The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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A Sun That Never Sets
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Within self-emergent primordial gnosis,
there are no objects to be experienced,
There is nothing which has previously passed away,
Nor anything which will subsequently emerge,
Nor anything at all which currently appears.
There is no karma,
There are no latent karmic propensities,
There is no dimmed awareness,
There is no mind,
There is no psyche,
There is no insight,
There is no cyclic existence,
And there is no transcendence of misery -
It is not the case that even awareness itself exists.
There is nothing whatsoever which manifests within primordial gnosis.
- excerpt from The Tantra Of The Wordless Secret
(Absence Of Letters | yi ge med pa) or (Letterless Tantra | yi ge med pa'i rgyud)
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,'--in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,'--in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease....
- Opening lines of The Dhammapada
When you look upward into the space of the sky outside yourself,
if there are no thoughts occurring that are emanations being
projected, and when you look inward at your own mind inside yourself,
if there exists no projectionist who projects thoughts by thinking
them, then your own subtle mind will become lucidly clear without
anything being projected. Since the clear light of your own intrinsic awareness is empty, it is the Dharmakāya; and this is like the sun
rising in a cloudless illuminated sky. Even though (this light cannot
be said) to posses a particular shape or form, nevertheless, it can be
fully known. The meaning of this, whether or not it is understood, is
It's completely natural to be confused but that's good you find it fascinating! Some would say your fascination signifies that you're karmically predisposed to this knowledge and are ready for it. All of it is undoubtably diametrically opposed to, and surely contrasts how we normally view things but that is the point. How we normally view things is due to ignorance or avidyā, which is predicated on habitual patterns and tendencies to reify a dualistic schematic of subject-object. This dichotomy is unreal apart from it's illusory nature, it has conventional value but apart from being a convention it is a fallacy.
duckfiasco wrote:There is an absolute truth (suchness), and we continue to perceive it on relative terms (subject-object) because we latch onto our aggregates as something wholly separate and unique. Ignorant of the existence of this process, we see exclusively our version of things, believing we have no part in creating what we perceive. There may be hints of what the actual thing or experience is if we try to average out many relative experiences. This may even be what science tries to do.
Being able to experience reality in it's suchness is the doorway to liberation, although labeling suchness as an absolute truth in-and-of-itself would ultimately be a misnomer. Suchness is a quality of what-is and is an extremely important pointer, but in this teaching and on one's path to posit any type of absolute truth can be dangerous, I would advise that it'd be beneficial to hold any conviction of absolute truth very lightly. We have to use labels and words to communicate, but ultimately any label, idea, concept etc.. is going to be a projection. This goes for aggregates as well, aggregates is useful in seeing that "things" and experience itself are product of constituent parts but again, to hold this as a truth is only going to serve as a block.
"Just as the Buddhas have spoken of
"I" and "mine" for a practical purpose;
Likewise they spoke too of "aggregates",
"Elements" and "sense-fields" for a practical reasons.
Such things spoken of as the "great elements",
These are fully absorbed into consciousness;
Since they are dissolved by understanding them,
Are they not falsely imputed?"
- Nagarjuna: excerpt from his 60 Stanzas
So seeing that "we see exclusively our version of things, believing we have no part in creating what we perceive" is also important insight to gain because it starts to disarm the notion of taking our perceptions as king. We start to see the relativity of any opinions, beliefs and ideas we hold onto about 'things' and this is a step in the right direction because it allows us to unlatch from our projections in that way. This unlatching starts to bring projections from a level of subconscious imputation paraded as inherent truth, to a new level of 'conscious knowing' that our ideas are merely implementations of conventional language for communication purposes. But this is the catch; this realization of relativity in our notions and ideas is absolutely necessary, but if it's left here then one remains in avidyā. This is because to conceive that it's possible to identify "hints of what the actual thing or experience is if we try to average out many relative experiences" is assuming that there is a 'actual thing' 'out there'. This definitely is what science tries to do, although newer schools of thought such as quantum physics and such are starting to deviate from the old paradigm, the old paradigm still subtly reigns supreme in dominating understanding. That Dimitri Halley guy touches on this in one of those other videos where one of C.G. Jung's successors is being interviewed and is explaining something in the context of comparing something psychologically to known science, with the reigning scientific paradigm being used as the fundamental inescapable absolute truth to make the comparison against... making a comment such as (and I paraphrase) "mythology is always present, that's like asking 'is matter always present in todays world?' and the answer is of course, yes" to which Dimitri replies(again paraphrased) "there is no matter, that is the illusion". (Mind you I'm not continually going to or quoting this Dimitri guy as some kind of great guru who has all these answers or anything. It just naturally fit the conversation at hand.) But it is inescapably true; this is the scientific process this day in age, and is considered the scientific process. To gain the 'true' knowledge of some 'thing' by using experimentation or deductive reasoning etc... and as I said they're getting closer and closer, but the duality of the 'thing' in question, being an object, will have to be removed before the reality of experience can shine in it's true form. And sadly this cannot be done if it is continually approached from a dualistic perspective, because the dualistic perspective becomes the confines that the experiment dwells within. Reality mirrors how it is perceived, if you perceive it as something separate it is that way, and if you can get to the point where this perception is realized to be projection and it is discarded, then reality will reflect that knowledge. Experience has plasticity in this way, your projections shape and define it, it doesn't define and shape your projections(but of course it does shape you in a fundamental way, you being a projection yourself, and a natural formation or expression of it).
