Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Mantras, Relative and Ultimate Truth - 5

As I'm substantially in agreement with you, with only differing emphasis (due to perhaps wishing to emphasise a different aspect of view and method), then I'll only briefly comment on a couple of points .....

So my point here was that in fact there is not much difference between saying specifically "my body" or generally "body". In the former case it refers to one particular body, in the latter - it simply means "mine or his or hers or anyone's" - so instead of one experience it refers to many (so to say). But quantity doesn't change the quality here - we still implicitly refer to realtive experiences (even in general form), and thus still operate on realtive level.

I would entirely agree that when the 'confused' mind refers to 'body' or 'my body' then it tends to grasping its experience and reifying it, or views it as a concrete existing object. It mistakes the luminous aspect of mind for really existing objects which exist 'out there', and so is dealing with the relative aspect of existence. It is mistaking the nature of that existence, but doing so at a relative level. But, I would wish to add that as a Dharma practitioner we have the potential to view things in a variety of ways, dependent upon our experience and realisations. And therefore when one refers to 'body' it is quite possible that one may 'see' either the relative aspect - its appearance, or the ultimate aspect - its emptiness. And one may see either of those to a greater or lesser degree, again dependent on realisation. So perhaps I actually largely mistake the nature of the 'body' that arises to my mind, but there is also a certain looseness to that mistaken apprehension, due to my having some small realisation of the nature of things.

Generally of course, this preliminary realisation is more of the nature of 'conceptual', even when the practitioner is very much concerned with direct seeing, and not wishing to practice in a conceptual way - but perhaps that is the subject of another discussion, and another time?

So to summarise - yes, confused mind will mistake the relative aspect of 'body' but a less confused mind may see either the relative or ultimate aspect of 'body'.

I also see it this way. Yet maps are defined by their usefulness - I think that is what you are saying too - and usefulness is not something abstract, it always related to very concrete situation. Which sitation is of course, of relative nature - because it is concrete :-) In that sense, any finger, pointing to direction is of relative nature; what matters though, what direction it points to.

I entirely agree with you, but again to add one point, that one way in which the Dharma, and the Mahamudra teachings are so 'useful' is that they are generally useful in a sense. By that I mean that a particular teaching, such as that of the Two Truths which I have been emphasising, is useful in *all* situations, regardless of what one is experiencing - whether it is seeing a hot dog or doing a sadhana. Whatever one experiences can be seen for what it is. So I'd just wish to add that 'yes, usefulness is always related to a concrete situation, but the teachings are broadly applicable in *all* situations, anytime, anywhere.

In my understnading - in order to point out ultimate truth, finger should point to mind's awareness, one which is aware - not to the objects it is aware of.

Here I'd like to ask a question - is there a difference? Whether ones is 'looking at' mind or its contents, do they not have the same nature? And, perhaps more interestingly, for most of us most of the time, what is 'mind' incontrast to 'an object of mind'? (Here I don't mean ultimately, I mean in our 'common' experience). This seems to me to point to something very important, and sometimes confused - which I don't wish to directly point out - I wonder if whatI'm pointing to is apparent?

Thus, words have to refer to some commonly shared experiences.

To potentially shared experiences - in the sense that the words that have been passed to us from the lineage gurus point towards a shared experience, and nudge us in the direction of how to view experience and work with it. Their words may not have a shared experience in us right now .... but potentially may do ......

In other words- what I meant is, from point of personal, "secret" experience, "ultimate" can refer to sonmething which is not an abstraction; but on the level of communication, it can be used only as abstraction.

Yes indeed! And abstractions can be useful, as fingers pointing to the moon, as you say :-) Being careful not to mistake the finger for the moon, as the teaching says, but still needing a finger in order to see the moon in the first place.

I see it this way. Roughly speaking, all Buddhist mediations have two steps: first, when you want to get something and you focus on what you want to get - and second, when you already got it. First is often refered as Shamatha, second - as Vipassiana. In Vajrayana, Shamatha becomes what is known as Kye Rim, phase of Creation, and Vipassiana - what is known as Dzog Rim, phase of Compeltion.

My own understnading - that first phase implies use of method, while second phase - use of insight. I am not a qualified master of these practices however, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong :-)

Whilst there are different emphasis and focus to the two stages of deity practice, which you refer to above, I don't think its necessary to seperate them out into one method and the other insight. I suspect the situation is rather more open and mixed than that .....

In other words - in first phase, you work with breathing, energy system, imaginary forms - whatever is at hand in order to focus your mind on "what you want to get". In the second phase, when you already "get it" - you simply abide in this state and use insight to see its nature (again my own understanding based on my very limited knowledge and experience)

Though of course by 'simply abiding in that state' one isn't using anything, or doing anything, whether insight or anything else, otherwise one wouldn't be 'simply abiding' at all!!!!!

But yes, the broad dynamics of deity practice are as you say :-)

Actually, in 9 Karmapa book - "Mahmudra, Eliminating The Darkness of Ignorance", Karmapa mentions that one can apply Mahamudra during phase of Creation as well - seeing the empty nature of forms, used during this phase (and for all I know, properly, one has to dissolve everything in space and then visualization appears out of space), so "continuity" of ultimate view is presrved here of course. But, formally speaking, that teaching is different from Mantra itself, again it is more like instruction how to use Mantra. The ultimate aspect of Mantras comes as experience, as result of applying these instructions.

I follow what you said of Mahamudra above, but don't follow what you said from "formally speaking ..." I'm guessing here that you are saying that there is a different emphasis in Mahamudra approach to a general Vajrayana approach?

Right, but you cannot use "lack of inherent existence" as method. If you could - you did not need Mantras, everything will do, because ultimately - everything is lacking inherent existence. I believe, that mistake is called eternalism...some peopel think, that since they already have inherent Buddha nature, they don't need to do anything, just recognioze the fact mentally and don't give a damn about anything else, since it is empty anyway

I suspect that 'eternalism' commonly refers to mistakenly apprehending experience as having solidity, as having inherent existence, as being really existent (as against nihilism being the view that they don't exist at all). In that case, I think you are pointing more at the view of nihilism which leads to the view that nothing really matters, and I don't have to practice, or do anything, as it's all the same, and none of it really exists? Nihilism leads to a 'do nothing' scenario, eternalism leads to over involvement, with things that we ascribe too much importance and existence too ....

You know, frankly I see it as just different words - Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya ... it is just for our own use .... And that part you may call Svabhavikakaya.

Yes, I'm fully in agreement with all you said of the Four Kayas ...

Now, can you really speak of absolute and relative nature of all 4 different aspects of this water ? These are just different angles, different conceptual views, which you created yourself.

Well yes, in the sense that I mentioned .... with you have implied above .... I was emphasising the method of how one relates to experience in terms of the two truths ... that whatever arises, whether a hot dog, or a sambhogakaya form, all of it can be viewed as having a relative and ultimate aspect, appearance and form ... and ... .as you so rightly say, if I may paraphrase ... those are always 'inseperable' ....

Once again many thanks for continuing this discussion, and best wishes in your practice too!

It has been a joy talking to you too, thank you.
I hope not the last time :-)

Best and many |KARMAPA CHENNO|,

Many thanks to you too. Your considered replies have provided much food for reflection the last few days, and been very fruitful in that respect. Thank you again for continuing to look deeply at this matter ....

best wishes

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