SDC wrote: ↑
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:52 am
After some reflection (not really enough
I am still quite confused BTW ), these are my "comments". So, “reality” is a continuous process of arising and ceasing. We can see it in our breathing, for example. The cyclic idea of the universe suggests that even “everything” is such a process of arising and ceasing, re-arising and re-ceasing etc Interestingly this idea was quite popular in ancient cultures: even many Greeks thought that our universe was a beginning-less and end-less cyclical process. And in fact, as Parmenides said if some-thing really “was”, then it could not change. At the same time, however, since there is the arising we cannot conclude that things do not exist. So “existence” and “non-existence” cannot be applied to such a process. In fact a real “being” or a real “non-being” cannot “arise” and “cease”: they would be an “obstruction” to the “flow” of ever-changing phenomena. This is true to the cosmos. Also the cosmos as a whole is not a "being", but a process. (it is about the cosmos, but I added it because it is relevant in my reasoning...)
At a “personal” level, we can see the arising and ceasing of our experiences. These “cycles” have different time-spans. There is waking and sleeping, there is birth and death and so on. And everything that arises must also cease. Therefore our “lives” are impermanent. But as is the cosmos, is also our life, i.e. empty of a “being”, a truly “unifying” core. If there were such a core, then change would not be possible: a “core” would “obstruct” the incessant process of arising and ceasing. When we realize this, we cease to attach a “unifying” label to our experience, i.e. we do not regard them as “ours”, anymore. Then, of course, there is still “becoming” but in a different way: things arise and cease, without self-view imposed on them. Since rebirth is due to craving (SN 56.11) and craving is due to the tendency to see “things” as “mine”, then gradually our minds begin to “disentangle” to phenomena. And after some time, consciousness ceases to “arise” (and to “cease”).
However, this does not really address the point of the “transcendentalists”, IMO. They in fact think that the “self” is to be found “outside” experience. So it does not cause an “obstruction” to the process of arising and ceasing. However, to be self-aware that “self” needs the awareness of change. It needs to have some kinds of experience. Therefore all arguments which try to disprove the existence of the ”transcendent self” fail if they are based on the analysis of experience. Possibly the only real “proof” is experiential: when one “realizes the truth”, then his consciousness is so radically different in this “state” that it has no sense of “privateness” (at least in the instant of “awakening”). But again, I really do not know how this argument can be used against the “transcendental self”: maybe because now the “mind” has no limits, so we cannot consider it as a “whole” or a “distinct thing”.
(OFF TOPIC: Interestingly, In the article you have linked, there is the famous verse of MN 49 “non-indicative consciousness, limitless, completely radiant” which describes a mind utterly free of “obstructions” of defilements. This is also linked to “akasa”, unobstructed space. I found a striking resemblance to some Mahayana ideas. In both Vajrayana (e.g. https://www.lionsroar.com/this-very-min ... -luminous/
) and Chan Buddhism (e.g. https://terebess.hu/zen/huangboBlofeld.html
), for example, there is a very similar language. The “voidness” has also a “cognitive/radiant” component, so to speak. This “radiance” according to them has always been there. The idea seems to be that once one has “relinquished” the tendency to “attach” labels of “I-ness and my-ness” to “things”, this “brightness” of the mind becomes “manifest”. This seems also the idea of a consistent number of teachers of the Thai Forest Tradition. According to them, this “bright” mind is obscured by defilements and Buddhist practice aims to “remove” them, to reveal the innate (not original) luminosity. So once all defilements are “removed”, the mind is completely pure and sees reality-as-it-is. For these teachers, this “pure mind” has been here since beginning-less time.
Regarding what you say in the last response... my understanding is that "the world is eternal" and "the world is non-eternal" are wrong because they are partial, see for example https://suttacentral.net/en/ud6.4
, where these views are compared to the famous blind men and elephant situation. So if we think about this partiality, then we can understand why the cyclic process of the universe can be said to be "beginningless", without admitting its "eternity". Possibly the same reason is about spatial infinity (Actually the Rohitassa Sutta is, like the one of the elephant, one of my favourites). Anyway I think that I will read some Ven. Nanavira writings. He seems quite interesting, by the way (until now I mostly ignored him due to his "negativistic" stance on both Nibbana and "life", so to speak
Thank you for the insights!
