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Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

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Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Sun May 24, 2015 11:31 pm

Hello everybody, I thought it's time to post the first question in this beautiful forum!
I have been studying James and Vedanta for almost 4 months now and I am truly fascinated! It's such wonderful and clear teaching!!
However, I also got to know Greg Goode 4 months ago. I find him and his teaching also very interesting but I had no time yet to learn about his teaching. I find it truly interesting that Greg Goode also studied Vedanta (at least he mentions it) and then moved on to the emptiness teaching of nagarjuna etc.
I have not much knowledge about this emptiness teaching and I thought before spending considerable time on that teaching I ask around first what other think about it.
So, let's have a little discussion on emptiness teaching and vedanta.
Thank you :D
p.s. here is an article in which Greg Goode displays the difference between emptiness and vedanta:
http://emptiness.co/adv_to_empt
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Mon May 25, 2015 12:53 am

Hello George and welcome to the forum ! You`ll find that Greg Goode is known to us
here and Ram knows and has spoken of him more than once. I believe he has met him. He
certainly recommends some of his books with some minor reservations.
"Emptiness" ? Hmmm....I suspect you`re going to get a good response with this one.
Thanks for getting the ball rolling. :D
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Vinay » Mon May 25, 2015 10:51 pm

I'm not familiar with the Emptiness teachings but I am a little familiar with Greg Goode. I read his book "Standing as Awareness" which lists various experiments to show the non dual nature of reality. I also tried reading a book on Spiritual discourses of Sri Atmananda (the creator of direct path teachings) but it's a difficult book to digest.

Here are my views after reading the article that was posted:

the emptiness teachings refer to something more like the impermanence of phenomena, or the contingency, non-objectivity, or relationality of phenomena.


All these exist in Vedanta too. Vedanta defines real (Satya) as something which always exists, everything else is apparently real (Mithya), impermanent.

However to know impermanence/emptiness you need a permanent thing (Self/Awareness). How can impermanence/emptiness stand on its own?

Emptiness teachings do not take themselves for granted as true. Instead, they submit themselves to their own investigation.


There's an allusion here that Vedanta promotes blind faith. That's not true. One of the qualifications for Vedanta is Shraddha, faith pending the results of your investigation. You need faith or trust till the time you understand the complete teaching. And once you've understood it, examine/investigate your experiences in the light of the teaching. To assimilate the teachings you need to resolve your doubts (called the Manana stage). There's no blind faith here.

Also scripture such as the Brahma Sutras provide logic to support Vedanta's teachings.

Nagarjuna is able to say, “If I had a position, no doubt fault could be found with it. Since I have no position, that problem does not arise.”


Isn't having no position also a position :?:

In the emptiness teachings, realizing that you and all phenomena are empty is the goal.


These seems to be a sort of a negative view.

Vedanta considers objects as empty, value neutral but it defines the essence of all object i.e. Awareness, as Sat-Chit-Ananda. Ananda means fullness. To realize that you're always whole and complete, lacking nothing.

When the emptiness teachings say that there is no self, they are negating the idea of a partless, seamless, unified, independently existing essence that is supposed to be the basis of identity through time and space. That kind of self cannot be found anywhere, no matter how closely one looks. But the empty self is said to exist.


What does Greg mean by an empty Self?

Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings distinguish between inferential realization of emptiness, which happens through the mediation of a concept, and direct realization of emptiness, which happens unmediated by concepts.


This sounds very similar to direct knowledge (aparoksha jnana) vs indirect knowledge (paroksha jnana) in Vedanta.

In the emptiness teachings, dependencies are bilateral. Not only do things depend on emptiness; emptiness depends on things as well. The fact that emptiness depends on things is why emptiness is empty


I may be wrong but this seems like circular logic to me. Things are empty because they depend on emptiness, but emptiness is also empty because it depends on things, which depends on emptiness :?

~

After reading the article it's a little difficult for me to understand how the goal that realizing everything is empty will give you freedom and happiness. I believe it will actually make you more depressed.

