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Schools of Buddhism => Vajrayana => Gelug => Topic started by: 0118401 on November 05, 2011, 08:11:24 am

Title: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: 0118401 on November 05, 2011, 08:11:24 am
Given that the body is imputed onto the parts, and the parts themselves are also imputation, where is this basis of imputation coming from? Karma created through self-grasping ignorance presumably? I suppose that this is why in Tantra it is completely valid to abandon the imputation of our ordinary body and mind and generate as our deity instead (initially as a phenomena source), which in light of what I've just said is in fact more valid as its created through wisdom and concentration as opposed to familarity and self-grasping ignorance.
 
Despite this, on a certain level I'm still struggling to understand how a self-generation that initially only appears to one primary mind as a phenomena source is as equally (or more) valid than my ordinary body and mind which currently appears to all my primary minds? Perhaps, validity cannot be measured simply by the number of primary minds to which a phenomena appears, as the primary minds to which my ordinary body and mind appear have mistaken discrimination in their retinue. If so, my evaluation is fundamentally flawed from the outset and serves only to reinforce the comment made previously about the self-generation being more valid than my ordinary body and mind.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Caz on November 05, 2011, 11:42:19 am
Given that the body is imputed onto the parts, and the parts themselves are also imputation, where is this basis of imputation coming from? Karma created through self-grasping ignorance presumably? I suppose that this is why in Tantra it is completely valid to abandon the imputation of our ordinary body and mind and generate as our deity instead (initially as a phenomena source), which in light of what I've just said is in fact more valid as its created through wisdom and concentration as opposed to familarity and self-grasping ignorance.
 
Despite this, on a certain level I'm still struggling to understand how a self-generation that initially only appears to one primary mind as a phenomena source is as equally (or more) valid than my ordinary body and mind which currently appears to all my primary minds? Perhaps, validity cannot be measured simply by the number of primary minds to which a phenomena appears, as the primary minds to which my ordinary body and mind appear have mistaken discrimination in their retinue. If so, my evaluation is fundamentally flawed from the outset and serves only to reinforce the comment made previously about the self-generation being more valid than my ordinary body and mind.

That comment is pretty spot on :) With concentration and familiarity the self generated body become more valid then our current basis of imputation.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Yeshe on November 05, 2011, 11:48:26 am
There are many highly complex explanations of this and plenty of HYT advice, perhaps best obtained from the Root Guru or those taught directly by him.

So I'll be really simplistic, as it's sometimes all my brain can handle:

Everyone's mind assimilates such things in different ways.

This is why we begin with 'in front' generation in the lower tantras.

If our mind can't handle the reality of there being a deity in front of us, it is unlikely to accept the reality of self-generation as ourself as the deity.

You are right IMHO to see both sides of this:

The phenomena in ALL realities are equally empty of inherent existence, so equally 'unreal' in that sense.

In the same way, each 'reality' is equally 'real' if the mind deems them to be so. I failed hopelessly to get that across on the NKT Facebook group, but it seems logical to me.

Ultimately, I want my reality to become permanently that of the Yidam.  The logical corollary of attaining this is that 'I' would then need to self-generate as 'my human body' existence in order to remove myself from my reality as the Yidam and enter what I previously thought was the real 'me'.

The reason Tantra is sometimes describes as the 'Quick Path' is that some people have previous lives and karma which enables them to attain enlightenment within this lifetime. We won't all be able to, so I guess we must make as much progress as we can before entering a process which can lead to Vajra Hell as well as to Vajra Heaven. 

Entering the the Yidam's blissful 'mandala' isn't something I've heard of as an instant process, and you may end up confused as you move between these states.  I'll probably be shot for it, but I would say that like experimentation with mind-altering drugs you need someone to be with you on the trip into self-generation.

I'll also risk another bullet for saying that teachers are sometimes too keen to encourage students to enter HYT practice which they haven't even mastered themselves - the blind leading the blind.   It's one thing to encourage students to take an empowerment as a blessing and to create imprints etc. and quite another to encourage someone new to Buddhism and to Tantra to take on the practice commitments, samaya etc.  - the risk of Vajra Hell is that not only may they not keep their commitments, they may screw up their minds and lose their grip on all 'realities'.

