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We provide access to over 300 transcripts by Sangharakshita!
Coleen, FBA Team
Viriyalila, Portsmouth, USA
Nagabodhi, London, UK
Vajratara, Sheffield, UK
Ratnavyuha, Auckland, NZ
Samudradaka, FBA Team
Vicki, Seattle, USA
Coleen, FBA Team
... as they have
done, their own wrong attitude, and recognize the purity of Milarepa's attitude. In other words
when they adopt a genuinely open attitude towards him - that is the real defeat, not when
they're merely stymied in logical argument. So it's as though Milarepa is saying to Rechungpa
that he's got an entirely wrong idea as to what constitutes victory and what constitutes defeat
in this particular situation. That it's not really a contest between opposing points of view or
opposing doctrines or opposing reasons. It's a conflict if you like between two people. The
conflict in this case between Milarepa and this leading logician.
So the victory is therefore not a victory in terms of argument but a victory in terms of persons,
a victory in terms of individuals. In other words Milarepa conquers his opponent when the
opponent recognizes that he himself is insincere in his approach and Milarepa is sincere,
Milarepa is pure. He can then be open to Milarepa. That's what the discussion, that's what the
debate is all about. Not about scoring technical logical points. Do you see what I mean? So in
other words Milarepa is thinking in terms of human communication you could say whereas
Rechungpa is thinking much more in terms of technical debate. Milarepa is as is were saying
well he acknowledged his mistake, he recognized my purity of attitude. That's all that matters.
I've won, because he's opened himself to me. Forget about the logical rights and wrongs and
the logical arguments. Milarepa is not concerned with victory in the ordinary sense, he's not
concerned with winning the argument . What interests him is that the other person has
renounced his stubborn opinionated attitude and has opened himself to Milarepa recognizing
Milarepa's superior spiritual attainment
Mangala: On the other hand let's say had Milarepa been able to convince the guy also on the
basis of logical argument would that not represent the more total complete...?
S: Yes and no because Milarepa mentions this later on. He says 'in learning semantics' -
semantics is the scientific study of the meaning of words - ' you may acquire some knowledge
about words but still you will not be able to win all the debates, nor can you master the whole
study of letters.'
So this means that you cannot ever reach a final conclusion by means of logical argument.
You may be a person of great spiritual attainment, your opponent may not be a person of great
spiritual attainment but he may be much more as it were capable, even much more tricky, in
handling logical weapons than you are. So sometimes you know you can have the experience
of arguing with someone who is better at arguing than you are and he defeats you in argument
but at the same time you know or you feel that he's not right, that you've not been defeated.
I'm not referring to the sort of situation in which you refuse to acknowledge defeat out of
mere stubbornness or anything of that sort, but when you really do know quite genuinely that
he's only sort of bamboozled you with some apparently logical arguments but you don't really
know enough about logic, you're not really good enough at that sort of thing to be able to
point out exactly where he's gone wrong or exactly in what the bamboozlement consists. So
Milarepa is saying all right you may have all the tricks of the logical trade at your fingertips
but even so you won't win all the arguments. You may well meet someone who is cleverer at
that sort of thing than yourself. So therefore he's saying no final victory can be achieved by
logical means. You may well meet someone who is more clever than you. Even though he
may be less developed spiritually he may be less right basically but  he may be able to
defeat you in argument so nothing is (settled by that means). You probably all have or maybe
have had the experience of meeting people outside the Friends with whom you've been trying
to discuss and argue but you've not been able to convince them. You feel you're so right, what
you say is so true, you're convinced of it, you know it. But you can't convince them. They've
got all sorts of arguments to bring against you. You know that those arguments are sophistical
but at the same time you're unable to cope with those arguments on logical grounds, you're
not sufficiently skilled. Supposing you were. All right supposing you did defeat the other
person but supposing he wouldn't acknowledge defeat well what are you to do then? You've
used all your arguments, you've defeated him logically, he's unable to reply but he doesn't
change his opinion, he doesn't come over to your way of thinking because there's a very deep
conditioning there in him which goes beyond logic. So even then he's not defeated. You may
have defeated him logically in argument but he has not been defeated. So therefore we come
back to Milarepa's point that you defeat someone really in this sort of situation only when he
opens himself to you which is what that logician apparently had done at the end of the
previous chapter. Sometimes it happens actually that you lose the argument but on the other
hand... in logical terms ... but in person to person terms you win. You know the sort of
situation or do you recognize the sort of situation. That you may have a discussion with
somebody - that person may wipe the floor with you logically but even though you're defeated
logically in the course of being defeated you've come across so positively that that person is
impressed despite themselves. So who has lost and who has won?
