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Re: [U-Zendo] Form

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  • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
    ... Form is emptiness... Ok, this is probably not what you wanted to read. It is remarkable that the way you formulated your question mirrors pretty well how
    Message 1 of 14 , Aug 19, 2010
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      On Thu, 2010-08-19 at 07:04 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
      >
      > Greetings -
      >
      > Regarding the five skandhas, just what is form?

      Form is emptiness...

      Ok, this is probably not what you wanted to read.

      It is remarkable that the way you formulated your question mirrors
      pretty well how it could be asked in Sanskrit, almost word for word:

      pañcasu skandheṣu, kiṃ nāma rūpam?

      The skandha which we usually call "form" is rūpa in Sanskrit. We call it
      "form" due to accidents of scholarly history. On the basis of overall
      evidence concerning how the word is used in ancient Buddhist texts,
      "matter" would be a more straightforward general translation. Since the
      five skandhas are usually presented as an analysis of what constitutes a
      person, then in this context "form" is the matter which is constitutive
      of an individual, i.e. the body.

      In the dharma,
      Louis
    • Ralph Palmer
      Thank you, Louis. I sort of suspected this on some level, but I m still slightly perplexed. This is coming from the Heart Sutra: Form is not other than
      Message 2 of 14 , Aug 19, 2010
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        Thank you, Louis.

        I  sort of suspected this on some level, but I'm still slightly perplexed. This is coming from the Heart Sutra: "Form is not other than emptiness, and emptiness is  not other than form. . . So are sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness." But if form is matter, it seems to me that, at the very least, sensation is required to identify form. To my western mind, matter is quite different from sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness. Our recognition of form seems dependent on perception. I'll have to look more closely.

        Ralph

        On Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 7:56 AM, Louis-Dominique Dubeau <ldd@...> wrote:
         

        On Thu, 2010-08-19 at 07:04 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
        >
        > Greetings -
        >
        > Regarding the five skandhas, just what is form?

        Form is emptiness...

        Ok, this is probably not what you wanted to read.

        It is remarkable that the way you formulated your question mirrors
        pretty well how it could be asked in Sanskrit, almost word for word:

        pañcasu skandheṣu, kiṃ nāma rūpam?

        The skandha which we usually call "form" is rūpa in Sanskrit. We call it
        "form" due to accidents of scholarly history. On the basis of overall
        evidence concerning how the word is used in ancient Buddhist texts,
        "matter" would be a more straightforward general translation. Since the
        five skandhas are usually presented as an analysis of what constitutes a
        person, then in this context "form" is the matter which is constitutive
        of an individual, i.e. the body.

        In the dharma,
        Louis




        --
        Ralph Palmer
        Montague City, MA
        USA
        palmer.r.violin@...
      • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
        ... You re welcome. ... Let me try something. The heart sutra is a summary of longer sutras which talk about the perfection of wisdom. The summary is pretty
        Message 3 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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          On Thu, 2010-08-19 at 17:48 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
          >
          > Thank you, Louis.

          You're welcome.

          > I sort of suspected this on some level, but I'm still slightly
          > perplexed. This is coming from the Heart Sutra: "Form is not other
          > than emptiness, and emptiness is not other than form. . . So are
          > sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness." But if form is
          > matter, it seems to me that, at the very least, sensation is required
          > to identify form. To my western mind, matter is quite different from
          > sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness. Our recognition of
          > form seems dependent on perception. I'll have to look more closely.

          Let me try something.

          The heart sutra is a summary of longer sutras which talk about the
          perfection of wisdom. The summary is pretty good for someone who has
          been exposed to the whole teaching. It is however more obscure for us
          who come to it without knowing the perfection of wisdom sutras.

          If we unravel the heart of the heart sutra and lay it down as a set of
          formulas, we get something like: "X is not other than emptiness,
          emptiness is not other than X." Even the places where the sutra says "no
          A, no B, no C, no D..." just means "A is not other than emptiness, and
          emptiness is not other than A", "B...", etc. Saying "no X" is just a
          further abbreviation. So unraveling the sutra we get:

          form is not other than emptiness, emptiness not other than form

          sensation is not other than emptiness, emptiness not other than
          sensation

          perception...

          volition...

          consciousness...

          eyes..., ears..., nose..., tongue..., body..., mind...

