Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
.e.
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by .e. » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:27 pm

piotr wrote:

'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)[/list]

...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.
In philosophy this is called Naïve Realism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_realism. If you look at the phena sutta that retro posted, it is hard to maintain that Buddha felt the objects of awareness were real. In other words if everything but nibbana is impermanent, how can anything else be real i.e. unchanging? ALL is conditionally arisen and so “not real” or we could say the all is only conventionally real.

This was Nagarjuna’s critique of seeing the “things” that Buddha used to convey his teaching as atomistic and ultimately real. Nagarjuna showed how this view is untenable and so recentered the dhamma at Nalanda. Surely Buddha would have smiled in silent consent. Hasn’t modern physics shown the same thing? The atom does not exist the way the ancient Greeks fathomed i.e. it also is composed of parts that dissolve into energy and so is seen to be conditionally arisen. What in your experience isn’t?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:23 pm

.e. wrote: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 ontology of Shankara’s verse is the point of it, and no such ontology exists in the Zen verse. Nibbana is clearly defined in the suttas as: That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana. -- S.N. IV 251 and IV 321

And we see:

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata [“unconditioned”]. -- S.N. IV 359 and S.N. 362

Nibbana is the freedom from the conditioning influences of greed, hatred, and delusion, which is vastly different from the “self being dissolved in moksha,” into some sort of ultimate thingness that we really supposedly are.
The difference is merely semantics.
It is much more than that.
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.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but do not pay any attention to the fact that the underlying assumptions are vastly different and that with the Advaita that there is an assumption of an ultimate self-ness, which means it is still stuck in the khandhas.

Tell us what the “all” is in Advaita and what the "all" is in the Buddha’s teachings. Also, I’d recommend rereading the very first msg in this thread.

Also, samsara is defined as an illusion by the Advaita. In the Buddha’s teaching it is like an illusion, but it certainly not the maya of the Advaita and nowhere do we get the horrific corollary lila concept in the Buddha’s teachings.
>> 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 .e. » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:28 pm

Dear tilt,

The khandhas were a teaching to deconstruct personality view. The Self or Awareness of Advaita is not the consciousness aggregate of Buddhist personhood. We can grind away at the scriptures and look for differences and/or or we can attempt to see what they are talking about from within their own context. Ramana and Nis did not think of Self in the way Brahma was thought to exist in the Pali scriptures i.e. as a real nice benevolent god in the highest heaven you can relate too and have tea with. They thought of Brahma in the same way “I am” is cast off like that of the arahant. Now Buddha did not describe what that was like in a positivistic way…which is great…that resonates with my deepest understanding and is philosophically more elegant to my taste. But that does not make Ramana or Nis “wrong” in their understanding. A friend felt that Advaita and Buddhism are like 2 different languages more than ways to posit truth. So in the first sentence of the Zen verse there is ontology i.e. the mountain. It is only in the 2nd that it is gone and in the 3rd rendered transparent. It is similar in Sankara’s refrain. The personal ontology disappears. I would say it is the reader that reifies the ontology of Brahma more than the writer. If the world is illusory and Brahma is the world, what then of the ontology of Brahma? That is, Real/Illusion loose their dualistic meaning and without that what then of ontology? Do you see?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:40 pm

.e. wrote:Dear tilt,

The khandhas were a teaching to deconstruct personality view.
The reach of the khandhas is much further than that.
The Self or Awareness of Advaita is not the consciousness aggregate of Buddhist personhood.
To try to limit what the Buddha taught is nothing more than an attempt at trying to side step the issue.

Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. SN III 46

So, is the Advaita atman aware? Does it act? Does it change? Does it feel?
We can grind away at the scriptures and look for differences and/or or we can attempt to see what they are talking about from within their own context.
The Buddha’s context is broad enough. As refined and as subtle as it is, as it may be, the Advaita self is still nothing more than an assumption of a self. Does the Advaita atman act, does it feel?

