Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:13 pm

Greetings SDC,

It does to me - well said.

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 Nicro » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:14 pm

SDC wrote:
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:



Exactly.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:32 pm

SDC wrote: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:



If something happens without anyone knowing or experiencing it, does it mean that that thing doesn't exist simply because you haven't experienced it as it was occuring?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby SDC » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:59 pm

I think it's irrelevant to declare either way because if it's something we're not experiencing then we're just imagining what it would be like if we we're experiencing it.

Sorryy for the quick response, I'm on a train. :smile:

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby santa100 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:56 am

At least some level of "realism" will be needed to make sense of conventional phenomena. Else, our houses would cease to exist when we're sleeping or lost consciousness. Viruses and bacterias would never exist before the invention of the microscope. Neither did stars and galaxies before the invention of the telescope, etc...

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:01 am

Hello SDC,

My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta). Phenomena are anicca and anatta regardless of whether there is perception of it or not. So in at least this way Theravada is realist.
Also since it believes in mind independent rūpa, it is realist in that regard. Of course not in "naive realism", but realism nonetheless.


santa100 wrote:At least some level of "realism" will be needed to make sense of conventional phenomena. Else, our houses would cease to exist when we're sleeping or lost consciousness. Viruses and bacterias would never exist before the invention of the microscope. Neither did stars and galaxies before the invention of the telescope, etc...


Right. If a person drinks a tea that one thinks is healthy but is poisoned in reality, that person will still get poisoned. If one puts salt into one's tea thinking that one is putting sugar will still make the tea salty regardless of one's beliefs in what one is experiencing. Such kind of examples are many.

Of course I don't think that one should go into metaphysics beyond useful and pragmatic limit, but the reality independent of mind should not be totally denied.


With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby ground » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:23 am

Alex123 wrote:My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta).


If this were so how could there ever be liberation from dukkha? It would be utterly impossible.


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:24 am

Alex123 wrote:Of course I don't think that one should go into metaphysics beyond useful and pragmatic limit, but the reality independent of mind should not be totally denied.

At first I thought I understood this and then I realized I didn't....can you explain this a bit more. For instance...are you saying that the Buddha's teachings are metaphysics....or that some of them are and some are not? Are you saying that there is a realm where the Buddha's teachings do not apply? Can you give an examaple of "going into metaphysics beyond useful and pragmatic limit"?
I'm not trying to put any words into your mouth with what I have posted....these are just the thoughts which arose when pondering if I understood your statement or not.
chownah

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:48 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Friends, is Theravada Realist? If so, in what form?

To start with, here's a definition from our friends at Wikipedia...

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism
Realism, Realist or Realistic are terms that describe any manifestation of philosophical realism, the belief that reality exists independently of observers, whether in philosophy itself or in the applied arts and sciences. In this broad sense it is frequently contrasted with Idealism.



One of the more peculiar aspects of Buddhism is that if I hit you with my fist for example your pain is not due to my fists hitting you but due to your own karma. Also being hit-by-a-fist is of course no reality but your different streams of consciousness reflect different rupas one after another based on inversions of your own past intentions and those are then interpreted by you to be "fists that hit me".
You can see yourself that this is quite far from simple realism.
One could of course also argument against realism and say its either attavada or nonsensica because there is either a base or no-base.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby dreamov » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:25 am

Of course I don't think that one should go into metaphysics beyond useful and pragmatic limit, but the reality independent of mind should not be totally denied.


:goodpost:

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:00 am

TMingyur wrote:
Alex123 wrote:My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta).


If this were so how could there ever be liberation from dukkha? It would be utterly impossible.


Kind regards


If one takes the view that the 3 characteristics are inherent properties of conditioned existence, then logically liberation from dukkha would require liberation from conditioned existence.

Spiny

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:04 am

Alex123 wrote: Since consciousness is not the first cause, it doesn't determines The Truth.



That isn't the impression given in the first 2 verses of the Dhammapada.

Spiny

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:08 am

Alex123 wrote:Phenomena are anicca and anatta regardless of whether there is perception of it or not.


So are you suggesting a difference between dukkha as a characteristic which is experienced, and anicca and anatta as characteristics which somehow exist outside of experience?

Spiny

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby SDC » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:43 pm

I think it is possible to find the middle ground with this quote.

Alex123 wrote:My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta). Phenomena are anicca and anatta regardless of whether there is perception of it or not.