          [... long list of other elements ...]

          suffering..., origination..., cessation..., noble path... (the 4 noble
          truths!)

          wisdom...

          attainment...

          So it is saying that each and every single thing in this list is not
          other than emptiness; and vice-versa. The list is not random. It is a
          list of elements which in earlier Buddhist philosophy were considered to
          be the basic elements of reality. As basic elements of reality they were
          considered to have some sort of essential feature which makes them what
          they are.

          To take the famous example of the chariot, if you analyze the chariot,
          you will find nothing in the analysis which will compel you to call the
          chariot a chariot. A wheel is not a chariot, an axle is not a chariot,
          etc. The idea of chariot comes about only when the elements are
          assembled. And calling it "chariot" is purely a mental process. That is,
          calling it "chariot" does not entail that there is a corresponding
          "chariot" in the world. In the earlier Buddhist philosophy, the
          temptation was to say that although the chariot is just a label we apply
          to a set of parts, the parts themselves are more than just labels. The
          perfection of wisdom sutras argue that the parts are also just labels.

          When the sutra says that form and so on are not other than emptiness, it
          is saying they are empty, that they do not have any essential feature
          which makes them what they are. That is, they come about only in
          relation to other things.

          Now, it is possible to push the message too far. If we think in a
          mathematical way that form = emptiness and perception = emptiness,
          therefore form = perception, then we've pushed too far. If you send a
          friend to the market for apples, and he comes back with bananas, you'll
          ask him why. If he says apples are empty and bananas too, so it is all
          the same, then he is confused.

          Form is form and perception is perception but they have no substantial
          existence. There is no dotted line we can cut along to separate "form",
          "perception", etc. from the rest of reality.

          In the dharma,
          Louis
        • Lee
          ... Form is not what you _Think_. It does exist as ever changing processes. But our intellect can only capture snapshots of it. As Nagarguna said, Because
          Message 4 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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            On 8/20/10, Louis-Dominique Dubeau <ldd@...> wrote:

            Form is form and perception is perception but they have no substantial
            existence. There is no dotted line we can cut along to separate "form",
            "perception", etc. from the rest of reality.

            Form is not what you _Think_.   It does exist as ever changing processes.   But our intellect can only capture snapshots of it.

            As Nagarguna said, "Because of shunyata, all things are possible."

            --
            Lee Love in Minneapolis
            http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/

            "Ta tIr na n-óg ar chul an tI—tIr dlainn trina chéile"—that is, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." -- John O'Donohue
          • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
            ... Even if the ever-changing process and form are not separate, the ever-changing process cannot be called form. All talk of form is talk about a
            Message 5 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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              On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 09:56 -0500, Lee wrote:

              > Form is not what you _Think_. It does exist as ever changing
              > processes. But our intellect can only capture snapshots of it.

              Even if the ever-changing process and form are not separate, the
              ever-changing process cannot be called "form." All talk of "form" is
              talk about a snapshot.

              In the dharma,
              Louis
            • Lee
              ... Yeah, what you said. What I said. It is all Three Stooges Zen. N yuck, N yuck, N yuck! -- Lee Love in Minneapolis http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/ Ta
              Message 6 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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                On 8/20/10, Louis-Dominique Dubeau <ldd@...> wrote:
                On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 09:56 -0500, Lee wrote:

                > Form is not what you _Think_.   It does exist as ever changing
                > processes.   But our intellect can only capture snapshots of it.


                Even if the ever-changing process and form are not separate, the
                ever-changing process cannot be called "form." All talk of "form" is
                talk about a snapshot.

                Yeah, what you said.  What I said.  It is all Three Stooges Zen.  "N'yuck, N'yuck, N'yuck!"

                --
                Lee Love in Minneapolis
                http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/

                "Ta tIr na n-óg ar chul an tI—tIr dlainn trina chéile"—that is, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." -- John O'Donohue
              • LouAnne Jaeger
                Well said, everyone. While talk about Zen is Three Stooges Zen (love that moniker!), as it says in the Lankavatara Sutra, sometimes you have to use words to
                Message 7 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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                  Well said, everyone.

                  While talk about Zen is "Three Stooges Zen" (love that moniker!), as it says in the Lankavatara Sutra, sometimes you have to use words to get beyond words.