Yes, Vedanta also says all objects in the world are value neutral but it also says that your real nature is fullness. Vedanta is a more positive teaching.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Richard » Fri May 29, 2015 4:58 pm

I have been reading Greg Goode’s book, Emptiness and Joyful Freedom. It is my first exposure to emptiness teachings, so my understanding of them is only beginning. I must say, emptiness teachings have not grabbed me as did the teachings of Vedanta two years ago. I do not imagine I will even pursue them, but I can see their usefulness as a complementary tool. In above article, Goode states, “the emptiness teachings refer to something more like the impermanence of phenomena, or the contingency, non-objectivity, or rationality of phenomena.” Goode adds, “They submit themselves to their own investigation. Emptiness teachings entail a radical critique of the notions of objective truth and independence.” I think this describes what value they have for Vedanta studies. Emptiness teachings could be useful in understanding the “nature” of mithya—apparent and dependent reality which neither exists nor doesn’t exist (is empty). I do not believe mithya can be equated with emptiness, only that the emptiness teachings may be helpful in understanding mithya. However, for Vedanta, this is where I see the limit of the usefulness of emptiness teachings. Goode states, “Emptiness teachings do not posit any essential, Atman-like self.” The emptiness teachings may offer some understanding of mithya, but what of satya—existence; reality; truth; that which exists independently and remains unchanged. Where is the fullness within the emptiness? I cannot see emptiness teachings as a complete teaching like Vedanta. Why study a part when one can study the whole—sat-chit-ananda?

Having said this, I must add that I find Goode’s book, The Direct Path, to be one of the best aids to inquiry out there.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby dharmatic » Sat May 30, 2015 3:02 pm

Richard,

I agree that the teachings (emptiness and Vedanta) can be complementary. Even though Buddhism, in particular, makes much of emptiness, references to it can be found in Vedanta as well.

I see Buddhism as taking a via negativa approach whereas Vedanta takes a via positiva approach, with both paths ending up in similar--if not the same--ultimate positions. Whether one path is "better" is probably based on the contingency (karma, if you like) and predispositions of the subtle body we know as the individual.

Thanks for the provocative comparison.

Regards,

Matt
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:35 pm

Great! Thanks for the wonderful replies.

It is now much clearer how emptiness relates to Vedanta. This helps a lot and diminishes doubts. Thank you for that :)

p.s. @Richard: Since you have read the book Joyful Emptiness, have you got an idea why Greg dismissed Vedanta in favor of Emptiness teaching?
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Richard » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:33 pm

His book, Emptiness and Joyful Freedom, says he is a student of Advaita-Vedanta, Buddhism and Direct Path. His website states he studied Advaita Vedanta through the Chinmaya Mission, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, and Francis Lucille. I don’t know that he has a preference for Buddhism over Vedanta. His only other books are Direct Path, although he has articles on numerous websites drawing from many sources. He is a philosophy professor. His stated goal in Emptiness and Joyful Freedom is to introduce westerners to eastern emptiness teachings and to western sources of emptiness teachings (albeit less clearly developed than the eastern sources). It’s about making emptiness teachings more accessible to westerners. Nevertheless, philosophically, it’s quit dense. The book is also a how to of mediations on emptiness, a useful resource for anyone of any tradition.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Andrew » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:00 pm

Wow, some great responses here!

Can't add much really. Was listening to James's Gita commentary when he raised the subject of Buddhism and 'emptiness' and 'voidness'. He said that 'the absence of objects is the presence of awareness'. How does someone recognize emptiness?

As for the classic argument of Atman versus Anatman, I came upon this article which casts doubt as to whether the Buddha actually doubted the existence of a Self as it understood in Vedanta. Problem centers around the contextual use of the 'atman'.

http://easterntradition.org/Atman_Anatm ... ddhism.pdf

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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:55 pm

Hi Andrew,

I`ve long felt that the Buddha didn`t doubt the existence of the self...shame about his future followers . talk about the elephant in the room ! It`s probably the Nr.1 factor in making me leave the zen monastery. I knew it didn`t add up. I`m not going deeper into that topic as it`s well gone midnight and my wife has called me to `stop playing with my imaginary internet friends` and come to bed !

There is one quick point you made that I thought i`d comment on before I called it a night though....

Was listening to James's Gita commentary when he raised the subject of Buddhism and 'emptiness' and 'voidness'. He said that 'the absence of objects is the presence of awareness'. How does someone recognize emptiness ?


I know it`s late and I could be wrong but, are you sure that that`s what James actually said ? Are you sure he didn`t just mean that Awareness is still present in the absence of objects ? Awareness is surely present with objects and without objects...it`s just the `knower` of the presence or the lack of objects and is not modified by them ?
By saying that " the absence of objects is the presence of awareness" seems to imply that `the presence of objects precludes the presence of awareness`.