The point being that there is no 'thing' beyond the projection of a 'thing'. There is no way to know something in it's true form apart from your projections about it. There are no hints of the actual state of affairs or the thing in it's actuality. The 'thing' cannot be known apart from your knowledge of it, and the thing is in fact your knowledge itself and inseparable from that-which-you-are. To put it another way, as you stare at this computer screen, you feel as if when you get up and walk away from this computer it is somehow still existing 'over-there' or 'in the other room' or something of that sort, but what needs to be fundamentally understood is that the 'thing'(computer screen) is the experiencing of it. The computer screen IS the visual seeing of it, and the tactile touch sensation of it(I have to again clumsily say 'of it' as if there's something the vision or touch is objectively contacting). The computer screen IS vision, the computer keyboard IS touch. And you ARE the vision, you ARE the touch. Merge with the senses, the subject and the object coalesce to create a continuum, this is your true state. But this must be actualized experientially, apart from intellectual understanding.
Language is naturally dualistic so it's impossible for it to accurately describe that which is being discussed. But to clear up your two messages in a way that points somewhat closely; Experience appears to happen, however there's no experiencer and nothing which is experienced. However the absence of self/phenomena cannot be believed, because the self is reborn in the belief, as that which believes or disbelieves. The experience of a thing is a projection, there is no 'thing itself'(even apart from sensory perception like noumena). So there are no 'things' or objects anywhere in experience(of course there is conventionally). But if this is left on the level of belief then it's a rebirth of the same exact ignorance. A notion of absence is just as imputed as the original notion of appearance. A subject-object split of any nature is a projection of ignorance. Thought creates all separation, the problem is that thoughts are believed, and it's believed that thoughts are merely commenting on a 'thing' which inherently exists apart from the thought. But in truth the thought creates the 'thing'. The thought implies a thinker and that which is thought of. Thought and memory create time, space, everything. If you can start to view thought in it's suchness, as merely a sound, that points to nothing and self-liberates the moment it appears, and then eventually see that there's no one who views the thought but that it is self-originated... and it continues to collapse in from there with a few other possible steps until it's only emptiness.
Change is an imputed projection. Its a useful convention but experience is always in the immediacy. Observation and processes of observation are also imputed, a process would require time, point of origin, end point, etc.. And observation as an act itself would require an observer and something observed.
The aggregates are also imputed as mentioned above, as well as observations... the cause for the removal of ignorance is described in different ways, and realization itself varies among the different vehicles. Realization in Theravada isn't to the same extent as mahamudra or dzogchen. Each tradition has it's own nomenclature as well. On the ultimate platform nothing ever happens, there is no change, no samsara, no nirvana etc.. But that is a little extreme for this discussion. I guess you could say 'that-which-is' suddenly becomes aware of itself, although that isn't exactly accurate either. The metaphor of the sun being obscured by the clouds is good too like Greg mentioned, the sun is ever-present and ever-shining and only seemed to be absent or difficult to see due to the cloud cover. The Dharma is the means to remove these clouds.
Externality and constituent particles are imputations as well, at no point during the experience of a fire hydrant does the experience itself claim to be external. And in direct experience constituent particles are never experienced either (unless under a microscope, but that experience would not be the same as looking at the fire hydrant on the street, one only infers that it's the same via imputation).
It's direct experience that is the key point, every moment is fresh and brand new, as if it's the first moment that ever existed... we only form a causal chain of happenings and time via imputation of memory which is also always ever fresh and brand new. Also, experience never suggests that impressions exist inside a persons mind, this is also imputed. In your direct experience the 'sound' of a thought and the 'sound' of someone speaking are the same and occupy the same space, neither are internal or external.
Mind is also never experienced, the seeming appearance of a consecutive number of thoughts in a sequence of time makes it seem as if there is an entity called the mind, there is no mind, only thoughts, and thoughts lack a thinker. Physicality is also never experienced, we only accept a story of the physical and impute this onto experience, for instance when you touch something, you believe a story that 'you' are 'touching' a 'thing'... the actual experience is only one sensation.. just a single tactile sensation.
You can play a game with this by touching something and rubbing it lightly, if you shift attention to the object then the sensation becomes the touching and feeling of the object, if you shift attention to your finger the sensation becomes the feeling in your finger, there is only one touch sensation, the shifting of attention and intention creates the nature of the sensation via imputation. Or another one; if you rub your thumb and pointer finger together, shifting attention to the thumb it's your thumb doing the touching, shift your attention to your pointer finger and it's your pointer finger doing the touching, in truth neither are touching, a tactile sensation simply appears in awareness, and the sensation is in fact awareness itself.
The impressions themselves dictate external and internal, self and objects, apart from the impression none of these can be found, experience is whole and beyond any designations.
Everything is imputed. No thing exists apart from imputation.
