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Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Sun May 08, 2016 1:07 pm

Well, since this thread is about Greg Goode's book on "Emptiness Teaching and Joyful Freedom" I thought I could give a quick review of what I think are valid techniques from the book:

Well, first of all I never really payed much attention to terms such as Emptiness or Awareness. For me naming/labelling those things was a paradox by itself since by definition neither emptiness nor awareness are things and thus cannot be labelled (they can only explained).

So, as soon as we stop paying attention to the labels but instead pay attention to the techniques provided in Greg's book we can start appreciating it.

What is there to appreciate from the book? What is the benefit of going through the book?

- getting rid of beliefs and labels.
The book shows very elegant techniques to "liberate yourself from rigid beliefs".
It shows that every belief is fictional. There are always valid arguments against any beliefs! Clinging to beliefs is just attachment by the fictional I.
For example, the belief: "I am not enlightened yet!" is just a belief. If I ask you for three reasons why you are enlightened, you probably come up with three reasons. This of course does not mean that we exchange our belief "I am NOT enlightened" with the belief "I am enlightened" but it means to be free of such beliefs. To discard such beliefs ad hoc as meaningless. In other words, we suspend beliefs

- getting rid of the fictional I.
The book provides many different techniques and explanations to dismantle the fictional I.
It does it by providing analogies from neuroscience, western philosophy, ancient greek philsophy, awareness teachings and emptiness teachings.

EDIT 10.5.2016:
The terminology of "fictional I" is not being used in Greg's book, it was my foolish mistake to just say "fictional I".

In the book it rather says that "the target is the self that seems to exist independently, as a real thing". The target is the self "that feels solid, substantial, and seems to be the basis of your identity."
From my understanding by saying "self" they do not mean Limitless Awareness but rather the Jiva/ego/subtle body.

They don't target the conventional self (Jiva) but they target the ultimate truth (in order to realize that there is no fixed or objective world, thus no suffering or unease).
"You avoid nihilism by not rejecting conventional truth, but by using it in a proactive manner to realize the ultimate truth."
Furthermore, they do not target the conventional/everyday self (Jiva) that "asks for a cup of coffee at the restaurant". The conventional self that gets "in the car and goes to the store" is not being targeted. This conventional self is the one which does the inquiries and understands. Refuting this conventional self would be an extreme which leads to nihilism.

The middle way is to target the inherent existence of the conventional self. Showing that the conventional self from an ultimate point of view is empty.
Thus, "The (conventional) self becomes more like a play of imagery and illusion."



- The book also explains that language is based on subjective interpretations.
Whatever we say and write is based on our subjective interpretation of words.
For example, the word emptiness triggers negative emotions in some people and joyful emotions in others. This is true for all words, we never know what the "other" person really understands.

- It also offers many techniques from social constructionism: Explaining that many (if not all) of our emotions are socially constructed and thus only valid within our small cultural environment.
Emotions vary considerably across history and time.
In other cultures there are emotions that are not directly translated into our Western set of emotions.
Last edited by georgschiller on Tue May 10, 2016 1:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Sun May 08, 2016 3:29 pm

Thank you,

I suppose i can only have incomplete knowledge of Buddha, obtained from handed down teachings that came after he disappeared. i.e. like when Buddha was asked about God, he said nothing but smiled and held up a flower....So how open to the listeners opinions, believes and concepts is real knowledge abstracted from this. Without Buddha commenting on what he means with the example it is nearly useless for the average seeker of truth to understand to gain knowledge of God. So it is handed down in the negative, meaning their is no God. This huge question and doubt about God in the human mind is discarded without a complete understanding of what is Real, I, Self!

Hence Buddhism through its myriad filtration of ignorance becomes distorted to the real understandings Buddha may have wanted to convey of Reality. So it's a merry go round.

Personally i was fortune, God kept my intellect open enough to continue to work at understanding...or i should really say thanks to Maya/suffering it kept me in the fires of dissatisfaction that was the motivating factor that kept seeking within to continue.

On the flip side it now gives my intellect a great appreciation of the importance to have a True complete means of SelfKnowledge, taught by a Qualified teacher. That bears the fruit of complete Self satisfaction. Without it the seeker is lost in the maze of samsara!

georgschiller wrote:Hi JayJaya,

thanks for freshing up this thread.

Your post basically summarized this thread.

What I like to point out is that Buddhism and Vedanta are very broad terms.