                  The five skandas are very hard to get one's mind around.  The description I found the most helpful was in (again) the Lankavatara Sutra.  The way I understood it is like this:  1) form/object, 2) physical perception of the object 3) mental recognition of the object, 4) ideas that are generated about the object, 5) storage of the information.  I see this almost as a mechanical process that "creates" both the self and the world it perceives, occurring over and over and over, gazillions of times every nano-second.

                  I may be completely wrong, but find it helps me "grok" the form/noform thing.

                  LA
                   


                  On Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 12:21 PM, Lee <togeika@...> wrote:
                   



                  On 8/20/10, Louis-Dominique Dubeau <ldd@...> wrote:
                  On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 09:56 -0500, Lee wrote:

                  > Form is not what you _Think_.   It does exist as ever changing
                  > processes.   But our intellect can only capture snapshots of it.


                  Even if the ever-changing process and form are not separate, the
                  ever-changing process cannot be called "form." All talk of "form" is
                  talk about a snapshot.

                  Yeah, what you said.  What I said.  It is all Three Stooges Zen.  "N'yuck, N'yuck, N'yuck!"


                  --
                  Lee Love in Minneapolis
                  http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/

                  "Ta tIr na n-óg ar chul an tI—tIr dlainn trina chéile"—that is, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." -- John O'Donohue

                • Lee
                  ... You can enter nirvana without words. But you need words in the real world. -- Lee Love in Minneapolis http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/ Ta tIr na n-óg
                  Message 8 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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                    On 8/20/10, LouAnne Jaeger <louannejaeger@...> wrote:


                    Well said, everyone.

                    While talk about Zen is "Three Stooges Zen" (love that moniker!), as it says in the Lankavatara Sutra, sometimes you have to use words to get beyond words.

                       You can enter nirvana without words.  But you need words in the "real" world.
                     

                    --
                    Lee Love in Minneapolis
                    http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/

                    "Ta tIr na n-óg ar chul an tI—tIr dlainn trina chéile"—that is, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." -- John O'Donohue
                  • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
                    ... Indeed. ... LouAnne, you whetted my curiosity. So I searched the translation by Suzuki available here: http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm
                    Message 9 of 14 , Aug 20, 2010
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                      On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 14:02 -0400, LouAnne Jaeger wrote:
                      >
                      > Well said, everyone.
                      >
                      > While talk about Zen is "Three Stooges Zen" (love that moniker!), as
                      > it says in the Lankavatara Sutra, sometimes you have to use words to
                      > get beyond words.

                      Indeed.

                      > The five skandas are very hard to get one's mind around. The
                      > description I found the most helpful was in (again) the Lankavatara
                      > Sutra.

                      LouAnne, you whetted my curiosity. So I searched the translation by
                      Suzuki available here:

                      http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm

                      And was not able to find an explanation of the individual roles of the
                      five skandhas. Which passage were you thinking about?

                      I did however, find this:

                      "Again, Mahamati, by the wise the five Skandhas are regarded as
                      thought-constructions, devoid of [dualisties such as] otherness and
                      not-otherness; for they are like varieties of forms and objects in a
                      vision, like images and persons in a dream. As they have no better
                      substance for their support, and as they obstruct the passage of noble
                      wisdom, there is what is known as the Skandha-discrimination."

                      (This is cut and paste. The word "dualisties" appears as-is.)

                      > The way I understood it is like this: 1) form/object, 2) physical
                      > perception of the object 3) mental recognition of the object, 4) ideas
                      > that are generated about the object, 5) storage of the information. I
                      > see this almost as a mechanical process that "creates" both the self
                      > and the world it perceives, occurring over and over and over,
                      > gazillions of times every nano-second.
                      >
                      > I may be completely wrong, but find it helps me "grok" the form/noform
                      > thing.

                      This is in line with most explanations of the skandhas I've encountered.
                      I would add that number 4 (often called "mental formations") should be
                      understood to have an element of intentionality.

                      In the dharma,
                      Louis
                    • LouAnne Jaeger
                      Oh, now you re gong to make me work! I ll look it up and post again. Sent from my iPhone
                      Message 10 of 14 , Aug 21, 2010
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                        Oh, now you're gong to make me work! I'll look it up and post again.

                        Sent from my iPhone

                        On Aug 20, 2010, at 7:56 PM, Louis-Dominique Dubeau <ldd@...> wrote:

                         

                        On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 14:02 -0400, LouAnne Jaeger wrote:
                        >
                        > Well said, everyone.
                        >
                        > While talk about Zen is "Three Stooges Zen" (love that moniker!), as
                        > it says in the Lankavatara Sutra, sometimes you have to use words to
                        > get beyond words.

