Advayavada Buddhism

ON COURSE WITH NATURE.

Archive for the tag “pratityasamutpada”

Buddha, the Revolutionary Realist

Engage!

I’ve been working on some scholars of early Buddhism, Joanna Jurewicz and Richard Gombrich (“What the Buddha Thought). I’ve been reading about the Buddhist concept of the 12 Nidanas. According to some scholars, the Buddhist concept was drawn form the Rg Veda and the Hindu myth of creation. Buddha’s use of the 12 Links was both a commentary and criticism: that if you follow the beliefs of the Brahmins, you are doomed to endlessly repeat this cycle indefinitely. Buddha proposed an alternate pratityasamutpada  to the 12 Links  that is simpler: “because this, that.” Everything has cause and effect, immediately, in this lifetime and beyond. Our karma, i.e. our intentional acts, have effects that ripple out to those distant form us in space and time, even beyond our lifetimes. By declaring that there is no atman, Buddha pulled the plug on the whole Vedic system of cosmology, creation and…

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Advayavada Study Plan – week 2

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

Our quest is fully personalized: it is firmly based on what we increasingly know about ourselves and our world, and trusting our own intentions, feelings and conscience. Adherence to the familiar five precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and a well-considered understanding of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs of being and the Buddha’s four noble truths, which are the subjects of weeks 1 to 5, suffice to start off on this Path at any time.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but invites us all to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year.

The purpose of the autonomous ASP is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

(My own specific personal objective this new quarter is to observe and interpret as closely as possible the workings in my own life of pratityasamutpada, i.e. the process of universal relativity or interdependent origination, as in Madhyamaka, where ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’, and karma, understood as the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial events in which I am personally embedded – what’s yours?)

To continue this weekly series, in week 2 we shall again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible; in Dutch: de vergankelijkheid van alles (het tweede kenmerk van het bestaan)

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. Human beings currently live for about 4,000 weeks.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact all things without exception are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance. Everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes and extinguishes in accordance with pratityasamutpada, i.e. the process of universal relativity or interdependent origination, meaning here that ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’. Svabhava-shunyata is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy.

Feel free to share these weekly ASP instalments.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

Advayavada Study Plan – week 41

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

Our quest is fully personalized: it is firmly based on what we increasingly know about ourselves and our world, and trusting our own intentions, feelings and conscience. Adherence to the familiar five precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and a well-considered understanding of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs of being and the Buddha’s four noble truths suffice to start off on this Path at any time.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but invites us all to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year.

The purpose of the autonomous ASP is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

(As stated earlier, my personal specific objective this quarter is to further investigate and explain to my fellow Buddhists in my country and elsewhere what is meant by the ‘whole’ in the non-dual and life-affirming philosophy and way of life we call Advayavada Buddhism – what’s yours?)

To continue this weekly series, in week 41 we shall again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible; in Dutch: de vergankelijkheid van alles (het tweede kenmerk van het bestaan)

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. Human beings currently live about 4,000 weeks.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact all things without exception are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance. Everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes and extinguishes in accordance with the universal process of interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada, meaning that ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’. Svabhava-shunyata is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

Advayavada Study Plan – week 28

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

The purpose of the autonomous Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but how to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The ASP is repeated four times a year.

As stated last week, my personal specific objective this quarter is to further explain the tenets of the non-dual and life-affirming philosophy and way of life we call Advayavada Buddhism to my fellow Buddhists in my country and elsewhere – what’s yours?

To continue this weekly series, this week (28) we shall again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible.

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. Humans live about 4,000 weeks.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact all things without exception are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance. Everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes and extinguishes in accordance with the universal process of interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada, meaning that ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’. Svabhava-shunyata is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

Advayavada Study Plan – week 15

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

The purpose of the autonomous Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but how to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The ASP is repeated four times a year.

As stated last week, my personal specific objective this new quarter is to further develop my good relations with fellow Buddhists in my country – no doubt you have your own specific objective.

To continue this weekly series, this week (15) we shall again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible.

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact all things without exception are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance. Everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes and extinguishes in accordance with the universal process of interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada, meaning that ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’. Svabhava-shunyata is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

Advayavada Study Plan – week 2

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

The purpose of the Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is that we  study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but how to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction.

As stated last week, my own objective for the coming weeks is to try to deepen my joyous equanimity in face of the vicissitudes of life – no doubt you have your own specific objective.

In week 2 of this overall Study Plan, we shall again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible.

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact ‘all things are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance’; everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes and extinguishes in accordance with the universal process of interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada (as understood in Madhyamaka philosophy, where ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’).

Kind regards and a Happy New Year,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

Spinoza: Every Event a Necessary Part of the Whole (Cahn)

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) viewed the world as possessing an intelligible structure according to which every event was in principle comprehensible as a necessary part of the whole. The logical order of that whole was to be understood only ‘through itself’ and was variously termed ‘substance’, ‘Nature’, or ‘God’. The geometric format of [his masterpiece] the Ethics illustrates this central thesis, since the propositions, corollaries and notes are all intended as deductions from the initial definitions and axioms, which are presented as self-explanatory. Part I contains Spinoza’s detailed demonstration of the essence of God. In Part II he offers his solution to the traditional philosophical problem of the relation between mind and body, regarding these not, as Descartes had, as two separate substances, but rather as two aspects of the one Substance. The remainder of the Ethics contains Spinoza’s moral theory and his view of the ideal life. The term ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are, according to Spinoza, merely words we use to express our own desires. In order to achieve salvation, we need to free ourselves from the bondage of these emotions and strive through reason to achieve knowledge of and identification with the order of the universe, thus coming to possess ‘the intellectual love of God’ which is ‘blessedness’. By thus reinterpreting the concept of God and imparting spirituality to the study of Nature, Spinoza fused his commitment to the scientific model of knowledge with the monotheistic vision of his religious heritage. (from Baruch Spinoza, in Classics of Western Philosophy, edited by Steven M. Cahn, Indianapolis 1977)

Advayavada Study Plan – week 41

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

This week (41) we again study the selflessness and finitude of all things as thoroughly as possible.

