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HIGHLIGHTS of Friday April 21

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  • Gloria Lee
    Continuation of incredible discussion between Dan and Greg, one of the finest ever to appear on NDS. ... Hey Dan-ji, Writing this, I ve got a cup of capuchino
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21 9:02 PM
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      Continuation of incredible discussion between Dan and Greg, one of the finest
      ever to appear on NDS.

      >Hi Gregji --
      >Footnotes, too! Thanks, indeed.
      >You're right, I do question views often,
      > see reality as no-thingness, and
      > hence enjoy Buddhism. So I'm questioning
      > the M. view - why not... and that's the main
      > reason for using a silly term like "selfness".
      > I could say "x-ness" and it would be the same.
      >
      >You went further than me by using words like
      > "nonsensical". I don't see M. as nonsensical,
      > except maybe in the way that G-d is nonsensical.
      > I see M. as not resolving the issue of selfness.
      > I do see the point of M.
      > The way you explained it, it seems to me
      > there is 'selfness' evident
      > in the very use of M. to 'release' attachment.
      > If no selfness, why would it be devised and used,
      > and how would be ascertained the situation and
      > way to use it, and for whose sake?

      Hey Dan-ji,

      Writing this, I've got a cup of capuchino by my side.

      In Madhyamika, everything is empty of inherent existence. Even emptiness
      is empty of inherent existence. There is no inherently existing self
      anywhere. There are ideas and notions and feelings that seem to imply an
      inherently existing self, but these are empty of inherent existence.
      Everything that exists has conventional or dependent existence. For M.,
      this includes people, books, computers, religions, Buddhas, enlightened
      beings, Bodhisattvas and their 10 levels, monks, lamas and llamas, the
      yearning for liberation, the fear of emptiness, etc.

      M's task is a conventional task : save all beings. Emptiness, along with
      Madhyamika, is conventional. In this conventional sense, M. is for the
      sake of these beings. The method of M is also conventional. If there were
      a true, inherently existent self, say an inherently existing non-liberated
      self, then this being could never be saved. Part of its non-dependent,
      inherently existing nature would be as an non-liberated being. If it
      exists as an inherently existing, non-liberated being, then nothing can
      touch that being to liberate it. Therefore, only dependently existing
      beings can be liberated. The dependency in question a responsiveness to
      causes and conditions. Inherent existence would be totally independent of
      causes and conditions, as well as consciousness.

      So, the philosophy of emptiness and dependent arising (one philosophy of
      which is M), as well as our discussion here about these things, are all
      conventionally existing things. Now, it is conventionally true according
      to M. that most beings see themselves and the world as though these things
      had inherent existence. M's idea is that this feeling of inherent
      existence is a very common thing, and the root of suffering. To see the
      emptiness of all phenomena is the (conventional) goal of M.

      > In questioning the opposition of 'this'
      > to 'that' and pointing to 'mutual arising
      > of this and that', the
      > questioning/pointing itself is the selfness that isn't
      > 'this' or 'that'. Itself is the meaning that doesn't
      > depend on meaning, the reality that doesn't depend
      > on any other. That's why it was able
      > to raise the question of attachment to meaning (selfness)
      > in the first place! Its very questioning presents
      > that which is the object of the questioning.
      > It's a no-self self, not merely no-self.

      If you can see the *questioning* as no-self, then what's wrong with *M's*
      no-self??

      > If I am the basis of meaning and no-meaning,
      > then my attachment to meaning is absurdity itself.

      If? I'm not sure about this theory of meaning, it sounds vaguely advaitic.
      Looking at M on its own terms, M holds that meaning arises in interaction
      among people, meaning is conventional in the socio-linguistic sense. M
      doesn't push meaning back to an "I".

      > There is no opponent for it -- the thorn isn't
      > needing to be removed; in fact, the thorn is the reason
      > the questioning can take place, the opportunity
      > to 'show itself to itself' as questioning/pointing.
      > My suggestion: let's enjoy the
      > situation as is, as it reveals 'selfness' whether
      > in the form of Buddhism, or any other
      > form of pointing/questioning that seems relevant
      > and attentive to deep biases/assumptions.


      Enjoy I do!! What do you mean by selfness?

      Love,

      --Greg
      ______________________________________________


      >Hey Dan-ji,
      >
      >Writing this, I've got a cup of capuchino by my side.

      Hi, Gregji -
      it's a cup of tea here.