                        Indeed.

                        > The five skandas are very hard to get one's mind around. The
                        > description I found the most helpful was in (again) the Lankavatara
                        > Sutra.

                        LouAnne, you whetted my curiosity. So I searched the translation by
                        Suzuki available here:

                        http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm

                        And was not able to find an explanation of the individual roles of the
                        five skandhas. Which passage were you thinking about?

                        I did however, find this:

                        "Again, Mahamati, by the wise the five Skandhas are regarded as
                        thought-constructions, devoid of [dualisties such as] otherness and
                        not-otherness; for they are like varieties of forms and objects in a
                        vision, like images and persons in a dream. As they have no better
                        substance for their support, and as they obstruct the passage of noble
                        wisdom, there is what is known as the Skandha-discrimination."

                        (This is cut and paste. The word "dualisties" appears as-is.)

                        > The way I understood it is like this: 1) form/object, 2) physical
                        > perception of the object 3) mental recognition of the object, 4) ideas
                        > that are generated about the object, 5) storage of the information. I
                        > see this almost as a mechanical process that "creates" both the self
                        > and the world it perceives, occurring over and over and over,
                        > gazillions of times every nano-second.
                        >
                        > I may be completely wrong, but find it helps me "grok" the form/noform
                        > thing.

                        This is in line with most explanations of the skandhas I've encountered.
                        I would add that number 4 (often called "mental formations") should be
                        understood to have an element of intentionality.

                        In the dharma,
                        Louis

                      • Ralph Palmer
                        Greetings - In the Heart Sutra (mahaprajnaparamita hridaya sutra), what is meant by form ? I m grateful for your time and attention, Ralph -- Ralph Palmer
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jun 10, 2011
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                          Greetings -

                          In the Heart Sutra (mahaprajnaparamita hridaya sutra), what is meant by "form"?

                          I'm grateful for your time and attention,

                          Ralph

                          --
                          Ralph Palmer
                          Montague City, MA
                          USA
                          palmer.r.violin@...
                        • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
                          ... Every time you ve fallen on the ground, you ve been quite aware of form. Generally speaking, form is what is called rūpa in Sanskrit, 色 in Chinese,
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jun 10, 2011
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                            On Fri, 2011-06-10 at 06:59 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
                            >
                            > Greetings -
                            >
                            > In the Heart Sutra (mahaprajnaparamita hridaya sutra), what is meant
                            > by "form"?

                            Every time you've fallen on the ground, you've been quite aware of form.

                            Generally speaking, "form" is what is called rūpa in Sanskrit, 色 in
                            Chinese, gzugs in Tibetan. It does not always mean the same thing in all
                            contexts. In the context of the Heart Sutra, the clue which tells us
                            what form means is this sentence (quoted from the English translation
                            used by the Kwan Um School):

                            "The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness."

                            It comes right after the passage relating form to emptiness and extends
                            the relation to four other elements. Taking these together with form, we
                            have a list of five things:

                            form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness

                            These are the five aggregates (the skandhas). The basic role of the
                            aggregates in the discourses of the Buddha is as an explanation of what
                            people think of as a self. The five aggregates are used to know that
                            there is no such thing as a unitary entity which could serve as the
                            self. What we call "self" really is the cooperation of the five
                            aggregates. The five aggregates are supposed to provide a complete
                            explanation. So there has to be something to account for the impressions
                            "I am my body. This arm is me." etc This is the role played by form: it
                            refers to the matter, the stuff, which makes up an individual.

                            I hope this is helpful. If you have more questions, please ask.

                            Sincerely,
                            Louis
                          • petasz
                            forms come from mind but if you could fly they are different ... -- ===== http://www.zulawy.art.pl
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jul 3, 2011
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                              forms come from mind but if you could fly they are different



                              On Fri, 10 Jun 2011 06:59:02 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
                              > Greetings -
                              >
                              > In the Heart Sutra (mahaprajnaparamita hridaya sutra), what is meant
                              > by "form"?
                              >
                              > Im grateful for your time and attention,
                              >
                              > Ralph
                              >
                              > --
                              > Ralph Palmer
                              > Montague City, MA
                              > USA
                              > palmer.r.violin@... [1]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > Links:
                              > ------
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