The Lokayata Discourses

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The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:53 am

Hi everyone,

There seems to be some interest in SN 12.15 the Kaccaayanagotto
Sutta in the Study Group
[See: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11269&p=170723#p169914]
This Sutta is similar to SN 12.48.

This is one of a number of Discourses where the Buddha is questioned
by Brahmin philosophers called Lokayatika's.

These philosophers belong to the Lokayata school, about which not much
is known. The questions which they ask seem to have given rise to a few
misunderstandings by modern writers on Buddhism.

I thought that a thread to discuss these Sutta's would be of interest.

Regards, Vincent.
Last edited by vinasp on Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:29 am

Hi everyone,

The first Sutta for discussion is SN 12.48 - A Cosmologist.
I will give Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, page 584.

At Savatthi. Then a brahmin who was a cosmologist (128)
approached the Blessed One ... and said to him:
"How is it Master Gotama: does all exist?"
" 'All exists': this, brahmin is the oldest cosmology." (129)
"Then, Master Gotama, does all not exist?"
" 'All does not exist': this, brahmin, is the second cosmology."
"How is it, Master Gotama: is all a unity?" (130)
" 'All is a unity': this, brahmin, is the third cosmology."
"Then, Master Gotama, is all a plurality?" (131)
" 'All is a plurality': this, brahmin, is the fourth cosmology."
"Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata
teaches the Dhamma by a middle: with ignorance as condition,
volitional formations come to be ... [ Dependent Origination
with all twelve links arising and ceasing. ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:06 am

Hi everyone,

Here are some questions about SN 12.48

1. What is the background to these questions, and how should they
be understood?

2. What is meant by "all"?

3. What is meant by:"without veering towards either of these extremes"?

4. In what way does Dependent Origination represent an answer to the
questions posed?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:46 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote:1. What is the background to these questions, and how should they be understood?

A note from Thanisarro Bhikkhu on SN12.48
The cosmologist (lokayata) schools of thought reasoned from what they saw as the basic principles of the physical cosmos in formulating their teachings on how life should be lived. In modern times, they would correspond to those who base their philosophies on principles drawn from the physical sciences, such as evolutionary biology or quantum physics. Although the cosmologists of India in the Buddha's time differed on first principles, they tended to be more unanimous in using their first principles — whatever they were — to argue for hedonism as the best approach to life.

vinasp wrote:2. What is meant by "all"?

"Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All." - SN35.23 Sabba Sutta - The All
vinasp wrote:3. What is meant by:"without veering towards either of these extremes"?

Because of the Buddhas right view the Buddha avoids these two extremes. Also answering your Q4 but for now see SN12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View)
"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.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

vinasp wrote:4. In what way does Dependent Origination represent an answer to the questions posed?

SN12.15 as above
"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. etc.

Dependent Origination does not give a straight answer to the questioned posed, because the questiones are inappropriate. Dependent Origination provides the means to reveal the misunderstandings from which those inappropriate questions arose. Avoiding the extremes of existence and non-existence (via the middle)

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:56 pm

Hi everyone,

Here I try to answer the first question about the background. It will be
helpful to look at SN 12.46 and SN 12.47 also.

SN 12.47 has only two questions;"does all exist" and "does all not exist"
but the Buddha says of each that it is an "extreme".

In SN 12.46 the questions are; "... is the one who acts the same as the
one who experiences the result?", and " .. is the one who acts one, and
the one who experiences the result another?" Again, the Buddha says of
each that it is an "extreme".

An extreme of what? The best answer seems to be an extreme dogmatic view,
represented, perhaps, by one of the major teachers of the time.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:43 pm

Hi everyone,

What is meant by "all"?

K.N. Jayatilleke in his Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge says about
SN 12.48:

"It may be observed that all these theories are about sabbam or
sarvam, which is found in the Upanisads to denote the "cosmos"
or the universe as a whole." page 50.

"Now the word loka is used in a collective sense, to denote the
entire universe ...Brh. 1.5.17 ... i.e. whatever worlds there are,
they are all comprehended under the word "world".
We also notice that in this same context loka is used synonymously
with brahman: tvam brahman, tvam yajna, tvam loka iti. Brahman
is also sometimes used synonymously with sarva: etad brahma etad
sarvam, Brh. 5.3.1." pages 55-56.

