the great Nibbana = annihilation, eternal, or something else thread

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Dinsdale
Posts: 6096
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:01 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:If it were simply the former, there would be no objection to cessation as the end of the Buddhist path. The Buddha existed, he had an admirable life and attained the supreme happiness, and then when the time came he passed away into parinibbana. What's wrong with that?
What's wrong is the lack of clarity about what pari-Nibbana is or isn't. The ultimate goal of the Buddhist path isn't clear.

I agree that the desire for eternal existence is an issue, but the Second Noble Truth says that the desire for both future becoming and non-becoming are causes for dukkha, which seems a little confusing. Non-becoming sounds like an escape from becoming, which also sounds rather like pari-Nibbana...

If the Buddha knew or assumed that when he died that was it, the end, annihilation, why didn't he just say that? Why all the evasive philosophising?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:03 pm

Myotai wrote:
What is wrong with it is this, if there is no continuity of conciousness then why have any concerns for future lives, ESPECIALLY if I am not going to be aware of them?

I can no more develop an interest in those type of future existences than I can characters in a film.....they just don't matter to me.
My understanding is that it 's a mistake, according to the Buddha, to say there is no continuity of consciousness.

It's also a mistake to say that the consciousness that passes from life to life is the same consciousness -- some sort of permanent, unchanging soul.

It's really an extension of what goes on in the present life span. You are not the same person you will be ten years from now. Does that mean you have no concern for the welfare of the person you will be then?
If there are no consequences to 'me' and even if there is a continuity of karmic potentialities but 'I' won't experience them, then what's stopping me just robbing that bank and spending the remainder of this existence on a beach in the Maldives???
According to the Aññatra Sutta, the Buddha rejected the view that the person doing the kamma is different from the person experiencing the result, and he also rejected the view that these two persons are different. The point here is that both view are two aspects of a fundamentally misguided notion of self. So we shouldn't, according to the Buddha, be framing the question in this way at all, but rather in terms of dependent origination.
Dwelling at Savatthi... Then a certain brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "What now, Master Gotama: Is the one who acts the same one who experiences [the results of the act]?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is the same one who experiences,' is one extreme."

[The brahman:] "Then, Master Gotama, is the one who acts someone other than the one who experiences?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences,' is the second extreme. Avoiding both of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by means of the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
It might also be worth looking at the Apannaka Suttta, which gives two reasons for not performing actions such as robbing banks and fleeing off to the Maldives. One is that, regardless of kammic result and future lives, you will be a person of no virtue who is criticized by the wise. And the other reason is the likelihood of rebirth in a "plane of deprivation."
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
kirk5a
Posts: 1959
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by kirk5a » Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:03 pm

Myotai wrote:And very 'Zen' like.....nothing wrong in that though - just not what we're looking for
Right, because you're trying to grasp non-grasping.
"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

Dinsdale
Posts: 6096
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:15 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Myotai wrote:And very 'Zen' like.....nothing wrong in that though - just not what we're looking for
Right, because you're trying to grasp non-grasping.
Or just wanting a straightforward answer to a straightforward question?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Myotai
Posts: 513
Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Myotai » Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:20 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
My understanding is that it 's a mistake, according to the Buddha, to say there is no continuity of consciousness.

It's also a mistake to say that the consciousness that passes from life to life is the same consciousness -- some sort of permanent, unchanging soul.

It's really an extension of what goes on in the present life span. You are not the same person you will be ten years from now. Does that mean you have no concern for the welfare of the person you will be then?
But thats my whole point. There will be a stream of conciousness between here and the next ten minutes, or years that may not have at its core an individual, self or soul but there is an experience of continuity isn't there?

What I am really struggling to ascertain is whether the Theravada posit that this ceases at death or, in whatever form is imputed by mind, is there the very same continuity of identity post death - however, illusory or 'empty' it might be?

The Mahayanist would ask the same question like this: Is the conventional self still existent after death, but with a new set of aggregates that the mind imputes 'I' upon?

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:25 pm

Myotai wrote:
But thats my whole point. There will be a stream of conciousness between here and the next ten minutes, or years that may not have at its core an individual, self or soul but there is an experience of continuity isn't there?

What I am really struggling to ascertain is whether the Theravada posit that this ceases at death or, in whatever form is imputed by mind, is there the very same continuity of identity post death - however, illusory or 'empty' it might be?

The Mahayanist would ask the same question like this: Is the conventional self still existent after death, but with a new set of aggregates that the mind imputes 'I' upon?
These questions interest me also. In Mahayana, they may be answered to some degree by the concept of "store consciousness" (alaya vijnana).