That's my simple view on reality - our 'self' grasping may be too strong to allow us to let go of one reality and enter another, or it may be too weak and we lose all sense of the 'real'.  There is a 'middle way', a gradual transition, helped by a spiritual friend as we practice the Yogas. :)

Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: 0118401 on November 05, 2011, 12:26:31 pm
I'll also risk another bullet for saying that teachers are sometimes too keen to encourage students to enter HYT practice which they haven't even mastered themselves - the blind leading the blind.   It's one thing to encourage students to take an empowerment as a blessing and to create imprints etc. and quite another to encourage someone new to Buddhism and to Tantra to take on the practice commitments, samaya etc.  - the risk of Vajra Hell is that not only may they not keep their commitments, they may screw up their minds and lose their grip on all 'realities'.


One of the things that struck me was how easily you could end up in a psychiatric hospital by misinterpreting and applying these teachings incorrectly. Often, detailed guidance on the practice is missing it seems. I've been lucky in that I never had any major problems grasping the basic concepts and trying to walk the middle way, although I hold ordinary appearence and conception virtually all the time outside meditation. When I first came across tantra, I was very excited by the tangible potential for 'self' transformation, and the incredibly powerful logic and faultless reasoning supporting these practices. I was told by a trusted and experienced practitioner that this was due to previous imprints. My intellectual questioning has always been drawn to trying to understand the source of our ordinary basis of imputation arising from mistaken appearence due to self-grasping ignorance. I don't often have the mental energy to reflect on it though.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Caz on November 05, 2011, 12:40:17 pm
Yeshe made a good comment  ;D

Je tsongkhapa says that we should gain experience in the lower Tantra's before progressing onto the Higher Tantra's so we have a firm basis of understanding with which to practice and this firm basis of practicing Lower Tantra's depends directly on gaining deep experience in Lamrim and Lojong without this we have no suitable basis for completing Tantric practices because they all depend upon the precious mind of Bodhichitta and a solid understanding of the Emptiness of self and phenomena.

Even Developing Bodhichitta has to have a begining so it is definitly very wise to take your time building up an immoveable foundation of good qualities before coming to cut the root of Samsara after all Dharma is represented as a wisdom sword and if its to edges are blunt it will not cut through the root of Ignorance and in order to properly weild this sword we need to have the right armour with which to do it :)
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Yeshe on November 05, 2011, 12:44:27 pm
I'll also risk another bullet for saying that teachers are sometimes too keen to encourage students to enter HYT practice which they haven't even mastered themselves - the blind leading the blind.   It's one thing to encourage students to take an empowerment as a blessing and to create imprints etc. and quite another to encourage someone new to Buddhism and to Tantra to take on the practice commitments, samaya etc.  - the risk of Vajra Hell is that not only may they not keep their commitments, they may screw up their minds and lose their grip on all 'realities'.


One of the things that struck me was how easily you could end up in a psychiatric hospital by misinterpreting and applying these teachings incorrectly. Often, detailed guidance on the practice is missing it seems. I've been lucky in that I never had any major problems grasping the basic concepts and trying to walk the middle way, although I hold ordinary appearence and conception virtually all the time outside meditation. When I first came across tantra, I was very excited by the tangible potential for 'self' transformation, and the incredibly powerful logic and faultless reasoning supporting these practices. I was told by a trusted and experienced practitioner that this was due to previous imprints. My intellectual questioning has always been drawn to trying to understand the source of our ordinary basis of imputation arising from mistaken appearence due to self-grasping ignorance. I don't often have the mental energy to reflect on it though.

Intellectual questioning in this context is of limited value, as only the practice can move our minds.
It's a bit like reading about a sunrise. A book like Guide to Dakini Land is a manual rather than a discourse - and is the best HYT text I've read.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Yeshe on November 05, 2011, 12:50:51 pm
Yeshe made a good comment  ;D

Je tsongkhapa says that we should gain experience in the lower Tantra's before progressing onto the Higher Tantra's so we have a firm basis of understanding with which to practice and this firm basis of practicing Lower Tantra's depends directly on gaining deep experience in Lamrim and Lojong without this we have no suitable basis for completing Tantric practices because they all depend upon the precious mind of Bodhichitta and a solid understanding of the Emptiness of self and phenomena.