Again, the question you ignored. What is the “all” for Advaita and what is the “all” for the Buddha?
Ramana and Nis did not think of Self in the way Brahma was thought to exist in the Pali scriptures i.e. as a real nice benevolent god in the highest heaven you can relate too and have tea with.
Brahma is nothing more, as is obvious from the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, than a personification of the monistic notion of Brahman.
They thought of Brahma in the same way “I am” is cast off like that of the arahant. Now Buddha did not describe what that was like in a positivistic way…which is great…that resonates with my deepest understanding and is philosophically more elegant to my taste.
The Buddha went far further than your Advaitans, seeing that any self thingie is a problem. And let us not forget your statement: ”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.” It is not Brahma; it is Brahman, and the ontology of being of Brahman is the point of Shankara’s statement. Nibbana is not an ontology of being. Basically, your approach is trying to turn the Buddha into an Advaitan by missing what it is that the Buddha actually taught.
But that does not make Ramana or Nis “wrong” in their understanding.
Wrong? They were fine teachers of Advaita, showing the limits of how far the self notion can be refined and pushed, but they were not near the level of the Buddha.
A friend felt that Advaita and Buddhism are like 2 different languages more than ways to posit truth.
That is nice, but carries no weight.
So in the first sentence of the Zen verse there is ontology i.e. the mountain. It is only in the 2nd that it is gone and in the 3rd rendered transparent.
The teaching of the Zen verse is grounded on emptiness, which admits no self ontology, however refined and subtle. It is grounded in the very khandhas themselves, in paticcasamuppada. It is a radical insight that does not need to preserve a self by making it more than it really is.
It is similar in Sankara’s refrain. The personal ontology disappears.
The lower levels of self are suppressed, as happens with highly refined jhana/samadhi, even without insight (vipassana), giving one a sense of oneness and which can be colored by one’s beliefs.
I would say it is the reader that reifies the ontology of Brahma more than the writer. If the world is illusory and Brahma is the world, what then of the ontology of Brahma? That is, Real/Illusion loose their dualistic meaning and without that what then of ontology? Do you see?
Basically, you are positing an ontology of a monistic being. Tat tvam asi and Om tat sat and Sat chit ananda. Not the teachings of the Buddha or the likes of Nagarjuna. Again, I refer you to the first msg (and the second msg) that open this thread.
>> 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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cooran
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by cooran » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:30 pm

You know, Tilt, ~ sometimes I'm really glad you're around.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:33 pm

Chris wrote:You know, Tilt, ~ sometimes I'm really glad you're around.

metta
Chris
Thanks. It is those other times, however, that are the problem, no doubt. (insert apporpriate smiley thingie here)
>> 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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cooran
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by cooran » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:42 pm

Well .... only in this thread when I can't figure out what the hey you mean about the RS:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... start=1040" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:49 pm

Of course. It was the Kinks, not the Stones. Silly me.
>> 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 .e. » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote: Basically, you are positing an ontology of a monistic being.
Let me strip it all down so scripture no longer gets in the way of our mutual understanding. Does this help?

Illusion
Reality
Reality is Illusion

What happens to all and any ontology when there is no distinction between reality/illusion?


(Hint)

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick

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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by Prasadachitta » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:26 pm

It seems some people find it quite comforting to rest in the idea that all if not the lions share of spiritual practices point their practitioners to the same truth. I have a relative who I love very much who says this to me when I convey bits of how I understand and work with the Dhamma. I can see that my relative is coming from a positive state of mind when she says this. I see her as intending to uphold what she sees as valuable and beneficial in the varying attempts of beings and societies to pursue well being and peace. This intent in itself seems to be very positive in that it lends to sympathetic joy and kindness towards those who are making spiritual effort. I am trying to cultivate the spirit of what my relative has tapped into while being wary of a vague generalization which might lend to an noncommittal attitude. One thing I am sure of is that it is very easy to overlook the impact of our ideas on the practical everyday workings of cultivating well being and other spiritual benefits. I think it is appropriate to maintain the clear communication of the Buddhist tradition especially on a forum such as this (thank you tilt). I want to help people in dealing with and purifying their intention of Greed and Hatred. I think this can at times mean overlooking what I see as unhelpful speculation in order to direct attention to what I see as practical to the proximate moment of communication. What a sticky business it is.

Kindly

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:34 pm

.e. wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Basically, you are positing an ontology of a monistic being.
Let me strip it all down so scripture no longer gets in the way of our mutual understanding. Does this help?

