...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:57 pm

kirk5a wrote:
reflection wrote:On first glance it doesn't add up. But the it does if you see that beings are processes and not things. In other words, no "thing" decides. Instead, decisions or initiatives are the outcome of a process. In other words, the entire process happens by itself without a free will to initiate it. The initiation or decision is part of the process, but needs no self - no central "I". And the thought construct that feels "I made that choice" is what happens later. That is the delusion the mind usually upholds and that makes people feel they have control or free will.

And to get back on topic: because we don't have this control, we certainly also don't have control to turn the unsatisfying into the satisfying.

I've already shown that the path the Buddha taught does involve developing a high degree of self-control. Your philosophical interpretations are not found in the suttas.

And I think they are. Sankhara (mental formations including the will) without a self is in many, many suttas. I'd rather interpret the canon in light of all these instead of one odd-duck sutta that speaks about self-doer. Then again, I always say suttas can be interpreted many ways. The mind shapes the interpretation. It is the path, specifically meditation, that will show the answer to the question: is there a self in control or not?

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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:12 pm

reflection wrote: It is the path, specifically meditation, that will show the answer to the question: is there a self in control or not?

Ah ha! Predictable. You are engored by one horn of an unskillful philosophical dilemma. a.k.a. "inappropriate attention"

This is how he attends inappropriately: ... Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not?
...
He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:17 pm

This sutta speaks about how such inappriate attention "I am" gives rise to self view. I am talking about the removal of self view. The reflection is not "I am not in control". (in other words: still an "I" exists). The reflection is more like "there is no controller". This is not constructing a view of self, instead it is deconstructing it.

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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:31 pm

reflection wrote:This sutta speaks about how such inappriate attention "I am" gives rise to self view. I am talking about the removal of self view. The reflection is not "I am not in control". (in other words: still an "I" exists). The reflection is more like "there is no controller". This is not constructing a view of self, instead it is deconstructing it.

Again, you are asking us to substitute your philosophy for what was actually taught. Show us where the reflection "there is no controller" is taught for the removal of self view.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:54 pm

It's easy to say that I say what is not taught, you say what is taught. But that doesn't really add anything or help anyone - nor is it very inviting to respond to. Obviously I am not going to say things I think are wrong, so perhaps you could try to engage me in another way.

Anyway, this occurs many times in the suttas - and is also where this topic started off:

“Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, [50] internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all consciousness should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... aggregates


In other words, any choice, action, determination, initiative, is "not mine", is not part of a self and should not be seen as such.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:47 pm

reflection wrote:It's easy to say that I say what is not taught, you say what is taught. But that doesn't really add anything or help anyone - nor is it very inviting to respond to. Obviously I am not going to say things I think are wrong, so perhaps you could try to engage me in another way.

Anyway, this occurs many times in the suttas - and is also where this topic started off:

“Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, [50] internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all consciousness should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... aggregates


In other words, any choice, action, determination, initiative, is "not mine", is not part of a self and should not be seen as such.

That doesn't advocate the reflection "there is no controller." It doesn't say there is no possibility of any sort of control over anything whatsoever. It doesn't say thinking is totally uncontrollable. It doesn't say the practice is about discovering whether there is a self in control or not. In short, it doesn't say anything which you have been saying.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:05 pm

Seems like people are abandoning wrong views to accept no self, and aquiring new wrong views in the process, thats why I assume no self is not something that can be taught on the internet, and rather needs extensive contemplation and meditation to even begin to understand.

Remember the buddha didn't even deny the self, he denied that the self consisted of the 5 aggregates, many Therevadans, but not all take that a step further and deny any self at all, but the scriptures don't strongly support that.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:36 pm

kirk5a wrote:
reflection wrote:It's easy to say that I say what is not taught, you say what is taught. But that doesn't really add anything or help anyone - nor is it very inviting to respond to. Obviously I am not going to say things I think are wrong, so perhaps you could try to engage me in another way.

