Dhammas beyond experience?

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Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby SamKR » Tue May 14, 2013 5:55 am

In Abhidhamma and later literature it is said that there are paramattha dhammas, for example citta, which arise and fall away with extreme rapidity (some say billions of times within a blink of an eye), whether or not there is direct experience of such rapid change. It is said that we may not normally experience each of them (and the rapidity) because our mind is not sensitive enough.

My question is: when there is no such direct experience of rapid arising and falling away, how can it be be said that cittas are in reality arising and passing away with such rapidity?
Isn't the currently ongoing actual experience (whatever it is -- whether changing very slowly or rapidly) the only reality of the moment? How can there be any "real" experience that exists beyond experience?
Isn't the assumption that "in the background there always are rapidly arising and falling dhammas with such rapidity" just a false assumption without the actual base of direct experience?
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby pegembara » Tue May 14, 2013 7:03 am

How can there be any "real" experience that exists beyond experience?

Besides nibbana, can there be anything else beyond experience?

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby fivebells » Tue May 14, 2013 8:08 pm

SamKR wrote:Isn't the currently ongoing actual experience (whatever it is -- whether changing very slowly or rapidly) the only reality of the moment?


From a Buddhist perspective, it's the only thing you can work with, so the only thing worth worrying about.

Maybe if you go far enough, you get to experience this citta flickering. Not worth much consideration until you do.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby Alex123 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:30 pm

SamKR wrote:My question is: when there is no such direct experience of rapid arising and falling away, how can it be be said that cittas are in reality arising and passing away with such rapidity?


You have asked good questions. If the nature of citta is to know or to be aware of something, then it doesn't make sense to speak of cittas that one is not aware off.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:41 pm

Most (all?) of us have no experience of Nibbanna. Is it worthless to consider that dhamma?

:anjali:
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby fivebells » Tue May 14, 2013 10:10 pm

We've all experienced the cessation of suffering. In my own practice, that's a much more worthwhile dhamma to consider.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby Alex123 » Tue May 14, 2013 10:39 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Most (all?) of us have no experience of Nibbanna. Is it worthless to consider that dhamma?

:anjali:
Mike


It can be experienced in principle, while dhammas beyond experience cannot be experienced even in principle, that is why they are "beyond" experience.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 14, 2013 10:44 pm

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:My question is: when there is no such direct experience of rapid arising and falling away, how can it be be said that cittas are in reality arising and passing away with such rapidity?
Isn't the currently ongoing actual experience (whatever it is -- whether changing very slowly or rapidly) the only reality of the moment? How can there be any "real" experience that exists beyond experience?
Isn't the assumption that "in the background there always are rapidly arising and falling dhammas with such rapidity" just a false assumption without the actual base of direct experience?

I believe you are entirely correct. See this previous conversation...

No sankhata dhammas existing outside of present awareness
viewtopic.php?f=44&t=12164

(I actually just re-read that topic... it was a fun one)

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Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby EmptyShadow » Tue May 14, 2013 10:58 pm

From http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... ma&f=false
Although ultimate realities exist as the concrete essences of things, they are so subtle and profound that an ordinary person who lacks training cannot perceive them. Such a person cannot see the ultimate realities because his mind is obscured by concepts, which shape reality into conventionally defined ¬appearances. Only by means of wise or thorough attention to things(yoniso manasikāra) can one see beyond the concepts and take the ultimate realities as one's object of knowledge. Thus paramattha is described as that which belongs to the domain of ultimate or supreme knowledge.


Where in the abhidhamma it says that a person, with well developed right concentration and wisdom, can't perceive this rapid rise and fall of the ultimate reality(paramattha dhammas)?
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby Alex123 » Tue May 14, 2013 11:40 pm

EmptyShadow wrote:From http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... ma&f=false
Although ultimate realities exist as the concrete essences of things, they are so subtle and profound that an ordinary person who lacks training cannot perceive them. Such a person cannot see the ultimate realities because his mind is obscured by concepts, which shape reality into conventionally defined ¬appearances. Only by means of wise or thorough attention to things(yoniso manasikāra) can one see beyond the concepts and take the ultimate realities as one's object of knowledge. Thus paramattha is described as that which belongs to the domain of ultimate or supreme knowledge.


