Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby ground » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:06 am

Alex123 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.
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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".


"you should train yourself thus: In reference to the known, there will be only the known. In reference to the believed, only the believed."

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby pulga » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:40 am

I think the knotty point is that we conceive of rúpa by way of námarúpa. It's really a very nebulous concept. The Mahánidánasutta associates it with "resistance", so perhaps the only way we can get a sense of it is by abstracting it from the intractable nature of our experience and leaving it at that.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:13 am

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


Not really. Theravada is present-only and ksanikavada so rupas can only show up "now", with "now" being directly caused by the presence of a citta. On the other hand side rupas as vipaka are projected by citta which is also the quickfix Theravada uses for rupa-gods, to say that present rupa is caused by past citta.
As I said to retro already when u posit outside dharmas independent of mind you havet he problem of the base which has to be either permanent or impermanent or inexistent. If its permanent it contradicts the Buddhist anicca doctrine, if its inexistent then dharmas are not caused by anything and if its impermanent then you have to account for temporality apart from mentality which is a concept not existing in Buddhism since there is no temporality-dharma.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:12 pm

Hello Akuma,


In CMA for every one moment of rūpa, 16-17 processes of citta occur. So they are not totally equivalent.

Five sense objects are object Pre-nascence-condition (ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya) condition for 5 sense consciousness. They exist prior to consciousness.

Five sense objects are also Dissociation-condition (vippayutta-paccaya) from five sense for consciousness.

So they are not one and the same.
To sum up only few points:
1) Citta and rūpa last for different amount of time 17 cittas for 1 rūpa.
2) rūpa is Pre-nascence and Dissociation-condition for five sense consciousness
3) rūpa can exist without consciousness happening at that time. Ex: asaññasatta, saññāvedayitanirodha, dead body.


And again you have not answered how body can exist without consciousness (when one dies, or achieves cessation of perception & feelings, or mindless beings rebirth).
Akuma wrote:As I said to retro already when u posit outside dharmas independent of mind you havet he problem of the base which has to be either permanent or impermanent or inexistent. If its permanent it contradicts the Buddhist anicca doctrine, if its inexistent then dharmas are not caused by anything and if its impermanent then you have to account for temporality apart from mentality which is a concept not existing in Buddhism since there is no temporality-dharma.


External rūpa is impermanent and conditioned regardless of whether anyone knows it or not. No problem here.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:12 pm

Alex123 wrote: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

I'm interested in your statement that the suttas accept rupa independent of consciousness, mind or mentality....can you provide a link to the reference(s) that show this?

Also you say that external rupa is conditioned...does this mean that when conditions are right it arises and it does not arise when conditions are not right?....if not this then what does it mean?...

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:35 pm

chownah wrote:
Alex123 wrote: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

I'm interested in your statement that the suttas accept rupa independent of consciousness, mind or mentality....can you provide a link to the reference(s) that show this?


I just did in that quote from MN43, for example.

""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

Body can lie discarded & forsaken like a senseless log even without consciousness.

Also ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya and vippayutta-paccaya are taken from CMA pg 314 and 321 in edition that I have, and it is common knowledge.

In

Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419 it says this about Asaññasattā:
1017.... Asaññasattānaṃ devānaṃ upapattikkhaṇe eko khandho pātubhavati – rūpakkhandho; dve āyatanāni pātubhavanti – rūpāyatanaṃ, dhammāyatanaṃ; dve dhātuyo pātubhavanti – rūpadhātu, dhammadhātu; ekaṃ saccaṃ pātubhavati – dukkhasaccaṃ; ekindriyaṃ pātubhavati – rūpajīvitindriyaṃ. Asaññasattā devā ahetukā anāhārā aphassakā avedanakā asaññakā acetanakā acittakā pātubhavanti.

Please note that rūpakkhandho is present even though there are no mental things such as: vedana, sañña, cetana, citta.

So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind.

chownah wrote:Also you say that external rupa is conditioned...does this mean that when conditions are right it arises and it does not arise when conditions are not right?....if not this then what does it mean?...