So these Brahmins are probably speaking of the "all" (sarvam) of the
Upanishads. Which is identified with "loka" (cosmos) and Brahma.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:32 am

Hi everyone,

There is more to say on the subject of "all". I will quote from Essentials
of Indian Philosophy by M. Hiriyanna:

"Thus Brahman means the eternal principle as realised in the world
as a whole; and atman, the inmost essence of one's own self." ...
" The two conceptions are also sometimes identified; and it is this
happy identification of them that constitutes the essential teaching
of the Upanishads. It is represented by the well-known sayings "That
thou art" (tat tvam asi) and "I am Brahman" (aham Brahma asmi). They
mean that the principle underlying the world as a whole, and that which
forms the essence of man, are ultimately the same" page 21.

So not only is "all" the same as "cosmos" (loka) and Brahman, it is
also the same as "atman" (self). So these four questions are really
about "self-and-world".

But what sort of Brahmin would ask, in effect, "Does self exist?"
It seems very improbable if it refers to a present self. So we are
led to the conclusion that these four questions are about the future
state of "self-and-world". The first question is therefore just the
eternalist view, and the second is the annihilationist view.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:37 am

Hi everyone,

We will now attempt to answer question 3.

What is meant by; "Without veering towards either of these extremes,
the tathagata teaches dhamma by the middle."

Clearly, the first part means; without adopting any of the extreme
dogmatic views. The second part means: The Tathagata teaches dhamma
by the middle (way) - which is Dependent Origination.

That DO is indeed a "way" is explained in SN 12.3 The Two Ways.

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, I will teach you the wrong way and the
right way. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak."
"Yes, venerable sir." ....
"And what, bhikkhus, is the wrong way? With ignorance as condition
volitional formations come to be, .... Such is the origin of this
whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called the wrong way."

"And what, bhikkhus, is the right way? With the remainderless
fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of
volitional formations; ... Such is the cessation of this
whole mass of suffering.This, bhikkhus, is called the right way."

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discouses, page 536. ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:39 am

Hi everyone,

I will now try to answer question 4 : in what way does Dependent
Origination represent an answer to the original questions?

The answer to Q4 is found in SN 12.35 - here is the ending:

"With the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance,
whatever kinds of contortions, manoeuvres, and vacillations
there may be - 'What now is birth, and for whom is there this
birth?'... 'What now are volitional formations, and for whom
are there these volitional formations?'or 'Volitional
formations are one thing, the one for whom there are these
volitional formations is another,' or 'The soul and the body
are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing, the body is another'
- all these are abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a
palm stump, obliterated so that they are no more subject to
future arising." [ Bhikkhu Bodhi, connected Discourses, p 575 ]

My interpretation would be as follows; When ignorance ceases then
all the other links cease, this is a description of enlightenment.
This is a state in which all delusions, obsessions and dogmatic
views have ceased. Not only have they ceased, they are not able to
arise again. The enlightened individual is said to "know and see
things as they really are."

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:06 am

Hi everyone,

What is meant by: "...the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle; With
ignorance as condition ..."

This phrase occurs repeatedly in SN 12.35 where it is used in connection
with each of the links in Dependent Origination. I believe that this Sutta
may be the original one, and that sections of it have been used to construct
other discourses, resulting in the phrase being used out of it's proper context.

We now need to look at the start of SN 12.35

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, with ignorance as condition, volitional formations
[ come to be ] ... Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering."
When he had said this, a certain bhikkhu said to the Blessed One;
"Venerable sir, what now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there
this aging-and-death?" "Not a valid question" the Blessed One replied.
"Bhikkhu, whether one says,"What now is aging-and-death, and for whom
is there this aging-and-death?" or whether one says, "Aging-and-death
is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another"
- both these assertions are identical in meaning; they differ only in
the phrasing. If there is the view,'The soul and the body are the same,'
there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, 'The soul
is one thing, the body is another,' there is no living of the holy life.
Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches
the Dhamma by the middle: 'With birth as condition, aging-and-death.'"

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 575. ]

The sutta then goes on to repeat everything with respect to birth,
existence, clinging, craving, feeling, contact, six sense bases,
name-and-form, cosciousness and volitional formations.

It seems a bit complicated at first, but much of it can be explained.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:20 am

Hi everyone,

Lets go through SN 12.35 one section at a time.

The opening is just Dependent Origination with twelve links arising.
My comments are in brackets [ .... ]

"Venerable sir, what now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there
this aging-and-death?"

[ Here the questioner introduces the idea of self/soul, note the words
FOR WHOM. ]

"Not a valid question" the Blessed One replied.
"Bhikkhu, whether one says,"What now is aging-and-death, and for whom
is there this aging-and-death?" or whether one says, "Aging-and-death
is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another"

[ Both ways of saying it include the words "for whom" and so postulate
a self/soul, as an entity distinct from the body. ]

- both these assertions are identical in meaning; they differ only in
the phrasing.

