Author Topic: Emptiness and morality  (Read 1580 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2017, 12:58:32 pm »
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Could you please define emptiness?

Because it is empty it cannot be defined.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline bahman

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2017, 02:10:57 pm »
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Could you please define emptiness?

Because it is empty it cannot be defined.

 So you don't have any philosophy? How could you reach from emptiness to something meaningful like morality?

Offline Solodris

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2017, 02:13:05 pm »
Emptiness. This is the inherent nature of non-time reality, without phenomena, there is simply emptiness.

Emptiness is the dimension between everything that cannot be seen, this is the place where phenomena both arise and cease. Emptiness can not be understood as regular space since the human conceptualization of space is to be of physical nature bound by the six senses. Emptiness is the dimension of the aggregates, it is the placeholder for phenomena in it's cyclic existence.

Sunyata actually gives us an insight into transmigration, how the condition of one phenomena can result in another to manifest, in a dimension where only the aggregates exist.

If I stab myself, ugh bad example, the knife is visible in the aggregate of form, and as you touch the nervous system the form phenomena produces a sensation in the feeling aggregate, that was previously empty of feeling. This is how phenomena moves around in emptiness.

We can actually create a cyclic existence within the mind. Imagine a blue-gray colored clothed being, swinging at a man with a beard, the emptiness phenomena of feeling would first begin in the muscle that releases the blow, eye-consciousness is the aggregate of form in this emptiness, the man gets hit, feeling aggregate transmigrates into another field of emptiness, giving rise to the feeling of suffering. Then, as we remove this picture from our mind, we are no longer fabricating a cyclic existence of emptiness, hence, you have empirical vision of the arising and cessation of existence itself.

I wonder what happens if I start meditating on undoing real emptiness, or at least, what we perceive as real emptiness.

No emptiness, no clinging to the aggregates, no self, liberation. Even emptiness itself is empty.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2017, 03:01:33 pm »
Last post by bahman
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So you don't have any philosophy? How could you reach from emptiness to something meaningful like morality?

Earlier post by me (repeated again)
Quote
Did you miss the following post of mine or just not understand it?
Genuine realization of emptiness is to see that you share the same basic nature with everything else, that your "self" is not a separate entity but is intimately interconnected with all of life. Thus if you harm others and the environment you are harming yourself. That is the deeper meaning of the universal “Golden Rule” and is the basis for Buddhist compassion.

To me that is the ultimate in “morality."
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline bahman

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2017, 12:04:28 pm »
Last post by bahman
Quote
So you don't have any philosophy? How could you reach from emptiness to something meaningful like morality?

Earlier post by me (repeated again)
Quote
Did you miss the following post of mine or just not understand it?
Genuine realization of emptiness is to see that you share the same basic nature with everything else, that your "self" is not a separate entity but is intimately interconnected with all of life. Thus if you harm others and the environment you are harming yourself. That is the deeper meaning of the universal “Golden Rule” and is the basis for Buddhist compassion.

To me that is the ultimate in “morality."

 You didn't understand my question. You cannot have a philosophy if  its (philosophy's) basic principles are undefinable.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2017, 02:15:03 pm »
bahman,

Someone neglected to tell Buddhists that "You cannot have a philosophy if its (philosophy's) basic principles are undefinable." Writings on emptiness have probably consumed more Buddhist ink than any other subject.

From Wikipedia on "Shunyata" or emptiness --
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Over time, many different philosophical schools or tenet-systems (Sanskrit: siddhānta)[8] have developed within Buddhism in an effort to explain the exact philosophical meaning of emptiness.

It goes on to list the various schools that have evolved over the centuries in the Buddhist philosophy of emptiness. You should check it out at -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81

Emptiness, the "undefinable" or "inconceivable," is a basic, recurring theme in Buddhist philosophy from the beginning. As it developed in later Mahayana schools, emptiness is often synonymous with a universal "One Mind" or "BuddhaMind," which is similarly undefinable. In case you missed my frequent links, here is something I wrote on the subject awhile back -- http://www.frogzen.com/meditations/ In that brief treatise I equate emptiness with "anatta" or no-separate-permanent-self, another basic Buddhist philosophical concept.