Either way, i`m ready for my absence of objects state now....i`m out of here. :)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Andrew » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:45 pm

Stan wrote:Hi Andrew,

I`ve long felt that the Buddha didn`t doubt the existence of the self...shame about his future followers . talk about the elephant in the room ! It`s probably the Nr.1 factor in making me leave the zen monastery. I knew it didn`t add up. I`m not going deeper into that topic as it`s well gone midnight and my wife has called me to `stop playing with my imaginary internet friends` and come to bed !

There is one quick point you made that I thought i`d comment on before I called it a night though....

Was listening to James's Gita commentary when he raised the subject of Buddhism and 'emptiness' and 'voidness'. He said that 'the absence of objects is the presence of awareness'. How does someone recognize emptiness ?


I know it`s late and I could be wrong but, are you sure that that`s what James actually said ? Are you sure he didn`t just mean that Awareness is still present in the absence of objects ? Awareness is surely present with objects and without objects...it`s just the `knower` of the presence or the lack of objects and is not modified by them ?
By saying that " the absence of objects is the presence of awareness" seems to imply that `the presence of objects precludes the presence of awareness`.

Either way, i`m ready for my absence of objects state now....i`m out of here. :)


Hi Stan,

I was listening to the Gita lectures that are included in the 'Complete Vedanta Course' audio set. I'd have to double check. Even if I did quote that correctly, what he was explaining is exactly what you describe. He was commenting on the Buddhist notion of 'the Void' by saying that it can't be empty of awareness even if it's empty of objects. Maybe it was saying "even with an absence of objects, there is still the presence of awareness".

Interestingly enough, a friend of mine is a priest in a Gnostic lineage. During one of the services that I attended, the liturgy contained something to the effect of (serious paraphrase) "we don't care if you think it's a fullness or an emptiness...we are not going to argue about it!"

I thought the article was very interesting though I doubt whether it'll ever get much traction outside of the very small audience it was intended for, being people interested in the history of the Theosophical movement. (It was through Theosophy that I ended up finding Vedanta.)

The implications are, as you say, an elephant in the room and if the author's contentions are true, then there's a lot of Buddhists out there with ideas at odds with what 'their guy' actually taught. And after centuries of Vedantins being called "Buddhists in disguise", then that makes for a very awkward dinner conversation!

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:15 pm

Hi Andrew,

The implications are, as you say, an elephant in the room and if the author's contentions are true, then there's a lot of Buddhists out there with ideas at odds with what 'their guy' actually taught. And after centuries of Vedantins being called "Buddhists in disguise", then that makes for a very awkward dinner conversation!


Actually Andrew, you`d be surprised....there are indeed `a lot of Buddhists out there at odds with what there `guy` actually taught`. At least that`s how current mainstream Buddhism sees it. However, is the mainstream correct in it`s views ? consider this saying by the Buddha taken from the Diamond Sutra...

'Subhuti, what do you think? You should not say the Tathagata has this thought (in His mind): "I should liberate living beings." Subhuti, you should not think so. Why? Because there are really no living beings whom the Tathagata can liberate. If there were, the Tathagata would hold (the concept of) an ego, a personality, a being and a life. Subhuti, (when) the Tathagata speaks of an ego, there is in reality no ego, although common men think so. Subhuti, the Tathagata says common men are not, but are (expediently) called, common men.


If you think about it, this statement pretty much blows apart most of mainstream Buddhism. It is pure non duality and not the usual yogic teaching of Buddhism where living beings strive, and follow a path in order to be liberated. If there is not even a "life", then what does that leave ?

The "very awkward dinner conversation" started quite some while ago. Non duality and Awareness are very much the hot topics of the moment. I personally know a couple of Buddhists who have practiced for many years and have fairly recently identified themselves AS Awareness and not just knowing awareness or emptiness. I think that the world is opening up for the Buddhists as they come to grips with the teachings of non duality that lies scattered and lost in time. The age of the internet is seeing to that.

I reckon we`re of one mind with you`r statement ...

"even with an absence of objects, there is still the presence of awareness".


I still feel uneasy about ...

He was commenting on the Buddhist notion of 'the Void' by saying that it can't be empty of awareness even if it's empty of objects


Yes, as we agreed, `even with an absence of objects, there is still awareness.` BUT, the void in fact IS empty of Awareness. Awareness isn`t in the void, the void is in Awareness. So, although there can be `the void`, we maintain our freedom because we are not `in it` or of it, but are ever apart from it. Only we as awareness are sentient. The `void` is empty of awareness in just the same way that a stone is. It`s just another object in another order of reality.

I`m really not trying to be argumentative about this and, stand to be corrected.
I hope you don`t mind me bringing it up.