Even Developing Bodhichitta has to have a begining so it is definitly very wise to take your time building up an immoveable foundation of good qualities before coming to cut the root of Samsara after all Dharma is represented as a wisdom sword and if its to edges are blunt it will not cut through the root of Ignorance and in order to properly weild this sword we need to have the right armour with which to do it :)

I made a good comment? Jeez, I must be slipping! LOL :)

Yes, without going into detail, there are explanations of the 'armour' rituals.  These really are necessary as we are never sure what beings may be around to join in with the rituals etc.

Caz has also defined our greatest protection - preliminary attainments and practices.  ;)
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: 0118401 on November 05, 2011, 12:56:52 pm
Sure, intellectual questioning is of some value though isn't it? At this stage I need to use my conceptual mind to help me understand the practice and move towards enlightenment. I  love Guide to Dakini Land too. Are you saying that it's better to just get on with it and do the practices than trying to figure them out intellectually?
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Yeshe on November 05, 2011, 01:03:44 pm
Sure, intellectual questioning is of some value though isn't it? At this stage I need to use my conceptual mind to help me understand the practice and move towards enlightenment. I  love Guide to Dakini Land too. Are you saying that it's better to just get on with it and do the practices than trying to figure them out intellectually?

You can only do so much reading to understand the process.  I think it should be iterative - input, process, output  - then more input when we are aware of a change in the mind.

Think of mantras. We can translate them sometimes, and some like the 3 Om mantra are made more meaningful once we understand them; yet I'm not sure it makes a difference to the effect of the mantra on the mind ,which I find is within the combination of chanting the mantra and using the correct viualisations.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: 0118401 on November 05, 2011, 01:29:35 pm
Sure, intellectual questioning is of some value though isn't it? At this stage I need to use my conceptual mind to help me understand the practice and move towards enlightenment. I  love Guide to Dakini Land too. Are you saying that it's better to just get on with it and do the practices than trying to figure them out intellectually?

You can only do so much reading to understand the process.  I think it should be iterative - input, process, output  - then more input when we are aware of a change in the mind.

Think of mantras. We can translate them sometimes, and some like the 3 Om mantra are made more meaningful once we understand them; yet I'm not sure it makes a difference to the effect of the mantra on the mind ,which I find is within the combination of chanting the mantra and using the correct viualisations.

Good point as I think I may have a tendency to focus on the input stage which increases the risk that the Dharma just stays on the pages of the book. Mantras are a good example because I've got some personal experience of this.
Title: Re: Emptiness of te Body
Post by: Little Steps on March 04, 2014, 03:06:17 am
The concepts of Buddhism are experiential, not intellectual.
The surest way to misunderstand them is to try to grasp them with intellect.
Gradually, by doing the practices over a number of years, you start to see them operating within you, and this is how understanding happens.
You cannot rush this, you cannot fake it.
this is why the older monks are often so highly respected.  In Buddhism, "practice" really DOES make "perfect" (or close to perfect)
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 04, 2014, 06:39:56 am
 :jinsyx:  Excellently put, Little Steps.  Practice is the means by which we verify and validate Buddha's teachings.
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: thegchokgreg on January 02, 2015, 07:16:20 am
Hi,

Among the three levels of dependent arising, the most subtle (according to Prasangikas) is dependence on mere imputation by thought. By this understanding you gain the understanding of emptiness. That is a necessary requirement for engaging in tantra practices as mentionned.

I think if we think correctly we will practice correctly if you don't think at all i wonder what you will practice! What do you think? Or better to practice without thinking ? Or maybe you think that thinking is not a buddhist practice ? So the Buddha do not teach to think about the Four Noble Truths? Well you are free to think or not think what you want  :D
Title: Re: Emptiness of the Body
Post by: Matibhadra on August 07, 2016, 07:25:17 am
[...] how a self-generation that initially only appears to one primary mind as a phenomena source is as equally (or more) valid than my ordinary body and mind which currently appears to all my primary minds?

Tantra is about method, and a method is deemed valid if it brings about the result.

In case, taking the resulting deity to the path of rebirth is a valid method, because it, and only it, brings about the result, rebirth as the deity's nirmanakaya.

Now, the image of what does not exist, such as the image of the deity, in general is ignorance, and this explains how in tantra the poison of ignorance, just like other poisons such as desirous attachment and hatred, is used as the path.