It should be noted that all of that philosophy arose out of the simple practice of meditation and "samadhi"(another term you might look up, which is also characterized by the essential experience of emptiness). Another word for emptiness is the "Unborn," or "noumena" as opposed to "phenomena," if you want to employ basic terms from western philosophy.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 02:53:13 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2017, 03:37:30 am »
Quote
Could you please define emptiness?

Because it is empty it cannot be defined.

 So you don't have any philosophy? How could you reach from emptiness to something meaningful like morality?
There are many Buddhists who would say that Buddhism is a philosophy which, being studied as such leads to enlightenment. These are the people to ask. However, Buddhism is rich and diverse, and there are many ways of understanding it's language and meaning. Another understanding of emptiness is a definition where the 'emptiness' also applies to 'emptiness'. It gets beyond common usage meaning 'nothing', instead referencing the idea that there is no 'thing' that is permanent. We look at the totality of existence and see no thing that exists forever, no thing to attach to. Not even 'nothing'.

Interesting perhaps as a philosophical term to ponder, but there is more to it in Buddhism. Two things may be of interest. One is the 'wow' factor of words like that in a largely oral tradition, a strategy to enhance teachings by changing how we see the world. Terms like infinity seem to have an effect on the mind not encountered in any other way.

The other (although you must keep in mind there are many more interpretations) is as a signpost, pointing to something beyond every 'thing'. If the answer is not in things and not in no things, then where is it? The irony is that it is only when we get beyond things and no-things that we find everything- enlightenment. Let go of everything to get even more than you started with.

Back to your question and the answer becomes something like, "You reach beyond everything, beyond emptiness even, and you find everything." You don't reach from emptiness, you return from beyond emptiness. Hope that helps.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline bahman

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2017, 12:30:20 pm »
Quote
Could you please define emptiness?

Because it is empty it cannot be defined.

 So you don't have any philosophy? How could you reach from emptiness to something meaningful like morality?
There are many Buddhists who would say that Buddhism is a philosophy which, being studied as such leads to enlightenment. These are the people to ask. However, Buddhism is rich and diverse, and there are many ways of understanding it's language and meaning. Another understanding of emptiness is a definition where the 'emptiness' also applies to 'emptiness'. It gets beyond common usage meaning 'nothing', instead referencing the idea that there is no 'thing' that is permanent. We look at the totality of existence and see no thing that exists forever, no thing to attach to. Not even 'nothing'.

Interesting perhaps as a philosophical term to ponder, but there is more to it in Buddhism. Two things may be of interest. One is the 'wow' factor of words like that in a largely oral tradition, a strategy to enhance teachings by changing how we see the world. Terms like infinity seem to have an effect on the mind not encountered in any other way.

The other (although you must keep in mind there are many more interpretations) is as a signpost, pointing to something beyond every 'thing'. If the answer is not in things and not in no things, then where is it? The irony is that it is only when we get beyond things and no-things that we find everything- enlightenment. Let go of everything to get even more than you started with.

Back to your question and the answer becomes something like, "You reach beyond everything, beyond emptiness even, and you find everything." You don't reach from emptiness, you return from beyond emptiness. Hope that helps.

 I don't really understand what do you mean with that (bold part)?

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2017, 10:35:24 am »
Hi bahman. I guess I mean that part of the Heart Sutra that says you have to go beyond every thing, to let go of every thing, to take the final leap into the unknown where there is no thing. Emptiness, although obviously empty, is still a 'thing', an idea to cling to. Get beyond that and you get to the 'Full and perfect understanding' that is enlightenment. Which is my understanding of the Heart Sutra at this point.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline bahman

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2017, 11:01:35 am »
Hi bahman. I guess I mean that part of the Heart Sutra that says you have to go beyond every thing, to let go of every thing, to take the final leap into the unknown where there is no thing. Emptiness, although obviously empty, is still a 'thing', an idea to cling to. Get beyond that and you get to the 'Full and perfect understanding' that is enlightenment. Which is my understanding of the Heart Sutra at this point.

 Full and perfect understanding of what? Do you mean that you understand everything?