Illusion
Reality
Reality is Illusion

What happens to all and any ontology when there is no distinction between reality/illusion?
This, of course, makes no sense; certainly from a Buddhist - Pali sutta point of view, nor even from a standpoint of Nagarjuna. You are still ignoring my objection above and you are not answering my questions to you. Try as you might, you cannot reasonably ignore the ontological claims of Advaita, which are rejected by the Buddha.
(Hint)

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick
Notice the word "like" in this Buddhist quote. Advaita does not say "like." I have addressed your points in the above msgs as part of a dialogue (so I thought), but you ignore the questions and objections I have raised. If you want a dialogue that is not the way to do it.
>> 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 tiltbillings » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:41 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:It seems some people find it quite comforting to rest in the idea that all if not the lions share of spiritual practices point their practitioners to the same truth.
The same truth. It is all warm and fuzzy. The problem is this: A says to B: "All religions are one." B says back to A: "Oh, how nice, but which one?" And that is the problem with what we see above, an intent redefining of one in terms of the other, though it might be attempted, with well meaning sincerity, very subtly and not even necessarily consciously.
>> 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 Prasadachitta » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:It seems some people find it quite comforting to rest in the idea that all if not the lions share of spiritual practices point their practitioners to the same truth.
The same truth. It is all warm and fuzzy. The problem is this: A says to B: "All religions are one." B says back to A: "Oh, how nice, but which one?" And that is the problem with what we see above, an intent redefining of one in terms of the other, though it might be attempted, with well meaning sincerity, very subtly and not even necessarily consciously.
Hi Tilt,

I think I understand your point. However, "All religions are one" and "All religions are meant to lead to the same realization" are two very different statements. I am not so sure of the validity of either statement but the second one seems rather more reasonable. If one dwells in the idea of the efficacy of religious striving without cultivation and discernment at best they will have a vicarious warm fuzzy feeling over the practice of others. This is what seems to occur with some who use the above statements. On the other hand I think some people go at spiritual practice energetically with an intuitive approach which does not settle on any particular tradition. Even if you take it as a given that such people must eventually settle on some form of traditional Dhamma practice to achieve awakening I think you have to admit that they can be very well prepared by such an approach.

Im just writing stuff cuz I find it pleasurable....

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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tiltbillings
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Re: Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:24 am

gabrielbranbury wrote: I think I understand your point. However, "All religions are one" and "All religions are meant to lead to the same realization" are two very different statements.
Not so different that one statement cannot make a point about the other. And that is that some thing ends up getting redefined - that is one religion gets redefined in terms of another, or the goal of one religion gets redefined in terms of another to achieve the goal of warm fuzzyness.
I am not so sure of the validity of either statement but the second one seems rather more reasonable.
Not so much as “more reasonable”; rather, it is easier to do the latter by appealing to a level of vagueness, brushing aside annoying distinctions, that allows one to conflate seeming similarities. Much of what gets called the “perennial philosophy is just that.
If one dwells in the idea of the efficacy of religious striving without cultivation and discernment at best they will have a vicarious warm fuzzy feeling over the practice of others. This is what seems to occur with some who use the above statements. On the other hand I think some people go at spiritual practice energetically with an intuitive approach which does not settle on any particular tradition. Even if you take it as a given that such people must eventually settle on some form of traditional Dhamma practice to achieve awakening I think you have to admit that they can be very well prepared by such an approach.
I have no problem with this statement, except that they are not very prepared to talk about various traditions outside of the warm fuzzyness of a supposed non-duality, and in the process something important is lost.
>> 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 Prasadachitta » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:at.
If one dwells in the idea of the efficacy of religious striving without cultivation and discernment at best they will have a vicarious warm fuzzy feeling over the practice of others. This is what seems to occur with some who use the above statements. On the other hand I think some people go at spiritual practice energetically with an intuitive approach which does not settle on any particular tradition. Even if you take it as a given that such people must eventually settle on some form of traditional Dhamma practice to achieve awakening I think you have to admit that they can be very well prepared by such an approach.
I have no problem with this statement, except that they are not very prepared to talk about various traditions outside of the warm fuzzyness of a supposed non-duality, and in the process something important is lost.
I prefer to think of it as... In the process something important is put off till later.

Thats my own recipe for warm fuzzyness.

and so it goes....


Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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