1. Melbourne, Australia
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    20 Oct '12 03:00
    Emptiness or "Sunyata" is a central but sometimes challenging Buddhist concept to understand. The concept of the Two Truths is an important contribution to understanding what is meant. The statement by Barbara Hoetsu O'Brien from New York (link found below) is a fairly succinct summary of it.

    In her bio:
    "Through study, but even more through many encounters and discussions with other Buddhists, I have come to a deep appreciation and respect for the dizzying complexity of practices and doctrines that are called Buddhist. Gaudy and austere, rational and mystical, gentle and intense, simple yet impossibly difficult, after all these years Buddhism still fascinates and surprises me."


    The article begins:

    "What is reality? Dictionaries tell us that reality is "the state of things as they actually exist." In Mahayana Buddhism, reality is explained in the doctrine of the Two Truths.

    This doctrine tells us that existence can be understood as both ultimate and conventional (or, absolute and relative). Conventional truth is how we usually see the world, a place full of diverse and distinctive things and beings. The ultimate truth is that there are no distinctive things or beings.

    To say there are no distinctive things or beings is not to say that nothing exists; it is saying that there are no distinctions. The absolute is the dharmakaya, the unity of all things and beings, unmanifested. The late Chogyam Trungpa called the dharmakaya "the basis of the original unbornness."

    Confused? You are not alone. It's not an easy teaching to "get," but it's critical to understanding Mahayana Buddhism. What follows is a very basic introduction to the Two Truths...."

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/mahayanabuddhism/a/The-Two-Truths.htm
  2. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Oct '12 03:21
    Originally posted by Taoman
    Emptiness or "Sunyata" is a central but sometimes challenging Buddhist concept to understand. The concept of the Two Truths is an important contribution to understanding what is meant. The statement by Barbara Hoetsu O'Brien from New York (link found below) is a fairly succinct summary of it.

    In her bio:
    "Through study, but even more through many encou ...[text shortened]... Truths...."

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/mahayanabuddhism/a/The-Two-Truths.htm
    Hmmm. From my point of view, the whole thing can be handled in the language of Gestalt: figure and ground. As we focus on different figures (by definition, what we focus on/are aware of), the figure/ground composition shifts: what was figure become part of the ground, what was ground emerges as figure. (Both non-separability and mutually-arising are there.) The ground is always implicate; only the figures are explicate.

    But that does not mean that there is any such thing as an ultimate unmanifest ground. The ultimate is the Whole—the wholly manifest gestalt. The “two truths” are, properly, epistemological—not ontological. What is "dizzying" is the unrelieved recursiveness, that it is so tempting to try to leap beyond.

    This is the basis of the Zen koan: When the many reduces to the One, what does the One reduce to?

    Consider this a commentary, not a critique.
  3. Melbourne, Australia
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    20 Oct '12 03:474 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Hmmm. From my point of view, the whole thing can be handled in the language of Gestalt: figure and ground. As we focus on different figures (by definition, what we focus on/are aware of), the figure/ground composition shifts: what was figure become part of the ground, what was ground emerges as figure. (Both non-separability and mutually-arising are the educes to the One, what does the One reduce to?

    Consider this a commentary, not a critique.
    I like the gestalt reference very much, particularly Perls' helpful understanding of the interdependent and shifting ground-figure. I am now seeking further on its philosophical underpinnings. What I am finding would have little if any conflict with the Buddhist concepts.

    Found this:
    http://www.afn.org/~gestalt/philos.htm

    I sometimes search for Western expressions along Buddhist themes. There are some similar, but it appears the gestalt one is perhaps the closest. The appearances of quantum science findings is another reference. I think the getstalt description could equally apply there.

    Many years ago I was personally using gestalt in self exploration - it was quite powerful. It has sort of drifted into 'back-ground', perhaps its time to come again to the 'fore-ground' for a bit, in a different context (context itself part of a gestalt).

    The impossibility of resolving the recursiveness apart from a "leap" out of it, or an "aha!" moment, when indescribably it all just "comes together" reflects Zen and its koans, yes.

    Thanks vistesd. I did make a related comment late in the "Awareness" post recently. Not sure if you saw it.
  4. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Oct '12 04:36
    Originally posted by Taoman
    I like the gestalt reference very much, particularly Perls' helpful understanding of the interdependent and shifting ground-figure. I am now seeking further on its philosophical underpinnings. What I am finding would have little if any conflict with the Buddhist concepts.