Where in the abhidhamma it says that a person, with well developed right concentration and wisdom, can't perceive this rapid rise and fall of the ultimate reality(paramattha dhammas)?


Canonical Abhidhamma does NOT teach that there are trillions of dhammas arising and ceasing every moment. Neither does Canonical Abhidhamma has teaching on paramattha dhammas.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby EmptyShadow » Wed May 15, 2013 1:47 am

Can you please explain what do you understand as canonical Abhidhamma and non-canonical Abhidhamma?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/abhi/
Both quotes are from the same link(highlight is from me)
The seven books

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is divided into seven books, although it is the first (Dhammasangani) and last (Patthana) that together lay out the essence of Abhidhamma philosophy. The seven books are:

I. Dhammasangani ("Enumeration of Phenomena").
This book enumerates all the paramattha dhamma (ultimate realities) to be found in the world. According to one such enumeration these amount to:

52 cetasikas (mental factors), which, arising together in various combination, give rise to any one of...
...89 different possible cittas (states of consciousness)
4 primary physical elements, and 23 physical phenomena derived from them
Nibbana


The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third division of the Tipitaka, offer an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic natural principles that govern mental and physical processes. Whereas the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas lay out the practical aspects of the Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Pitaka provides a theoretical framework to explain the causal underpinnings of that very path. In Abhidhamma philosophy the familiar psycho-physical universe (our world of "trees" and "rocks," "I" and "you") is distilled to its essence: an intricate web of impersonal phenomena and processes unfolding at an inconceivably rapid pace from moment to moment, according to precisely defined natural laws.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby ground » Wed May 15, 2013 4:17 am

SamKR wrote:In Abhidhamma and later literature it is said that there are paramattha dhammas, for example citta, which arise and fall away with extreme rapidity (some say billions of times within a blink of an eye), whether or not there is direct experience of such rapid change.

Seems to be a metaphysical substantialist view :sage:
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 15, 2013 8:15 am

EmptyShadow wrote:Can you please explain what do you understand as canonical Abhidhamma and non-canonical Abhidhamma?

The Canonical Abhidhamma is the books you mention. If you've ever looked at them you'll know that they consist of seemingly endless lists of classifications of citta and causality.

The middle section of the Visuddhimagga (about 1000 after the Buddha) gives a summary of causality and so on that is developed from that Abhidhamma. About six hundred years later we have the Abhidhammatthasangaha http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=826 Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi and others as: A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma. This gives a succinct summary of the Theravada interpretation of the Abhidhamma. However, it does not clearly explain what is from the Canonical Abhidhamma and what is a later elaboration. Most relevant to this thread, the "millions of citta per second" is not in the Canonical Abhidhamma.

Having said that, I wonder if those numbers are just hyperboble, to make a point about meditative experiences. The primary purpose of these texts (Sutta, Abhidhamma, Commentary..) is, in my view, an aid to making sense of experience. Even without any meditative experience at all, it's not hard to see that sense impressions appear at the six sense doors with extreme rapidity. You don't need some ancient text to figure that out... With some development of mindfulness and calm, the rising and passing of the sense impressions can be seen with increased rapidity.

:anjali:
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:14 am

EmptyShadow wrote:Can you please explain what do you understand as canonical Abhidhamma and non-canonical Abhidhamma?


Did you read Dhammasangani and similar books? They do not say that "these are ultimate, these are conventional". Dhammasangani does not teach momentariness either. Neither do they classify cittas into 89 types, etc.

All of these are found in later commentaries such as Visuddhimagga, Abhidhamma sangaho, etc.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby SamKR » Wed May 15, 2013 7:19 pm

pegembara wrote:Besides nibbana, can there be anything else beyond experience?

mikenz66 wrote:Most (all?) of us have no experience of Nibbanna. Is it worthless to consider that dhamma?