      >In Madhyamika, everything is empty of inherent existence. Even emptiness
      >is empty of inherent existence. There is no inherently existing self
      >anywhere. There are ideas and notions and feelings that seem to imply an
      >inherently existing self, but these are empty of inherent existence.
      >Everything that exists has conventional or dependent existence. For M.,
      >this includes people, books, computers, religions, Buddhas, enlightened
      >beings, Bodhisattvas and their 10 levels, monks, lamas and llamas, the
      >yearning for liberation, the fear of emptiness, etc.
      >
      >M's task is a conventional task : save all beings. Emptiness, along with
      >Madhyamika, is conventional. In this conventional sense, M. is for the
      >sake of these beings. The method of M is also conventional. If there were
      >a true, inherently existent self, say an inherently existing non-liberated
      >self, then this being could never be saved. Part of its non-dependent,
      >inherently existing nature would be as an non-liberated being. If it
      >exists as an inherently existing, non-liberated being, then nothing can
      >touch that being to liberate it. Therefore, only dependently existing
      >beings can be liberated. The dependency in question a responsiveness to
      >causes and conditions. Inherent existence would be totally independent of
      >causes and conditions, as well as consciousness.

      D: Yes. This all seems valid. The question is
      without selfness how can there be a position
      from which to make this observation?
      I know that selfness can't be stated
      accurately in words, only metaphorically.
      However, what I'm questioning here is whether simply
      making no statement whatsoever is all that helpful,
      once it is seen that all statements are relative,
      subject to variable interpretation, etc. With
      no statement whatsoever about selfness, we are left
      with a gap concerning how anything appears to
      arise in the first place. How is
      any comparison ever made that gives even the illusion
      of appearance? Selfness is the so-called 'numinosity'
      of being unknowness itself. The reason I'm making this
      point is because it seems much *more* than simply
      "no inherent selfhood, identity, or entity-hood".
      It's all meaning, all life, the basis of all experience.

      >So, the philosophy of emptiness and dependent arising (one philosophy of
      >which is M), as well as our discussion here about these things, are all
      >conventionally existing things. Now, it is conventionally true according
      >to M. that most beings see themselves and the world as though these things
      >had inherent existence. M's idea is that this feeling of inherent
      >existence is a very common thing, and the root of suffering. To see the
      >emptiness of all phenomena is the (conventional) goal of M.
      >
      >> In questioning the opposition of 'this'
      >> to 'that' and pointing to 'mutual arising
      >> of this and that', the
      >> questioning/pointing itself is the selfness that isn't
      >> 'this' or 'that'. Itself is the meaning that doesn't
      >> depend on meaning, the reality that doesn't depend
      >> on any other. That's why it was able
      >> to raise the question of attachment to meaning (selfness)
      >> in the first place! Its very questioning presents
      >> that which is the object of the questioning.
      >> It's a no-self self, not merely no-self.
      >
      >If you can see the *questioning* as no-self, then what's wrong with *M's*
      >no-self??

      D: I never said anything was wrong with it.
      It's just that without the "self" of a no-self self,
      there's no way to explain how tendencies,
      memories, associations are "carried",
      how perception is experienced as meaningful.
      That there is no entity, no separate inherent
      being, no structure for identification
      makes sense.
      But how is this declaration being understood?
      The very making of the declaration, the idea
      that there is meaning in relieving suffering,
      the very understanding (or even moreso the
      awareness of a no-understanding beyond
      understanding), reflects "selfness", something
      beyond negating everything that can be negated.

      >> If I am the basis of meaning and no-meaning,
      >> then my attachment to meaning is absurdity itself.
      >
      >If? I'm not sure about this theory of meaning, it sounds vaguely advaitic.
      > Looking at M on its own terms, M holds that meaning arises in interaction
      >among people, meaning is conventional in the socio-linguistic sense. M
      >doesn't push meaning back to an "I".

      O.K. But these observations made by M. From what
      "place" are these observations being made?
      From "where" are these statements being
      understood? For me, this "place" can be
      called "selfness" or "x-ness" -- it's
      more than just taking away. Saying 'no self'
      simply negates statements made that aren't
      ultimately real. This via negativa takes away
      something erroneously supposed to be there.
      When that is taken away, there is some kind of
      'realization'. I'm saying
      that there is 'selfness' implied all along - in the
      taking away, in the recognition of something that
      can be deconstructed, in 'experiential realization'
      and 'realization beyond experience'.
      By the way, do you differentiate these last two, Greg?