[ The meaning is; The soul is one thing, the body is another. ]

If there is the view,'The soul and the body are the same,'
there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, 'The soul
is one thing, the body is another,' there is no living of the holy life.

[ The "holy life" is said in SN 45.6 to be "This noble eightfold path .."
The questioner has the second view mentioned; "The soul is one thing,
the body is another." ]

Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches
the Dhamma by the middle: 'With birth as condition, aging-and-death.'"

[ Either of these extremes, means either of the two views mentioned. So
an alternative must be found which "transcends" both views, and provides
a "way out." ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:47 am

Hi everyone,

I am still puzzling over this phrase "... teaches Dhamma by a middle."

If we take the two views - "Soul and body are the same", and "Soul is
one thing, body is another", what could be meant by "a middle" here?

The possibilities are:

1. The soul is neither the same, nor different to the body. This view
would, I think, be rejected, as it accepts a soul.

2. There is no self/soul. - This undercuts all views of a self/soul, and
would mean that right view is the view "There is no self". This has
been my interpretation for the past few years.

3. Self is only apparent, not real, and therefore can not be said to
exist, or to not exist. This is a new idea which I am exploring.

4. Perhaps some other option.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:23 am

Hi Vincent,

You didn't find the discussion in the SN 12.15 Thread convincing?

Amaro wrote:The evidence for ‘being’ (the arising of things) is seen and seen through, the
evidence for ‘non-being’ (the cessation of things) is seen and seen through; both are
thus let go of through perfect understanding, and the heart experiences release.
Another of the highly significant expressions of this same balancing point of
the Middle Way comes in the Collection on Causation in the Saμyutta Nikaya:
[SN 12.15 Kaccaayanagotto Sutta]


Nanananda wrote:It is clear from this declaration that in this context the law of
dependent arising itself is called the middle path. Some prefer
to call this the Buddha's metaphysical middle path, as it avoids
both extremes of `is' and `is not'. The philosophical implica-
tions of the above passage lead to the conclusion that the law
of dependent arising enshrines a certain pragmatic principle,
which dissolves the antinomian conflict in the world.


Passano wrote:... there are other instances where the Buddha defines the Middle Way as a
precise approach that cuts through the continuum entirely. This is especially apparent
in passages where he discusses the Middle Way in terms, not of behavior or
motivation, but of Right View.


Bodhi wrote:Dependent origination offers a radically different perspective that transcends the two extremes. It shows that individual existence is constituted by a current of conditioned phenomena devoid of metaphysical self yet continuing on from birth to birth as long as the causes that sustain it remain effective. Dependent origination thereby offers a cogent explanation of the problem of suffering that on the one hand avoids the philosophical dilemmas posed by the hypothesis of a permanent self, and on the other avoids the dangers of ethical anarchy to which annihilationism eventually leads. As long as ignorance and craving remain, the process of rebirth continues; kamma yields its pleasant and painful fruit, and the great mass of suffering accumulates. When ignorance and craving are destroyed, the inner mechanism of karmic causation is deactivated, and one reaches the end of suffering in samsara. Perhaps the most elegant exposition of dependent origination as the "middle teaching" is the famous Kaccanogotta sutta.


:anjali:
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:36 am

Hi Mike,

No. Some of it is good, but I am not persuaded that they understand
the meaning of "... by a middle." Some of it seems, to me, to be more
like Nagarjuna's Madhyamika teaching. Which is, in my opinion, radically
different to the Sutta Pitaka.

Besides, the Buddha is happy to assert the existence of some things, or
the non-existence of other things.

For me, Dependent Origination is not just about what arises this moment,
and ceases the next moment. It is about everything that has arisen over,
say, the last twenty years. And how all that can disappear or vanish,
completely and permanently.

Clinging, for example, in Dependent Origination, represents everything
that we are clinging to. Including those things which arose twenty
years ago, that we are still clinging to.

More to follow, when I have re-read some of your SN 12.15 thread.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:11 pm

Hi Mike,

Some observations on your post of Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:47 pm.
My comments are in brackets [ .... ]

Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro wrote:

“And how, bhikkhus, do some hold back? Some devas and
humans enjoy being, delight in being, are satisfied with being.
When the Dhamma is taught to them for the cessation of being,
their minds do not enter into it or acquire confidence in it or
settle upon it or become resolved upon it. Thus, bhikkhus, do
some hold back."

[ Note: "... for the cessation of being."]

“How, bhikkhus, do those with vision see? Herein one sees what
has come to be as having come to be. Having seen it thus, one
practises the course for turning away, for dispassion, for the
cessation of what has come to be. Thus, bhikkhus, do those with
vision see.”

