SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

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SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:24 pm

SN 22.95 PTS: S iii 140 CDB i 951
Phena Sutta: Foam
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


The Buddha invokes a series of vivid similes to illustrate the voidness of the five aggregates.

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Ayojjhans on the banks of the Ganges River. There he addressed the monks: "Monks, suppose that a large glob of foam were floating down this Ganges River, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a glob of foam? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any form that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in form?

"Now suppose that in the autumn — when it's raining in fat, heavy drops — a water bubble were to appear & disappear on the water, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a water bubble? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any feeling that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in feeling?

"Now suppose that in the last month of the hot season a mirage were shimmering, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a mirage? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any perception that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in perception?

"Now suppose that a man desiring heartwood, in quest of heartwood, seeking heartwood, were to go into a forest carrying a sharp ax. There he would see a large banana tree: straight, young, of enormous height. He would cut it at the root and, having cut it at the root, would chop off the top. Having chopped off the top, he would peel away the outer skin. Peeling away the outer skin, he wouldn't even find sapwood, to say nothing of heartwood. Then a man with good eyesight would see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a banana tree? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any fabrications that are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing them, observing them, & appropriately examining them — they would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in fabrications?

"Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. Through dispassion, he's released. With release there's the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Having said that, the One Well-Gone, the Teacher, said further:
Form is like a glob of foam; feeling, a bubble; perception, a mirage; fabrications, a banana tree; consciousness, a magic trick — this has been taught by the Kinsman of the Sun. However you observe them, appropriately examine them, they're empty, void to whoever sees them appropriately. Beginning with the body as taught by the One with profound discernment: when abandoned by three things — life, warmth, & consciousness — form is rejected, cast aside. When bereft of these it lies thrown away, senseless, a meal for others. That's the way it goes: it's a magic trick, an idiot's babbling. It's said to be a murderer.[1] No substance here is found. Thus a monk, persistence aroused, should view the aggregates by day & by night, mindful, alert; should discard all fetters; should make himself his own refuge; should live as if his head were on fire — in hopes of the state with no falling away.

Note

1. See SN 22.85. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:30 pm

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam
John D. Ireland


"At one time the Lord was staying at Ayojjhaaya on the bank of the river Ganges. There the Lord addressed the bhikkhus as follows: 'Suppose, bhikkhus, a large lump of froth was floating on this river Ganges and a clear-sighted man were to see it, observe it and properly examine it. Seeing it, observing it, properly examining it, it would appear to him to be empty (ritta), unsubstantial (tuccha), without essence (asaara). What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in a lump of froth?

"In the same way, bhikkhus, whatsoever body, past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, that a bhikkhu sees, observes and properly examines... it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in body?

"Suppose, bhikkhus, in autumn when it is raining in large drops a bubble arises and disappears on the water and a clear-sighted man were to see it, observe it and properly examine it. Seeing it, observing it, properly examining it, it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in a water-bubble?

"In the same way, bhikkhus, whatsoever feeling, past, future or present... that a bhikkhus sees, observes and properly examines... it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in feeling?

"Suppose, bhikkhus, in the last month of the hot season at midday a mirage appeared and a clear-sighted man were to see it, observe it and properly examine it. Seeing it, observing it, properly examining it, it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in a mirage?

"In the same way, bhikkhus, whatsoever perception... that a bhikkhu sees, observes and properly examines... it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in perception?

"Suppose, bhikkhus, a man, needing sound timber, going about seeking, looking for sound limber, and taking a sharp axe should enter a forest and there see a large plantain tree, straight-trunked, young, of great height. And he were to cut it down at the root. Having cut it down at the root he were to chop off the top and remove the outer skin. On removing the outer skin he would find no soft wood, not to speak of sound timber. Then a clear-sighted man were to see it, observe it and properly examine it. Seeing it, observing it, properly examining it, it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in a plantain tree?

"In the same way, bhikkhus, whatsoever mental activities... a bhikkhu sees, observes and properly examines... they would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in mental activities?

"Suppose, bhikkhus, a magician or a magician's assistant should produce an illusion on the high road and a clear-sighted man were to see it, observe it and properly examine it. Seeing it, observing it, properly examining it, it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in a magical illusion?

"In the same way, bhikkhus, whatsoever consciousness... a bhikkhu sees, observes and properly examines... it would appear to him to be empty, unsubstantial, without essence. What essence, bhikkhus, could there be in consciousness?

