Leigh Brasington - Dependent Origination & Emptiness 4 of 4
7:45PM Mar 21, 2022
Okay, so the next thing we're going to talk about is emptiness. And so the first question is, what does that mean? Alright? Things are empty of inherent existence is the usual way of putting it. For the Buddha, things were empty of a self, and what pertains to a self? Okay, so this is mine, except this, it's empty of mine. There's no real mine in here. It's just a convention that we have. It's the conventional truth. This is mine. It's not yours, it's mine. Right? But it's empty of minus, on the absolute level, on the conventional level, it's my. And on the conventional level, this is me, this is leap, raising 10, who's lives in Oakland, California wrote two books, etc. Right. But on the ultimate level, yeah, it's just the intersection of a bunch of soda pie. We need to operate from both of those levels, when appropriate, and I'll talk about that in a minute or two or more. So, emptiness for the Buddha was empty of self or what belongs to ourself or what pertains to itself. But as time went on, emptiness was seen to be will have broader implications. And so we wind up with a Mahayana version of emptiness, which is best exemplified by the teachings of Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna was an Indian born in South India to a Brahmin family. And by the time he was 20, he was recognized as a quite brilliant Brahmin scholar. However, he had a sensual side that was unfulfilled. And he and three friends learned from a sorcerer, how to make themselves invisible. And they went sneaking into the palace into the harem quarters. And well, let's just say when the King found out about it, he was most displeased. He had soldiers stationed behind the curtains and told them strike above the footprints in the carpet. When the garden his friends returned, his three friends were killed. Nagarjuna was only able to survive by standing next to the king. He managed to flee the palace and headed for the hills. He had discovered craving can lead to dukkha. So we begin study studying the teachings of the Buddha. It is said that in three months, he completely mastered their earlier teachings. And it was at this point, he met a monk from the Mahayana tradition. Why Yana Buddhism was just getting going at this point, beginning of the second century AD, and its view of the world, shall we say from a more broadly interconnected viewpoint, very much appeal to Nagarjuna. This emphasis on compassion, so he left his mountain hideaway and began traveling throughout India seeking other Mahayana teachings. He eventually started engaging Buddhists and non Buddhists alike in debate and defeated all comers. He found in order and rules for his monks to live by and eventually said I have no master.
It was at that point some Loggos so Naga is are like, while they play the role of dragons in western mythology, but we have naugus in India. They're like mythical sea serpents, except these Naga slipped in the lake so Lake serpents, and they recognize Nagarjuna as learning and they took him to the bed of a lake, where the prizmah pāramitā us sutras had been stored as supposedly these were given by the Buddha. But people in the Buddha's time weren't sharp enough to fully understand them. So they had been entrusted to the Nagas until someone came along that was wise enough to be able to understand him and then August now thought that that was Nagarjuna. He brought back these Wisdom Teachings and wrote commentaries on them, one of which is the mullewa yarmulke karaka the fundamental verses on the middle way. It's quite a brilliant teaching and it seeks to elucidate emptiness. Now the story goes on to say that King arrange for contest of magic between Nagarjuna and brahman scholar, the brahman scholar created a giant Lotus pod, with a giant lotus in the middle and seated himself on the lotus pond and mocked Nagarjuna for being stranded on dry land. Like Arjuna conjured up a white elephant, which waded into the lotus pond, grab the Brahma scholar with his trunk and threw him back on dry land. brahman scholar admitted defeat but wish the garden were dead. Nagarjuna locked himself in his room. The next day, a worried disciple broke down the door, a cicada flew out, the room was empty. Well, that's the official story. make of it what you will what we do know that the author of The Momoyama karaka was an absolutely brilliant mind, perhaps the most brilliant Buddhist teacher since the time of the Buddha. And, as I said, his Momoyama karaka is fundamental verses on the middle way, are an attempt to elucidate emptiness not by describing it directly, but in a more poetic fashion. And so there are three chapters in my book entitled The middle way. And they are discussions of a small part of the moat by yarmulke karaka. So this is page 56. And the PDF if you want to have a look. And if you don't have page numbers, this is the first of the three middle way chapters. This one is the Middle Way introduction to emptiness. So what I want to do is share with you some of Nagarjuna is Momoyama karaka. And as you'll see, if you glance through, you know, this chapter, you will see their translations. However, for this chapter, I'm not going to use the translations that you find in the book. The translations you find in the book are my translations. However, I don't know either Sanskrit or Tibetan. So these are translations of Stephen Batchelors, literal translation of the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit Maluma. Yama karmic. Okay, so especially since I was doing the last bit of it, there could have been something lost in the translation. So I'm going to go back to the Stephen bachelor's, actual poetic translation from his book, versus from the center, which if you're interested in studying Nagarjuna This is the place to start. It's not a literal translation. It's an approachable translation, Stephen did a really good job of capturing what Nagarjuna was saying, in a way that is more poetic, or what Nagarjuna had to say. So, the first one I want to share with you Steven, titled walking.
I do not walk between the step already taken and the one I'm yet to take, which both are motionless. is walking not the motion between one step and the next. What moves between them, could I not move as they walk? If I move when I walk, there would be two motions. One moving me and one moving my feet. Two of us stroll by. There is no walking without walkers, and no walkers without walking. Can I say that? Well Walker's walk, couldn't I say they don't walking does not start in steps taken or to come or in the act itself. Where does it begin? Before I raise a foot is there motion, a step taken are to come wince walking could begin, what has gone, what moves, what is to come? Get I speak of walkers, when neither walking steps taken, nor to come ever end. World walking in Walker one, I would be unable to tell them apart, were they different, there would be walkers who do not walk. These moving feet reveal a walker, but did not start him on his way. There was no Walker prior to departure, who was going where. So what Nagarjuna is pointing to is the fact that walking and walkers are inseparable. You can't have a walker, unless there's some walking, and you can't have walking. Unless there's somebody doing that walking a walker, we're walking in Walker one, I would have been unable to tell them apart. Were they different, that would be walkers who do not walk. So the concept of a walker is not the same as the concept of walking. And yet each relies on the other. Neither of them has inherent existence. And this is what is meant in Japan, or in the Mahayana, about emptiness, things are empty of inherent existence, they don't stand alone. It's not possible to have a walker. Just be a walker without having some walking. So a walker is dependent upon the action of walking and the action of walking is dependent upon there being somebody there to do the walking. And as we'll see, it's going to turn out that everything is empty of inherent existence, everything arises dependent on other things. The next one is entitled seeing if my eyes cannot see themselves, how can they see something else? Or they're no trace of something seen? How can I see it all? Either seeing nor unseeing. See? See you're seeing reveals a seer who is neither detached nor detached from see. How could you see and what would you see in the absence of a seer? Just as a child is born from mother and father. So consciousness springs from eyes in colorful shapes. Without these eyes, how could I know? Consciousness contact VEDA craving cleaning becoming birth, aging and death? See you're seeing sight explain here is hearing sound smell or smelling smells, tasters tasting tastes touchers touching textures, thinkers thinking thoughts. So seeing reveals a seer, who's neither detached, nor and detached from seeing. So just like walking, you don't have a seer who's not seeing and you don't have seeing unless you have somebody who is seeing called a seer. Both of these are empty, both of these are dependent, neither has inherent existence. The next one is body.
