Advayavada Buddhism

ON COURSE WITH NATURE.

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The term Advayavada (Murti)

We gave the name Advayavada Buddhism to the radical non-dual standpoint of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism to which we specifically adhere. A sound explanation of the term ‘advayavada’ can be found in for instance professor T.R.V. Murti’s The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, 1955, 1960, London 1968, p.217: “Advaya is purely an epistemological approach; the advaita is ontological. The sole concern of the Madhyamaka advaya-vada is the purification of the faculty of knowing. The primordial error consists in the intellect being infected by the inveterate tendency to view Reality as identity or difference, permanent or momentary, one or many etc. These views falsify reality, and the dialectic [of the Madhyamaka] administers a cathartic corrective. With the purification of the intellect, Intuition emerges; the Real is known as it is, as Tathata [advayata; non-dual suchness] or bhutakoti [reality-limit; the extreme limit beyond which there is nothing which can be known]. The emphasis is on the correct attitude of our knowing and not on the known.” It is in this sense that we use the term ‘advayavada’. (from advayavada.org/qanda.htm)

About the Five Precepts in Advayavada.

question You say that ‘man’s observance of the five fundamental precepts in his daily life gives him the moral strength required to embark upon the Buddha’s Middle Way…’ I think you’ve missed the point of the precepts. These are artificial, man-made rules. In actuality, humans can never fully abide by those rules. I personally think that’s why the Buddha enjoined his disciples to follow them. To vow to follow those precepts is to become a living koan. The symbol of the path to enlightenment is a flower, not a ledger of morality. Just ask Mahakashyapa. What is the morality of a flower?

answer Buddhism is a highly ethical teaching and way of life for human beings that is man-made in its entirety like any other. There is, in our view, no such thing as divine law – the golden rule is perfectly rational. Traditionally, to become a lay Buddhist one voluntarily takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and undertakes to comply with at least the first five of the Buddhist precepts. The Five Precepts (pañca-sila, pancha-shila, pansil) are the minimum moral obligations a lay Buddhist freely takes upon him or herself. The precise interpretation of these precepts aside for the moment, it is universally agreed that people who wantonly kill, steal, maybe molest children, cheat and deceive, or enjoy getting drunk or stoned, need not do the effort to embark on the Buddha’s Middle Way until they have first cleaned up their act. Now, as for their exact interpretation, they comprise ‘not only minimal morality, but basic morality capable of many degrees of fulfillment’ (Winston L. King). Whether, for instance, the first precept also forbids meat-eating, whether the third precept forbids alternative sexual practices, or whether the fifth precept forbids all alcoholic beverages and drugs or just the getting intoxicated as some maintain, this is therefore as well our own responsibility. One must only not lose sight of the underlying reason for these fundamental voluntary precepts, which is to become moral individuals able, as such, to follow the Noble Eightfold Path to eliminate existential suffering, angst and regret from our lives.

This might be as good a place as any to warn that for many people social drinking is a potential source of much future suffering. Bear in mind in this context the persistent irrational taboo of not admitting to alcohol abuse by ourselves or those close to us. (cf. Nucleus accumbens [Nacc] research)

question How can one beat alcoholism?

answer One can certainly fully neutralize alcohol addiction by stopping to drink alcoholic beverages altogether, one day at the time, with the help of (a) your GP and (b) a personal psychological coach or counsellor, and (c) by joining a reputable support group to help you develop the necessary emotional counterpunch. The Noble Eightfold Path provides a very appropriate overall training to beat this costly and disruptive biopsychosocial (bps) disease. (from advayavada.org/qanda6.htm)

Unmanifest potentials in Advayavada.

There is no other reality than the phenomenal world and the phenomenal world exists only in the present. It is spontaneously brought about in the present by the interdependent origination or conditioned co-arising or universal relativity of all phenomena, called [madhyamaka-] pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit, which is the immanent incessant dynamic principle of existence. This means that the ingredients of what you call an ‘unmanifest potential’ must be sought amongst present phenomena and that your idea of it is merely a herenow mental deduction or extrapolation. A pre-cognition of unmanifest potentials would imply that they already exist in the future, which is an impossibility. (from advayavada.org/qanda5.htm)

Karma in Advayavada.