"So seeing, the instructed noble disciple is dispassionate towards the body, towards feeling, perception, mental activities and consciousness. Being dispassionate he detaches himself, being detached he is released and in release is the knowledge of being released and he knows: 'Finished is birth, lived is the holy life, done is what had to be done, there is no more of this or that state.'"

So spoke the Lord and when he had so spoken the Happy One, the Teacher, added further:

The body's like a lump of froth,
Feeling's like a water-bubble,
As a mirage is perception,
As a plantain tree are activities,
A magical illusion consciousness:
So the Kinsman of the AAdicca[66] did illustrate.

In whatever way it is observed
And properly examined,
Empty it is and unsubstantial,
To him who sees it wisely.

This body at the outset,
Was taught by him of wisdom wide,
When abandoned of three things
Is cast aside, rejected:
Life, warmth and consciousness,
When body is bereft of these,
Then thrown away it lies
Insentient, mere food for others.

Such is the fate of it,
A prattling illusion,
A murderer, it is called;
No essence here is found.

Thus should the aggregates be looked upon
By a bhikkhu of strong energy,
Continually both day and night,
Clearly aware and mindful.

Let him leave behind all fetters,
Make a refuge for himself and,
As though his head were all afire,
Act aspiring for the deathless state.

Notes:

[66] AAdiccabandhu, "Kinsman of the Sun," is another epithet of the Buddha and refers to his royal descent, but see also SN 56.38.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... passage-78
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:50 pm

Comments from Bhikku Bodhi (BB) and the Commentary (Spk).

Spk: One evening, which dwelling in that abode, the Blessed One came out from his fragrant cottage and sat down by the bank of the Ganges. He saw a great lump of foam coming downstream and thought, "I will give a Dhamma talk relating to the five aggregates". Then he addressed the Bhikkhus sitting around him.

BB: The sutta is one of the most radical discourses on the empty nature of conditioned phenomena; its imagery (especially the similes of the mirage and the magic illusion) has been taken up by later Buddhist thinkers, most persistently by the Madhyamikas. Some of the images are found elsewhere in the Pali Cannon, e.g.
Dhp 46 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Dhp 170 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

BB: In the context of early Buddhist thought these similes have to be handled with care. They are not intended to suggest an illusionist view of the world but to show that our conceptions of the world, and of our own existence, are largely distorted by the process of cognition. Just as the mirage and magical illusion are based on real existents---the sand of the desert, the magician's appurtenances---so these false conceptions arise from a base that objectively exists, namely, the five aggregates; but when seen through the mind subject to conceptual distortion, the aggregates appear in a way that deviates from their actual nature. Instead of being seen as transient and selfless, the appear as substantial and as a self.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:13 am

The Phena Sutta: A Lump of Foam is read aloud in normal speaking voice by Guy Armstrong:
http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/index.html#sn22.095

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:49 pm

Ven. Ñāṇananda, Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation:

    The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is 'rūpa saññā' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about 'sadda saññā'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage. To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending.


All the best,

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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:08 pm

Thanks Geoff.

Here are some more comments from Bhikkhu Bodhi and the Commentaries.

"... lump of foam ... For what substance could there be in form?"

BB: Spk explains at length how form (i.e. the body) is like a lump of foam (phenapinda). I give merely the highlights: as a lump of foam lacks any substance, so form lacks any substance that is permanent, stable, a self; as the lump of foam is full of holes and fissures and the abode of many creatures, so too form; as the lump of foam, after expanding, breaks up, so does form, which is pulverized in the mouth of death.



"... water bubble ... For what substance could there be in feeling?"

Spk: A bubble (bubbula) is feeble and cannot be grasped, for it breaks up as soon as it is seized; so too feeling is feeble and cannot be grasped as permanent and stable. As a bubble arises and ceases in a drop of water and does not last long, so too with feeling: 100,000 kotis of feelings arise and cease in the time of a fingersnap (one koti=10 million). As a bubble arises in dependence on conditions, so feeling arises in dependence on a sense base, and object, the defilements, and contact.



"... shimmering mirage ... For what substance could there be in perception?"

