Author Topic: Emptiness question  (Read 2484 times)

Offline swampflower

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2011, 03:18:19 pm »
I guess I will have to be content to go on thinking as I have before. There's a lot of  good material here, but I think it is all neatly summarized by a single case:


Consider a prism splitting a beam of sunlight into a spectrum. In the spectrum appears an area of blue light. There is no blueness suffusing the sun, like dye in water. There is no blueness in the beam of light, only oscillating fields. There is no blueness in the prism, which is clear as water. The is no blueness in the (presumably white) screen on which the spectrum falls.

The only place blueness is found is in the mind, which perceives a blue sensation, and labels it with the word "blue". And the mind is not found anywhere.

In spite of this, the sun, the light, the prism and the screen continue to function and that blueness is perceivable whenever they are brought together in a certain way.

The same reasoning can be applied to any perceived thing, including the sun, the light, the prism and the screen! (This is a deliciously tricky problem left for the student as an exercise. :brick:)


"It is as though we sit in a theatre, and can only see the screen, and can only speculate what might lie behind the screen."
I suppose our mind is the theatre.

"The only place blueness is found is in the mind, which perceives a blue sensation, and labels it with the word "blue". And the mind is not found anywhere."
Blue may be defined as a certain wavelength of light. The visible blue light has a wavelength of about 475 nm. Because the blue wavelengths are shorter in the visible spectrum, they are scattered more efficiently by the molecules in the atmosphere. This causes the sky to appear blue.
However blue is still a manifestation of our senses.  A bee has different design of eye perception so blue looks different to a bee (we suppose) the bee probably sees and perceives more ultra violet and so what we see as "blue" is looking like some other color to a bee.  Our eyes cannot perceive ultra violet very well.  A being who could see all spectrums of electromagnetic radiation (which include our limited "light" spectrum) would see so much more than we can.
But this is mostly beside the point of emptiness.
If we rely on our mere senses then I guess we are trapped in Samsara.  It seems that we must use "mind" to escape!

Some beleive that the term Sunyata may be interpreted as "Openness" which leaves behind some of the Western preconceptions of "Emptiness" as a void.  See http://www.bergen.edu/Faculty/gcronk/mccagney1jun03.pdf for an interesting review of this issue.
In the "Openness" terminology we may see the reality behind the movie screen.  Sort of a built in propensity for things to happen!

Om Tare Tutare Svaha

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think we become." Buddha Sakyamuni

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2011, 03:33:24 pm »
Yup, the guys over on Dharma Wheel think I'm a Sautantrika too.  I wonder where a Pransangika might disagree with that prism post. Funny thing is, my sources of emptiness teaching are people like Lama Zopa, HHDL, Thubten Chodron - aren't they all supposed to be Prasangikas?
Hey, you've got Sautantrika karma! That's your path. If the shoe fits, wear it! Plenty of people have gotten enlightened while holding that view. Those nasty old Prasangikas don't know what they're talking about anyway... :teehee:
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 03:35:58 pm by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline zerwe

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2011, 03:51:43 pm »
I guess I will have to be content to go on thinking as I have before. There's a lot of  good material here, but I think it is all neatly summarized by a single case:


Consider a prism splitting a beam of sunlight into a spectrum. In the spectrum appears an area of blue light. There is no blueness suffusing the sun, like dye in water. There is no blueness in the beam of light, only oscillating fields. There is no blueness in the prism, which is clear as water. The is no blueness in the (presumably white) screen on which the spectrum falls.

The only place blueness is found is in the mind, which perceives a blue sensation, and labels it with the word "blue". And the mind is not found anywhere.

In spite of this, the sun, the light, the prism and the screen continue to function and that blueness is perceivable whenever they are brought together in a certain way.

The same reasoning can be applied to any perceived thing, including the sun, the light, the prism and the screen! (This is a deliciously tricky problem left for the student as an exercise. :brick:)
The sunlight meeting a prism, and a person to view it, are the causes and conditions required for what one might perceive to be blue light. Without the aforementioned criteria, no blue light. Not to mention the mind which is perceiving the event.
Shaun :namaste:

Offline J. McKenna

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2011, 06:37:13 pm »
The sunlight meeting a prism, and a person to view it, are the causes and conditions required for what one might perceive to be blue light. Without the aforementioned criteria, no blue light. Not to mention the mind which is perceiving the event.
Shaun :namaste:

The prism intersecting the path of photons could be properly considered as a cause. The observer is circumstance, but not a cause. The Mind translates and subjectively judges and relates the experience. In reality, there probably is no such thing as "blue"; it is merely a Human-applied label of a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ......  :)
...i found there was no "i" anywhere.....

