Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Buddhism's "Mind Only" School (video)

(Vsauce) How can we know anything? Epistemology is the serious study of this question.
Aggregates (heaps) are not-self!
The Mahayana philosophy of Yogacara (Sanskrit, "application of yoga") teaches that the reality we think we perceive does not exist except as as a process of knowing. 
Phenomena [dharmas], anything that can be experienced, have no reality in themselves. At the same time, there is no "experiencer" who experiences except as a process of mind.
If there is no experiencer and nothing to experience, how can anything seem to be? What is it that knows? This "knowing" is explained by alaya-vijnana, "store consciousness," which is a function of the fifth aggregate (skandha) of clinging [namely, "consciousness" or viññāna]. 
Very briefly, it is in this "storehouse" that mental phenomena are tied together to create the deception of external existence.
  • [Hinduism was worked into Mahayana Buddhism to maintain that somewhere, somehow there really is a timeless self (atman, atta), a "higher self," an eternal soul, something to identify with or cling to, such as consciousness itself. But consciousness is an impermanent process, not a self. Clinging to assumptions, to long held misperceptions, must be seen through and replaced with the "perfection of wisdom" (prajna-paramita), which means directly perceiving not-self (an-atta or shūnyatā, suchness, thusness, voidness, emptiness) as epitomized in the famous Heart Sutra.]
Yogacara emerged in India in the 2nd or 3d century and reached its zenith in the 4th to 6th centuries. Originally it was a rival to the philosophy of Madhyamika, but eventually the two philosophies merged.

Both philosophies were enormously influential in the development of Mahayana Buddhism. It is a school or tradition also known as Vijnanavada (Sanskrit, "The School That Teaches Knowing" [literally, "Teaching of Consciousness"]), Chittamatra (Sanskrit, "Mind Only")

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