In Advayavada Buddhism, we say that karma is basically and simply the operation of incessant pratityasamutpada (interdependent origination) as it is undergone and experienced at the sentient level (pratityasamutpada, that is, as in Madhyamaka philosophy, where ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’). Our own share of this karma is the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded. These events include traditionally the consequences of one’s actions (the kamma niyama), the laws of heredity (the bija niyama), the environment (the utu niyama), the will of mind (the citta niyama) and Nature’s tendency to perfect (the dhamma niyama). (advayavada.org)

The concept of duhkha in Advayavada.

The concept of duhkha or dukkha does not include, in Advayavada Buddhism, emotional grief nor physical pain. It refers solely to the existential suffering, angst and regret non-enlightened human beings are prone to, and is, therefore, considered as a remediable psychological affliction; the enlightened person accepts with understanding and compassion the sorrow and pain which are part and parcel of human existence.

There are not two realities

There are not two realities, but there are, Madhyamaka teaches, two ways of seeing, of experiencing, of understanding the one reality: there are two truths, conventional everyday truth (samvriti-satya) and ultimate truth (paramartha-satya). In our everyday application of conventional truth, though we are aware of the intrinsic emptiness of all dharmas or phenomena since we know that all things are interdependently arisen and exist conceptually only by virtue of our idea of them or of their alleged opposite, we nevertheless do take into account and make use of the relative, conceptual aspects of phenomena in our commonplace interaction with other sentient beings and with our environment. As a matter of fact, the Noble Eightfold Path operates throughout exclusively at the level of conventional truth. As we advance along the Buddha’s Middle Way responding to his promise of Nirvana by ridding ourselves of the so-called ten fetters (dasha-, dasasamyojana) that restrict us to Samsara, the fallacies in our perception of Samsara are progressively transformed, purified first into conventional truth, and it is through conventional truth that we shall eventually come to understand the non-conceptual import of ultimate truth. The dialectic of Madhyamaka, with its exhaustive analysis of the nature of reality, indeed takes place at the level of conventional truth. By ultimate truth is meant our awareness of the underlying field of experience where all phenomena stripped of their relative aspects are known to happen: it is our insight into the void beyond all concepts. This field of experience where the real events are known to take place is that of non-dual emptiness, advayata, shunyata, the realm of prajña, non-dual, contentless intuition. To experience existence at this level, which we can truly say lies between the notions of being and non-being, is nothing less than Nirvana.  ~ @advayavada

A true part of the whole

To realize what in Advayavada Buddhism we term ‘to become a true part of the whole’ one must quite simply follow the Eightfold Path. In Advayavada Buddhism, the Path is interpreted dynamically as a fully autonomous process of progressive insight and as strictly non-dual and non-comparative, this in the sense that it bears no reference at all to anything predetermined by others or oneself. A prescriptive method with preset demands and expectations is antithetical to all progress, both of the individual and the group to which he or she belongs. The Path is not seen in Advayavada Buddhism as a means to become something in the future, but as the way to become as something rightaway in the herenow. It is seen as the way to become oneself herenow as existence interdependently becoming over time now in its overall right direction – it is by becoming herenow as the whole of existence as it is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it, that we free ourselves from suffering. Nirvana is when we experience our own existence as being completely in harmony with existence as a whole becoming over time, with natura naturans. ~ @advayavada

Mind and Consciousness

The non-dual and life-affirming philosophy way of life we call Advayavada Buddhism, to which we wholeheartedly adhere, is derived from Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka, or philosophy of the Middle Way. For the Advayavadin, Samsara and Nirvana are not different objectively, and there is, in Advayavada Buddhism, no talk of a mind separate from the body. Mind is merely to think and to think is a manifestation of being, as are to walk, to talk or to sleep. It is one of the many ways in which the one ‘person’ exists, i.e. becomes over time. To the Advayavadin, to say that the mind has or does things, sounds like saying that not one but one’s running does the sprinting. This is particularly true when he or she hears other Buddhists saying, for example, that not they but their consciousnesses will eventually enter Nirvana or be reborn or something. However important, consciousness is merely to know, the activity of knowing going on in our brains. Mind (to think) and consciousness (to know) are not things but functions, activities, deeds, events without any substance or corporeality. Also Buddha-nature is insubstantial and not something different or separate from Reality – it is but a name for Reality as it manifests itself in sentient beings. Nirvana, for the Advayavadin, is indeed to live fully in accordance with one’s Buddha-nature. ~ @advayavada