Best wishes to you too Andrew.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JamesRam » Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:48 am

He was commenting on the Buddhist notion of 'the Void' by saying that it can't be empty of awareness even if it's empty of objects

This is an interesting discussion. I am happy to hear that the idea of non-duality is starting to have some impact on Buddhists. With reference to Andrew' s quote saying that the 'the Void' can't be empty of awareness even if it's empty of objects it seems to me that the problem is caused by a lack of clarity of the words 'awareness' and 'void.' The void can't be empty of awareness because the void, such as it is, is awareness. However, awareness is not a void. It's a subtle point, but even saying that the void is empty of objects is not technically correct, because it implies that it is something that could contain objects. People think that the 'void' is an object, like a tree or like falling in love, that it has empirical status. But it only exists empirically as a word that implies awareness and only refers to itself as a word with no referent or as an experience, which can only be awareness. Although I am far from an expert on Buddhism, it seems they don't have the satya/mithya concept or there would be no question about the nature of the relationship between awareness and the void.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:10 am

Hi Ramji, What a pleasure it is to have you here with us. A big welcome to you ! :D

I would like to have a few points cleared up if I may ? You said ...

it seems they don't have the satya/mithya concept or there would be no question about the nature of the relationship between awareness and the void.


The complication for me lies in the fact that Buddhism and Vedanta don`t really mix and similar terminologies don`t always point to the same thing. You mention the "relationship" between awareness and the void but, is there a definition of `the void` in Vedanta ? Is there a difference between void, the void and emptiness ? I ask because we arrived here via the question..."Who knows about emptiness teaching...".

The Buddha first analysed the external objective world in the right `yogic` fashion,utilizing mind and intellect as instruments, and at the end reached what may from the
phenomenal level be called void or nothingness. however....
A negative can never subsist by itself though. Much less can it be the source of something positive . That which was called void or nothingness would have to be understood as awareness itself. Buddha must have gone `beyond` and reached that understanding himself. It would seem that Buddha’s followers seem to have stopped short and interpreted awareness to be that void or nothingness. At least, over the centuries.
In my experience of Buddhism, emptiness was always objectified. The sutras had some great explanations but they always cut short, tantalisingly/confusingly at the end and never spat it out...`And this is You` !! it drove me nuts. They never made it plain that awareness is existence.....as per sat, chit, ananda. There was no teaching as to what it means to be awareness. Only Vedanta supplied this missing link.

Am I right in thinking that because Buddhism doesn`t teach that the void as understood by Vedanta, is self knowing, it remains stuck in Mithya ?
Is this the " the nature of the relationship between awareness and the void." you are referring to ?
Should this be so, then no matter how useful Buddhism is or indeed Greg Goode`s inquiries are, they can never lead to liberation as they are not a complete teaching.
Please don`t get me started on Isvara :lol:
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:42 am

Hi Ramji,
I thought i`d return to tidy up some of the things I said earlier concerning the " nature of the relationship between awareness and the void." I don`t think I put my points over clearly, for which I apologize.
I believe that when I saw the term "The void" mentioned, it triggered an old sore point re the Buddhist terms `The void` and `emptiness.`

I never had a problem with things being `void` of separate self but when that word `The` is put in front of void, it got my hackles up.As far as i`m concerned, there is no such thing as "The void" and yet, for many years it caused me no end of frustration and grief as I actually thought it was something real !

Going back many years, I would often be overcome by what could be termed huge doubts as my normal sense of self and surroundings would fall away...often causing me great fear for my sanity. Those doubts would arise spontaneously as would assorted samadhis which I tried to stop, only making matters worse. It took me many years to finally allow surrender to happen from which time, life became blissful....but ultimately boring.

The upside was, it led me to you and Vedanta. The rest is history for me. :-)
For me, the term "The void" refers to a `state` of getting stranded in apparent voidness or nothingness at a specific point in one`s sadhana. If i`d had a proper teacher or teaching, I imagine that I would rather have been confident in that it would lead to the death- knell of the world of objects... in the light of knowledge.

It was not to be at the time. It was pre internet and no teachers were able to help me. I joined and left the zen monastery because I could get no further there.
A Vedanta teacher could have taught me that although the sense of voidness is subtle in character, I remain as awareness or knowledge itself which perceives that apparent nothingness or the void.Indeed, as you said in effect, the void was me..awareness BUT, I was not the void as I stand ever free from all apparent objects.
There are no real objects...just awareness appearing as objects.

