Having views, abandoning views

In general, a view is a particular way of considering something. It is an opinion that is held by someone, and often bias plays a role in forming views. In philosophy or religion, the principles underlying views and opinions form tenets (“what is held”). Not everyone must hold a view, not to speak of forming tenets. Dorje Sherab points out that two types of people don’t: those who don’t know what is to be accepted and what is to be abandoned have no view. And, as we will see, those who have realised the original nature have, as a consequence, abandoned all views. We will return to these latter group in a moment.

Among those who hold views are non-Buddhists and Buddhists. It is often said that non-Buddhists hold views of eternalism or nihilism. From a Buddhist perspective, eternalists hold the opinion that phenomena and consciousness are inherently existing, either by their own nature or due to a god’s creative activity. Many Indian ascetic groups belong to this category. Nihilists, on the other hand, are in the Buddhist context defined as people who hold that there are no previous or future existences. As a consequence they don’t see a reason to believe in karmic causes and results. Among Buddhists there are those who base their philosophical views on an analysis of the mind into moments and of appearances into atomic particles. Other Buddhists hold the view that all phenomena are only one’s own mind. Still others hold in addition to that the view that neither phenomena nor mind itself exist. Among all these there are many sub-groups, and each of them have created their own system of tenets, where they place their own view above all others.

All such views that are cultivated through hearing teachings and reflecting on them, and through investigation and analysis by means of logic and arguments, produce, according to the understanding of the founding fathers of the Kagyüpas, only an “object-universal” (don spyi)—a ‘mind made,’ ‘fabricated,’ ‘conceptualised’ idea or image of the object, which is then made again an object of the mind for the sake of further examination and/or meditative practice. But the object-universal is not the actual thing. Or, when we talk about reality, the object-universal is a conceptualised idea of reality, but not the actual, true, ultimate reality.

Dorje Sherab says in the context of dGongs gcig 6.9 that you create a mental object of the moon by analysing it as “made of water-crystal and having the aspects of being white and cooling” (which also shows that object-universals are based on the specifics of a culture). But this conceptualised image in your mind will only be an object-universal, it will never be like looking directly at the moon itself. In this illustration, the ‘looking directly at the moon itself’ is compared to the practise of the Kagyüpas, where the realisation of the guru, who is endowed with all the characteristics, is imprinted in a spontaneous non-conceptual manner on the mind of the disciple, who has gathered the accumulations of merit and wisdom and who has cultivated the ultimate devotion of seeing the guru as the dharmakaya. Phagmodrupa is quoted, saying:

Even if you realise [emptiness through] listening and reflecting [to be] like space,
there is no occasion when [that emptiness] is pure, since it is covered by the clouds of thoughts.
Even if you practise a mind made emptiness for eons,
there is no occasion when you will be free from being entangled in golden fetters.
Whichever thing objectified and [endowed with] characteristics you may practise,
how will you [thereby] be able to realise the sphere of reality (dharmata) that is without proliferation and appearance?

Coming back to the question of what the Drikungpa’s view is, Jigten Gönpo himself says in the dGongs gcig (6.7): ‘[Holding] a view’ is ‘[to be] endowed with realisation.’

In his opinion, views concerning ultimate reality that are ascertained through philosophical tenets, authoritative quotations, and reasoning, are merely a theoretical understanding. Since such an understanding does not even touch the realisation of the nature of mind, they are “the thing to be abandoned.” Even though the Drikungpa accepts the authoritative quotations and analytical arguments of the view of emptiness, he maintains that the actual view cannot be cultivated through conceptualisation, since such a view is “bound through the fetters of grasping as real and attachment to a truth” (rDo sher ma 6.7). Acarya Nagarjuna is quoted (Mulamadhyamakakarika 27.30), saying:

I prostrate to Gautama,
who, out of loving compassion,
taught the excellent Dharma
in order to relinquish all views.

This, Dorje Sherab states, is like Milarepa, who, having been asked what his view is, replied “I have no view.” As Phagmodrupa said:

The ultimate view is free from anything to be seen and any seeing.

Therefore, concludes Dorje Sherab, “our tradition does in general not apply the label ‘view,’” and he quotes Jigten Gönpo, saying:

All views are certainly just grasped and grasping. Grasped and grasping is delusion and cognitive misorientation. … Since all views are particulars of the minds of people, we do not maintain a view.

But aren’t all the teachings of the Buddha taught as the triad of view, practise, and conduct? Dorje Sherab replies:

[Here ‘view’] refers to having realisation, which arises from the gathering of the dependent origination of [authentic] master and [devoted] disciple. It is the realisation that all phenomena of samsara and nirvana are one’s own mind and that the mind is the dharmakaya free from the extremes of proliferation.

Or in the words of Rinchen Jangchub:

We maintain that the condition on one’s own side is to attend with the culmination of devotion to the guru who is endowed with characteristics, that the condition on the side of others is the blessing of the guru who is endowed with characteristics, [and that that which] arises from the gathering [of such a] dependent origination is that one realises all phenomena of samsara and nirvana as one’s own mind, and one realises that mind as the dharmakaya that is without the extremes of proliferation.

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