Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:59 am

christopher::: wrote:
Masterful merging, tilt..! The two discussions flow together almost seemlessly...

:bow:
Yes. It took a whole 30 seconds or less of clicking on a couple of buttons. Glad it worked out.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by imagemarie » Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:30 pm

:anjali:
Wonderful posts here nathan. Thank-you. :bow:

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:46 pm

I dont know if this has already been covered here but how is emptiness in Theravada teachings different from non-duality?
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by cooran » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:05 pm

Hello clw-uk, all,

This may be of assistance:

Dhamma and Non-duality ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... uality.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Theravada perspective on Emptiness by Ayu Kusalanda Thera
http://milindasquestions.com/2006/09/03 ... emptiness/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by christopher::: » Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:03 am

Good question, clw-uk.
Chris wrote:
Dhamma and Non-duality ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... uality.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks for that, Chris!
For the Vedanta, non-duality (advaita) means the absence of an ultimate distinction between the Atman, the innermost self, and Brahman, the divine reality, the underlying ground of the world. From the standpoint of the highest realization, only one ultimate reality exists -- which is simultaneously Atman and Brahman -- and the aim of the spiritual quest is to know that one's own true self, the Atman, is the timeless reality which is Being, Awareness, Bliss. Since all schools of Buddhism reject the idea of the Atman, none can accept the non-dualism of Vedanta. From the perspective of the Theravada tradition, any quest for the discovery of selfhood, whether as a permanent individual self or as an absolute universal self, would have to be dismissed as a delusion, a metaphysical blunder born from a failure to properly comprehend the nature of concrete experience. According to the Pali Suttas, the individual being is merely a complex unity of the five aggregates, which are all stamped with the three marks of impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. Any postulation of selfhood in regard to this compound of transient, conditioned phenomena is an instance of "personality view" (sakkayaditthi), the most basic fetter that binds beings to the round of rebirths. The attainment of liberation, for Buddhism, does not come to pass by the realization of a true self or absolute "I," but through the dissolution of even the subtlest sense of selfhood in relation to the five aggregates, "the abolition of all I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendencies to conceit."
I think many Advaita masters look upon the section in italics as a conceptual representation of reality, not a fixed truth, and would agree with the section in bold. The path is about realization and complete unbinding of self-identity, not ideas of "truth." There may indeed be cognitive dissonance for some Theravadin practitioners, but for those at deeper levels of realization my sense (and others may disagree) is that once this step is taken a practitioner no longer struggles with religious belief systems and conceptions the way most of us mere mortals do. Ideas are tools, for awakening, rafts for crossing great distances.
In regard to virtue the distinction between the two teachings is not immediately evident, as both generally affirm the importance of virtuous conduct at the start of training. The essential difference between them emerges, not at the outset, but only later, in the way they evaluate the role of morality in the advanced stages of the path. For the non-dual systems, all dualities are finally transcended in the realization of the non-dual reality, the Absolute or fundamental ground. As the Absolute encompasses and transcends all diversity, for one who has realized it the distinctions between good and evil, virtue and non-virtue, lose their ultimate validity. Such distinctions, it is said, are valid only at the conventional level, not at the level of final realization; they are binding on the trainee, not on the adept. Thus we find that in their historical forms (particularly in Hindu and Buddhist Tantra), philosophies of non-duality hold that the conduct of the enlightened sage cannot be circumscribed by moral rules. The sage has transcended all conventional distinctions of good and evil. He acts spontaneously from his intuition of the Ultimate and therefore is no longer bound by the rules of morality valid for those still struggling towards the light. His behavior is an elusive, incomprehensible outflow of what has been called "crazy wisdom."
I agree with Bikkhu Bodhi here. Again, just my opinion, but any master or practitioner that starts to deviate with their behaviors is not enlightened. That's why its called crazy wisdom. Elements of wisdom perhaps but the practitioners have missed the mark and crashed into a ditch.

In terms of "enlightened" human behavior, great masters from Jesus to Buddha have been clear about that. Dualistic distinctions do apply. Killing is wrong, kindness is right. Hate creates suffering, Love heals. A nondual view of the world doesn't mean you suddenly give up your moral frameworks, which are dualistic by nature. Clear evidence for this can be found in the fate of crazy wisdom teachers, they usually end up quite miserable.

Just my 2 cents. Great essay. Have not read the second yet.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:30 pm

One thing i have wondered, Advaita Vedanta claims the world is and illusion yet Brahman is everything, so is Brahman illusion?



Also in Buddhadhamma, did the Buddha ever take the stance that the physical world wasnt real in some way?


metta
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by kc2dpt » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:22 pm

christopher::: wrote:Clear evidence for this can be found in the fate of crazy wisdom teachers, they usually end up quite miserable.
Could you kindly provide this clear evidence? Please show us how crazy wisdom teachers usually end up quite miserable. Thanks.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by christopher::: » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:59 pm

Peter wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Clear evidence for this can be found in the fate of crazy wisdom teachers, they usually end up quite miserable.
Could you kindly provide this clear evidence? Please show us how crazy wisdom teachers usually end up quite miserable. Thanks.
Hmmm. Nah, Peter, i don't know enough to back that up. I had a couple of teachers in mind, but i'd rather just retract the statement then mention them and try to defend it.

If i could post again i'd phrase that differently. So much for the ignornance (on my part) of quick posting without deep thought.

:toilet:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by jcsuperstar » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:21 am

clw_uk wrote:One thing i have wondered, Advaita Vedanta claims the world is and illusion yet Brahman is everything, so is Brahman illusion?



