Overview of my posts online over the past month or so:
- Our experienced reality – aka Buddhism and The Secret (1)
- How desire feeds on itself (6)
- Guru yoga, freedom of belief, women’s rights, compassion (7)
- The 3 basics of the path: ethics, concentration and wisdom (4)
Great Spiritual Books
4 thoughts on “Chittamatrin, LOA, Desire and The Path”
In contrast to the Gelugpa position you quote, the American jnana yogi Franklin Merrell-Wolff writes about Consciousness-Without-An-Object as being the Ultimate Reality. He was a mathematician trained in philosophy, and writes with precision of language in a very compelling style. As far as transcendental concepts can be expressed in English, Dr. Wolff has done so.
BTW, Wolff felt that the three most powerful expositions of ultimate truth were to be found in Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, and Theosophy.
As far as I can tell from this comment it seems Dr. Wollf was then more of a Chittamatrin or Advaita Vedantin than a Prasangika Madhyamika (aka Gelugpa). That’s ok.
Anyhow, he was a teacher when there was very little Buddhist philosophy available in English. That is no longer the case. We don’t know what he would have made of the material we can now study.
I would remind my theosophical readers that Jnana yoga is as much about the process of contemplating as it is about reaching a conclusion. When it comes to developing the mind, it’s not very helpful to discard philosophical positions without researching their merits, if your aim is wisdom.
More in general: my blogposts here can do no more than hint at the philosophical positions I refer to: whole books are devoted to their exposition. It’s a bit like summarizing Kant in a 1000 words: nobody would expect the summary to do more than give a hint at what he meant. The same here.
There was a time when Dr. Wolff concentrated solely on achieving union with pure subjectivity, i.e. pure consciousness (Purusha), as opposed to content (Prakriti). He then found that this was an incomplete realization because he had neglected the content/prakriti side of things. [His elegant description of this breakthrough may be rendered as “Duh!!”] He subsequently achieved a state of consciousness that (according to his writings) was beyond any distinction between consciousness and its contents (Purusha-Prakriti). It is that state of consciousness that he labels Consciousness-Without-An-Object, and views as the Ultimate Reality.
Interested in your take on this. Does the above clarification make it more like the Gelugpa position? I get it that even >1,000 words isn’t going to do this justice, but that’s that challenge of the blog format, no?
Yes, the above does somewhat bring him closer to the Gelugpa position in that he realized that we can’t ignore the (relative) nature of the outside world. Beyond that it’s hard to respond without having read Dr. Wolff’s words myself.
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