerebral cortex and back to the 'older', lower parts of the brain which control feelings and the body - whether consciousness itself can literally be said to shift to the body or not.

Secondly, according to Zen teachings (and panpsychists) consciousness is not strictly limited to the brain or even to the organism, but resonates across the whole universe. Cells with individual souls might be seen as a metaphor here.

Only a few days ago I was looking for advice about suspected, mild peripheral neuropathy brought on by sitting too long in the lotus position, when a Zen teacher suggested that I might be able to resolve the problem by focussing my awareness of the coin-sized numb spot on my leg. This person was a direct student of Deshimaru. I don't believe (or take literally) all his theories and explanations, but he is very insightful into zazen and human nature and sometimes almost seems to glow with wisdom and life. I hope to learn a lot from him.

Similarly I don't find Nishijima's theories about the autonomic nervous system particularly convincing (or very relevant even), but that doesn't discredit him as a Zen teacher.

If I want science I'll read Stephen Hawking.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger MudderPugger said...

Jeez, y'all! We've had it all wrong!
We need to obsess more

"When you think of things that you want, and you focus on them with all your attention, the law of attraction will give you what you want, every time."

"See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it. It always works. It works every time with every person."

The
Secret



Oprah don't lie, man, Oprah don't lie.....

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger MikeDoe said...

I have read consciousness being described as how the body perceives itself in respect of the world. It is this consciousness that allows subject-object interaction and actions to be sequenced and planned. Without the subject-object discrimination then no sensory imput will be perceived as anything other than a dream.

It is reasonable to say that consciousness has depths. At the lowest level it is very physical - the sense of wind on the skin, the sense of temperature, the sense of the pressure of gravity on the body. At the more complex levels it involves a sense of self and of identity. At whichever level (and higher is not better than lower) it is a way in which an organism can describe to itself the interaction with the world.

For example horses and cats both show a type of consciousness that involves emotions (which is a physical manifestation of awareness) and will act in a way that will generate certain emotions in themselves or others - cats and horses both will actively seek affection.

However, cats to date have not shown signs of writing or thinking with words.

I am not saying that cats or horses have soles or anything. Instead I am saying that they exhibit consciousness that in many ways resembles the consciousness that I also exhibit but does not extend as far as blogging.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger MikeDoe said...

As for the soul argument. It is an ancient one already covered by Nagarjuna.

If there is something that contains a soul then that something cannot be the soul. If that something is me then I cannot be the soul. If I am the soul then the something cannot be me. If I am both the body and the soul then how can only half of me persist or be immortal. If I am only the soul then why is this body needed at all and why can I not dispense with it. If I am my body then what is the soul - is it an imposter or an invader or an artifact?

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

only a few days ago I was looking for advice about suspected, mild peripheral neuropathy brought on by sitting too long in the lotus position, when a Zen teacher suggested that I might be able to resolve the problem by focussing my awareness of the coin-sized numb spot on my leg.


You could also resolve the problem by not sitting in such a constricting posture. :-)))


Secondly, according to Zen teachings (and panpsychists) consciousness is not strictly limited to the brain or even to the organism, but resonates across the whole universe. Cells with individual souls might be seen as a metaphor here.

Yes. A metaphor. Poetry in motion. It reminds of the zen chant: The entire universe is a dazzling ocean of light/And on it dance the waves of life and death.


This person was a direct student of Deshimaru. I don't believe (or take literally) all his theories and explanations, but he is very insightful into zazen and human nature and sometimes almost seems to glow with wisdom and life. I hope to learn a lot from him.

In this context, the best learning is UNlearning. ;-)

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger guyropes said...

Thanks for your comments endofthedream. Your question of what I am looking for is really quite simple - to be happy. Which is I think a universal wish.

But my concern over Deshimaru's teaching was two-fold; a partial concern that AZI (the organisation that he set up, and which i attended last night) might 'hold' a number of his theories as important. And secondly, a more general concern that zen masters (including the more 'secular' ones, like Deshimaru) might be spouting a whole load of wishy washy nonsense.

I agree with Justin that if it's science I'm looking for, Stephen Hawking might well be my man, and that a dodgy understanding of science shouldn't affect someone's ability to be a decent zen master, but it sometimes seems odd that certain zen masters claim to have an understanding of the deepest workings of cells just as much as they do about consciousness.

