Posted by: Soh

A student of Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rinpoche informed me that Rinpoche has recently revised his article Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta and uploaded one new article on Nyingma (a school of Tibetan Buddhism)'s view. Rinpoche also personally asked his student to inform me about their free online magazine, I thanked the guru and signed up. I also mentioned that I have dreamt of receiving teachings from him before, perhaps some karmic connection...

After the e-mail I did a little research and found a biography (
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-oveGtYYgU, Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V_MV5aAyZg, http://www.byomakusuma.org/Ratnashri/RatnashriBio.aspx) of this great teacher Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rinpoche. He used to practice the Hindu tantras and Vedanta under a qualified Vedanta teacher for nine years intensely in the cemetaries, etc. Eventually he realized the Atman-Brahman, the ultimate goal of Hinduism, and his realization was confirmed by his Vedantic masters to be correct and profound.

However, still unsatisfied with his realization, he continued searching, first into Zen Buddhism, then later into the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, including the Vajrayana Tantras, Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, and practiced them thoroughly until he attained realization and was asked to start teaching by his teachers. His main practise is of the Lamdre system of teachings in the Sakya school. Despite having practised the teachings thoroughly and attained realization, he continues to go into deep meditation retreats for over a decade to deepen his enlightenment/experience and was given the title 'Mahayogi' and 'Rinpoche' by
H.E. Chobgay Trichen Rinpoche. He continues to be in practice retreats and share his knowledge with others at the same time.

As one of the few great Buddhist teachers in Nepal where the majority of the population belong to the Hindu faith, a place where myths and misconceptions of Buddhism are abound, he is in a great position to correct all of these misconceptions and do an accurate and unbiased comparison between the teachings of Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism due to his deep knowledge and experience of the Buddhist teachings as well as his previous experience with the Hindu tradition. He emphasizes that the comparison was done not in order to demean one system of teaching over another but to provide greater clarity on the essential doctrines of each system so that they could each be understood correctly, as he says, "I must reiterate that this difference in both the system is very important to fully understand both the systems properly and is not meant to demean either system."


Anyway, I looked further into their website and over the past few days I've read through all the articles of Marshland Flowers (from series 1 to 7) and highly recommend them - they deal with several subjects of dharma including anatman (non-self), emptiness, dependent origination, the four noble truths, Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism, rebirth, karmic propensities (samskaras), meditation, vipassana (insight meditation), shamatha (calm abiding meditation), siddhis/powers, the tenets of Sravakayana and Mahayana Buddhism, as well as Tantras, Buddhism and science, etc etc. All these articles are of great quality, well written and highly recommended. All in all, it provides a pretty complete overall understanding of the core/fundamental Buddhist teachings. I've added this blog entry to the 'Stickied Posts' section of this blog (see right hand corner).

p.s. I find using Windows Narrator to read aloud long texts online easier for me: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-SG/windows7/Hear-text-read-aloud-with-Narrator


.............

http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MarshlandFlowers.aspx



Marshland Flowers


Ratnashree's series articles published weekly in News Front. The articles clarify prevailing misconceptions on Buddhism and help general readers understand authentic Buddhism. The articles first appeared on 16-22 April 2007 issue. News Front is a weekly newspaper that is published every Monday. Read the articles published to date in full.









...............


Anyway, here's an excerpt from Marshland Flowers Part 5, it is about the subject of Anatman.

136. More on Fallacy of Language and Modern Thinking

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
Continuing with the discussion on the limitedness of language - the very sentence 'I see the table' assumes that the table 'I' see is out there somewhere separate from me. And as a corollary which we will deal with later on, this 'I' which sees really existing is in fact the center of the seeing and the table out there, which 'I' see also really exist.

Let us take another example. We say the lighting flashed, this is similar in structure to I see. This grammatical structure implies that there is a lighting that flashed. The lighting is the subject (like the 'I which sees), which does the action of flashing (verb). This act is different from the lighting. But, and a big but is that is there really a lighting separate from flashing, or is flashing itself lighting? Can we really separate flashing or take away flashing and say - here is lighting that had flashed, which is separate thing from flashing? Can we really do that? If we removed flashing, would lightening really remain per se? But just a few minute ago we thought and felt and experience (or seem to experience) that there is a lighting that had done the action of flashing, didn't we?

Now, let us take this analysis back to 'I see the table'. Some people may say the mind sees the table just to be clever, but really we aren't changing the structure of the language and thus the structure of the experience. We have just substituted the word 'mind' for 'I' and the rest of the implications are still the same. There is a mind which is the subject, which exists independently and it is thus independent and separate mind which does that action of seeing the table, which is the object and which too is independent out there (like the lighting that flashes, the mind or I see). If we look at the seeing out, would there still remain a mind which sees or is the act of seeing itself the .........

