"The Deathless" (amata)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:13 pm

kirk5a wrote:
nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote: So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?
Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.
Ok that's great and all. But what does this "freedom from dukkha, which is the end of greed, hatred and delusion" actually amount to, as an experienced reality?
Being free of dukkha would likely mean no longer being tormented by dukkha.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:55 pm

Greetings Tilt, all,
tiltbillings wrote:Why not translate in a way that reflects exactly what it is referring to: freedom from death
Moreover, that's what you believe it's referring to. (Which is fine, everyone is entitled to their perspective, but to state unequivocally that your interpretation is "exactly what it is referring to" is over-reaching... certainly from the POV of all the participants who are not fully satisfied with your interpretation. It is, as you said above, your interpretative translation.)

Consider... does aniccata mean "freedom from permanence"? Does anattata mean "freedom from self"? (I know you think the Pali Dictionary link refutes the not--death--ness etymology, but seeing the Latin parallel im--mort--a(lis), I think it actually strengthens it)

Anyway, if I were to have my turn to venture forth my personal perspective on "what it is referring to", I would say it pertains to the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed. i.e. the not-deathness, or deathlessness of asankhata dhammas.

Ironically, my objection to "freedom from death" is much like your objection to "the deathless", in that "freedom from death" (to me) infers the existence of a deathless being who is now "free from death" (i.e. a being in union with atman)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt, all,
tiltbillings wrote:Why not translate in a way that reflects exactly what it is referring to: freedom from death
Moreover, that's what you believe it's referring to.
I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.
but to state unequivocally that your interpretation is "exactly what it is referring to" is over-reaching
Over-reaching? Not that you have shown.
certainly from the POV of all the participants who are not fully satisfied with your interpretation. It is, as you said above, your interpretative translation.
No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.
Consider... does aniccata mean "freedom from permanence"? Does anattata mean "freedom from self"? (I know you think the Pali Dictionary link refutes this etymology, but seeing the Latin parallel im -- mort -- a(lis), I think it actually strengthens it)
So you assert, but you have yet to show that it strengthens your position. You have not even come close to addressing the grammatical issues of the Pali.
Anyway, if I were to have my turn to venture forth my personal perspective on "what it is referring to", I would say it pertains to the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed. i.e. the not-deathness, or deathlessness of asankhata dhammas.
Okay, but where is your actual argument? MN I 173 neatly makes my point, but on the other hand you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie. That is your interpretation. Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:51 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.
Sure, and its to your benefit that you can do that... but of course, your willingness to accept your own argument and authority doesn't oblige others to do likewise.
tiltbillings wrote:No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.
So "level of argument" determines what is beneficial and useful in the Dhamma? In a Debate Club, perhaps...
tiltbillings wrote:Okay, but where is your actual argument?
It's not an argument - it's an intuitive sense that it accords with the overall teaching of the suttas, accords with the Buddha's inclination to re-shape the lexicon of the time to fit the Dhamma, accords with the many other synonyms of nibbana which point to a certain quality of experience rather than a bifurcation of a "being" from its "death", it makes sense when paired with the Pali word dhatu (element / quality) etc.

In other words, for my understanding of the Dhamma, it fits nicely and cohesively with the rest of it (which also fits nicely and cohesively). To put that into an "argument" I would have to rebuild the Dhamma (which would form the argument's underlying assumptions, dispute over which could form a century long parenthesis) from scratch - so no, it's not an "argument'... it's an intuitive sense that it is internally consistent with the Dhamma as I know it. I share it not to "prove" or "win" an "argument", but on the off chance it also coincides with the intuitive sense of others who may find it internally consistent with the Dhamma as they know it. It is sharing and its usefulness will be in the eye of the beholder.
tiltbillings wrote:you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie.
:strawman: A strawman with no bearing whatsoever on why I define amata as not-deathness, and understand it as "the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed". But since you raise it, what or whom experiences this "freedom from death"? Is it a satta, is it vinnana etc.? What "death" is this satta/vinnana/whatever-you-like-it-to-be experiencing freedom from? Its own? An other?
tiltbillings wrote:Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.
The teachings as you understand them being the obvious caveat here. To quote from your signature, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What they are not entitled to is their own facts." (D.P. Moynihan)

Your insistence that you are "still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument [you] have presented" seems to disregard that the method of applying and benefiting from the Dhamma is via the Noble Eightfold Path, not through towering displays of argumentation and worldly proofs.

