Author Topic: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?  (Read 373 times)

Offline IgnoringTheAversion

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What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« on: May 08, 2019, 10:10:30 am »
I can't pinpoint anything in particular, but there is dualism in life, and there is dualism in buddhism. Night and day, meditating and not meditating. "There is no night and day, and there is no meditation."

If there is no Buddha :jinsyx:, is there enlightenment?

Offline stevie

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2019, 10:04:05 pm »
I can't pinpoint anything in particular, but there is dualism in life, and there is dualism in buddhism. Night and day, meditating and not meditating. "There is no night and day, and there is no meditation."

If there is no Buddha :jinsyx:, is there enlightenment?

Dear IgnoringTheAversion,

I don't quite understand ... are your words an expression of a crisis or what?

Of course there is day and night and there is meditation. These phenomena do exist in the same way as there is the Buddha who is called 'Buddha' because he attained enlightenment and therefore attained the capacity to teach human beings how to overcome unease, dukkha and karmic birth.
We usually speak of the Buddha as if he still would be living among us which of course is to be understood as an expression of our mindfulness of his Dharma. The Buddha once said 'If you see the Dharma you see me.' So being mindful of the Dharma entails the presence of the Buddha, metaphorically speaking.

 <3 :anjali:
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline paracelsus

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2019, 07:57:35 pm »
Hello IgnoringTheAversion,

As I understand it: The Buddha’s way is the middle way beyond extremes. The idea of dualism is not part of it, in fact he taught that we should avoid notions of either existence or non-existence, eternalism or nihilism.  The debates around dualism exist to defeat dualistic notions especially in regards to our false sense of a self as apart from other.

Although Buddhists seem to indulge in more philosophical debate than adherents to most other religions, Buddhism also spends more effort trying to discourage its practitioners from indulging in too much intellectual effort, rather encouraging them to master meditation practice and find their own real experience of the truths written about in the sutras.

Our primary focus should be on following the practices laid out in the many sutras and texts which explain what we should do and how to do it. There is also a lot of preliminary instruction which is to help us understand why we should make the effort.

Since humans are so various in nature there are many flavours to choose from but all have the same goal which is liberation. I won’t even try to define what that is.

I hope that helps.

 :om:

Offline stevie

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2019, 03:43:59 am »
Dear IgnoringTheAversion,

sorry that I did not elaborate on Buddhist practice in my post above. I've been a bit distracted by your words in your post and overlooked that the title actually shows your intention to talk about Buddhist practice.

So let me now elaborate a bit from my perspective ...

Dharma practice is meant to entail the way of life that corresponds with reality.

Reality is neither dual, nor non-dual, nor both, nor neither.
Reality is neither emptiness, nor non-emptiness, nor both, nor neither.
Reality is neither this, nor that, nor both, nor neither.
etc etc

One should not be misguided by claims that reality would be this or that. Although such claims are often said to be only like 'a finger pointing to the moon' even this metaphorical attenuation may be misguiding because we can know the moon but we cannot know reality. We can only know that all we can know isn't reality.

Therefore it is important to know that Dharma practice isn't about finding out what reality is, but it is merely about finding the way of life that corresponds with the reality we cannot know.

The only one who knows reality has compassionately taught the way of life that corresponds with reality knowing that ways of life that don't corresponds with reality entail suffering.

And He taught that the indispensable basis of the the way of life that corresponds with reality is ethical conduct. Therefore ethical conduct is the core practice without which everything else is irrelevant and the perpetuation of suffering is certain.

On the basis of ethical conduct ignorance has to be abandoned because He taught:
Quote
"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html

And what is that ignorance? Ignorance is a vision that does not correspond with the reality only a Buddha knows and therefore this ignorant vision only entails suffering.
And what kind of vision corresponds with reality? Only the vision beyond the extremes of is and  isn't, has and hasn't, does and doesn't etc etc corresponds with reality.
And how do we attain this vision? We attain this vision beyond extremes through Dharma practice and following the path the Budddha taught and which is based on ethical conduct.
And once we have attained this vision beyond extremes we keep on practicing for the benefit of others because the vision beyond extremes naturally entails Dharma practice for the benefit of others which is then known to correspond with reality.

 <3  :anjali:
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline IgnoringTheAversion

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2019, 06:22:37 am »
Hello IgnoringTheAversion,

As I understand it: The Buddha’s way is the middle way beyond extremes. The idea of dualism is not part of it, in fact he taught that we should avoid notions of either existence or non-existence, eternalism or nihilism.  The debates around dualism exist to defeat dualistic notions especially in regards to our false sense of a self as apart from other.

