What is ignorance?

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In my limited understanding, Ignorance is any holding onto an absolutist/fixed view of things. This view is commonly referred to as "dualistic" or "extreme". One should not see things as being either one or the other. This is why the Madhyamaka philosophy was developed, the school of the "Middle Way". This school proposes that any fixed view should be eradicated with emptiness, the realization that all things lack independent existence. So things are neither high nor low, big nor small, black nor white. Nagarjuna said that even dwelling in "the middle" is a fixed view, so therefore we should not hold any presuppositions whatsoever. Likewise, Buddha Shakyamuni says in the Pali Canon that even a man who claims to be equal to all others is holding onto a fixed view that needs to be dispelled. And since Ignorance is the first link in the 12 links of interdependent origination, if we free ourselves from ignorance we will be free from the sufferings of Cyclic existence. This is why Je Tsongkhapa says that the root of suffering needs to be cut out with the sword of wisdom.

Of course, a mere intellectual understanding of this is not sufficient to set ourselves free from suffering, which is unfortunately all I have gained!! The great masters say that direct realization is required in order gain liberation. So once one can dissolve the self and all phenomena through emptiness, and see the freedom and vastness of things, then you are truly awakened. Of course, this sort of experience is beyond all conception. This is why Nagarjuna explains that the true nature of things is: Not existing, not NON-existing, Not BOTH and Not NEITHER. Once you have truly transcended all of these false views, then you can be said to have realized the Dharmakaya.

Even if one observes modern science, you can see these realizations taking place. The theories of Classical physics (starting with Sir Isaac Newton) all claim that the Universe can be organized and defined in a set of unifying laws and principles. These theories implied that once you knew "all" of the rules, that you could explain every single thing in the universe. This was often referred to as the Mechanical view of the universe.

However, modern Quantum physics is discovering that nothing can be absolutely known for sure. These theories are describing the universe in "Probabilities" rather than in absolute laws. They have discovered that the closer you examine objects, the more unstable they become. For instance, you can look at a table and it appears to be still and uniform. But the closer you examine it, the more you notice that it is composed of molecules in constant motion, all separated by space, yet still connected through energy and force. Even these molecules can be broken down further, with what science is now calling "String Theory". It is truly amazing how much these findings correlate with the Ancient Buddhist Philosopy.

I hope some good has come from my rambling! I enjoy very much discussing and contemplating these kinds of topics.

Blessings to all!
Ignorance is the ourself glasses.
That we need clean over and over again to see directly the truht.
Compassion and Wisdom.
When I initially saw this topic... thought perhaps I could add something. However, upon reading what Joseph Faria wrote, there really is nothing more that I can add. :)

Very thorough. Thank you for the enjoyable read!
Ignorance is not only not knowing the answer but not searching for the truth.
Root of suffering

Avidyā plays a key role in Buddhism and Buddhist doctrine and is the primary cause of suffering in samsāra.

1. Avidyā is one of the three kleśas.
2. Avidyā is the first link of Pratītyasamutpāda.
3. Avidyā is the first spoke on the Bhavacakra.

As one of the kleśas, Avidyā leads to craving and clinging (upādāna).
As the first link of Pratitya-Samutpada, all other links depend on it.
As the first spoke on the Bhavacakra, all subsequent states follow in its wake.

From one to six aspects

Avidyā is a lack of knowing, and can be associated with intention. Avidyā has three aspects as associates to three kinds of vedanā (sensation), and presents four aspects as the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, and five aspects as masking the five destinies (see : Samsāra). Avidyā has six aspects as associated to any of the six doors, the six senses.