[ "For the cessation of what has come to be." For the complete,
permanent cessation of all that has come to be. Which is
represented by all twelve links of DO.]

[The quotations from Iti 49, are of course correct. But they appear
to misinterpret them as "patterns of experience."]

Lastly, in the culmination of the process, there is the remainderless relinquishment of all experience. There is a complete acceptance of all that
arises and no confusion about the fact that all patterns of experience are of
the same dependent, insubstantial nature.

[What do they mean by: "the relinquishment of all experience"? "... a complete
acceptance of all that arises .."? or "... that all patterns of experience
are of the same dependent, insubstantial nature"?
How can one relinquish all experience? None of the things in DO arise
any more - they have ceased. There is nothing dependent about experience,
the Buddha still sees forms with the eye, even after all DO links have
ceased.]

The evidence for ‘being’ (the arising of things) is seen and seen through, the
evidence for ‘non-being’ (the cessation of things) is seen and seen through; both are thus let go of through perfect understanding, and the heart experiences release.

[ I can make no sense of this.]


10. ‘Existence’ is the grasping at permanence; ‘non-existence’ is
the view of annihilation. Therefore, the wise do not dwell, in
existence or non-existence.

[ Is this a real quote from Nagarjuna? Yes, there is a stage on the path
where the eternalist view, and the annihilationist view are both given
up. But that still leaves the present apparent self to be dealt with.]

[ I do not think that Nagarjuna is of any help in understanding the
teachings of the Sutta Pitaka. Also, Nanananda seems to misunderstand
things in a very similar way.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:49 pm

Lastly, in the culmination of the process, there is the remainderless relinquishment of all experience. There is a complete acceptance of all that
arises and no confusion about the fact that all patterns of experience are of
the same dependent, insubstantial nature.

[What do they mean by: "the relinquishment of all experience"? "... a complete
acceptance of all that arises .."? or "... that all patterns of experience
are of the same dependent, insubstantial nature"?
How can one relinquish all experience? None of the things in DO arise
any more - they have ceased. There is nothing dependent about experience,
the Buddha still sees forms with the eye, even after all DO links have
ceased.]

My views: "the relinquishment of all experience" means not attaching to experience. I was going to say "not attaching to any experience" but then I realized that this might be taken to mean that experience comes in lumps or pieces as if it was an object but it is not....it is a process at most so I decided to go with "not attaching to experience" to stress the non-object ness of experience.
"complete acceptance of all that arises" is like "the relinquishment of all experience" but complete acceptance emphasizes non-aversion.
"all patterns of experience" I take to mean all fabrications and I take "are of athe same dependent, insubstantial nature" to mean that they all are dependently co-arisen and are ephemeral and lacking in inate substance.
It is the "self" which tries to capture experience and to mold it to its own ends and which will not relinquish experience....it is the "self" which does not want to accept things as they are but would rather create a delusional view to give the appearance it desires....it is the "self" which is one pattern of experience which must be seen as being dependent on conditions and is insubstantial in nature.
The middle way is to neither view the "self" as existing nor to view the "self" as not existing but rather to have no doctrine of "self" whatever.

My views only....
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:07 pm

Hi Mike,

To quote Nanananda from the SN 12.15 thread:

"The noble disciple sees the arising and the cessation
of the world through his own six sense bases."

How is this possible? The world only arises once, and only ceases once.
And when it ceases the six-spheres also cease.

It seems that he is confusing the six-spheres with the actual sense
organs - along with everyone else.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:23 pm

Hi chownah,

You say:

"My views: "the relinquishment of all experience" means not attaching to experience. I was going to say "not attaching to any experience" but then I realized that this might be taken to mean that experience comes in lumps or pieces as if it was an object but it is not....it is a process at most so I decided to go with "not attaching to experience" to stress the non-object ness of experience."

How can anyone cling to experience? It is not possible. What people are
clinging to is a mind-fabricated representation of some experience. In
this sense it is indeed an object. All clinging is clinging to something.
There must be an object.

More to follow, regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:34 pm

vinasp wrote: 4. Perhaps some other option.

Awake, not clinging to notions of any sort. A.k.a. "living the holy life"
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: The Lokayata Discourses

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:04 pm

Hi chownah,

You say:

"The middle way is to neither view the "self" as existing nor to view the "self" as not existing but rather to have no doctrine of "self" whatever.

And where in the Sutta Pitaka does it say this?

The monks are constantly instructed not to regard anything as self - why?
Because they already regard many things as self, or related to self, and
that way of regarding things must be removed. It is a deeply ingrained
habit that usually takes some time to remove.

Regards, Vincent.
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