True Self?

the way of great Compassion
johnny dangerous
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Re: True Self?

Postby johnny dangerous » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:34 pm

withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?



Personally no, I accept the teachings on rebirth. That has nothing to do with the subject really though, all traditional schools I'm aware of accept rebirth (models of Buddhist rebirth do not require a self), however many traditional Mahayana schools do not accept an eternal self, though the problem here is that people with inevitably waffle on what a "self" actually is, which often makes the conversation iffy.

Usually it's pointed out that this "self" is synonymous with the Dharmakaya or something similar, but then, the Dharmakaya (at least in the limited way we can describe it conceptually) really doesn't fit into anything like the concept of a "self". So ultimately, a lot of times this argument (at least online) comes down insistence on a certain type of language.

That's why I say it would be good to have reference to some actual teachings by respected teachers on the subject, rather than groping around with our own interpretations.

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withywindle
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Re: True Self?

Postby withywindle » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:38 pm

No, and that has nothing to do with the subject really



But I am the one who brought up the subject.

So if you are not dead, what are you? Are you even aware?

johnny dangerous
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Re: True Self?

Postby johnny dangerous » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:41 pm

withywindle wrote:
No, and that has nothing to do with the subject really



But I am the one who brought up the subject.

So if you are not dead, what are you? Are you even aware?


The idea of "selfhood" being based on the mere presence of thought or awareness is fundamentally rejected by most Buddhist schools that I am aware of....if that's what you mean. In fact, the non-self view of thought and awareness is built into the meditative process in Buddhism, for that matter.

AKA: I don't do "Zen talk" in discussions like this, I get the value of such methods in their place, but IMO conversations like this are best had with down to earth talk, referencing actual teachers and teachings, and going from there.

TexasBuddhist
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Re: True Self?

Postby TexasBuddhist » Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:38 pm

withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?



I don't know ... If you're dead then you wouldn't be active or doing many things dead people don't do.

WaterDragon
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Re: True Self?

Postby WaterDragon » Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:55 pm

withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?
This, too, is a very tricky subject. The way it's explained in Tibetan Buddhism and Ch'an is that it's the "seed consciousness" that continues after death ("alaya vijnana"), or the "very, very subtle mind", as the Dalai Lama has put it. And that "seed consciousness" carries with it the karmic seeds from past lives. So it's kind of like Santa Claus' list of when you've been naughty and nice, but it's not an awareness of self or who you are that carries over. It's just the karmic record along with, I gather, some vestigial memory of karmic lessons you may have learned during previous lives (not sure if I'm going out on a limb with that last bit, though).

However, this "doctrine" is contradicted in the Tibetan tradition by the fact that a few gifted individuals along with the high lamas are said to recall objects they used in past lives, textual learning they did in a previous lifetime, and sometimes are said to bring some of the same interests, talents, and/or personality to the current lifetime from the past. But IMO TB is heavily influenced by a variety of pre-Buddhist traditions, including the ancient Inner Asian concern with the soul, its purity, and so forth. But that's a whole other topic.

Anyway, no, "you" are not "just dead" when your body dies. Well, most of what made "you" you is dead, but your karmic record survives, attached to some wisp of consciousness.
Last edited by WaterDragon on Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

johnny dangerous
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Re: True Self?

Postby johnny dangerous » Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:23 pm

However, this "doctrine" is contradicted in the Tibetan tradition by the fact that a few gifted individuals along with the high lamas are said to recall objects they used in past lives, textual learning they did in a previous lifetime, and sometimes are said to bring some of the same interests, talents, and/or personality to the current lifetime from the past. But IMO TB is heavily influenced by a variety of pre-Buddhist traditions, including the ancient Inner Asian concern with the soul, its purity, and so forth. But that's a whole other topic.


How does that contradict the idea of Alaya Vijnana, rather than affirming it?

