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Maya and Sunyata

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,talk.religion.buddhism,alt.magick.tantra
From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Subject: Maya and Sunyata (was Is this a valid ...)
Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 09:41:51 GMT

50000507 IVom

quoting Bharati:
	... for *Maya*, in spite of its metaphysical use, 
	remains a mildly pejorative term. Its Vedic 
	use was simply 'magic' -- Indra's *Maya* is often
	spoken of in the *Rgveda*. Samkaracarya derives it 
	from the root *mi* -- for 'fade', 'dwindle'. Up to 
	this day, it is *Maya* that has to be overcome, in
	popular religious parlance, it being a sort of 
	Hindu analogue to temptation. Yet the analogy 
	between the Hindu and Buddhist (Vajrayana) concept 
	is less justified here than anywhere else. The 
	Hindu conception of the dynamic (female) and the 
	Buddhist one of the dynamic (male) do not coincide 
	in their soteriological function; the Hindu stresses 
	the distinction between *samsara* (the worldly 
	existence) and *kaivalya* (emancipation), whereas 
	Vajrayana Buddhism stresses the identity of *samsara*
	and *nirvana* systematically and rigorously. Somewhat 
	facetiously, one might say that the Hindu *dynamis*
	(Shakti, *Maya*) tempts the adept away from 
	emancipation, the Buddhist *dynamis* (*upaya*, 
	*karuna*) tempts him towards emancipation -- there 
	being not the slighest difference between *samsara* 
	and *nirvana*, the question of tempting away from 
	the supreme goal simply does not arise.
	"The Tantric Tradition", Agehananda Bharati,
	 Samuel Weiser Inc., 1975; pp. 225-6, note 15.

Tzimon/"Visarga" :
>The point is that there is no illusion... reality is right 
>here and now, as it is in each and every Tantric tradition, 
>Hindu, Buddhist and Jain.  

my understanding is that this is an overstatement, mostly
because the concept of "reality" is disputed.

>This idea that the whole universe is a grand illusion, 
>rather than a reflection of divinity itself, is not a 
>Tantric idea. If the person who responded to you was, 
>indeed, someone who practiced any sort of Tantric system, 
>its obvious why they disagree with the notion of the 
>universe being illusory.

again, I think this is an overstatement. rather than merely
repeat myself, let me provide some citational evidence:

	During the two centuries from 100 B.C.[E.] to 
	100 [C.E.], there arose within Buddhism a movement
	that called itself the Mahayana, the "Great
	Vehicle or Course" (*yana*: a going, a course, a
	journey, a vehicle), in contrast to the Hinayana,
	the "Inferior Vehicle." The Great Course, said its
	adherents, was that of the bodhisattva, which leads
	to Buddhahood (supreme, perfect enlightenment),
	while the Inferior Course leads only to arhant-ship.
	It appears that the Mahayana arose within the
	Mahasanghika sects, which from the first had
	disparaged the arhant and had championed the
	doctrines later typical of the Great Course, such
	as that phenomena are *maya* (illusory) and *sunya*
	(empty), that the true Buddha is transmundane,
	and that the historical Buddha is a mere apparition
	of him.
	"The Buddhist Religion", Robinson and Johnson,
	 Dickenson Publishing, 1977; p. 86.

>I would tactfully, and based upon study and training, call 
>[the notion that everything is not illusory] a Tantric view.  

this much seems supportable by the evidence. for example,
consider that the above source has the following Glossary

	*Maya*.  Illusion, trick, wile; a term favored
	  by *Mahayana* writers to describe the apparent
	  "reality" of *samsara*, which being only
	  relatively real, or dependent on causes and
	  conditions, is like an illusion (not nonexistent
	  but deceptive), a magic show, a trick, a bubble,
	  or a mirage, since it lacks any substantial
	  independent reality, and soon disappears.
	Ibid., p. 216.

>I would call the idea that maya=illusion, and that the universe is
>illusory, a Vedic-influenced one, were it to come from someone 
>who was knowledgeable about one or both of these systems.

as an absolute and categorical denial of existence, I would
agree. and yet there are aspects of what Gnome has suggested
which are reflected in some *Buddhist* schools without 
necessary referent to the Vedic. for example, for more on
the Mahasanghikas:

	The schools of the Mahasanghikas are considered
	to have prepared the ground for the idealistic
	ontology and buddhology of the Mahayana. One
	already finds with them the theory that everything
	is only a projection of the mind, the absolute as
	well as the conditioned, nirvana as well as
	samsara, the mundane as well as the supramundane.
	According to this view, everything is only name
	and without real substance [compare the Siddhanta
	literature on appearances]. This idealistic view
	[cf. Pure Land Buddhism and its perception of
	Amida Buddha] opposes the realistic theories of
	the Sthaviras.
        "The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen", edited
         by Fischer-Schreiber, Ehrhard, and Diener, translated
         by Kohn, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1991; pp. 134-5.
         [my notes or paraphrase in [] square brackets -- n.]