In Theravada, the Pali Canon refers to the Buddha recollecting past lives, and this is also said to be a capability achieved by advanced meditators. I don't think any mechanism or explanation is provided as to why or how this capability occurs. Where exactly are those recollections located and how are they accessible? That may have been part of the line of questioning that prompted the alaya vijnana -- though it's been some time since I studied this, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

In terms of ethics, we could ask whether memory or the experience of continuity is essential. For example, if there is a risk that you or I will develop severe Alzheimer's, would we not still make plans for our future well-being? Also, habits of behavior and inclinations can persist even when there is no experience of continuity. An average person doesn't remember much about their early childhood, but certainly some things carry on in terms of personality and habit.

So a question to ask, at any point, might be: why am I experiencing this now? And the answer would have to do with kammic continuity. We can extrapolate that the person we will be down the road would be subject to the same kammic continuity. Because we have compassion, and because we have some understanding of kamma, we try to act in ways that will not bring suffering to that person. Perhaps it's almost like a metta practice, directed at someone who both is and is not "us".

And of course the whole point in the Dhamma is to move towards thinking in terms of idappaccayatā and dependent origination, rather than this or that self.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Alex123 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:32 pm

kirk5a wrote:The problem with what is normally considered an "answer" - "objectifies non-objectification" as Ven. Sariputta said. In other words, what we're talking about isn't graspable by thought. It gets to the heart of non-grasping itself. Total non-grasping cannot be put into terms which inherently involve the mind grasping an idea. So yes, the grasping mind which demands a firm conceptual answer remains "unsatisfied." Satisfaction is found by developing non-grasping to the end, not by philosophizing.
This sounds like refusal to face difficult issues. Any religion can say that "God/Heaven/Hell/Divine Plan, etc is ungraspable by thought" .
  • "Ways of the Lord are ungraspable by us".

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by daverupa » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:43 pm

Myotai wrote:But thats my whole point. There will be a stream of conciousness between here and the next ten minutes, or years that may not have at its core an individual, self or soul but there is an experience of continuity isn't there?
Sure; keep in mind that it's probably an experience of sakkaya-ditthi as well as asmi-mana, alongside the conditional nature of it all.
What I am really struggling to ascertain is whether the Theravada posit that this ceases at death or, in whatever form is imputed by mind, is there the very same continuity of identity post death - however, illusory or 'empty' it might be?
It ends; the aggregates end:
daverupa wrote:The permanent ending of dukkha is the goal here, not a permanent experience of sukha.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2138
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by samseva » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:46 pm

This all stems from a slight misunderstanding of rebirth. From one life to the next, everything ceases except one thing, which is karma-formations (saṇkhāra), or one's past kamma. There is no continuation of consciousness at all, which breaks down like the other 5 aggregates (saṇkhāra in this context has a different definition than saṇkhāra-kkhanda).

What happens during rebirth is that at death, the 5 aggregates break down. One's karma-formations (saṇkhāra) are a condition for a new birth. In a way, you could say that only 5% of you "transmigrates" to a new body, but very little and only that.

Like the mango tree, the seed is a condition for another mango tree. The first tree and the second are not the same, and neither of them are completely different.

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:46 pm

daverupa wrote:
It ends; the aggregates end.
Only in the case of the arahant or Buddha, though. I understood (perhaps wrongly) Myotai to be asking about death in gerneral, that is, for those who have not achieved nibbana.

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by daverupa » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:49 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
daverupa wrote:
It ends; the aggregates end.
Only in the case of the arahant or Buddha, though.
Yes, of course. As I said, "the permanent ending of dukkha is the goal here," and only arahants have done that.

:anjali:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2138
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by samseva » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:51 pm

Regarding existence after attaining Parinibbāna, how can you give the quality of non-existence when there is no existence for there to give this quality?

You can say of someone who has died that he doesn't exist anymore, because there is a reference point to compare the polarity of existence and non-existence. However, when you yourself and nothing exists, that is impossible.

There just i… isn… … . That is what is meant by it cannot be grasped or explained with words.

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by daverupa » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:54 pm

Who said anything about existence or non-existence?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2138
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by samseva » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:55 pm

daverupa wrote:Who said anything about existence or non-existence?
Most of the second page.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Continuation of conciousness / awareness

Post by Alex123 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:04 pm

samseva wrote:This all stems from a slight misunderstanding of rebirth. From one life to the next, everything ceases except one thing, which is karma-formations (saṇkhāra), or one's past kamma. There is no continuation of consciousness at all, which breaks down like the other 5 aggregates (saṇkhāra in this context has a different definition than saṇkhāra-kkhanda).
What about memory? How can one recollect one's former lives?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Craig86, Google [Bot], piotr and 81 guests