Thread: Heart Sutra
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:53 PM   #17
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 641
Re: Heart Sutra

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Actually, I would differ with your parallel on these. As I understand them from Buddhist tradition, nihilism would hold that the self is ultimately eliminated and of no enduring reality and thus karmic action has no "real" reference to it. This is usually illustrated in the life of Gautama Buddha by his early hedonism and embracing of all attachments. "Nothing matters anyway, so..."

Eternalism would hold that the self (small "s") is eternal and therefore karma is not active on anything but its transient aspects, hence karmic action is equally transient and not of "real" consequence. This is usually illustrated in the ascetic period of Gautama Buddha's life, where he attempted to deny all attachments in search of the eternal.
The reduction of the issues of nihilism and eternalism to mere human self-nature, human conduct and attendant human subjectivity is, however tempting, mistaken. These fundamental extremes also pertain to the so-called "absolute," to their own operation, and everything between.

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
True doctrine would hold instead that the Tathagata is real beyond attachmane or non attachment, (Nagarjuna's Middle Way), apart from all appearances or non-appearances, and is neither eternal in arising or not arising, nor contingent in its existence or non-existence. It is beyond all affirmation or denial. It simply Is: Thus.
However else the words above might strike me, the use of the word "instead" implies a substitution to resolve a contradiction, when no contradiction has been demonstrated, or substitution been shown to be needed.

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
The dangers of nihilism and eternalism in Buddhism are a loss of awareness of what is Absolute and real, and thus both are paths to obscuring illusions (maya).
Certainly these are among the dangers, but they are not the only dangers. Assertion of an Absolute, except for limited use as a device or skillful means, is another grave danger.

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
The difference is that where Buddhism posits a problem of cyclical dialectic to resolve successive aspects of perceived duality (or sudden global synthesis), Christianity particularly, and the Abrahamic faiths, generall,y posit a process of linear, historically contingent physical and moral development conditioned by physical and moral entropy, with the ever-present possibility of a non-linear and non-contingent interruption not conditioned by that process, or any process.

I find these two perspectives non-dual.
Actually, I think the difference is that Buddhism is empirical in its mode of doctrinal development, while Abrahamism is merely revelatory. That is a different question than that you address above.

I would certainly agree regarding the non-dualism of the two perspectives outlined above: given a long enough cycle, the probability of a short segment being perceived as a line approaches 100%.

More broadly, the position you are pressing is very close to crypto-atmanic and crypto-brahmanic tendencies that can be found in some streams of esoteric buddhist thought, and my larger point is that there is a lively dispute within the tradition about whether these views are, properly speaking, buddhist. At best, they are widely viewed as doctrines which mislead when employed by any but the most skillful hands.

To oversimplify, as we are both doing here, the core of that dispute turns on the question of whether or not this type of understanding is in accord with the third of the "four seals" that determine whether a teaching is Buddhist or not, to wit:

All phenomena are empty, all phenomena are without inherent existence.

Our current disagreement on these points notwithstanding, I commend your efforts to find what is good and useful, as well as your efforts to establish some areas of deep consonace between very different approaches, not least because it can't help but lead you in the right direction in time. And what's a kalpa or two among friends?


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