I think that we must accept the possibility that this is the case and then we should look to see if it is present in our own experience. Once again, if we accept it as something happening "regardless", then we run the risk of trapping that concept in obscurity.

EDIT - Spelling

EDIT #2 - To clarify the above statement: I think we must accept the possibility that impermanence, suffering and not-self may be a part of our experience, but that we can not yet see it as such.
Last edited by SDC on Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby ground » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:57 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
Alex123 wrote:My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta).


If this were so how could there ever be liberation from dukkha? It would be utterly impossible.


Kind regards


If one takes the view that the 3 characteristics are inherent properties of conditioned existence, then logically liberation from dukkha would require liberation from conditioned existence.

Spiny


Well yes, but conditioned existence is conditioned and not unconditioned as Alex123 seems to imply.

Kind regards

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:49 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Alex123 wrote:My understanding is that phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta regardless of whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta).

If this were so how could there ever be liberation from dukkha? It would be utterly impossible.
Kind regards


Nibbāna is not a thing and not dukkha, so liberation is possible. Also in that phrase I was careful to use "whether one knows about it or believes in wrong views".

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Phenomena are anicca and anatta regardless of whether there is perception of it or not.

So are you suggesting a difference between dukkha as a characteristic which is experienced, and anicca and anatta as characteristics which somehow exist outside of experience?
Spiny



Of course rocks do not experience dukkha, but still are anicca and anatta. Rocks that are not experienced in any way, are not experienced as dukkha either.


The world is impermanent regardless whether anyone perceives that or not. Without any consciousness, the physical world would still alter (anicca) and be anatta - there simply would not be anyone to know that.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Nori » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:44 am

I don't know what the case is but I think the Buddha has mentioned some ideas of some sort of interdependence of mental/citta phenomena (synonymous with consciousness?) and rupa/form phenomena. I don't understand it. It probably has to be experienced, no intellectualizing will make one understand.

Another idea comes from current science, which is the idea of quantum haze where again, 'physical' phenomena is interdependent upon mental phenomena.

---

SN 12.67
Nalakalapiyo Sutta: Sheaves of Reeds

"Now tell me, friend Sariputta: Is name-&-form self-made or other-made or both self-made & other-made, or — without self-making or other-making — does it arise spontaneously?"

"*It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that name-&-form is self-made*, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, *from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form*."

"Now tell me, friend Sariputta: is consciousness self-made or other-made or both self-made & other-made, or — without self-making or other-making, does it arise spontaneously?"

"It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that consciousness is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness."

"Just now, friend Sariputta, I understood your statement as, 'It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that name-&-form is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form' But then I understood your statement as, 'It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that consciousness is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously.' However, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.' Now how is the meaning of these statements to be understood?"

"Very well then, Kotthita my friend, I will give you an analogy; for there are cases where it is through the use of an analogy that intelligent people can understand the meaning of what is being said. It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name & form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes..."

---
SN 12.15
Kaccayanagotta Sutta

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:45 am

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:The world is impermanent regardless whether anyone perceives that or not. Without any consciousness, the physical world would still alter (anicca) and be anatta - there simply would not be anyone to know that.

Do you believe Theravada orthodoxy affirms the existence of a physical world (outside of loka, as defined by the Buddha) which is also possessed of (two or) three ti-lakkhana characteristics?

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 Alex123 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:54 am

Hi Retro, all,

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:The world is impermanent regardless whether anyone perceives that or not. Without any consciousness, the physical world would still alter (anicca) and be anatta - there simply would not be anyone to know that.

Do you believe Theravada orthodoxy affirms the existence of a physical world (outside of loka, as defined by the Buddha) which is also possessed of (two or) three ti-lakkhana characteristics?

Metta,
Retro. :)


As I understand it, Abhidhamma (or at least CMA that I've read) does accept rūpa independent of consciousness, mind or mentality.

Same in VsM and suttas. If there is one-consituent existence, called asaññasatta, (made only of rūpa), then it proves the possibility of rūpa without consciousness. Also one's body can exist (until it turns to dust and merges with the elements) even when there is no more consciousness in it.

""When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality, heat, & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log.""
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:00 am

Hello Nori,

Nori wrote:"*It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that name-&-form is self-made*, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, *from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form*."

"It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that consciousness is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness."



As I understand it, since D.O. starts with ignorance and ends with dukkha thus it deals more with experience than with ontological existence of the world. So it may not be the best choice for the ontological question about realism, existence of mind independent rūpa.
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