Posted by: Soh
(Above: Buddha expounding the Shurangama Mantra)

In these sutras, the Buddha warned against mistaken understandings of the I AM and non-dual experience/realisation prior to the Anatta insight (i.e. Thusness Stage 1~4). Shurangama Sutra in particular maps well with Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment

First Sutra (Shurangama Sutra)


http://www.heartspace.org/writings/traditi...ngamaSutra.html

(41) Ananda, you should know that the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. He also has a pervasive awareness of all the categories of beings in the ten directions. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can enter the perfect source. But if he regards what he is returning to as the cause of true permanence and interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the first state, in which he creates a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of externalism.

(42) Further, Ananda, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

He may regard that to which he is returning as his own body and see all living beings in the twelve categories throughout space as flowing forth from his body. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of maintaining that he has an ability which he does not really have. Maheshvara, who manifests his boundless body, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the second state, in which he creates a specific ability based on the idea that he has such an ability. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being born in the Heaven of Great Pride where the self is considered all-pervading and perfect.

(43) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

If he regards what he is returning to as a refuge, he will suspect that his body and mind come forth from there, and that all things in the ten directions of space arise from there as well. He will explain that that place from which all things issue forth is the truly permanent body, which is not subject to production and destruction. While still within production and destruction, he prematurely reckons that he abides in permanence. Since he is deluded about non-production, he is also confused about production and destruction. He is sunk in confusion. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not permanent to be permanent. He will speculate that the God of Sovereignty (Ishvaradeva) is his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the third state, in which he makes a false speculation based on the idea that there is a refuge. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of an distorted view of perfection.

(44) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

Based on his idea that there is universal awareness, he formulates a theory that all the plants and trees in the ten directions are sentient, not different from human beings. He claims that plants and trees can become people, and that when people die they again become plants and trees in the ten directions. If he considers this idea of unrestricted, universal awareness to be supreme, he will fall into the error of maintaining that what is not aware has awareness. Vasishtha and Sainika, who maintained the idea of comprehensive awareness, will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the fourth state, in which he creates an erroneous interpretation based on the idea that there is a universal awareness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of awareness.

(45) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

If he has attained versatility in the perfect fusion and interchangeable functioning of the sense faculties, he may speculate that all things arise from these perfect transformations. He then seeks the light of fire, delights in the purity of water, loves the wind's circuitous flow, and contemplates the accomplishments of the earth. He reveres and serves them all. He takes these mundane elements to be a fundamental cause and considers them to be everlasting. He will then fall into the error of taking what is not production to be production. Kashyapa and the Brahmans who seek to transcend birth and death by diligently serving fire and worshipping water will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the fifth state, in which he confusedly pursues the elements, creating a false cause that leads to false aspirations based on speculations about his attachment to worship. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of transformation.

(46) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

He may speculate that there is an emptiness within the perfect brightness, and based on that he denies the myriad transformations, taking their eternal cessation as his refuge. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not a refuge to be a refuge. Those abiding in Shunyata in the Heaven of [Neither Thought nor] Non-Thought will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the sixth state, in which he realizes a state of voidness based on the idea of emptiness within the perfect brightness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of annihilationism.

(47) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

In the state of perfect permanence, he may bolster his body, hoping to live for a long time in that subtle and perfect condition without dying. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of being greedy for something unattainable. Asita and those who seek long life will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

This is the seventh state, in which he creates the false cause of bolstering and aspires to permanent worldly existence, based on his attachment to the life-source. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for false thoughts of lengthening life.
Buddha warned (in Shurangama Sutra) against taking Consciousness as a permanent Spiritual Self:

(33) Further, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate about self and others, he could fall into error with theories of partial impermanence and partial permanence based on four distorted views.

First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates, "My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent."

......

Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the third externalist teaching, in which one postulates partial permanence.

......

Finally, if your pure, bright, clear, and unmoving state is permanent, then there should be no seeing, hearing, awareness or knowing in your body. If it is genuinely pure and true, it should not contain habits and falseness.