Offline Rahul

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2017, 04:06:48 am »
Emptiness means that no creation or phenomenon has its own independent, inherent, absolute existence. In other words, each creation or phenomenon depends on something else for its existence. Emptiness implies dependent co-arising. For example without the father/or the mother there will not be children, and without having children a person cannot become a father/mother. The concept is well explained and well defined. Emptiness thus means all things are void of any inherent existence.

Don't interpret that without children father/mother can also exist. That's not the point. The point is that without children, the person can't become a father/mother. Becoming father, thus cannot be achieved absolutely without existence of children. Shadow is another example: you need source of light, and some obstruction, and a surface to produce shadow; thus the shadow doesn't have independent existence.

What I fail to understand is how come bahman come to think that emptiness and morality are exclusive.

Offline Solodris

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2017, 11:36:38 am »
If emptiness were to be inter-connected with greed, aversion and hatred, would this constitute skillful or unskillful exposure?

If emptiness were to be inter-connected with compassionate and dispassionate intentions, would this constitute skillful or unskillful exposure?

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2017, 02:53:24 pm »
If emptiness were to be inter-connected with greed, aversion and hatred, would this constitute skillful or unskillful exposure?

If emptiness were to be inter-connected with compassionate and dispassionate intentions, would this constitute skillful or unskillful exposure?

Is this a rhetorical question or do you really want to know answer?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2017, 03:16:58 pm »
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Rahul:  "What I fail to understand is how come bahman come to think that emptiness and morality are exclusive."


Actually, I think it is a very good question, which was addressed solidly and thoughtfully by zafrogzen in the second post of this thread:
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Behaving well and doing good under threat of suffering in a future existence presupposes a firm faith in order to be effective. If that faith wavers, or disappears completely, then the moral imperative wavers and disappears as well, and one is free to behave badly.

I think it would be be better if folks were encouraged to see that good behavior is worthwhile simply because it is good — because it works better for themselves and the rest of the world. I know atheistic humanists who are incredibly moral and compassionate, without the threat of punishment in a future life hanging over them.

Religions that emphasize a better life in a future birth, whether in heaven or in another form of rebirth, all tend to denigrate this present existence, which is considered an unclean vale of suffering and degeneration — merely a stepping stone to a better life somewhere else in the future.

I can’t help but think that this attitude can be self-fulfilling.


What was missed is the "intention" of the actor or action depending how the question is approached.  If the assumption is that there is an actor, then there can be no entity to receive the consequences of their actions.  Therefore morality is meaningless without any entity to receive the consequences.  This is of course from a mundane view of self, which the principle of emptiness does not address per se.  As others have already said repeatedly:  There if a mundane self, which is not empty of any self, despite the fact that none can be found, only because we have agreed in our culture that we need a mundane self of which to speak to assign responsibilty for causal events.  Ultimately, according to the philosophical concept of emptiness, and the ultimate reality that emptiness addresses,  there is therefore "no self" which can be found if one earnestly and thoroughly searches for it.  The result of such a search is what mathematicians would call "the empty set", e.g. no result.

Buddha approached this search in still another way:  "not self", where, no matter what part or subdivision is chosen, it can in fact be labeled "not a self" and especially "not the self".

In summary, the following commentary shows that Buddha approached this concept in three different ways:

Quote
There you find emptiness approached from three perspectives, treating it (1) as a meditative dwelling, (2) as an attribute of objects, and (3) as a type of awareness-release. The first approach is obviously the most immediately relevant to the discussion in this sutta, but in fact all three approaches play a role here.

Emptiness as a meditative dwelling is most fully discussed in MN 121. Essentially, it boils down to the ability to center the mind in a particular mode of perception, to maintain it there, and then to notice the absence and presence of disturbance within that mode. The process starts with perceptions of one's external surroundings — village, wilderness, the earth property — and then moves internally to the four formless states, the "themeless concentration of awareness," and finally to release from all mental fermentation. Each step is compared to the one preceding it to see how its more refined perception engenders less disturbance. For instance, if you move from a perception of the wilderness to a perception of earth, the first step is to settle and "indulge" in that perception. Then you notice what types of disturbance have been abandoned in the move from the perception of wilderness to the perception of earth — for example, all thought of the dangers of wilderness are gone — and then to see what disturbances remain based on the latter perception. Then you abandon the perception causing those disturbances and move on to a more refined level of perception. This process is pursued until it arrives at the "themeless concentration of awareness." When noting that even this refined level of concentration is fabricated, inconstant, and subject to cessation, one gains total release from all mental fermentations and the disturbances that would arise based on them. This is the level of emptiness that is "superior and unsurpassed," and is apparently what the Buddha is referring to in this sutta when he says that by "not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal emptiness."