Whatever understanding of amata the individual lands at should help and complement their own fabricated path. "The Deathless" is not useful to you - it may be useful to others. "Freedom from death" may be useful to you - it may not be useful to others. There is no need to prove through argumentation that one interpretive definition is objectively definitive, iron clad, and ubiquitously and universally superior.

Objective, abstacted proofs or argumentation outside of the range of focus (of dukkha, nirodha, N8P etc.) that try to land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation independent of the individual's subjective experience and understanding of the Dhamma, fall on the floor of the Simsapa Forest and are not picked up by the Buddha, as they have no applicability to the practice. It's not a battle to be the most convincing in a market-place of ideas, it's a battle to further our own understanding and well-being.

I'm sharing my perspective - not engaging in a battle to be "more informative" or to debate a "position" in an "argument". I hope that is clear.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by squarepeg » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:19 am

i cringe at the idea of instutionalizing these terms, as there is obvioulsy a reason why pali is still a spoken, (hopefully dead) but never the less spoken language. and also i think we should be carefull to keep USE more important than Meaning, as far as the inspiration convayed by an english term is concerned, anyone who is beyond the need for external inspiration would likely find himself aquainted with respective pali terms.

According to anagarika mariam-webster i feel the the correct translation of this term amata would be "death impartiality"
This is in line with the idea that upekkha (impartiality) when maintained indefinately, (even at the thought of death) would condition one to sever the last tie to the self.

so the answer is death impartiality, you can stop fighting now
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.
Sure, and its to your benefit that you can do that... but of course, your willingness to accept your own argument and authority doesn't oblige others to do likewise.
Two things: I have no expectation that others must accept my point of view and whether they do or not is their business. Basically, I am offering an educated/experienced point of view and it is just that -- a point of view. The second thing is: I could be wrong and I would relish being shown to be so.
tiltbillings wrote:No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.
So "level of argument" determines what is beneficial and useful in the Dhamma? In a Debate Club, perhaps...
The point here is that I am offering a careful exegetical look the issues involved with understanding a vexed term, which might be of interest to others. Also, give and take on such a topic can also be useful. If one does not like such give and take, then don’t participate in it or complain about it.
tiltbillings wrote:Okay, but where is your actual argument?
It's not an argument - it's an intuitive sense that it accords with the overall teaching of the suttas, accords with the Buddha's inclination to re-shape the lexicon of the time to fit the Dhamma, accords with the many other synonyms of nibbana which point to a certain quality of experience rather than a bifurcation of a "being" from its "death", it makes sense when paired with the Pali word dhatu (element / feature) etc.
As for “intuitive sense,” that it certainly is not a claim unique to you. This is not a mere intellectual exercise for me. In my understanding and what I am offering there is no ‘bifurcation of a "being" from its "death.”’ One always has to keep the broader context in mind. And as for dhatu, probably one of the more difficult words on which to get a handle, and element is not quite it.
it's an intuitive sense that it is internally consistent with the Dhamma as I know it.
A claim I can equally make.
I share it not to "prove" or "win" an "argument", but on the off chance it also coincides with the intuitive sense of others who may find it internally consistent with the Dhamma as they know it. It is sharing and its usefulness will be in the eye of the beholder.
I would say nothing different about my motivation.
tiltbillings wrote:you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie.
:strawman: A strawman with no bearing whatsoever on why I define amata as not-deathness, and understand it as "the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed".
Straw man? Probably not: "The quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed."
But since you raise it, what or whom experiences this "freedom from death"? Is it a satta, is it vinnana etc.? What "death" is this satta/vinnana/whatever-you-like-it-to-be experiencing freedom from? Its own? An other?
The answer is here: “. . . being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- MN I 173
tiltbillings wrote:Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.
The teachings as you understand them being the obvious caveat here.
Well, yeah.
Your insistence that you are "still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument [you] have presented" seems to disregard that the method of applying and benefiting from the Dhamma is via the Noble Eightfold Path, not through towering displays of argumentation and worldly proofs.
Not at all.
Whatever understanding of amata the individual lands at should help and complement their own fabricated path. "The Deathless" is not useful to you - it may be useful to others. "Freedom from death" may be useful to you - it may not be useful to others. There is no need to prove through argumentation that one interpretive definition is objectively definitive, iron clad, and ubiquitously and universally superior.
Of course you are missing the point. Translations should always be challenged. It is to one’s benefit to read multiple translations, and even better is to have a working knowledge of Pali grammar.
Objective, abstacted proofs or argumentation outside of the range of focus (of dukkha, nirodha, N8P etc.) that try to land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation independent of the individual's subjective experience and understanding of the Dhamma, fall on the floor of the Simsapa Forest and are not picked up by the Buddha, as they have no applicability to the practice. It's not a battle to be the most convincing in a market-place of ideas, it's a battle to further our own understanding and well-being.
Fortunately, I am not trying to “land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation.” There is no such thing. What I have done is challenge a translation that easily lends itself to reification.
I'm sharing my perspective - not engaging in a battle to be "more informative" or to debate a "position" in an "argument". I hope that is clear.
For not being engaged in a battle, your msg does seem a bit feisty.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:10 am

