Impermanency of Matter

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Impermanency of Matter

Postby hgg » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:34 pm

Hello,

I was recently reading the Satipatthana Vipassana by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el370.html

I have a question regarding the “Nothing is permanent”. Near the end of document Mahashi Saydaw
says :
“On continuing the practice of contemplation for some time, there will be considerable progress in mindfulness and concentration. At this high level it will be perceptible that on every occasion of noting, each process arises and passes away at that very moment. But, on the other hand, uninstructed people generally consider that the body and mind remain in a permanent state throughout life, that the same body of childhood has grown up into adulthood, that the same young mind has grown up into maturity, and that both body and mind are one and the same person. In reality, this is not so. Nothing is permanent. Everything comes into existence for a moment and then passes away. Nothing can remain even for the blink of an eye. Changes are taking place very swiftly and they will be perceived in due course.”

What is not clear to me is the phrase “Everything comes into existence for a moment and then passes
away”. In what way does he mean that? For example if we consider the feelings, when an object
touches the sense organ of the skin, I can understand that the feeling that arises that moment was not
there before, and that when the object is removed, the feeling passes away. When he says that
“Everything comes into existence etc” is ordinary matter also included?

Are all physical objects in a continuous state or arising and passing away independently of our
senses
, and if they are, where are they arising from, and where are they passing away to?

Is that what he means?

Thank you.
George.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:43 pm

hgg wrote:
Are all physical objects in a continuous state or arising and passing away independently of our
senses
, and if they are, where are they arising from, and where are they passing away to?

Is that what he means?
All that we can really, directly know of a "physical object" is what we actually experience. In a very real sense when the texts (suttas) talk about physical objects being impermanent, they are talking about how we experience them.
Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby hgg » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:07 pm

Hi,

All that we can really, directly know of a "physical object" is what we actually experience. In a very real sense when the texts (suttas) talk about physical objects being impermanent, they are talking about how we experience them.


So, could it be that in reality outside our perception, matter is not in a state of arising
and passing away but in a state of a continuous change with no constant form?
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:17 pm

hgg wrote:Hi,

All that we can really, directly know of a "physical object" is what we actually experience. In a very real sense when the texts (suttas) talk about physical objects being impermanent, they are talking about how we experience them.


So, could it be that in reality outside our perception, matter is not in a state of arising
and passing away but in a state of a continuous change with no constant form?
Not sure what you mean by "constant form," but knowledge outside our direct perception is likely based upon deduction or induction.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:00 pm

I like this book about impermanence, "Change" by Bodhesako. It's a free read. It also discusses about the right view (very important in the Dhamma) and what its implications might be. It's very interesting.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:56 pm

Isn't the existance or non-existance of matter inponderable and, therefore, adhamma? I may be wrong, but I think you're asking about a philosophical subject outside the Dhamma.

If you're curious about existence/non-existence of matter (which won't lead towards liberation), look up virtual particles and ask yourself this 'simple' question: what is matter.

If you answer that there's a Nobel prize in it for you :).

My current opinion (which has nothing to do with Buddhism): Matter is a perceptual illusion.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Shonin » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:21 pm

hgg wrote:where are they arising from, and where are they passing away to?


From and into other states, other conditions - different configurations (internally and externally) meaning it has a different nature from one moment to the next. One moment it's a cloud, then it's a raindrop, then it's a puddle, then it's a plant, then it's oxygen in the atmosphere, then it's you, etc. We now know that every sub-atomic particle that composes a human body will be replaced within a few seconds.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby hgg » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:49 pm

Hi,

beeblebrox I have already downloaded the book and I will read it. Thank you.

Shonin I am aware of the current scientific theories. What I would like to know is,
what Buddha thought. So, what do you think that Mahashi Saydaw meant when he said
that :
In reality, this is not so. Nothing is permanent. Everything comes into existence for a moment and then passes away.


Did he mean that matter comes into existence for a moment and then passes away,
in the same manner as a feeling does? ( I mean independently of our perception,
when we are not experiencing that matter)
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:27 pm

hgg wrote:
Did he mean that matter comes into existence for a moment and then passes away,
in the same manner as a feeling does? ( I mean independently of our perception,
when we are not experiencing that matter)
What do the Buddha's teachings say?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:51 pm

Hello all,

This might be of assistance:

