Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:00 am

Alex123 wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote: So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind, and there can be factors that are not experienced.

Do you mean by "mind' citta-sankhara?
DL :heart:


Four mental aggregates. Or we could simply call it citta.

How do you interpret that statement from Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607&p=150779#p150747

Thanks. I'd have to see in English to interpret it.
DL
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:02 am

Alex123 wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote:...there can be factors that are not experienced.

Hi Alex123,
1. Which/what kind of factors?
2. What is it that is not experiencing?
DL :heart:


According to the Vibhaṅgapāḷi , for example:
Such as Form aggregate (rūpakkhandho),form sphere (rūpāyatanaṃ), Form Element (rūpadhātu), and life faculty (rūpajīvitindriyaṃ) for example.

Absence of experience is absence of experience. Absence is not itself presence.
This (the red words) is a very good point.
DL
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:35 am

Alex123 wrote:...I have suspicion that later Buddhist philosophy has put too much significance on analysis or synthesis of words rather than to work on fading of all personal craving....
Very likely true. However, since I want to do as the Buddha instructed, I also want to know if the translation I'm going by is accurate. I know very, very, very little Pali. I study it as much as I'm able and use it here as much as possible to get better at it, and so take the risk involved in public displays of my ignorance in the hopes I'll be corrected if I'm wrong. Take your phrase "fading of all personal craving". Sounds great! It is great. But since the Buddha didn't speak English I don't know if the Buddha actually said and/or taught that. He probably did, if not something extremely close (I can think of a few references). I've heard/read "Theravadin" teachers say similar if not identical things, but they don't know if the Buddha actually said and/or taught that either.

My understanding is that it is not known for sure what language(s) the Buddha spoke, and that he probably didn't speak Pali. I agree we should not get hung up on language, but there are layers of languages between us and the Buddha and if we really want to understand him we have to do our best to understand the languages involved. This, unfortunately, is what hearing The Buddha's Dhamma has come to mean for living aspirants.

When I've tried to have this discussion in the past (not here), I usually get the typical "you just have to experience it for yourself" response. But with all these linguistic obstacles to overcome (without proliferating about them if you can) are we sure we understand it? And if you do experience and understand it, no words can do it justice--right?

Buddhism is a beautifully complex religion. Perhaps that complexity is a reflection of one of the Buddha's main subject matters: reality.

DL :heart:
Last edited by danieLion on Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:58 am

Is there a thread here that discusses what Theravada itself is--beyond the standard "tradition of the Elders"? I've been proceeding as if the participants of this thread all basically agree on what Theravada means, but now I think that was probably a hasty generalization. :?:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby alan » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:22 am

Hi Dl
There is no reason for you to get all twisted out of shape in reference to the translations. You are making a big deal about nothing. There are several good translations available online.
Your characterization of Buddhism as a beautifully complex religion is inaccurate. That is the type of thought that keeps these inappropriate discussions going on and on without ever coming to a point.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Akuma » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:24 am

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.
Yes, please.


Paul Williams "Buddhist Thought" is probably one of the best places to start if one wants to get a good overview.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:27 pm

danieLion wrote: Very likely true. However, since I want to do as the Buddha instructed, I also want to know if the translation I'm going by is accurate. I know very, very, very little Pali.


There are good translators such as Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Nanamoli, and Ven. TB. Many suttas were translated by multiple translators and I suggest that whenever you can, please read the different translations of the same sutta.

danieLion wrote: Take your phrase "fading of all personal craving". Sounds great! It is great. But since the Buddha didn't speak English I don't know if the Buddha actually said and/or taught that.


I had this pali phrase in mind "...taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho..." from AN9.36 and other suttas.

""As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' "Etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbāna"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


danieLion wrote:Buddhism is a beautifully complex religion. Perhaps that complexity is a reflection of one of the Buddha's main subject matters: reality.


Teachings of the Buddha are NOT intellectually complex, but the later Buddhist philosophy is. What is hard, IMHO, is to actually put the teaching to use. Studying is easy, practice is hard. Buddha's teaching is simple but not easy.


With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:45 pm

danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote:How do you interpret that statement from Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607&p=150779#p150747

Thanks. I'd have to see in English to interpret it.
DL


My rough translation of Vibhaṅgapāḷi:
For unpercipient beings at the moment of rebirth one aggregate appears - aggregate of form; two bases appear form & "mental" object base; two elements appear form & "mental" object element; one truth appears, truth of suffering; one faculty appears, form-life-faculty. Unpercipient devas appear without roots, without nutriment, without contact, without feelings, without perceptions, without intentions, without mind.

dhammāyatanaṃ/dhammadhātu (mind-object base) includes subtle matter (such as life faculty) which is what remains here since all mental factors do not appear in that plane. There isn't mental organ for them according to that quote.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:36 am

Akuma wrote:
danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.
Yes, please.


Paul Williams "Buddhist Thought" is probably one of the best places to start if one wants to get a good overview.


Thanks. I'm wondering if Tilt concurs? I presume it will reference other books of importance to the History of Buddhism?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:48 am

danieLion wrote: Very likely true. However, since I want to do as the Buddha instructed, I also want to know if the translation I'm going by is accurate. I know very, very, very little Pali.


Alex123 wrote:There are good translators such as Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Nanamoli, and Ven. TB. Many suttas were translated by multiple translators and I suggest that whenever you can, please read the different translations of the same sutta.

:anjali:

danieLion wrote: Take your phrase "fading of all personal craving". Sounds great! It is great. But since the Buddha didn't speak English I don't know if the Buddha actually said and/or taught that.


Alex123 wrote:I had this pali phrase in mind "...taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho..." from AN9.36 and other suttas.