Let us exclude Nibbana for now, and just consider sankhata Dhammas. Sorry for not being clear in the OP.

fivebells wrote:We've all experienced the cessation of suffering. In my own practice, that's a much more worthwhile dhamma to consider.

Cessation of suffering? Could you make it clear?
retrofuturist wrote:See this previous conversation...
No sankhata dhammas existing outside of present awareness
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=12164
(I actually just re-read that topic... it was a fun one)

Thanks for the link. I will read that thread too.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby SamKR » Wed May 15, 2013 7:32 pm

mikenz66 wrote: Having said that, I wonder if those numbers are just hyperboble, to make a point about meditative experiences. The primary purpose of these texts (Sutta, Abhidhamma, Commentary..) is, in my view, an aid to making sense of experience. Even without any meditative experience at all, it's not hard to see that sense impressions appear at the six sense doors with extreme rapidity. You don't need some ancient text to figure that out... With some development of mindfulness and calm, the rising and passing of the sense impressions can be seen with increased rapidity.

Hello Mike,

Yes, it's not hard to see such extreme rapidity -- but only when such rapidity is directly experienced. But we may not have such experience all the time; usually we may encounter sensations which we perceive to be lasting for some time. When there is no such experience of rapidity, the rapidity is simply not there; I mean it is not even in the background.
The idea that Cittas are arising and passing away with extreme rapidity even when not experienced as such, does not make sense to me. I would appreciate if you or someone else could correct if my understanding seems to be wrong.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby Coyote » Wed May 15, 2013 8:27 pm

Does the body disappear when we have no perception of it, i.e in unconsciousness or in deep states of meditation? Why is it not the same with the mind? I don't see the logic here, maybe I am missing something. Or maybe you are saying that our experience is all that "exists"?
Either side is inappropriate attention, IMO.

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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 15, 2013 8:42 pm

Hi Sam,

My take on the Commentaries, and descriptions from modern teachers, seems to be a bit more relaxed than those who worry about whether or not they are proposing some ontology, or whatever. I don't find that particularly interesting or important.

To me, the importance of the Commentaries is as a summary of what can be experienced, how to see it, how it plays out, and so on. I read them as instructions and advice, not philosophy. Worrying about whether the phenomena are arising and falling away rapidly when we don't notice them doesn't seem to me to be a helpful line of reasoning when it comes to practice.

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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby SamKR » Wed May 15, 2013 8:44 pm

Coyote wrote:Does the body disappear when we have no perception of it, i.e in unconsciousness or in deep states of meditation? Why is it not the same with the mind? I don't see the logic here, maybe I am missing something. Or maybe you are saying that our experience is all that "exists"?
Either side is inappropriate attention, IMO.

If by body you mean body-consciousness, then yes when we don't experience body there is no arising of consciousness of body. In other words, you could say body-consciousness passed away for the duration of inexperience.
If by body you mean the physical body, then we do not have direct access to any physical matter (including physical body) of the universe. So, the question of whether body disappears when we have no perception simply does not apply.
I believe (so far, until my views change) that experience is all that matters. Since we have no direct access to physical world we cannot definitely say that physical matter actually exists. All we can say is that we can indirectly experience physical matter through the appearances of experiences.
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Postby SamKR » Wed May 15, 2013 8:51 pm

mikenz66 wrote:My take on the Commentaries, and descriptions from modern teachers, seems to be a bit more relaxed than those who worry about whether or not they are proposing some ontology, or whatever. I don't find that particularly interesting or important.

To me, the importance of the Commentaries is as a summary of what can be experienced, how to see it, how it plays out, and so on. I read them as instructions and advice, not philosophy. Worrying about whether the phenomena are arising and falling away rapidly when we don't notice them doesn't seem to me to be a helpful line of reasoning when it comes to practice.

Hi Mike,
Fair enough. Thanks.
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