four imaginary characteristic functions

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Re: four imaginary characteristic functions

Postby robertk » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:16 pm

"'The perception of not-self in what is stressful, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: four imaginary characteristic functions

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:27 pm

robertk wrote:"'The perception of not-self in what is stressful, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
However, that does not really address what I said here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=19382#p271577 or here viewtopic.php?f=19&t=19382#p271678 .
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: four imaginary characteristic functions

Postby Sylvester » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:18 am

sphairos wrote:
Mkoll wrote: The message is quite clear: thinking about the self whether past, present, or future is inappropriate attention.


Dear Mkoll,

I totally agree that these are great quotes, but I'd like to note, perhaps, correct you, that the message is: thinking about the self or absence of self whether past, present, or future is inappropriate attention.

And what is meant of course is not "ordinary sense" self.



That's odd. If you're thinking of the situations enumerated in MN 2, perhaps the problem lies in the translation. You can compare Ven T's translation -

As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.


versus the MLDB translation -

When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him. The view ‘self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘no self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive not-self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with not-self’ arises in him as true and established; or else he has some such view as this: ‘It is this self of mine that speaks and feels and experiences here and there the result of good and bad actions; but this self of mine is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and it will endure as long as eternity.’ This speculative view, bhikkhus, is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. Fettered by the fetter of views, the untaught ordinary person is not freed from birth, aging, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain grief, and despair; he is not freed from suffering, I say.


It does not come through in Ven T's translation of natthi me attā, but the MLDB rendition makes it clear that the problem is not in the "no-self" view per se. The problem lies not in the abstract view about the absence of attā, but in the view about the absence of attā for the hypostatised and self-identified me.

Leaving aside the Buddha's rather explicit denial of the existence of attā in MN 22, you have another sutta which clarifies how this subtle appropriation is manifest in just the linguistic markers employed by the thinker. See SN 22.55 and my previous post on it -

There is very interesting sutta in SN 22.55 that would explain the Buddha's reluctance to deal with Vacchagotta's question on post-mortem non-existence, on the ground that it is too closely allied to the nihilists' position if He had replied in the affirmative to the question.

According to SN 22.81, the nihilists take the position -

He may not regard form as self … or hold such an (eternalist) view, but he holds such a view as this: ‘I might not be, and it might not be for me; I will not be, (and) it will not be for me.’ That annihilationist view is a construction….

Na heva kho rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, na vedanaṃ … na saññaṃ… na saṅkhāre… na viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati; nāpi evaṃdiṭṭhi hoti – ‘so attā so loko, so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo’ti. ca kho evaṃdiṭṭhi hoti – ‘no cassaṃ no ca me siyā na bhavissāmi' na me bhavissati’ti. Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, ucchedadiṭṭhi saṅkhāro so.



Central to the nihilistic position is the bold text.

On the other hand, the Buddha takes the nihilist thesis and makes a subtle, but significant switch in SN 22.55 as follows -

No c’assa no ca me siyā , na bhavissati na me bhavissati

“‘It might not be, and it might not be for me; it will not be, (and) there will not be for me



According to SN 22.55, resolving in such a manner leads to the abandoning of the lower fetters. So how is the ariyan conception different from the nihilistic one?

The nihilistic position is premised on the verb bhavissāmi actually having a self-referent, since it is in the 1st person singular. This leads to the translation "I will not be". On the other hand, the ariyan version uses the verb bhavissati, which is in the 3rd person singular. In such usage, it takes on an abstract/process oriented conception shorn of self-view, leading to the translation "It will not be".

The concern that the ariyan version could be easily mistaken for the nihilist version is suggested in SN 22.55 -

Here, bhikkhu, the uninstructed worldling becomes frightened over an unfrightening matter. For this is frightening to the uninstructed worldling: ‘If there were not, there would not be for me; there will not be, (so) there will not be for me.’



BB has a fulsome discussion on this sutta. I follow BB is using the Ceylonese variant reading and not using the Burmese reading of SN 22.55 as its "no cassaṃ, no ca me siyā, nābhavissa, na me bhavissatī" appears to have suffered a textual loss.



viewtopic.php?f=16&t=14502&p=215021#p215021

As is the problem with reading English translations, the natthi me attā view in MN 2 is typically understood to stand for present time, on the basis that natthi is in the present tense. Clearly, in the Pali, the present tense construction is also used to indicate the future (see Warder, pp.12-13), and this coincides very neatly with the Annihilationist's view "no cassaṃ no ca me siyā na bhavissāmi' na me bhavissati", where cassam is the optative of ca which is used for forward-looking statements.
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Re: four imaginary characteristic functions

Postby sphairos » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:51 am

Dear Sylvester,

As I know Pāli and Sanskrit, I don't need any translations.