Clear appearance is like non-afflicted ignorance, because it is the image of what does not exist; and divine pride is like afflicted ignorance, because it takes the image of what does not exist for that which does not exist, but is imagined. Within the context of it being a method, one can even hold the wrong view that the imagined, non-existent deity does actually exist, which is like artificial afflicted ignorance.

Now, and as above said, this is only a method. Nyingmapas naïvely deceive themselves, actually holding the view that one is already a buddha. Thinking that this is a new, superior wisdom, which they call “dzogchen”, they fall into a trap of ridiculous consequences, telling that this world of suffering is already perfect and could not be better, like a crazy Dr. Pangloss in the Voltairean portrait of Judaic “philosophical” optimism.

Gelugpas are aware that the wisdom in sutra and tantra are the same, but Nygmapas, wrongly believing that tantra or even “dzogchen” bring about a new, different “wisdom”, according to which one is already a fully perfected buddha, make a mess of the quintessencial tantric method of bringing both afflictions and the result into the path, and therefore miss the point of both method and wisdom, and of both sutra and tantra.
Title: Re: Emptiness of te Body
Post by: Kenneth Chan on September 01, 2016, 06:58:24 pm
The concepts of Buddhism are experiential, not intellectual.
The surest way to misunderstand them is to try to grasp them with intellect.
Gradually, by doing the practices over a number of years, you start to see them operating within you, and this is how understanding happens.
You cannot rush this, you cannot fake it.
this is why the older monks are often so highly respected.  In Buddhism, "practice" really DOES make "perfect" (or close to perfect)

I agree that the ultimate aim in Buddhism is direct experiential insight. However, I cannot agree with the statement that "the surest way to misunderstand them (Buddhist concepts) is to try to grasp them with intellect." From what I understand, the whole purpose of the many texts in Madhyamaka philosophy is to convey a correct intellectual and logical understanding of emptiness. These include the texts of Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Aryadeva, Shantideva, Lama Tsongkhapa, and many other Buddhist masters.

While it is true that mere intellectual understanding of emptiness is insufficient, a correct grasp of the meaning of emptiness, in an intellectual way, can serve as an important aid in the quest for direct experiential insight of this ultimate truth. I understand that one of the unique features of the Gelugpa tradition is that they do focus on the attainment of a correct intellectual understanding of emptiness, as an aid to the meditative practice aimed at reaching a direct experiential insight of this truth. Of course, obtaining a correct intellectual understanding of emptiness may not be easy.
Title: Re: Emptiness of te Body
Post by: stillpointdancer on September 02, 2016, 03:36:19 am
The concepts of Buddhism are experiential, not intellectual.
The surest way to misunderstand them is to try to grasp them with intellect.
Gradually, by doing the practices over a number of years, you start to see them operating within you, and this is how understanding happens.
You cannot rush this, you cannot fake it.
this is why the older monks are often so highly respected.  In Buddhism, "practice" really DOES make "perfect" (or close to perfect)

I agree that the ultimate aim in Buddhism is direct experiential insight. However, I cannot agree with the statement that "the surest way to misunderstand them (Buddhist concepts) is to try to grasp them with intellect." From what I understand, the whole purpose of the many texts in Madhyamaka philosophy is to convey a correct intellectual and logical understanding of emptiness. These include the texts of Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Aryadeva, Shantideva, Lama Tsongkhapa, and many other Buddhist masters.

While it is true that mere intellectual understanding of emptiness is insufficient, a correct grasp of the meaning of emptiness, in an intellectual way, can serve as an important aid in the quest for direct experiential insight of this ultimate truth. I understand that one of the unique features of the Gelugpa tradition is that they do focus on the attainment of a correct intellectual understanding of emptiness, as an aid to the meditative practice aimed at reaching a direct experiential insight of this truth. Of course, obtaining a correct intellectual understanding of emptiness may not be easy.

Good point. It's a bit like seeing through a card trick. Once someone shows you the trick, maybe in slow motion, you understand it. In the same way there are language 'tricks', or at least 'tricky language' to be 'teased out'. Shunyata is one of those. Meditating in the context of a rather complex concept like this is only useful when you have the chance to talk around it with someone who has been through it all before- a decent teacher. Then meditation can be allowed to bring it's own measure of understanding.
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