More Questions and Answers

question I wonder what your support for this interpretation of humans experiencing Nature as progress might be. There’s abundant evidence in media of various sorts — good, bad, or indifferent in quality — of people who contrarily do not experience the overall course of Nature as progressive at all, but instead as destructive and teleologically negative, especially today in conditions of global warming, cyclones, tornados, earthquakes, oceans rising, meteorites, and so on.

answer If you look closely, all those unpleasantnesses you mention do not pertain to overall existence at all but are the result of mistaken views, immorality and mismanagement. When we say how man experiences the course of Nature we of course mean man unencumbered by these contingent shortcomings and mistakes that impair his vision, understanding and accomplishments – the reference standard is overall existence and not failing mankind.

question I would agree with you that the objective of the Middle Way is to reconcile us with existence. Or to be more precise, it helps to understand life as it is. This is a condition for being to go forwards. However we are influenced by many things like greed, hatred and ignorance. These can take us backwards. The way to go forwards then is to develop the Eightfold Path. Or rather the Eightfold Path develops when there are conditions for its development. These conditions are the intellectual understanding of the Eightfold Path.

answer You are asked to accept the preeminence of existence over mankind, and that existence cannot, by definition, be anything but just right as it is, and that the Eightfold Path is an ongoing reflexion at the level of our personal lives of existence as a whole becoming over time. We must not see the Buddha’s Middle Way devoid of extremes as an attitude or method that will enable us e.g. ‘to escape from the realities of life’ or ‘to make it somehow in spite of things’, but we must understand the Buddha’s most fundamental teaching correctly as the means to reconnect and reconcile us with wondrous overall existence as a whole as it truly is. We must, in fact, accept that to live the way existence as a whole is, and not some idealized form of humanity, is what is to be sought after by men.

question I am not familiar with the term Advayavada.

answer We gave the name Advayavada Buddhism to the radical non-dual standpoint of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism to which we specifically adhere. A sound explanation of the term ‘advayavada’ can be found in for instance professor T.R.V. Murti’s The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: “The sole concern of the Madhyamaka advaya-vada is the purification of the faculty of knowing. The primordial error consists in the intellect being infected by the inveterate tendency to view Reality as identity or difference, permanent or momentary, one or many etc. These views falsify reality, and the dialectic [of the Madhyamaka] administers a cathartic corrective. With the purification of the intellect, Intuition emerges; the Real is known as it is, as Tathata [advayata; non-dual suchness] or bhutakoti [reality-limit; the extreme limit beyond which there is nothing which can be known]. The emphasis is on the correct attitude of our knowing..” It is in this sense that we use the term ‘advayavada’.

question What you say seems to me to be an essential teaching of the Mahayana in its complete form. The Unborn Infinite Reality can never be less than Perfect and Whole, and is the True Essence of all Beings, and is ever present. All that is needed is that, in perfect simplicity, we turn to That, and realize that the human manifestation of life is just an imperfect reflexion of That. Simple! but not easy. That is the problem. If we realize what we are, how do we remember to continue to realize it moment by moment, rather than seeking to hold on to the vision of the past?

answer Everything is, indeed, as right as it can be, and the Middle Way devoid of extremes is a perfect reflexion of it at the human level. As for your question, our answer would be that you must see that ‘vision of the past’ for what it really is: a highly selective subjective recollection in the present of things no longer there – please understand that life only happens Now.

More Questions and Answers

question You speak of progress but make little mention of evolution. Is the Fourth Sign of Being you speak of not evolution?

answer Evolution is an ontological fact and progress is an epistemological concept. What we say is that human beings experience as progress that which accords with the overall course of Nature, which includes, of course, the underlying fact of evolution. Because we experience the Noble Eightfold Path as progress, we know that it coincides with the course of Nature; in a way, Advayavada Buddhism is a or maybe the Buddhist face of the global evolutionary movement.

question Is Advayavada Buddhism, then, a kind of cosmodicy?

answer The cosmodicy meant by Caroline Rhys Davids when she coined the term in the early 20th century would imply that existence as such is ‘good’. This is not what we say. What we believe and teach is that what we human beings experience as good and wholesome, indeed as progress, is that which agrees with the otherwise neutral overall nature of existence. Good and bad are exclusively human concepts which you cannot apply to existence as a whole – the wood is completely silent and only sentient beings hear the falling tree!

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