Which I guess brings me on to this chatter about consciousness. Brad Warner wrote somewhere that there is no such thing as consciousness. And that kind of struck me quite hard.

We should be really careful I think when we say stuff like 'consciousness is all there is' or that 'consciousness resonates across the entire universe', because "consciousness" is inherently bound up with having skin, eyes, ears etc (and touch, sight, hearing etc). Thus 'consciousness' should not be reified or objectified into some kind of magical entity.
(I'm one with jinzang on all this)

Forgive me if I am challenging you - endo and justin - without fully understanding your points (and being quite tired). (perhaps endo if you explained that quote more it might assist me..)

Furthermore, a 'reflexive' self-consciousness - or sense of being a separate self is nothing more than a delusion in buddhist teachings (as I understand it - or am attempting to).

I've seriously gotta go to bed, but the discussion is appreciated very much. Thank you.

gr

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger guyropes said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

end,

You could also resolve the problem by not sitting in such a constricting posture. :-)))

The first thing I did. Now I sit in 'Burmese'. It seems to be getting better.

Yes. A metaphor. Poetry in motion. It reminds of the zen chant: The entire universe is a dazzling ocean of light/And on it dance the waves of life and death.

Nice

In this context, the best learning is UNlearning. ;-)
Then..I hope to unlearn a lot from him

 
At March 23, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

gr,

But my concern over Deshimaru's teaching was two-fold; a partial concern that AZI (the organisation that he set up, and which i attended last night) might 'hold' a number of his theories as important. And secondly, a more general concern that zen masters (including the more 'secular' ones, like Deshimaru) might be spouting a whole load of wishy washy nonsense.

Seriously - I wouldn't worry about it. It's not about believing stuff. Probably helps not to believe to hard in anything.

We should be really careful I think when we say stuff like 'consciousness is all there is' or that 'consciousness resonates across the entire universe', because "consciousness" is inherently bound up with having skin, eyes, ears etc (and touch, sight, hearing etc). Thus 'consciousness' should not be reified or objectified into some kind of magical entity.
(I'm one with jinzang on all this)


Conciousness resonates across the universe because consciousness is not reified, it is not separate. It is information and in some form it seems to me likely to be quite fundamental. The alternative is some form of Dualism with all the problems that go with that. Only human consciousness is bound up with having skin, eyes etc.

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

Thanks for your comments endofthedream. Your question of what I am looking for is really quite simple - to be happy.


You're not happy sometimes?


Which is I think a universal wish.

True. And it's also true that seeking a "life of happiness" is a major contributing source of much suffering.

I'm not sure if you mean you're looking to be happy all the time, but if that is the case, and if you are engaging in ANY practice (yoga, meditation, any "ism," psychotherapy), with that goal, then, quite simply, you're screwed.

Being happy is a relative state arising, from time to time, in phenomenality. So is the state of being sad, joyful, angry, lonely, cheerful, depressed, frustrated, etc.

You just need to see that you do not have the power to make these states arise (in the localized consciousness that is you). There will be times of joy and grief. It's just that way. So there is not need for you to be "looking to be happy." You WILL be happy. From time to time.

Now, if you're depressed, all or most of the time, then seek counseling. It has a pretty high track record with that emotional state. Meditation too can help, but it is not a cure-all.



I agree with Justin that if it's science I'm looking for, Stephen Hawking might well be my man, and that a dodgy understanding of science shouldn't affect someone's ability to be a decent zen master, but it sometimes seems odd that certain zen masters claim to have an understanding of the deepest workings of cells just as much as they do about consciousness.


There are plenty of charlatans out there. As well as "zen masters" who have been duped themselves or simply don't have a full and operative understanding and so misinformed those who inquire of them.


Which I guess brings me on to this chatter about consciousness. Brad Warner wrote somewhere that there is no such thing as consciousness. And that kind of struck me quite hard.


Take it as one person's opinion. Nothing more or less. Will you base your understanding on another's? The minute you turn your authority over to someone else, you're doomed. Brad sees things as Brad does, that's all. I would say that consciousness is as real as you are.


We should be really careful I think when we say stuff like 'consciousness is all there is' or that 'consciousness resonates across the entire universe',


I was being careful. :-)


because "consciousness" is inherently bound up with having skin, eyes, ears etc (and touch, sight, hearing etc).


