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TOPIC: Friday Quiz

Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 13:50 #95240

Ok, so I am trying to digest all the things I'm learning, and attempting to start with the broader concepts first. Some of these seem strange upon first glance, but I think bit by bit they are starting to seep into my mind. As a test, I'd like to ask you folks if I have at least a fingerhold grasp on one particular concept. If this is entirely too basic, completely wrong (I know, I should be very careful with words like "wrong" and "bad" around here, lol) or just annoying, let me appologize now and please feel free to ignore me or politely slap my wrist. That being said, here is me testing my understanding on an idea;

This idea of emptiness or non-duality. At first glance it struck me as saying "nothing is real, there is no you, you don't actually exist and neither does anything else. The sooner you quit imagining you actually exist, the sooner you can quit being reborn and doing the same crap over and over." But the more I dig into it, which admittedly is barely scratching the surface so far, the more I seem to understand it as similar to the idea that matter is actually energy. Everything around us, including us, is energy. So while on one level I sit at this table and drink tea from this cup, on the deepest level there is no table, no tea, no cup, and really not even a me, but just energy manifested in different forms, like ice floating in water surrounded by fog.

Is that even on the same planet with the say it is generally understood?
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 14:07 #95241

That's one interpretation. It's not invalid but that's more like a scientific or physicist's version, not Buddhist or spiritual version, of non-duality or emptiness. Ultimately, for those of us who have a serious meditation practice we strive to have an experiential version of non-duality/emptiness in hand.
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2014 14:10 by Chris Marti.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 14:16 #95242

I can see that, and it's simply because I have more experience with science and physics than I do with Buddhist terminology. In fact I'm thinking I need to go down to Half Price Books and look around for a Buddhist dictionary! I realized after I posted that I should have pointed out that was simply an analogy.

So does anyone else have a layman's, "Buddhist for Dummies" interpretation? I've googled it and everything I can find so far assumes I know a lot more Sanskrit than I do.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 14:20 #95243

How much research have you done on this topic, Brian? It's pretty advanced as spiritual topics go, and there are probably as many definitions of non-duality and emptiness as there are people who have the experience. I could recite my version but I really do think this is something that should be experienced lest it become a concept - which it manifestly is not. It is an experiential matter.

Edit: Another suggestion for you - use the search function here and read through previous threads that mention non-duality and emptiness. There's a lot of material here, especially early on at AN and on the old KFD message boards.
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2014 14:26 by Chris Marti.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 14:44 #95244

OOOOOOh, *flash*bang*sizzle*. I see what you're saying.

As far as how much research I've done...that's tough to say exactly. I've tried to research it, but just didn't feel like I was getting that far. But now I think that's because I've been trying to read about it, when anything that's written about it pretty much by necessity turns it into a concept.

I get that it's pretty advanced. I'm admittedly new to Buddhist concepts and language, but not a spiritual novice. It's just that most of my path so far, while not saying it was going in a different direction, was clothed in different colors. From what I've learned so far I've experienced things I've read about, but didn't have the same names, or in many cases ANY names, for them. The only labels I had for them were non-verbal, emotional/memory tags. So when someone says "emptiness" or "non-duality" I want to try to understand what experience those names refer to so I can know if I've been there, or if it is a door I haven't opened yet. To do that I can only either ask someone about it (which there aren't many people locally who would have the foggiest clue what I meant) or I can try to read about it.

Thank you for your words. I appreciate you taking the time to reply and help me take another step.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 14:46 #95245

And you're right. I should do exactly that. Patience is a virtue I need to cultivate. ;)
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 15:41 #95249

MY teacher told me awakening is like you lose your head and your head becomes the universe
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 17:12 #95250

Femtosecond wrote:
MY teacher told me awakening is like you lose your head and your head becomes the universe

This reminds me of Douglas Harding. Harding wrote a book titled, "On Having No Head" where the original piece appeared. A version of the article appeared in Douglas Hofstadter's "The Mind's I" (where Hofstadter totally did not get the point). Headless.org has this excerpt: On Having No Head. I strongly recommend reading any version of it. It's hard to find a clearer description of non-dual realization and experience.

Also, Headless.Org has The Experiments, which can be interesting to go through with a light, inquisitive attitude. The first one, the Pointing Here experiment is very similar to the Mu pointing out instructions here.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 17:30 #95251

@ Femtosecond & Andy

Wow guys...thank you so much. That, I think, may be what I was supposed to find today. I read that excerpt and my reaction was something along the lines of, "I don't get it, I haven't had that experience, but it makes sense to me anyway, and I want to." Esp the part about there being no observer. I'm used to observing, to being the impassive observer of thoughts and emotions as they pass by, not judging, just nodding at them. But this...I feel like maybe that's the turn my path is taking me. To read the whole thing over and over, ponder and consider and let it percolate in my mind. Does that make sense?
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 18:31 #95252

It's all in the nuances, and "having a grip on" doesn't come as near as "having a feel for." What's tricky about "emptiness" is that it isn't something that exists or can be defined-- that is the "form" side of the dialectic. "Emptiness" is the antithesis: so, instability rather than stability; ephemeral rather than continuous; chaos rather than order; indefinite rather than definite; inexplicable rather than logical... like that. It is arrived at in some systems by asserting: "not that; not that; not that"-- like disassembling our conceptual house of cards.

Or, more briefly: observing happens, but it turns out that "the observer" is an inference, not a fact.
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Friday Quiz 26 Sep 2014 19:16 #95253

I just read that in Waking Up by Sam Harris last night....nice stuff...Edit- Duh I just followed the link, it has a longer quote than the one from the book I just posted...
Douglas Harding wrote:
What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animal-hood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouser legs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in absolutely nothing whatsoever! Certainly not in a head.
It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been, was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything: room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snow-peaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world. . . . Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of “me,” unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself. I was nowhere around. . . . There arose no questions, no reference beyond the experience itself, but only peace and a quiet joy, and the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden. . . . I had been blind to the one thing that is always present, and without which I am blind indeed to this marvelous substitute-for-a-head, this unbounded clarity, this luminous and absolutely pure void, which nevertheless is—rather than contains—all things. For, however carefully I attend, I fail to
find here even so much as a blank screen on which these mountains and sun and sky are projected, or a clear mirror in which they are reflected, or a transparent lens or aperture through which they are viewed, still less a soul or a mind to which they are presented, or viewer (however shadowy) who is distinguishable from the view. Nothing whatever intervenes, not even that baffling and elusive obstacle called “distance”: the huge blue sky, the pink-edged whiteness of the snows, the sparkling green of the grass—how can these be remote, when there’s nothing to be remote from? The headless void refuses all definition and location: it is not round, or small, or big, or even here as distinct from there.
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2014 19:19 by DreamWalker.
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