I don't get Buddhism (2)

I love this post. It’s honest and refreshing

I’d like to put in my two cents but as the original thread has been hijacked, I’ll fork this into a new one and stick to the OP.


I’m going to use the term Advaita (meaning ‘not two’) because the term ‘Buddhism’ is too restricted. Advaita existed long before Buddhism and it focuses on the essence of what I believe Buddha, Zen masters, Taoists and Christ were speaking about: the individual’s personal realization of Truth rather than intellectual concepts of Truth.

The following posts are going to be quite random and hopefully, quite simple because I don’t want to overly complicate things. This is a bit of an experiment for me so let’s see if it works…

Most people don’t ‘get’ Advaita/Buddhism because it’s counter intuitive.

Advaita/Buddhism is like a Chinese thumb trap; the more you try to pull your thumbs out of the bamboo cylinder, the tighter the bamboo wraps around them.

The way to get out of the trap is to do the opposite of what you would expect – i.e. rather than pull your thumbs outward, you push your thumbs inward and the bamboo releases its grip.

IOW, you can’t understand Advaita/Buddhism via the intellect. The intellect (egoic mind) is the thumb trap. The more you strain to understand it, the more you’ll become trapped and just go around and around and around.

Advaita/Buddhism can only be understood experientially. The intellect plays a part in the preparatory stage but must be abandoned if you wish to go further.

Most of the intellectual stuff we need to know is about correcting false notions. In that respect, the intellect is very useful but it’s NOT useful in creating new notions, new concepts and new ideas.

For instance, the person/ego/self which wants to become Enlightened, is not that which will become Enlightened.
Enlightenment is the absence of self.
That’s the definition. It’s nothing more than that.
You (the self) doesn’t get anything and you (the self) doesn’t arrive anywhere.
You (the self) doesn’t exist and when this is experientially realized, it’s called Enlightenment.

The irony is that the self wants to experience its own absence.
This is why it might seem like a ‘get rich quick’ scheme that promises something great but never seems to deliver.

Think of it like this: your dream character (the one that slays dragons and saves the pretty princesses) never wakes up in the morning no matter how much you may want to during the dream. What actually happens is the imaginary dream character vanishes and you find yourself in the position of the dreamer.

The Enlightened master realizes something similar but on a higher conscious plane. The Enlightened masters is just a lucid dreamer who hasn’t quite left the dream. He/she remains to show us how we can become lucid dreamers.

to be continued…

I don’t seem to be able to reconcile ‘advaita’ as generally understood, with Buddhism.


Thus “advaita” and Buddhism are not similar, since Buddhism do not believe in the likes of Atman nor Brahman the highest metaphysical reality of the universe.

Your both generalizing, but there are absolutely many strains in Buddhism that belief something utterly parallel, though they use different words. In fact descriptoins of the experiences are striking in their parallel stages, timing, and predictability in relation to practices. Buddhism came out of Hinduism, the practices are actually extremely similar. A Westerner atheist seeing the name of a deity brings a huge set of baggage and assumptions. And then you get discussions where people with little experience think they can use deduction about things they know little aobut.

Yes there are many sects of Buddhism and various forms of practices.

Buddhism and Hinduism has many similarities but what I presented above are the core principles which are different.
There is no compromise with the core principles.

The Buddha went through a string of gurus of of Hinduism [Vedas based] and found none to his satisfaction and he finally found a method of his own which is distinctively different from Hinduism [Vedas] in terms of its core principles, e.g. anatman versus atman as presented above.
However Buddhism has more similarities with Jainism where both are non-theistic.

Since the emergence of Buddhism from 500BCE, the Buddhists had been seriously debating with Hinduism [Vedantists] till now in terms of their core principles.

Well that little experiment didn’t last long. Thanks guys.

I specifically asked that people NOT hijack this thread because I wanted to address Gib’s post on a practical level and prevent it from deteriorating into a bunch of dick-fighting posts like Gib’s original thread.

Prismatic, I didn’t suggest Advaita and Buddhism were similar in every respect so posting definitions is irrelevant. As I said in the op, I wanted to extend the focus from Buddhism to encompass similar practices because the crux of their message – Enlightenment – is the same for all. I wanted to focus on Gib’s issues about the practical aspects of Enlightenment – not argue about theories, definitions, historic developments or creeds.