I'd strongly dispute some of that (though the influence of Bon in TB in places is undeniable, in Bon the "soul" is not like a self anyway), and I actually practice Vajrayana, so I'd appreciate actual reference to some kind of source, or at least a simple notion that demonstrates this idea. The technical idea of rebirth in Vajrayana does not differ significantly from other Mahayana views, with the exception of things like elaborate bardo teachings, etc...the basic doctrine of Indian Mahayana is what Vajrayana is built on, and claims to the contrary should be backed up.

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lobster
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Re: True Self?

Postby lobster » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:37 pm

withywindle wrote:So if you are not dead, what are you? Are you even aware?


:goodpost:

Good question.
In dharma, through practice primarily of meditation, we become aware that self is dependent on the factors of its focus. So for example if focussing primarily on pain in the body, that is a big source of the self existence/impression. If not thinking of an elephant, our self is dependant on an elephant track.

Our self sense is dependent on conditions.
http://opcoa.st/0fcy6

On the whole a cremated body does not have much ability to focus. Pretty obvious in most peoples experience, that self is dependent on conditions. Ash does not do much thinking.

Some frankly silly conjectures and fantastical ideas are present in some established Buddhist ash transcending, born again way. :crazy:

Hope that is helpful. :hug:

WaterDragon
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Re: True Self?

Postby WaterDragon » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:02 pm

lobster wrote:
withywindle wrote:So if you are not dead, what are you? Are you even aware?


:goodpost:

Good question.
In dharma, through practice primarily of meditation, we become aware that self is dependent on the factors of its focus. So for example if focussing primarily on pain in the body, that is a big source of the self existence/impression. If not thinking of an elephant, our self is dependant on an elephant track.

Our self sense is dependent on conditions.
http://opcoa.st/0fcy6

On the whole a cremated body does not have much ability to focus. Pretty obvious in most peoples experience, that self is dependent on conditions. Ash does not do much thinking.

Some frankly silly conjectures and fantastical ideas are present in some established Buddhist ash transcending, born again way. :crazy:

Hope that is helpful. :hug:
Of course a dead body can't have awareness of any kind. I thought the question was about whether whatever consciousness survives has awareness.

WaterDragon
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Re: True Self?

Postby WaterDragon » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:36 pm

johnny dangerous wrote:How does that contradict the idea of Alaya Vijnana, rather than affirming it?

I'd strongly dispute some of that (though the influence of Bon in TB in places is undeniable, in Bon the "soul" is not like a self anyway), and I actually practice Vajrayana, so I'd appreciate actual reference to some kind of source, or at least a simple notion that demonstrates this idea. The technical idea of rebirth in Vajrayana does not differ significantly from other Mahayana views, with the exception of things like elaborate bardo teachings, etc...the basic doctrine of Indian Mahayana is what Vajrayana is built on, and claims to the contrary should be backed up.
It goes too far. The reincarnate lamas are recognized as being the same person as someone who passed away before their (re-)birth in the current lifetime. So clearly, a "self" was reborn. The alaya vijnana is said to be such very subtle consciousness, it's mainly only karmic seeds; the consciousness is believed to be too subtle to bring with it past-life memories, a personality, claims to ownership of accoutrements from the previous lifetime/s, all of which smack of a "self". On the other hand, the Buddha is said to have gained total recall of his past lives, so that doesn't square with the descriptions/explanations of alaya vijnana I've heard/read. Go figure.

This is why in Buddhist circles a distinction is drawn between "rebirth" vs. "reincarnation". "Reincarnation" is generally considered to be a Hindu concept or phenomenon, highly controversial in a Buddhist context, precisely because it implies that a "soul" or identity is carried on. Vajrayana is the only Mahayana tradition that has reincarnation. According to historians of Buddhism, it developed at a time when Indian Mahayana experienced strong influence from Hindu traditions, like tantrism among others, and when Buddhism was losing followers to Hindu traditions, so it adapted in order to compete. (See Ronald Davidson, among others.) So it's possible that reincarnation came into Buddhism at that time, and was reinforced when introduced in Tibet.