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From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,alt.magick.tantra,alt.magick
Subject: Reality in Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism (was Is this a valid ...)
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Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 10:28:48 GMT
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50000507 IVom (Gnome d Plume):
>...a fundamental understanding of the ultimate nature of Higher 
>Vehicle Buddhist Tantric philosophy. 

if you mean by this Mahayana Buddhism, I don't think it may
be supported that all of Mahayana presumes the inherent
illusoriness of phenomena.

to Tzimon, quoting Bharati on *Maya*:
>If one carefully examines what you have written above there 
>is nothing in it which contradicts my statement of the 
>ultimate illusionary nature of the physical and imagined 
>universe as revealed in the higher teachings of the 
>vajrayana traditions. 

while true, this is not representative of all Mahayana, 
or even all of Vajrayana, according to this source:

	...from the viewpoint of the highest Buddhist
	philosophical system, Prasangika-Madhyamika,
	the views of the lower systems -- Svatantrika,
	Chittamatra, Sautrantika, and Vaibhashika --
	also seem to contain inner contradictions.
	According to the Prasangika-Madhyamika system,
	the root of cyclic existence [samsara] is the
	conception of the inherent existence of
	phenomena and the consequent misconception
	of the inherent existence of the 'I', called
	the view of transitory collection as a real
	'I'. The other Buddhist systems assert an
	inherent existence of phenomena whereas the
	Prasangikas assert that inherent existence
	is the referent object of a mistaken
	consciousness conceiving self. Thus, the
	lower schools' seeming inner contradiction
	which is resolved only through considering
	this teaching a non-final doctrine given to
	those who could not comprehend the highest view. 
	"Tantra in Tibet: The Great Exposition of
	 Secret Mantra -- Volume I", Tsong-ka-pa,
	 Unwin Hyman, 1987; p. 34.

thus it seems that the "highest yoga tantra" (also known
as annutarayogatantra) may be somewhat alone in its
supposition about the extent of emptiness which underlies
phenomenal "substance".
>...what is the "Ultimate State" in Mahayana Buddhism?

this appears to be much like the "ultimate substance" in
Greek and later philosophy. it appears to include anything 
from Water to Energy and everything in between. in the case 
of an 'ultimate state', there are those who contend it is
sunyata (emptiness of own being), others who call it Buddhata 
(buddha-nature), perhaps those who might contend it is 
tathata (suchness), and yet others who would maintain that 
such a question could not satisfactorily or concisely be 
answered due to the nature of language. 

if you are talking about the 'ultimate state to which one
may be said to reach in Buddhist practice, then usually
I have heard it described as parinirvana, total extinction
(of tanha, not annihilation of self or ego).
>We are all learning in this process -- I am learning the 
>differences between Indian Tantra, which I have only 
>studied in books, and Tibetan Tantra....

thank you for sharing. I am learning about the tantra of others
from cultures everywhere else from books and the expressions of
those who participate in those cultures. I am content with the
tantra which I learn on my own in association with my goddess,
yet find that study of historic reflection on these ideas is
good groundwork for an understanding of what meditation reveals.


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From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.buddhism,talk.religion.buddhism,alt.magick.tantra
Subject: Maya in Buddhism (was Is this a valid ....)
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50000508 IVom

Tzimon/"Sumukha" :
>...If you know of a Tantric tradition that does hold such a belief, 
>I would certainly like to follow up on whatever information you can 
>provide on this particular tradition. I am certainly still learning 
>new things, and have the benefit of oral tradition as well as 
>written. ...I have nothing to support the alternative view in
>the case of maya and manifestation of the phenomenal world.

does this do it for you?

	_Maya_ Skt., lit. "deception, illusion, appearance."
	The continually changing, impermanent phenomenal
	world of appearances and forms, of illusion or
	deception, which an unenlightened mind takes as 
	the only reality. The concept of maya is used in
	opposition to that of the immutable, essential
	absolute, which is symbolized by the *dharmakaya*
	(*trikaya*). The recognition of all dharmas as maya
	is equivalent to the experience of "awakening"
	(enlightenment, *bodhi*) and the realization of
	nirvana. According to the highest teachings of
	Buddhism, as they are fomulated [sic], for example,
	in Zen, it is not actually an illusion or
	deception to regard the phenomenal world as real;
	the deception consists rather in taking the
	phenomenal world to be the immutable and only
	reality and thus to misplace the view of what
	is essential. Fundamentally, the relative and
	the absolute are one and identical, and maya
	(Jap., *mayoi*, delusion) are one.
        "The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen", edited
         by Fischer-Schreiber, Ehrhard, and Diener, translated
         by Kohn, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1991; pp. 142-3.


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