This task is based on the Buddhist anatta (Pali) or anatmata (Sanskrit) doctrine. Anatta or anatman means that no self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. It is one of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. In Mahayana Buddhism, the nisvabhava (Sanskrit) doctrine teaches further that in fact ‘all things are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava), i.e. devoid of self-sufficient, independent existence or lasting substance’; everything, indeed, arises, abides, changes, and extinguishes according to the universal process of interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada (understood as in Madhyamaka philosophy, where ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’).

The purpose of the autonomous Advayavada Study Plan ASP is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc. Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but how to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

The Theory of Karma Involves Descriptive and Normative Claims (MacKenzie)

The Theory of Karma Involves Descriptive and Normative Claims (from Enacting Selves, Enacting Worlds: On the Buddhist Theory of Karma, by Matthew MacKenzie, in Philosophy East and West, Honolulu, April 2013)

Another key point to recognize about the theory of karma is that it involves both descriptive and normative claims. There is no fact/value dichotomy in the Buddhist tradition, and the theory of karma is meant to provide a framework for interpreting the complex relations between the moral dynamics of human experience and the larger causal order [cf. Advayavada Buddhism]. Specifically, Indian Buddhists understand sentient beings and their world in terms of dependent origination (pratityasamutpada). The focus, then, is on patterns of dependence between events or processes, rather than on, for instance, the operation of external forces on ontologically independent objects. The world is understood as a dynamic network of interdependent events, and the sentient beings within it are understood in the same terms. Karma, then, is a mode (niyama) or special case of dependent origination and is not [sic] co-extensive with it. Indian Buddhists identify five modes or domains (niyama) of dependent origination: physical (utu-niyama), biological (bija-niyama), mental (mano-niyama), ethical (karma-niyama), and spiritual (dharma-niyama). The proper understanding of an event may involve some or all of the modes, and it would be a mistake, on this account, to assume that everything that happens to a person is determined by his or her karma.

Moreover, one may interpret the theory of karma, in addition to positing certain kinds of causal connections, as expressing a commitment to a fundamental, internal relation between virtuous action and genuine well-being. The specifics of this connection may rest on empirical claims about human action and psychology, but commitment to the internal relation itself will not be a merely empirical generalization. In the final analysis, then, the general theory of karma expresses a regulative normative commitment to the idea that, as Aristotle put it, “activities in accord with virtue control happiness, and the contrary activities control the contrary”. According to the doctrine of karma virtues are both means to the end of genuine happiness or well-being (sukha) and partly constitutive of the end itself. Thus vices are harmful to oneself in that they detract from one’s objective well-being. In addition, vices will tend to undermine one’s ability to enjoy other things of value, such as worldly happiness or wealth.

Karma’s Ontological Work in Buddhism (MacKenzie)

The Concept of Karma does Important Ontological Work within Buddhist Philosophy (from Enacting Selves, Enacting Worlds: On the Buddhist Theory of Karma, by Matthew MacKenzie, in Philosophy East and West, Honolulu, April 2013)

In addition to the important role it plays in Buddhist moral theory, moral psychology and soteriology, the concept of karma does important ontological work within Buddhist philosophy. Self, world, and action are taken to be three interdependent aspects of an ontologically and phenomenologically more basic and universal process of [inter]dependent co-arising (pratityasamutpada). Thus, not only do actions, as common sense would have it, arise from selves interacting with the world, but also, Buddhist philosophers insist, selves and the world are enacted in and through the process of dependent origination. It is perhaps not clear which idea is more paradoxical – that we enact ourselves or that we enact the world – but in any case I will begin with the former idea and take up the latter in the next section. [Neither exposition in this short excerpt.]

One central focus of Indian Buddhism is the examination of the structure and dynamics of lived experience in the service of identifying and addressing the distortions and afflictions that perpetuate human suffering (duhkha). What is distinctive about Buddhist thought – both within its own historical and intellectual milieu and, to some degree, within the context of philosophy more generally – is its radical rejection of substantialism in favor of an ontology of interdependent events and processes. In the Buddhist view, phenomena arise in dependence on a network of causes and conditions. Thus, the Buddhist analysis of any particular entity, event, or process will not be based on the categories of substance and attribute, agent and action, or subject and object. Rather, the analysis will focus on the dynamic patterns of interaction within which events arise, have their effects, and pass away. The identity of any persisting object, then, is determined by its place in this vast pattern of relations. Indeed, even what we would normally conceive of as enduring substances are reconceptualized as more or less stable patterns of more basic and more ephemeral events and processes. It is against the backdrop of these basic analytical and ontological commitments, then, that we can understand the Buddhist account of the self and the claim that we create and recreate ourselves through karma.

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