    Found this:
    http://www.afn.org/~gestalt/philos.htm

    I sometimes search for Western ...[text shortened]... ke a related comment late in the "Awareness" post recently. Not sure if you saw it.
    Ah, I hadn’t seen your last post in the “Awareness” thread, and just now read it.

    Yes, I have had problems with “all is awareness”, as well as certain Zen expressions of the “one mind”. But I recall that Zen is opposed to all “one-sidedness”—even the one-sidedness of “one or many?” (see the Hsing Hsing Ming by Seng Ts’an, 3rd Zen patriarch). The inexpressible is inexpressible—we use words (expressions) only to point to it. Wittgenstein really (as I read him) said much the same thing in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (though he later repudiated some principles expressed in the Tractatus as errors, he did not repudiate the whole thing; and I think that his later philosophy should not be seen as disjoint from the earlier work).

    To paraphrase Wittgenstein: “What can be expressed can be expressed meaningfully.” And: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must keep silent.” What Wittgenstein called the “mystical” is just the inexpressible. Zen ultimately points to that gestalt, in which and of which we are—which includes us reflecting on all that we think does not include us, but which includes us, reflecting on . . .

    Like you, I don’t need to define myself as “Buddhist” or “Taoist”, or even “Zennist”—those are short-hand terms that aid in thought and conversation, and each paradigm has useful terms and practices.

    So, at bottom, that recursiveness—that continual recursive reverberation, the inescapable figure/ground iteration (or, metaphorically, Indra’s endlessly recursive/reflective net)—just is the gestalt that Zen points to. No ultimate ground; no ultimate figure. Realization is just to realize it!

    No

    Way

    Out—

    🙂

    Thank you. I bow.

    ________________________________________________________

    NOTE: Perls did once say that he thought that his Gestalt Therapy did everything that Zen does.

    NOTE^2: The “western” one-sidedness: ultimate figure; the “eastern” one-sidedness: ultimate ground.
  5. Melbourne, Australia
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    20 Oct '12 05:18
    Mahayana Buddhism is where I first found these understandings most clearly expressed - most satisfyingly, intellectually and experientially. The ontological (Being, as a being) understanding is the figure. The delightful rainbow background is the cultural expressions of that religion at its most fun.
    "Religion" comes via enlightened moments as a means, with a trillion adaptations.

    The "Jewel in the Lotus" is not the Buddha but "That" which he pointed so commitedly and convincingly to, no doubt as much by his demonstrated life (within that historical setting) as his teachings. "That" is not words but includes them.

    Also finding its essential expression in my own modern western culture is important to me, even if outside a "religious" expression. This also confirms and is an equal transferring of Dharma (experienced as a whole with 'aha!"😉, even non-Buddhist expressions.
  6. Melbourne, Australia
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    20 Oct '12 05:201 edit
    vistesd, I was writing the above before your reply. Get back to you.
  7. Melbourne, Australia
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    20 Oct '12 05:30
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Ah, I hadn’t seen your last post in the “Awareness” thread, and just now read it.

    Yes, I have had problems with “all is awareness”, as well as certain Zen expressions of the “one mind”. But I recall that Zen is opposed to all “one-sidedness”—even the one-sidedness of “one or many?” (see the Hsing Hsing Ming by Seng Ts’an, 3rd Zen patriarch). The ...[text shortened]... The “western” one-sidedness: ultimate figure; the “eastern” one-sidedness: ultimate ground.
    Always food to talk with someone of the same "language".
    So well expressed and very helpful.

    Must try and find his comment on Zen. Not at all surprising when you think about it.

    Thanks, vistesd - you got it pretty tagged I reckon.
  8. Standard memberblack beetle
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    20 Oct '12 11:34
    Originally posted by Taoman
    Emptiness or "Sunyata" is a central but sometimes challenging Buddhist concept to understand. The concept of the Two Truths is an important contribution to understanding what is meant. The statement by Barbara Hoetsu O'Brien from New York (link found below) is a fairly succinct summary of it.

    In her bio:
    "Through study, but even more through many encou ...[text shortened]... Truths...."

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/mahayanabuddhism/a/The-Two-Truths.htm
    “Being a Buddha” is “being One with the Cosmic Reality”, this is the final aim of the system; the Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners accept this thesis on the spot, whilst the Elder Brothers uncertain they remain (because they are satisfied to decode “nirvana” as “cessation of lust, suffering and greed”, whilst Mahayana/ Vajrayana practitioners understand nirvana as a direct grasp of the cosmic reality).
    So the system teaches that the Floating World one perceives is existing and phenomenal because it is made out of one’s mind. Also, it teaches that the Cosmic Reality envelops neither different/ separated parts nor different/ separated entities.

