A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

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pulga
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by pulga » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote: As in https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.47
So https://suttacentral.net/en/sn5.10 addresses that level of mistake, which is the mistake of the philosopher Ven N quotes, I guess, and the mistake of most people these days. They know intellectually that a being us just a bunch of processes, but it still feels like a self.
In his Notes Ven. Ñanavira quotes the Samanupassanā Sutta (SN 22.47) as well.
Ven. Ñanavira wrote: The puthujjana does not by any means experience his 'self' as an abstraction, and this because it is not rationally that notions of subjectivity are bound up with nescience (avijjā), but affectively. Reason comes in (when it comes in at all) only in the second place, to make what it can of a fait accompli. Avijjāsamphassajena bhikhave vedayitena phutthassa assutavato puthujjanassa, Asmī ti pi'ssa hoti, Ayam aham asmī ti pi'ssa hoti, Bhavissan ti pi'ssa hoti,... ('To the uninstructed commoner, monks, contacted by feeling born of nescience-contact, it occurs '(I) am', it occurs 'It is this that I am', it occurs 'I shall be',...') Khandha Samy. v,5 <S.iii,46>. SN Dhamma

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:16 pm

Thanks for the reference. I can't really tell whether he's addressing the issue Chownah and I are raising, though.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by SDC » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:52 pm

Don't hesitate to continue this line of discussion, but since several references have been made regarding later parts of this note (which are relevant) I am going to go ahead with the next excerpt.

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Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.


PARAMATTHA SACCA - 6th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts: 1,2,3,4,5

Verses from Bhikkhunī Samyutta 10 <S.i,135>:
Māro pāpimā:
1 Kenāyam pakato satto, kuvam sattassa kārako,
2 Kuvam satto samuppanno, kuvam satto nirujjhatī ti.
Vajirā bhikkhunī:
3 Kin nu Sattoti paccesi, Māra, ditthigatam nu te,
4 Suddhasankhārapuñjo'yam, nayidha sattūpalabbhati;
5 Yathā hi angasambhārā hoti saddo Ratho iti,
6 Evam khandhesu santesu hoti Satto ti sammuti.
7 Dukkham eva hi sambhoti, dukkham titthati veti ca,
8 Nāññatra dukkhā sambhoti, nāññam dukkhā nirujjhatī ti.

Māra the Evil One:
1 By whom is this creature formed? Who is the creature's maker?
2 Who is the arisen creature? Who is the creature that ceases?
Vajirā the nun:
3 Why do you refer to 'the creature', Māra, are you involved in (wrong) view?
4 This is a pile of pure determinations; there is, here, no creature to be found.
5 Just as for an assemblage of parts there is the term 'a chariot',
6 So, when there are the aggregates, convention says 'a creature'.
7 It is merely suffering that comes into being, suffering that stands and disappears,
8 Nothing apart from suffering comes into being, nothing other than suffering ceases.
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:7. The question now arises whether the word satta, which we have been translating as 'creature', can be used to denote an arahat. Once it is clear that, in a right view, nothing is to be found that can be identified as 'self', the application of the word satta becomes a question of usage. Is satta simply pañc'upādānakkhandhā—in which case it is equivalent to sakkāya --, or can it be applied also to pañcakkhandhā, as the sixth line might seem to suggest? If the latter, then (at least as applied to deities and human beings) it is equivalent to puggala, which is certainly used in the Suttas to refer to an arahat (who is the first of the atthapurisapuggalā),[c] and which can be understood in the obvious sense of one set of pañcakkhandhā as distinct from all other sets—an arahat is an 'individual' in the sense that one arahat can be distinguished from another. It is not a matter of great importance to settle this question (which is simply a matter of finding Sutta passages—e.g. Khandha Samy. iii,7 <S.iii,30>; Rādha Samy. 2 <S.iii,190>; Anguttara V,iv,2 <A.iii,35>—that illustrate and fix the actual usage of the word). It is of infinitely more importance to understand that the puthujjana will misapprehend any word of this nature that is used (attā, 'self'; bhuta, 'being'; pāna, 'animal'; sakkāya, 'person, somebody'; purisa, 'man'; manussa, 'human being'; and so on), and that the ariyasāvaka will not.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by SDC » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:23 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.