I have no body apart from parts which form it I know no parts apart from a body. A body with no parts would be unformed. A part of my body apart from my body would be absurd. Where the body here or not, it would be no parts. Part list bodies are pointless. Do not get stuck in the body. I cannot say my body is like its parts. I cannot say it's something else. Feelings, conceptions, drives minds, things are like this body in every way. conflict with emptiness is no conflict, objections to emptiness No objections. So your body is made up of parts, right? I mean, you have the fingers of your left hand, and yet the fingers of your right hand and your eyeballs and your nose and your feet and your heart and your lungs and your liver, and there's a lot of parts there. So your body is not the same as its parts. But it's not different from your parts. I cannot say my body is like its parts. I cannot say it's something else. Think about it. You go get a haircut. You walk in and cut your hair. Half an hour later, you look at the floor. Oh, no part of me is on the floor. You have that reaction? No. But but when you came in it was you and that was on the floor and it's just trash. How did that happen? Are you clip your fingernails? Right? They were you and now they're in the garbage? You went from being you to not you? Or what if you lost a valuable part of your body? Now, let's don't do this to gross. Think about your red Corvette. I assume all of you have a red Corvette. Yes. Okay, good. So you have your red Corvette. What if you remove one of the wheels? This is still a red Corvette? What if you remove all four wheels? Is it still a red Corvette? What if you remove the steering wheel? And all four wheels? What if you take out the seats and drop the engine? Pull the transmission? Remove the differential? What if you unscrew everything that could be unscrewed and you lay out all the parts? Is it still a red Corvette? Or is it just a pile of parts. And if it's just a pile of parts, where did the Red Corvette go? At what point when you were taking off the parts? Did it stop being a red Corvette and just become a pile of parts. And when it stopped being a red Corvette, where did the Red Corvette go? Your body is just like that in every way. Only we all have interchangeable parts. Right? The Red Corvette is empty of Red Corvette gnus it's just a pile of parts. Your body is empty of Unice it's just a pile of parts all set. And just like the Red Corvette, it's nothing but well the intersection of a bunch of streams of dependently arising processes interacting. That's all that's going on. So your red Corvette is empty, just like you are empty. It doesn't have an essence in it. It's just an assemblage of a bunch of stuff that we give this concept Red Corvette to or this concept of me too. But in both cases it's nothing but soda by
the next of these want to take a look at is entitled self. And that's in the next chapter in my book and let's see that appears on page 60 And if you want to read along I did actually take a Stephen bachelor's translation included in the book I did the my own translations of the previous because I couldn't exceed fair use for how much I included in the book because they wanted more money to include everything then I was going to get in my advance for writing the book if I went with a publisher so I just could only use fair use so yeah, you get you get one of Stephens best translations. Alright. So self were minded matter me. I would come and go like them. If I were something else, they would say nothing about me. What is mine when there is no me? Or self centeredness ease I would not think of me in mind. There would be no one there to think them. What is inside is me what is outside is my window. These thoughts in compulsion stops, repetition ceases. Freedom Don's, punches, ball and stops that provoke compulsive acts. Emptiness stops, puncher Buddha's speak of self and also teach not-self. And also say there's nothing which is either self or not. When things dissolve, there's nothing left to say. The unborn and unceasing, are already free. The Buddha said it is real, it is unreal, it is both real and unreal. And it's neither one nor the other. It is always at ease, and conceive or bubble by your puncher in communicate, bubble, inconceivable, indivisible, you are not the same as or different from conditions on which you depend. You are neither severed from nor forever fused with them. This is the deathless teaching of Buddhists who care for the world. When Buddha's don't appear, and their followers of God, the wisdom of awakening, burst forth by itself. This might be worth going through a second time, Where Mind and Matter me, I would come and go like them. If I were something else, they would say nothing about me. So if you are your body in mind, well, they say you change out all of your cells every seven years. I mean, you got almost nothing left from the point where you were born. Maybe it's a couple atoms hanging around. But yeah, it's all changed. That mean you're somebody different. And your mind you change your mind all the time. If you become somebody else, every time you change your mind. Yet, your body and your mind do well say a lot about me. Right? But this is in a conventional sense, but in an ultimate sense. They're just well, more so to pi. What is mine when there is no me? This is a Buddhist strategy for getting out of dukkha. Right? You're to investigate a Niger do not till the point where you can't actually uproot that sense of self. This is, this is one of the last fetters to go with the fourth stage of awakening. Usually retranslate is conceit, but better would be conceiving of the self. Right? Because if you don't conceive of yourself, then there's nobody there to crave. That can't be a thought of I want to get that you know want to get that implies somebody who's going to get it, then the same thing was clean. There's nobody there to think I have this is it this nobody there's nobody to own it.