Advaita Vedanta is certainly the most dominant version of Vedanta, however, there are many different schools of Vedanta (plus many other philosophical schools of Hinduism)

Buddhism is the same. There are so many different schools of Buddhism.
Some of them even accepting Nondual awareness (e.g. Dzogchen, a few Zen and Theravada schools, etc.)

Of course, from our perspective it is easy to disregard the other Vedanta schools, the other philosophical schools in Hinduism and Buddhism as a whole; however, this is only possible because we have James Swartz as our teacher.

Without James as a teacher it would be much more difficult (or even impossible) to even understand and praise Advaita Vedanta.
How many of us came to Advaita Vedanta via Swami Dayananda or Chinmaya?

What I am trying to say is that it is easy to disregard other spiritual paths and schools as incomplete and unfortunate; however, this is only possible because we got the fortune of coming across James etc.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Sun May 08, 2016 5:04 pm

Thanks Mira,

I agree, Self can't be quantified in any way. Self is not part of the apparent World, God, Jiva. Self is nether existence or non existence, these are concepts in the scope of Maya. All apparent forms/emptiness are only possible because Self(I) am Eternal and Real. What is Real doesn't become anything, so hence nothing happens as Self. But isn't everything very amusing :lol: when you own your Real Nature and are I, Self, free from all yet not seperate from all, what a great riddle! :D

Mira wrote:Hi JayJaya,
Welcome to the forum. Great first post.
I am currently reading a wonderful book called Wandering in the Himalayas by Swami Tapovanam (guru of Swami Chinmayananda--who was our Ramji's guru). Here is what Swami Tapovanam has said on the subject (pg 83):
The great teacher Sri Buddha also holds that this world which changes from moment to moment is not real, it is only a reflection and the Thing of which it is a reflection alone is real. Sri Buddha was not an atheist. He never denied the Reality. There is nothing in his words of teachings to show that he considered Truth to be non existent like the horns of a hare. He could not have held the foolish view that something came out of nothing. It is true that some of his disciples misunderstood him and misinterpreted him. His idea was that the truth which cannot be designated by a name, or described in words and of which one cannot even say is existent or non-existent is like Non-existence. This idea is quite in agreement with the Upanishads. An object which cannot even be talked about is as good as non existent. But it is not non-existent in the sense that the son of a barren woman is non-existent. This subtle idea, Sri Buddha's contemporaries and even his disciples failed to catch.


So even great jnanis and Vedanta scholars like Swami Tapovanam appear to have grappled with the emptiness/void teaching of the Buddhists.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Sun May 08, 2016 5:25 pm

Thank you very much Stan,


Am glad you are out of the salt mines of buddhism, :lol: Although in actually practicing the method of meditation it can purify the mind/intellect. On the other side of the equation the intellect can become polluted with many foolish concepts along the way. So win/loose zero sum game!

Another important point is that when Buddhism travelled out of India, in order to be accepted in the new lands, it had to adapt the older believes of religions of the place into their ideas. i.e. Tibetans mixing Bonhism (Spirit worship,mysticism) into Buddha's teaching.

Vedanta is a blessing because it didn't have this remake. Except in different schools to crop up in different areas of India. Although the original teachings still remain a valid means of Self-knowledge because the subject is clearly
focused on Self through the means of removal of ignorance> and therefor Self reveals itself to it Self, kind of a paradox from the point of view of the intellect! :D
Stan wrote:Hi JayJaya !

Welcome to the forum. I just loved your first post ! I too toiled in the spiritual salt mines as a devoted Buddhist. Hinayana, Tibetan, Pure Land and Zen as a monk. So glad to be out of that hall of mirrors. There are some beautiful teachings there but ultimately, also frustration in the end. I never once met any Buddhist teacher who could teach the self....and I met many good ones.

I hope we will have the pleasure of your presence going forward. please feel right at home. :-)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby georgschiller » Tue May 10, 2016 1:22 pm

I made a mistake in my earlier post by claiming that Greg's book is based on "getting rid of the fictional I."

EDIT 10.5.2016:
The terminology of "fictional I" is not being used in Greg's book, it was my inattentive use of language to just say "fictional I".

In the book it rather says that "the target is the self that seems to exist independently, as a real thing". The target is the self "that feels solid, substantial, and seems to be the basis of your identity."
From my understanding by saying "self" they do not mean Limitless Awareness but rather the Jiva/ego/subtle body.