As you said Ramji, the Buddhists really don`t seem to have satya/mithya concept. more`s the pity.I think one of the most wonderful aspects of Vedanta is that we`re told right from the start, who or what we are.
I know Buddhists of getting on for forty years of serious practice who don`t know who they are. I don`t know if Isvara has a sense of humour or not but that Buddhist Emptiness and void teaching is a serious pain in the what`sit ! I think it brought out a bit of a rant in my mind to think of all the time wasted. still, it`s all Isvara again.

If discriminating the self from the not self is moksa, then as you said, the satya/mithya concept is the foundation (?) of vedanta. I don`t like to knock the Buddhists too much but, it made me smile when you said they don`t seem to get satya/mithya. my rant seems to have gone. Thank you. :-)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Andrew » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:09 pm

Hi Stan,

Sorry for slow reply! I don't get the chance to sit at my PC as much as I used to. Usually I use my tablet to do internet stuff but for some reason, I can't access this part of the Shining World site on it.

Anyways, I didn't think you were being argumentative, just looking for clarification which is what we all want :) I need to read this thread over in detail and ponder it a bit.

Hope all is well!

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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:37 pm

Hi Andrew,
Yes, you`re right....clarification is the name of the game.
Regarding accessing this part of the shiningworld site, are you ticking the `subscribe` box at the bottom of each topic list ? you need to be signed in to do it. same for each new forum topic.
if you are subscribed, the box will show a greyed out `x` and will say `unsubscribe forum` next to it. let me know if I can help further with this if needs be.

All is indeed well well thank you. better than well, i`m pleased to say .. :-)

I hope all`s well with you too.

Stan.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:57 pm

Hi guys,

I wanted to come back to the subject of Buddhism (this post sees Buddhism from the Emptiness teaching point of view) and present a little overview based on the knowledge gathered by Georg.
Caution: I am well aware that this post is a gross simplification of Emptiness teaching/Buddhism and Vedanta concepts. The whole point of this post is to display differences and "similarities". Obviously, this post has been written from a Vedanta point of view; any misunderstanding, arrogance, etc. towards Buddhism must be apologized.

Similarity between Buddhism and Vedanta:
-Both focus on nonduality; both reject duality.
-Both agree that the ego, intellect, body, etc. is not (Buddhist)/ only apparently (Vedanta) real
-

What Buddhism misses from the Vedanta position :

1) Methodology: Discrimination between Sattya and Mythia. In other words: Discrimination of what is true and what is wrong. Buddhists means of knowledge only focuses on Mythia: a path negativa by stating that any object is not real. This can be said to be true from a Vedanta point of view. However, contrary to Vedanta Buddhism does not state what is ultimately real (Sattya). Thus, the teaching is not complete and leaves an unsatisfying picture.

2) Isvara/God: They lack the understanding of how this creation came into apparent existence. In other words, the appreciation and understanding of how this world exists is simply dismissed. Furthermore, they lack the possibility of peace of mind by devoting to God/Isvara.
As a sideeffect Buddhists build up a strong ego by believing enlightenment was only possible by their individual effort and unique intellect and discipline. The importance of Isvara is not understood and, thus, the ego cannot fully be dismissed. By understanding the importance of Isvara/God and the creation Enlightenment/Moksha/freedom can be fully assimilated.

3) 3 Bodies: Buddhism has a good understanding of the physical body but lacks the complete understanding of the subtle and causal body. By understanding the three bodies is it possible to dismiss the belief that I am one of the three.

4) The Gunas: Buddhism lacks the understanding of Rajas/Tamas and Sattva. The three gunas are the keystone to understand that I am not a doer. By maintaining a sattvic lifestyle I can see that I never was a doer.

5) Meditation: Buddhism lacks the understanding of the purpose of meditation. They believe the purpose of meditation is to experience epiphanies and the emptiness of objects including the limited self. Vedanta claims that epiphanies and understanding that objects are empty is good and important but only knowledge of the Absolute/Awareness can lead to freedom. Thus, meditation is only seen as a help to see yourself as awareness and support a clear/sattiv mind.

6) 3 States: Waking, dream & deep sleep: There is no discussion of the three states in Buddhism. Buddhism does not discuss what is always there in all three states.

7) Subject-Object: Buddhism shows that objects are not real. They show that objects are in fact empty. They show that the belief of being a limited being is also not real and thus empty. However, they lack the teaching of who I am. They do not state who the subject is. They only state what the objects are and, thus, that we are not the limited being. This is true from a Vedanta point of view; however, they do not explain who the knower of objects is. Who is aware of this knowledge? Who is aware that there is no-self? It can only be me: awareness!


