thank you for the post.
Disagree? Why, I do not accept your disagreement!
it really isn't a matter of your acceptance or denial. the teachings are what they are and this concept is fully articulated in the Pali canon. i usually don't like to quote scripture and all of that, since it is my view that doing so often detracts from the conversation. however, should you desire to verify that Sunyata is a foundational teaching of Buddha Dharma, i can provide the Sutta support for you to do so.
Seriously, I may just have poorly expressed myself on this, because I don't think I'm really saying anything different here.
perhaps... but you expressed yourself rather clearly... at least it appears clear
I agree it's possible to find the roots of all apparently later formulations in the fundamental suttas.
But I believe it's recognized that the early abhidhamma analysis of reality, (which is often styled a kind of "realism") arrives at a basis in dhammas that are thought of as having independent existence, including the unconditioned dhamma of nibbana. On the other hand, later schools like Madyamika hold that no dharma exists from its own side, but only interdependently, up to and including nirvana.
this is one of the main reasons why it is important to understand which philosophical school a particular Buddhist lineage upholds. we've started a bit of a discussion here: http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719
if you'd like to join it.
Now, whether the Buddha literally preached prajnaparamita, along with the Lotus on Vulture Peak, among other Mahayana sutras, or that it was rather a case of later elaborations on the original discourses, surely we're looking at a shift in emphasis if not in doctrine.
it would seem, to me at least, that this shift in emphasis is due to the Sangha. in particular, as beings become Arhants their practice shifts. nevertheless, this is a rather fine point and discussion which isn't really appropos to this thread, in my view.
But perhaps I'm missing the point of your objection.
re-reading the dialog, i would suppose that i'm objecting to the implication that the teaching of sunyata did not include "no self" prior to the arising of the Mahayana.
The relative IS the absolute, or at least that's a common reading of Nagarjuna which, with the proper precautions, seems about right.
i would whole-heartedly disagree with this view. Arya Nagarjunas oft quoted teaching is that "samsara and nirvana are one and the same." however, Nirvana/Nibbana is not The Absolute.
The Buddha Shakyamuni explains Nirvana in this manner:
'But, Venerable Gotama [the Brahman, Aggivessana Vacchagotta, is addressing the Buddha], the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?'
'"Reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'
'In that case, Venerable Gotama, he does not reappear.'
'"Does not reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'
'...both does & does not reappear.' Vaccha, doesn't apply.'
'...neither does nor does not reappear.’ Vaccha, doesn't apply.'...
'At this point, Venerable Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured.'
'Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, "This fire is burning in front of me"?'
'And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, "This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'
'...I would reply, "This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance."'
'If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that "This fire burning in front of me has gone out"?'
'And suppose someone were to ask you, "This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'
'That doesn't apply, Venerable Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass & timber, being unnourished -- from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other -- is classified simply as "out" (nibbuto).'
'Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea. "Reappears" doesn't apply. "Does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Both does & does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Neither reappears nor does not reappear" doesn't apply.
'Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental process...
'Any act of consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned... Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea.'
this is not, however, how the Buddha Shakyamuni engages beings with regards to the Absolute.
suffice it to say that, for the majority of beings, Nirvana/Nibbana is postulated as the 'destination'. once a being has entered extinction, there is something else, if it can be called that in any meaningful sense.
"I teach suffering, and its ending." You know the parable of the raft; you've alluded to the saying about the abandoning of all dharmas, even the best, in the end. Are you putting me through a Buddhist catechism here?
the difficult part is that some beings feel as if they should abandon the various Dharmas well prior to reaching the Other Shore. they are not likely to make progress on this path without utlizing, to the full extent, the tools that have been provided.
as the famous Zen saying goes... when you first start the practice, mountains are mountains. after some attainment, mountains are not mountains and when a being has full attainment, mountains are mountains once again.
however... it is a vital step, in my view, to go through the second phase of this in an experential manner, if not, the first view and the concluding view may seem to be one and the same, when they are qualitively different.
Evidently the aggregates are pragmatic formulations made for the practical use of loosening our instinctual clinging to this or that aspect of existence. As well, they serve to demonstrate the fundamental nature of that existence, which is interdependence. My point is that we shouldn't mistake these traditional working categories as the last word in the phenomenological analysis of the mind. They are tools to get a job done.
i agree with what you are saying here.
i suppose that my point is, essentially, that whilst these tools must be put down at the correct time, we must use these tools before we can put them down.
i've read a text wherein the arising of each moment of consciousness is broken into 99 discrete elements... these are Buddhists with some time on their hands!
The Buddha referred to his dharma as "a handful of leaves". I'd say we have to use our own judgement & experience to explore the rest of the forest, and avoid a too-strict adherence to original formulations.
according to Buddha Shakyamuni, once we have verified a teaching for ourselves that it is condusive to the welbeing of all, we should put it into practice. as well, he instructs, we should verify our understanding of the teachings with the "wise". he explains this in the Kalama Sutta. who, precisely, are the "wise" in this case?
association with "admirable friends" is considered to be half of the holy life in Buddha dharma. "admirable friends" are, amongst other things, described as thus:
"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."
Yes, it's incumbent on us to respect what tradition says. But the forest is infinite, and our explorations can benefit from contributions from all traditions.
to a certain extent i agree. however, the Buddha Dharma is unique in this world system and, as such, the other traditions found in this world system can only help in some ways and hinder in others.
i don't advocate an Orthodox, Protestant or Messianic view of the Buddha Dharma to any being. however, it is my feeling that without understanding, correctly, the Orthodox view, ones foundation in the Protestant or Messianic view will not be very firm.
Okay, the short answer is my pragmatic mantra: what makes a difference is a difference. If visualization of the Chesire Cat has any effects in the world or on human behaviour, there you have a measure of its existence.
But again, I'm a little harried at the moment, but I would like to explain myself at a little greater length, when I have a chance. You may still "disagree" but at least you may have a clearer view of what I'm about here.
please do so
this forum is about communication and sharing our various views of our religious traditions. we do not have to agree to have a productive conversation, in my view.
take your time as well... this thread will be here for the duration, i suspect