""As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' "Etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbāna"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Extremely clarifying. Thanks. I started trying to learn Pali with the anapansati sutta steps. Looking at contemplation (anupassi) steps 14-16, I see:

Virāgo corresponds to step 14, where Thanissaro (T) has it as "dispassion/fading"; Nanamoli (N) & Bhikkhu Bodhi (BB) have it as "fading away"; Analayo (A) & Buddhadasa (B) "fading"; Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH), "non-craving"; Nyanaponika Thera (N), "dispassion".

Nirodho corresponds to step 15, where T, A, N, & BB have it as "cessation"; TNH has it as "nirvana"; and B as "quenching".

Paṭinissaggo corresponds to step 16, where B has it as "tossing back (to nature)"; TNH & A have it as, "letting go"; and T, N, BB & TB have it as "relinquishment".

Questions of realism necessarily involve the propositional defining of objects in relations to minds. Practice like anapanasati also deals with objects of mind, but assumes (1) minds themselves are "objects" (dhammas or Gombrich's 'processes not things'), but (2) also assumes the propositional definition of objects irrelevant to yathabhutadassana. Seeing things as they are has nothing to do with the "nature" or "meaning" of objects. That is the pursuit of those who accept the Abhidhamma as Canonical (I'm currently undecided) and subsequent commentaries as authoritative (I currently reject the authority of the commentaries). But this also goes to the OP. This is why Theravada qua Theravada is definitely Realist (not Idealist). Which or what kind of realism depends on the various commentaries and Abhidhamma interpreters one references. The question can't be settled beyond that.
DL :heart:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:50 am

Alex123 wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote:How do you interpret that statement from Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607&p=150779#p150747

Thanks. I'd have to see in English to interpret it.
DL


My rough translation of Vibhaṅgapāḷi:
For unpercipient beings at the moment of rebirth one aggregate appears - aggregate of form; two bases appear form & "mental" object base; two elements appear form & "mental" object element; one truth appears, truth of suffering; one faculty appears, form-life-faculty. Unpercipient devas appear without roots, without nutriment, without contact, without feelings, without perceptions, without intentions, without mind.

dhammāyatanaṃ/dhammadhātu (mind-object base) includes subtle matter (such as life faculty) which is what remains here since all mental factors do not appear in that plane. There isn't mental organ for them according to that quote.

I have no idea how to interpret this--sorry. For instance, the phrase, "at the moment of rebirth." What the heck does that mean?
DL :heart:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:16 pm

danieLion wrote:I have no idea how to interpret this--sorry. For instance, the phrase, "at the moment of rebirth." What the heck does that mean?
DL :heart:


From the first moment of life till the last for those beings these categories exist:
Aggregate of form, Form & "mental" object base/element, and physical life faculty. Since these beings lack mind, they cannot stop or originate more dukkha, so only truth of Dukkha is (2,3,4 Noble Truths cannot be realized there) .

This is how I understand it.

With best wishes, Alex
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:05 am

Alex123 wrote:
Teachings of the Buddha are NOT intellectually complex, but the later Buddhist philosophy is. What is hard, IMHO, is to actually put the teaching to use. Studying is easy, practice is hard. Buddha's teaching is simple but not easy.


With best wishes,

Alex

Hi Alex 123,
I think the practice/study distinction is a false dichotomy. What's wrong with viewing study as a form of practice?
DL :heart:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:43 pm

Because it aint ?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby santa100 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:47 pm

DL wrote:
I think the practice/study distinction is a false dichotomy. What's wrong with viewing study as a form of practice?


If we replace "practice" with "application" in this context, then there certainly is a clear difference between "study" and "application". There're a couple ongoing forum threads about the difficulty/discrepancy between what one's learned versus what one's applied in real life. In Matrix the movie, Morpheus put it best: "there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path". And another good one from one of our own forum member, something like: "We are all intellectual masters, but we are just beginners on the actual level"..
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:24 pm

I guess it all depends on definitions....I could accept that it could be either way....study entails focused awareness...given the right mental development I can see where "study" might overlap with "contemplation".......also applying what the Buddha taught might be viewed as being studying the processes of experience I guess.....although I do admit that this is not the usual way that study and practice are viewed....but then I think that danieLion being the rascal he is was probably trying to get us to view them in not the usual way.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:07 am

chownah wrote:...danieLion being the rascal he is...
lol chowna: a little :embarassed: but mostly :smile:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:17 am

chownah wrote:I guess it all depends on definitions....I could accept that it could be either way....study entails focused awareness...given the right mental development I can see where "study" might overlap with "contemplation".......also applying what the Buddha taught might be viewed as being studying the processes of experience I guess.....although I do admit that this is not the usual way that study and practice are viewed....but then I think that danieLion being the rascal he is was probably trying to get us to view them in not the usual way.
chownah

i was thinking earlier today that for me it comes down to the desire to walk the path as close to what the Buddha taught as possible...and knowing i'm good at fooling myself coupled with my suspicion of teachers and "authority issues" it seems like "study" (for now) is a necessary evil...i practiced some form of Buddhist mental cultivation for years before i decided to start in on Dharma books, Suttas, scholars etc.... i'm reading a book by a Buddhist scholar right now and seriously struggling to finish it before i have to return it to the library because its so technical (rife with extensive footnotes of Suttas in Pali etc...)...

IOW: if i had to choose between "study" and "practice" i'd of course go with practice

nap time
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:35 am

tiltbillings wrote:Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.

danieLion wrote:Yes, please.

tiltbillings wrote:Paul Williams "Buddhist Thought" is probably one of the best places to start if one wants to get a good overview.


I like this book a lot, but his use of the word "ontology" is not what I understand as ontology (per my posts in this thread). It's a minor point, but if you want some citations I'll type 'em in.
:anjali:
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