What is my when there is no me? We're self centered is easy, I would not think of me and my there would be no one there to think them. So the Buddha's basically saying yeah, try and look at the world from a less egocentric perspective and get a real sense of what's going on. If you can get enough insight from that direction or real sense of the world from the non egocentric perspective, then maybe you can let go enough to actually let go of the sense of self and get free of dukkha what is inside is me what is outside is my when these thoughts in compulsion stops, repetition ceases, Freedom dawns all the compulsions that we have. Yeah, it's me behind those compulsions. I gotta get this I got to get rid of this. Whatever it is, it's I repetition I got I got to do it again. I got to do it. Yeah, I was that stops freedom. daunts. Punches sponsor thoughts that provoke compulsive acts. In keep your rotten potato. Empty, this stops Propecia. Once you really begin to not just understand but experience the empty nature of reality, you're far less likely to get carried away into papañca Buddhist speak of self and also teach not-self. And also say there's nothing which is either self or not. So when the Buddha's teaching the brahmavihāra says, he's speaking of self, one should give mettā to all as to oneself, and so theirselves there. But other times he teaches not-self. If you remember the so called second discourse, the discourse on not-self, he asked his five ascetic friends, is body self. Well, it's impermanent, it's dukkha. No, that's not going to work. And then the same for each of the other aggregates. They're all not-self. And so he's teaching not-self. And he also teaches there is nothing which is either self or not. To me, the most profound SUTA in the whole of the canon is samudaya 1215, got jhāna goTenna sutra, in that suta, the venerable Katyayani gota comes to the Buddha, in what scenario, right view what is right view, the Buddhist says, this world, for the most part depends upon a duality, upon the notion of existence, and the notion of non existence. We're actually literally the notion of it is and the notion of it is not. But when one sees the arising of the world as it actually is with correct wisdom, one does not think in terms of non existence. And when one sees the ceasing of the world as it actually is with correctness of one doesn't think in terms of existence. This world is caught up in views and opinions and ideas, one with right view does not get caught in views and opinions. What was right view does not take a stand about myself, my soul, my anattā. Right, the Buddha's saying, if you can see the world not in terms of existence and non existence, then you won't take a stand saying, I exist, or I don't exist. I have a self I don't have a self. People ask the Buddha. Okay, once and for all, is there a self? He wouldn't answer? Is there no self? He wouldn't answer.
He said that if he said there was a self, that would be the mistake of eternalism. And if he said there was no self, well, that would be the mistake of isolationism. Better not to say anything. Because that would just get people more confused. They needed to practice more. So what the Buddha is basically saying is if you really get this dependent origination thing, you don't think in terms of existence. Don't think in terms of non existence. You think in terms of soda pie, this how I would phrase it. He says that one with right view sees that when there's an arising, it's only dukkha arising. And when there's a ceasing, there's only dukkha ceasing. Oh, when I first read that, it was like, what? That chocolate cake that arose the other day, that wasn't too good. That was really good. I wish I had some more, it's all gone. And that headache that I had, when it went away when it sees that was not dukkha hope it doesn't come back. So the thing is to realize that nothing is going to give you lasting happiness. When there is a rising, what's arising is not going to give you lasting happiness. And when there's a ceasing, what ceasing also wasn't going to give you lasting happiness. The chocolate cake ceased, no lasting happiness, the headaches cease, that's happiness, but it might come back. So the lasting happiness, another translation for dukkha would be not a source of lasting happiness. Everything exists, this is one extreme, nothing exist. This is the other extreme, without veering towards either of these extremes, I target at teaches dharma via the middle with this as necessary condition that arises. If this doesn't happen, that does not arise. Now if you look at the SUTA You'll find that it actually says something slightly different. It gives the 12 links of dependent origination in the forward arising order and the forward ceasing order. I suspect that was a later addition. It doesn't really make any sense. And turns out I found some scholars that are saying the same thing. Vinci Pundi says that in his studies in the origin of Buddhism, and he quotes Carolyn race, David's for saying the same thing. What I suspected all along that it said was something like this, that conditionality dependent origination, and then somebody sent me the Chinese version of that suit. And guess what it says this that conditionality dependent origination, and then answer 12 likes. So But anyhow, the SUTA is not about a self or they're not being a self is neither a self or not. This just, well, streams of dependently arising processes interacting. When things dissolve, there's nothing left to say. The unborn and unceasing are already free. We go around thing defying the world. It's a water glass, right? Obviously, water glass got water in its glass. You just think Nephi this. It's just some pixels. That's all that's happening. You're seeing some colored pixels, and you're making it into a water glass. We do that with everything we conceptualize it Sanja. Right? Can you experience the world prior to Sanya? This is the advice to buy. Remember by ear it came to the Buddha wanted some teaching when the Buddha was on all drowned. And the Buddha said to him, in seeing let there just be seeing and hearing just hearing and syncing, just syncing cognitive cognizing just cognizing. When you can do that by here, there's no you and that there's no you and this just this is the end of dukkha roll that was enough for Bahia to become fully awakened. It was a play on the teaching in the Brihadaranyaka punish shot that the Buddha knew that by he was following because he was by he of the barkcloth he was dressed like a tree, which is what the followers of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad wore.
But in seeing let there just be seeing, don't see objects can you just see seeing when things dissolve, there's nothing left to say. The unborn and unceasing are already free. If you don't get bored, and you don't die, right, if you don't go around giving birth to things, they're not going to cease. Right? There's just the visual field. It's all free already. The Buddha said it is real and it is unreal and is both real and unreal. And it's neither one nor the other. It's very important to remember the Buddha wasn't doing consistent metaphysics. He wasn't doing metaphysics at all metaphysics is trying to explain how reality is what it's like. Buddha said repeatedly, I teach only dukkha and the end of dukkha. And so it depended on to whom he was speaking, what he had to say. And so sometimes he would say it's real. And sometimes you say it's not real. And sometimes you say it both. Sometimes he would say it's neither. But it depended on his listener. What the Buddha was teaching was what he felt people needed to learn, so that they could practice effectively. Now, indeed, there is such a thing as Buddhist metaphysics. It's a big deal in the AVI, dharma and the commentaries, but it's not from the Buddha. It's from taking what the Buddha taught and converting it into metaphysics. The Buddha was, well if you want to give him a title of phenomenologist, he was studying phenomena and how we respond to it. The way out of dukkha don't respond with craving and clinging when you have pleasant or unpleasant vapordna. Okay, that's not metaphysics. That's the way out of dukkha. It's all at ease. No amount of papañca is going to put it at ease. It's in communicative, all inconceivable and divisible. The universe is as it is just there. But it's too big for our little pea brains to handle. So we need to chop it up into bits and pieces to be able to find things to eat and a place to live and etc. But this is our conventional approach to staying alive, but it's not. What's actually there. What's actually there is incommunicable, inconceivable, indivisible. Remember, I said there were only verbs, you know, nouns were just slow moving verbs. Truth be told, there's only one verb unfolding. We could say the universe is unfolding. But the universe is superfluous. There's just unfolding. That's all that's happening. But that's a little too much for pea brains to take in. So we need to chop it up into bits and pieces to find something to eat, and something to wear and a place to live, etc. But at the ultimate level, it's invisible. It's all interconnected. in ways that aren't readily apparent. It's inconceivable, there is no concept that's going to give you an accurate picture of what's going on. And in communicate a ball, all I can do is sort of be the finger pointing at the moon, and hope that you don't start looking at fingernail polish or rings or something like that. Right. So yes, a good teacher can point you in the direction. But you're going to have to get there yourself because it's in communicate a bowl, inconceivable, indivisible. You are not the same as or different from conditions on which you depend, you are neither severed from nor forever fused with them. This is the deathless teaching of Buddhists who care for the world. Those six lines, right, there are more of the source of soda pie than anything else I've studied. You are not the same as are different from the conditions on which you depend. You're neither severed from nor forever fused with. So what you have for lunch, Jeff, some lettuce maybe.