Although Buddhists seem to indulge in more philosophical debate than adherents to most other religions, Buddhism also spends more effort trying to discourage its practitioners from indulging in too much intellectual effort, rather encouraging them to master meditation practice and find their own real experience of the truths written about in the sutras.

Our primary focus should be on following the practices laid out in the many sutras and texts which explain what we should do and how to do it. There is also a lot of preliminary instruction which is to help us understand why we should make the effort.

Since humans are so various in nature there are many flavours to choose from but all have the same goal which is liberation. I won’t even try to define what that is.

I hope that helps.

 :om:

it does, thanks for everyone here for sorting through some of my confused thoughts. I like this post in particular because it goes into a better explanation of "the middle way" than what i found in opening the hand of thought. There is no "existence" or "non-existence", because by stating that something doesn't exist you are invoking its existence. This is somewhat similar to doaism's idea that an opposing idea creates what it opposes, for example "inactivity creates activity, activity creates activity", so the dual ends of the spectrum are ultimately equivalent. Not one, not two.

On a more philosophical note, when atheists oppose christianity they profess a belief, a non-belief in god, they have a similar godlike figure in what they oppose. Buddhism is inherently atheistic but ultimately doesn't trouble itself with "belief", because belief is only a generation of the mind.

i look forward to the continued dissolution of conceptual thinking in my practice

 :anjali:

Offline stevie

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2019, 10:20:36 pm »
i look forward to the continued dissolution of conceptual thinking in my practice

Dear IgnoringTheAversion,

there is no problem with conceptual thinking. Actually it is necessary since there would be no path and no teaching without it.

However most of the times conceptual thinking isn't appropriate and when it is appropriate it should be done with the awareness of its nature to avoid falling prey to its deceptiveness.

Also, intuition isn't different from conceptual thinking in terms of its nature. Actually intuitions are the seeds of full-fledged concepts and the deceptiveness of concepts arises from the deceptiveness of intuitions.
Therefore in times when conceptual thinking isn't appropriate intuitions aren't appropriate either.

Once conceptual thinking and intuitions have ceased this is liberation. And when intuitions and conceptual thinking set in again but their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation.

 :anjali:
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2019, 03:22:56 am »

Also, intuition isn't different from conceptual thinking in terms of its nature. Actually intuitions are the seeds of full-fledged concepts and the deceptiveness of concepts arises from the deceptiveness of intuitions.
Therefore in times when conceptual thinking isn't appropriate intuitions aren't appropriate either.

Once conceptual thinking and intuitions have ceased this is liberation. And when intuitions and conceptual thinking set in again but their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation.

 :anjali:

Hi stevie. Can I tease out your meaning a bit more? When you said, "And when intuitions and conceptual thinking set in again but their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation." could this also be said as. "....and although their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation" where I've used 'and although' instead of 'but'?
“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 IgnoringTheAversion

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 05:55:55 am »
i guess what im saying is that i cant discard conceptual thinking, but i can better observe it in meditation. Buddhism is all about meditation...

Offline stevie

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2019, 10:22:14 pm »

Also, intuition isn't different from conceptual thinking in terms of its nature. Actually intuitions are the seeds of full-fledged concepts and the deceptiveness of concepts arises from the deceptiveness of intuitions.
Therefore in times when conceptual thinking isn't appropriate intuitions aren't appropriate either.

Once conceptual thinking and intuitions have ceased this is liberation. And when intuitions and conceptual thinking set in again but their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation.

 :anjali:

Hi stevie. Can I tease out your meaning a bit more? When you said, "And when intuitions and conceptual thinking set in again but their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation." could this also be said as. "....and although their deceptiveness is blocked by awareness this still is liberation" where I've used 'and although' instead of 'but'?

Dear Stillpointdancer,

such an alternative wording wouldn't make  sense from my perspective because the deceptiveness being blocked actually is what reveals liberation. From my perspective liberation is liberation from extremes. There is no other liberation and liberation from cyclic existence is exactly that liberation from extremes which is liberation from ignorance aka obscurations.
So  'deceptiveness being blocked' can happen in two ways: either there doesn't arise any basis for deceptiveness (deceptiveness of percepts or concepts is caused by ignorance/obscurations coming together with percepts or concepts) - this is when conceptuality and intutions have ceased - or there does arise a basis for potential deceptiveness but deceptiveness is being blocked because of having identified ignorance/obscurations through recent cessation of conceptuality and intutions - this is when conceptuality and intutions set in again after temporary cessation.