Anyway, this occurs many times in the suttas - and is also where this topic started off:

“Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, [50] internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all consciousness should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... aggregates


In other words, any choice, action, determination, initiative, is "not mine", is not part of a self and should not be seen as such.

That doesn't advocate the reflection "there is no controller." It doesn't say there is no possibility of any sort of control over anything whatsoever. It doesn't say thinking is totally uncontrollable. It doesn't say the practice is about discovering whether there is a self in control or not. In short, it doesn't say anything which you have been saying.

Also here it depends on how you read it, how you interpret it. If you see sankhara as all ("any kind whatsoever") action/will/determinations/activities, it does imply all that you think it doesn't. However I agree with Lyndon that it is not going to be shown in a discussion.

If in meditation there is utterly no possibility to make a choice or control whatsoever, this is more clear that there is no controller anywhere.

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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:52 pm

reflection wrote:Also here it depends on how you read it, how you interpret it. If you see sankhara as all ("any kind whatsoever") action/will/determinations/activities, it does imply all that you think it doesn't.

Given that you apparently do not see the possibility for developing mastery over the pathways of thought, it clearly does not imply your view. But people can judge for themselves the contrast between what you have been saying, and the suttas passages I have quoted.
However I agree with Lyndon that it is not going to be shown in a discussion.

If in meditation there is utterly no possibility to make a choice or control whatsoever, this is more clear that there is no controller anywhere.

What sort of meditation are you describing in which that applies?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:03 pm

kirk5a wrote:
reflection wrote:Also here it depends on how you read it, how you interpret it. If you see sankhara as all ("any kind whatsoever") action/will/determinations/activities, it does imply all that you think it doesn't.

Given that you apparently do not see the possibility for developing mastery over the pathways of thought, it clearly does not imply your view. But people can judge for themselves the contrast between what you have been saying, and the suttas passages I have quoted.
However I agree with Lyndon that it is not going to be shown in a discussion.

If in meditation there is utterly no possibility to make a choice or control whatsoever, this is more clear that there is no controller anywhere.

What sort of meditation are you describing in which that applies?

As I understand the sutta, the mastery of thought is not a self mastering the thoughts, but the "being" (a process) that does not think unwholesome thoughts. The sutta you quoted is to me spoken in conceptual language. So mastery of thought is possible without the need for a central controller.

The sort of meditation is for example described here:
Stillness means lack of movement. What causes the mind to move? "Will" causes the mind to move! This is why if one wants to experi­ence stillness, then one must remove all will, all doing, all control.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... Jhanas.htm
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:58 pm

reflection wrote:As I understand the sutta, the mastery of thought is not a self mastering the thoughts, but the "being" (a process) that does not think unwholesome thoughts. The sutta you quoted is to me spoken in conceptual language. So mastery of thought is possible without the need for a central controller.

Who's talking about "a self mastering the thoughts" or a "central controller"? You're changing your tune now, in allowing for mastery of thought, whereas before you were suggesting global uncontrollability. As you said
all actions happen by themselves and the will that makes the "decision" comes later, if it does come.

That view is not compatible with the Buddhist view of kamma.

The sort of meditation is for example described here:
Stillness means lack of movement. What causes the mind to move? "Will" causes the mind to move! This is why if one wants to experi­ence stillness, then one must remove all will, all doing, all control.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... Jhanas.htm

Unless you are going to dispute with the suttas which say that jhanas are "fabricated and willed" I don't see that furthers your claim about global lack of control. Which you've now backed off from anyway.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:36 am

Hi,

I can promise you, I'm not changing my tune. It's just that things like this are is hard to convey on a conventional level. Therefore all the "quotation marks" :quote: that I include, which you seem to interpret literally instead of what I'm pointing at.