Right, so you're not that lettuce. But you're not separate from that lettuce. Right? It's become part of you, but you're not forever fused with it. Yet you're not severed from it. The fact that you ate your lunch today has had an effect on who you are, how your brain works and how your body works. You're not the same is we're different from the conditions of which you depend. Your knees are severed from them, are forever fused with them. This is the deathless teaching of Buddha's who care for the world. This is SOTA pi, this is dependent origination. When Buddha's don't appear and their followers are gone, the wisdom of awakening burst forth by itself. You don't need the Buddha to explain this to you. You don't need the Buddhist followers to explain this to you. But it's really hard to see. But if you look carefully, you can see this for yourself. I would have never seen it without the Buddha and his followers pointing me in this direction. I really needed their help. Okay, I wouldn't have gotten here otherwise. But it's there for anyone to see who looks carefully. It's really nice. There are those who can teach us where to look and how to look so that we can see all this stuff.
Okay, the next one that I want to share with you is entitled, well, it's entitled awakening by Stephen Batchelor. It's often titled The Four Noble Truths. That's the next chapter in my book, which starts on page 63. Again, it's this is a different translation. This translation comes from Jay Garfield and his fundamental wisdom of the Middle Way, which is a more literal translation. It has a really Good commentary, I would suggest you read Stephen Batchelors fundamental verses or verses from the center multiple times before you tackle Garfield. Garfield is difficult. But yeah reading and both will take you a long way. But I'm going to go with Stephen Batchelors translation to start with. So this particular chapter in the mobile yarmulke Karako starts with an imaginary opponent, giving Nagarjuna of what for to say saying, basically you're corrupting the dharma by teaching your emptiness. Because this opponent thinks that emptiness is equivalent to nihilism. If something is empty, it means it doesn't exist. This is a very common mistake. Please do not make that mistake. It just means is it empty of inherent existence, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So, if everything is empty, there would be no rising and passing ennobling truths would not exist. There would be no understanding, letting go cultivating, realizing. without tasting the fruits of practice there would be no sangha, with no truth, no dharma either, with no sangha and dharma How could you awaken talk of emptiness, but wines, what is the value? X in fruits, good and evil, conventions fall apart. A garden replies, not knowing emptiness, the need for it or the point of it, you suffered it. The dharma taught by Buddha's hinges on two truths, partial truths of the world, and truths, which are supply without knowing how they differ, you cannot know the deep without relying on conventions, you cannot disclose the supply. Without intuiting, the sublime you cannot experience freedom. So the dharma trot taught by Buddha's hinges on two truths. This is one of the early elucidations of the doctrine of the two truths. It doesn't show up per se in the suttas, there are hints of it, the closest you'll come to find the two trues, probably is at the end of my digging nicaya. Number nine, the patipada sutta. There the Buddhist says, A targeter. A fully realized one can use these words, I mean mind and not be fooled by them. So a fully awakened person can use the conventional terms, the concepts from our conventional reality, but not be fooled by them. The first time that the doctrine of two trues showed up in Buddhism, as far as I know, is the questions of King Melinda. King Melinda was one of the Greek kings left behind by Alexander the Great's army in Afghanistan. And at that time, Afghanistan was a Buddhist country. Remember when the Taliban blew up those very tall statues of the Buddha? Yeah, that was Buddhism from the time after Alexander the Great when there was Buddhism in Afghanistan. And so King Melinda, asked a bunch of questions to an enlightened monk named Naga Sina. And what shows up in there is the first teaching on the two truths.
