Author Topic: Yogacara  (Read 2884 times)

Offline lowonthetotem

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Yogacara
« on: January 15, 2010, 11:15:41 am »
I know that theis school of thought are central to many Mahayana concepts are were predecessors to our current some Buddhist schools.  I'd just like to open a discussion about them where people who are more learned in these areas could help me and others better understand their historical context as well as their ideological context.  I know some of the lists but am more interested in how to synthesize their importance into a more complete knowledge.  Anything you can offer would be appreciated.

eight consciousnesses
The five sense consciousnesses
The judging consciousness (6th)
I am unclear about the 7th
The 8th is our kharmic storehouse

There are also 3 "natures"
Conceptualized
Dependent
Accomplished

Offline eijo

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 10:06:48 pm »
A quite readable and up-to-date book that will get you started is:

Living Yogacara: An Introduction to Consciousness-Only Buddhism

By Tagawa Shun'ei, Charles Muller (trans.)

# ISBN-10: 0861715896
# ISBN-13: 978-0861715893

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2010, 12:01:47 pm »
Thanks Eijo.  I just Amazoned it.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 07:24:36 am »
Thanks again Eijo.  That book was an easy read and still very informative.  I found some resources online for the Yogacarabhumi in Chinese, but there isn't much in English except a summary.  This is primarily a list of the Bodhisattva stages, as well as their sub-division in some case, without commentary.  It is a list of section titles it seems.  The Chinese version has been put into a database.  I was trying to find some software to tranlsate it.  So far, Google translator has not been successful.

Here is a link to the summary
http://www.acmuller.net/yogacara/outlines/YBh-summary-utf8.htm

Here is a link to the database
http://ybh.ddbc.edu.tw/

Charles Muller seem to be the prominent translator of information on Yogacara into English.  At the end of Tagawa Shun'ei's book he suggests going to one of the Mahayana sutras, specifically the Lankavatara Sutra.  I know that is available in English.  Does anyone else have suggestions for futher readings into Yogacara.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2010, 01:55:38 am »
Here's a link to my two principle lamas' commentary on Mind-Only. I think you may find it helpful:
http://www.chiso.citymax.com/catalog/item/2175313/4890656.htm

*Note: the description of the text on the website uses the word "hinayana." However, please take this with a grain of salt because the American students of these lamas who operate their website and carry out their publishing, etc don't frequent online Buddhist forums and most people who've never spent any time at online Buddhist forums have no clue that this term is offensive to non-Mahayana Buddhists. They just think it means "not Mahayana." The two lamas for whom this site was designed actually use the terms Shravakayana, basic Buddhism, the first turning of the Dharma Wheel, etc in their spoken teachings. I assure you they have the highest regard for all Buddha's teachings.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 02:01:07 am by Pema Rigdzin »

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2010, 02:04:20 pm »
Thanks PR.

Some other English translations of Yogacara texts are :
Keenan's translation of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, called The Scripture on Explanation of the Underlying Meaning, and the Mahayanasamgraha, called The Summary of the Great Vehicle.
Cook's translation of the Trimsika, called Three Texts on Consciouness-only.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2010, 01:02:01 pm »
Here is a quote from the Samdhinirmocana Sutra:

"All dharma lack own-being; all dharma are unproduced, unceasing, quiescent from the start, and naturally in a state of nirvana[.]"

At face value this seems rather contradictory.  Although, it seems to be very similar to statements made in the Lankhavatara in which the Buddha says that such-n-such is not such-n- such, so we call it such-n-such (paraphrase).  The explanation of the passage goes on for pages and pages and revolves around what is described as imputational character.  It is a little confusing to me, and I wondered if someone may have a clearer view of the import.  I find it difficult to put my understanding of it into words, even to myself.

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2010, 02:57:55 am »
Here is a quote from the Samdhinirmocana Sutra:

"All dharma lack own-being; all dharma are unproduced, unceasing, quiescent from the start, and naturally in a state of nirvana[.]"

At face value this seems rather contradictory.  Although, it seems to be very similar to statements made in the Lankhavatara in which the Buddha says that such-n-such is not such-n- such, so we call it such-n-such (paraphrase).  The explanation of the passage goes on for pages and pages and revolves around what is described as imputational character.  It is a little confusing to me, and I wondered if someone may have a clearer view of the import.  I find it difficult to put my understanding of it into words, even to myself.

Maybe it is describing the continuum which is without beginnning or end, lacking 'own being' due to impermanence and the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena.