Uccheda-diṭṭhi and sassata-diṭṭhi and the early Buddhist problem of self are well-studied (Jayatilleke, Collins, Oetke, Bronkhorst etc.)

"Oetke comes to the conclusion that the idea that early Buddhism rejects the existence of a subject underlying experiences and states of consciousness, rests on an extremely feeble basis (p.152). But nor did early Buddhism accept the existence of a substance that carries these mental states. Oetke's analysis brings some equilibrium in a field of research where rather extreme positions have been confronting each other..."
(Bronkhorst, WZKS, 1989, 33)

Those diṭṭhis are clearly defined in the Pāli texts:

"Sabbam atthi’ti kho, Kaccana, ayameko anto. ‘Sabbam natthi’ti ayam dutiyo anto". (also "atthitañ c'eva natthitañ ca", existence and non-existence (SN 12. 15))

""All exists", Kaccana, this is one exteme. "Nothing exists", this is second extreme".

Uccheda-diṭṭhi also encompasses vibhavadiṭṭhi (and so sassata-diṭṭhi encompasses bhavadiṭṭhi)

etc.

See also below.

Your argument concerning "bhavissati" makes no sense to me, because there still is "me (bhavissati)" = "I", "for me" etc. Also I suppose that it is simply a typo (there should be "na bhavissāmi" and "na bhavissati me")

Dear Sylvester, here

"Clearly, in the Pali, the present tense construction is also used to indicate the future (see Warder, pp.12-13), and this coincides very neatly with the Annihilationist's view "no cassaṃ no ca me siyā na bhavissāmi' na me bhavissati", where cassam is the optative of ca which is used for forward-looking statements".

I'd like to ask: do you know Pāli?

Because there is no verb/verb root *ca in the Pāli canon (as well as in Sanskrit), and "cassaṃ" is just a conjunctive "ca" + first person singular optative form of the verb "asti"/atthi" (root "as"), and the presentation of your argument suggests that you don't understand this.

Of course, in all great historical languages (Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Babylonian etc.) the present tense can mean many things: past as well as future (and also perfect, imperfect etc). But it's not the case with the verb "atthi".

It seems that you don't know that there is a huge difference between hoti/bhavati and asti/atthi in Pāli as well as in Sanskrit texts.

As Warder put it: "Thus siya is used quite frequently in philosophical discourse to assert a possibility, in contrast to the categorical atthi and n'atthi". (Lesson 14, p .98)

"Atthi" and "n'atthi" are categorical philosophical statements based on the static root *as ("asti/atthi"), which is the opposite to the dynamic *bhū ("hoti/bhavati"). "Atthi" and "n'atthi" never mean anything "future" in Pāli texts. For instance: "'natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi paro loko" ("'this world does not exist, the next world does not exist" (K.N. Jayatilleke's transl., D. I.55).

See also Fuller's arguments and Gethin's rendering:
"Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I
be in the future? How will I be in the future?' Or he is uncertain about
himself in the present, 'Do I exist? Do I not exist? What am I? How am
I? From where has this being come, and where will it go?' To one reflecting
inappropriately in this way one of six views occurs. The definite and
firm view arises, 'I have a self' or, 'I do not have a self' or, 'By the self
I perceive what is self' or",
R. Gethin, Foundations of Buddhism. 1998, p. 149.

"To one reflecting inappropriately in this way one of six views occurs.
The view:
View 1: ‘I have a self’ arises firmly as the truth.
View 2: ‘I do not have a self’ arises firmly as the truth.
View 3: ‘By the self I perceive what is self’ arises firmly as the truth.
View 4: ‘By the self I perceive what is not self’ arises firmly as the truth.
View 5: ‘By what is not self I perceive what is not self’ arises firmly as
the truth."
<...>
As I suggested in the Introduction, wrong-views, expressed by the ideas of
uccheda and sassata-dihi, were considered in the early texts, to be particularly
destructive. These classifications have already been met in the discussion of
sakkāya-dihi. One explanation of these two views is the following from the
Sammohavinodanī:

"To state that, ‘I have a self’ (atthi me attā vā) is the view of eternalism
(sassata-diṭṭhi) which assumes the existence of a self at all times. However,
to state ‘I have no self’ (n’ atthi me attā) is the view of annihilationism
(uccheda-diṭṭhi) because it assumes the annihilation of an existing being".136

This suggests that the view ‘there is no self’ is as much a wrong-view as the
view ‘there is a self’.
To posit or deny a self are wrong-views. To say that right view
is the understanding of anattā is quite different".
P. Fuller. Notion of diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism. 2005. pp. 33, 38.