Uprooting avidya

The antidote to avidyā is "wisdom" (Skt.: prajñā; Pali: pañña). This is achieved by practicing awareness/mindfulness (Pali: sati, Skt: smṛti), patient endurance (Skt: kṣānti; Pali: khanti) and meditation (Skt: dhyāna), all three of which are incorporated in the pan-Buddhist practices of the Noble Eightfold Path and the pāramitās ("perfections").
Ignorance is more than the lack of knowledge, it is the lack of desire to gain knowledge to better oneself and to better humankind. Ignorance is refusing to believe that we are all connected, and that only together can we continue to thrive on this earth and evolve through a path of spiritual oneness and enlightenment.
this is over my head


Joseph Faria said:
In my limited understanding, Ignorance is any holding onto an absolutist/fixed view of things. This view is commonly referred to as "dualistic" or "extreme". One should not see things as being either one or the other. This is why the Madhyamaka philosophy was developed, the school of the "Middle Way". This school proposes that any fixed view should be eradicated with emptiness, the realization that all things lack independent existence. So things are neither high nor low, big nor small, black nor white. Nagarjuna said that even dwelling in "the middle" is a fixed view, so therefore we should not hold any presuppositions whatsoever. Likewise, Buddha Shakyamuni says in the Pali Canon that even a man who claims to be equal to all others is holding onto a fixed view that needs to be dispelled. And since Ignorance is the first link in the 12 links of interdependent origination, if we free ourselves from ignorance we will be free from the sufferings of Cyclic existence. This is why Je Tsongkhapa says that the root of suffering needs to be cut out with the sword of wisdom.

Of course, a mere intellectual understanding of this is not sufficient to set ourselves free from suffering, which is unfortunately all I have gained!! The great masters say that direct realization is required in order gain liberation. So once one can dissolve the self and all phenomena through emptiness, and see the freedom and vastness of things, then you are truly awakened. Of course, this sort of experience is beyond all conception. This is why Nagarjuna explains that the true nature of things is: Not existing, not NON-existing, Not BOTH and Not NEITHER. Once you have truly transcended all of these false views, then you can be said to have realized the Dharmakaya.

Even if one observes modern science, you can see these realizations taking place. The theories of Classical physics (starting with Sir Isaac Newton) all claim that the Universe can be organized and defined in a set of unifying laws and principles. These theories implied that once you knew "all" of the rules, that you could explain every single thing in the universe. This was often referred to as the Mechanical view of the universe.

However, modern Quantum physics is discovering that nothing can be absolutely known for sure. These theories are describing the universe in "Probabilities" rather than in absolute laws. They have discovered that the closer you examine objects, the more unstable they become. For instance, you can look at a table and it appears to be still and uniform. But the closer you examine it, the more you notice that it is composed of molecules in constant motion, all separated by space, yet still connected through energy and force. Even these molecules can be broken down further, with what science is now calling "String Theory". It is truly amazing how much these findings correlate with the Ancient Buddhist Philosopy.

I hope some good has come from my rambling! I enjoy very much discussing and contemplating these kinds of topics.

Blessings to all!
There is ignorance about the nature of reality and it is this ignorance which is the root cause of our suffering. There is ignorance about the nature of karma which results in us not appreciating our human life and practicing dharma. Then there is ordinary ignorance such as not know how to apply Fourier series or how to get blood stains out of your kid's t-shirt.
We don't know what we don't know - ignorance is the unwillingness to accept that there are things to know that are beyond our wild imaginings. To be willing to learn from everything and everyone and to keep looking for learning is the beginning of accepting our ignorance. Learn from the grass, learn from space, learn from those you hate, learn from those invisible aliens that live all around us that we don't realise are there lol who knows? be open to anything
keep it simple - pure love and understanding doesn't need deep intellectual study, you just have to let it in
Live in love.
Lee-Ane
Well, Ignorance in Buddhist term refers to the fundamental state of untrained mind which lacks realisation of ultimate nature of all phenomena. There in some text ignorance itself is the very nature of suffering too. That kind of ignorance can only be eliminated by the antidote of realisation of ultimate truth.
Our society, our culture, our practices, our behavior, our thoughts, our emotions... They are all ignorance. They are all just habits or programming. What is, is, and pay attention to that, not the rest. Then you will see.
Ignorance is the absence of realizing the ultimate nature of the mind, this can be achieved through meditation, (shamatha &vipashyana) Nevertheless there are many stages of meditation that one has to overcome to be able to get rid of ignorance. In buddhist terminology ignorance refers also to the misunderstanding of the nature of phenomenas and the nature of the self.

Ana-María Clasing
Chile/Southamerica

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