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Tom

Lankavatara Sutra - Study

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This thread is for discussion of the Lankavatara Sutra. We will attempt to have sort of a "book club" discussion format as we go chapter by chapter through the text...

Here is a link: http://buddhasutra.com/files/lankavatara_sutra.htm

Regarding the first chapter, I think this question from the sutra frames it pretty well...

Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?

Any thoughts on the question and the chapter?

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My first thought upon opening the text and 'reading' the first paragraph was - I hope there is a translation for 10 year-olds somewhere.

 

The question at the end of the chapter: Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?

is answered in the paragraph following:

they make discriminations of good and bad among appearances and cling to the agreeable.

To me that says the ignorant judge everything and everyone, get mired in their positions based on those judgments, and build themselves a nice little prison where they are always right but stalled in their own becoming. The wise are free from those trappings, present to what is without being attached to any part of it.

 

It seems like we miss some other points by skipping to the end, though.

Those who see thee thus, serene and beyond conception, will be emancipated from attachment, will be cleansed of all defilements, both in this world and in the spiritual world beyond.

Oh, another sutra talking about light work. Maybe there's something to it... :)

 

All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected.

I guess this relates to the video game analogy that Jeff uses, but I would be curious to hear any other takes on this idea.

 

And what's a hairnet, anyway?

 

Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Tom...

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On ‎9‎/‎15‎/‎2018 at 9:41 AM, Trish said:

All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected.

I guess this relates to the video game analogy that Jeff uses, but I would be curious to hear any other takes on this idea.

 

And what's a hairnet, anyway?

 

Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Tom...

Thanks for answering Trish and I thought everything was spot on.

As for your last question here is my view.

 

As we progress we realize that thoughts are never ending flows of energy. First we are caught up in them. With increased silence we are able to observe them. To remove ourselves you could say from the attachment to them. The ego self is much the same. A deeper flow that we are caught up in.

As for the world.

If you have ever worked with a powerful being you can be transported to a different world as real as this one. One can smell, taste and touch just as real as this world. One can see entire societies.

So what is going on?

Like with our thoughts we are caught up in the transmission of the being. With the "looking" we know it is of the mind but since we are a part of this one or manifested in this one it is a little tougher to realize the transmission.

So, is it an illusion or a video game? To me you could say it is both.

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A whole lot has been said on the Chapter 1.  May be we can go paragraph by paragraph.  This is not an easy read for me, in the sense, I read some words in a paragraph and it raises some questions and I don't typically proceed reading until I come to some kind of understanding about the questions that came up.  

Interesting things to note at the start, the waking state is compared to the dream state.  I generally don't like this comparison, but here it is just mentioned 'like a dream' which can mean many things.  The reflection of Moon in the water is an example that I can relate better.  

If someone can explain in simple words (or quote some explanation) that explains why or how what we see in the waking state is like dream, or like the reflection of Moon, or the echo, I would appreciate that.  

I want to understand the context in which this is explained before proceeding further.  I have to admit I am not familiar with all the terminology and examples used in some of these Buddhists Sutras.

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Another thought came up on discrimination.  What is discrimination? It sounds like misunderstanding that there is multiple or duality in this context.  Where as everything is but a reflection of the same as itself.  But to discriminate, there must be a perceiver present who discriminates the reflections as duality and multiple things.  This other things from duality angle may be classified as illusion, but what about the reality of the perceiver?  That there is a perceiver cannot be denied and therefore the perceiver cannot be an illusion.  This is why the video game example makes more sense to me :).

 

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2 hours ago, S1va said:

A whole lot has been said on the Chapter 1.  May be we can go paragraph by paragraph.  This is not an easy read for me, in the sense, I read some words in a paragraph and it raises some questions and I don't typically proceed reading until I come to some kind of understanding about the questions that came up.  

Interesting things to note at the start, the waking state is compared to the dream state.  I generally don't like this comparison, but here it is just mentioned 'like a dream' which can mean many things.  The reflection of Moon in the water is an example that I can relate better.  

If someone can explain in simple words (or quote some explanation) that explains why or how what we see in the waking state is like dream, or like the reflection of Moon, or the echo, I would appreciate that.  

I want to understand the context in which this is explained before proceeding further.  I have to admit I am not familiar with all the terminology and examples used in some of these Buddhists Sutras.

Maybe we should slow things down some. Let's start with this.

Quote

Mahamati, since the ignorant and simple-minded, not knowing that the world is only something seen of the mind itself, cling to the multitudinous-ness of external objects, cling to the notions of beings and non-being, oneness and otherness, both-ness and non-both-ness, existence and non-existence eternity and non-eternity, and think that they have a self-nature of their own, and all of which rises from the discriminations of the mind and is perpetuated by habit-energy, and from which they are given over to false imagination. It is all like a mirage in which springs of water are seen as if they were real. They are imagined by animals who, made thirsty by the heat of the season, run after them. Animals not knowing that the springs are merely hallucinations of their own minds, do not realize that there are no such springs. In the same way, Mahamati, the ignorant and simple-minded, their minds burning with the fires of greed, anger and folly, finding delight in a world of multitudinous forms, their thoughts obsessed with ideas of birth, growth and destruction, not well understanding what is meant by existence and non-existence, and being impressed by erroneous discriminations and speculations since beginning-less time, fall into the habit of grasping this and that and thereby becoming attached to them.