Thus, language structure is so much a part of our programming samskara that we do not question the situation out there or the real experience or reality/actuality or fact. It has become so much a part of the way we experience things, a program that was downloaded from the time prenatal/pre-conceptual moment onward or even earlier downloaded in the mother's cellular memory itself. Perhaps that it does not occur to us easily that our experience is molded by this grammatical structure itself.

What we tend to forget is that there is a certain experience going on which the sentence 'I see the table' or 'I see the sound' etc, is trying to point at. It is however never questioned whether the implications evoked from the structure of the sentences is really out there or not, or whether this grammatical structure is coloring and distorting the experience, changing the 'pure experience' into a shape that this grammatical structure demands. Even to question this seems so odd that most people would never even think of it and if somebody raises such a question he/she would be ridiculed by saying 'Are you crazy?' Have you gone off the rocks? But didn't Galileo face the same taunts when he questioned whether the sun really went around earth?

Let us go on a little journey for a short while into the world of Alice in Wonderland, for that is now it would look like to the programmed thinking of most people.

Suppose you have a grown up with a different grammatical structure. We have already said that the sentence 'I see the table' is pointing at a certain experiential act. But the grammatical structure here demands thing are there in the experience. We'll continue with this in the next article.


137. Unchanging 'I' or is it

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
The grammatical structure demands that there is an 'I' or mind that is the subject or the seer, watcher, knower, that this 'I' sees or goes through the action of seeing, which is an action verb, which is different from the 'I' which is a pronoun and there is a different noun, separate from both the verb (seeing) and the pronoun 'I' which is the table. The 'table' is the object, a noun and distinctly separate and independent from the subject and the verb. And this unquestioned programming is so deeply ingrained into our subconscious mind that we can safely say that, that is how everybody experiences the experience of what the sentence 'I see the table' is trying to point at.

Now suppose you had grown up in another grammatical structure. Remember that language is meant to point at an experience. So if an Alice in Wonderland language also pointed equally well at that experience it would fulfill the purpose of language. So we all know that an experience is a process and not really a thing - entity per se. So seeing a table is a process, a verb, and not an entity, a noun. So suppose you had grown up with a grammatical structure which says 'tabling is going on' to point at the same experience which the sentence 'I see the table' is also trying to point at. We can certainly say that the sentence 'tabling is going on' can equally well point at the same experience which the sentence 'I am seeing the table' points at.

Infact, since it is actually a process (this experience), tabling is going on is a more accurate finger to point at it. Now, if you had grown up with this grammtical sturcture, would the experience (and the grammatical structure) imply that there is a separate table (noun-object) from the act of seeing the table (verb)? And would the structure impose an 'I' upon the experience like imposing a separate lightning different from the flashing of the light? Is there a lightning separate from the flashing which does the flasing or is the flashing itself the lightning? But flashing is an action a verb, the lightning is a noun, an object. Or is the 'Light' distinct from the flasing created merely by the langauge? Likewise, is there an 'I' that sees or is the act of seeing specified by the Alice in Wonderland language 'Tabling' itself the 'I' the seer? But I is a pronoun, seer a noun and seeing/tabling are verbs. When I say 'I see', this is a seeing I. This 'I' is defined by the 'seeing'. Now there are two questions here.

The first questions is: Is not this 'I' that sees dependent upon the seeing of the table? Can we really say that the I/seer/watcher/knower that sees will continue to exist even when the seeing stops? If so, we will have a so-called seer who does not see? Can there be a seer that does not see? Is not the seer-I defined by seeing process. Can we really speak of a seer when it is not seeing/tabling? The word Seer would be meaningless without the seeing, wouldn't it? We cannot call the seer a seer if there is no seeing going. If that is true than when seeing stops the seer also stops or ceases to exist.

The second question is that is there is a seer separate from the act of seeing or is it only an illusion created by the language structure, like the lightning and its flashes? Can there be a seer remaining [a noun] which does not see but was the one that did the seeing? Can we really separate the verb of seeing from the seer the noun or is the seer (and therefore the 'I') merely an illusion imposed up the experience?

138. I as 'Seer', 'Watcher,' 'Knower'

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
If you had grown up with the sentence structure 'Table is going on' to point at the same experience, would you be straddled with an 'I-seer' that sees and a table that is seen? Tabling is a process, and actually there is process going on which the sentence 'I see the table' is trying to point at; however like a pair of coloured glasses it imposes a lot of things on the experience which is not really out there even according to quantum physics.

Now we can see that the 'I' is not really such a central figure in our experience, nor is it so stable or permanently unchanging as it seems to be, and secondly, it is more a process, a verb, which is continuously changing than an unchanging noun, which is supposedly the central guy or doll in the experience.