Also in Buddhadhamma, did the Buddha ever take the stance that the physical world wasnt real in some way?


metta
i think in some mahayana sutra he does, maybe the diamond sutra? but in the suttas i think he says it is like a bubble or foam or something so not that it is an illusion but it was like one, which i think is quite different
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:35 am

Greetings Craig,
clw_uk wrote:Also in Buddhadhamma, did the Buddha ever take the stance that the physical world wasnt real in some way?
Only to the extent detailed in the...

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

However I have read some comments from experienced Vajrayana Buddhists at E-Sangha that indicate that they perceive otherwise.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by christopher::: » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:17 pm

Nice link, Retro.

The Diamond Sutra may have its origins there. I'm not a scholar though, so, i'm just guessing...

As jcsuperstar mentioned, the view given there is that from the perspective of enlightenment all this world is like a dream. Even our impressions of individuality, of sentient beings, are an illusion of sorts. This is one way of viewing the Buddha's teachings of impermanence and anatta...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Sutra" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.


:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by .e. » Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:One thing i have wondered, Advaita Vedanta claims the world is and illusion yet Brahman is everything, so is Brahman illusion?

Here is Sankara’s refrain.

The world is illusion
Brahma alone is real
Brahma is the world

Some see this as 3 realizations, the last being non-dual.

It is similar to the Zen refrain.

Mountains were mountains
Mountains were no longer mountains
Mountains are again mountains

In terms of BuddhaDhamma, I have found a few places where non-duality can be intuited in the way we talk about non-duality as non-separation between the subject/object conceptual dualities.

One experiential place is phassa. At the moment of contact, how can you separate out consciousness/organ/form. Look for yourself…touch a hard surface like a desk and at the precise moment of contact before vedena arises, it is impossible to separate out any of the 3. They simultaneously arise and are only dualistically separated later as a subject (me within consciousness) experiencing an object out there (a desk).

Here is another place in which the middle way is between duality. Ven. Thinisaro uses polarity. I believe Ven. Bodhi uses duality.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So where does the middle way lead? To Nirvana of course. A teacher (student of Buddhadasa) explained Nirvana this way. As Nir (not) and vana (emotion). He said we only know 2 states of mind, positive and negative, and that nirvana was recognized between these two states. He used emotions to show this.

lust (nirvana) hate
happiness (nirvana) sadness

He said, Buddha meditated to produce the highest happiness attainable via jhana. He then meditated on this happiness and saw that it too was suffering, impermanent and non-self. So the cooling (nirvana) or blowing out of positive/negative obscuring emotions can be understood as non-duality because the duality of this/that conditionality comes to cessation without remainder. So Buddhist non-duality can be described as not-two and not-one.

Regarding Samsara being Nirvana, we can use the 3 realization refrain as:

Samsara
Nirvana
Nirvana is Samsara (correctly perceived i.e. non-dualistically)

It makes sense doesn’t it? Buddha realized Nirvana in the midst of Samsara, he did not go off to heaven or disappear, etc. He re-cognized Nirvana by not-dualistically conceiving and/or by not emoting Samsara as positive or negative. The difficulty lies in showing this to deluded human beings who believe in a subject object split and who only know two states of mind. This is why he did not initially want to teach. He thought that no one would understand.

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:18 am

Here is Sankara’s refrain.

The world is illusion
Brahma alone is real
Brahma is the world

Some see this as 3 realizations, the last being non-dual.

It is similar to the Zen refrain.

Mountains were mountains
Mountains were no longer mountains
Mountains are again mountains
These do not correspond with each other.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by piotr » Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:04 am

Hi, :)
jcsuperstar wrote:
clw_uk wrote:One thing i have wondered, Advaita Vedanta claims the world is and illusion yet Brahman is everything, so is Brahman illusion?

Also in Buddhadhamma, did the Buddha ever take the stance that the physical world wasnt real in some way?
i think in some mahayana sutra he does, maybe the diamond sutra? but in the suttas i think he says it is like a bubble or foam or something so not that it is an illusion but it was like one, which i think is quite different
I think that this is important distinction to keep. Nanavira-thera wrote in one of his letters:

    • 'Thought and lust are a man's sensuality,
      Not the various things in the world;
      Thought and lust are a man's sensuality,
      The various things just stand there in the world;
      But the wise get rid of desire therein'. (A. VI,63: iii,411)


    For the Hindu, then, the variety of the world is illusion, and for the Maháyánist it is ignorance; and in both cases the aim is to overcome the world, either by union with Brahma or by attainment of knowledge. Unlike the Hindus and the Maháyánists, the Pali Suttas teach that the variety of the world is neither illusion (máyá) nor delusion (avidyá) but perfectly real. The attainment of nibbána is certainly cessation of avijjá, but this leaves the variety of the world intact, except that affectively the variety is now uniformly indifferent. Avidyá, clearly enough, does not mean to the Maháyánist what avijjá does in the Pali Suttas. – http://nanavira.110mb.com/lett8b.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by .e. » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:19 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Here is Sankara’s refrain.

The world is illusion
Brahma alone is real
Brahma is the world

It is similar to the Zen refrain.

Mountains were mountains
Mountains were no longer mountains
Mountains are again mountains
These do not correspond with each other.
Right, I said they are similar. If you remove the ontology and see Brahma as the only real unconditioned “thing” aka Nibbana, then there really is no difference if the self sense is dissolved in moksha. The difference is merely semantics. Both Ramana and Nisargadatta recommended holding to the “I am” thought. (This was a pracitce of A. Sumedho when he met A. Chah btw). It begins to dawn on one that it is not possible and “I am” vanishes. This seems awfully similar to the last thing to go before arahantship albeit in a different vernacular.

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