Sean recently shared with me an essay titled, "How Nonsectarian is 'Nonsectarian'?: Jorge Ferrer's Pluralist Alternative to Tibetan Buddhist Inclusivism." 

Here is the abstract, and the essay is attached below.

"This paper queries the logic of the structure of hierarchical philosophical
systems. Following the Indian tradition of siddhānta, Tibetan Buddhist
traditions articulate a hierarchy of philosophical views. The ‘Middle Way’
philosophy or Madhyamaka—the view that holds that the ultimate truth is
emptiness—is, in general, held to be the highest view in the systematic
depictions of philosophies in Tibet, and is contrasted with realist schools of
thought, Buddhist and non-Buddhist. But why should an antirealist or nominalist
position be said to be ‘better’ than a realist position? What is the criterion
for this claim and is it, or can it, be more than a criterion that is traditionspecific
for only Tibetan Buddhists? In this paper, I will look at the criteria to
evaluate Buddhist philosophical traditions, particularly as articulated in what
came to be referred as the ‘nonsectarian’ (ris med) tradition. I draw from the
recent work of Jorge Ferrer to query the assumptions of the hierarchical
structures of ‘nonsectarian’ traditions and attempt to articulate an evaluative
criteria for a nonsectarian stance that are not based solely on metaphysical or
tradition-specific claims."

Views: 945


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I don't know if you like green tea matcha mm; but here is one from me, on the house. 

But yes, we all have our bias.

thanks , that looks like a seriously thick brew, what is it ? matcha ? whats that?

obviously we have all our bias , same goes for me. and we all know some areas better then other

areas. this site is a serious brainer site and most discussions are way over my head ...luckily for me

do i not need the philosophical hair splitting subtleties in the teachings that i follow.

it seems awareness is not

only available after 10 years of philosophical study ....but directly accessible right now.

suffice to have a good look .

phew thats real good news for non-academics like me , other wise one could nowadays get the impression that

enlightment is only  possible for......

academics .

even the naropa people seem to have forgotten that marpa was a...farmer by profession.: ))

and what high school did milarepa again seem to remember. :)


That's a green tea brew. Full of antioxidants, very tasty , too!

Yeah, i call these guys the brianiacs! lol I want to correct something i said earlier: although, in a general sense, i've always found integral to be hostile to theism; i do think that Ferrer in his writings, offers a much more balanced approach to religious phenomenon. The guys on this site have been pretty decent overall, too, as far as anything i've had to say on this topic. I also appreciate that this site seems to stay relatively troll free.

Honestly, in all my research, and opinion, the only thing that any human being can say about death is that it's certain. As far as anything science can tell us on that topic? It's certain that we are dead. Any other view is a religious statement and cannot be proved. Tough rock to be on.

1. The Worth of Contemplative Ducks

A special prime seat is kept warm in Hell for whoever who wants to combine "rhizomatic" ontological pluralism with the exalted states & stages of High Buddhism. That seat is right next to my own... so I welcome company!  Kin are kin, after all.  And what does it matter to me that the distinctions therein are a little clunky?  What do I care that this article is still too full of its preliminary attempt to overcome the most superficial of dichotomies?

Yes, I want to hear the sigh of people basking in the sun on the far shore rather than the strenuous splashing of oars dragging half-constructed boats across ancient rivers -- but that is no reason to minimize my rejoicing when my cousins appear!

2. The Emptiness of Emptiness

Regular citizens of Integralia will know my -- all too often repeated -- claim that "emptiness" is a false & misleading translation of the essential assertion in Lord Whitesnake's (Nagarjuna's) Middle-Way Buddhism.

It is misleading because it seductively conflates with the nihilistic danger in human thinking (i.e. treating unthinkable Nonbeing as both thinkable AND supreme). But it is false because it does not even adequately translate the doctrine or style of that most worthy personage Lord Whitesnake. The doctrine that eternal formlessness is the primal condition of reality and mind is an extremist possibility among many other extreme options which the Middle-Way is explicitly designed to thwart and exceed.

The Middle-Way seeks to position consciousness at the half-unspeakable edge of thinkability where nondual consciousness is invoked both experientially AND descriptively. It is this tendency in which later evolved into Zen and the other "speak beyond the unspeakable" schools (see my short history of Zen).