Here it says partial truths of the world and truths which are sublime, the actual literal Sanskrit says, truths that don't fully reveal and truths, which are sublime. So the truth is, is my phone, right? Touch earphones, my phone, right? But that doesn't fully reveal what's going on. It doesn't fully reveal Well, the dead dinosaurs to make the plastic or the sand that was dug up to make the silicone, or the minerals that were mined, the metals that were mined and the sweatshop in China where they assembled it and whoever wrote the software and all the rest of it went into it. So when I say it's my phone or a good visual level, that's true, but it doesn't fully reveal what's going on. And it's the case for well, all the conventional truths anytime you say me or mine, on the conventional level, yeah, it's you. I'm the one giving the talk right now. It's not you convinced? That's true. But this talk is actually coming to you as a result of a whole bunch of soda pie. Right? The practice that I've done, the dharma talks I've heard the books I've read the discussions I've had with my noble friends who were having noble conversations. Oh, that's what's feeding into it, not just the mouthpiece of trying to express what the Buddha expressed. Hopefully, I'm doing a reasonably good job of it. Okay, but me, that's only convention. And then truths, which are sublime truths that well are inconceivable, in communicate about, right, it's just a little bit more than we can express with our conventions. Without knowing how they differ, you cannot know the deep without relying on conventions, you cannot disclose the supply. So that is the ultimate truth. The non conventional truths of the world do need to be disclosed. But just like you can't take somebody's hand and put it up against the moon and say, Now, do you understand the moon, you just have to point. And so that's what Nagarjuna is doing. That's what the Buddha was doing. That's what I'm trying to do is point you at these Ultimate Truths, these truths beyond our conventional way of accessing the world and why without intuiting, the sublime you cannot experience freedom. The only way out of the dukkha is to gain an understanding of the world from the ultimate perspective. The relative perspective no matter how accurately you get, it is not going to set you free. Okay, now, it's talked about as two trues. I prefer to talk about it as two perspectives, truths seen from two different perspectives. So if I had a bowl here, like just a regular ordinary soup bowl, is it concave or convex? What do you think concave? Or convex? I mean, those are opposites. It can't be both right? Well, no, it's actually both. It depends on your perspective. And it's very important to pick the proper perspective. If you want to pour some soup into your soup bowl, you better take the concave perspective. Otherwise, you're going to have a mess. If you want to elevate a tee candle is probably going to work better if you use the convex perspective, right? It's really important to understand both perspectives. Often when people begin to get hints of the ultimate perspective, they want to throw away the relative perspective, the conventional world won't work. You can't cross the street. From the ultimate perspective, why you get to the corner, you look down there, you see a bus coming and go, it's empty, you step in front of it, you're dead. It's not going to work. There are times when it's absolutely necessary to operate from the conventional perspective. When you're eating your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it's very important you eat the sandwich and not your fingers. Right? When the Buddha was eating his food, he was fully awakened. He never ate his fingers, he only ate the fruit. Right? So the relative perspective doesn't go away.
But it doesn't fully explain what's going on. You need to be able to look from the ultimate perspective. And what you see from that perspective. Well, you see soda pie, you see dependent origination. You see? Yeah, it's inconceivable, invisible, in communicate double. But it has to be understood, because that's where you find freedom. That's the perspective that is going to able to enable you to let go of that. selfing and when you let go of that selfing that's where you're going to find your freedom. misperceiving emptiness injures the unintelligent like mishandling a snake or miss casting a spell. The Buddha despaired of teaching the dharma know it, knowing it hard to intuit it steps. Your muddle conclusions do not affect emptiness. Your denial of emptiness does not affect me. You could see where Nagarjuna would be pretty tough in the debate. Right? Your muddled conclusions. Right, it's like picking up a snake by the tail and expecting not to get bitten doesn't work. When emptiness is possible, everything is possible or emptiness impossible, nothing would be possible fact that everything is dependently originated processes means that they're changeable. Right? It's all changing all the time, if something had an essence, and the implication of that would be that it wouldn't change. Right? I mean, it's a water glass, right. And if it had an essence of water glass, I could drop it on the floor, and it wouldn't break. Because it has an essence of water glass. And the essence means it's in there and it's not going to go away and drop it on the floor. It's got to break. Right? So if things had essences they would be locked in that way, if you had an essence, when you got it, you better hope you were in a good mood, because that's where you're going to be stuck forever. Right? In projecting your faults onto me you forget the horse you are writing. So this is a story about a man who had two dozen horses, and he went out one morning to count his horses. So he mounted up on one and he wrote around counting 123 2223 Oh, no, one of my horses is missing. Somebody stolen one of my horses, forgetting the cat, the horse he was writing. Remember, the Buddha despaired of teaching because just see didn't think people would get it, they had too much dust in their eyes. So what Nagarjuna basically is saying who is an opponent is you got too much dust in your eyes, Mr. opponent, you forget the horse you're riding. To see things existing by nature is to see them without causes, and conditions, thus subverting causality, agents, tools and acts starting stopping and ripening. So if you impute an essence to anything, you just froze it. And furthermore, you assume it's been like that, since beginningless time. Nothing has an essence. It's all dependently originated. And then what most scholars consider the heart of the Momoyama car dependent origination is emptiness, which dependently configured is the middle way. Everything is dependently originated, everything is empty. So when you hear teachings on emptiness, you're hearing teachings on dependent origination. It's just another perspective on the same thing. Everything is empty because everything is dependently originated. And furthermore, this translation here doesn't really bring it out. But emptiness also is empty. It's just another concept that we're using to try and help you understand what's going on. Right, don't make a big deal about emptiness. It too is empty. Okay, it's a dependently originated phenomena, it's as empty as everything else.
There's a lot more to say about emptiness. But I'm going to share one more thing from Nagarjuna Momoyama karaka. This comes from the next chapter, which is entitled nirvāna. This is this is something that gets people all wound up when they hear it samsāra is no different from nirvāna nirvāna. No different from samsāra samsāra. His horizons are nirvāna. The two are exactly the same. What this is saying is that this right here, this is samsāra if you look at it with the eyes of craving and clinging, and this right here is nirvāna. If you look at it with the eyes of a Buddha nirvāna is not some place some faraway heaven for our hearts or anything like that. It's right here right now. If you can process her input in a way that doesn't lead to craving and clinging on ate. In fact, the whole idea of conceiving of nirvāna nibbāna, however you want to do it and nibbāna is Pāli nirvāna Sanskrit as having ontological existence as being a place that you can get to or something like that. Well, it's got a serious problem because we know that nibbāna is unchanging. And if you ain't in nibbāna, right now, you ain't going to get in because it ain't gonna change to let you in. You better hope it doesn't have ontological existence. nibbāna is a realization. It's a realization of the nature of reality that's so profound that it up roots, all of your tendencies to craving and clinging. It's not a place or a thing. It's a realization, and it to help it's dependently originated based on your practice. That's why we practice. Right? So it's with a fair amount of help angst I say, any questions? Patrice. You're still muted.