Also, I suppose that it is a "cosmological attā" which is a "hypostatised" thing, not the common sense "I-ness".

As for Alagaddūpama, I think it is clear, that it is concerned with the brahmanic eternal divine self, of which the Buddha clearly disapproves.

So there is nothing "odd" here.

But, still, despite everything, we all got to have a self-respect, as the Buddha says:

‘‘yāvakīvañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhū... hirimanā bhavissanti..., vuddhiyeva, bhikkhave, bhikkhūnaṃ pāṭikaṅkhā, no parihāni (Mahāparinibbānasutta, 139, Thai edition)

"Monks, as long as monks continue to have... self-respect... then they can be expected to prosper, not to decline". ;) (Gethin's curious translation)
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Re: four imaginary characteristic functions

Postby Sylvester » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:50 am

Thank you sphairos for your lengthy reply. If you will indulge me, perhaps there can be a discussion of the following points -


sphairos wrote:Your argument concerning "bhavissati" makes no sense to me, because there still is "me (bhavissati)" = "I", "for me" etc. Also I suppose that it is simply a typo (there should be "na bhavissāmi" and "na bhavissati me")


I'm not sure where you see the typo in - my transcription of the nihilist maxim or my choice of the variant reading. BB in his SN notes that there are variant readings for this maxim. You can compare the 3 different versions in SLTP's source for SN 22.55 (no cassaṃ, no ca me siyā, na bhavissati, na me bhavissatīti ), AN.10.29 (no cassaṃ, no ca me siyā, na bhavissāmi, na me bhavissantīti ) and the Sixth Council edition for SN 22.55 and its Comy (no cassaṃ, no ca me siyā, nābhavissa, na me bhavissatī’ti ). The version I've chosen to use (following BB) presupposes that the SLTP version of AN 10.29 is the correct one. But yes, the Ariyan version is still tainted somewhat by the referent "me", even if the 1st person verb bhavissāmi has been replaced by the 3rd person bhavissantī. That, I suppose, is why it leads only to Non-Return, due to the residual clinging. One then looks to MN 106 for what happens at this cross-road.


"Clearly, in the Pali, the present tense construction is also used to indicate the future (see Warder, pp.12-13), and this coincides very neatly with the Annihilationist's view "no cassaṃ no ca me siyā na bhavissāmi' na me bhavissati", where cassam is the optative of ca which is used for forward-looking statements".


I'd like to ask: do you know Pāli?

Because there is no verb/verb root *ca in the Pāli canon (as well as in Sanskrit), and "cassaṃ" is just a conjunctive "ca" + first person singular optative form of the verb "asti"/atthi" (root "as"), and the presentation of your argument suggests that you don't understand this.



My bad. I keep repeating this silly parsing, when assa is the optative of hoti, as Warder explains in p.87. Why do you say that cassa is the optative of asti/atthi? I thought that was reserved for siyā ?


"Atthi" and "n'atthi" are categorical philosophical statements based on the static root *as ("asti/atthi"), which is the opposite to the dynamic *bhū ("hoti/bhavati"). "Atthi" and "n'atthi" never mean anything "future" in Pāli texts. For instance: "'natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi paro loko" ("'this world does not exist, the next world does not exist" (K.N. Jayatilleke's transl., D. I.55).


I'm not so sure if the first proposition is absolutely correct. I'm given to understand that if the asti/atthi verbs are placed in front of the noun, the syntax can suggest a philosophical/metaphysical statement (such as the ayaṃ loko statement above). If the asti/atthi verb is placed after the noun, then the syntax suggests a garden variety statement that something is present. However, this rule is not invariable, as you have cases of word order where the asti/atthi verbs precede the noun with no philosophical nuance intended, eg atthi me ajjhattaṃ kāmacchando'ti pajānāti (he sees, "There is sensual desire present within me"). The root √as may suggest staticity, but does the actual usage of atthi preclude anything other than present time? What about its present participle santa inflected into sati in the idappaccayatā formula? That does not seem to have any temporal value whatsoever, according to Wijesekara at p.238 of his "Syntax of the Cases in the Pali Nikayas".