Shunyata is not adequately translated as "emptiness" or "space" but rather as "in-distinct reality" or "non-specific being". Shunyata is a properly nondualist signifier that is too often, both in scholarship and in the traditions, treated as though it meant "merely causal" reality.

3. Intra-Traditional Pluralism

We should continually bear in mind that any individual meditator/ponderer, within any tradition, may come to a Causal experience or a Nondual experience. If they come to both experiences, then intellectual integrity will demand they make some form of clarification. The attempt to make this clarification will either take the form of a New Distinction in contradistinction to an existing terminology or a New Holding of an existing distinction.

Thus "emptiness as opposed to forms" and "nontheism as opposed to theism" and "other-emptiness as opposed to self-emptiness" may or may not mean the same thing depending who is saying it and when they are saying it.

A nondual statement (which might be indicated by the relational transcendence of Other-Emptiness) structurally exceeds a causal statement (which could be indicated by the syntactical formlessness of Self-Emptiness). But this very point is often made by people who are saying "Emptiness is the Highest Truth!"

So we have to remember that pluralism is not a challenge TO traditional Buddhist hiearchy but rather the  revelation of an interpretive plurality, of unknown self-consistency, already present among different exponents of even the same apparent distinctions.

4. Describing My Presciptions: A Differential Diagnosis

Ferrer (et al) is among the many of us who take it as theoretically and experientially obvious that different spiritual experiences, states, claims, attainments and intuitions do not, and have never claimed to, necessarily orient around a single fixed objective referent.

Yet at the same time this diversity of spiritual experience does not require an endless personal relativism. There may be a very orderly possible scheme of experiences which not only situates different enactments of ultimacy but also provides a sensible scaffolding for ranking their "relative ultimacy". What we know for sure is that any such system would have to deal with the hidden referents which are only approximated and concealed by the superficial consistency of terminology found among spiritual adepts and theorists.

Many people continue to over rely upon primitive assumptions about the "descriptive" nature of  philosophy and spiritual models. This unfortunate tendency can be productively counterbalanced by a focus on "prescriptive language" and "emancipatory effects".

However, the Middle Way does not switch rashly from one to the other. Rather it moves back and forth between them, assimilating them in a direction that is orthogonal to both. The prescriptions and effects must themselves form the basis of our descriptive model, a model necessarily framed by a hierarchy that is dependent upon what is possible and sayable -- rather than on what is traditional and asserted.

And in approaching this goal we would do well also to recall that much of the problem with hard, narrow conformist hierarchies lay in the 'hardness" not the hierarchies. The notion of "soft hierarchy" which is featured in this article is very laudable. Inhuman and inorganic rigidity of our rankings should be considered as a pathological symptom of bio-psychological malnourishment rather than as characteristic of ranking systems.

Would Lord Whitesnake not demonstrate the following Middle-Way example of "in-distinction":

The truth cannot be contained by descriptive spiritual terminology.

The truth cannot be restricted to prescriptive spiritual terminology.

The truth is neither both of these... nor is it neither of these.

All of that is the Truth.

And this truth has both a descriptive and prescriptive aspect.

i'd play this for you on my Thorens turntable LP but you will have to settle for this crap squashed file, although i hear ole Neil is working on correcting that:

see , i know , tibetans do not agree on this,  do they ?

for the gelugs (your quarter) dzog chen is and always has been sheer heresy.....

so my point here was  only to demonstrate that there is no fundamental agreement between the different

tibetan schools at all !

and your vigorous response proves that just nicely.

as i said before : shentong is other peoples view on dzog chen, its their conceptual mesh.

and i am not going to explain dzog chen  here.

if you want to discover dzog chen  for yourself,

find yourself a dzog chen master.he will help you .





be well

theurj said:

You actually believe that those folks did not die and transformed into a rainbow body? You can't get any more metaphysically shentong than that.

happy easter theurj

normally i would not reply anymore to somebody who definitly appears as closed as you . but since it is

easter , the day of the christian rainbow body manifestation, i thought i make an exception : )

here some research by non buddhist

and  as usual i was proved wrong (one should simply never say never) : it seems a gelug monk produced

a rainbowbody : ) of course the question is with which teachings because even gelug monks these days gert dzog chen teachings, the dalai lama himself gives them sometimes .