The constituent particles are experienced? So prior to the day you went to school and/or read a book which informed you of particles and atoms and what-have-you, you knew 'things' were constructed of particles? My 3 year old certainly doesn't know of particles, if I asked him what a table was made out of he'd say "I dunno"... maybe once he goes to kindergarten he'll reply with "it's made of wood"... and someday down the line he'll say "it's made of particles". These are learned ideas, they are not inherent in experience. You presently do not see particles, you only know they are present at a subatomic level and therefore that knowledge governs your perception. Presently all 'you see' is shades of color and shapes (which bordering colors imply), that is all vision consists of. Kinesthetically you feel sensation attributed to muscle contractions, you feel tactile sensations when you touch things... soft... hard.. rough... smooth.. hot.. cold. Do the colors, shapes, kinesthetic feelings and tactile sensations communicate that particles are present? No. Your present experience consists ONLY of colors, shapes, feeling, auditory noise etc.. Now this is the kicker; there are not 2 separate parts to vision (1. the act of seeing and 2. objects seen), visual objects ARE the colors and shapes.... and colors and shapes ARE vision. There isn't "seeing" and "objects which are seen", the objects are the seeing. Colors and shape implies seeing, you never, ever, ever at any time experience unseen colors or shapes... they are one process... one appearance. The 'external' field of objects IS vision and is therefore your own display. You are looking at your own state. Awareness reflecting itself to itself in it's totality... timelessly. It is an ocean of being. Tactile sensations are the same way... not 2 processes, the touching of the object IS the object, the singular kinesthetic sensation of the objects weight IS the objects weight, and there is no object apart from these sensual appearances... again it is your own display. And we already discovered that there is no "you" for the display to belong to... so it is timeless awareness or consciousness... wisdom... whatever you want to name it.. in-and-of-itself. Same goes for hearing, same goes for taste, every single aspect of experience without fail is your own display... know this thoroughly, know it innately... divorced from intellect, be it, and be free.
There are no constituent movements of mind. The 'mind' is ONLY the apparent movement. There is no mind apart from thought, and thought itself conceptualizes a compartment or container called 'the mind' to belong to. Likewise there is no thought apart from awareness/consciousness... thought IS awareness, thought IS consciousness. Nothing appears to consciousness, consciousness IS these appearances... and there are no appearances, only consciousness. Consciousness alone IS. Lucid and clear, unobstructed and pure timeless nondual perfection.
Don't believe any of what I'm saying just look at your present experience, investigate empirically... it is self-evident and undeniable.
There are no physical and mental ultimates. There never was a beginning in the ultimate sense. Physical, mental, beginning and notion of eventual end, were seemingly born with the first imputation of selfhood. These notions have merely become so subconsciously engrained into you through incessant reification of duality that to conceive experience to be any other way seems absurd and counterintuitive. The marker and identifier is your own intimate state, the compelling notion that there is a marker or identifier on the side of the object is your own radiance, you are it. Your being is the unparalleled birthless and deathless principle which saturates what-is.
It seems utterly impossible, but disavow the reigning paradigm you champion and it's there to see, you just have to know how to look. There is no external or internal, these notions are based on identification with 'the body' as it is, the bordering line between "internal" and "external" is imputed as the surface of the skin. You are not the body or in the body, the body is in you, as you, and "you" is a concept, which is a thought, which is a sound, which is awareness, which is self-liberated the very moment it appears to itself in this primordial non-arising.
Why are you afraid of giving up the object? In my opinion you're holding onto a few presuppositions about the nature of experience that are poisoning the well in a sense. You're insisting that consciousness acts as a flashlight in that when it shines on an object, the object is experienced but when it isn't shining on the object the object is still there but somehow off screen or something. So you're saying that there are substantiated physical objects made of particles that exist separately from awareness?
I'm not sure what to say it sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it too, I'm afraid you're setting up barriers for yourself. There are far too many dualities in the schematic you're proposing to navigate to the place you want to be. Everything I mentioned above; the "straight up sautrantika" stuff will successfully dismiss actual physical and mental ultimates if they're applied to ones experience beyond the intellect.
Because if the root of emptiness is essentially the dismissal of markers and identifiers (as you said), you'll obviously have to dismiss the markers and identifiers to establish emptiness. I mean, right off the bat; objects are dependently originated, on so many levels it's ridiculous. Everything is empty.. including emptiness itself, and emptiness teachings are undoubtably a process of giving up the ghosts that plague one's perception. We're talking about inherent existence versus conventional appearance.
So you can dismiss objects' inherent existence and still know they have conventional existences. It's not as if 'poof' the objects will disappear, you're just not going to take them a seriously as you would, you'll know they're empty. If you want to take it further there are ways to fuse experience into it's natural state of timeless awareness, that will actually destroy physicality experientially, but that isn't achieved via intellectual understanding (except on rare occasions perhaps). These are all processes to remove ignorance. It is our own ignorance that makes the world and objects seem real.
Why do you feel it's dangerous to claim the "mental aspect" is all there is? Whether it's all that is, is truly ultimately irrelevant, it's all conjecture. It's the classic phenomena vs. Noumena argument. If such a noumena does exist there is still no way to ever "know" it. What is experienced directly is what-is. There is no objective physical form and subjective mental representation(of said objective physical form). These are simply imputations. If these imputations continue to govern ones perception then they remain lost in duality and true emptiness can never be accessed. The idea that one is subject to structures and laws of some world outside of themselves is innately defeating.. Like a victim saying "well I can only do so much since I'm confined to these limitations". In truth there are no limitations, there are no natural laws of outer or inner, phenomena and noumena etc.. You give these notions power. You are the source of their solidity and presence in experience, they're 110% imputed. So your question of how you go from selflessness to emptiness within the confines of your view is impossible.
The cognizer perceives the cognizable;
Without the cognizable there is no cognition;
Therefore why do you not admit
That neither object nor subject exists [at all]?
The mind is but a mere name;
Apart from it's name it exists as nothing;
So view consciousness as a mere name;
Name too has no intrinsic nature.
Either within or likewise without,
Or somewhere in between the two,
The conquerors have never found the mind;
So the mind has the nature of an illusion.
The distinctions of colors and shapes,
Or that of object and subject,
Of male, female and the neuter -
The mind has no such fixed forms.