Right. When there are sufficient causes, rūpa is produced
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Travis » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:06 pm

Just my opinion, but after reading through everything a couple of times and thinking on the things that people have said, which are very insightful, it seems to me that the (perhaps unsatisfying) answer to the question of "Is Buddhism Realist?" is that questions of existence and non-existence are in the end tied up in speculative views. This seems to be something we have to get used to letting go of, and not fall into into dispute over. Questions of the reality of something outside of experience seems to be putting aside the question of the fantasy or lack of reality within our experience. Not trying to be "that guy" or anything, I've just been thinking about this since the thread started, and this is the conclusion I have reached. I thought that I would share with you since you shared with me, and say thanks to all of you for helping me remember this.

Metta,
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:07 pm

In CMA for every one moment of rūpa, 16-17 processes of citta occur. So they are not totally equivalent.


Correct and this actually strengthens my point. The Atthassalini says time is mind. So the change of rupa is imposed on it due to cittas activities, the same goes for the maturation of past actions in present forms. You have to see that rupa can neither change itself due to the absence of cetana, manasikara, vicara etc. but that its also not hetu and its ahetuka (see Kathavatthu XVI).
It might also be relevant to note here that in Theravada rupa is not vipaka. Eventho the sense-bases for example are said to be vipaka its actually not the bases but the cittas who reflect / project these bases. Thats a very important point imo. (Ibid.)
Take cohesion for example. Cohesion is a rupa but it can neither change in any way nor can it interact with any other rupa. How should it? It does not have a spatial location, does not have a temporal lcoation, it does not have a direction, it does not have the attribute of being able to take an object and so on and so forth.
It follows that rupas can never show up without being the objects of cittas.

Five sense objects are object Pre-nascence-condition (ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya) condition for 5 sense consciousness. They exist prior to consciousness.


As said above Theravada is ksanikavada and present-only. Every transformation of both citta and rupa has to be explained therefore as a sequential, singular appearance of entities which necessarily have to build a continuum (santati) with the death of the earlier dharma directly conditioning the birth of the next dharma. So followingly rupas have to be in a citta-santati to have apparent causal efficacy.
In addition as said above the sense-bases are karmically produced, so they do have a mental cause.


3) rūpa can exist without consciousness happening at that time. Ex: asaññasatta, saññāvedayitanirodha, dead body.


Actually for example the Yogacarins have argumented, that - since Theravada is a present-only school - that it is impossible for an Arahant in Nirodha to come back from it, because the continuum is cut off. As far as I know this is a hole in Theravada philosophy. A bit earlier Nagarjuna argumented in a similar way [from the Sarvastivada pov] explaining that a past cause is an inexistent cause and therefore a non-cause. I am unaware out of my head if Theravada answered to this in a more elaborate way.

And again you have not answered how body can exist without consciousness (when one dies, or achieves cessation of perception & feelings, or mindless beings rebirth).


The latter I have explained given the standard "quickfix" which is admittably not logical - but thats how it is.
The second one and first one are misunderstandings I think on your part. "Dead body" is a sequence of smells, visibles and so on in another mind-stream. There is no indication that there is a dead body apart from mentality anywhere - why? Because if there would not be any consciousness then there would be no temporality or locality and followingly also no "dead body".
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:22 pm

Akuma wrote:. You have to see that rupa can neither change itself due to the absence of cetana, manasikara, vicara etc. but that its also not hetu and its ahetuka (see Kathavatthu XVI).


Are we talking about rūpa as one's body, or external rūpa that sense organs can receive?

Are you saying that external events such as weather, existence of planets, etc, is due to cetana, manasikara, vicara etc? What about the time (~4.5 billion years ago) when there wasn't anyone on this planet?

Akuma wrote:As said above Theravada is ksanikavada and present-only.


And what and how much does each moment contain?

There is Pre-nascence-condition (ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya), and since 5 sense objects come before 5 sense consciousness, it tells us that five sense consciousness does not create 5 sense objects.

Akuma wrote:It follows that rupas can never show up without being the objects of cittas.


In Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419 it does state that rūpakkhandho can exist without vedanā, saññā, cetanā and citta .