But you've intrigued me with your statement that in Bon, the "soul" is not like a self. Could you elaborate on that?

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Wayfarer
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Re: True Self?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:49 pm

Here is something I posted on DharmaWheel yesterday that is relevant to this point.

In Bikkhu Bodhi's commentary on the Brahmajala Sutta, he says (in brief) that the 'eternalists' who believed in an 'eternal self' were those yogis and renunciates who had formed the view that there was a self that was self-existent ('like a post set firm or mountain peak'), that was reborn from one life to the next. So this view was that, given the right practices and conduct, the yogi could be reborn in perpetuity or indefinitely, for ever and ever - for eternity, in fact. The corollary is that there is a solitary or immutable self that 'transmigrates from life to life'. But as is acknowledged by all schools of Buddhism, there is nothing in the world that is solitary or self-existent or exists in its own right. Also liberation is not 'being re-born in perpetuity' but liberation from samsara altogether. So that is the meaning of 'eternalism', which is the opposite mistake to 'nihilism' (i.e. that there are no consequences of actions and no further lives).

That is set in the context of a culture where there are ascetics and renunciates who are said to recall 10, or a hundred, or thousands, of previous lives. So you can see in that cultural context, that belief in 'a self that is eternally reborn' would seem like a natural idea. That is the kind of idea is what is called the 'wrong view' of eternalism, according to Bikkhu Bodhi (however he elaborates the point in much greater detail than I am able to in a brief post).

But from the earliest teachings it is also said that the Buddha understands the destiny of beings who are reborn in the six realms according to their karma, until such time as they realise enlightenment. There is not 'a self' that migrates, but the causes that are set in motion during this life, give rise to consequences in future, which are experienced as self, as 'this is me, these things are mine'.

But there are teachings that correspond to the idea of a 'true self' in some schools of Buddhism. You could say that the idea of 'true self' is an analogy for the aspect of intelligence which realises emptiness. But it is still not 'a self that migrates from life to life'.

johnny dangerous
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Re: True Self?

Postby johnny dangerous » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:04 am

WaterDragon wrote:
It goes too far. The reincarnate lamas are recognized as being the same person as someone who passed away before their (re-)birth in the current lifetime. So clearly, a "self" was reborn. The alaya vijnana is said to be such very subtle consciousness, it's mainly only karmic seeds; the consciousness is believed to be too subtle to bring with it past-life memories, a personality, claims to ownership of accoutrements from the previous lifetime/s, all of which smack of a "self". On the other hand, the Buddha is said to have gained total recall of his past lives, so that doesn't square with the descriptions/explanations of alaya vijnana I've heard/read. Go figure.


None of that indicates anything about anything but a conventional self, it indicates habits and inclinations which persist from one lifetime to another. The idea of post mortem rebirth and having/retaining similar habits indicating a "self" is a misunderstanding IMO, there is actually a good description of the accumulation of habit-energies in the Lanka. Basic notion is, you will be reborn according your actions of body, speech, and mind, so there is continuity. It is not static, but of course there is repetition of similar patterns - that's Samsara after all.


This is why in Buddhist circles a distinction is drawn between "rebirth" vs. "reincarnation". "Reincarnation" is generally considered to be a Hindu concept or phenomenon, highly controversial in a Buddhist context, precisely because it implies that a "soul" or identity is carried on. Vajrayana is the only Mahayana tradition that has reincarnation. According to historians of Buddhism, it developed at a time when Indian Mahayana experienced strong influence from Hindu traditions, like tantrism among others, and when Buddhism was losing followers to Hindu traditions, so it adapted in order to compete. (See Ronald Davidson, among others.) So it's possible that reincarnation came into Buddhism at that time, and was reinforced when introduced in Tibet.