 

Any thoughts?

Edited by Tom

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On 9/20/2018 at 10:31 AM, Tom said:

Maybe we should slow things down some. Let's start with this.

Thanks for breaking the chapter.  This initial part makes sense.  It sounds just like an introduction or summary of what is about to come.

At this point, he is talking about discrimination and grasping which are clearly issues.  But it is not clearly stated, what is the issue with discrimination, at least not yet.

Animals hallucination of springs, sounds like a total projection of the local mind.  Need to wait and see how it relates to the discrimination problem.  I am okay to proceed with the next part, unless someone wants to discuss anything specific with this.

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16 minutes ago, S1va said:

Thanks for breaking the chapter.  This initial part makes sense.  It sounds just like an introduction or summary of what is about to come.

At this point, he is talking about discrimination and grasping which are clearly issues.  But it is not clearly stated, what is the issue with discrimination, at least not yet.

Animals hallucination of springs, sounds like a total projection of the local mind.  Need to wait and see how it relates to the discrimination problem.  I am okay to proceed with the next part, unless someone wants to discuss anything specific with this.

Some of the key points to me are these.

"and being impressed by erroneous discriminations and speculations since beginning-less time, fall into the habit of grasping this and that and thereby becoming attached to them.

"all of which rises from the discriminations of the mind and is perpetuated by habit-energy"

A little farther down in the chapter he mentions this.

Quote

In the same way the ignorant and the simple-minded, committing themselves to erroneous philosophical views become thoroughly devoted to the ideas of oneness and otherness, but their confidence is not well grounded. For this reason, Mahamati, you and other Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas should cast off all discriminations leading to the notions of birth, abiding, and destructions, of oneness and otherness, of both-ness and not-both-ness, of being and non-being and thus getting free of the bondage of habit-energy become able to attain reality realizable within yourselves of Noble Wisdom.

Edited by Tom

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Any comments on this part?

Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?

The Blessed One replied: it is because the ignorant cling to names, signs and ideas; as their minds move along these channels they feed on multiplicities of objects and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it; they make discriminations of good and bad among appearances and cling to the agreeable. As they thus cling there is a reversion to ignorance, and karma born of greed, anger and folly, is accumulated. As the accumulation of karma goes on they become imprisoned in a cocoon of discrimination and are thenceforth unable to free themselves from the round of birth and death.

Because of folly they do not understand that all things are like Maya, like the reflection of the moon in water, that there is no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings, and that all their definite ideas rise from their false discriminations of what exists only as it is seen of the mind itself. They do not realize that things have nothing to do with qualify and qualifying, nor with the course of birth, abiding and destruction, and instead they assert that they are born of a creator, of time, of atoms, of some celestial spirit. It is because the ignorant are given up to discrimination that they move along with the stream of appearances, but it is not so with the wise.

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12 minutes ago, Tom said:

Any comments on this part?

 

 

The articulation or the way concepts are communicated in this sutra is brilliant.

I just wonder how all things are like reflection of Moon in water, if there is no self (at individual level or higher).  Without the self, I wonder, they are the reflection of what, and who is seeing the reflection and discriminating?  

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24 minutes ago, S1va said:

The articulation or the way concepts are communicated in this sutra is brilliant.

I just wonder how all things are like reflection of Moon in water, if there is no self (at individual level or higher).  Without the self, I wonder, they are the reflection of what, and who is seeing the reflection and discriminating?  

We will get there.

Just now let's focus on how our attachment our concepts are real when we are caught up in them but when we let them go they are like a reflection of the Moon in water. Not really there but something of the mind itself believing they are.

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Chapter 2

False-Imaginations and Knowledge of Appearances

Then Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva spoke to the Blessed One, saying: You speak of the erroneous views of the philosophers, will you please tell us of them, that we may be on our guard against them?

The Blessed One replied, saying: Mahamati, the error in these erroneous teachings that are generally held by the philosophers lies in this: they do not recognize that the objective world rises from the mind itself; they do not understand that the whole mind-system also arises from the mind itself; but depending upon these manifestations of the mind as being real they go on discriminating them, like the simple-minded ones that they are, cherishing the dualism of this and that, of being and non-being, ignorant to the fact that there is but one common Essence.

On the contrary my teaching is based upon recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself; it teaches the cessation of ignorance, desire, deed and causality; it teaches the cessation of suffering that arises from the discriminations of the triple world.

 

Any thoughts or comments?