I could explain how a jhana is fabricated and can be intended without any control or will in them, but I won't because that is getting off topic. Also I won't because I am not trying to further a claim. I'm just saying meditation shows the reality of things, not arguments or suttas. Perhaps it'll show people what I mean with the will saying "I decided that" after the decision has already been made. Or "I think that" happens after the thought. And then this "I decide/control things"-view may start to unravel in people. Especially in meditation where the will and control is starting to fade away - which I don't think is all that rare for people to experience at least to some degree.

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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby chownah » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:52 am

Alex123 wrote:Some thoughts that appear in your head can be conditioned by to other people, things you've read or seen, events, etc.

Decide to turn your head to the left, right, up or down and then turn it. There you go, some form of control is there.

As to some thoughts that appear in your head; when you were born there were virtually NO thoughts in your head and your natural ability to be mentally impressed by your six sense media started accumulating data or impressions which were put into categories and networks which grew and grew all being built upon each other.......seems like it is not a stretch to suggest that ALL thoughts are conditioned by outside forces. The objects (also thought of as being the stimulus) are usually viewed as being external and in this way since thoughts are the object for the mind then thoughts are viewed as being external. Maybe this is a correct view in that as I have suggested it can be said that all thoughts are conditioned by or originate from external factors.

As to your turning of the head; seems like your aggregates are running the "demonstration of Self control" program again. You should be careful when this program is running in that it seems to be generating a lot of intention and the Buddha taught that intention is kamma!......so beware!
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:51 am

chownah wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:I think the Buddha's interpretation of what is "self" equates to the meaning of some entity being omnipotent.

What did you see that gave you this idea?
chownah

Something that is "Self" shall have complete control of itself which also means free from condition and able to go against natural phenomena that is composed of the 3 characteristic(annica, anatta and dukkha).
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby mal4mac » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:56 am

chownah wrote:As to some thoughts that appear in your head; when you were born there were virtually NO thoughts in your head


How do you know this? We can't remember things we were thinking at birth, but perhaps that's because memory wasn't functioning.

chownah wrote: and your natural ability to be mentally impressed by your six sense media started accumulating data or impressions which were put into categories and networks which grew and grew all being built upon each other.......seems like it is not a stretch to suggest that ALL thoughts are conditioned by outside forces.


It seems a big stretch to me! Try reading some Kant, or modern Kantian philosophy of mind. The strong versions of this suggest that we come equipped at birth with most of the categories and networks needed to understand the world. If the Kantians are right, then there could be an awful lot of organised thought going on at birth. Even if you are right, wouldn't there be a lot of, perhaps less organised, thinking going on, to build those categories and networks?
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby mal4mac » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:59 am

barcsimalsi wrote:Something that is "Self" shall have complete control of itself which also means free from condition and able to go against natural phenomena that is composed of the 3 characteristic(annica, anatta and dukkha).


Where do you get the phrase go against natural phenomena? Please reference any suttas or other texts when you mention such controversial matters. In any case, this is a very vague phrase that in no way implies omnipotence.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby chownah » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:57 am

mal4mac wrote:
chownah wrote:As to some thoughts that appear in your head; when you were born there were virtually NO thoughts in your head


How do you know this? We can't remember things we were thinking at birth, but perhaps that's because memory wasn't functioning.

chownah wrote: and your natural ability to be mentally impressed by your six sense media started accumulating data or impressions which were put into categories and networks which grew and grew all being built upon each other.......seems like it is not a stretch to suggest that ALL thoughts are conditioned by outside forces.


It seems a big stretch to me! Try reading some Kant, or modern Kantian philosophy of mind. The strong versions of this suggest that we come equipped at birth with most of the categories and networks needed to understand the world. If the Kantians are right, then there could be an awful lot of organised thought going on at birth. Even if you are right, wouldn't there be a lot of, perhaps less organised, thinking going on, to build those categories and networks?

You are correct in that I do not know for sure the extent of the thought process on newborns. For all I know a newborn is just seething with thoughts......but I have observed newborns and infants as they mature and they do a remarkably good imitation of starting with little to no thought processes and then having those processes develop as they mature......but I could be completely wrong.....anyone know of a site which talks about brain activity in newborns?