In brief the Buddhas have never seen
Nor will they ever see [such a mind);
So how can they see it as intrinsic nature
That which is devoid of intrinsic nature?
"Entity" is a conceptualization;
Absence of conceptualization is emptiness;
Where conceptualization occurs,
How can there be emptiness?
The mind in terms of perceived and perceiver,
This the Tathagatas have never seen;
Where there is the perceived and perceiver,
There is no enlightenment.
Devoid of characteristics and origination,
Devoid of substantiative reality and transcending speech,
Space, awakening mind and enlightenment
Posses the characteristics of non-duality.
A valid cognition on the conventional level would just be the most accurate description or representation of ultimate cognition one can convey using concepts. Conventional or relative truths always correlate with the use of linear thought processes and language. So in truth, a 'conventional truth' or valid conventional cognition is never really a "truth", just an accurate account of the ultimate.
A valid ultimate cognition can never really be known apart from the experience itself. It's like describing the taste of an apple. The verbal, conceptual description is the conventional. The actual, sensual taste is the ultimate or absolute truth. The description of the taste obviously never properly captures the actual taste. In terms of peak experiences or realizations in the dharma, a metaphor of attempting to describe the color red to a man blind since birth can be used. Having never seen before the man would have no reference level with which to gauge your description. So the same principle goes for those attempting to describe ultimate truths or cognitions in the dharma as well. A nondual experience or liberation or what have you can be described conventionally, but the ultimate cognition or nature is only to be actualized in your own experience.
If thought or reasoning are being implemented to understand or break something down it's always only conventional. An experience of an ultimate cognition is just direct sensual experience divorced from/prior to translation or interpretation in thought/language etc.. And an ultimate truth or experience in reference to a realization or liberation will be explicitly evident beyond any doubts. When those things pop up more often than not you won't have to ask, it is just an innate intuitive certainty.
sangyey wrote:The phrase 'self and that which belongs to self' does this refer to me and mine respectively? And if so then i assume they would both belong to the classification selflessness of person?
Yes refers to "I and mine" or "me and mine".
"Self"(I) meaning the personal subjective entity or sense that one is located 'here' within-the-body or as-the-body(and sensations/sensory perceptions, thought, memory etc.. which are attributed to embodiment).
And then "that which belongs to self"(mine) referring to appearances which are attributed to self volition; such as "I am doing" "I am seeing" "I am feeling" "my thoughts" "my actions" etc... and imputed objects the self is believed to possess; such as "my body" "my car" "my house" "my arm" etc...
sangyey wrote:Thank you.
And then these two ways of looking at self, i.e., 'I' or 'mine' belong to selflessness of persons?
Yes but just as TMingyur said above, the implications associated with the selflessness of the person(i.e. subjective self) are directly related to the emptiness or selflessness of other-than-the-person(i.e. the objective world). Because to posit the inherent existence of a "person" or "I", automatically creates everything that is not the "person" or "I". Self goes hand in hand with other, they're mutually interdependent co-arisen concepts. Just as black goes with white, up with down and left with right. So it's a package deal, if you're a self then there is automatically stuff in experience which is not you by default, it's a dichotomy. Removal of the self(subject) automatically removes the world(object). This notion of separation which dominates experience is the basis for suffering, it arises from avidyā or ignorance of our true condition. The purpose of the dharma is to remove this delusion.
There is no self, but when that truth is conceptualized and believed to be true, it is automatically falsified, because the very self that statement and idea attempts to negate is reborn through attachment or aversion to that concept or belief. So seek to comprehend these truths but hold them lightly, and when the time is right let go... apart from attachment and aversion you are unborn.
All dharmas are like reflected images, clear and pure, without turbulence, ungraspable, inexpressible, truly arisen from cause and from action.
White Lotus wrote:for example when i look at my hands there is no sense of 'mine' whatsoever; whereas in the past there was.
That's funny, when this first happened to me the very first thing I remember was looking at my hands (I was driving) and being like "what the f*** are these?" And then I remember being amazed that I had ever thought there was anyone here at all. It made me feel like I had been living a lie.
Me and mine are two aspects of the same thing. Can't have one without the other. If you use fire as a metaphor the 'me' and 'mine' would be the flames and the heat. I'm not sure which would be considered more subtle and which is grosser. The most important thing is finding out what the 'me' and 'mine' depend on. Much like fire depends on fuel, you need to investigate what the 'me' and 'mine' rely on for fuel. Remove the fuel and extinguish the fire.
Cut the root of a tree and the leaves will wither; Cut the root of your mind and samsara falls.
As a quick disclaimer: Faculties that are named and used in making the descriptions and examinations i'm writing about are only temporary and will be discarded at a later point. Something said at one point may be contradicted and negated later on in reference to titles such as, mind, sense-fields, awareness, consciousness, subject, object etc....
When the (ultimate) truth is explained as it is, the conventional is not obstructed; Independent of the conventional, no (ultimate) truth can be found. - Nagarjuna
Ok so throughout this I want to stick with what is sensible. By "sensible" I mean capable of being sensed or that which is perceived by the senses. So audible, visible, tangible, etc... and for this we'll go with what is immediately perceived. Not mediately (through the intervention of something else). For example; when reading a book what you immediately perceive is letters on the page, but mediately or by means of these, notions of truth, virtue, vice etc are suggested to the mind. So though notions such as truth, vice, virtue etc are suggested and signified to the mind by sensible marks with which they have an arbitrary connection with, it would be absurd to designate these(truth, virtue etc..) as sensible things. So 'sensible things' means only what is immediately perceived by the senses and sensible things that we investigate don't include such designations inherently. To add; in instances such as a situation where one sees both red and blue in the sky, and thus it is inferred that there must be a cause for the differences in colors, that cause cannot be said to be a sensible quality immediately perceived by eyesight. Likewise, when one hears a variety of sounds it cannot be said that you hear their causes, and when one touches something hot or feels something heavy; one cannot say with truth that you feel the cause of the heat or weight. Hopefully we can agree that the senses perceive only what is perceived immediately because they do not make inferences.