Offline Zoli

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2010, 06:04:18 am »
Here is a quote from the Samdhinirmocana Sutra:

"All dharma lack own-being; all dharma are unproduced, unceasing, quiescent from the start, and naturally in a state of nirvana[.]"

At face value this seems rather contradictory.  Although, it seems to be very similar to statements made in the Lankhavatara in which the Buddha says that such-n-such is not such-n- such, so we call it such-n-such (paraphrase).  The explanation of the passage goes on for pages and pages and revolves around what is described as imputational character.  It is a little confusing to me, and I wondered if someone may have a clearer view of the import.  I find it difficult to put my understanding of it into words, even to myself.

Maybe it is describing the continuum which is without beginnning or end, lacking 'own being' due to impermanence and the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena.

Yeah, must be something like that, and also that all the phenomenon take part within the mind so they are not separate from the nature of the mind itself. Which means, that everything and everyone is already in the state of nirvana, problem is we are unable to see things this way, unfortunately.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 07:18:43 am »
As I thought about it more and more, it seems to me that it is describing that things are "unproduced" (that is the what was really throwing me) in that they do not produce themselves.  They simply arise due to conditions.  It may also mean that our perception of dharma do not produce dharma but merely aprehend dharma.  This is when the imputational character, that is the character that we imbue into dharma according to how we name and associate them with pre-existing notions and opinions, becomes important.  It is this imputational character that in effect makes things "compounded" dharma, or incomplete dharma.  It has to due with a propensity to interpret rather than accept dharma, and Dharma for that matter, as the discourse goes on to apply this to practice as well as phenomena, not that there is much difference between the two.

Yeshe

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2010, 07:45:21 am »
As I thought about it more and more, it seems to me that it is describing that things are "unproduced" (that is the what was really throwing me) in that they do not produce themselves.  They simply arise due to conditions.  It may also mean that our perception of dharma do not produce dharma but merely aprehend dharma.  This is when the imputational character, that is the character that we imbue into dharma according to how we name and associate them with pre-existing notions and opinions, becomes important.  It is this imputational character that in effect makes things "compounded" dharma, or incomplete dharma.  It has to due with a propensity to interpret rather than accept dharma, and Dharma for that matter, as the discourse goes on to apply this to practice as well as phenomena, not that there is much difference between the two.

All phenomena exist only in dependence on the causes and condition from which they arise. They are also transitory in nature, so 'you' for example are no more than a transitory collection.  There is no point of being 'produced' as there is constant flux.

It may be argued that phenomena are also dependent on the mind perceiving them - your only 'experience' is through the mind. To go even further, one may argue that as we only have experiences through our mind, then we can only truly believe in the existence of mind, and not in the phenomena which it presents to us.  Ultimately, it may be argued that even mind lacks inherent existence, but we are then wading into the sticky stuff, as perceived and perceiver cannot simultaneously be the same (in other words, mind cannot perceive itself).  However well the logic rolls out, these premises are speculative and so will be the conclusions we arrive at.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2010, 08:24:13 am »
All phenomena exist only in dependence on the causes and condition from which they arise. They are also transitory in nature, so 'you' for example are no more than a transitory collection.  There is no point of being 'produced' as there is constant flux.

It may be argued that phenomena are also dependent on the mind perceiving them - your only 'experience' is through the mind. To go even further, one may argue that as we only have experiences through our mind, then we can only truly believe in the existence of mind, and not in the phenomena which it presents to us.  Ultimately, it may be argued that even mind lacks inherent existence, but we are then wading into the sticky stuff, as perceived and perceiver cannot simultaneously be the same (in other words, mind cannot perceive itself).  However well the logic rolls out, these premises are speculative and so will be the conclusions we arrive at.

Yes, I am pretty familiar with these concepts, Yeshe, and that is why the passage has been confusing for me, especially the pronouncement that all dharma are unproduced and quiescent, although they lack own-being.  I think it is specifically the sticky stuff that this sutra wades into.  The entire next dialouge revolves around samatha and vipasyana and how the mind regards itself, as well as conceptual and non-conceptual images.  I find it very compelling, although confusing or at least a bit counter-logical.  It is a little frustrating for me, but I guess it wouldn't be worth it if it weren't.  I just wish this sutra was a little more widely read, so I could pose some questions to others who had already digested it.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2010, 03:37:40 pm »

that is why the passage has been confusing for me, especially the pronouncement that all dharma are unproduced and quiescent, although they lack own-being.