Thank you, thank you for this. It's been great. This is gonna sound like a stupid question, but I can't seem to get it out. So if I have no essence, which I can accept. I go to karma, then how do we explain kamma? How can you become
Okay, so the Buddhist teachings on karma, basically, is pay attention to what you're about to do. Actions have consequences. karma means action, that that's what it means. Now, at the time of the Buddha, spiritual kamma was ritual action. For example, if you were a farmer, and you want to have good harvest, then you better get the gods on your side. But to do that, you had to perform ritual action. But you didn't know how to perform the ritual action because you were a farmer. But luckily for you down the road, there were some priests who for a modest fee would perform the ritual karma, the ritual action for you to gauge your harvest. And the Buddha goes, no karma, I declare all monks his intention. In other words, pay attention to what you're about to do is going to have consequences. That's what his teaching is primarily about. Now we do find in the suit is where the Buddha is using previous actions to explain why bad things happen to good people, or why good things happen to bad people that's in the suitors. But is this your skillful means? Or was it inserted later? I don't know. But the teachings on karma are about paying attention to what you're considering doing, it's going to have consequences. What people want to do with karma is balanced the books, right? They want to say, okay, this person did an evil thing. So they're going to have something evil come back to them. But that's personal. That's on the relative level. And we're just talking about, you know, when you get really down to it, the person's sort of disappear. Think about, well, one of the most recent evil actions done, not this year, but not too long ago was the invasion of Iraq. That was, was really bad karma. Really bad karma. Really bad action. It resulted in the deaths of Well, somewhere between 100,000 A million Iraqis. And it left how many millions of Iraqis with PTSD and how many of the soldiers that went there with PTSD. And it led to the rise of ISIS. And I mean, we could go on with all the really unwholesome, unhelpful results of that action. Yes, those guys that actually did the action, they seem like they got away with it. And I don't like that. But when you start looking at the bigger picture, no, nobody got away with anything. It was a very unwholesome action, and it caused a whole lot of problems for a whole lot of people. We want to make it personal. But the Buddhist pointing out that, Well, turns out were much more interconnected than it appears on the surface. Right. So yeah, realize that every action You do is going to have results that, yeah, depend on what's going on there. And it's going to affect more than you. Let me read you something. This is from the last chapter of my book, which is actually entitled, don't be fooled by your conceptualizing a human being is a part of a whole called by us, the universe, apart limited in time and space. He experiences himself his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion, not to nourish the delusion, but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the unattainable measure of peace of mind. That's from Albert Einstein. He was a smart guy.
Right? So karma, karma
is about paying attention to what you're about to do, it's gonna have results. But the Buddha said, don't try and figure out the threads of karma, it will lead to either madness, or great fixation. So just pay attention to what you're about to do. Does this address at all? Your question later? Yes,
it does. There's still a little bit more. Okay. If I, if I hear you correctly, you're saying it really isn't. It's just a view or an idea. There's no collective like, a queue? Of kāma.
I'm saying it's all only collective.
Collective, but it's but what about a cumulative? It's collective in the sense that come up? It is long as we are not. In that stream, we're all subject to the coulomb, kamma. That's universal. We're all creating it Emeral experiences experiencing it. I think, I think that's what you're saying. Yeah. But what about a cumulative them?
Well, it's cumulative in that, you know, they invaded Iraq, and now we're dealing with ISIS, that's, that's cumulative to the world at large that there are all these terrorists who were basically created by the invasion of Iraq. Maybe Putin invaded Ukraine, he thought, well, Americans got away with invading Iraq didn't seem to go too bad for them. And so the cumulative karma of a Putin bad ideas, and he invaded Ukraine, maybe that's part of it as well. Don't try and figure out all the threads lead to madness, a great fixation. So yes, it accumulates and where does it accumulate in the universe? Okay, there's, there's not some guys upstairs that are writing down. Oh, she did a good thing. Give her two points. He did a bad thing. That's minus seven. That's not happening. It, what you do changes the universe. And that's so it's accumulating in the universe with every action that you do. And it's accumulating in your own brain with every thought speech and action because you're reprogramming yourself with everything that you do. For example, someone joins an urban gang, right? What do they make them do go out and commit a crime so it'd be useful to the gang so they get used to committing crime, so won't be a big deal for reprogram their brain. So they be a criminal. Right? Well, we reprogram our brains with everything that we do. So it's accumulating up here, and it's accumulating in the wider universe as well. Does that help?
Yes, thank you very much.
You're very welcome. Jeff.
So I haven't read Stephens book yet. And I think I will, I will definitely do that. All the other times that I've tried to read now version. I've, you know, besides getting a little perplexed, I've just really felt like I was trying to get my merit badge and emptiness. Right. So I was so glad when you when you brought up the fact that that the Buddha just teaches suffering in the end of suffering, he's not really trying to get us to go through this mental exercise and you know, as you're saying, Who's keeping score and as you said, emptiness is a concept too. So I was just looking at the PDF and for me, the The the three lines are just really helpful. I always think of this as, okay, I've just had this great meditation on emptiness, right? And I get up and I'm walking and I stubbed my toe. And suddenly I'm, you know, in a rage or something like that, obviously, you know, obviously, I'm missing something. So your your line here papañca generates thoughts and I guess you could put in saññā or sunkara. Right? It leads to compulsive acts papañca is stopped by emptiness. And to me, that's the emptiness I want to understand. I don't I don't need to go through all of the manifestations. But if I can get down to that simple level, then I'll be happy.
Yeah, that's, that's where we want to go. Part of that emptiness that helps stop the puncher is realizing that not only is there nothing worth craving, there's nothing that can be clung to. It's all empty. It's all impermanent. It's all changing all the time. And furthermore, there is nobody to actually succeed and clinging to what is craved. And so getting that at not at intellectual level, but at a felt sense level. This is what the Buddha's after this is the way to freedom, uproot the Craver and this are more craving, no more dukkha.
So I really like what you were saying about sort of the universal nature of karma and not trying to make it too personal. It's out there somewhere in the world. And yet, I am the owner of my kāma here to my karma born of my kāma related to my karma abide supported by my karma, whatever kamma I shall do for good or for ill of that I will be the heir. So how does how do those fit together? Thank you.