So immediate sensible qualities include:
Sight - light, colors, shapes.
Hearing - sounds.
The palate - tastes.
Smell - odors.
Touch - tangible qualities.
(And obviously combinations of these.)
The purpose for this is to obviously stay with the theme I mentioned in an earlier post which was based on the premise that experience suggests nothing about itself. Aside from our conceptualizations about experience, experience itself communicates nothing. So staying with what is immediately perceived allows us to remain objective (no pun intended) and allows a mutually shared middle ground (non-conceptual awareness) apart from our contrasting notions about that middle ground. So like I said we're empirically investigating the nature of experience itself, and the emptiness or non-emptiness of an objective field in relation to it's validity in being a substantiated attribute of experience.
The underlying inquiry consists of two contrasting notions which are; does the reality of sensible things consist of being perceived? Or do things in fact exist as inherent exterior objects independent of sensual perception, distinct from, and having no relation to being
perceived? And related notions of objectivity, subjectivity, physicality, etc. Inherent separate existence vs. Empty dependent origination.
You started with salt before so... beginning with salt; inquiring into salts characteristics and attributes we'll look into whether salt exists as an objective independent agent which inherently exists and posses these attributes or the contrary.
Salt as it's usually experienced is predominantly comprised of vision, tactile sensation and obviously taste. I suppose salt can, on occasion be heard and also undoubtably bears an aroma to match it's pungent taste but those senses are secondary. So I think approaching salt sense-by-sense will be appropriate so that we can ensure that each sensory field can be properly isolated and examined. The reason for this is that in my opinion the different sense fields are heterogeneous instead of how they are usually taken to be (homogeneous). So even though they seem to amalgamate and interact to create what appears to be an organized and coordinated experience of reality, they are in fact separate fields which only communicate with one another via inferential projection.
This issue was examined rather thoroughly in a philosophical thought-experiment called Molyneux's Problem which consisted of attempting to understand the level of sensorial coordination one would possess upon immediate recovery from blindness. Taken from wikipedia; The problem can be stated in brief, "if a man born blind can feel the differences between shapes such as spheres and cubes, could he similarly distinguish those objects by sight if given the ability to see?"
The question was originally posed to Locke by philosopher William Molyneux, whose wife was blind:
Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube? To which the acute and judicious proposer answers: ‘Not. For though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, and how a cube, affects his touch; yet he has not yet attained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so…’
To which Locke responds in "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding":
I agree with this thinking gentleman, whom I am proud to call my friend, in his answer to this problem; and am of opinion that the blind man, at first sight, would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe, which the cube, whilst he only saw them; though he could unerringly name them by his touch, and certainly distinguish them by the difference of their figures felt.
In 1709, in “A New Theory of Vision,” George Berkeley also concluded that there was no necessary connection between a tactile world and a sight world—that a connection between them could be established only on the basis of experience. He speculated:
the objects to which he had hitherto used to apply the terms up and down, high and low, were such as only affected or were in some way perceived by touch; but the proper objects of vision make a new set of ideas, perfectly distinct and different from the former, and which can in no sort make themselves perceived by touch (sect. 95).
There have been events matching this predicament which actually verified these philosopher's educated speculations; one of them being the case of "a woman who gained sight at the age of 12 when she underwent surgery for dense bilateral congenital cataracts. They report that the subject could recognize family members by sight six months after surgery, but took up to a year to recognize most household objects purely by sight."
So starting with vision; I included a reference image we can both use to avoid conflicting imagery.
Salt on a table is a fairly common affair (if one is making a mess) and is good because it entails fairly limited differences in color, which as it ends up is pretty much equivalent to the very sense of vision we're exploring.
My argument to start is going to be that color is exactly vision and vision is exactly color, they are synonymous in nature and manifestation. The common presupposition that the process of visually perceiving an object consists of 'seeing' a 'color' (which exists separately from said act of seeing) is a misnomer. Wherever there is color there is seeing and vice versa. The two go hand-in-hand and you cannot have one without the other. With color we also get 'shape' which is a result of colors bordering each other in various ways. So color also implies shape, and shape likewise will imply color. Ultimately the object of vision is color and therefore shape.
Vision standing alone as an isolated sense is much like Image A posted above. If we attend to the visual evidence in the image alone we get a circular patch of white surrounded by brown. There is no separating line between the colors and vision. And likewise there is no separating line between the colors and you, no evidence in the colors of being "out there" and no evidence of yourself being an observer "in here". The conclusion that the colors are external to us is based on the principle that these colors change over time. So we accept a story that the colors (object) is separate from us even though the basis for this conclusion is lacking in the visual evidence in-and-of-itself. This aligns with my previous statement that experience suggests nothing about itself. Experience instead receives projected conceptual overlay which over time serves to create habitually solidified subconscious presuppositions conveying a compelling sense of separation.