Notice that in every step along the way of this process, the emptiness is the lack of disturbance experienced in a particular mind state. This means that the mind state is to be perceived simply as an example of the presence and absence of stress. In other words, emptiness in this sense relates directly to the second of the three characteristics — stress or suffering. The pursuit of this emptiness relates to the four noble truths, as it looks for the causes of stress and uses tranquility together with insight to abandon those causes in a quest to put a total end to suffering.

Emptiness in its second meaning, as an attribute of objects, is most fully discussed in SN 35.85. That sutta describes emptiness as meaning the lack of self or anything pertaining to a self in the internal and external sense media. Whatever sense of self that may surround these objects is not inherent in them, and is instead simply the result of one's own penchant for "I-making" and "my-making." Seeing the artificiality of "I-making" and "my-making" in this way helps lead to a sense of disenchantment with these "makings," thus helping to abandon any clinging associated with them.

Thus emptiness in this sense relates directly to the third of the three characteristics: not-self. However, just as the three characteristics are not radically separate from one another — everything stressful is for that reason not-self — the practical application of this sense of emptiness is not radically different from the first. As SN 12.15 points out, when one no longer latches onto any idea of "my self," one sees phenomena within and without simply as examples of stress arising and passing away. To practice meditation from this perspective — seeing each state of concentration as an example of stress arising and passing away — is to develop emptiness as a meditative dwelling.

Emptiness in its third meaning, as a type of awareness-release, is an application of emptiness in its second. MN 43 describes this state of concentration as follows: "There is the case where a monk — having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling — considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.'" It adds that this awareness-release is different from the awareness-release that results when one doesn't attend to any themes. Thus this state of concentration cannot be entirely equated with the emptiness as a meditative dwelling mentioned in this sutta. MN 106 further adds that if one frequently abides in the emptiness awareness-release, one may either attain the dimension of nothingness — one of the formless states — or be committed to the discernment that will lead to Awakening. The first of these two alternatives is another way in which emptiness as an awareness-release differs from emptiness as a meditative dwelling as defined in MN 121. However, because the standard definition of discernment is seeing phenomena in terms of the four noble truths, the second alternative — being committed to discernment — would apparently follow the same pattern suggested by SN 12.15, above. In other words, as one no longer perceives phenomena in terms of self, one tends to view them simply as examples of stress arising and passing away. So, again, this third meaning of emptiness, like the second, eventually leads in practice back to the first. As MN 43 notes, when one attains full awakening, the themeless awareness-release and the emptiness awareness-release come to differ only in name, and not in actuality.

In reading the following sutta, you will notice that the various meanings of emptiness will fit some contexts better than others. Still, it is important to remember that in the course of practice, all three meanings are related and all will inevitably play a role in Awakening.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.122.than.html




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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Emptiness and morality
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2017, 04:04:31 pm »
I am new in this forum and this is my first thread. So here is my first question: How could we find a base for morality if emptiness is true?


Emtpiness is empty of self-view. Read here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.085.than.html

If the mind is empty of self-view, how can it be immoral since the cause of immorality is selfishness?

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To move onto Sila (Virtuous Conduct), one who has an empty mind, free of grasping at and clinging to a (non-existent) self or to things as being possessions of a self, is one whose bodily and verbal actions are truly and perfectly virtuous. Any other sort of sila is just an up-and-down affair. We make resolutions to refrain from this and abstained from that and then we can't keep them. It's up - and - down because we don't know how to let go of self and the possessions of self right from the start. There being no freedom from self there can be no real sila, or if there is, it's inconsistent. It is not ariyakantasila, the virtuous conduct that is of contentment to the Noble Ones, it is worldly sila, continually up and down. It can never become transcendental sila. Whenever the mind is empty, if it's only for a moment, or if it's for a day or a night or however long, for that length of time one has true sila.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Heart_Wood_from_the_Bo_Tree.htm


 :dharma:

 


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