Spk: Perception is like a mirage (maricika) in the sense that it is insubstantial, for one cannot grasp a mirage to drink or bathe of fill a pitcher. As a mirage deceives the multitude, so does perception, which entices people with the idea that the colourful object is beautiful, pleasurable, and permanent.



"... large plantain tree, straight, fresh, without a fruit-bud core ... For what substance could there be in volitional formations?"

BB: The simile is used for a different purpose at
MN 35 http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/M ... /mn-35.htm
"Aggivessana, like a man, wandering in search of heartwood, would enter a forest with a dagger, seeing a tall, straight, new plantain tree he would cut its roots and top and felling it, would open up the sheaves, and would not come even to sapwood, so where is heartwood. In the same manner, Aggivessana, with your own dispute you being cross questioned, asked for reasons and we studying with you found you empty, useless and gone wrong."

Spk: As a plantain trunk (kadalikkhandha) is an assemblage of many sheaths, each with his own characteristic, so the aggregate of volitional formations is an assemblage of many phenomena, each with its own characteristic.



"... magical illusion ... For what substance could there be in conciousness?"

Spk: Conciousness is like a magical illusion (maya) in the sense that it is insubstantial and cannot be grasped. Conciousness is even more fleeting than a magical illusion. For it gives the impression that a person comes and goes, stands and sits, with the same mind, but the mind is different in each of these activities. Conciousness deceives the multitude like a magical illusion.

BB: For a modern parable illustrating the deceptive nature of conciousness, based on this simile, see Nanananda, The Magic of the Mind, pp. 5-7.
http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/file ... e_mind.pdf
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:26 pm

"When vitality, heat, and conciousness
Depart from the physical body,
Then it lies there case away:
Food for others, without volition."


BB: See MN 43, Spoken by Sariputta.
"When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality, heat, & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log."
I cannot trace a parallel spoken by the Buddha himself, but see
Dhp 41 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:37 pm

Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:Ven. Ñāṇananda, Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation:

    The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is 'rūpa saññā' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about 'sadda saññā'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage. To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending.


This bolded section seems strongly opposed to the Abhidhamma world-view, where not only are paramattha-dhammas not an illusion, they're deemed to be ultimate realities. Note, it's not their illusory nature that is deemed the ultimate-reality in the Abhidhamma schema, but it is the view of the very existence and reality of the dhammas themselves which is regarded as panna (wisdom) rather than delusion.

Such is the diversity of Theravada thought since the Buddha's enigmatic words.

"Look at the world and see its emptiness" (Sn 1119)

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:25 am

retrofuturist wrote:This bolded section seems strongly opposed to the Abhidhamma world-view, where not only are paramattha-dhammas not an illusion, they're deemed to be ultimate realities. Note, it's not their illusory nature that is deemed the ultimate-reality in the Abhidhamma schema, but it is the view of the very existence and reality of the dhammas themselves which is regarded as panna (wisdom) rather than delusion.

Indeed. Anyone who understands the forward sequence of dependent arising to be a diagnosis of deluded cognition, and how such delusion manifests, will no longer be able to ascribe to the notion that conditioned phenomena are "ultimate realities." A few more passages from the Nibbāna Sermons may help illustrate the difference with regard to view:

    Nibbāna Sermon 08

    An insight meditator, too, goes through a similar experience when he contemplates on name-and-form, seeing the four elements as empty and void of essence, which will give him at least an iota of the conviction that this drama of existence is empty and insubstantial. He will realize that, as in the case of the dumb show, he is involved with things that do not really exist. This amounts to an understanding that the factors of the name group are dependent on the form group, and vice versa.

    Seeing the reciprocal relationship between name-and-form, he is disinclined to dabble in concepts or gulp down a dose of prescriptions. If form is dependent on name, and name is dependent on form, both are void of essence. What is essential here, is the very understanding of essencelessness. If one sits down to draw up lists of concepts and prescribe them, it would only lead to a mental constipation. Instead of release there will be entanglement. Such a predicament is not unlikely.


    Nibbāna Sermon 14

    This is something extremely wonderful about the arahant. He realizes the cessation of existence in his attainment to the fruit of arahant-hood. How does he come to realize the cessation of existence? Craving is extinct in him, hence there is no grasping. Where there is no grasping, there is no existence. Because there is no existence, birth, decay and death, along with sorrow and lamentation, cease altogether.

