Adventures of A digital buddha

Cultural & Innate Ignorance


All of our experience, including dreams, arises from ignorance.
(ignorance can also be described as obscuration of consciousness).

This is a rather startling statement to make in the West, so first let us understand what is meant by ignorance (ma-rigpa). The tibetan tradition distinguishes between two kinds of ignorance:
innate ignorance and cultural ignorance. Innate ignorance is the basis of samsara, and the defining characteristic of ordinary beings. It is ignorance of our true nature and the nature of the world, and it results in entanglement with the delusions of the dualistic mind.

Dualism reifies polarities and dichotomies .
It divides the seamless unity of experience into this and that, right and wrong, you and me.

Based on these conceptual divisions, we develop preferences that manifest as grasping and aversion, the habitual responses that make up most of what we identity as ourselves. We want this, not that; believe in this, not that; respect this, disdain that. We want pleasure, comfort, wealth, some even fame, and try to escape from pain, poverty, shame and discomfort. We want these things for ourselves and those we love, and do not care about others. We want an experience different from the one we are having, or we want to hold on to an experience and avoid the inevitable changes that will lead to its cessation.

There is a second kind of ignorance that is culturally conditioned.
It comes about as desires and aversions become institutionalized in a culture and codified into value systems. Differing beliefs arise from the biases and beliefs that are part of the culture –
not from fundamental wisdom.


 

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