anicca
'impermanent' (or, as abstract noun, aniccatā, 'impermanence')
is the first of the three characteristics of existence (tilakkhana, q.v.). It is from the fact of impermanence that, in most texts, the other two characteristics, suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anattā), are derived (S.22. 15; Ud.IV. I)
"Impermanence of things is the rising, passing and changing of things, or the disappearance of things that have become or arisen. The meaning is that these things never persist in the same way, but that they are vanishing dissolving from moment to moment" (Vis.M. VII, 3).
Impermanence is a basic feature of all conditioned phenomena, be they material or mental, coarse or subtle, one's own or external: All formations are impermanent" (sabbe sankhārā aniccā; M. 35, Dhp. 277). That the totality of existence is impermanent is also often stated in terms of the five aggregates (khandha, q.v.), the twelve personal and external sense bases (āyatana q.v.), etc. Only Nibbāna (q.v.), which is unconditioned and not a formation (asankhata), is permanent (nicca, dhuva).
The insight leading to the first stage of deliverance, Stream-entry (sotāpatti; s. ariya-puggala), is often expressed in terms of impermanence: "Whatever is subject to origination, is subject to cessation" (s. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, S.46. 11). In his last exhortation, before his Parinibbāna, the Buddha reminded his monks of the impermanence of existence as a spur to earnest effort: "Behold now, Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Formations are bound to vanish. Strive earnestly!" (vayadhammā sankhārā, appamādena sampādetha; D. 16).
Without the deep insight into the impermanence and insubstantiality of all phenomena of existence there is no attainment of deliverance. Hence comprehension of impermanence gained by direct meditative experience heads two lists of insight knowledge:
(a) contemplation of impermanence (aniccānupassanā) is the first of the 18 chief kinds of insight (q.v.);
(b) the contemplation of arising and vanishing (udayabbayānupassanā-ñāna) is the first of 9 kinds of knowledge which lead to the 'purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress' (s. visuddhi, VI). -
Contemplation of impermanence leads to the conditionless deliverance (animitta-vimokkha; s. vimokkha). As herein the faculty of confidence (saddhindriya) is outstanding, he who attains in that way the path of Stream-entry is called a faith-devotee (saddhānusārī; s. ariya-puggala) and at the seven higher stages he is called faith-liberated (saddhā-vimutta), - See also anicca-saññā.
See The Three Basic Facts of Existence I: Impermanence (WHEEL 186/187)
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/a/anicca.htm
================================================
On-line booklet:
Collected Essays ~ Preface by Nyanaponika Thera ~ The Three Basic Facts of Existence I:
Impermanence (Anicca)
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh186-p.html

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Shonin » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:26 am

hgg wrote:Did he mean that matter comes into existence for a moment and then passes away,
in the same manner as a feeling does? ( I mean independently of our perception,
when we are not experiencing that matter)


The Buddha aways talks about phenomena - that which can be experienced, observed, verified (at least in principle). He doesn't waste time on speculating on ontology (things as they are in themselves).
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:38 am

Greetings hgg,
hgg wrote:
All that we can really, directly know of a "physical object" is what we actually experience. In a very real sense when the texts (suttas) talk about physical objects being impermanent, they are talking about how we experience them.


So, could it be that in reality outside our perception, matter is not in a state of arising
and passing away but in a state of a continuous change with no constant form?

It could be that what is "outside our perception" is an irrelevancy with respect to the Four Noble Truths, and that attention is better spent focused on understanding the impermanency of that which is within the realm of perception (i.e. loka).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:36 am

tiltbillings wrote:
hgg wrote:
Did he mean that matter comes into existence for a moment and then passes away,
in the same manner as a feeling does? ( I mean independently of our perception,
when we are not experiencing that matter)
What do the Buddha's teachings say?


This may help - I came across it in the Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta: The Great Elephant Footprint Simile:

"And what are the four great existents? The earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.
And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external.
Now there comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked,[2] and at that time the external earth property vanishes. So when even in the external earth property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is 'I' or 'mine' or 'what I am'? It has here only a 'no.'
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Shonin » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:57 am

hgg wrote:Hi,

All that we can really, directly know of a "physical object" is what we actually experience. In a very real sense when the texts (suttas) talk about physical objects being impermanent, they are talking about how we experience them.


So, could it be that in reality outside our perception, matter is not in a state of arising
and passing away but in a state of a continuous change with no constant form?


When a phenomenon seems to 'come into being' it's really just that a graspable form or appearance begins to apply - of a human being for example. It doesn't come out of nothing and disappear into nothing. Nor, when you look deeply, does it not exist, then exist, then not exist. There is only a seamless and endless state of flux involving an effectively infinite number of causes and conditions. But under some conditions an arrangement of parts comes together and functions as a living human being, under those conditions the idea of a human being becomes applicable and we percieve a human being. We might think of it as if the human being came from nowhere, but that is the nature of our psychology not of nature.

When we don't hold onto these ideas so hard we can begin to see things as they are - a vast matrix of interdependence without beginning or end.
Last edited by Shonin on Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:59 am

Thank you for your help.
George.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby chownah » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:45 pm

hgg wrote:Hi,

.............. What I would like to know is,
what Buddha thought. ..............

Thoughts there are but no thinker can be found.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:54 pm

The impermanent nature of matter is confirmed by Physics. Atomic particles are in constant flux and according to Quantum Mechanics both exist and have no conventional existence at the same time... :shock:
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:06 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:The impermanent nature of matter is confirmed by Physics.


As described by its changing phase? :tongue: (Gas, liquid, and solid?) I think that's been known for quite a long time. Also... I think the definition of "matter" is still problematic in the physics. (Mass on the other hand has a definition that is generally accepted.)

Atomic particles are in constant flux and according to Quantum Mechanics both exist and have no conventional existence at the same time...


I don't think they quite say that in QM... at least not in these words. It's considered a paradox, AFAIK, and there are many different interpretations to try explain that. I don't really understand the QM stuff myself, anyway... (and I think it's unlikely that anyone in here does), so try to keep that in consideration when these kind of things are brought up in here.

Speaking of that... the Buddha himself (if I remember it correctly) said that it's not about "existence and non-existence"; it's not "existence and no non-existence"; it's not "non-existence and no existence"; and it's not "neither existence nor non-existence". He said these because none of these make up the Dhamma, the way I understand it.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:51 pm

beeblebrox wrote:I think it's unlikely that anyone in here does [understand quantum mechanics]
I have a Master's Degree in Physics and I know of another user here who is a physics lecturer.
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Re: Impermanency of Matter

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:10 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:I have a Master's Degree in Physics and I know of another user here who is a physics lecturer.


Cool, lol. I don't have any real education in physics (other than in high school, and wikipedia browsing). :geek:
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