Author Topic: Nothing Really Exists  (Read 2980 times)

Offline Quiet Heart

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Nothing Really Exists
« on: January 03, 2010, 04:38:37 pm »
 :dharma:

Nothing Really Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainments, he said: "This mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of all phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, listening, said nothing. Then he called for Yamaoka to approach him.
Thinking he was about to be praised for his understanding, Yamaoka approached the teacher.
When Yamaoka came close, Dokuon suddenly hit with his bamboo pipe.
This made the youth quite angry, and he cursed in anger.
"Yamaoka", shouted Dokuon, "If nothing exists then where did your anger come from?"
 :dharma:




"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"


TMingyur

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 11:36:42 pm »
Although the heading is right "Nothing Really Exists" in the rest of the text the statements are wrong because there it reads "does not exist", "really" having been skipped. This indicates the error of extreme view.

Kind regards
« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 11:38:32 pm by TMingyur »

Offline Shi Hong Yang

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 04:11:21 pm »
TMingyur

The topic title use of "really" is irrelevant to the story, almost like an affirmation of an understanding of the teaching.  Since Quiet Heart hasn't published the source text it still reads quite nicely as it is.  We have no idea yet of whether it's been quoted or just retold in Quiet Heart's words.

Tmingyur doesn't this story remind you of the Heart Sutra?
Chinese Buddhism is the oldest form of Buddhism in the USA, in 2013 it is 161 years old.  The first Buddhist temples were built in California in 1952 & 1854. Second oldest is Korean in 1900 and Japanese in 1902 both in Hawaii.

TMingyur

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 07:38:33 pm »
Venerable

Tmingyur doesn't this story remind you of the Heart Sutra?
Well, yes in some sense.

The topic title use of "really" is irrelevant to the story, almost like an affirmation of an understanding of the teaching. 
IMO "really" is not irrelevant. But sorry, I should not have posted this comment in this forum of east asian buddhism. My fault of not being mindful.

Kind regards

Offline Shi Hong Yang

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 09:21:29 pm »
It's really ok to post here.  I encourage you to post.  I think you need to develop your ideas a little more because it read a little like you picked up on something but let it drop without explaination.  It might interested to flesh your idea a bit.
Chinese Buddhism is the oldest form of Buddhism in the USA, in 2013 it is 161 years old.  The first Buddhist temples were built in California in 1952 & 1854. Second oldest is Korean in 1900 and Japanese in 1902 both in Hawaii.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2010, 06:00:04 am »
It's really ok to post here.  I encourage you to post.  I think you need to develop your ideas a little more because it read a little like you picked up on something but let it drop without explaination.  It might interested to flesh your idea a bit.

I think his thinking reflects a distinction made in the Tibetan Gelug tradition of Madhyamaka where saying that phenomena "really" exist would indicate that when subjecting them to analysis on the ultimate level of truth, they could be found and they would exist by their own power, while in fact we know they cannot be found on the ultimate level because they are dependently originated and thus merely appear to exist.

Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug tradition, felt that since phenomena are empty yet clearly appear, to say they don't exist, as opposed to saying they just don't truly exist, would be leaning to the side of absolute nonexistence and thus nihilism. That being the case, he felt that negating anything more than phenomena's true or inherent existence would be too nihilistic because it wouldn't allow for their mere appearance, while other masters have given detailed arguments as to why merely negating inherent existence leaves mistaken notions about phenomena's existence untouched and is therefore not sufficient. These masters felt that it is more accurate to say phenomena do not exist, since they cannot be found on the ultimate level, with it to be understood that they still clearly appear on the conventional. There's been a lot of debate between Tibetan masters over the centuries about this.

I don't think it's an issue of wrong vs right but rather different masters' opinions about what is less misleading to beings on the path since it seems to me that these masters' ultimate view is actually identical. Is there any debate along these lines in the Zen/Chan/Son/Thien traditions?

Best wishes,
Brian
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 06:16:35 am by Pema Rigdzin »

Offline Shi Hong Yang

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 03:26:00 pm »
Yes I agree it differs by masters opinion and that is what makes for excellent discussions.  But as other pointed out rhetoric is not so verbal as it is action in the context of Chan.  You see this from the Open Heart's stories.  Debate is not easy to do here as the style is completely different.  It would be interesting to see if someone would debate using an agreed upon style and see what happens; only if it is' polite tho'  Your post is a good example of a proper approach with good examples.
Chinese Buddhism is the oldest form of Buddhism in the USA, in 2013 it is 161 years old.  The first Buddhist temples were built in California in 1952 & 1854. Second oldest is Korean in 1900 and Japanese in 1902 both in Hawaii.

Offline Cafael Dust

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2010, 04:25:22 am »
Quote
"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

This story is about practice and Yamaoka's own path. Philosophical tenets are not meant to be extrapolated from it.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2010, 04:57:58 am »

Debate is not easy to do here as the style is completely different.  It would be interesting to see if someone would debate using an agreed upon style and see what happens; only if it is' polite tho'  Your post is a good example of a proper approach with good examples.



