It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
How do you feel about the following excerpt by Wu Hsin?
I'm more gradual approach oriented than the excerpt seems to be hinting at. But it reminds me of a 17 minute video from a neurological perspective entitled "Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality". I'm not sure the excerpt and video are saying the same thing, but they sound strikingly similar to me.
If everything blinked out of existence, there would remain only a vacuum of infinite space. If consciousness arose, it would know only infinite space. But if it became aware of consciousness, then it could differentiate the two. If the consciousness had memory, it could differentiate the points between the knowledge of space and the knowledge of consciousness. It could thereby reveal something else, something that would have always been there, paradoxically hidden in the vacuum. Time. The thing/no-thingness of Nibbana might be compared to that. Time.
But why would we observe these in insight practice? I think the purpose is to break the spell of conditioned reality, leading to dispassion for it and turning away from it. Why do that? "This is the Noble Truth of the origin of dukkha: It's this craving that leads to repeated becoming... This is the Noble Truth of the cessation of dukkha: It's the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving...." I think the conditioned constructs, becomings, can be stilled, revealing the Unconditioned, Nibbana.
I don't think the Unconditioned is a "thing". That would be more like revealing Atman/Brahman in Hindu practice, seeing through the aggregates ( personal experience ) to reveal a deeper reality.
"Unconditioned" is an epithet for Nibbana, and Nibbana is most often described as the cessation of craving, aversion and ignorance. So "unconditioned" seems to be an adjective rather than a noun, ie a state of mind unconditioned by the taints.
To say Nibbana is something other than a state of mind is not the same as concluding it therefore must be a personal or universal soul. But to say Nibbana is not something other than a state of mind might be to say it’s a conditioned phenomena, impermanent, dukkha.
I think “a state of mind unconditioned by the taints” is both the condition for realizing Nibbana and the fruit of having realized it. In both cases, such a mind may be a conditioned phenomenon, not Nibbana.
In the first instance, in that moment when there arises a conditioned mind with the taints stilled, the path “has been fully developed.” That forms a condition. As a result of it, in that same moment, dukkha is fully understood, craving completely abandoned and the cessation of dukkha, the reality of Nibbana, realized.
This moment forms the condition for the second instance of that state of mind. As a result of knowledge and vision, there arises a conditioned state of mind that is the fruit of having realized Nibbana. At the level of arahant, where the faculties are strong enough, the taints are not just stilled or partially eliminated but all are completely uprooted.
Seeing the truth cracks the foundation of ignorance, causing everything built on it to collapse. But the truth, Nibbana, and those states of mind, fruits of the path and of knowledge and vision, are not, in my humble analysis, the same.
“Birth is dukkha; aging is dukkha; death is dukkha....”
“[Nibbana] is the cessation of dukkha [by way of the cessation of its support, craving]...”
Nibbana is the cessation of dukkha; and dukkha is birth, aging and death; therefore, Nibbana is the cessation of birth, aging and death.
Maybe those ancient expositions use those words figuratively in reference to a psychological state. But, if Nibbana is merely a psychological state, then it’s conditioned on the capacity to experience psychological states. Therefore, it could not be called “the Unconditioned”. So, I think these words refer to a psychological state reflecting an actual reality that those ancients also called “the Unborn”, “the Ageless” and “the Deathless”.
Hence, Nibbana may be something other than the mind that realizes it, something other than a subjective reality brought into existence when someone realizes it. In other words, Nibbana may be an objective reality, “to be personally experienced by the wise.”
It’s interesting because the internal and the external realities are at odds. Buddhism says we are a collection of aggregates internally, but at the same time we look outside and we are convinced by our senses of seeing, touch and hearing that there is a distinction between inside and outside.
The lore of the skhandhas agrees with anatta, saying we are not this, we are not that. You look further and further into your internal state, identifying this component and that, but ultimately you do not arrive at the wellspring of the self.
If you look outside, you see the world of inter-being, where all things have a relationship to eachother, cannot exist independently and on some level are one. That does not mean that purity and skilful means do not exist here, there is definitely such a thing as corruption, something that does not function as its intended whole. However it kind of says we are everything.
So... we are everything and nothing? To unify the internal and external views seems a hard task
I've been making the exact opposite point. The internal and external realities are not at odds; they're the same. As I'm not a student of TNH, I don't see inter-being. I see impersonal phenomenon, inside and out. Consciousness arises here. It's an impersonal phenomenon, just like the rest of the conditioned cosmos. It's not separate. It's the same.
Sepsis is a problem here too, though mainly as a complication of flu. A middle-aged man in my area got the flu and followed a typical pattern: carry on until you can’t, then sleep it off. The first day he finished his shift at a plant, then called in the next day. By that evening he was in the emergency room with sepsis. They amputated his fingers.
He was lucky. Two other women here, also middle-aged, died from sepsis caused by the flu. In each case there were no cuts or wounds, just the body responding to the flu or pneumonia caused by it. Sepsis happens fast. It can become lethal in 24-48 hours.
Night before last one of my dogs died suddenly. He was young and healthy. His death is a mystery. A couple weeks ago the flu took me out for a few days. It was type A, the kind that infects humans and animals. I can’t say what killed the dog, but flu and sepsis are reasonable suspects.
I wash my hands before handling food, but that isn’t true of dog food. The amount of exposure to a virus makes a difference. Regardless of what infects, of open wounds or not, a little extra attention to hygiene and hand-washing can be life-saving.