Separation in general is based on spatiality. We usually conceive of two opposite aspects existing on opposite sides of unbridgeable spatial gaps. In truth we never experience spatial externality or independence. These designations are based on the formation of a subtle reference point of a subjective self "here" as opposed to "there". The feeling of subjectivity is never anything more than a tendency to identify with certain clusters of sensation and project that the remainder is objective and "other". But by looking at experience very directly it can actually be ascertained that this "otherness" is never a part of our experience.
So back to the white salt on the brown table... this image that arises as vision is composed of these colors, we see a white circular expanse of color, and various shades of white within that circular shape. Bordering that we see a brown expanse of color which seems to surround the white, and if we could back up and see a larger image the colors would unfold as we went along.
These colors are all there is to vision. So to examine the 'objectivity' of vision let's examine the 'whiteness' in the image(and you can do this by putting salt on a table in front of you)... speaking specifically about the shades of the 'whiteness' and the particular value of the color. Can we say that the shade itself is salt? Can it be said that wherever you have that particular shade(white) you have salt - and wherever you have salt you have that particular shade(white)? Obviously not. So white itself isn't definitive of salt. Now would you say that there is salt on the far side of that color? Do you directly experience salt behind the white? Because we just established that we wouldn't take the shade of white itself to be salt one should naturally inquire as to whether there is salt behind the white. We'll find that there is in fact no salt to be found on the posterior side of the white. Now on the near side of the color, do we experience any separation between the seeing of the color and the color itself? Attending exclusively to vision and letting go of any arising concepts or beliefs, is there any distance experienced between the seeing of the white and the white itself? You can't see the 'seeing'... so there can't be any distance, the color simply arises. So there's no salt on the far side of the white, and no salt on the near side, and no distance or gap between the white and the seeing of the white itself. Wherever white appears, vision is occurring, there's no access to white without vision, so the objectivity of the salt should melt or fuse into vision itself. The color should disappear into vision, because at that point it makes no sense to say one is "seeing" a "color" in the first place... the two are inseparable. Vision itself means color is arising, they're one and the same. It's not as if you have independent access to colors where you can notice a color out of the visual field and then say now i'm seeing that color, there couldn't be a color unless vision was already there.
Now the idea that there is a bordering line between an internal aspect of the body and an external aspect apart from the body has to be taken into account as well. This 'bordering line' creating the dichotomy of internal/external is based on identification with 'the body'. But the body itself is not separate from vision either, there are other colors and shades which are identified as 'my body' but just like the colors which composed the salt, these colors appearing as a 'body' do not communicate a possessive nature. The colors simply arise no different than any other color in the field of vision. We only impute a notion of 'my body' over these colors. There are other faculties that seem to correlate with vision to give the appearance of a homogeneous cluster of sensations conventionally called the body and we can discuss those separately, but all are merely qualities appearing to awareness as awareness itself. So the notion of an 'subject inside' viewing an 'object outside' is not self-evident in vision. Vision simply appears and is completely non-discriminitive. Another thing which isn't self-evident in vision is the presence of 'eyes' doing the seeing, we never experience or see our own eyes at any time, even in the act of looking at a mirror we only are ever seeing colors and shapes arise that we identify with as 'me' and 'my eyes' but the eyes appear nowhere within vision itself, we again only accept a story about this.
About this Nagarjuna states: "Through this the eyes, visible forms and so forth, which are described as the elements, these should be known also as [the twelve] sense-fields, and as the objects and the subjects as well.
Neither atom of form exists nor is sense organ elsewhere; even more no sense organ as agent exists; so the producer and the produced are utterly unsuited for production." - Nagarjuna
"In terms of objects and subjects, whatever appears to the consciousness, apart from the cognitions themselves, no external objects exist anywhere.
So there are no external objects at all existing in the mode of entities. The very perceptions of the individual consciousnesses arise as appearances of the forms." - Nagarjuna
So vision is color. You can't even say they arise as mutually interdependent co-emergent qualities because the duality is lacking to begin with. The notion of the duality between observing and observed is a conceptual imputation. A story simply arises and say "i'm seeing white" and we accept this story, but the story is never evident in vision itself. The objectivity of color as an external quality isn't substantiated by experience. Now vision itself doesn't appear separate from awareness, or 'that' which 'knows' vision to be apparent. But that-which-knows is the appearance itself, there is no duality, even to say appearance implies something to which the appearance would appear-to, so what "is" escapes all such conceptualizations (aside from conventional descriptive concepts). So the objectivity of the salt collapses, the objectivity of color collapses, the objectivity of vision collapses as well. We can't say that vision is a 'thing' out there which is separate that we have access to sometimes and not at other times. Vision is awareness, there is no separation and there are no 'objects', all we have is awareness. And this same exercise is done for every sense modality. (Awareness itself must also be refuted as such.)
For the salty taste; my argument would be much like what has been proposed for vision, i saw that namdrol used the example of MSG in showing the appearance of 'saltiness' to not be unique to salt itself. So following the same examination done with vision and focusing on the palate alone one can successfully find taste to be empty as well. I would also add that with your argument being that saltiness is an innate quality with which salt itself is inherently endowed with; if one runs the gamut of taste congruent with other sensory appearances such as heat; it can be seen that an intense level of taste such as spiciness correlates with an intense heat in that at the highest volume of appearance both arise as pain. The pain that arises is in fact the taste. There are not two appearances such as taste and then also pain, they are one and the same. So to posit that an external objective thing like salt inherently contains it's taste would be akin to claiming it also contains the appearances of pain and pleasure. One also cannot attribute lesser volumes of the same spectrum such as a general mild taste to an object without naturally accrediting higher and lower volumes of that same spectrum. So salt cannot be said to contain it's taste. And taste cannot be said to be anything more than awareness itself and empty. This insight combined with the former which coincides with the experiment done in vision should hopefully annihilate this false designation(of inherent objective existence) apart from mere conventional usage.