As a consequence, although Buddhism and Vedanta share some similarities in negating duality and objects, there are many important teachings missing in Buddhism. The similarities can most likely be explained by the fact that Buddhism originates out of Vedanta.
The most importance difference between Buddhism and Vedanta is the means of knowledge. Students of Vedanta immediately know how to master their spiritual journey. Students of Buddhism are many times left alone with an uncomplete and unsatisfying teaching. Their teaching mostly focuses on experience (epiphanies) and a limited means of knowledge in form of path negativa.
(This also can explain the vast number of unsatisfied students of Buddhism and also the many unbelievable high numbers of different branches of Buddhism found throughout the world. This is in total contrast to Vedanta which has hardly changed for the last couple of thousand years.)

The goal of this post is only to show why Buddhism from a Vedanta point of view is not a complete teaching and, thus, must be neglected. I am looking forward to any replies!
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:55 pm

"The Shunyata [Emptiness teaching] of the Buddha, Nagarjuna and Candrakirti is by no means a negative way of describing the Brahman of the Upanishad, Samkara [Shankara] and Vidhyaranya groups.“
(Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta. http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.de/2 ... hindu.html)

After I have done my homework on the emptiness teaching of Mahayana Buddhism I would like to point out that it does not make sense to compare Emptiness teaching with Vedanta.
Both teachings have some similarities but focus on different paradigms. Whereas Vedanta‘s paradigm is based on essentiality (the essence of everything is Brahman), Mahayana‘s paradigm is based on non-essentiality (everything - including subject and object - is dependent on each other without a first cause or end, thus everything is empty of an essence).
Both teachings eventually lead to nonduality; however, Vedanta has a view on nonduality by stating that everything is Brahman, whereas emptiness teaching has no view by stating that everything is free of an essence and thus free of views.
It is common to display differences between Vedanta and Emptiness teaching. There are many similarities after all. Most of all, both are based on persons (Shankara and Nagarjuna) who reformulated and made their teachings more comprehensible. Both teachings lead to nonduality and thus, both teachings lead to freedom from suffering and misidentification with the ego/subtle body. Both teachings use very similar or even the same words and also practises.
Both teachings however are based on different approaches and based on different paradigms. To compare them basically implies to view emptiness teachings from the paradigm of Vedanta or view Vedanta from the paradigm of emptiness teaching. Thus, approaches to compare them usually lead to frustration, dogmatism and misunderstanding. Furthermore, to devalue one of the two teachings is mostly based on which teaching is historically older, makes more „sense“ or is the „true“ teaching. These arguments are usually based on individual opinions and misinformation and thus in the best case avoided.


"The question may arise, “I have realized that I am everything. Do I need to study emptiness?”
If someone were to ask me that question, I would say, “Are you happy and content? Are you kinder than you were ten years ago? Do you love more?”
If they answer “Yes,” then I would say, “No, you don’t need to study emptiness.”
If they answer “No” to all these questions, then I might ask, “What happens when you hear the word emptiness?”
If they said, “I feel an eerie chill of excitement and a sense of unstoppable curiosity,” then I would say, “Give it a try!”(Greg Goode: The Emptiness teaching on liberation-unleashed.com)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:08 pm

Hi George,

I`ve been following your thoughts and investigations into the `emptiness` teaching and Greg Goode`s input. I see that you conclude that " it does not make sense to compare Emptiness teaching with Vedanta. "

I would agree insofar as emptiness is not referring to the same thing...awareness. Even if it was, it does not constitute a teaching for moksha but indirect knowledge of the self at best.
In the spirit of inquiry, here is my own reasoning.
From Greg Goode`s book...

"The question may arise, “I have realized that I am everything. Do I need to study emptiness?”
If someone were to ask me that question, I would say, “Are you happy and content? Are you kinder than you were ten years ago? Do you love more?”
If they answer “Yes,” then I would say, “No, you don’t need to study emptiness.”
If they answer “No” to all these questions, then I might ask, “What happens when you hear the word emptiness?”
If they said, “I feel an eerie chill of excitement and a sense of unstoppable curiosity,” then I would say, “Give it a try!”(Greg Goode: The Emptiness teaching on liberation-unleashed.com)


A big red warning flag on the opening sentence.... " I have realized that I am everything." really ? that is a statement of pure duality. If I am everything, what happens when "everything" changes as it inevitably does ? It should read `everything is in me or is me`. ( but I am not in everything )...satya and mithya.