I think you have not carefully read my post.....what I posted is perfectly in agreement with the idea that a newborn has categories and networks already at birth although I am not making any statement as to their existence or nonexistence as it is not really essential to the ideas I am trying to express. Also, Kantian philosophy is OK I guess but I do not take it to be a serious source of wise knowledge.....whether a newborn has much in the way of thought processes is a matter of what happens inside a babies head and not a matter to be determined by philosophical speculation.
chownah
P.S. Here is a link that talks about brain activity in fetus and newborn......probably not the best reference...
http://www.livescience.com/8890-birth-f ... -idle.html
chownah
P.P.S. Here is another link I like because it seems to agree with me!

https://multcolib.org/parents/early-lit ... evelopment
Early experiences directly affect how the brain is "wired."
At birth, baby's brain is remarkably unfinished. Most of its 100 billion neurons are not yet connected in networks. Some neurons are programmed for specific functions-breathing and heartbeat, but most are not yet designated for tasks and are waiting for the experiences in the environment to determine their function. Connections are created by the sensory experiences-seeing, smelling, touching, and especially tasting, stimulate the growth of neural connections. Forming and reinforcing these connections are the key tasks of early brain development. By the age of three, a child's brain is twice as active as an adult's--and it stays that way throughout the first decade of life.

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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:16 am

mal4mac wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:Something that is "Self" shall have complete control of itself which also means free from condition and able to go against natural phenomena that is composed of the 3 characteristic(annica, anatta and dukkha).


Where do you get the phrase go against natural phenomena? Please reference any suttas or other texts when you mention such controversial matters. In any case, this is a very vague phrase that in no way implies omnipotence.

Sorry no reference, it was based on my own understanding. :tongue: When an entity is free from condition, does it not mean omnipotence?
My earlier post was meant to answer the OP "what is unsatisfactory, that is not-self" hence if what is self, then it can always be satisfactory as a result of being omnipotence.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby mal4mac » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:37 am

chownah wrote:... whether a newborn has much in the way of thought processes is a matter of what happens inside a babies head and not a matter to be determined by philosophical speculation.


I agree with you, but you need a starting position. If you start from your position, which seems to be that of Hume, one is likely to look for mechanisms that enable structures to form due to the baby's interaction with the environment. Take Kant's viewpoint, and you are likely to assume the structures are already there. In any case, read into cognitive science, a little bit, and you you will see Kant is appreciated by many in the field:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-mind/

https://multcolib.org/parents/early-lit ... evelopment
Early experiences directly affect how the brain is "wired."
At birth, baby's brain is remarkably unfinished. Most of its 100 billion neurons are not yet connected in networks. Some neurons are programmed for specific functions-breathing and heartbeat, but most are not yet designated for tasks and are waiting for the experiences in the environment to determine their function. Connections are created by the sensory experiences-seeing, smelling, touching, and especially tasting, stimulate the growth of neural connections. Forming and reinforcing these connections are the key tasks of early brain development. By the age of three, a child's brain is twice as active as an adult's--and it stays that way throughout the first decade of life.


I'm not interested enough in this matter to go searching for Kantians to provide alternative views, I guess they might question "waiting for the experiences in the environment to determine their function" and suggest "waiting for the brain to grow to its full potential", and downplay the role of environmental stimulus. But please don't try and rebut this observation... none of this, like most Western science & philosophy, is any help in alleviating my suffering; so I'd heartfully request we get off this track and get back to the thread - can we really meditate on the brain? If so, how?
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:45 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Remember the buddha didn't even deny the self, he denied that the self consisted of the 5 aggregates

That is true but he also taught that what is impermanent and unsatisfactory, that is not self. The question is can we find something that is permanent and satisfactory outside the five aggregates?
Even Nibbana is said to be not self.
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