From “A Buddhist Critique of Cartesian Dualism in the Cognitive Sciences: Naturalizing Mind and Qualia”, by William S. Waldron

memufares

” This “switch from essentialist thinking to [interactional] thinking” is also the focus of the second school of Indian Buddhist Mahāyāna philosophy, Yogācāra (4–7th c. ce). Grounded in the logical critiques of essentialism articulated by the Mādhyamikans, Yogācārin philosophers emphasized their epistemological implications. They argued that the basic epistemological problem—and hence the basic spiritual problem—is that we falsely imagine (abhuta-parikalpita) that the subjective dimension of experience is truly separable from the objective dimension, that we actually are independently existing subjects distinct and separate from equally independently existing objects. They claim, moreover, that we ordinarily and nearly universally reify our experiences into exactly this kind of subject-object dualism, and that, to our detriment, we think and act as if we were isolated, reified entities rather than thoroughly embedded in complex causal relations.

This “imagining the nonexistent” not only imagines that we are separate from the larger causal networks in which we are embedded, it also encourages us to ignore the effects of our actions (karma) on the larger world. That is, the Yogācārins argue that such reifications, and the philosophies articulating them, like Cartesian dualism (and its derivative, reductive materialism), are not only incoherent, they are also harmful. We can, they argue, see more clearly, think more coherently, and act more constructively when we fully comprehend the causal embeddedness of our lives and adjust our actions accordingly. An important part of this constructive program is developing conceptions of mind and world that reflect this causal embeddedness. In this process, one eventually comes to recognize that both subject and object are “dependent on others” (paratantra), a realization that, when “fully perfected” (pariniṣpanna), becomes the ultimate realization in Yogacara thought. Hence, well conceived causal models are not only important for understanding the world, but for Indian Buddhists at any rate they also have a spiritual dimension as well.

From “A Buddhist Critique of Cartesian Dualism in the Cognitive Sciences: Naturalizing Mind and Qualia”, by William S. Waldron

From ‘Foreword’, in “The Sound of the One Hand”, by Ben-Ami Scharfstein

“analytic thought must, by its very definition, apply definite names, concepts, and values to our experience. All these are necessarily subjective because their are derived from particular and limited points of view, and all are necessarily too definite, because they are inadequate to the fluidity, to the ebb and flow of nature. All these are therefore necessarily distorting. They lead us […] to become entangled in contradictions. We should learn to relax our conceptual definiteness and our incessant distinguishing between one thing and another. Things merge no less than they separate. […] Opposites are in a sense the same, “the admissible is simultaneously the inadmissible”, and every definite thing, every “it”, as the translator puts Chuang-tzu’s word, is also the same as that which is other than itself. “What is ‘it'”, says Chuang-tzu, “is also ‘other’, what is ‘other’ is also ‘it’.. Are there really It and Other? Or really no It and Other?”

From ‘Foreword’, in “The Sound of the One Hand”, by Ben-Ami Scharfstein

From ‘Zen Buddhism’, by Christmas Humphreys

“and who shall bind awareness in a word?”

[…]

“Any device is good which works, and a thousand more have yet to be found and used as people have need of them. All, however, will have in common the emptying of the self, that into the space so made the light of life, the eternal More, may flow. Everything must be emptied out, the toys that we love, each cherished, loved ideal as well as each “fond offence”, all purpose and desire. The self, with its pride and regret of the past, its fears and boasts and desires of the moment, its hopes and ambitions for the days unborn, must be transcended.”

[…]

Indeed the preparations include the acceptance of all limitations of karma, for to refuse to accept them, or anything whatsoever, is to perpetuate the division between this and that of which satori is the end. Yet even the attempt to acquire satori must at the final moment be cast away. “The Tao,” says Alan Watts, “is not brought to birth by deep philosophical understanding or by any effort of action or emotion, although it is necessary and inevitable that one of these attempts should precede the birth. The birth itself, however, only takes place when the futility of the attempt has been fully realised, and that realisation can only come through making the attempt”. But this is only another of the countless paradoxes which, like a hedgehog’s prickles, stand erect at the entrance to satori. Another is that with the approach to satori the mind is enormously expanded and contracted at the same time. “Each single fact of experience is to be related to the totality of things, for thereby it gains for the first time its meaning.” The part is the whole, and the whole of it, and if that is not difficult enough to understand, be pleased to notice that the part is greater than the whole. For the whole is complete, which is finite; the part is unfinished, and that is infinite. . .”