Thank you, Venerable.

My experience has been that "debate" is not often skillfully done anywhere, and more often than not escalates to anxious disagreements, leading in turn to suffering, stress, and dissatisfaction.  As you are aware Buddha was often quoted in this regard.  Worse yet, when you bring this fact to the attention of those who are drawn to debate, denial, hurt feelings, and resentments arise.

Examples of Buddha's words with regard to attachment to views, which is at the core of debate follow. :

Quote
Views are the second mode of clinging/sustenance. And, as with the abandoning of attachment to sensuality, the abandoning of attachment to views can lead to an experience of Unbinding.

'This I maintain,' does not occur
   to one who would investigate
   what is seized [as a view]
   with reference to [actual] phenomena.

Looking for what is unseized
   with reference to views,
and detecting inner peace,

      I saw.
— Sn 4.9

Thirdly, and more profoundly, attachment to views implicitly involves attachment to a sense of 'superior' & 'inferior,' and to the criteria used in measuring and making such evaluations. As we saw in Chapter I, any measure or criterion acts as a limitation or bond on the mind.

That, say the skilled, is a binding knot: that
   in dependence on which
   you see others as inferior.
— Sn 4.5
 


Reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/likefire/2-3.html

Quote
Attachment to views can block an experience of Unbinding in any of three major ways. First, the content of the view itself may not be conducive to the arising of discernment and may even have a pernicious moral effect on one's actions, leading to an unfavorable rebirth.
I have heard that once the Master was dwelling among the Koliyans... Then Punna the Koliyan, a bovine, and Seniya, a canine naked ascetic, approached the Master. On arrival, Punna the Koliyan bovine, saluting the Master, sat to one side, while Seniya, the canine naked ascetic, exchanged greetings with the Master, and having made agreeable polite conversation, sat to one side, curling up like a dog. Punna the Koliyan bovine, as he sat to one side, said to the Master, 'Sir, Seniya, this naked ascetic, is a canine, a doer-of-hard-tasks. He eats food that is thrown on the ground. He has long undertaken & conformed to that dog-practice. What is his future destination, what is his future course?'
[The Buddha at first declines to answer, but on being pressed, finally responds:] 'There is the case where a person develops the dog-practice fully & perfectly... Having developed the dog-practice fully & perfectly, having developed a dog's virtue fully & perfectly, having developed a dog's mind fully & perfectly, having developed a dog's demeanor fully & perfectly, then on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of dogs. But if he is of such a view as, "By this virtue or practice or asceticism or holy life I will become a greater or lesser god," that is his wrong view. Now, Punna, there are two destinations for one with wrong view, I say: purgatory or the animal womb. So the dog-practice, if perfected, leads him to the company of dogs; if defective, to purgatory.'
— MN 57

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2010, 06:17:39 pm »
Examples of Buddha's words with regard to attachment to views, which is at the core of debate follow. :

Ron, it does not unavoidably follow that attachment to views is at the core of debate. It's no different than any other situation in which we must guard our minds so as not to fall into the trap of harmful thinking and behavior. If one doesn't abandon one's mind training while in debate as if attachment to views and such were only harmful outside the debate setting, it can be an incredibly skillful way to really force a person to reason out things they previously believed they fully understood but did not, or that they accepted too readily without working it out for themselves. One can also practice debating/defending a view one doesn't accept - one that is contrary to the Dharma even - to really test oneself. In any case, there have to be rules and guidelines and those have to be followed or else it's just a free for all with no direction.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2010, 08:42:41 pm »
Hi Pema.  Excellent post!

"Great skill, indeed!"  What you are proposing requires the skill and worthiness as One such as Bodhisttava Vajrapani, defender of The Buddha himself.

Ok, I will go along with what you suggest if the debaters think themselves equal to His attainments in loving-kindness, compassion, and mental equanimity.

Again, I ask only if they do me and the rest of us students of The Dhamma a small favor?: " Keep an honest log of the nature of their thoughts feelings,and emotions, which arise during each debate, collecting data as to whether or not suffering, stress, and dissatisfaction are experienced, or if unbinding and release are experienced instead."...and, as a gift worthy of the attainments of such Bodhisattvas, kindly in a great spirit of service let the rest of us know the result so that we too main gain the courage necessary to abandon Buddha's emphatic admonitions and teachings in The Suttas to do just the opposite.

I have reasoned and considered that perhaps what you are proposing and defend is worthy only of those with higher skills and attainments, The Vajrayana themselves!  Consider then in behalf of those, who have an urgent, even compulsive need to engage in this manor, that before so engaging, an entreaty to Vajra Yogini would be of assistance and perhaps even protective of the formulated mindfull intention to take action proven invariably for those of lesser skill to be conducive to a codependently arisen upward spiralling inflamed mind; a mind clinging to views; a mind lusting for the recognition of righteousness in the audience of all life, sentients, sapients,  human peers, devas, nagas, gods, great brahmas, Arahants, Buddhas, Bohisattvas, Pachikka Buddhas, and Samasambuddhas, bearing wittness more oft than not that such as these, and such as those, who would deign participate in verbal or written combat, have themselves during each such engagement,  led legions upon legions of practitioners, Mara beconning before them, all those in ranks and files to an unfortunate destination.