How does it happen, then, that having seen some unusual thing in the past, you eventually forget it over time, until neither memory nor forgetfulness of it remain; but then later, upon suddenly seeing that unusual thing again, you remember it clearly from before without one detail omitted? How can you reckon the permeation which goes on in thought after thought in this pure, clear, and unmoving consciousness?

Ananda, you should know that this state of clarity is not real. It is like rapidly flowing water that appears to be still on the surface. Because of its rapid speed, you cannot perceive the flow, but that does not mean it is not flowing. If this were not the source of thinking, then how could one be subject to false habits?

If you do not open and unite your six sense faculties so that they function interchangeably, this false thinking will never cease.

That's why your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are presently strung together by subtle habits, such that within the profound clarity, existence and non-existence are both illusory. This is the fifth kind of upside-down, minutely subtle thinking.
Second Sutra (Mulapariyaya Sutta: The Root Sequence)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html

..."He directly knows water as water... the All as the All...

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has known that delight is the root of suffering & stress, that from coming-into-being there is birth, and that for what has come into being there is aging & death. Therefore, with the total ending, fading away, cessation, letting go, relinquishment of craving, the Tathagata has totally awakened to the unexcelled right self-awakening, I tell you."

That is what the Blessed One said. Displeased, the monks did not delight in the Blessed One's words.
Rob Burbea in Realizing the Nature of Mind:

One time the Buddha went to a group of monks and he basically told them not to see Awareness as The Source of all things. So this sense of there being a vast awareness and everything just appears out of that and disappears back into it, beautiful as that is, he told them that’s actually not a skillful way of viewing reality. And that is a very interesting sutta, because it’s one of the only suttas where at the end it doesn’t say the monks rejoiced in his words.

This group of monks didn’t want to hear that. They were quite happy with that level of insight, lovely as it was, and it said the monks did not rejoice in the Buddha’s words. (laughter) And similarly, one runs into this as a teacher, I have to say. This level is so attractive, it has so much of the flavor of something ultimate, that often times people are unbudgeable there.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

The Buddha taught that clinging to views is one of the four forms of clinging that tie the mind to the processes of suffering. He thus recommended that his followers relinquish their clinging, not only to views in their full-blown form as specific positions, but also in their rudimentary form as the categories & relationships that the mind reads into experience. This is a point he makes in the following discourse, which is apparently his response to a particular school of Brahmanical thought that was developing in his time — the Samkhya, or classification school.

This school had its beginnings in the thought of Uddalaka, a ninth-century B.C. philosopher who posited a "root": an abstract principle out of which all things emanated and which was immanent in all things. Philosophers who carried on this line of thinking offered a variety of theories, based on logic and meditative experience, about the nature of the ultimate root and about the hierarchy of the emanation. Many of their theories were recorded in the Upanishads and eventually developed into the classical Samkhya system around the time of the Buddha.

Although the present discourse says nothing about the background of the monks listening to it, the Commentary states that before their ordination they were brahmans, and that even after their ordination they continued to interpret the Buddha's teachings in light of their previous training, which may well have been proto-Samkhya. If this is so, then the Buddha's opening lines — "I will teach you the sequence of the root of all phenomena" — would have them prepared to hear his contribution to their line of thinking. And, in fact, the list of topics he covers reads like a Buddhist Samkhya. Paralleling the classical Samkhya, it contains 24 items, begins with the physical world (here, the four physical properties), and leads back through ever more refined & inclusive levels of being & experience, culminating with the ultimate Buddhist concept: Unbinding (nibbana). In the pattern of Samkhya thought, Unbinding would thus be the ultimate "root" or ground of being immanent in all things and out of which they all emanate.

However, instead of following this pattern of thinking, the Buddha attacks it at its very root: the notion of a principle in the abstract, the "in" (immanence) & "out of" (emanation) superimposed on experience. Only an uninstructed, run of the mill person, he says, would read experience in this way. In contrast, a person in training should look for a different kind of "root" — the root of suffering experienced in the present — and find it in the act of delight. Developing dispassion for that delight, the trainee can then comprehend the process of coming-into-being for what it is, drop all participation in it, and thus achieve true Awakening.

