Posted by: Soh
Dr. Greg Goode wrote in Emptything:

It looks your Bahiya Sutta experience helped you see awareness in a different way, more .... empty. You had a background in a view that saw awareness as more inherent or essential or substantive?

I had an experience like this too. I was reading a sloka in Nagarjuna's treatise about the "prior entity," and I had been meditating on "emptiness is form" intensely for a year. These two threads came together in a big flash. In a flash, I grokked the emptiness of awareness as per Madhyamika. This realization is quite different from the Advaitic oneness-style realization. It carries one out to the "ten-thousand things" in a wonderful, light and free and kaleidoscopic, playful insubstantial clarity and immediacy. No veils, no holding back. No substance or essence anywhere, but love and directness and intimacy everywhere...


Stian, cool, get into that strangeness! There is a certain innocent, not-knowing quality to strangeness that counteracts the rush to certainty, the need to arrive, to land.

I still don't get your "no compromise" point. Can you rephrase it, but without the words "between" or "compromise"?

Anything can be denied. And is. There is one prominent Advaita teacher that I like who likes to say "You can't deny that you are the awareness that is hearing these words right now."

This kind of gapless continuity, so prized in Advaita, is readily denied in other approaches to experience:

you. can't. deny. that. you. are. the. awareness. hearing. these. words. right. now.

I remember feeling during one retreat, just how many ways that this could be denied. From a different model of time and experience, there are gaps and fissures all over the place, even in that sentence (hence. the. dots). Each moment is divided within itself, carrying traces of past and future (retention and protention). The first "you"-moment and the second "you"-moment are not necessarily experienced by the same entity. Each "I" is different. Entitification itself is felt as autoimmune, as divided within itself, and any "gaplessness" is nothing more than a paste-job.

Not saying one of these is right and the other wrong. Just pointing out how something so undeniable can readily be denied!


Emptiness group:

Awareness and Emptiness.

Many people, myself at times as well, have thought that Advaitic, atman-style awareness and emptiness are the same thing. When I began to study Nagarjuna, I was reading through a lens colored by the Advaita teachings. You know how they go, Awareness is the Self and very nature of me. The psychophysical components are certainly not me. I remain the same through the coming and going and changing of the components.

At that time, I had had trouble understanding 50% of the key line in the Heart Sutra,

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form."

I got the "form is emptiness" part. But I couldn't grok the "emptiness is form" part. Thinking that Advaitic Awareness=emptiness, I was used to thinking that Awareness IS, whether universes arise or not. How can Awareness equal its contents? And if it did, why even call it global Awareness? The contents could speak for themselves," I was thinking.

Also, many Advaitic-style teachings proceed by refuting the phenomena (thoughts, feelings and sensations) but retaining THAT to which they arise. That was the type of teaching I was used to, and it colored my approach to Madhyamika.

So it was very easy to read the Buddhist notion of "emptiness" in this same way. But it began to get a little puzzling. In my readings of Prasangika Madhyamika (which never mentions a global awareness), they never say that anywhere that emptiness=awareness. Nevertheless, I was supplying this equivalence for myself, making the mental substitution of one highest path's highest term with another's.

As I continued, there seem less and less evidence that Madhyamika was doing this, but I didn't encounter anything that knocked the idea away. It got more and more puzzling for me.

And then one day I read this from Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Sloka IX:4, about the "prior entity," or a subject or owner or substrate for what is seen and heard. (translations from the Garfield edition).

"If it can abide Without the seen, etc., Then, without a doubt, They can abide without it."

Then it dawned on me! The independence (and hence the dependence) that Buddhism is talking about is two-way, not just one-way. If A is logically independent from B, then B is logically independent from A.

If you can have a self that doesn't depend on things seen, then you can have things seen that do not depend on a self.

So, for Nagarjuna, can you really have a self that is truly bilaterally independent from what is seen?

No, because of his next sloka, IX:10:

"Someone is disclosed by something. Something is disclosed by someone. Without something how can someone exist? Without someone how can something exist?"

With these two verses, I finally understood the two-way dependence that Buddhism was talking about. And both halves of that important line in the Heart Sutra finally made sense!!
0 Responses