Okay, so sometimes the Buddha had taught self and sometimes he taught not-self. And sometimes he taught there's neither self or no self at all. So this is a teaching himself. The five daily reflections from on Guca 557. I am love the nature to grow old, sick and die and not exempt from those all that is mind urine, delightful change and banish. These are very much relative teachings. They're being taught on the relative level, we can't dismiss the relative level. So from the relative perspective, yeah, I'm going to grow old, sick and die. The old parts already happening. I can see, every time I look in the mirror, right. I've had things that I found urine delightful, that changed and vanished. Okay, so on a personal relative level, all that's going on the actions I do. Yeah, are going to have consequences. So I live supported by my karma, my previous actions. Well, I worked as a computer programmer and a bunch of money. You know, now it gets us to security and I got a nest egg. So I live supported by my previous actions, right. I am born of my karma, who I am is right now. has occurred for actions I've done in the past. Were they done by some other person in the past? That is made me who I am? Well, certainly a lot of people, those English guys that came over and ran off everybody else have suppressed them? Yeah, that's part of who I am now. So it wasn't me. But those actions have had an impact on me. I'm related to my karma at the time to the Buddha, and no social security, you only had your family, your relations were the most important thing that you had. Your actions and their consequences are as important as your relatives. When you look at that from perspective of India, two and a half 1000 years ago. So yeah, getting a sense of that. This is a teaching from duality perspectives, the conventional perspective. And it's very important to realize that the Buddha wasn't doing consistent metaphysics. It wasn't like, he stopped talking about AI and only talked about something on an ultimate level. He's like, Yeah, this is important. Do this practice. It'll be good for you. And until you get fully awakened, you're going to be assuming you have an eye. So your eye is going to get old, sick and die your eyes going to be dependent upon the action said it does. Pay particular attention to what you're about to do is going to have consequences. That's what he's trying to teach. So, yeah, does that help?
Alright. Any other questions? John, Hi, I just saw a simple question is there will there be a way to access these recordings to listen to some of it again? Yeah, awesome.
Yes. It'll be on audio dharma. Give it a, give it a week for them to, you know, edit the chord recordings. And that's what it will show up there on audio dharma. And after it shows up and I realized where it is, I will put a link on my web page under talks that will point to it as well. But probably easiest is to go to Audio dharma and plug in my name search for
thank you so much for this. Yeah. Ronnie.
I guess I may be stating something really obvious. When you said emptiness is also a concept, I assume that you can just have that at the very getgo. It's like the raft analogy. You have to kind of go through understanding all the soda pie and everything else. And maybe towards the end of this, you can give up or abandon this idea of emptiness and not the
other end. And it just know that it's just another concept or useful one. Because something's empty doesn't mean you abandon it. You just know that it's dependently originated as well.
But I guess maybe my point is, if I if I think of that as just another concept at the very early part of this whole idea of dependent origination. I seem to think that that may make it harder for me to go through the understanding of this part of the teaching. So I guess maybe I'm clarifying with you if there's a timing part of this to understand this. That's one of my questions. Yeah.
So that very definitely is. So I had read Stephen bachelor's translation, verses from the center. Let's say somewhere between half a dozen a dozen times, never got a hint of it. His translation doesn't do it justice, really. And I read Jay Garfield's translation, which does do it justice. And it still went over my head until I read it the second time. And when I got it, I literally jumped out of the couch that I was sitting on and go, yes. That I understood at that point that Yeah, even emptiness is just another concept to try and help us out. All of this, the Four Noble Truths, their concepts to try and help us out. dependent origination is just another concept to try and help us out. But these are all very, very useful concepts. As it turns out, anything that we can talk about is, well, we're just talking about concepts. We have to conceptualize it to be able to talk about it, but doesn't mean that just because it's a concept, it's not useful. Because it's all I mean, this is the cell phone, right? It has a material existence. But unless I conceptualize it as a cell phone and you know, punch the thing on the back, that makes it wake up, and, you know, dial the number, whatever, until I actually start using it. It's, yeah, it's just a concept. But even then, the idea of a phone call is just a concept. I put, it's a very useful concept. They're all concepts, but some of them are quite useful. And emptiness is just another one of these quite useful concepts. But I would say, don't worry about it. I say the most important thing is just realize that whatever you're experiencing is dependently originated and just keep looking at that. More and more. And then hopefully, at some point, the fact that everything is a concept becomes equivalent to Oh, everything is dependently originated. I'm just stopping these streams at this point and making concept out of it, because that's useful. At this point at the conventional level, does that help?
Yes, very much. So, a second question is some regret regarding the concentration practice to jhāna practice? Is there a certain stage in one's spiritual path where one should engage in that? Or just, it's just whenever you feel like you're ready? Or how would you sort of pointed out to some of us.
So what I tell people, if you want to come on a retreat with me, you need to have done to one week or longer residential retreats. By that point, you will have enough meditation experience, to where you can start to learn the jhānas. Hopefully, okay, there's no guarantees, but that seems to be the minimum, you really go on your first residential retreat to find out what it's like to be on a retreat, and you go on your second residential retreat to find out it wasn't quite like what you thought it was. So then on your third retreat, you're really ready to get going. And so to one week, or longer residential retreats, is usually enough background so that at that point, you could, you know, make sense of what's being taught. Because to do that, you're going to have to learn to meditate, you know, you're going to be doing stuff before you go on the tree, between the retreats, and so forth. So yeah, get get some skill at meditation, be able to follow your breath, at least somewhat, you know, learn how to do some practice, those sorts of skills you want to have coming in, because my retreat, I just assume everybody knows how to meditate. And so I say, Alright, here's some ways that you can work with your breathing that will take it to a deeper level. But I don't tell you so much about how to do it. Thank you. Yeah, and someone put in the chat residential retreats are not easily accessible. Well, yeah, these days, they're not easily accessible at all, unfortunately. So I do except to one week, or longer zoom retreats. But of course, you will have to be really dedicated on that Zoom retreat. You can't just show up for the dharma talks. I mean, you've got to really actually meditate and keep silence, so forth to have enough background. But even you know, back before COVID, you needed to be able to take time off work, and they cost money and so forth. I wish it was more easily available, it would be be a better world if everybody had an easily available retreat. Amy?