what i had meant when i said no gelug, i meant not through madhyamika teachings. same goes for milarapa, sinc edzog chen teachings belong to the ancient school and have been in tibet since the 7th century b.c. and in the bönpo much longer.

here a little more detail since there exist different types according to which teachings /method/ practise

they are not all the same.

more stories

in any case you can ask your friend balder what teachings one needs to receive and do in order to

have this possiblity . he knows since he studied dzog chen with the bönpos

i have them but i wont comment on that.

maybe today is a good day for you to come out of your little intellectual madhyamika hut


open space

be well


hi theurj

thanks to wikipedia

you can get an explanation on your high intellectual level

it explains in  great detail the relationship of dzog chen to madhymika



hi theurj

one hint : if you would get your head out of your books long enough to notice that their is

a life beyond the mind ,then you could notice that these ancient dzog chen teachings  have developed

methods to explore human capacities through working with sensory deprivation thereby working with the visionary

capacity of human beings and they have carteographed this to an extraordinary precision . and the result of its accomplishment is the rainbow body.

this is going several miles above the head of stanislav grofs and the other transpersonal researchers with ayuvasca and other such drugs orother such diletants who tinker with tanks etc.

its obviously very dangerous stuff since one is always chartering waters near psychotic breakdown

thats why the details are secret and great warnings are given. one needs to have a very thourough preparation and permanent guidance by one who has direct experiental knowledge of these methods.

in any case IF one is able to chart these waters THEN there are 4 levels to be accomplished,one after the other.

the signs, the methods ,the pitfalls are all in  great detail described in the texts. nothing like this exists

in the west nor in mahayana sutra buddhism like zen . repeat : nothing , it is not even known.

so if a person manages to reach the 3rd level in his lifetime THEN his body will disappear after death into light inside 7 days . and this is not wishfull thinking but there are very precise signs that manifest IF the person is on level 3 or level 2 or level 1 whatever the case maybe.

and he will then be able to always appear in this body of light

if a person reaches level 4 ! then he will not even manifest death but he will directly transfer into light

that accomplishment is very very rare. but  the third level many practioners have accomplished over the centuries and even up to now.

now,imo, its quite stupid to just dismiss such a process , its possibility, with a sleight of hand . these teachings have   nothing to do with "belief "

the  results come from applied method ,successfully or not .  its instructions are clear: you do this till that arises ,then you do this and then this . and so on. it never says : you ought to belief this or that and hope for the best , and pray ,hahahaha.

but the method  is very difficult and quite dangerous for the mental .....equilibrium.

so its based on capacity which needs to be developed

and it takes a lot of time and effort as well as thourough preparation and the preparation is not intellectual

understanding but trekchö and the first level is in fact called stable trekchö accomplishment. (look up trekchö in wiki if you like)

without this capacity under ones belt, one needs not even start these higher methods since there will be no success possible.

  so the whole process is based on method and knowledge and not some ad hoc belief.

there is in fact no visualization at all necessary , no mental wishing or hoping or believing : nothing of that.

so you see its not anutaratantra .

its a completely different process that once really started, is not stoppable and if one does not know how to stir it correctly ,

it ends often in ...psychosis. so all you dilettanti ..beware.

so .........its your lucky day theurj , that somebody tries to .....point out your very potential

and the future of humankind , because this will be studied and is already studied now by westerners and practised too and it is only a matter of time before the positive results come in

then i wonder what big ken will be saying and all the other "enlightened" integral eggheads : )

that will be then the occasion for wilber 7  . i guess.

  : )

happy easter


"if you would get your head out of your books long enough to notice"

You obviously don't know much about me, as I'm adept* in meditative techniques and states as well as a few of other disciplines. It's the interpretation of such states that is of issue, and rainbow bodies are utter nonsense. If that means I'm closed-minded to such moronic beliefs then so be it. And in keeping with the facetious well-wishing, happy easter to you as well. Christ rising from death is commensurate with your own delusions.

* As confirmed by a master in a community of the adequate.

Reply to Discussion


What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2020   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service