PARAMATTHA SACCA - 7th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Verses from Bhikkhunī Samyutta 10 <S.i,135>:
Māro pāpimā:
1 Kenāyam pakato satto, kuvam sattassa kārako,
2 Kuvam satto samuppanno, kuvam satto nirujjhatī ti.
Vajirā bhikkhunī:
3 Kin nu Sattoti paccesi, Māra, ditthigatam nu te,
4 Suddhasankhārapuñjo'yam, nayidha sattūpalabbhati;
5 Yathā hi angasambhārā hoti saddo Ratho iti,
6 Evam khandhesu santesu hoti Satto ti sammuti.
7 Dukkham eva hi sambhoti, dukkham titthati veti ca,
8 Nāññatra dukkhā sambhoti, nāññam dukkhā nirujjhatī ti.

Māra the Evil One:
1 By whom is this creature formed? Who is the creature's maker?
2 Who is the arisen creature? Who is the creature that ceases?
Vajirā the nun:
3 Why do you refer to 'the creature', Māra, are you involved in (wrong) view?
4 This is a pile of pure determinations; there is, here, no creature to be found.
5 Just as for an assemblage of parts there is the term 'a chariot',
6 So, when there are the aggregates, convention says 'a creature'.
7 It is merely suffering that comes into being, suffering that stands and disappears,
8 Nothing apart from suffering comes into being, nothing other than suffering ceases.
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:8. It is quite possible that the notion of paramattha sacca, 'truth in the highest, or ultimate, or absolute, sense' was in existence before the time of the Milindapañha; but its use there (Pt. II, Ch. 1) is so clear and unambiguous that that book is the obvious point of departure for any discussion about it. The passage quotes the two lines (5 & 6) containing the simile of the chariot. They are used to justify the following argument. The word 'chariot' is the conventional name given to an assemblage of parts; but if each part is examined individually it cannot be said of any one of them that it is the chariot, nor do we find any chariot in the parts collectively, nor do we find any chariot outside the parts. Therefore, 'in the highest sense', there exists no chariot. Similarly, an 'individual' (the word puggala is used) is merely a conventional name given to an assemblage of parts (parts of the body, as well as khandhā), and, 'in the highest sense', there exists no individual. That is all.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:18 pm

The above is a very brief summary of the text:
The Questions of King Milinda
Book 2: The Distinguishing Characteristics of Ethical Qualities
Chapter 1
3.1.1 Individuality and name; the chariot simile
https://suttacentral.net/en/mil3.1.1
http://www.aimwell.org/milinda.html
I think that it's worth reading the passage in full to see how the discussion unfolds. Note that Milinda is the one who asks questions like: “Or is it the body, or feelings, or perceptions, or formations, or con­sciousness? Is it all of these com­bined? Or is it something outside of them that is Nāgasena?”
King Milinda’s Questions
The Great Chapter
A Question on Concepts


King Milinda went up to Nāgasena, exchan­ged polite and friendly greetings, and took his seat respectfully to one side. Then Milinda began by asking:

1. “How is your reverence known, and what sir, is your name?”
“O king, I am known as Nāgasena but that is only a designation in common use, for no permanent indi­vidual can be found.”

Then Milinda called upon the Bactrian Greeks and the monks to bear witness: “This Nāgasena says that no permanent individual is implied in his name. Is it possible to approve of that?” Then he turned to Nāgasena and said, “If, most venerable Nāgasena, that is true, who is it who gives you robes, food and shelter? Who lives the righteous life? Or again, who kills living beings, steals, commits adultery, tells lies or takes strong drink? If what you say is true then there is neither merit nor demerit, nor is there any doer of good or evil deeds and no result of kamma. If, venerable sir, a man were to kill you there would be no murder, and it follows that there are no masters or teachers in your Order.

You say that you are called Nāga­sena; now what is that Nāgasena? Is it the hair?”
“I don’t say that, great king.”

“Is it then the nails, teeth, skin or other parts of the body?”
“Certainly not.”

“Or is it the body, or feelings, or perceptions, or formations, or con­sciousness? Is it all of these com­bined? Or is it something outside of them that is Nāgasena?”

Still Nāgasena answered: “It is none of these.”

“Then, ask as I may, I can discover no Nāga­sena. Nāgasena is an empty sound. Who is it we see before us? It is a falsehood that your reverence has spoken.”