They don't target the conventional self (Jiva) but they target the ultimate truth (in order to realize that there is no fixed or objective world, thus no suffering or unease).
"You avoid nihilism by not rejecting conventional truth, but by using it in a proactive manner to realize the ultimate truth."
Furthermore, they do not target the conventional/everyday self (Jiva) that "asks for a cup of coffee at the restaurant". The conventional self that gets "in the car and goes to the store" is not being targeted.
This conventional self is the one which does the inquiries and understands. Refuting this conventional self would be an extreme which leads to nihilism.

The middle way is to target the inherent existence of the conventional self. Showing that the conventional self from an ultimate point of view is empty, not fixed or objective.
Thus, "The (conventional) self becomes more like a play of imagery and illusion."

"So we use the conventional [self] to refute the inherent [self]"
= Or in Vedanta terms, we use the intellect /subtle body to understand/refute Maya
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Tue May 10, 2016 3:14 pm

Hi Stan,

I must admit i didn't read through all the post on this topic, when i posted. Now i am reading the ones i missed. In doing so am up to the points you made below. I would like to share a past period of my experience during the epoch days i considered my self from the point of view of a mediator.


A little background, I had already been through many years of deep meditation meaning my mind was quiet when i sat down to meditate.

So what i want to describe is the experience that was going on for awhile. This was i would be sitting in a quite mind and i would see a space like emptiness. When i would keep my attention on it, i would notice like a pulsing swirling vortex ( concentric circles going within decreasing in size). The believe i held through this experience was that i the meditator( who is Awareness) needed to dissolve into this emptiness to become enlightened and free of i. At this time i had many false believes about enlightenment. No matter how many times i would experience this in my practice, I couldn't dissolve i into this void. A no brainer to understand this experience from the point of view of Vedanta, now. I is Awareness. Aware of a object (void, casual body). It is impossible for I to dissolve into an appearance and cease being Aware!

Bottom line many years of confusion pursued through my practice. There were insights being revealed but without a complete teaching of Self Knowledge, they were fragmented. Therefore the pieces wouldn't fit into a CompleteWhole.




Stan wrote: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 JayJaya » Wed May 11, 2016 1:37 pm

Hi to All,
I came across this in my reading and thought it may be instructive:
From the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣat and Kārikā Āgamaprakaraṇam
Transcript of classes given by SWAMI PARAMARTHANANDA
Mantra 12
अमाt तुथ ऽvवहाय ः pप ोपशमः शवोऽdैत एवमो कार आtैव सं वशtाtनाऽऽtानं य एवं वेद ॥ १२॥
amātraścaturtho'vyavahāryaḥ prapañcopaśamaḥ śivo'dvaita evamoṅkāra ātmaiva saṃviśatyātmanā''tmānaṃ ya evaṃ veda ॥ 12॥

Turīya is the Silence, which is beyond transactions, free from the world, auspicious, and non-dual. Thus Oṅkāra is the very ātmā. One who knows thus enters the ātmā by himself. (mantra 12)

Now the Upaniṣad comes to the silence, the mental silence. This is the fourth component of Oṅkāra, which is the same as the fourth quarter of ātmā, Turīyaṃ. The silence that we experience is the Turīyaṃ, which is beyond all transactions. Silence cannot be handled by the organs of action or knowledge. Silence cannot be handled by physical, mental or verbal means. The moment you describe silence, the silence goes! It is silence in which the world of all forms of sounds has resolved. Turīyaṃ is the substratum wherein all the objects (pada, form) have resolved. Silence is the substratum wherein all sounds (padārtha, name) have resolved. Śiva: silence is Turīyaṃ, which is ānanda (maṅgalaṃ). Languages are different but silence is one. In silence and Turīyaṃ, division and plurality are not present. They are both advaitam. In this manner, Oṅkāra and ātmā are equal in all the four levels.
When we talk about the equation of silence and Turīyaṃ, the word silence has a special connotation. It is not the conventional silence. Silence here has a special meaning. The conventional silence, absence of sound, should not be taken as Turīyaṃ. This should not be equated to Turīyaṃ for two reasons. The first reason is that the conventional silence is taken to mean a mere absence of sound or noise and thus it is a negative entity. Absence is not a positive entity. If this negative description is applied to Turīyaṃ, one will end up with the Buddhist śūnyavāda teaching that the ultimate truth is emptiness. The second reason is that the conventional silence is experienced only when the sound has disappeared. In the arrival of sound, conventional silence goes away and vice-versa. Conventional silence is a relative entity subject to arrival and departure. Comparison with conventional silence will make Turīyaṃ a relative entity. Thus amātrā, Silence should not be taken as the relative silence. When you experience silence externally, it is the absence of sound and when thoughts and disturbances are absent in the mind, you experience internal silence, blankness. When you experience internal silence and there is internal blankness, is there only blankness? Other than that blankness, there is something else, because of which you are aware of the blankness. If the silence is experienced and known by me, it means that there is a knowing consciousness principle that pervades the silence. That consciousness principle I cannot see, hear or objectify because that consciousness principle is ‘I am’, that pervades and illumines the silence. The meaning of “Silence” is the consciousness principle that reveals the silence. That consciousness is amātrā. Silence is equal to consciousness principle that reveals the absence of sound. It is not absent in itself but it reveals the absence. In Pañcadaśī, Vidyaranya gives a beautiful example of nāṭaka dīpam. Nāṭaka dīpam reveals the play on the stage and also the empty stage after the play is over. A non-dancing lamp continues to be on the stage illumining the absence of all the actors and dancers after the play is over. The mind is the stage, and thoughts are the dancers. When the thoughts are gone, you say that the mind is blank. But the blankness is revealed by the consciousness principle. That consciousness is not subject to arrival and departure, but it is absolute silence. It illumines the relative sound and the relative silence. That is Turīyaṃ. Whoever understands that he is the Turīyaṃ all the time, he ‘merges’ into Turīyaṃ ātmā as one with the Turīyaṃ ātmā. This is total merger. It is like water merging into water and not like salt merging into water. This is mokṣa. With this mokṣa benefit, oṅkāra- vicāra is over and Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad is also over. But Gauḍapāda has not finished his commentary.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Mira » Thu May 12, 2016 1:32 pm