Forgive me if in jumping into this convo late in the game without reading much of it, I'm unknowingly going off on a tangent or re-stating anything you've already hit on. But I believe it is because phenomena are the mere appearances of dependent arising, which is why they lack own-being, that they're said to be unproduced and quiescent. I'm more familiar with the arguments of Madhyamaka as to why they're said to be unproduced and quiescent, but I believe Yogacara says mind and its objects are both false apprehensions of arisings of the Alaya-Vijnana. In this case, one might type "mind" with a lower case m because what's referred to is the 6th consciousness which is caught in subject-object duality. Since both are false apprehensions, neither is actually produced, but is similar to a dream in which things are definitely perceived and seem to be the case, but upon awakening, it's obvious it was all illusory. Similarly, it being the case that subject and object are both arisings of the Alaya and thus they have no own-being, how can they be said to have been produced. Thus, they are quiescent because they are just delusional cognition, not truly existing. When one realizes their true nature as Alaya, then enlightened mind beyond subject-object duality will be realized, and cognition and display will be non-conceptual and nondual.

This is at least my understanding so far...

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2010, 10:05:15 am »
Quote
Thus, they are quiescent because they are just delusional cognition, not truly existing.

How can delusional cognition be in a state of nirvana?  Maybe I am considering "nirvana" in too favorable of a light, as it is simply the other side of the coin as samsara.  Liberation from both seems to be the real issue, and that, in my understanding, revolves around acceptance.

I am not sure that Yogacara posits that all dharma are like dreamscapes, but rather our perception of all dharma are like things in dreams.  Since we can only ascertain the world through our perception, this can be a fine line of discernment.  Please understand that this is only my second foray into Yogacara, the first being an introduction by a Japanese Abbot mentioned above.  I may have bitten off more than I can chew going right into what is considered to be the base suttra for this school of thought.  So, I am not challenging your statements here in an antagonistic way and am certainly ready to accept that I may be mistaken.  Still, I find this school of thought compelling to my own experience with practice.  I just want to be more sure that I am understanding it correctly.  To a large extent I am just "thinking out loud" in this thread, and I certainly appreciate everyone's input.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Yogacara
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2010, 04:02:09 pm »
Quote
Thus, they are quiescent because they are just delusional cognition, not truly existing.


How can delusional cognition be in a state of nirvana?  Maybe I am considering "nirvana" in too favorable of a light, as it is simply the other side of the coin as samsara.  Liberation from both seems to be the real issue, and that, in my understanding, revolves around acceptance.

I am not sure that Yogacara posits that all dharma are like dreamscapes, but rather our perception of all dharma are like things in dreams.  Since we can only ascertain the world through our perception, this can be a fine line of discernment.  Please understand that this is only my second foray into Yogacara, the first being an introduction by a Japanese Abbot mentioned above.  I may have bitten off more than I can chew going right into what is considered to be the base suttra for this school of thought.  So, I am not challenging your statements here in an antagonistic way and am certainly ready to accept that I may be mistaken.  Still, I find this school of thought compelling to my own experience with practice.  I just want to be more sure that I am understanding it correctly.  To a large extent I am just "thinking out loud" in this thread, and I certainly appreciate everyone's input.


I didn't mean that delusional cognition could be in a state of nirvana, I meant that phenomena, since they're only a delusional cognition, aren't truly "there" (in terms of having a self-nature, existing from their own side) so they can't be blamed for suffering and so forth. The suffering and so on stems from one's delusional cognition. However, since even delusional cognition is a dependently arisen phenomenon, there's no truly established delusional cognition either. If there were either truly established delusion on the subject's side, or truly established cause for suffering, etc from phenomena's side, wisdom and liberation from samsara, respectively, would be unattainable.

Also, I believe in the Lankavatara sutra, the Buddha said something like "O monks, everything in the three worlds is none other than Mind." I'll have to see if I can find the exact quote. I guess this will spur all of us here to do more studying! :)

Anyhow, it's been forever since I studied Mind-only, but I think this wiki quote is pretty on point about the Lankavatara:
"The sutra asserts that all the objects of the world, and the names and forms of experience, are merely manifestations of the mind. It is the erroneous concept of subject/object that ties us to the wheel of rebirth."* I do know that when it mentions mind, it's not referring to the ordinary mental faculty, or manas, which is the erroneous subject that has erroneous cognition of seemingly separate objects, with both arising from the alaya-vijnana and being the cause of one's experience of samsara, according to the wiki quote. I wonder if Ven Huifeng also frequents this site, because he seems to know quite a bit about all this. If we can't get him over here, I know he definitely talks about Mind-only in a couple threads on Dharmawheel.net.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lankavatara_Sutra
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 04:25:06 pm by Pema Rigdzin »

 


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