As for the 2nd proposition involving paro loko, I'm not that sure that the atthi verb is functioning as a static temporal indicator of the present. The standard formula in which this view is expressed is this -

natthi dinnaṃ natthi yiṭṭhaṃ, natthi hutaṃ, natthi sukaṭadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ phalaṃ vipāko, natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi paro loko, natthi mātā, natthi pitā, natthi sattā opapātikā, natthi loke samaṇabrāmhaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lokaṃ parañca lokaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentīti.

There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves.


Isn't that a forward-looking statement, even if expressed in the present tense?


As I suggested in the Introduction, wrong-views, expressed by the ideas of
uccheda and sassata-dihi, were considered in the early texts, to be particularly
destructive. These classifications have already been met in the discussion of
sakkāya-dihi. One explanation of these two views is the following from the
Sammohavinodanī:

"To state that, ‘I have a self’ (atthi me attā vā) is the view of eternalism
(sassata-diṭṭhi) which assumes the existence of a self at all times. However,
to state ‘I have no self’ (n’ atthi me attā) is the view of annihilationism
(uccheda-diṭṭhi) because it assumes the annihilation of an existing being".136

This suggests that the view ‘there is no self’ is as much a wrong-view as the
view ‘there is a self’.
To posit or deny a self are wrong-views. To say that right view
is the understanding of anattā is quite different".
P. Fuller. Notion of diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism. 2005. pp. 33, 38.


This now turns on whether or not Fuller is correct to equate an abstract negation of Self (n'atthi attā) to an negation to Self with reference to I/me/mine (n’atthi me attā). I don't think it's plausible to sweep the referent "me" under the carpet and pretend it has no function whatsoever. The Comy does not seem to think so, as shown in this passage that follows what Fuller quoted -

paccuppannameva atthīti gaṇhanto ucchedadiṭṭhi

[with] the view "truly existing, exists", there is a taking-up of Annihilationism


The position being addressed by the Comy, it seems to me, is for a view to qualify as ucchedadiṭṭhi, one must first take the position that something exists, and that "thing" can only be the attā posited by the Eternalists.


Which brings me to your view on SN 12.15 -

Those diṭṭhis are clearly defined in the Pāli texts:

"Sabbam atthi’ti kho, Kaccana, ayameko anto. ‘Sabbam natthi’ti ayam dutiyo anto". (also "atthitañ c'eva natthitañ ca", existence and non-existence (SN 12. 15))

""All exists", Kaccana, this is one exteme. "Nothing exists", this is second extreme".


Here, you suggest that the word sabbaṃ should be read as indefinite pronouns. Is this an attested feature of Pali? If the Buddha were taking an anti-ontological stance, won't that contradict His advice elsewhere (eg AN 10.22) to know in terms of atthi and n'atthi? Is it not far easier to just acknowledge that the use of the accusative case here is to denote a name (see eg AN 10.94 where the accusative inflection of the attainments are clearly a listing of names). Elsewhere, in SN 35.23, sabbaṃ again turns up and there is no doubt that it is functioning as a name (The All), rather than indefinite pronouns.

This debate recorded in SN 12.15 is in fact attested to in the pre-Buddhist Chandogya Upanisad, where the cosmogony of Sarvaṁ (The All) being either Existence (Sat) or Non-Existence (Asat) is discussed (sorry, I don't have the CU citation right now). I have little doubt that in SN 12.15, the Buddha was poking at the Upanisadic Sarvaṁ. Some earlier thoughts here - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16246&start=20#p233618


As for Alagaddūpama, I think it is clear, that it is concerned with the brahmanic eternal divine self, of which the Buddha clearly disapproves.


Hmm, I thought the Buddha disapproved of loads of other Self-theories. See DN 15 for a sample of the range.



But, still, despite everything, we all got to have a self-respect, as the Buddha says:

‘‘yāvakīvañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhū... hirimanā bhavissanti..., vuddhiyeva, bhikkhave, bhikkhūnaṃ pāṭikaṅkhā, no parihāni (Mahāparinibbānasutta, 139, Thai edition)

"Monks, as long as monks continue to have... self-respect... then they can be expected to prosper, not to decline". ;) (Gethin's curious translation)


I would not read too much in Gethin's insertion of "self" there; it looks to me that he is using it in the sense that is close to a reflexive pronoun.
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