Hi JayJaya,
Great read. Thanks for posting that. Water merging with water indeed. Mira.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Thu May 12, 2016 2:53 pm

Hi Mira, you are most welcome, am happy that you enjoyed the knowledge in the texts. Indeed All Is Self, Water, ocean and wave are One. :D

Mira wrote:Hi JayJaya,
Great read. Thanks for posting that. Water merging with water indeed. Mira.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby JayJaya » Thu May 12, 2016 9:18 pm

Here is another couple of quotes:
Adi Sankaracharya's APAROKSHANUBHUTI*
(SELF-REALISATION)
127-128. While practicing Samadhi many unavoidable obstacles occur: lack of inquiry, idleness, desire for sense-pleasure, sleep, dullness, distraction, tasting of joy, and the sense of blankness. One desiring liberation should patiently remove these obstacles.

129. As one thinks of an object the mind tends to identifywith it. When thinking of the void it becomes void, whereas by the thought of the Self it becomes perfect because the Self is perfect. Therefore one should always think of the Self if one wants freedom.
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby DarrinRice » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:48 pm

Hi All, I'm jumping in here so forgive me if someone else mentioned this. . There is a teaching in Tibetan Buddhism that is considered heresy by the Gelug school (the Dalai Lama's school) called "Other Emptiness". It started in a school called the Jonang School which the Gelug's did their best to destroy. It relates to the concept of Buddha Nature which we all have or we would not be able to become enlightened like the Buddha. Sounds a little bit like the self, doesn't it. Anyway, everything is empty except Buddha Nature is empty of everything other than itself. I'm no scholar so I don't attempt to write too much but here is a link that explains it far better than I can. http://www.jonangfoundation.org/blog/other-emptiness
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Stan » Thu Dec 29, 2016 2:14 pm

Hi Darrin,

I`m not sure if this is your first post but, if it is, .... welcome to the forum ! :-)

I read your post about "other emptiness" and found that idea somewhat amusing as I was glad to leave Buddhism with it`s emptiness far behind me. The thought of two emptinesses seemed like going from the sublime to the ridiculous. sort of like an `other duality`.
The problem with emptiness teachings , fascinating as they may be, is that they never fully address the knower of emptiness...the fullness of emptiness ! The Buddhists never quite managed to resolve their emptiness problem as they don`t have a sattya / mithya teaching to address what is real and what is apparently real.

I do like to see how other teachings, science etc address the problem of awareness so i`m glad you posted this. It`s good to have you with us. :-)
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Re: Who knows about Emptiness Teaching and Greg Goode?

Postby Mira » Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:34 pm

Hi Darrin,
Welcome to the forum! Thanks for the link. I'm pretty clueless about Buddhism but I was struck by this line:
Pristine awareness is known to be emptiness because it is empty of everything within the subject-object complex or of fabrications that are imbued with the qualities that consist of anything other than itself.

Seems like definition close to the Vedantic self!
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