Mahayana, Vajrayana, Nichiren, Zen, and Theravadan alike forming the ranks and the file, marching, banners of traditions and school unfurled, clad in shining armor polished with pride, robes cleaned and pressed, descending all along their ignoble paths, the steep slippery sloping way to the hell realms.

Excerpted from: Supplication to Vajra Yogini
Written in Chinese by Guru C. M. Chen
Translated by His Disciple Yutang Lin

Quote
Four Fangs

May I lead all beings in the Three Realms to take refuge in the four fangs of Vajra Yogini!

Fully endowed with wondrous applications of the Nature of Great Anger,
Capable of rendering beings to attain the ability to debate without four hindrances and to preach Dharma at ease.


Mother with Fangs! Wrathful Mother! Taming-Devils Mother!
Feared-by-Bu-Duo Mother! Capable-of-Rendering-Beings-Foolish-Dull-and-Ignorant Mother!

Curved Knife

May I lead all beings in the Three Realms to take refuge in the curved knife held by Vajra Yogini!

Fully endowed with the genetics and name of the Curved Knife of Great Jealousy,
Capable of rendering beings to rapidly cut off entanglements born of artificial distinctions, and then shoulder the Holy Karmas of Buddhas.

Non-Self Mother! Great Transcendental-Wisdom Mother! Great Curved-Knife Genes Mother! Capable-of-Fearful- Killing-and-of-Discernment-and-Unconquerable-by-Others Mother!


reference:  http://www.yogichen.org/gurulin/efiles/p0997.html

I bow in deepest respect and awe to protected ones such as these.

I look forward to reading the results of their data collection.   :jinsyx:
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 10:16:03 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2010, 10:08:23 pm »
Wow, Ron. I guess I just see this differently. I feel like if individuals feel it's possible to train in not becoming ensnared in their habitual negative emotions in everything else they do, then it's possible to do so while debating. Sure, it's not for everybody. But it has everything to do with one's motivation. If from the outset their motivation is simply "to be right," then you and I both agree what fruit to expect. If it is, instead, to gain the most thorough understanding of the Dharma - or help one's Dharma brothers and sisters do the same if they so wish - for the benefit of self and others, and one maintains that vision, then the fruit will resemble the cause.

Since you mention Vajrayana, I must say that the Vajrayana barely lends itself to debate since it properly lies within the domain of personal experience. Instead, I was thinking more in terms of debating points of logic. In the Tibetan traditions, debate covers sutra-level topics like views about the ultimate mode of existence of phenomena and such. The Tibetan traditions also have debate rules which call for a requisite point of agreement from which to proceed, otherwise nothing more than back and forth arguing could ever occur. There is also a point at which the debate must be dropped when a stalemate occurs, blocking further progress. There are quite a few rules, actually. Debate can actually be a pretty lively, fun activity not at all destined to make both parties spitting mad. It can really make you crack up to all the sudden recognize a flaw in your understanding that you were totally unaware of previously - especially if you didn't even realize how much you were clinging to it! For one interested in cultivating humility as well as incisive knowledge, it's not such a stretch that one might be grateful to a skillful debate partner for helping one learn. The Buddha spoke of the harm in attachment to views, and this stands true, debate or not. But did he proclaim the intrinsic harm in debate or the inability of people to keep civil and constructively-minded during it, or did he instead make it clear that motivation and intention is what makes the difference between a helpful and a harmful act?

By the way, that Yogi Chen guy's a hoot, isn't he? It's scary to think there are people out there who take him seriously.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 10:14:11 pm by Pema Rigdzin »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2010, 10:18:30 pm »
Magnificent response.

Your support, composition, composure, and clarity of thought are top notch; to be admired.

At this point I will just observe.   :namaste:
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 10:20:21 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ngawang Drolma

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2010, 10:23:39 am »
I'm pleased to remind everyone about our brand new dialectics (debate) sub forum.
I have confidence that it will be useful! 

 :namaste:

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Nothing Really Exists
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2010, 03:50:32 pm »
Magnificent response.

Your support, composition, composure, and clarity of thought are top notch; to be admired.

At this point I will just observe.   :namaste:

Well thanks, Ron. I can say the same of yours.

In the end, we must all do what we feel is best in keeping with the truths the Buddha brought to our attention, to the best of our ability, and since points of view may differ on what that entails, it's fortunate that we have the ability to agree to disagree or pursue a different interpretation and wish each other well. I mean, what's most important to both of us - and all sincere, practicing Buddhists - is that everyone escape the round of suffering as soon as possible.  :anjali:

 


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