Possibly Greg allows for questioning whether the `you` person REALLY understood when he said "Are you happy and content, are you kinder" etc hence his saying, "if not, give it a try". He did however let that dualistic first sentence stand, which leads me to think that he thought that the emptiness teaching would lead him to understanding that he is the self.
Greg went on to say....
If they answer “Yes,” then I would say, “No, you don’t need to study emptiness.”
If they answer “No” to all these questions, then I might ask, “What happens when you hear the word emptiness?”
If they said, “I feel an eerie chill of excitement and a sense of unstoppable curiosity,” then I would say, “Give it a try!”


I could feel an eerie chill of excitement and an unstoppable curiosity about my neighbor`s wife BUT, would that be a good reason to "give it a try" ?
I would hope not. Where is the discrimination ?
You said...

Both teachings have some similarities but focus on different paradigms. Whereas Vedanta‘s paradigm is based on essentiality (the essence of everything is Brahman), Mahayana‘s paradigm is based on non-essentiality (everything - including subject and object - is dependent on each other without a first cause or end, thus everything is empty of an essence).
Both teachings eventually lead to nonduality


Well, the first thing to say, and I know it looks like nit picking, is that vedanta is not or doesn`t really have a paradigm as it is a methodology to remove ignorance. It does not depend on beliefs, theory or a paradigm and has a complete teaching.

In vedanta, it`s essence could be said to be that reality is non-dual and this is stated at the outset. Brahman, the absolute reality is one and indivisible,infinite all pervading changeless existence. satchitananda....Absolute consciousness.
It is not only all powerful but all power itself. similarly, it is not only all knowing and blissful but, all knowledge and bliss itself.

It is helpful to remember that absolute consciousness and changeless existence are one and the same thing. It`s inconceivable to have consciousness/awareness without existence and vice versa. the seperation is not real...it`s just two different approaches of the teaching. in that way, it could be said that reality is existence.
What is the essence of existence ? The self;me. awareness/existence. As I alone am what is Real...always present and unchanging, I lend my existence to everything else. No objects can exist without my existence. They are all thus me but I am not them as I am the essence and can be without all objects. I am free of them. Satya and mithya teaching.

If Mahayana`s paradigm is based on
non-essentiality (everything - including subject and object - is dependent on each other without a first cause or end, thus everything is empty of an essence).
then that surely is the teaching of mithya ?
Vedanta too uses negation in the begining...just as the `emptiness` teaching but this is only because new inquirers tend to think that the `objects` in the `world` are real and this identification has to be broken. So where is the Satya teaching for the emptiness teaching. As far as I can see, there isn`t one and nor is there one in Buddhism generally.
What use is knowing that all things are empty ? does it lead to Moksha ? even if you are emptiness, what does that mean? Is it even true ? it sounds like a contradiction in terms. Who then is left to know emptiness if nothing has any essence or existence ?

Both teachings eventually lead to nonduality; however, Vedanta has a view on nonduality by stating that everything is Brahman, whereas emptiness teaching has no view by stating that everything is free of an essence and thus free of views.


Vedanta does say that Brahman is the absolute reality and it is non-dual...there is nothing other than Brahman but as mentioned earlier, it is all knowing and all knowledge. it knows itself. Who knows emptiness ?

The sentence that said "whereas emptiness teaching has no view by stating that everything is free of an essence and thus free of views" is actually quite funny ! those emptiness guys must think that vedantins were born yesterday or something.
How is that not a view ? believe that, and they`ll tell you another one !

It is common to display differences between Vedanta and Emptiness teaching. There are many similarities after all. Most of all, both are based on persons (Shankara and Nagarjuna) who reformulated and made their teachings more comprehensible. Both teachings lead to nonduality and thus, both teachings lead to freedom from suffering and misidentification with the ego/subtle body. Both teachings use very similar or even the same words and also practises.


Strictly speaking, vedanta is not based on a teaching by Shankara...or by any other single person. it is a teaching handed down by the sampradaya and has never been changed. Shankara did clarify and elucidate the teaching and made it more accesible. I understand that you are saying that Nagarjuna did the same with the Buddha`s teaching on emptiness. Both teachings promote non-duality but I think that the emptiness teaching does not go far enough. Also, the practises are NOT the same.
Vedanta uses self Inquiry or discrimination and a full teaching for liberation. That requires the discrimination of the real from the unreal...which Buddhism just does not do. Vedanta goes further than the emptiness teaching because it removes the `apparent` one who removes all views ! It removes the remover as reality is non-dual.