Ultimately awareness itself is empty. Because for one to claim that this inquiry has successfully reached a foundation at 'awareness' implies a 'ground' of being of some type where none can be found. Yet conventionally awareness is a clear and proper concept to use in describing that-which-is, for such an awareness likewise cannot be denied.
The Buddha attempted to capture these realizations in The Heart Sutra when he stated:
There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, no tasting, no touching, no imagining. There is nothing seen, nor heard, nor smelled, nor tasted, nor touched, nor imagined.
Devoid of all real entities;
Utterly discarding all objects and subjects,
Such as aggregates, elements and sense-fields;
Due to sameness of selflessness of all phenomena,
One's mind is primordially unborn;
It is in the nature of emptiness.
Well then perhaps look at it this way;
It appears that thoughts arise but there is no thinker. Likewise it appears seeing is happening but there is no seer. And all the way down the line for all the senses. So whatever this is that we label as experience is spontaneously self-appearing. It appears to no one, so to say "we experience concepts" is true conventionally. But in truth the concept in it's appearance as letters or thought or verbal utterance doesn't point to anything. And in fact any-thing conceivable IS a concept. Apart from the conceptual overlay of experience we have the incredibly long breakdown I posted on the previous page having to do with the suchness and one-taste of experience in-and-of-itself. I tried to conceptually get as nonconceptual as I could by making that post experimental with actual experience. But getting back to the concepts, when you think or say "we", the sound "we" just appears and is self-liberated in the very same moment. The error is that via the faculty of memory experience is extended into what appears to be time. And time gives the feeling that there is a subject which experiences an arising such as a concept which is conceived to be separate(from said subject). Time is an illusion. The subject is an illusion. Likewise the object is then negated as well. The concept in whatever form it appears IS experience itself. The notion that "we" experience anything is product of delusion. Experience just "is"... Seamless, timeless and whole in this ever-presence. Another short and potentially confusing way to put it is; the totality of all that is appearing in this very moment is what you are, and "you" are a concept. (And experience is empty.)
Reminds me of what Satan says in Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger which is actually incredibly on point. There's a creepy claymation adaptation of this scene in a old Tom Sawyer film you can find on YouTube. But anyways, Satan says:
"Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists except empty space and you, and you... are but a thought"
Well what is there to change? Since the examination i proposed showed colors are vision, and vision is consciousness, and consciousness is empty. That in-and-of-itself negates the changing display of color. But to go further into it, the notion of change must be judged from a reference point of either less-changing or unchanging in the usual sense. But we found the less-changeful and/or changeless reference point to be inherently nonexistent. Change must move against a stagnant background to be change. There must be something to gauge the change... and we find nothing. Because you're right to know change requires memory to implement as a reference. But this is impossible. We don't have to lobotomize what is already lobotomized. We usually take memory to be an image 'of' a past event. Because we believe ourselves to be entities extended into time and space. This is not the case. A memory thought is always an ever-fresh appearance. It seems to resemble a previous state but it is just an image which appears in the present timeless moment. It is only an image. When the image appears, under the delusion of time we conceive ourselves to be a subject witnessing or possessing this image and then project that it is evidence of a previous event and call it memory. But time must exist as an inherent faculty of experience for this to be the case, and it isn't, because time IS the so-called memory thought as well. And that "memory" thought is only an ever fresh appearance. So there is only ever this timelessness. The past is a thought appearing now, and there is no thinker of that thought(it isn't even a thought either). Thoughts don't point or refer to anything. They just appear. We get in the habit of believing they refer to actual "things" out there in a world, but they don't. We also get in the habit of validating a thought with another thought. For example if a thought(a) appears and then a thought(b) appears which claims thought(a) is true. Thought(a) is already long gone. Thought(b) cannot reach out and touch thought(a). They never appear at the same time. When (b) is present (a) is not. Another thought may appear that says "bullsh*t!"... But that's thought(c). Whatever is appearing now is all that is.
To further negate the change of color; in our direct experience we never experience an unseen color. So a color's absence is never a part of experience. If a color cannot be experienced as absent, it cannot be experienced as present. A color cannot alternate between presence and absence. Having one side of a pair of opposites makes no sense. There are no one sided coins. So neither present or absent applies to color or any other appearance.
I must also sleep now. Hasta mañana. Taking my 3 yr old to the Oakland zoo mañana. Party animals.
Internal/external phenomena is a projection of your so-called "internal" phenomena called conceptualization. Your main concern about this being "projected" as emptiness of external phenomena is impossible being that external phenomena is a projection itself. Aside from conventionality; people, hummingbirds, snails and tree lack inherent being. You're right it isn't due to any personal hubris of yours, but clinging to concepts and attachment to habitual patterns which reify that view certainly make it seem like there appears to be a person who does so. And in contrast makes it appear that there's a person who claims he or she doesn't do so due to any personal hubris of theirs.
I agree with namdrol that the apparent solidity of phenomena is directly related to the solidity of one's delusion. The more solid one's delusion is, the more solid apparent phenomena seem.
Pick out an object if you want yadave and let's break it down. I'd like for you to semi-grasp what i'm talking about so I'm not just throwing horsesh*t out on a message board without backing up my statements.