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2011, 06:40:36 pm »
In reality, there probably is no such thing as "blue"; it is merely a Human-applied label of a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ......  :)
Sounds like you're a Sautantrika too!
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Marcus Epicurus

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2011, 07:12:26 pm »
sorry - I made an error in posting, so I deleted it
 :namaste:
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 07:34:03 pm by bluebuddha, Reason: sorry - I made an error in posting, so I deleted it »
The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching of the Awakened.

Offline catmoon

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2011, 02:13:13 am »
The sunlight meeting a prism, and a person to view it, are the causes and conditions required for what one might perceive to be blue light. Without the aforementioned criteria, no blue light. Not to mention the mind which is perceiving the event.
Shaun :namaste:

oops, quite right, I left out the observer. Very necessary. No observer, no perception.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline catmoon

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2011, 02:38:35 am »

Blue may be defined as a certain wavelength of light. The visible blue light has a wavelength of about 475 nm. Because the blue wavelengths are shorter in the visible spectrum, they are scattered more efficiently by the molecules in the atmosphere. This causes the sky to appear blue.

It might be so defined, but notice you had to use the word "about". This means the definition is not precise. For instance, it leaves unanswered the question of how far from 475 nm you can be and still have blue light. And if you define 475 nm as the "bluest" light then the qustion arises , "Why not define 474.3 nm as the bluest light?"


Further, this definition assumes that blueness intrinsically resides in the light. But it's not so. Consider a beam of light crossing the space in front of your face. It's the same light, but it is invisible. Unless it strikes something, and part of it bounces into your eye, it cannot be seen at all.
If the light is blue, why is it then that all beams of light are not visible as they pass by? There is no blue in the light, the light is merely a passing, colorless, phenomenon with a potential to cause the blueness sensation. This potential is never realized in the vast majority of cases.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline J. McKenna

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2011, 08:42:08 am »
The above explains it has blue because historically man has named it blue. But to other optical system it is something totally different. Blue is Human concept, as is red, purple, yellow, etc. Much like Humans to label things for their own ease, rather than understanding what it truly is.
...i found there was no "i" anywhere.....

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2011, 03:45:47 am »
In reality, there probably is no such thing as "blue"; it is merely a Human-applied label of a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ......  :)

Agreed.  However there presumably is a phenomenon out there which we percieve as "blue".  Of course a space alien who didn't see visible light wouldn't percieve it, though they may sense it via instruments.

Spiny

Offline catmoon

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2011, 07:07:14 am »
The above explains it has blue because historically man has named it blue. But to other optical system it is something totally different. Blue is Human concept, as is red, purple, yellow, etc. Much like Humans to label things for their own ease, rather than understanding what it truly is.

Yes. The only quibble I have is with labelling it a concept. I see a difference between an idea and an experience, and I view "blue" as an experience, primarily. There is also an idea of "blue", and this can be verified by merely recalling the appearance of a blue object. Other ideas about blue exist, such as technical ones, but there is little or none of the actual experience in them. This is expected. If all ideas about blue contained the experience then every printed instance of the word might look like this: blue.

Hmmm and the word "hot" might be unprintable because of the fire hazard, and printing the word "rhinoceros" might become a fatal mistake....
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline J. McKenna

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2011, 09:21:03 am »
But a concept is a cognitive unit of meaning, an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct. Something conceived in the mind ... Calling it Blue creates the concept of Blue.
...i found there was no "i" anywhere.....

Offline catmoon

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2011, 12:12:31 pm »
But a concept is a cognitive unit of meaning, an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct. Something conceived in the mind ... Calling it Blue creates the concept of Blue.

I think we are falling into the endless confusion between the object, the experience of the object, and the concept of the object. Three different things.

The object is the functioning thing, with the appearance of existence from it's own side. The valid base if you like.

The experience is the sight sound smell touch taste of the object.

The concept of the object is a mental model of it, complete with imputations, including most knowledge about the object.


Of course this is all pretty conventional, and all subject to the emptiness "treatment".
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2011, 05:10:33 am »
The experience is the sight sound smell touch taste of the object.

I think this is tricky though, because experience of an object seems to involve perception which in turn relies on concepts derived from previous experiences.
So for example if we touch something "cold", doesn't the perception of "cold" depend on an established concept of "cold" and "hot"?

Spiny

Offline zerwe

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Re: Emptiness question
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2011, 06:30:44 am »
We have emptiness as mentioned in the scriptures (of course these are also expounded upon through commentaries and interpreted in differing fashions each fitting the minds of differing individuals).  We have the testimony of past masters who have experienced it via yogic perception. And, we have valid inference using whatever school's logical system of reasoning to reach a conclusion. All of these the lead the way. However, until we experience it directly for ourselves, we can only hope that we aren't wandering in darkness for too long.
Shaun :namaste:

 


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