I had a lot to say about this that I haven’t seen posted here before, but you’re just going to jump in and argue about some other irrelevant point and others are going to jump in and argue back, so I’ll leave you to it. It was an experiment after all and unfortunately, it just didn’t work. :cry:


I believe the grounding truth is very critical.
“Enlightenment – is the same for all” is false.

If your presentation is solid, true and sound, I would not have bothered at all.

The approach to “enlightenment” within Buddhism is significantly different from Vedanta [Hinduism] and other religions like the Abrahamics [salvation].

Since you are addressing to Gib [apparently uncertain of Buddhism], I believe she should be exposed to the truth and alternative views rather than you forcing views into her.
This sharing of views is after all the purpose of this philosophy forum which is not to promote one person’s propaganda.

Yeah but you could copy his post into the other thread where there is already a discussion going, and leave this one alone as requested by the op, you twat.

My apologies. I will not make any more off subject posts in this thread.

Woaw, a sequal!!! I seem to have returned to ILP at just the right time. How’s everybody enjoying COVID?! :romance-grouphug:

Shakra, your posts are as much appreciated as you appreciate mine. I get out of them quite the same as what you got out of mine: refreshing honesty.

Still tho, they are intellectual responses, which, as you said, are less than satisfactory. But what else can you do?

I’ve always found the dream metaphor to be the best for what, I gather, Buddhism teaches. It’s the only thing that makes some modicum of sense.

But according to the dream metaphor, nothing that happens in the dream is to be trusted–it’s all dreamt up anyway–and this includes everything Buddhism has to teach. It’s all together possible that when I wake up, I will say: “Can you believe I had a dream that there was this religion called ‘Buddhism’”? It seems to also suggest that what wakes one up is not to be found in the dream, or in anything one does in the dream, but something in the waking world–a proverbial alarm clock, for example–almost as though something pulls one into enlightenment without even having to ask. So much for the eight-fold path. When I become enlightened, then I will know what brought me there.

I think this nicely wraps up why Buddhism strikes me as such a tease–because while it beacons me to believe there is such a state as enlightenment, the very concept entails that I’ve just dreamt it up.

What exactly was the experiment? What were you hoping for?

We could just ignore all the hijackers, couldn’t we? Discuss around them? Or did you not even want a discussion?

Don’t worry about me, Prismatic. I’m not the kind of girl who needs to be shown the truth amongst alternative views. I much prefer coming to my own truth and contributing my own alternative views to discussions like this.

Welcome back gib! I had begun to think that imagining you would post on the topic you started was like waiting for Godot!

It’s one thing to entertain the notion you don’t exist, it’s another thing entirely to believe in it.
You can only get the, cremation of care so to speak if you actually believe you don’t exist.
While I believe I do exist (at least in some sense, in another there’s no stark, if any division between you and everyone/thing else, just as there’s no stark, if any division between say your arm and your hand, the notion of self, like all notions, is sort of a psychosocial construct), sometimes I imagine what it would feel like to believe I don’t, and it feels good, for if you don’t exist, you don’t have to worry about what happens to you, or anyone else for that matter, you can just mesh with everything.
I also think it’s sort of a false dichotomy, like you can loosen your sense of self/other, without abandoning it altogether.
Just loosening it can give you some piece of mind.

Meh, what can I say. I got bored. I returned to this topic only because I felt like posting something last night and I found I don’t get Buddhism (Part 2). I was like ‘Hey!’ and I had to post.

We don’t determine our interests, they determine us.

The point of Western Spirituality (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) tends to be to hold onto your sense of self/other even more tightly (I’m me, you’re you and God is God, I have an immortal soul (and body) and so do you), the point of Eastern Spirituality (Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism) is to let go of your sense of self/other.
But both are united in that whether you exist, and are immortal, or whether you don’t exist, and all is one, you can’t be harmed, you can only be harmed if you exist, and are mortal, which leads to existential angst, despair and trying to create subjective meaning out of objective meaninglessness, which’s modern Europe’s contribution to man’s quest for meaning.
Spirituality is the opposite of Existentiality.

