Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby SDC » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:08 am

Alex123 wrote:The Buddha was clear when He defined rūpa:
"The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Four great elements have to exist for it to be called "rūpa".


I don't think it was intended to be understood that the elements are existing independent of a subject. But I am not saying that there is only the subject imagining all these objects.

These elements can be identified in experience. Whether it is something I am seeing in front of me right now or something I am imagining, those elements can be identified in that experience. That make sense to me, but that doesn't make it correct.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:18 am

“What is con­sid­ered the ‘truth’ is rel­a­tive to each indi­vid­ual. Each per­son gives evi­dence in the court of real­ity based on his own level of expe­ri­ence. For exam­ple, par­ents often give false expla­na­tions to their lit­tle chil­dren. But these are true to the kids. When asked, the kid will tell what his par­ents told him. It’s true for the child, but not for us. In the famous com­men­tar­ial story about Ven. Tissa Thera we find him see­ing a woman as a skele­ton, and say­ing so when asked by her hus­band. The ven­er­a­ble was closer to the truth.


"Truth is relative" is a powerful tool used by the sophists to prove validity of additional, their own views using rhetoric and logic.

Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration...Sophists are considered the founding fathers of relativism in the Western World... Notably, it was Protagoras who coined the phrase, "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not."...In a well known paraphrased dialogue with Socrates, Protagoras said: "What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativism


"The truth is one,[1] there is no second ..." - Snp 4.12

We could more correctly state that perceptions are relative, but not The Truth. Dhamma is true, adhamma is false.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:22 am

SDC wrote:
Alex123 wrote:The Buddha was clear when He defined rūpa:
"The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Four great elements have to exist for it to be called "rūpa".


I don't think it was intended to be understood that the elements are existing independent of a subject. But I am not saying that there is only the subject imagining all these objects.

These elements can be identified in experience. Whether it is something I am seeing in front of me right now or something I am imagining, those elements can be identified in that experience. That make sense to me, but that doesn't make it correct.


So if a subject doesn't truly exist, than who "imagines" or experiences all these objects?
Just the experience. But this experience has to be real.

Also, I think that we need to keep in mind that perception of an object, and object as the source (of experience, perception, etc) are different layers.

One can be mistaken about the truth, but it doesn't mean that mistake for that person is The Truth.

Truth is one, and wrong opinions about it are another.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:27 am

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:"The truth is one,[1] there is no second ..." - Snp 4.12

Do you know what word is being translated here as "truth"? Is it "Dhamma"?

If it is, I don't think there was any suggestion in those words of each person having a subjective Dhamma of their own. In fact, by saying "The ven­er­a­ble was closer to the truth" it is made quite clear that Relativism is not at play.

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: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby ground » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:59 am

I don't think that "truth" and "reality" are synonym. In my understanding applying the term "reality" (as argument) coincides with an absolute claim whereas "truth" is relative from the first place because every alleged "truth" is a contextual statement which can be validly called "truth" if there is proof.

Kind regards
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby SDC » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:06 am

Alex123 wrote:So if a subject doesn't truly exist, than who "imagines" or experiences all these objects?
Just the experience. But this experience has to be real.


It is real. It is happening. No denial of that at all. The experience of whatever (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking) is happening.

Alex123 wrote:One can be mistaken about the truth, but it doesn't mean that mistake for that person is The Truth.

Truth is one, and wrong opinions about it are another.


I couldn't agree more.

EDIT - I may be done for the night. This has been a great discussion so far. Take care, all. :smile:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:56 am

Alex123 wrote:What about state called cessation of perception and feelings (saññāvedayitanirodha)? The meditator's body doesn't vanish when his perception & feelings cease. This shows that matter (rūpa) can exist independent of one's perception and feelings.


But not presumably independent of consciousness?

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:00 am

Alex123 wrote:Also, I think that we need to keep in mind that perception of an object, and object as the source (of experience, perception, etc) are different layers.


Does it help to describe rupa as an appearance rather than as an object?

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:02 am

Prasadachitta wrote:What is ontological independence?



It wasn't my phrase, but I think ontological implies independence of an observer.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:04 am

Alex123 wrote: But this experience has to be real.



It certainly feels real.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:06 am

Nicro wrote:I was saying reality is our experience and what we experience would be reality. It then goes further because by saying what we experience is reality, we can't say if there is anything beyond what we experience. Experience = Reality= Experience.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby piotr » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:24 am

Hi retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:Do you know what word is being translated here as "truth"? Is it "Dhamma"?


Sacca.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:31 am

Greetings Piotr,

Thanks as always for your Pali contributions.

In what sense do you believe the word is being used in the quotation that Alex provided? Do you believe it supports his contention?

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: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:27 am

retrofuturist wrote:For readers, I have attached below what seem to be some pertinent highlights from the interview, as they relate to the question of "Is Theravada Realist?"... (actual quotes by Nanananda are in quotation marks, the rest are by the author)

Ven. Ñāṇananda has understood this deeper than most. All things are relational and merely established according to agreed upon conventions.

The Paradox of the Heap.

Far better to walk away from the whole language game, calm the mind, and then let go of even that.

:buddha1:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby pulga » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:02 pm

"I can paint A and I can paint B, and I can paint them both on the same canvas: I
cannot, however, paint the both, nor paint the A and the B" (from Husserl's Sixth Logical Investigation)

"...in order to discover the general it is only necessary to put two particulars together, and what they have in common will be the general. This, I think, is clear. But also we can put it in a different way: we can say that whenever two particulars are found together, they ipso facto reveal the general. This means that whenever we perceive a togetherness of particulars, we do so because we perceive what they have in common (though it may be difficult to say precisely what it is). Whenever we see two (or more) different things that nevertheless seem to belong to each other, we are at once entitled to turn the situation the other way round and say that we see one and the same more general thing presenting two different aspects.