Consciousness is bound up with Everything. Everything IS the movement of consciousness. There's nothing you can see, think, point to, experience, that isn't It.


Thus 'consciousness' should not be reified or objectified into some kind of magical entity.


It is not possible to reify consciousness as it is not an object and refuses to be made so.


(I'm one with jinzang on all this)

Did you hear the one about the zen master who ask the hot dog vendor to make him one with everything? :-)))

In all seriousness though, how can one be "made one with everything" as everything already is, and has always been, One? The notion of two (or as the Taoists say, the ten thousand things), is simply that, a conceptual conceit. It is not real (and yet we are constrained to function AS IF it were real: that is our nature, at least at this moment).


Forgive me if I am challenging you - endo and justin - without fully understanding your points (and being quite tired). (perhaps endo if you explained that quote more it might assist me..)


Forgiveness is unnecessary as there is no offense on your part. Challenge all you want! There is no harm done.

You want some clarification on the quote. I can't give it. It says it all. Quite simply, all there is, here, there, everywhere, each atom, neutron star, galaxy, all thoughts, feelings, sensations, objects, subjects...it is ALL consciousness expressing Itself in vast and myriad ways. What I call the infinite permutations of being.

I've mentioned this before, in another context, and it bears repeating. The capping verse of the 28th case of the Mumonkan, "Eno's Good and Evil," contains this core teaching which points to consciousness:

You can describe it, but in vain/Picture it, but to no avail./You can never praise it fully./Stop all your groping and maneurering!/There is no where to hide the true self./When the universe collapses,/It, remains, indestructible.

This is further echoed in the Verse on the Faith Mind Sutra by Seng-Tsan, the third Zen patriarch:

Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands
always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.




Furthermore, a 'reflexive' self-consciousness - or sense of being a separate self is nothing more than a delusion in buddhist teachings (as I understand it - or am attempting to).


All thought is understood to be delusion in buddhist teachings.

This is pointed to nicely in the Verses on the Faith Mind Sutra:

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes,
as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish...
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence...
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality.
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.



May you find your happiness.

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

Personally I wouldn't call 'it' 'consciousness' - I'd only say that consciousness can't be separated from it. It includes consciousness, matter, thoughts, energy, information. Buddhism isn't Idealism. And I think Idealism is a flawed philosophy.

As far as happiness goes, there are happier and less happy lifestyles. i think regular meditation can help. Certainly things like friends, a good relationship (preferrably married), and being involved in some religious activity have been shown to make a difference. Of course, as endo pointed out, Buddhism emphasises appreciating the present rather than craving some future lifestyle. It doesn't mean you can't take steps, it just means you have to be mindful as you do. Good luck!

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger me said...

Awesome post & comments.

Consciousness is all there is...all there is, is Consciousness.

The knower and the known are the same thing and nothing can be known without a knower.

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger Jinzang said...

Rather than try to explain something I really don't understand, here's a comment my teacher made about transcending the subject-object dicotomy.

The idea of realizing the inseparability of the perceiver and perceived is that when you realize emptiness then you realize the perceiver, or mind, is empty and the perceived, or phenomena, are also empty. Realizing this is what was meant by the inseparability of the perceiver and perceived. When we talk of the realization that perceiver and perceived are empty, some people think that means everything is hollow or like a vacuum. But that is not what we mean. Everything is perceived, but it lacks any concrete reality whatsoever. If emptiness was perceiving a vacuum, how could enlightened beings perceive sentient beings to help them? Emptiness is a difficult subject and cannot be presented fully in words. But there is the example of television. You see forms on a television screen but they lack concrete reality. That is a very simple example of what emptiness is.

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

The knower and the known are the same thing and nothing can be known without a knower.


Quite so.

To go a bit further...the skillful thing to be able to keep in mind is that there is no knower, in the sense of a persisting, enduring knower.

The knower arises in the moment only. Next moment, if there should be a knower, it won't be "the same."

The "you" who opened this post is not the same "you" at this very moment, twenty or thirty seconds later.

In this relative world of comings and goings there appears to be some functional usefulness in behaving AS IF the two "you's" are the same, but the notion that they are the same is, as Hamlet points out, a "seems," not an "is."