Greetings Spiny,
Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

The options seem to be:
1. Nibbana
2. Pari-nibbana
3. Both Nibbana and Pari-nibbana.

Thoughts?
To me these things are all just different ways of looking at the same thing, in the sense that they all point to the unconditioned.

If by looking at the unconditioned in a different way they help to illustrate an aspect of the unconditioned that is great, but they are not in any way mutually exclusive things.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:02 am

Aloka wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Thoughts?

Spiny
No, not thoughts, lol ! Amata refers to freedom from the conditioned existence of greed, hatred and delusion, birth and death. = Nibbana, deathlessness.

:)
That's one opinion... ;)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:10 am

nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote: So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?
Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.

:namaste:
But if aging and death are dukkha, then to be completely free from dukkha we need to free from aging and death. So...?

Spiny

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Aloka wrote:No, not thoughts, lol !
Nippapanca is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
Though you seem to have plenty of thoughts yourself. ;)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:40 am

nowheat wrote: Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.
Spiny O'Norman wrote: But if aging and death are dukkha, then to be completely free from dukkha we need to free from aging and death. So...?
Funny how fast we get back onto rebirth, isn't it? I guess I could have been clearer.

What I should have said (when trying to be brief) was:
The words "death" and even "aging and death" are being substituted for the word "dukkha". This makes amata freedom from dukkha.
But that would have been an oversimplification, because, really, I'm not meaning that "the words" are being substituted for "the word" dukkha, though that is one way of putting what I am saying.

This is what I'm saying: In most situations, when the Buddha talks about "aging and death" he doesn't really mean "aging and death", he means "dukkha" -- or "impermanence" (the two being the same thing, really).

It is an oversimplification of what's being said in the suttas to take as one's understanding that freedom from dukkha = freedom from literal death. Just as it's an oversimplification to see freedom from dukkha as freedom from literal birth, literal feeling, and literal consciousness. Or even that to end dukkha one has to be free from all the forms of ignorance ("literal ignorance") first. All of the terms used in dependent origination, if confined just to their plainest, most-literal interpretations, are going to confuse the issue.