    According to all the schools of the system, Dharmakaya is the “Body of Truth”, the “Body Of the Reality As It Is Exactly”, the “Body Of The Void”. It has no Rupa/ Form, it is the basis of all phenomena and the ground of alayavijnana, its nature is the Void/ Sunyata. Therefore, methinks that as such, Dharmakaya exists exactly the way that it exists. And since Dharmakaya is beyond “unborness”, I believe that either Chogyam Trungpa’s comment is not accurate, or O’Brien’s understanding is puir.

    Two Truths is the tool constructed by the mind that is aware of the reality and of the existence of both the Floating World and the Cosmic Reality.
    The practitioner goes beyond Two Truths by means of developing prajnaparamita (the Chinese are talking about “reaching the Other Side”, meaning that this way one is free from the duality Life/ Death). The Sixth Patriarch explained that one ends up chained to “This Shore” when one is hooked on the phenomenal spheres (that bring up the cycle Life/ Death). This cycle, he explained, is like the waves of the water and is known as “This Shore”. And he went on, explaining that when the practitioner breaks free from the phenomenal spheres there is no Life/ Death (this is known as “The Other Shore” or paramita).
    Therefore the Mara thoughts and the Bodhi thoughts are the same: the delusional thoughts bring up the common man, the bodhi thoughts bring up the buddha (and the buddha was a common man before his bodhi thoughts). Prajniaparamita is no-residence, no-coming, no-going; prajniaparamita is the ground from where buddhas come. So one uses This Shore to reach The Other Shore; once there, one has the skhandas destroyed; one has the delusions destroyed; one transforms greed into etc etc.

    So methinks the "enlightened" knows that the "enlightenment" is not the going to another place that is called nirvana, Paradise or whatever. The product of the "enlightenment" is the understanding of the existence of a reality that is manifested as a non-differentiated boundless field of cosmic energy. This is the product of prajnaparamita (our vistesd is right: No ultimate ground; no ultimate figure).
    Prajnaparamita explains why the common man and the Buddha are the same. This is a product of The Other Shore.
    The Other Shore is visible to the one who stands at This Shore and he is eager to go from there to the Other. This is a product of the Two Truths.

    Nothing Holy😵
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Oct '12 15:411 edit
    Originally posted by black beetle
    “Being a Buddha” is “being One with the Cosmic Reality”, this is the final aim of the system; the Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners accept this thesis on the spot, whilst the Elder Brothers uncertain they remain (because they are satisfied to decode “nirvana” as “cessation of lust, suffering and greed”, whilst Mahayana/ Vajrayana practitioners unders ager to go from there to the Other. This is a product of the Two Truths.

    Nothing Holy😵
    Yes; but just to expand a bit--

    Those who desire activity seek to absorb themselves in the explicate figures/manifestations; those who desire passivity seek to absorb themselves in the implicate ground (“nirvana” ). Any such one-sidedness is illusion. The second is the greatest danger for one who has already realized the implicate ground—whether one has done so by looking outward or looking inward (as practice! ultimately no dualism here either!).

    Most of our language is inherently dualistic (subject-predicate; subject-verb-object), so it is difficult to express. Hence the resort to elicitive (rather than propositional or descriptive) language. Logical analysis (as our old friend bbarr said) can be used to clear away the clutter; but Wittgenstein was also right.

    Emptiness is not a “left-over”. Buddhism is sometimes erroneously seen as nihilistic (which it can become if it succumbs to that second illusion). Tathata is not one-sided; tathagata does not come from one side or the other. There is no one-sidedness!

    No boat
    no river
    no "this"
    or "other" shore

    Got to run for now.

    I bow.
  10. Standard memberblack beetle
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    20 Oct '12 17:43
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Yes; but just to expand a bit--

    Those who desire activity seek to absorb themselves in the explicate figures/manifestations; those who desire passivity seek to absorb themselves in the implicate ground (“nirvana” ). Any such one-sidedness is illusion. The second is the greatest danger for one who has already realized the implicate ground—whether one ha ...[text shortened]... idedness!

    No boat
    no river
    no "this"
    or "other" shore

    Got to run for now.

    I bow.
    Yes, vistesd!
    When tools and products are finally discarded, Tathata; Tathata being grasped, the face before birth is grasped; the face before birth being grasped, grasped is the buddha nature; there is nothing to be grasped.