    From the foregoing we could well infer that all those concepts like birth, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair, come about as a result of a heap of pervert perceptions, pervert thoughts and pervert views, based on the conceit of an existence, the conceit 'am'.

    These three kinds of perversions known as saññāvipallāsa, cittavipallāsa and diṭṭhivipallāsa give rise to a mass of concepts of an imaginary nature. The entire mass of suffering, summed up by the terms birth, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair, are basically of a mental origin....

    [Sn 1055-1056, Mettagūmāṇavapucchā Sutta:]

    "Whatever you may know to be
    Above, below and across in the middle,
    Dispel the delight and the tendency to dwell in them,
    Then your consciousness will not remain in existence.
    A monk, endowed with understanding,
    Thus dwelling mindful and heedful,
    As he fares along giving up all possessions,
    Would abandon even here and now
    Birth, decay, sorrow, lamentation and suffering."

    The word idh'eva occurring in the second verse is highly significant, in that it means the abandonment of all those things here and now, not leaving it for an existence to come. In the Mahāviyūhasutta of the Sutta Nipāta also a similar emphasis is laid on this idea of 'here and now'. About the arahant it is said that he has no death or birth here and now -- cutūpapāto idha yassa natthi, "to whom, even here, there is no death or birth". In this very world he has transcended them by making those two concepts meaningless....

    Existence is a conceit deep rooted in the mind, which gives rise to a heap of pervert notions. Its cessation, therefore, has also to be accomplished in the mind and by the mind.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby pulga » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:22 pm

Nibbāna Sermon 08

"An insight meditator, too, goes through a similar experience when he contemplates on name-and-form, seeing the four elements as empty and void of essence, which will give him at least an iota of the conviction that this drama of existence is empty and insubstantial. He will realize that, as in the case of the dumb show, he is involved with things that do not really exist. This amounts to an understanding that the factors of the name group are dependent on the form group, and vice versa."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Thought and lust are a man’s sensuality,
Not the various things in the world;
Thought and lust are a man’s sensuality,
The various things just stand there in the world;
But the wise get rid of desire therein.

- A.VI 63/iii, 411

In light of the Kevaddhasutta it seems to me that rúpa is independent of náma, thus the facticity that is inherent in experience that the Buddha refers to in the Anattalakkhanasutta:

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...

"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.'..."

— SN 22.59

I realize of course that the Ven. Ñanananda may have been speaking loosely, not wanting to go into the ontological subtlties of the nature of rúpa.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:43 pm

Greetings Pulga,

pulga wrote:In light of the Kevaddhasutta it seems to me that rúpa is independent of náma

...

I realize of course that the Ven. Ñanananda may have been speaking loosely, not wanting to go into the ontological subtlties of the nature of rúpa.

The assumption underpinning your line of inquiry is that rúpa, in the context of nama-rupa, is an ontological proposition, i.e. it is physical matter. Or in other words, it is a "body" that complements a "mind".

On the other hand, I would suggest that since the rúpa (form) in the context of dependent origination is dependent on ignorance, consciousness and formations.... it is actually a product of unenlightened cognition, and is therefore not a designation of physical material and certainly not a designation of "the various things [that] just stand there in the world". With the cessation of avijja comes the cessation of nama-rupa.

In the context of the five aggregates rúpa may well mean something different, but it still compared in the Phena Sutta to a lump of foam, void of substance. What ontological subtleties do you think apply to something that is void of substance?

Thus, Ven. Ñanananda is not speaking loosely, but speaking in the context of dependent origination, and the arising of nama-rupa dependent on certain factors.

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:Ven. Ñāṇananda, Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation:

    The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is 'rūpa saññā' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about 'sadda saññā'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage. To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending.


This bolded section seems strongly opposed to the Abhidhamma world-view, where not only are paramattha-dhammas not an illusion, they're deemed to be ultimate realities. Note, it's not their illusory nature that is deemed the ultimate-reality in the Abhidhamma schema, but it is the view of the very existence and reality of the dhammas themselves which is regarded as panna (wisdom) rather than delusion.

Such is the diversity of Theravada thought since the Buddha's enigmatic words.