The Buddha *does* make the point that if there were no birth at all we would not experience dukkha. This is quite obviously true to anyone with half a brain. It's equally true that if there were no sickness or death -- if things were not impermanent and changeable -- there would be no dukkha, because dukkha feeds off of impermanence. It is also true that if we felt nothing there would be no dukkha. If we had no consciousness at all, there would be no dukkha. These things are so obvious that we don't need a Buddha to discover them or point them out to us.

What he is saying is much, much subtler than this. I have detailed the subtleties before, so I won't do it again here.

But he is not saying that death is the exact equivalent of dukkha in every way. He is using a sort of short-hand. Having explained (to the people in his day to whom the argument he was making in dependent arising would have been much clearer than it is to us, since they had the context to understand it) what "death" represents in his core lesson (as outlined in the post linked in the paragraph above) he would expect that when he mentions "death" the listener would understand it not as literal death, but as (1) a base condition for dukkha to happen (2) the nutriment required for dukkha to happen (3) a euphemism for dukkha in that it is "not going to heaven and bliss but just more of the same old same old".

:namaste:

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:54 am

kirk5a wrote: Ok that's great and all. But what does this "freedom from dukkha, which is the end of greed, hatred and delusion" actually amount to, as an experienced reality?

Is it just sitting down and breathing in and out and when it doesn't seem like there is any greed, hatred, or delusion going on... nibbana? Amata? Freedom from birth and death?
Given that the Buddha tends to talk on many levels at once, I'm pretty sure the word "just" isn't going to apply.

Though I know sometimes I make it seem like that's what I think ("It's just that moment in meditation when your mind is still...") I am usually doing that to balance the tendency to see what we're discussing as some Super-Hard-To-Achieve, Comes-In-One-Big-Blast-And-Then-You're-Done Thing.

I expect that what the Buddha means is a range, from those fleeting moments of equanimity we experience in meditation when we have stilled thoughts and nothing is going on centered around our sense of self; to the wonderful moment when all that practice first fruits in us being able to not blurt the first thing that comes to mind when someone pushes one of our buttons (and we realize we have subverted the whole path of events that would have happened had we just reacted the way we usually do); to greater and greater lengths of time able to stay mindful and watching what arises and not letting the "this is me" stuff run through its programming; to (ideally) finally getting to where we've found every instance we can of our holding onto that unnecessary sense of self that causes our problems, when our aversion to it has gotten so powerful from practice that it just no longer arises to result in dukkha.

:namaste:

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:04 pm

retrofuturist wrote: Anyway, if I were to have my turn to venture forth my personal perspective on "what it is referring to", I would say it pertains to the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed. i.e. the not-deathness, or deathlessness of asankhata dhammas.
I like this very much, and had not thought of it that way. Thank you for posting your interpretation here.

:namaste:

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by squarepeg » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:51 pm

I cant explain fully now cause i have to work, but if your caught between infered phenomonology and literal experience i recommend reasearching what Antonio Damasio has termed the "as if body loop" with refrence to the reason there are 5 clinging aggregates and 5 normal aggregates. Freedom from metaphysical assertion is worth it!
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Nyana » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:57 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:But if aging and death are dukkha, then to be completely free from dukkha we need to free from aging and death. So...?
A living arahant who has realized the nibbāna component with fuel remaining (saupādisesa nibbānadhātu) still isn't entirely free from the appropriated aggregates of that life insofar as s/he still has a body. The Nettippakaraṇa:
  • Herein, the world is, at one time or another, somewhat free from to the unsatisfactoriness of pain (dukkhadukkhatā) as well as the unsatisfactoriness of change (vipariṇāmadukkhatā). Why is that? Because there are those in the world who have little sickness and are long-lived. But only the nibbāna component with no fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu) liberates from the unsatisfactoriness of fabrications (saṅkhāradukkhatā).

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