Now let us look at the unchanging 'I' from another angle. When we say this 'I' is unchanging, it also implies that it is the same 'I' always. Unchanging as defined in the Hindu-Buddhist systems of the Indian Subcontinent meant 'remaining the same in all the three times'. As Sankaracharya has defined it 'Kala traya tisthatiti', which means that which remains unchanged in the three times - in all the three times - viz - past, present and future.

Now with this in the background, let us try to see if this 'I', watcher, seer or knower really remains unchanged in the three times. First of all, if we look at the 'I', 'I' continually changes its identity. When I'm in the office I am a manager or an executive at home, I'm a son in front of my father or mother, even if I may be sixty years old. I'm also a brother to my brothers and sisters. Now a wife is not the same as the executive in the office, nor is a son the same as a husband. As we can see this, 'I' is continuously changing and becoming something else according to the situation - or more technically according to the causes or conditions.

Now the question arises which one of them is the real 'I'? We normally have hundreds of 'I' which are normally changing frequently as per the situations, and none of them is the real 'I' in the sense of being the unchanging, permanent 'I'. If this husband 'I' did not change and become a father 'I' in front of his daughter or an executive 'I' in the office, not only would there be trouble (big time trouble to say the least) but we would have to call that person neurotically unbalanced, and normal social or human functions would become tipsy turvy. Yet our experience seems to point at an 'I' that is the same in all three times and therefore real and unchanging. So which of this 'I' is the real one?

Now, let us take this 'I' as the seer, watcher, knower as posited in the Vendantic system and therefore virtually all non-dualist system within Hinduism. They are called watcher (drasta), witness (sakchi), knower (gyata) because this 'I' watches or sees, knows and witnesses. So let us analyze this watcher, seer. It is called a watcher or seer because it sees. If it didn't see or watch something it would not be called a watcher, seer. We cannot have a seer which does not see. If it does not or cannot see anything, it cannot possible be called seer or watcher can we really? We need to distinguish five points we have before we get confused. A seer can see nothing - ie - the absence of things. It still sees the absence (alohara) and that is really not seeing per se. We'll continue this discussion in the next article.



139. Changing or Unchanging 'I'

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
Continuing with the discussion of absence of seeing - for example, if you are in a pitch dark room and I asked you - do you see anything? You would normally say 'I do not see anything'. But this expression is the result of the limitation of language itself, rather than the fact that you do not see. You do continue to see the pitch darkness or the absence of all things or objects. The absence or pitch darkness is also a 'thing' to see, so to say.

Once we have understood this, let us go another step further. We have already said that a seer is defined by its seeing something, even if it is an absence. There is still an absence to see and it is the seer of that absence of the pitch darkness, as the case maybe. So let us take this up. When I say 'I see the table' I am the seer of the table. At that moment, this 'I-seer' is the seer of the table and is defined by the 'table'. If there were no table to see I would not be the seer of the table, that is, I would not see the table and in effect I would not and could not say 'I see the table'. And if I did not see the table I would not be the seer of the table. Now, if this seer of the table or the 'I' was really existing (sat in Sanskrit) and therefore the same and unchanging in all three time, I would in effect be eternally be seeing the table as I or the seer would not change. But no one experiences that. We do not eternally continue to see the table unchangingly and in actuality we as the seer see something else immediately, for instance, the blue sky or the green mountain.

Again, if the seer of the table was unchanging and permanent, it could not stop seeing the table and seeing the blue sky would be a change. But in real life the objects seen by the seer is continually changing and thus also the seer of those objects. However, in the language we continuously use the same word 'I' or the same word seer-watcher-knower for the seer of all those various objects. And that gives us the feeling of the same 'I-seer-watch-knower' being there while the so called seen objects are changing like a table now, a blue sky after that, a home now, etc. etc. As before, the language structure creates an illusion of something which does not really exist out there.

Here again, our memory of I seeing the table etc. also furthers the illusion with 'I' which is based on the memory of the 'I' which had seen the table. Because of this memory, it looks like the same 'I' is seeing the blue sky which had seen the table a while ago. But actually, it is an illusion created by our memory supported by our language structure, thus creating an experience that is not out there as it appears to be. So in effect there seems to be no seer/knower/watcher which remains unchanging as the Vedanta or for that matter what Sankaracharya says in his texts like Discriminating the Watcher And the Watched (Drig Driksya Viveka). Understanding this is the key point in knowing the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism.

It is not a matter of just a difference in words but a matter of seeing two diametrically opposed experiences. One is an experience of validating that this 'I' is not related to this ephemeral world but is an unchanging permanent really existing Self called an Atman in all forms of Hinduism. However, it must be said that only the Atman of Vedantic Hinduism and all those related to the non-dual system of Vedanta (directly or indirectly) is a coherent Atman.
0 Responses