What I have called 'liberation' here is only temporary liberation because the ignorant habits are still alive and thus permanently lying in ambush to cause deceptiveness of percepts and concepts even if they (the ignorant habits) have been identified and can thus be blocked by awareness. The complete and permanent eradication of ignorant habits is achieved on the path as described in the 'Grounds and Paths' model.

 :dharma:  :anjali:
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 10:37:52 pm by stevie »
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2019, 03:15:01 am »
Thanks, stevie, that makes things clearer. In terms of the thread I'm starting to think that dualism is more of a problem with the West than with traditional Buddhism. Although I can now see that it wouldn't be the same problem in other cultures, it is central to ours and may need to be dealt with in a different way to get to a stage where it can be ignored.
“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 paracelsus

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2019, 08:12:13 pm »
i guess what im saying is that i cant discard conceptual thinking, but i can better observe it in meditation. Buddhism is all about meditation...

Hello IgnoringThe Aversion,

I think a point is that conceptual thinking is a natural aspect to our human existence, not good, not bad. Our problem is that we fail to discern that thoughts are just mental constructs (not truths) and so we often relate to them, as if to “reality”, in such a way that suffering can occur. Meditation practice, where such thoughts and constructions can subside yet clear awareness remains, allows us to see the nature of them.  We are not immersed in them and reacting to them as if they were external realities.

As a non meditation example of this: I had an experience many years ago, through overwork and exhaustion, of becoming fearful of ill health. Due to the above I was nervous and shaking, waking up with tingling nerves, aches and pains. Of course this had to be some dread disease etc and the concept creating mind was running wild with it.
 
I went to a clinical psychologist who said, basically, lie down and I will relax you for a few minutes with some hypnotism. During this time you won’t think at all about these problems but be in a pleasant state of rest. When you wake up you will realise that you don’t have to have these thoughts, there are better ones. Sure enough, after one session of this, any time such thoughts arose I could see what they were and could see them melt away, no longer attached to them. The problem evaporated and some R&R did the rest. This experience has served me well ever since.

I think you’re right, in meditation one has a chance to observe the rise and fall of thoughts and practice not getting caught up in
them, or to isolate them and in a concentrated manner see into their nature and the cause of their arising and so on.

 :om:

Offline stevie

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Re: What is the role of dualism in buddhist practice?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2019, 09:59:11 pm »
Thanks, stevie, that makes things clearer. In terms of the thread I'm starting to think that dualism is more of a problem with the West than with traditional Buddhism. Although I can now see that it wouldn't be the same problem in other cultures, it is central to ours and may need to be dealt with in a different way to get to a stage where it can be ignored.

Dear stillpointdancer,

dualism isn't true, non-dualism isn't true. West isn't true, East isn't true. It is only the obscurations I mentioned that make such ideas/concepts appear as if being true. **

I am saying this not to negate the usefulness of conventional speech or the meaningfulness of the conversion we are having. I am saying this only to illustrate the functioning of awareness blocking deceptiveness, to give a living example of what I have been talking about above.

For me it is of utmost importance to apply the Dharma even while talking about the Dharma. Taking a kind of 'acadamic' perspective towards the Dharma, thinking and speaking about the Dharma the way you do - seeing it as being one religion among other religions and then comparing it with religions as if it would be comparable, speaking about 'buddhism here' and 'buddhism there' etc for me would be like building a wall between the Dharma and me, making the Dharma inaccessible for me.

 :anjali:

**Edit:
Of course the expressions living up to 'beyond extremes' would have been:

dualism isn't true, isn't not true, isn't both, isn't neither.
non-dualism isn't true, isn't not true, isn't both, isn't neither.
West isn't true, isn't not true, isn't both, isn't neither.
East isn't true, isn't not true, isn't both, isn't neither.


But usually in conventional Dharma conversations one uses only an appreviated version that only negates one extreme explicitly. But since most people aren't familiar with the Middle Way this often entails dramatic misunderstandings since it is not understood that all alternative extremes are thereby negated, too, although only implicitly.
But even if the full version of negating all extremes would be applied in all occasions, accepting that the amount of words used in communcation would then increase significantly and communication would become very tiresome, it would be still impossible to convey the implied vision beyond extremes with words negating all extremes as it is impossible e.g. to paint the corresponding awareness.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 11:24:50 pm by stevie »
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