For me, spirituality is about transcending our mortality/finitude.
There’s different ways to do this.
One is by believing you’re (a) God.
Another is by believing (a) God is looking out for you.

And another is by believing all people, places and properties are essentially one and interdependent, like your head is not separate from your neck, your neck is not separate from your torso.
In the same way, you’re not separate from the sky above, nor the earth below.
If you’re part or a feature of the cosmos, and the cosmos is immortal/infinite, then by extension, so are you.
This is monism (atman is brahman, Hinduism).
There’s different forms of monism: theistic, idealistic, naturalistic, dialectical…

Yet another is by believing you don’t exist, or nothing can be objectively said about you, not that you exist, nor that you do not exist, for everything is dynamic, ephemeral and in flux, infinitely divisible, ontologically impure.
This is nihilism, Cratylism or anatman, Buddhism.

Ha!! I take it the ‘sequal’ is a code joke? If so, it was going to be MySQL.

Don’t get me started on the COVID-1984. It’s ironic that the mask is the symbol of this authoritarian take-over and repression… and it’s only just started…

What’s interesting is that there’s a burst of spiritual awareness that I haven’t seen since the 60’s. It’s far more sophisticated than it was 50 years ago and when the economic pyramid collapses, the millions of people who have been holding it up, will be forced to find a better way. It won’t be fun but we’ve shown we won’t change unless we’re forced to change. So be it.

The intellect is fine so long as we’re undoing misconceptions and not building new ones.

The Hindus have a saying about using a thorn to remove a thorn – i.e. use the intellect to remove the blocks created by the intellect – then throw both thorns away.

In the early stages, we often need metaphors and word salads but, in the end, a serious explorer will go beyond the intellectual mind trap and explore Consciousness through Consciousness, directly. This is what thousands of masters over thousands of years have all been pointing to.

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me;
my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” - Meister Eckhart

“What you’re looking for is what is looking.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

We’re like the guy wearing glasses who turns the house upside down searching for his glasses all the time not noticing he’s looking through them.

The “I” or eye, or looking, or glasses, all refer to Consciousness. Consciousness is so close, so subtle, so intimate, we constantly overlook it because we’re looking for a ‘thing’ and we’re looking for that thing outside ourselves. This is the sort of intellectual stuff we need to know.

“I have lived on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door
It opens.
I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
― Rumi

The dream metaphor is a great metaphor for a number of reasons but the best reason is because it posits that Enlightenment is just the process of waking up – becoming more conscious. Remove the dream/illusion and what remains is Reality.

When Buddha was asked if he was a god, a demigod, a saint, an angel, a mystic or several other exotic Hindu beings he replied ‘no’ to each of them.
When asked, ‘Then what are you?’ He said “I am Awake’

It’s that simple. It’s the mind that makes everything so complicated.

Nice insight, Gib.

In Absolute terms, that’s correct – it’s all bullshit. EVERYTHING!!! There is no Enlightenment. There’s absolutely nothing to attain and no ‘self’ to attain it but this is all correct from the timeless Absolute perspective. Before time, there is no reincarnation, no karma, no birth and death samsara cycle etc.

In the relative sphere – this universe – time and space exist as do various processes of Awakening. They are real, but they’re not Reality.

"It is not important that something be done,
but it’s extremely important that you do it. " - Krishnamurti ?

I haven’t answered this well. I’ll have to think about a better way to put it because it’s a very good point you make.

I was hoping to make a series of short posts about things people rarely bring up when talking about Enlightenment.

I wanted to get some of the main issues posted BEFORE opening it up for discussion but it didn’t work out. Not a problem. I’m a bit of a fatalist. I prefer to go where the flow is taking me.

I enjoy your insights and questions, gib, but my available time has become too fragmented to post consistently so I’ll stick to the hit-and-run posts.
Hope all’s well in your world.

PS: Thanks Phon and Karpel :slight_smile:

Not really a code joke, but that’s a good code joke.

Where are you? California?

I’m sure. With millions of people with nothing better to do than to stay home and smoke pot, it’s not surprising you get a spiritual awakening.

