Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:00 am

The four great elements (dhātu or mahā-bhūta) have their footing in consciousness. Without contact the dhātu are not established. Then they're not here, not there, nor inbetween. Rather like fire without sustenance, which is simply classified as "out" (unbound) the dhātu are brought to an end. It is wrong to assume the four great elements to be "out there", it's just a futile attempt to objectify non-objectification (se AN4.174).

MN72 wrote:And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"
"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

DN11 wrote:"Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing? Where are long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:
Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of consciousness each is here brought to an end.'"


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:52 am

IDEALISM

There once was a man who said: "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

-Ronald Knox

A REPLY

Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd,
I am always about in the Quad;
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by Yours faithfully, God.
-Anonymous


Epistemology

I.
Kick at the rock, Sam Johnson, break your bones:
But cloudy, cloudy is the stuff of stones.

II.
We milk the cow of the world, and as we do
We whisper in her ear, "You are not true."
-Richard Wilbur

DL :heart:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:04 pm

Dear Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:Dear Alex
The external ayatanas (sense objects) are clearly "out there"...
...So, yes, I would agree that external ayatanas exist independent of the cognitive act,...
...I agree, to the extent that the dhatus are "out there", whether or not there is contact. ...


I am glad that we agree that external āyatanas can exist without the mind. Considering that the OP question was about Theravada (which includes Tipitaka) and not Early Buddhism, then I feel it is proper to use definition from Vibhanga.

Here are interesting things that I've noticed:

For Asaññasattā devā there appears:
One aggregate: eko khandho...rūpakkhandho
One faculty: ekindriyaṃ...rūpajīvitindriyaṃ.
Two spheres: dve āyatanāni...rūpāyatanaṃ, dhammāyatanaṃ;
Two elements: dve dhātuyo...rūpadhātu, dhammadhātu;
Truth of Suffering (dukkha): ekaṃ saccaṃ...dukkhasaccaṃ
And no mental states for that being: ahetukā anāhārā aphassakā avedanakā asaññakā acetanakā acittakā
Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419

I wonder if it is possible that rūpāyatanaṃ is included in rūpakkhandho according to that quote. There rūpāyatanaṃ is clearly independent of four aggregates.


With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:13 pm

Hello Acinteyyo,

acinteyyo wrote:The four great elements (dhātu or mahā-bhūta) have their footing in consciousness. Without contact the dhātu are not established. Then they're not here, not there, nor inbetween. Rather like fire without sustenance, which is simply classified as "out" (unbound) the dhātu are brought to an end. It is wrong to assume the four great elements to be "out there", it's just a futile attempt to objectify non-objectification (se AN4.174).

DN11 wrote:"Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing? Where are long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form brought to an end?
"'And the answer to that is:
Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of consciousness each is here brought to an end.'"

best wishes, acinteyyo


Here the Buddha talks about experience of four great elements. There is difference between experience of four great elements , and four great elements that are not experienced such as in the case of Asaññasattā devā according to Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby santa100 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:44 pm

Talking about the 4 great elements, let's use an example. The speed of light is ~ 300,000 km/sec. If there's a star 600,000 km away from earth, it'll take its photons (units of light) ~ 2 seconds to reach our eyes. So, the star already existed 2 seconds ago. It just didn't "exist in our eyes" until 2 seconds later..
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:58 pm

santa100 wrote:Talking about the 4 great elements, let's use an example. The speed of light is ~ 300,000 km/sec. If there's a star 600,000 km away from earth, it'll take its photons (units of light) ~ 2 seconds to reach our eyes. So, the star already existed 2 seconds ago. It just didn't "exist in our eyes" until 2 seconds later..


rūpa can exist independent of citta. Just because we do not see some star in some corner of the universe, it doesn't mean that rūpa which underlies it doesn't exist.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby santa100 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:19 pm

Yes, that's the point I was trying to make. The star already existed 2 seconds ago..
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:29 pm

santa100 wrote:Yes, that's the point I was trying to make. The star already existed 2 seconds ago..



When we see a star, we see a light that it emits which exists at this moment when it interacts with eye-sense organ. And at this moment there can be a certain perception of presently existing rūpa.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby santa100 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:15 pm

Alex123 wrote:
And at this moment there can be a certain perception of presently existing rūpa.


And the perception of reality doesn't always reflect the real reality. If we substitute our distant star with a person, John Doe, and increase the distance of John Doe from earth to 100 light-years away (it'll take 100 years for light from the object to reach earth). According Jane Roe, who's standing on earth peeking thru a telescope, all she sees is John Doe, the newly born baby, while in reality, John Doe is a 100 year-old man and might has already been dead!
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:43 pm

santa100 wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
And at this moment there can be a certain perception of presently existing rūpa.


And the perception of reality doesn't always reflect the real reality.


And I've didn't say that what we see is exactly how the world is. See my post at: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607&start=60#p148101 .

The idea that "perception of reality reflect the real reality" is called Naive (or common sense) Direct Realism which I do not accept. It is interesting that two polar opposites (Naive Direct Realism and Idealism) are actually identical in the belief that the world is as we perceive it. The difference is that one believes it is made of matter, and the latter believes that it is only mental.

In short, Theravada is realist when it comes to existence of some mind independent dhammas and rūpa, but anti-realist when it comes to concepts (at least in some versions of Theravada).

"In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality of entities of a certain type" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-realism
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:15 pm

How might those engaged in this thread thus far explain the term yathābhūtadassana, "seeing things as they really are"?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:28 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Acinteyyo,

acinteyyo wrote:The four great elements (dhātu or mahā-bhūta) have their footing in consciousness. Without contact the dhātu are not established. Then they're not here, not there, nor inbetween. Rather like fire without sustenance, which is simply classified as "out" (unbound) the dhātu are brought to an end. It is wrong to assume the four great elements to be "out there", it's just a futile attempt to objectify non-objectification (se AN4.174).