So Milarepa is saying basically to Rechungpa the basic thing has happened, the thing that
really needed to happen has happened. He says the scholars have credited us with pure
thoughts, and we know from the previous chapter that the leading scholar blamed himself
severely and recognized his lack of good faith and understanding as compared with Milarepa.
But that's all that you need, that someone becomes receptive and then of course you go
beyond victory and defeat or winning or losing an argument. But Rechungpa is obsessed with
this idea of defeating the logicians by logical means which does suggest he's over occupied
with victory in the narrower sense, the more superficial sense. He's not so much preoccupied
or concerned with the question of human communication, he's not so impressed by the fact
that that logician has now opened himself to Milarepa. He wants him actually to be defeated.
He wants to rub his nose in the dust as it were. He's not satisfied that he's conceded defeat and
has acknowledged Milarepa as spiritually superior.
So it does as I think you also suggested indicate a sort of in a way revengeful attitude. It's not
enough that the logician has opened himself to Milarepa, Rechungpa wants him to be actually
defeated technically too.
So you can see several aspects of Rechungpa's mistaken attitude or you can look at that
mistaken attitude from several points of view. To begin with he's not satisfied that the
logicians should be defeated or should have conceded defeat, he wants that he should be
defeated in a particular way. He thinks he hasn't been properly defeated. He doesn't recognize
that he's been defeated in the only true sense, that is to say he's opened himself to Milarepa -
Rechungpa isn't able to see that.
And of course this point is underlined by the fact that he says or he rather thinks -'the only
way Rechungpa thought to himself, to conquer these scholars who cannot even be convinced
by the evidence of miracles, is by logic and argument or by black magic  and curses'. Well
that really gives the game away doesn't it because what does black magic and curses represent
in a word?
S: Yes, if you're trying to do things in that sort of way in what sort of way are you trying to do
S: Power yes, violently. So within the spiritual context can you really defeat people by
power? You could even say that trying to defeat people by reason and argument is using
power. Maybe that just about sums up Rechungpa's whole attitude. He wants to deal with the
logicians in one way or another by the exercise of power. Milarepa is content to deal with
them by means of the exercise of love. Love in the sense of metta, or more than that, in the
sense of Maha metta and Maha karuna. So far as Milarepa is concerned the fact that the
logician has acknowledged his mistake and opened himself to Milarepa, that is quite enough.
That's all that Milarepa wants. He doesn't want the other person to be humiliated. Rechungpa
apparently wants him to be humiliated. Milarepa thinks in terms of the other person opening.
Rechungpa thinks in terms of the other person being crushed and humiliated.
Clive: It's like a war like instinct. Wanting to sort of not only defeat your enemy but play
football with their heads or something.
S: Yes. So you notice this if you're engaged in discussion with somebody. You have to be
very careful that what you're trying to do in putting across your own point of view or your
own attitude or yourself, you have to be very careful that what you're really trying to do is to
get the other person to open himself up to you which means of course that you must open
yourself up to the other person. In other words you must be very careful that what you're
really trying to do is to get the other person to open himself up to you, which means of course
that you must open yourself up to the other person. In ...