Sam Vara wrote: ↑
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:23 pm
Hello Sam Vara,
Yeah, it is difficult to explain the concept when in fact it is not very clear even to me. My idea is that according to Buddhism at a level of analysis of reality there are indeed “beings”. There is indeed a “self”, which is the empirical self. So there is a “unifying” point in our experience… but only because we do not really see reality as It really is. At a “coarse level” there is indeed the unity. In the same way at a “macroscopic level” water has indeed a temperature (but at atomic level there is no temperature, so “temperature” is not a property that has meaning to all scales). But maybe (see also the second and third paragraphs of the answer to SDC) at awakening we “see” the “unobstructed consciousness”: a consciousness without a “perceived center”, with no perspective. In this case the “experience” cannot be taken as “unified”, because it is impossible to “unify” a limitless mind. To use the wave-ocean analogy. At a coarse level, droplets of water associated to a wave seems to be “of” a wave. However, waves do not really exist at all scales of analysis. At a microscopic level, waves cannot be “distinguished” by the rest of the ocean. So the same water that seemed to be “of” a wave, now is not “special” anymore. It is not different from the other waves of the ocean.
The wave analogy is IMO apt for another reason. A wave is a dynamical and conditioned process. But it still has of course its "individuality". You can distinguish the single wave from what is outside it. Again, the wave is changing and the content of water inside it is also continuosly changing. So speaking about waves is not
incorrect. What is incorrect is saying that it is "something" we can distinguish from the ocean at all level of analysis. https://suttacentral.net/en/ud6.4
Here there is the famed metaphor of the elephant and blind men. "The wave is something distinct" is a partial view. It is not really "wrong", but it becomes wrong when we think that it is true at all levels (this is IMO the problem of atta
. Such a "self" is not there because it should be "found" at all levels of analysis). "The wave does not exist" is again partial. It is true that it is not really "separated" from the ocean, but at the same time we cannot deny that it is there. In the same way, the mistake of the eternalist is maybe the lack of recognition of "emptiness", s/he sees the way as a "well defined thing". However saying that "there is no self" can lead to a dangerous misunderestanding (at least in the hearers). In fact https://suttacentral.net/en/mn60
here we read:
“Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed; no fruit or result of good and bad actions; no this world, no other world; no mother, no father; no beings who are reborn spontaneously; no good and virtuous recluses and brahmins in the world who have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’
It seems that a group of annihilationists held the view that if
something is not enduring, then
it does not exist (they held that "there is no this world"). So while it is incorrect to hold that the waves "exist" it is also incorrect to say that they do not exist without qualification
. They exist as a dynamic process. Their identity is not fixed but "fuzzy", ambiguous. The same can IMO be said regarding "the self". While it is true that no "atta" "exist", saying that "there is no atta" can be a cause of confusion.
Maybe, the “unobstructed consciousness” makes no difference between the droplets of the ocean. It cannot be considered “unified” because it has no limits. This is different from the “transcendentalist” point of view: it is not that all water is “one”. It is not that the “limitless” mind is “unified” to a self. It has no “unifying” label. As in Zen Buddhism, “not-two” is not “one”.
So, while the arguments that try to disprove the “transcendental self” by the analysis of experience fail because according to the “transcendentalists” we cannot find the subject of experience (as I said above in the first paragraph). For both them and Buddhism the “center” cannot be found. So, maybe the “real proof” arrives with experience
This is only my opinion, of course
Edit... Just to clarify "unobstructed consciousness" refers to the "liberated consciousness", not to a "cosmic consciousness".
auto wrote: ↑
Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:06 pm
The unconditioned is beyond our grasp because it rises autonomously. You can't will it happen, it is empty of self. From a self-view these sensations rise randomly, by change and probably.
In order to see something new, you need get lost first. These sensations are everfresh, new.
I agree that it is empty of a self. But I do not think that the unconditioned can be said to "rise", since "rising" is a temporal activity. IMO it being timeless is "indipendent".
"In order to see something new, you need get lost first", yeah true