I think that's a bit off.. the idea of having similar predispositions from life to life is basic to Buddha dharma, and any understanding of Karma, it doesn't indicate believing in reincarnation over rebirth at all, though there are some that claim Yogacara is a kind of proto-atman view, I don't agree. basically you are saying "because people are (re)born with similar attributes, this must indicate a self..that's off the mark, the similarities are explained by Karmic habituation..not by any kind of self. The same goes for Tulkus, etc. in Vajrayana. No one is saying there is no such thing as conventional selves, we all have those, and we wouldn't be "beings" without having them.

But you've intrigued me with your statement that in Bon, the "soul" is not like a self. Could you elaborate on that?


I have only a bit of familiarity with Bon, but suffice to say it is not the unchanging thing we are talking about as a "self', I believe it's more something that'd be termed a "life energy" than some kind of immutable soul.

As to Tantra, there is one level of Tantra that is intentionally similar in outer practice to Hinduism, beyond that they diverge philosophically, and Buddhist Tantra is in fact, Buddhist ...whatever academics speculation of the month on Tantra happens to be. Anyway, AFAIK there is no real agreement on whether Buddhist or Hindu Tantra came first, and I don't think anyone has the definitive answer.

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withywindle
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Re: True Self?

Postby withywindle » Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:12 pm

withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?


When I said this I was not talking about the body, but that you, your consciousness no longer exists. It seems to me that Buddhism is very vague about what happens to a person after he/she dies. so vague that it wouldn't make me wish to even become enlightened. I would rather be reborn over and over again even though life can often be suffering.

TexasBuddhist
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Re: True Self?

Postby TexasBuddhist » Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:12 pm

If you believe in God or Jesus there is thing called Eternal Life where those who believed in Christ would have life

TexasBuddhist
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Re: True Self?

Postby TexasBuddhist » Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:14 pm

withywindle wrote:
withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?


When I said this I was not talking about the body, but that you, your consciousness no longer exists. It seems to me that Buddhism is very vague about what happens to a person after he/she dies. so vague that it wouldn't make me wish to even become enlightened. I would rather be reborn over and over again even though life can often be suffering.


Do you mean somehow after your dead you're still existing? ...

WaterDragon
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Re: True Self?

Postby WaterDragon » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:27 pm

withywindle wrote:
withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?


When I said this I was not talking about the body, but that you, your consciousness no longer exists. It seems to me that Buddhism is very vague about what happens to a person after he/she dies. so vague that it wouldn't make me wish to even become enlightened. I would rather be reborn over and over again even though life can often be suffering.
I'm not familiar with the relevant scriptures/teachings per se, but the Buddha did say he would continue to exist in some kind of heaven (is that where Tushita heaven comes in?) in a permanently enlightened state. If anyone here is familiar with that part of the Parinirvana Sutra, they're welcome to help out here. (Hello? Anybody?) :reading:

TexasBuddhist
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Re: True Self?

Postby TexasBuddhist » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:15 pm

WaterDragon wrote:
withywindle wrote:
withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?


When I said this I was not talking about the body, but that you, your consciousness no longer exists. It seems to me that Buddhism is very vague about what happens to a person after he/she dies. so vague that it wouldn't make me wish to even become enlightened. I would rather be reborn over and over again even though life can often be suffering.
I'm not familiar with the relevant scriptures/teachings per se, but the Buddha did say he would continue to exist in some kind of heaven (is that where Tushita heaven comes in?) in a permanently enlightened state. If anyone here is familiar with that part of the Parinirvana Sutra, they're welcome to help out here. (Hello? Anybody?) :reading:


Hey ...

I'm here and cognitively researching DharmaWheel poster.

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Wayfarer
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Re: True Self?

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Jul 08, 2016 3:02 am

WaterDragon wrote:
withywindle wrote:
withywindle wrote:So then when your body dies you are just dead?