    The above words are used neither in order to explain nor in order to trigger an intellectual reaction; they are used intuitively in order to show directly the mind -and, as every tool, they must be finally discarded.
    Namaste
    😵
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Oct '12 20:06
    Originally posted by black beetle
    Yes, vistesd!
    When tools and products are finally discarded, Tathata; Tathata being grasped, the face before birth is grasped; the face before birth being grasped, grasped is the buddha nature; there is nothing to be grasped.

    The above words are used neither in order to explain nor in order to trigger an intellectual reaction; they are used intuitiv ...[text shortened]... rder to show directly the mind -and, as every tool, they must be finally discarded.
    Namaste
    😵
    Once again we come full circle! 🙂 Namaste!
  12. Melbourne, Australia
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    21 Oct '12 01:47
    Thank you to you both. I find clear and precise articulation, while never grasping 'That', is one of the finest of means - for this one. Your interchange helps me to interrelate the two descriptions, and expands more finely the view.

    Two sticks of incense
    perfuming an auspicious moment.
    Words floating like smoke
    Buddha sits quietly,
    gestalting in
    the roaring silence.

    óóó ó óóó
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    21 Oct '12 02:44
    Originally posted by Taoman
    Thank you to you both. I find clear and precise articulation, while never grasping 'That', is one of the finest of means - for this one. Your interchange helps me to interrelate the two descriptions, and expands more finely the view.

    Two sticks of incense
    perfuming an auspicious moment.
    Words floating like smoke
    Buddha sits quietly,
    gestalting in
    the roaring silence.

    óóó ó óóó
    Aha! Wonderful! Wonderful poem!

    Taoman roars
    the reverberation
    collapses worlds
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    21 Oct '12 03:18
    Originally posted by black beetle
    Yes, vistesd!
    When tools and products are finally discarded, Tathata; Tathata being grasped, the face before birth is grasped; the face before birth being grasped, grasped is the buddha nature; there is nothing to be grasped.

    The above words are used neither in order to explain nor in order to trigger an intellectual reaction; they are used intuitiv ...[text shortened]... rder to show directly the mind -and, as every tool, they must be finally discarded.
    Namaste
    😵
    When tools and products are finally discarded, Tathata; Tathata being grasped, the face before birth is grasped; the face before birth being grasped, grasped is the buddha nature; there is nothing to be grasped.

    This is so good.

    And when the student says: “Roshi, I now realize that there is nothing to be grasped.”

    Roshi: “Loose your grasp on that too!”

    And if the student looks befuddled, an exemplary Whack!. Yes, exemplary, in the strict sense.

    ________________________________________________

    I am not well-read, as you and Taoman are, in fundamental Mahayana Buddhism. My Buddhism has always been Zen—with a strong Taoist side (which is what happened with Ch’an in China). My error was always to think of Zen in terms of metaphysical nondualism as opposed to metaphysical dualism. That is, I substituted one mind-abode for another.

    The teacher, of course, takes the student where s/he is. Pai Chang says that the Buddha (Gautama) was quite willing to teach half-truths if that was the immediate medicine needed. Zen takes its aim at the root, while acknowledging and working with whatever expression of that root stands before it. If the expression is figure (“the many” ), Zen points to the One; if the expression is the One (the ground), Zen points to the multiplicity. The student becomes confused. Confusion collapses into what Seung Sahn roshi called “Don’t-know mind”. That is unsettling, disturbing, annoying. But it grows into clarity. And that clarity is freedom from grasping/clinging. That clarity—and even just a moment of that clarity—is called satori (which I refuse to translate as “enlightenment” ).

    I am not a teacher.
    The sangha is my teacher.
    In the sangha
    everyone is teacher . . . 🙂

    But I have nothing to teach.
    Then start there.

    _____________________________________________________

    “What is the meaning of the one and the many?”

    “Drink your tea.”

    “But—“

    Whack!
  15. Standard memberblack beetle
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    21 Oct '12 06:27
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]When tools and products are finally discarded, Tathata; Tathata being grasped, the face before birth is grasped; the face before birth being grasped, grasped is the buddha nature; there is nothing to be grasped.

    This is so good.

    And when the student says: “Roshi, I now realize that there is nothing to be grasped.”

    Roshi: “Loose your gras ...[text shortened]...
    “What is the meaning of the one and the many?”

    “Drink your tea.”

    “But—“

    Whack![/b]
    There is nothing metaphysic. Even the Dependent Origination, the Four Noble Truths and the Six Paramitas that are used in the realm of the Floating World so that the disciple overcomes the "I" and the various phenomena, are empty and they lack of inherent existence.
    The Whack is used so that the disciple can thus go beyond😵
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