      Although there may be no good
      word for "it" -- "selfness" seems good enough. I find
      that Buddhism, as wonderful as it is, sometimes
      seems limited by
      a kind of "attachment to nonattachment" - to an adherence
      to a way of negation.

      >> There is no opponent for it -- the thorn isn't
      >> needing to be removed; in fact, the thorn is the reason
      >> the questioning can take place, the opportunity
      >> to 'show itself to itself' as questioning/pointing.
      >> My suggestion: let's enjoy the
      >> situation as is, as it reveals 'selfness' whether
      >> in the form of Buddhism, or any other
      >> form of pointing/questioning that seems relevant
      >> and attentive to deep biases/assumptions.
      >
      >
      >Enjoy I do!! What do you mean by selfness?

      The meaning of selfness is the meaning of all meanings.
      There is meaning to Buddhism, that is why texts
      are preserved, debates occur, lineages form,
      monastaries are formed, etc. Although ultimate meaning
      per se is negated by the radical relativism taught
      by the Buddha, there is a meaning to that very teaching,
      i.e., the relief of suffering. So there is "selfness"
      in that meaning, in the awareness of suffering as
      something to be addressed. It is meaningful to
      eliminate attachments to one-sided meanings. Thus,
      "behind" the whole project is a non-one-sided Meaning.
      Not an existing or non-existing Meaning, to be sure,
      but not simply no-independent-selfness, which is
      simply a negation of a tendency to one-sided
      interpretation. The negation of attachment, of
      one-sided interpretation is for the sake of: what?
      Multidimensional or Omnidimensional Meaning itself, i.e.,
      "selfness". Ken Wilber made
      a big point of differentiating prepersonal, personal,
      and transpersonal 'levels' of experience. Although
      I have some major difficulties with Wilber's scheme
      of reality, there is validity to this differentiation.
      A way that I can understand it is in terms of
      a prepersonal oneness that is a kind of fusion of meaning
      into an undifferentiated beingness
      and an ultimate oneness beyond beginning or end,
      that is infinitely 'differentiatible' without
      in any way negating its nonsplitness. Thus,
      there is 'selfness' here: an ability to grow, to
      evolve, along with a nonevolving Totality as
      presentness. There is time and eternity simultaneously.

      I think the best way to explain what I mean is to
      go back to the flame analogy. The flame isn't the
      same instant to instant, nor is it totally different.
      How is this known? It can only be known as a knowing
      of knowing itself. Knowing can know its
      own process/non-process reality. This is where
      it "sees" no inherent self. How would such
      knowing be possible if there weren't a transcendent
      truth simultaneously beyond/within/as the relative
      situation?
      'No inherent selfness' isn't enough because it doesn't
      explain how this 'no inherent selfness' is observed,
      from what vantage point, how suffering is being
      understood as suffering, and
      *paricularly* how suffering is 'carried'.

      Sorry for bringing up so much at once.
      It's probably too much to address in this forum.
      But I would like to address this one thing -
      how can suffering be 'carried' (and it's
      clearly addressed as being 'carried' in
      Buddhism - which aims at releasing the carrying
      process) if there is no self whatsoever?
      This is where the flaw in Buddhist 'logic' is,
      from my perspective. Selfness is the "realization"
      or "knowing as unknowable, the no-static-self Self" who
      is the One who has 'carried' suffering, unmindful
      of the lack of suffering in the original nature
      of 'selfness'.

      That's the best I can do at
      the moment ;-)

      Love,
      Dan
      __________________________________________________

      Hi Dan-ji,

      Switching to tea myself now, 6:21pm.


      >D: Yes. This all seems valid. The question is
      > without selfness how can there be a position
      > from which to make this observation?

      The position itself is conventional, so it would be based on scriptures,
      sutras, Nagarjuna's work, the dialectics of Madhyamika, etc. M. doesn't
      purport to speak from an absolute postion, in fact says that to do so would
      be impossible.


      > I know that selfness can't be stated
      > accurately in words, only metaphorically.
      > However, what I'm questioning here is whether simply
      > making no statement whatsoever is all that helpful,
      > once it is seen that all statements are relative,
      > subject to variable interpretation, etc.

      The statements are helpful if the listener is attached to a notion of
      inherent self. The attachment, which is conventional only, and lacking of
      an inherent self, might become dislodged by hearing the Dharma, which is
      also conventional only.

      > With
      > no statement whatsoever about selfness, we are left
      > with a gap concerning how anything appears to
      > arise in the first place. How is
      > any comparison ever made that gives even the illusion
      > of appearance?