Both teachings however are based on different approaches and based on different paradigms. To compare them basically implies to view emptiness teachings from the paradigm of Vedanta or view Vedanta from the paradigm of emptiness teaching. Thus, approaches to compare them usually lead to frustration, dogmatism and misunderstanding


Well, unfortunately, this is what the writer in the given link does. He is certainly not an unbiased bystander. That`s ok but there is a third position. that of the truth. I could go and list his many `misconceptions` about vedanta but that would need to be for a possible other time. He has no comprehension of mithya being `apparent` reality and instead mistakes it for unreality for example.
Comparing the two teachings does not inevitably lead to dogmatism and misunderstanding if one inquires into the teachings dispassionately.

You said earlier that
both teachings lead to freedom from suffering and misidentification with the ego/subtle body


Indeed, identification with the mind is the problem. The mind is a product of the vasanas and Buddhism/the emptiness teaching doesn`t address the conditioning that creates and runs the mind...the gunas. It totally ignores Isvara and so cannot have a complete teaching. Only a complete teaching can lead to complete self knowledge.

The Buddhist teachings of which emptiness is only one, can only lead to temporary peace. A sort of `treadmill` peace where actions such as meditation have to be returned to in order to revive the peace that is experiential. the conditioning in the mind has to be understood or the vasanas will remain binding....thus no permanent release from suffering. so in the end, what can you do with emptiness ? how does it relate to you and lead to Moksha ? I believe it doesn`t. it stops at the `void`.

Does non-existence exist ? If non-existence exists, then existence non-exists because you can`t have them together.
This is where the Buddhists come unstuck with the void. nothing but void ad infinitum.
If you say the void IS, the `ISness` of the void would have to be awareness which is non different from existence.
There is nothing that non-exists. if it did, one would have to be there to verify the fact. the upshot is that your `isness` / existence is everywhere and never non-exists.

The emptiness teaching may lead to awareness BUT, it doesn`t have a teaching so I don`t see how it can get beyond indirectknowledge of the self.
On the other hand, it may NOT lead to indirect nor direct self knowledge.
Both scenarios make it an inadequate teaching for moksha for me at least. so why go there ?

After I have done my homework on the emptiness teaching of Mahayana Buddhism I would like to point out that it does not make sense to compare Emptiness teaching with Vedanta.


I did a bit of homework too and would just add something to the end of your above statement..... It does not make sense to compare emptiness teaching with vedanta....and say they are the same. They are not the same and they don`t in my opinion lead to the same end.

I am not criticising you George or your views...just thinking along and discriminating with you. I don`t criticise Greg goode either. I have heard James say he is a good guy and knows who he is but to my mind, he is not a teacher and does not have a complete teaching. I don`t know if he has indirect or direct knowledge of himself. I`m not quite sure but I think I recall James saying that he and people like Rupert Spira among others are all good guys. not quite sure if he said they were enlightened.
I know if he said that I was enlightened, i`d start worrying. ;-)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:04 am

Hi Stan,

thank you for your reply! Very much appreciated! I learned a lot from reading your reply! Your time and effort is very much appreciated. :P

I do not have much to add. I still believe that both teachings cannot be compared 8-) : "To compare them basically implies to view emptiness teachings from the paradigm of Vedanta or view Vedanta from the paradigm of emptiness teaching."
But I also realize that this is almost impossible because the human mind is naturally inclined to think from a dualistic point of view and thus always compares :lol: . Can the human mind think nondualy? Without comparing certain views?
I suppose the human mind cannot think beyond duality. To expect that the human mind thinks nondualy is basically beyond the nature of the human mind.
Of course, we can observe the mind and realize that it is not us. That the mind is just the conditioning of past events.
We can observe the mind, realize the past conditionings, relax and let go of attachment to the mind. But letting go of the mind and letting go of certain views requires the realization or assimilation that we are not the human mind nor its views.

Thus, there are three options for relaxation:
1. either we realize that we are not the human mind and let of its views,
2. take drugs in order to calm the mind and forget about its views for the moment or
3. ... well I guess there might be only two options after all :lol:

Since the second option is not a lasting one, the only real option is to let go of the attachment to the human mind and enjoy living :)

After all, this message of letting go of attachment to the mind (in my eyes) is the same in all of the spiritual teachings I got to know so far.

Or in other words, peace is the highest goal of every human being. Peace of mind is the goal of all spiritual teachings (in my eyes) :P
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