Samsara is experienced as nirvana when these two seemingly incompatible points of view are held simultaneously.

One allows functioning in phenomenality; the other takes the sting out of "the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to." (Hamlet again)

[Postcript: for all you lit majors out there, Hamlet contains a wealth of nondual insight into the nature of being.]

 
At March 24, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

The idea of realizing the inseparability of the perceiver and perceived is that when you realize emptiness then you realize the perceiver, or mind, is empty and the perceived, or phenomena, are also empty. Realizing this is what was meant by the inseparability of the perceiver and perceived. When we talk of the realization that perceiver and perceived are empty, some people think that means everything is hollow or like a vacuum. But that is not what we mean. Everything is perceived, but it lacks any concrete reality whatsoever.


And that includes the perceiver. THAT is the pivotal and primary point. If this is realized, then the perceiver is ALSO understood to be empty, that is, lacking "any concrete reality whatsoever."

If emptiness was perceiving a vacuum, how could enlightened beings perceive sentient beings to help them? Emptiness is a difficult subject and cannot be presented fully in words. But there is the example of television. You see forms on a television screen but they lack concrete reality. That is a very simple example of what emptiness is.

Cute. And the comment about equating emptiness with "no concrete reality" is not bad. It's certain only way to vector into this abstract notion. Certainly emptiness is not a vacuum. It is, in fact, quite...Full. It is the Space in which the ten thousand things arise!

However, your teacher falls into the common trap: "If emptiness was perceiving a vacuum, how could enlightened beings perceive sentient beings to help them?"

To be brief: there are no enlightened beings.

Plain and simple: there are no enlightened beings. Asserting anything else is positing angels and demons.

Enlightenment, the enlightenment that the sages and zen masters always point to, is the ending of the belief in a separate, persisting self, a "me" that traverses time and space, enduring, unchanging, from moment to moment. Once awake, there is no longer any entification with a "me" that has an enduring reality. And it is simultaneously recognized that this is so for all other cognized objects (sentient and non-sentient beings). If one thinks that there are sentient beings one needs "to help," one is confused and riding the waves of the egomind.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

The next post I'm working on for my own blog is precisely on the difficulty of the concept of 'emptiness' and different ways to understand it and the limitations of each.

Emptiness and interdependence (dependent origination) are both expressions of the same thing. Emptiness refers precisely to phenomena lacking an 'atman' (self-nature/essence/identity) as per Vedic/Hindu thought. This is sometimes called 'ultimate truth' or reality. That things have a persisting and independent nature as we think and talk of them, is not so much false, as 'conventional truth'.

Perhaps the clearest and thorough accounts of the meaning of 'emptiness' I've come across are in Thich Nhat Hahn's commentary on the Heart Sutra. He describes it in terms of 'inter-being' and in terms of the relationship between wave and water.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger Dan said...

"If one thinks that there are sentient beings one needs "to help," one is confused and riding the waves of the egomind."

really?

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

"If one thinks that there are sentient beings one needs "to help," one is confused and riding the waves of the egomind."

really?



Yes.

Although it may be more accurately stated that "there is confusion" rather than "one is confused."

The basic misunderstanding is the thought that one can actually "help" another. It is founded on the belief that one has the power to affect any other mindbody mechanism, that one is the author of any helping that may arise.

Such a notion generates a sense of self ("the helper"), and the notion that there is actually someone "to help" - someone that NEEDS our help - that belief gives further validity to entification (which is a delusion).

And this doesn't mean to suggest that helping doesn't happen, nor that it is warranted. If helping happens, it is totally appropriate, just as if it doesn't happen, that too is entirely appropriate.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger guyropes said...

Endo,
Thanks for that comment on the issue of 'helping others', and the non-existence of enlightened beings.
Recently I was in email contact with David Loy, whose books I have enjoyed in the past.
One issue I have been 'concerned' about (and I am still grappling as to why I am so concerned about it) is that of dramatic 'life-extension'; the potential of science to slow down ageing, and possibly halt it completely.
David Loy's reply was far longer than what I have copied below:

"The issue is not life extension, but whether we are
grasping or not. It's just like money: a source of
great dukkha for many, but someone who is wise can use
great wealth for the benefit of many. A bodisattva
would welcome long life because he/she could help more
people."