      For Buddhism, arisings/appearances are in a beginningless chain of causally
      and cognitively-interrelated appearances. This is where the metaphor of
      Indra's net of jewels is used, from the Avatamsaka Sutra. No entity with
      inherent existence, rather each entity consists of nothing other than
      relations with all other "entities."

      >D: I never said anything was wrong with it.
      > It's just that without the "self" of a no-self self,
      > there's no way to explain how tendencies,
      > memories, associations are "carried",
      > how perception is experienced as meaningful.
      > That there is no entity, no separate inherent
      > being, no structure for identification
      > makes sense.
      > But how is this declaration being understood?
      > The very making of the declaration, the idea
      > that there is meaning in relieving suffering,
      > the very understanding (or even moreso the
      > awareness of a no-understanding beyond
      > understanding), reflects "selfness", something
      > beyond negating everything that can be negated.

      Thank you for filling in your notion of self-ness. It is a very deep
      difference from the way Buddhism sees things. I'm speaking here mostly of
      Madhyamika, whose dialectics I'm more familiar with. Dzogchen and
      Mind-Only say different things, more like what you're saying. M says that
      an inherent self would make meaning and understanding impossible. An
      inherent self would be an entity or nature that is:

      -totally independent of cognition of it
      -totally independent of all causes and conditions
      -totally independent of all qualities, characteristics and attributes

      How is that entailed by any declaration as you point out above? How is
      that entailed by the meaning of suffering? How could any such entity be
      known? How could it know anything? How could it suffer? How could it
      experience or be experienced? How could everything that supposedly has a
      self have one of those independent entities?

      >The meaning of selfness is the meaning of all meanings.
      > There is meaning to Buddhism, that is why texts
      > are preserved, debates occur, lineages form,
      > monastaries are formed, etc.

      This makes sense. Among the debates is the age-old debate between Advaita
      and Buddhism, monasteries, ashrams, texts, teachers, teachings, etc. Self
      vs. no-self. One-and-not-two vs. not-two/not-One. Sat-chit-ananda vs.
      emptiness of inherent existence. We've spoken about this before on this
      list or Harshasatsangh a few months ago, remember Dan-ji? Much of the
      difference between these two approaches boils down to temperament. Among
      those folks who hear about both these approaches, most peoples'
      constitutions are made up such that one of these approaches resonates more
      than the other, regardless of the logic.

      > Sorry for bringing up so much at once.
      > It's probably too much to address in this forum.
      > But I would like to address this one thing -
      > how can suffering be 'carried' (and it's
      > clearly addressed as being 'carried' in
      > Buddhism - which aims at releasing the carrying
      > process) if there is no self whatsoever?

      Although most Buddhism has no inherent or absolute self, it does speak of a
      conventional self, made up of the 5 aggregates (form, no sensation,
      perception, discrimination, consciousness). It is a bundle of these
      aggregates which is said to carry the suffering, and which desires
      liberation. In Buddhism, it is said even to carry the suffering between
      lives. (Like the Dalai Lama says, "What transmigrates is neuroses.")
      Since this bundle can grow and change and respond to causes and conditions,
      it can suffer at one time and gain liberation at a later time.

      Imagine the alternative. An inherently existing self. Independent of
      subject/object, independent of causes and conditions, independent of
      whole/part/taxononomy. How would the inherently existing self ever carry
      suffering? How would it ever gain release from suffering?

      That's all for now. To come down to earth on this a bit - I like both ways
      of speaking about this stuff, Advaita and Madhyamika, both non-dualism and
      emptiness/dependent arising, both One and not-One. I think that for people
      who come to this stuff as adults or who were not raised with it,
      non-dualism is easier to understand even intellectually, and is a much more
      pleasant approach. In the Madhyamika of Nagarjuna and Tsong-Khapa's
      school, there are lots and lots of warnings to the teachers about the
      scariness of emptiness teachings, and injunctions not to expose the student
      to these teachings "unless tears come to the student's eyes at the very
      mention of the word 'emptiness'." But I'd also say that the Madhyamika
      metaphysic is a sharper and clearer dialectic. And for the intellectually
      inclined, it might be an effective tool to rid the aspirant of grasping
      onto a rarified and subtle consciousness/witness state.

      Perhaps we could continue this offline if we'd like to go into it some
      more. I don't what to wear out NDS readers' Delete keys!!!

      With you in coffee and tea,

      Love,

      --Greg
      _______________________________________________
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