"Just as the Buddhas have spoken of
"I" and "mine" for a practical purpose;
Likewise they spoke too of "aggregates",
"Elements" and "sense-fields" for a practical reasons.
Such things spoken of as the "great elements",
These are fully absorbed into consciousness;
Since they are dissolved by understanding them,
Are they not falsely imputed?"
- Nagarjuna: excerpt from his 60 Stanzas
"In the universal womb that is boundless space
all forms of matter and energy occur as a flux of the four elements,
but all are empty forms, absent in reality;
all phenomena, arising in pure mind, are like that.
Magical illusion, whatever it's shape,
lacks substance, empty in nature;
likewise, all experience of the world, arisen in the moment,
unstirring from pure mind, is insubstantial evanescence.
Just as a dream is a part of sleep,
unreal gossamer in it's arising,
so all and everything is pure mind,
never separated from it,
and without substance or attribute.
....Just as the objective field is absent in reality,
so 'the knower' - in actuality pure mind,
in essence and absence, is like the clear sky:
know it in it's ineffable reality!
....In total presence, the nature of mind that is like the sky,
where there is no duality, no distinction, no gradation,
there is no view nor meditation nor commitment to observe,
no diligent ideal conduct, no pristine awareness to unveil,
no training in the stages and no path to tread,
no subtle level of realization, and no final union.
...... Constantly deconstructing, investigating keenly,
not even the slightest substance can be found;
and in the undivided moment of nondual perception
we abide in the natural state of perfection.
Absent when scrutinized, absent when ignored,
not even an iota of solid matter is attested;
so all aspects of experience are always absent -
know it as nothing but magical illusion!"
-Longchenpa: excerpts from The Treasury Of Natural Perfection
In the self-liberation of awareness, causes and conditions have totally vanished. In the instant liberation of awareness, appearances are primordially pure. Such purity does not occur after some time, nor does it come from anywhere else than the very nature of awareness. Awareness is liberated from all extremes of nihilism, eternalism, and so on. The "four alternatives" are to be existent, nonexistent, both existent and nonexistent, and neither existent nor nonexistent. Awareness is liberated from being any of these four alternatives. Since it is of the single nature of the entirety of samsara and nirvana, awareness is "empty of multiplicity".
Thus, since all appearances and sounds remain in the four types of liberation, they are not bound by anything, and they are not liberated by anything. Everything self-arises from it's own state and is self-liberated. Whatever appears is free from the three extremes of birth, cessation and abiding, so reality-itself is self-appearing. Therefore, due to the spiritual mentor's simply pointing this out, once you know reality-itself to be self-appearing, you will realize appearances and consciousness as reality-itself.
In the four types of liberation, nothing is bound by anything, but in the cycle of existence, we are bound by self-grasping: grasping on to a personal self and grasping onto phenomena. However, in terms of their own nature with reference to these four types of liberation, all appearances and sound are not bound by anything, nor are they liberated by anything; so no antidotes are necessary.
The ultimately existent essence of X is like; expansive, boundless, centerless, borderless, beginningless, endless, clear, complete, nonexclusive, dynamic, inconceivable, spacious, unchanging, pure, pristine, unmoved, immaculate, spontaneous, immutable, unsurpassable, intrinsic, innate, supreme, open, free.
It's not an early way of saying things have no essence as in a "god" or "soul" doesn't exist. It's not an "early" way of saying anything of the sort. It's a way of showing the absence of duality. That you think you're a physical body, in a physical world with objects outside of you which are alien to you, but this is simply a misconception derived from our false conditioned perception. The outcome truly is that "you" as a subjective entity are removed completely. And the feeling that there are "things" outside you is removed completely. Whatever it is you would call "experience" is all that's left. But a singular, zero-dimensional experiencing in-and-of-itself. This isn't some philosophy which is left on the level of a humored intellectual contemplation. You seem to want to rationalize it to be that way. I can't say that I blame you being that you have no reference point to gauge it in it's ultimate sense. But it surely isn't a mere "early" way of pronouncing some philosophical notion.
It's used as a support to remain in contemplation while in movement. Just as the ganapuja stimulates all the senses so you can incorporate/integrate them into contemplation. Movement(tactile sensation) with the mudras, auditory sensation with the bell/drum/mantras, taste with the food, smell with the incense, visual with the mudras/visualizations.
Song of vajra dance and music is the same type thing. Support to remain in contemplation. So you can eventually remain in constant nonmeditation.
Just listen to the song of vajra in it's suchness. As white noise almost. Let it pass as a reflection and remain as the mirror.
The sound of traffic and people bustling in the streets is the song of vajra... Integrate integrate integrate
I see what you're saying... But if one abides in their true nature then there would be no "seeing" in the ultimate sense, it would be more of a zero-dimensional empty cognizance appearing as a "rock". The notion that there is a 'rock' is again due to dualistic imputation (conceptual overlay)... So dharmakaya is it's fullness would be a continuum of nonduality which would be inherently void of a self perceiving a rock. It would be like mind experiencing itself.. But the mind isn't a substantial "entity" it's just empty-cognizance. Really hard to convey using conventional language.
But I see what you mean that what I'm describing sounds like if one "thing" is enlightened then 'everything' would be... But the enlightenment is really the falling away of anything which could be said to have attained such a realization and also the negation of 'that-which-hasn't'. All that remains is the fully perfected natural state in it's spontaneous fullness. The imputation of one who would be realized and one who isn't would fall