I kind of agreed with what he said in the first part of this paragraph, but the second part struck me as being a bit deluded.

I find the idea of a mass of bodhisattvas 'helping' lots of people not only distasteful but also inaccurate.

There are no bodhisattvas (especially if you think of yourself as one).

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

Endo,
Thanks for that comment on the issue of 'helping others', and the non-existence of enlightened beings.



You're welcome. I wish I could take credit for it. :-))

Let's take your last point first. (BTW, "Bodhisattva" is a great song by Steely Dan.)

You write, "There are no bodhisattvas (especially if you think of yourself as one)."


In a sense, I agree. In another sense, I would say that a bodhisattva comes into the world in very much the same way a pedestrian does. Can you get that? It's the heart of the teaching. Really. Something as simple as that contains the essence of the Buddha's teaching (and many of sages as well).

There is no such thing as a bodhisattva, not one that persists from moment to moment. Just as there is no person who "is" a pedestrian all the time. Right now you're obviously sitting down at a pc reading this. So at this moment you are not a pedestrian.

If you were to get up, go outta your house, walk across the street...right there is the birthing of a pedestrian. The moment you stop moving, ... no pedestrian!

And it is the same with bodhisattvas. You see someone carrying some packages, the person trips, the packages fall to the ground. Without even the thought of "doing a good deed," there is an immediate impulse to go over, bend down, help the person......A bodhisattva is born. The packages replaced, the person walking away, you too go your own way. No more bodhisattva.

A moment later you reflect on the "good deed" you did. OK. That's fine. But there is no bodhisattva at that moment. Not because you're thinking about it. Simply because you're not being it at that moment. The bodhisattva has disappeared because there is "bodhisattva-ing" at that moment.



Recently I was in email contact with David Loy, whose books I have enjoyed in the past.
One issue I have been 'concerned' about (and I am still grappling as to why I am so concerned about it) is that of dramatic 'life-extension';



Why grapple with what is? If there is concern about it, then that is what is happening for you now. Is the grappling a problem for you?


the potential of science to slow down ageing, and possibly halt it completely.


It may be inquired: who or what is aging? Isn't that the crux of the matter? And it may be seen that this issue arises from a fear of death, of dying (be it conscious or unconscious).



David Loy's reply was far longer than what I have copied below:

"The issue is not life extension, but whether we are
grasping or not. It's just like money: a source of
great dukkha for many, but someone who is wise can use
great wealth for the benefit of many. A bodisattva
would welcome long life because he/she could help more
people."

I kind of agreed with what he said in the first part of this paragraph, but the second part struck me as being a bit deluded.

I find the idea of a mass of bodhisattvas 'helping' lots of people not only distasteful but also inaccurate.



It is a pretty fantasy, as is much that arises in thought, but it is not reality. As for your finding it distasteful....

That is how the innate conditioning-in-the-moment which is guyropes at this moment experiences David Loy's prattlings. And I'm sure there are some who are quite taken in by it, in the sense that they resonate with it.

It might be worthwhile, if the distaste is strong enough, to QUESTION it, examine it, what is the core belief behind the distaste? Once that is seen, it takes a lot of the emotive power out of the emotion (sometimes the seeing can entirely eradicate the feeling).

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

"If one thinks that there are sentient beings one needs "to help," one is confused and riding the waves of the egomind."

This is the conventional truth. The conventional truth is not false, but its truth is only conventional. The 'ultimate' perspective (emptiness) is that there are no things or entities - no persisting things or real separations to identify real independent entities. But we mustn't attach to / reify this either. Awakening is said to happen when we can see both truths simultaneously/freely.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger endofthedream said...

"If one thinks that there are sentient beings one needs "to help," one is confused and riding the waves of the egomind."

This is the conventional truth. The conventional truth is not false, but its truth is only conventional.



Regarding "convention,".....If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.


The 'ultimate' perspective (emptiness) is that there are no things or entities - no persisting things or real separations to identify real independent entities. But we mustn't attach to / reify this either.


Attachment either happens or it doesn't. We don't have any say in this.


Awakening is said to happen when we can see both truths simultaneously/freely.

No. That is a preliminary......understanding. It is a free sample, a glimpse over the garden fence.