This resonates well with me. I call this “objectification”. The mind can’t help but to objectify the concepts of its contemplation. It turns it into an object–sometimes abstract, sometimes immaterial–but an object nonetheless. This is important in order to center its focus. It becomes the objective, the target towards which it aims.

It doesn’t mean we literally believe abstract things are really objects–we still say “yeah, I know it’s just an abstraction”–but keeping this in mind doesn’t always prevent us from falling into some of the traps of objectification. I believe Plato’s concept of the forms is a result of taking objectification too seriously. I believe the idea of the soul–the idea that it can leave the body and float to heaven after death, like smoke or a misty vapor–is the result of objectification gone awry.

The mistake most philosophers and scientists make when they objectify consciousness is to imagine it is a phenomenon like all other natural phenomenon; more precisely, that it can be treated like a third-person entity. But consciousness only exists as a first-person entity–as “me”. ← From that perspective, the only way to come to an understand of consciousness is like you said: to stop intellectualizing it and just experience it. Consciousness is essentially everything around you–your experiences and perceptions which, if you quiet your mind and focus on them in the moment, are indistinguishable from the world. Taken to its logical conclusion, consciousness just is the world (solipsism?).

But then this is where you can get really tangled up in intellectual knots–if you think about it too deeply, the logic of this leads to all sorts of absurd and paradoxical conclusions–which is why they say the intellect is not suited to understand consciousness in its essential form. Having said this, I’ve tried. I wrote a 3 volume book attempting to sort out all these knots, and I think successfully. However, it remains intellectual–an intellectual contraption as Biggy would say–and doesn’t really count as enlightenment (you need drugs for that :smiley:).

Do you think there are aspects of the world as we experience it that we are awake to? And the process of becoming more conscious will wipe away some aspect but preserve others? For example, here in Calgary, I get a nice view of the mountains out West. Would a Buddhist tell me the mountains are fake? Or would I still believe the mountains exist even if I were enlightened?

In that sense, it isn’t quite like a dream. In the dream, everything you experience is illusory–the entire world you are immersed in is a hallucination–but as a metaphor, the dream analogy is still a good one.

I think I can only conceptualize the relative sphere. The absolute sphere, as you put it, is beyond my comprehension. So as a being of the relative sphere, I’d have to say enlightenment is real–but still in a skeptical light.

The concept of real but not Reality also resonates with me somewhat. I came up with a metaphor once about a man who lived all his life in the jungle. For all he knows, the entire world is one big jungle. Everywhere he travels, it’s just more jungle–jungle stretching out forever. He knows nothings about deserts, snow and ice, oceans, planes and savannas, etc. So Reality isn’t what he thinks it is. But nevertheless, the reality he does know–the jungle–is real. This kinda ties into my question about whether some aspects are real but others not. Could it be that some things which I currently take to be real remain real when I become enlightened–like the mountains, like the sofa I’m sitting on, like this computer–just like the jungle remains real even after the jungle dweller becomes enlightened to the much vaster range of different environments the real world consists of?

My world is getting better like the stock market gets better–lots of ups and downs that I can’t control, but generally, over the long run, on an upward trend.

Hit-and-runs are fine with me. I’m not frequenting ILP as often as I used to, so hit-and-runs might be the only way for us to have a conversation.

“I’m sure. With millions of people with nothing better to do than to stay home and smoke pot, it’s not surprising you get a spiritual awakening.”

yes man.
always the praxis.

insanity is just a societal pressure.
sanity is absence of bad work.

Chakra, Im interested to learn this Advaita term. Where did it originate and which are its first sources?

I learned Zen pretty much as you say it, by letting go through pushing deep into my emotions and self first, and then suddenly withdrawing.
You can even compare it to doing 50 pushups in order to get relaxed; deep relaxation and synchronization of the nadi’s to balance the energy system so as for consciousness to escape its torrents, is the whole reason for the existence of Shaolin kung fu. Healthy transfer of energy. Tantra without the sex, which allows for much more detached and pristine silences.

Tantric heaven is the merger of selves and a current of ecstasy, but being-nor-nonbeing is the full release of all the “muscles” that hold together the experience of identity, all the emotional and nervous and intellectual strings are released, fall to the ground like dusted-out cobwebs. What remains is such pure glory that one minute of it suffices to illuminate a whole year.