When I said this I was not talking about the body, but that you, your consciousness no longer exists. It seems to me that Buddhism is very vague about what happens to a person after he/she dies. so vague that it wouldn't make me wish to even become enlightened. I would rather be reborn over and over again even though life can often be suffering.
I'm not familiar with the relevant scriptures/teachings per se, but the Buddha did say he would continue to exist in some kind of heaven (is that where Tushita heaven comes in?) in a permanently enlightened state. If anyone here is familiar with that part of the Parinirvana Sutra, they're welcome to help out here. (Hello? Anybody?) :reading:


In Western religions, 'What happens to the soul after death' is called 'eschatology'. Of course, Buddhism doesn't speak in terms of the soul, but it has an elaborate mythology about the six 'realms of being' into which beings are born. This is represented in the Tibetan paintings of the 'Wheel of Life', the Bhavachakra - there's a reasonable short article on it on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhavacakra.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there was the translation of a text that became famous, namely the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead. That contains translations of what are said to be the states of 'bardo'. However, such material is very hard to interpret - in Tibetan culture for instance, instruction in such texts is given in a formal setting, with a properly qualified teacher.

The hallmark of Buddhism is pragmatic - not to speculate about metaphysical questions, like if there is a life beyond, what would it be like, and so on. The bottom line is, the quality of your intentions determines your future state, that is the principle. By all means do some reading on it but the important point about Buddhist teaching is applying it day to day, not speculation about un-knowables.

:anjali:

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withywindle
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Re: True Self?

Postby withywindle » Fri Jul 08, 2016 7:31 pm

TexasBuddhist wrote:If you believe in God or Jesus there is thing called Eternal Life where those who believed in Christ would have life


I don't understand why you keep bringing up God and Jesus. They are not the only teachings in the world that believe in an afterlife.

TexasBuddhist
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Re: True Self?

Postby TexasBuddhist » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:12 pm

withywindle wrote:
TexasBuddhist wrote:If you believe in God or Jesus there is thing called Eternal Life where those who believed in Christ would have life


I don't understand why you keep bringing up God and Jesus. They are not the only teachings in the world that believe in an afterlife.



God and Jesus are in the Christian religion and isn't Buddhist or Other.


Jesus and Buddha. (Major Religious Figure)

WaterDragon
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Re: True Self?

Postby WaterDragon » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:55 pm

OP, I don't have time to research this very thoroughly, but you could start with Wiki's Parinirvana Sutra page on the Buddha's death/afterlife. Here's an excerpt you may find helpful:

Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the Nirvana Sutra understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal Buddha:[11]

One of the main themes of the MMPS [Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra] is that the Buddha is eternal ... The Mahayanists assert the eternity of the Buddha in two ways in the MMPS. They state that the Buddha is the dharmakaya, and hence eternal. Next, they reinterpret the liberation of the Buddha as mahaparinirvana possessing four attributes: eternity, happiness, self and purity.

Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self held to be fully discernible and accessible.[12]

Kosho Yamamoto cites a passage in which the Buddha admonishes his monks not to dwell inordinately on the idea of the non-Self but to meditate on the Self. Yamamoto writes:[13]

Having dwelt upon the nature of nirvana, the Buddha now explains its positive aspect and says that nirvana has the four attributes of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure ... the Buddha says: "O you bhiksus [monks]! Do not abide in the thought of the non-eternal, sorrow, non-Self, and the not-pure and have things as in the case of those people who take the stones, wooden pieces and gravel for the true gem [of the true Dharma] ... In every situation, constantly meditate upon the idea of the Self, the idea of the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure ... Those who, desirous of attaining Reality meditatively cultivate these ideas, namely, the ideas of the Self [atman], the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure, will skilfully bring forth the jewel, just like the wise person."

For those, like the Buddha, who realized Liberation or Nirvana during their life span, apparently eternal bliss and dwelling in the True Self await them after death. For more ordinary mortals, innumerable rebirths await. What happens in-between death and rebirth, the Buddha apparently didn't say. Or not that was recorded in the Pali Sutras, anyway. I don't know if there might be more material elaborating the question in Chinese sources--Mahayana sources.

edit: I've found something from the Pure Land tradition (Ch'an Buddhism), which talks about immortality. That might be something for you to explore.


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