True awakening, that which the sages and zen masters have always pointed to as the "ultimate" perspective, happens when it is seen that there is no one (nor has there ever been anyone) who sees "both truths simultaneously/freely."

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Awakening is said to happen when we can see both truths simultaneously/freely....

True awakening, that which the sages and zen masters have always pointed to as the "ultimate" perspective, happens when it is seen that there is no one (nor has there ever been anyone) who sees "both truths simultaneously/freely." "


This is mixing cause and effect.

Both of these are consequences of awakening not causes.

There are not two truths and there is not one truth. There are several viewpoints onto what might be called reality. Watching a film using a red lens or a yellow lens may give you different views but it would be a mistake to assume that either view is right or accurate or complete or better than the other view.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

Regarding "convention,".....If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

That's not what I mean. I'm not saying that things are true by . I suggest you read Nagarjuna and other Buddhist philosophers on the relationship between ultimate and conventional truth. Anything that can be said is a conventional statement - including what you just said and what I'm saying now.

Attachment either happens or it doesn't. We don't have any say in this.

If you want to be like that I can ask 'who doesn't?' 'there is no attachment or lack of attachment'. However, what I said was a conventional statement and in conventional statements we make use. We don't need to compete to be the most 'empty' - skillful means means making use of both emptiness and convention. All language is conventional, including statements about ultimate reality and statements invalidating conventional reality. Convention is how we conmmunicate.

No. That is a preliminary......understanding. It is a free sample, a glimpse over the garden fence.

True awakening, that which the sages and zen masters have always pointed to as the "ultimate" perspective, happens when it is seen that there is no one (nor has there ever been anyone) who sees "both truths simultaneously/freely."


In my understanding it's important not to get attached to 'emptiness' ie in this case that 'there is no one', since this too is conventional and from the ultimate perspective does not exist either. Nevertheless, conventional truth exists in the ordinary sense in the form of thought, language and culture. We must not deny that.

 
At March 25, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

Seeing conventional and ultimate as a duality is samsara.

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Nagarjuna/roots_of_zen.htm

The way in which Nagarjuna can help to complete Derrida's project lies in the Buddhist doctrine of the Two Truths, Conventional Truth and Ultimate Truth. Conventional Truth is the provisional construction we put on the pure factuality of the world and its "goings-on," and they enable us to function within it by making distinctions between, say, food and nonfood, enemies and nonenemies.
This Conventional Truth, M. asserts, corresponds roughly to
Derrida's "logocentrism" (143). Ultimate Truth consists in discovering the pure provisionality of all our groupings and differentiations. However, Nagarjuna and his followers were able to affirm the value of Conventional Truth: without it, we could not long survive, and so it remains Truth, not deceit.

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/charles1.htm

For Sûngnang, the Middle Path was not a state situated between existence and nonexistence, or duality and non-duality. Rather, he saw it as consisting of three levels: on the first level, the existence of all beings is considered as conventional truth, and the emptiness of all things is regarded as ultimate truth. Here, emptiness is called ultimate truth in response to the followers of Abhidharma who advocated the existence of dharmas. On the second level, the existence and emptiness of the first level are both viewed as conventional truth while the denial of both is seen as ultimate truth. This is Sûngnang’s rebuttal to the Satyasiddhi school, which admits the dualism of existence and emptiness, positing emptiness as ultimate truth. Finally, on the third and last level, it is recognized that both truths as well as all three levels, are merely teaching devices. Thus, the three gates or three levels are expounded only in order to realize the truth of not three. This non-acquisition of, and non-abiding in, one level or one truth is initially named the ultimate.

The structure of Sûngnang’s theory indicates a process of continuing dialectics to a level of infinity. As such, it negates any fixed concepts which regard the ultimate as a state arrived at through progression. For Sûngnang and his followers, a highest level does not exist; rather, this dialectic method of denial continues endlessly. The ultimate truth, then, cannot be the ultimate; it is not an absolute reality. This is why Sûngnang asserted that the two-truth theory was not a principle but only a pedagogical tool. He showed clearly that it is not possible to verbalize or conceptualize about ultimate truth. Any attempt to do so will only bring one back to the level of conventional truth. This unique philosophy marked the beginning of the New Sanlun school and was elaborated on first by Zhouyong and then by Jizang, who finalized its ideas in the latter half of the sixth century.

http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/G201SECT1

 

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