Hello, hi. Thank you very much for today for your book. I want to address or have asked a question about the, the idea that, that we conceptualize everything used, you know, the example of the Corvette is very helpful. If you think about its component parts. we conceptualize it as a Corvette. The example of the cell phone, also very easy entryway into those that idea. Even your glass as actually, my experience of it would have been pixels, actually. And even if that glass was physically in that space with me, I could also break it down to, you know, again, I think you said if it fell and smashed into a million pieces, it would still be the same thing. It wouldn't. I guess it's an entryway into seeing the concept of the glass as false. Also, what I'm a little bit stuck on is for example, the water in the glass. Yeah. If I say
so, materiality, if I spill the water on the floor, still water. Alright, but what if it soaks into the floor? I mean, it didn't evaporate it just soaked into the floor. Now it's part of the floor. So it's, it's changed. It's not right, though. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms are still the same. Okay, so at that level, there's not a lot of change going on. Except when we really get down to that level That's not where we're doing our craving and clinging, right? We're doing the craving and cleaning at a much more macroscopic level. You know, I'm not really clean to the wood, I'm thirsty, I'm not clean to the oxygen atom at that point in the glass, right and clean to the water is it'll Sleep, my thirst. So we're working at the level of practicality for understanding the reality that we're interacting with such that we don't interact with it with the craving and cleaning bit. Yeah, materiality may change form, the water may evaporate, it may freeze something like that. It's still water. Okay. But when it's ice, it's conceptualized different than when it's steam. It's those two are really conceptualized different, even though it's the same atoms, perhaps, that are involved. And so we, we, yes, can get down into the quantum level and all this other stuff. But that's not where we're doing our craving and clinging. So when we step back to the world in which we're operating, where it's craving and clinging, yeah, it's a class. It's a cell phone, it's me. Right? And I'm just, I'm empty is everything else. I'm just a product of a bunch of streams of dependently arising processes interacting. And so it's that level that we're going to find freedom. I don't think we're going to find freedom by not clean to oxygen atoms or something like that. Does that help?
Yes, it does. Thank you very much.
Hi, thank you. This has been truly helpful. My question is, you mentioned earlier, Buddhist metaphysics. Yes. And having been originally trained in meditation and Buddhist philosophy in the Tibetan system, I definitely got a big dollop of that. Yes. Some parts whereas the explanation of emptiness that I received in the Theravāda system, make sense to me. I can understand that there was something that felt always elusive, highly colluded abstract enough clear be proven by the example that we're giving. On the way emptiness is explained in the Tibetan systems. Now, some teachers say that the two explanations are compatible. Others like Thanissaro bhikkhu, say they're not. And and I like to have your response to that. Because I don't want to give up something just because it's difficult or maybe not. It's not been the terms have been translated poorly, or it's whatever. But I don't want to continue to put a lot of effort into something that doesn't go anywhere. And particularly when it comes to emptiness or phenomena. And everything is like a dream. Sometimes it seems to be taken a little bit too extreme to me, and becomes almost like, what is the term? There is a term that comes from psycho spiritual bypass.
Do you get what I'm saying? Right?
I do. I get what you're saying. So I have studied some Tibetan philosophy and teachings and practices. But I would not say that my understanding of Tibetan philosophy is broad enough to say that, yes, it does come together, exactly the same place that the emptiness comes together from the Theravāda. perspective. But I see a lot of similarities. And I see where it could be possible, but I can't, you know, I just don't have enough background to say for sure. Certainly, the there are schools in the Tibetan who are looking to the Moy Yama karaka as a very basic foundational practice for their understanding of emptiness. But Well, the truth be told, I haven't found any system in Buddhism or any Anything else that I totally agree with? No. I mean, maybe it's it's hubris on my part. But, you know, they say, if you understand quantum mechanics, it proves you have no clue about quantum mechanics. Okay. I don't claim to understand quantum mechanics. But I think the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics is so called Copenhagen interpretation. I think it's mistaken. But I'm not going to sit here and try and explain to you everything about why I think it's mistaken. And what the right way to look at it is, I just get the sense that no, they've missed the point here. And yes, it does have to do with conceptualization. So, I mean, I don't agree with orthodox Tera Vaada Buddhism, I don't agree with Tibetan Buddhism, I don't agree with Zen Buddhism, in any of these in their entirety. But I agree with enough of what they're teaching that I find it useful. And so that's what I'm working on. What can I find in here? That's helpful for me, what can I find in these teachings? That progress propels me down the spiritual path? What can I find in here that helps me do less craving and clinging helps me to be a more compassionate person. And I'm finding that in all of these, well, maybe not in quantum mechanics, but in all the Buddhist teachings, I do find, there's, there's helpful stuff there. So I take what I find helpful in the rest of it, I just put in the I don't know, bucket, the I don't know, pocket that God's really quite big. And I just, you know, pull stuff out and look at it. And a lot of times, just throw it back in. Sometimes I get an understanding and come up with something like soda pie. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know, bucket and throw a lot of stuff in there and pick stuff out of it occasionally, when you get some new information. See if it makes sense. Thank you. Thank you. Let's have a look. Thank you. Good. So got five minutes. I think that's time for mettā. So in order to begin, please put your attention on your breath for a few moments.
So do you like to be happy?
I mean, if you're happy, is that a good thing? Do you like that? Can you appreciate it when you're happy? Wouldn't it be nice to be happy right now? Can Can you get in touch with the fact I like being happy?
May you be happy?
Do you like it when your friends are happy? Mean? Is that a good thing? I like it when my friends are happy? Not more fun to hang out with them? Wouldn't it be great if all of your friends are happy? May all of our friends be happy? What if your acquaintances were happy? What if everybody at work? Everybody in the grocery store? All your neighbors? What if they were all happy? That'd be nice. You know, all the clerks are happy. Your neighbors are all happy. Wouldn't it be great if all of our acquaintances were happy? Me everyone we encounter be happy. What if the difficult people in our lives were happy? I mean genuinely happy happy because of wholesome activities. That evil thing whatever they were doing, right, but wouldn't it be nice if all the difficult people could find a source of wholesome happiness? They probably be a lot less difficult.
Maybe may all
of the difficult people be happy wholesomely happy what of everybody? On the planet was happy. What would that be like? Everybody everywhere happy. I'd like that that's where I want to live may all beings everywhere be happy so thank you. It is said that a good way to make good karma is to teach the dhamma. So I appreciate this opportunity. So may any merit from today's teachings be for the benefit and liberation of all beings everywhere. And as I mentioned earlier, all vedanā that you sent sati center for today will go to Ukrainian relief. leave you with these words. All I'm saying is simply this, that all mankind is tied together. All life is interrelated. And we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. May all of you be happy, healthy and may your practice be fruitful.