If you have grasped this idea, you will see that it can be applied to perception of change. In perception of change, we have first A, and then B; but we must also have the 'belonging-togetherness' of A and B, otherwise we fail to connect A's disappearance and B's appearance and do not say that 'A has changed into B' or that 'A has become B'." (from Ved. Ñanavira's to Mr. Wijerama)

"We have seen that categorial perception is founded on sense perception but does
not reduce to it, and that categorial objectualities are founded on sensible objects but do not reduce to
them. Now, once categorial objectualities of this first level — like sets or relations
— are given to us, new categorial intuitions can be built on the corresponding categorial
intuitions of the first level, and in such categorial intuitions of the second level new categorial
objectualities of second level are constituted — eg, relations between sets, say bijections between sets, and also sets of
relations, sets of sets (as, eg, the power set of a given set), and so forth. In this way, repeating the process indefinitely, a hierarchy of categorial intuitions is obtained and a
corresponding hierarchy of categorial objectualities is given to us, so that in categorial intuitions
of the nth level categorial objectualities of the nth level are constituted." ( from Husserl or Frege?: meaning, objectivity, and mathematics by Claire Ortiz Hill, Guillermo E. Rosado Haddock

I find the last quote bears a striking resemblance to Ven. Ñanavira's Fundamental Structure.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:26 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:"The truth is one,[1] there is no second ..." - Snp 4.12

Do you know what word is being translated here as "truth"? Is it "Dhamma"?

If it is, I don't think there was any suggestion in those words of each person having a subjective Dhamma of their own. In fact, by saying "The ven­er­a­ble was closer to the truth" it is made quite clear that Relativism is not at play.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I believe it is this phrase:
"The truth (saccaṃ) is one,[1] there is no second ..."
888."Ekaṃ hi saccaṃ na dutiyamatthi"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... html#v.878
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:33 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Alex123 wrote:What about state called cessation of perception and feelings (saññāvedayitanirodha)? The meditator's body doesn't vanish when his perception & feelings cease. This shows that matter (rūpa) can exist independent of one's perception and feelings.

But not presumably independent of consciousness?
Spiny


rūpa can be independent of consciousness as well. This is basic Dhamma:

"Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye.
Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear.
Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises consciousness at the nose.
Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises consciousness at the tongue.
Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises consciousness at the body.
"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Please note that consciousness here is dependent on material (sense base and sense object). Also, consciousness is a product of material causes, not the other way around. Since consciousness is not the first cause, it doesn't determines The Truth.


Another interesting quote is:

"But sooner or later, bhikkhus, after the lapse of a long period, there comes a time when this world begins to expand once again. While the world is expanding, an empty palace of Brahmā appears. Then a certain being, due to the exhaustion of his life-span or the exhaustion of his merit, passes away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arises in the empty palace of Brahmā. There he dwells, mind made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long period of time."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

World can exist without any beings to percieve it.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Viscid » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:35 pm

Alex123 wrote: "Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye.
Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear.
Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises consciousness at the nose.
Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises consciousness at the tongue.
Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises consciousness at the body. "
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Please note that consciousness here is dependent on material (sense base and sense object). Also, consciousness is a product of material causes, not the other way around.


'Dependent on' does not mean 'to be a product of,' rather it describes nama-rupa and consciousness as being inter-dependent.

Loka Sutta wrote:Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' (loka) it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If a 'world' had an existence completely independent of observation, then why even speak of the sense bases when defining it?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:18 pm

Viscid wrote:'Dependent on' does not mean 'to be a product of,' rather it describes nama-rupa and consciousness as being inter-dependent.


Dependent on does show that consciousness is dependent on something, ex: sense organs and sense bases which structurally come first.

I wasn't talking about nāmarūpa. I was talking about dependence of consciousness on something, which shows that it is a product of certain causes rather than being some ultimate and causeless phenomenon.


Viscid wrote:
Loka Sutta wrote:Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' (loka) it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If a 'world' had an existence completely independent of observation, then why even speak of the sense bases when defining it?

[/quote]

Buddha talked about what can serve as basis for craving and resultant dukkha. Through interaction of sense bases and sense objects, consciousness is produced. Of course Buddha limited very much talk about things independent of experience because dukkha is experiential and its cessation is within experiential. Buddha was pragmatic teacher and focused on origination & cessation of dukkha. But what is recorded in the suttas does support existence of rūpa independent of nāma and viññāṇa.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby SDC » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:06 pm

Alex123 wrote:
rūpa can be independent of consciousness as well. This is basic Dhamma:

"Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye.
Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear.
Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises consciousness at the nose.
Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises consciousness at the tongue.
Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises consciousness at the body.
"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Please note that consciousness here is dependent on material (sense base and sense object). Also, consciousness is a product of material causes, not the other way around. Since consciousness is not the first cause, it doesn't determines The Truth.


I think this is just another breakdown of experience in order for it to be observed and understood properly in separate, specific ways. I don't see that it is confirming an objective reality.

If you or I believe in matter existing "outside of experience", we are believing in the validity of a concept (that we constructed) which represents all other possible concepts that we believe could eventually be formed. But since it is explicitly something "outside of experience" it will never be experienced, because once observed it would cease to "outside". It will not fit the criteria for that concept of matter "outside of experience". Defining it strictly as "outside experience" doesn't allow it to ever be anything, but a fantasy.

I think that makes sense. :thinking: :rolleye:
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