DN11 wrote:"Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing? Where are long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form brought to an end?
"'And the answer to that is:
Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of consciousness each is here brought to an end.'"

best wishes, acinteyyo


Here the Buddha talks about experience of four great elements. There is difference between experience of four great elements , and four great elements that are not experienced such as in the case of Asaññasattā devā according to Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419.

There is nothing to say about the four great elements apart from experience because "here water, earth, fire & wind have no footing. With the cessation of consciousness each is here brought to an end. Existence, non-existence,what ever else doesn't apply to the four great elements when not experienced. Every attempt to add any significance to unexperienced mahā-bhūta is objectifying non-objectification according to AN4.174.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:38 pm

santa100 wrote:Talking about the 4 great elements, let's use an example. The speed of light is ~ 300,000 km/sec. If there's a star 600,000 km away from earth, it'll take its photons (units of light) ~ 2 seconds to reach our eyes. So, the star already existed 2 seconds ago. It just didn't "exist in our eyes" until 2 seconds later..

This is just a way to describe experience within the framework of rulez set by science. It's only valid within that very framework. You're conclusion that the star existed 2 seconds ago is nothing but deduction according to the applied rulez. But you can't tell anything about the stars existence or non-existence, not even about anything at all apart from the moment you actually experiencing it. Everything else is just imagination, deduction, supposition, objectifiying non-objectification.
Certainly according to the applied framework and rulez it is at least imaginable that the star might have existed 2 seconds ago, but to get that straight there's no way to varify it by direct experience.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:45 pm

According to orthodox Theravada citta is not the cause of four primary elements, and the latter does not depend on the former for its existence.

One doesn't think a rock into existence in order to accidentally trip on it. It, as material cause, exists independent of whether we perceive it or not, hence why we can trip on it.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:47 pm

daverupa wrote:How might those engaged in this thread thus far explain the term yathābhūtadassana, "seeing things as they really are"?


This refers to seeing anicca, dukkha and anatta clearly enough to produce revulsion, dispassion and liberation from clinging toward phenomena. This does not mean that one gets super X-Ray vision or gets a 7th sense.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:49 pm

Alex123 wrote:
daverupa wrote:How might those engaged in this thread thus far explain the term yathābhūtadassana, "seeing things as they really are"?


This refers to seeing anicca, dukkha and anatta clearly enough to produce revulsion, dispassion and liberation from clinging toward phenomena. This does not mean that one gets super X-Ray vision or gets a 7th sense.

I've asked about the technicalities of this phrase over here in the Pali section: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=9782&start=0

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:03 pm

Alex123 wrote:According to orthodox Theravada citta is not the cause of four primary elements, and the latter does not depend on the former for its existence.

Yes I agree, citta is not the cause for the mahā-bhūta. The mahā-bhūta are independent of citta. But you can't tell anything about the existence or non-existence of mahā-bhūta without citta. It doesn't apply. That's what I'm trying to point out.
Alex123 wrote:One doesn't think a rock into existence in order to accidentally trip on it.

Sure thing. I never said that a rock has to be thought into existence. Dependent on sense base and sense object there arises the corresponding consciousness.
Alex123 wrote:It, as material cause, exists independent of whether we perceive it or not, hence why we can trip on it.

A rock is an mind made concept. We can't tell anything about a rock without mind. Whether a rock was there or not cannot be verified by direct experience before the moment we trip on it. It is an imagination how the world may be.
I'm trying to point out that the "material cause", the mahā-bhūta are independent of perception but we cannot say that it did exist or that it didn't before it appeared in consciousness dependent on sense base and sense object.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:07 pm

Hello Acinteyyo,

without perception there is no knowledge about existence or non-existence of something. But lack of perception does not mean that it doesn't exist, we simply don't have perception of it.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:11 pm

daverupa wrote:How might those engaged in this thread thus far explain the term yathābhūtadassana, "seeing things as they really are"?

MN1
"A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations — who has attained completion, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, destroyed the fetters of becoming, and is released through right knowledge — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he has comprehended it, I tell you.

"He directly knows water as water... fire as fire... wind as wind... beings as beings... gods as gods... Pajapati as Pajapati... Brahma as Brahma... the luminous gods as luminous gods... the gods of refulgent glory as gods of refulgent glory... the gods of abundant fruit as the gods of abundant fruit... the Great Being as the Great Being... the dimension of the infinitude of space as the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness as the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness as the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither-perception-nor-non-perception as the dimension of neither-perception-nor-non-perception... the seen as the seen... the heard as the heard... the sensed as the sensed... the cognized as the cognized... singleness as singleness... multiplicity as multiplicity... the All as the All...

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has comprehended it, I tell you.

"A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations... directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because, with the ending of passion, he is devoid of passion, I tell you.

"He directly knows water as water... the All as the All...

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because, with the ending of passion, he is devoid of passion, I tell you.

"A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations... directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because, with the ending of aversion, he is devoid of aversion, I tell you.

"He directly knows water as water... the All as the All...

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because, with the ending of aversion, he is devoid of aversion, I tell you.

"A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations... directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because, with the ending of delusion, he is devoid of delusion, I tell you.

"He directly knows water as water... the All as the All...

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because, with the ending of delusion, he is devoid of delusion, I tell you.


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:13 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Acinteyyo,

without perception there is no knowledge about existence or non-existence of something. But lack of perception does not mean that it doesn't exist, we simply don't have perception of it.

Exactly. I'm not the one who claims it doesn't exist. But you're the one who claims it exists, although you know that you don't have perception of it you still objectify non-objectification.
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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