So aggregate of matter (rūpakkhandho) does not require mind to exist.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:05 pm

Greetings,

Travis wrote:Just my opinion, but after reading through everything a couple of times and thinking on the things that people have said, which are very insightful, it seems to me that the (perhaps unsatisfying) answer to the question of "Is Buddhism Realist?" is that questions of existence and non-existence are in the end tied up in speculative views. This seems to be something we have to get used to letting go of, and not fall into into dispute over. Questions of the reality of something outside of experience seems to be putting aside the question of the fantasy or lack of reality within our experience. Not trying to be "that guy" or anything, I've just been thinking about this since the thread started, and this is the conclusion I have reached. I thought that I would share with you since you shared with me, and say thanks to all of you for helping me remember this.

:anjali:

Well said.

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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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:25 am

There are some useful ideas here. I liked Travis' post, and also this early post from Prasadachitta:
Prasadachitta wrote:In my opinion Theravada is not realist. I think there is value in attending to objects with discernment as if they existed as the Abhidhamma instructs. I think it helps for becoming more lucid to the nature of that "existence". ... viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607#p147727

"Attending to objects", is, I think, the idea of using classifications: khandas, sense bases, elements, cittas, cetasikas, ... It seems to me that whether an individual is "realist" about such things has to do (as Prasadachitta notes) with the individual, not the "Theravada".

:anjali:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:03 am

Alex123 wrote:I just did in that quote from MN43, for example.

""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

Body can lie discarded & forsaken like a senseless log even without consciousness.

Also ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya and vippayutta-paccaya are taken from CMA pg 314 and 321 in edition that I have, and it is common knowledge.

In

Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419 it says this about Asaññasattā:
1017.... Asaññasattānaṃ devānaṃ upapattikkhaṇe eko khandho pātubhavati – rūpakkhandho; dve āyatanāni pātubhavanti – rūpāyatanaṃ, dhammāyatanaṃ; dve dhātuyo pātubhavanti – rūpadhātu, dhammadhātu; ekaṃ saccaṃ pātubhavati – dukkhasaccaṃ; ekindriyaṃ pātubhavati – rūpajīvitindriyaṃ. Asaññasattā devā ahetukā anāhārā aphassakā avedanakā asaññakā acetanakā acittakā pātubhavanti.

Please note that rūpakkhandho is present even though there are no mental things such as: vedana, sañña, cetana, citta.

So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind.

chownah wrote:Also you say that external rupa is conditioned...does this mean that when conditions are right it arises and it does not arise when conditions are not right?....if not this then what does it mean?...


Right. When there are sufficient causes, rūpa is produced

What is CMA?
I don't see how a dead body disintegrating shows that rupa can arise independent of consciousness...it seems to just mean that there can be rupa which does not give rise to the six senses.
I notice that you say that rupa is "produced" while I'm saying it "arises"....is there significance to your choice of "produced"....what I'm asking is are you saying that rupa does not "arise" but rather it is "produced"?
I looked around to find the conditions for the arising of rupa and found it in the Paticca Samuppada:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications 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 contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

Rupa is here called "form" which I have bolded. It seem that here is a sutta reference which says that rupa is dependent on consciousness to arise. Doesn't this mean that rupa is fabricated?....I'm not sure about this so I'm asking. Also...consciousness is dependent on fabrications...so through consciousness rupa is dependent on fabrications.....and fabrications are dependent on ignorance ...so through fabrications rupa is dependent on ignorance......I guess......to me this doesn't seem like it is describing a "physical world independent of consciousness"...or as it is often called the "real wold"...or the "external world"......to me this seem to support that what we think of as being the "real world" is fabaricated or at least depends on fabrications to arise...and I guess this puts it into "The All".......

It seems to me that there should be something out there like a real world which acts like some kind of substrate for all this to be going on.....but I really don't find evidence for it in the Buddha's teachings. The Buddha clearly stated that if its not in The All then it is beyond range. So...I'd like to find some evidence supporting the "real world " as somehow existing independently but so far the closest I can come is that knowing this is beyond range in that I can not think of a way to conclusively prove that it exists or not since all I have to make this determination are the six sense basis and they only have the ability to self reference...at least as far as I have been able to determine.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:07 am

Greetings,

CMA = AMCA = A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:05 am

I think that in considering what the Buddha thought about the "real world" that it benefits to read the Kalakalama Sutta. I found part of it in another thread:
-------------------------------------------------
Thus, monks, a Tathàgata does not conceive of a visible thing as apart from sight;
he does not conceive of an unseen; he does not conceive of a
'thing-worth-seeing'; he does not conceive of a seer.