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11 minutes ago, Tom said:

We will get there.

Sounds good.

 

11 minutes ago, Tom said:

Just now let's focus on how our attachment our concepts are real when we are caught up in them but when we let them go they are like a reflection of the Moon in water.  Not really there but something of the mind itself believing they are.

Do you mean to say the things that we are attached to are not really there, they are like the reflection of Moon in water?  The reflection of something which we will get eventually.  If that is what you mean, it sounds good for now.  

 

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3 minutes ago, S1va said:

Sounds good.

 

Do you mean to say the things that we are attached to are not really there, they are like the reflection of Moon in water?  The reflection of something which we will get eventually.  If that is what you mean, it sounds good for now.  

 

Are thoughts and the attachments that come with them really real? The results and actions of our attachments are.. but all they really are, are thoughts or as the Buddha mentioned, habit-energy.

It is noticed when you have an issue that bothers you a lot. Over time the same issues doesn't. What changed? Your thoughts and the attachment to them.

Edited by Tom

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Just now, Tom said:

Are thoughts and the attachments that come with the really real? The results and actions of our attachments are.. but all they really are, are thoughts or as the Buddha mentioned, habit-energy.

It is noticed when you have an issue that bothers you a lot. Over time the same issues doesn't. What changed? Your thoughts and the attachment to them.

 

I get that part.  But the comparison with the reflection of Moon in the water, I thought that can't be the attachments or concepts.  It the things we are attached to that is the reflection, which causes the attachment.

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9 minutes ago, Tom said:

Chapter 2

False-Imaginations and Knowledge of Appearances

Then Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva spoke to the Blessed One, saying: You speak of the erroneous views of the philosophers, will you please tell us of them, that we may be on our guard against them?

The Blessed One replied, saying: Mahamati, the error in these erroneous teachings that are generally held by the philosophers lies in this: they do not recognize that the objective world rises from the mind itself; they do not understand that the whole mind-system also arises from the mind itself; but depending upon these manifestations of the mind as being real they go on discriminating them, like the simple-minded ones that they are, cherishing the dualism of this and that, of being and non-being, ignorant to the fact that there is but one common Essence.

On the contrary my teaching is based upon recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself; it teaches the cessation of ignorance, desire, deed and causality; it teaches the cessation of suffering that arises from the discriminations of the triple world.

 

Any thoughts or comments?

 

Sounds good on the erroneous view.  Once again, it might help to know the definition of 'mind' in this context.  Also, not sure what he means by 'there is but one common Essence', sounds like Advaita :)

 

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Any comments on the 4 forms of assertions?

But the way of instruction presented by the Tathágatas is not based on assertions and refutations by means of words and logic. There are four forms of assertion that can be made concerning things not in existence, namely, assertions made about individual marks that are not in existence; about objects that are not in existence, about a cause that is non-existent; and about philosophical views that are erroneous. By refutation is meant that one, because of ignorance, has not examined properly the error that lies at the base of these assertions

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I read briefly about the assertions and refutations.  Basically reinforces that there is nothing but what is seen of by the mind itself.  

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Ok, so attachment, discrimination and desire rule our way.    This is not so much negative as it is simply how we act in the world because these there are equal forces that surround us.  It describes mankind's view/life. 

The Zen lineage that went to Japan under Dogen is worth a read...  There is a book, Moon in a Dewdrop that I have and made me really respect Dogen alot.

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20 hours ago, S1va said:

I read briefly about the assertions and refutations.  Basically reinforces that there is nothing but what is seen of by the mind itself.  

It is all what the mind sees, sense, feels or translates... so, yes,  maybe the bigger issue is, whether we can also suspend the thought that arises or the discrimination that arises.   

but even looking at the sunrise, feeling the heat of that coming over the oceanfront, seeing the various animals walk and run about, looking in the eyes of someone else and knowing their thought...  where is discrimination vs Moon in a Dewdrop ...

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The only question on my mind right now is about the perceiver.  Is the perceiver or awareness that illumines the mind is also a creation of mind.  If so, how?  The pure awareness that is beyond the 'I' thought.

This is where the Hindu systems disagree and say the perceiver is a true (real) entity.  Certainly the perceiver cannot be the creation of the local mind, because it seems to be all pervading.  Perhaps it is the creation of the universal mind?

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23 hours ago, S1va said:

The only question on my mind right now is about the perceiver.  Is the perceiver or awareness that illumines the mind is also a creation of mind.  If so, how?  The pure awareness that is beyond the 'I' thought.

This is where the Hindu systems disagree and say the perceiver is a true (real) entity.  Certainly the perceiver cannot be the creation of the local mind, because it seems to be all pervading.  Perhaps it is the creation of the universal mind?

I think we will get there. We are only on Chapter 2 after all :)

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Mahamati said: Blessed One; to what kind of discrimination and to what kind of thoughts should the term, false-imagination, be applied?

 

Any thoughts or comments?

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