If the listeners present at this discourse were indeed interested in fitting Buddhist teachings into a Samkhyan mold, then it's small wonder that they were displeased — one of the few places where we read of a negative reaction to the Buddha's words. They had hoped to hear his contribution to their project, but instead they hear their whole pattern of thinking & theorizing attacked as ignorant & ill-informed. The Commentary tells us, though, they were later able to overcome their displeasure and eventually attain Awakening on listening to the discourse reported in AN 3.123.

Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.
p.s. With due respects to Thanissaro Bhikkhu who is a venerable from the Theravadin tradition of Buddhism, his comments on "the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa" is not in accord with what is taught in the Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, since in these traditions the Dharmakaya (dharma body)/Buddha Nature/Rigpa is explained as empty as well. It is however a common misunderstanding even among Buddhists.

Also see: Rigpa and Aggregates

As my friend who is an experienced Dzogchen practitioner, Vajrahridaya (who himself wrote a very good article on refuting Consciousness as 'Source' which I posted in ‘What makes Buddhism different’) said:

Ah, but this is not at all what Rigpa or Dharmakaya means. Rigpa is basically the consciousness of emptiness of dependent origination, so also originates dependently and is not some self supporting universal awareness. But since all aspects of the so called "universe" are inherently empty always, so Rigpa is always, only in as much as it is recognized.

p.s. Namdrol could clear this up, as he has access to untranslated Tibetan texts and could talk about what Rigpa means. He has said that it is not established as well. Rigpa is only inherent in the sense that all compounded things are inherently empty always. Just like the Buddhas first statement. "Mind and it's phenomena are luminous, uncompounded and free since beginningless time." Or something to that effect in maybe not that order. If someone has the quote?
And as Vajrahridaya pointed out:

One reason within it's philosophy descriptive of reality is...

We as Buddhists don't make real something eternal that stands on it's own, so we don't see the cosmos the same way as monism (one-ism) does. Which is why we don't consider a monist ideation of the liberated state as actually signifying "liberation." We see that a monist is still binding to a concept, a vast ego... an identity even if beyond concept or words, is still a limitation to the liberated experience of a Buddha. We see that even the liberated state is relative, though everlasting due to the everlasting realization of inter-dependent-co-emergence. We don't see any state of consciousness or realization as being one with a source of absolutely everything. We see the liberated consciousness as just the source of our own experience, even though we ourselves are also relative to everything else. The subtle difference is a difference to be considered, because it actually leads to an entirely different realization and thus cannot be equated with a monist (one-ist) view of the cosmos at all which we consider a bound view and not equal to the liberated view.

Also... there is the concept of the creative matrix in Buddhism and this matrix is without limit and is infinite. But it's not an eternal self standing infinite. It's an infinitude of mutually dependent finites... or "infinite finites" that persist eternally without beginning or end and without a source due to mutual, interpersonal causation you could say.

It's not that a Buddhist does not directly experience a unifying field of perception beyond being a perceiver that is perceiving... but, the Buddhist does not equate this even subconsciously, deep within the experiential platform of consciousness, with a source of all being. It's merely a non-substantial unity of interconnectivity, not a vast and infinite oneness that is the subject of all objects. That would not be considered liberation from the perspective of a Buddha. That would merely be a very subtle, but delusional identification with an experience that originates dependent upon seeing through phenomena, where the consciousness expands past perceived limitations. Even this consciousness that experiences this sense of connection with everything, beyond everything is also considered a phenomena and is empty of inherent, independent reality. Yet persists for as long as the realization persists, which for a Buddha is without beginning nor end.

This subtle difference is an important difference that makes Buddhism transcendent of monism, or "there is only" one-ism.

Because of this, it is a philosophy that see's through itself completely without remainder. Thus a Buddha is considered a "thus gone one" or a Tathagata.

Take care and have a wonderful night/day!!
0 Responses