He does not conceive of an audible thing as apart from hearing;
he does not conceive of an unheard; he does not conceive of a
'thing-worth-hearing'; he does not conceive about a hearer.

He does not conceive of a thing to be sensed as apart from
sensation; he does not conceive of an unsensed; he does not
conceive of a 'thing-worth-sensing'; he does not conceive about one
who senses.

He does not conceive of a cognizable thing as apart from
cognition; he does not conceive of an uncognized; he does not
conceive of a 'thing-worth-cognizing'; he does not conceive about
one who cognizes. -Kalakarama Sutta

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of suffering." -Ud 1.10

Insight Meditation as Taught by Nanananda Thera:
http://www.everythingspirals.com/files/ ... hrough.pdf
------------------------------------
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:28 am

Are we talking about rūpa as one's body, or external rūpa that sense organs can receive?


The primary and secondary elements.

Are you saying that external events such as weather, existence of planets, etc, is due to cetana, manasikara, vicara etc? What about the time (~4.5 billion years ago) when there wasn't anyone on this planet?


The sense-consciousnesses are vipakacittas so everything that is perceived is the result of cetana. And I say again there is no kala-dhamma.

And what and how much does each moment contain?


In Theravada normally a moment contains the arising, presence or passing of a citta accompanied by at least the universal cetasikas and projecting / reflecting at least the indivisible rupas.

There is Pre-nascence-condition (ārammaṇa purejāta paccaya), and since 5 sense objects come before 5 sense consciousness, it tells us that five sense consciousness does not create 5 sense objects.


Its the same object. Prenascence condition means that the rupa arises in the stream before the sense-consciousness because it needs to be in the state of presence (tithi) to be perceived by the vipakacitta. I think we might differ in oru interpretation of the length of a rupic moment. For me "the rupa has 16 or 17 moments" does not mean that it doesnt change for those amount of time because it gains intensity and looses intensity. So its actually 16 or 17 quantized states which can be thrown into existence in different combinations based on the four aharas. But the aharas themselves again are caused by craving.
Im sorry if I fail to make myself clear.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:51 am

chownah wrote:It seems to me that there should be something out there like a real world which acts like some kind of substrate for all this to be going on.....but I really don't find evidence for it in the Buddha's teachings. The Buddha clearly stated that if its not in The All then it is beyond range.


That's how it seems to me. I don't think the suttas are denying a "real world", but the focus is pragmatically on what we actually experience, ie the aggregates.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:08 pm

Akuma,

A straightforward reading of the suttas, Abh, CMA, etc, plus our experience does suggest unperceived rūpa to exist.


Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419 does say that rūpakkhandho is present even though there are no mental things such as: vedana, sañña, cetana, citta.
So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind.


With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:16 am

Alex123,
I found this link in another thread....
http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana24.htm
seems like it might support the view that there is a "real world"....maybe have a look and see if it provides something new...or maybe it is the same stuff you have been talking about and I've just missed it....
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby ground » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:33 am

I have known beforehand that there are Theravadins who hold a realist view.
But the question Is Theravada "Realist"? implies that there is an authority with reference to Theravada tenets. If this is so who/what is that authority?

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:20 am

Akuma,

A straightforward reading of the suttas, Abh, CMA, etc, plus our experience does suggest unperceived rūpa to exist.


First of all Theravada is an old philosophy that has quite a few holes. I pointed to one here which I dont know if you ralized it.
On the other hand side. You have to see that things dont "just exist". If they exist they exist somewhere, at some time and in dependence on other things. The latter is in Buddhism always just Patitiyasamutpada. I am aware that many Neobuddhists nowadays wish for Buddha to havetought also some sort of physicalist dependence but he didnt.
Secondly if things exist somewhere they exist in a space and have spatial location. But you cant find any sort of container-dharma in the Abhidharma - the result is that dharmas exist nowhere. If they exist nowhere and otu of themselves tho then you are in real trouble explaining how a past dharma can f.e. influence a present dharma because you cant establish a causal connection, especially since there is also no temporal dharma (last time I say this ;] ).
So if you come along and say "rupa exists [aside from mentality]" then you would for example have to admit that a Vipakacitta which is locationless and motionless would move towards a locationless and motionless pre-existing Rupa to experience it and so on.
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