From ‘Zen Buddhism’, by Christmas Humphreys

from ‘A Buddhist Response to Climate Change’, by Thich Nhat Hanh

8204834745_8a5da0c641_o

“We have to have another dream: the dream of brotherhood and sisterhood, of loving-kindness and compassion. That dream is possible right here and now. We have the Dharma, we have the  means, and we have enough wisdom to be able to live this dream. Mindfulness is at the heart of awakening, of enlightenment. We practice breathing to be able to be here in the present moment so that we can recognize what is happening in us and around us.”

from ‘A Buddhist Response to Climate Change’, by Thich Nhat Hanh

from ‘A Buddhist Response to Climate Change’, by David R. Loy and John Stanley

8074058126_0e30dfb1de_c

“Above all, Buddhism is based on the recognition of interdependence, the spiritual truth that biologists have also elucidated through the scientific disciplines of ecology, evolution, and molecular genetics. And whether we like it or not, we have entered the century of the environment. In this century, Buddhism has a special destiny. There has never been a more important time in history to bring all the resources of Buddhism together, on behalf of all sentient beings. There has never been a time when transportation and communication systems make this as possible as they do now. Buddhist spiritual power could create examples of change that influence the whole world.”

from ‘A Buddhist Response to Climate Change’, by David R. Loy and John Stanley

from the Flower Ornament Sutra (Hua-yen Sutra)

MANDALA

“In what manner should one accommodate and serve sentient beings? To do so, one should think: throughout the realm of dharma and the realm of space, in the ocean like cosmoses in the ten directions, there are infinite kinds of sentient beings. Some are born of eggs, some are born of the womb, of wetness, or of metamorphosis. Some live by earth, some by water, some by fire, wind, space, trees, or flowers.
O countless are their kinds, and infinite are their forms, shapes, bodies, faces, longevities, races, names, dispositions, views, knowledge, desires, inclinations, manners, costumes, and diets. They abide in numerous kinds of dwellings: in towns, villages, cities, and palaces. They comprise the devas, the nagas, the eight-groups, men, non-men, the being without feet.
Some are with form, some are without form, some with or without thoughts, or neither with or without thoughts. To all these infinite kinds of beings, I will render my service, and accommodate them in whatever way is beneficial to them. I will provide them with all they need and serve them as though serving my parents, teachers, or even arhats and tathagatas, all equally without discrimination. To the sick, I will be a good physician. To those who have lost their way, I will show them the right path. To the wanderers in darkness, I will light the light; and to the poor and needy, I will show the treasury.

It is in these ways that a bodhisattva should benefit all sentient beings without discrimination. Why? Because, if a bodhisattva accommodates sentient beings as such, he is then making sincere offerings to all buddhas. If he respects and serves sentient beings, he is paying respect and giving service to all tathagatas. If he makes sentient beings happy, he is making all tathagatas happy. Because of sentient beings, a great compassion is aroused; because of the great compassion, the thought-of-enlightenment is aroused; because of the thought-of-enlightenment, supreme buddhahood is achieved.
This is like unto a great tree in the wilderness of a desert. If its roots are well watered, it will flourish in full foliage, blossom, and bear plentiful fruit. So it is also with the great Tree-of-Bodhi: all sentient beings are its roots, and all the bodhisattvas and tathagatas are its flowers and fruits. If a bodhisattva applies the water of compassion to help sentient beings, the Bodhi-tree will bear the tathagata’s wisdom. Why is this so? Because if a bodhisattva can benfit man with the water of compassion, he will most assuredly attain the supreme enlightenment. Therefore, Bodhi belongs to all sentient beings. Without them no bodhisattva can achieve the supreme buddhahood.”

from the Flower Ornament Sutra (Hua-yen Sutra)

from ‘Free Play’, by Stephen Nachmanovitch

arco

“Our body-mind is a highly organized and structured affair, interconnected as only a natural organism can be that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. An improviser does not operate from a formless vacuum, but from three billion years of organic evolution; all that we were is encoded somewhere in us. Beyond the vast history we have even more to draw upon: the dialogue with the Self — a dialogue not only with the past but with the future, the environment […] This rich, deep patterning is the original nature that impresses itself like a seal upon everything we do or are”

from ‘Free Play’, by Stephen Nachmanovitch