"Look at the world and see its emptiness" (Sn 1119)

However, Bhikkhu Nananada seems very careful to not posit the extreme view that there is no underlying reality, just as the similes of the magic show, etc, do not deny the underlying reality of the magician and his props. It seems to me that the interesting question he raises is at which level the magic show ceases, whether the khandhas are the illusion or the underlying reality. And whether such analysis has any impact on how one approaches meditative practise is not completely clear to me. However, you analyse it, the meditative instructions, to see experientially beyond the illusion, appear to be the same.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:48 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:However, Bhikkhu Nananada seems very careful to not posit the extreme view that there is no underlying reality, just as the similes of the magic show, etc, do not deny the underlying reality of the magician and his props.

Indeed, because such a rejection would extend beyond the loka of his experience, and would therefore be an unsupportable speculative view on his behalf. As it's neither his experience, nor the words/experience of his teacher (i.e. the Buddha), it would be inappropriate for him to state it as Dhamma.

mikenz66 wrote:It seems to me that the interesting question he raises is at which level the magic show ceases, whether the khandhas are the illusion or the underlying reality.

How are you contrasting here between khandas and "the underlying reality"? Underlying from what perspective?

mikenz66 wrote:And whether such analysis has any impact on how one approaches meditative practise is not completely clear to me. However, you analyse it, the meditative instructions, to see experientially beyond the illusion, appear to be the same.

Returning to the formula defined in the Phena Sutta...

"...a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any [khanda] that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance..."

The only thing a monk can observe is the khandas, they cannot experience anything outside of them. So the impact on meditative practice is that the monk correctly understands what they are experiencing is experience (i.e. the five khandas, loka) and should not inappropriately examine it as some kind of "objective reality" that lies outside the five khandas. That would be an erroneous, conceptual overlay, and would be a case of inappropriately examining what was being observed.

"Thus a monk, persistence aroused, should view the aggregates by day & by night, mindful, alert".

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby alan » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:21 am

I'd agree. Loka is defined in terms of the khandas in the Suttas, never as anything else.
I'm sure you are all familiar with this onehttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.023.than.html

Easy to forget but critical.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:23 am

Greetings,

As linked to by Alan above...

"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. 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."

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby alan » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:50 am

Thanks Retro, and thanks Mike for choosing this most excellent and interesting Sutta for discussion.
One of the reasons I have come to consider Nanananda as a brilliant teacher is his ability to cut through the "conceptual overlays" we inevitably place upon our experience, and point out in clear, precise language why doing so creates unneeded suffering.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:And whether such analysis has any impact on how one approaches meditative practise is not completely clear to me. However, you analyse it, the meditative instructions, to see experientially beyond the illusion, appear to be the same.

Returning to the formula defined in the Phena Sutta...

"...a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any [khanda] that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance..."

The only thing a monk can observe is the khandas, they cannot experience anything outside of them. So the impact on meditative practice is that the monk correctly understands what they are experiencing is experience (i.e. the five khandas, loka) and should not inappropriately examine it as some kind of "objective reality" that lies outside the five khandas. That would be an erroneous, conceptual overlay, and would be a case of inappropriately examining what was being observed.

Sure, that's what I consider the normal meditation instructions. Nothing I've read from Bhikkhu Nananada changes that.

What I'm saying is that my impression is that any assertion that nothing in the khandhas is real would be completely misguided. It seems to me that the point is to get to the bottom of the illusion, not to try to use logical analysis to try to figure out what is or is not illusory before you actually see clearly.

At least, that's how I understand the "magic show" and other similes.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:25 pm

mikenz66 wrote:What I'm saying is that my impression is that any assertion that nothing in the khandhas is real would be completely misguided.

"Reality" is a relative notion, the value of which depends entirely upon the significance one ascribes to the objects, contents, or processes of perception.

mikenz66 wrote:It seems to me that the point is to get to the bottom of the illusion

I'd suggest that the point is to see the illusion clearly for what it is, and in this way proceed to abandon all infatuation and distress regarding its manifold colorful and dramatic representations.

All the best,

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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:50 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:It seems to me that the point is to get to the bottom of the illusion

I'd suggest that the point is to see the illusion clearly for what it is, and in this way proceed to abandon all infatuation and distress regarding its manifold colorful and dramatic representations.

Yes, that's a great way to put it.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby alan » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:02 am

Sure, that's a nice way to put it, but I'm still left slightly unsatisfied.
Reality is a relative notion? Seems to contradict suttas that proclaim the Dhamma as timeless.
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