“You, sir, have been reared in great luxury as becomes your noble birth. How did you come here, by foot or in a chariot?”
“In a chariot, venerable sir.”

“Then, explain sir, what that is. Is it the axle? Or the wheels, or the chassis, or reins, or yoke that is the chariot? Is it all of these combined, or is it something apart from them?”
“It is none of these things, venerable sir.”

“Then, sir, this chariot is an empty sound. You spoke falsely when you said that you came here in a chariot. You are a great king of India. Who are you afraid of that you don’t speak the truth?” Then he called upon the Bactrian Greeks and the monks to bear witness: “This King Milinda has said that he came here in a chariot but when asked what it is, he is unable to show it. Is it possible to approve of that?”

Then the five hundred Bactrian Greeks shouted their approval and said to the king, “Get out of that if you can!”

“Venerable sir, I have spoken the truth. It is because it has all these parts that it comes under the term chariot.”
“Very good, sir, your majesty has rightly grasped the meaning. Even so it is because of the thirty-two kinds of organic matter in a human body and the five aggregates of being that I come under the term ‘Nāgasena’. As it was said by Sister Vajirā in the presence of the Blessed One,
‘Just as it is by the existence of the various parts that the word “Chariot” is used, just so is it that when the aggre­gates of being are there we talk of a being’.”

“Most wonderful, Nāgasena, most extraordin­ary that you have solved this puzzle, difficult though it was. If the Buddha himself were here he would approve of your reply.”
Note that in the other translation http://www.aimwell.org/milinda.html the translator adds "soul".
‘I am known as Nāgasena, O king, and it is by that name that my brethren in the faith address me. But although parents, O king, give such a name as Nāgasena, or Sūrasena, or Vīrasena, or Sīhasena, yet this, Sire—Nāgasena and so on—is only a generally understood term, a designation in common use. For there is no permanent individuality (no soul) involved in the matter.’
Continuing from my observation above:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... &start=220
mikenz66 wrote: Having thought about this passage for a while, there is another interesting point here. The Sutta doesn't speak of a self, it speaks of a being:
“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates exist,
There is the convention ‘a being.’
Is reading "self" in the sense of "atman" into this passage a mistake?
:anjali:
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:31 pm

And there is the quote here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=23509#p336757 of the passage from the Visuddhimagga that refers to this Sutta:
Visuddhimagga, Chapter XVIII wrote: 27. And again this has been said:
It is ill alone that rises,
Ill that remains, ill that departs.
Nothing rises else than ill,
And nothing ceases else than ill (S I 135) [SN 5.10 Vajirā Sutta].

28. So in many hundred suttas it is only mentality-materiality that is illustrated,
not a being, not a person. Therefore, just as when the component parts such as
axles, wheels, frame poles, etc., are arranged in a certain way, there comes to be
the mere term of common usage “chariot,” yet in the ultimate sense when each
part is examined there is no chariot—and just as when the component parts of
a house such as wattles, etc., are placed so that they enclose a space in a certain
way, there comes to be the mere term of common usage “house,” yet in the ultimate
sense there is no house—and just as when the fingers, thumb, etc., are placed in
a certain way, there comes to be the mere term of common usage “fist,”—
with body and strings, “lute”; with elephants, horses, etc., “army”; with
surrounding walls, houses, states, etc., “city”—just as when trunk, branches,
foliage, etc., are placed in a certain way, there comes to be the mere term of
common usage “tree,” yet in the ultimate sense, when each component is
examined, there is no tree—so too, when there are the five aggregates [as objects]
of clinging, there comes to be the mere term of common usage “a being,” “a
person,” yet in the ultimate sense, when each component is examined, there is
no being as a basis for the assumption “I am” or “I”; in the ultimate sense there
is only mentality-materiality. The vision of one who sees in this way is called
correct vision.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by piotr » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:14 am

Hi Mike,

The Buddha sometimes says in the suttas that he was accused of being an ucchedavādin because "he teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing being (sato sattassa ucchedaṃ vināsaṃ vibhavaṃ paññāpeti)" (MN 22). His response to this was that he teaches that only dukkha arises and ceases. It seems that Vajira response to the Māra is more expanded answer to this kind of accusations: beings don't exist in a way ucchedavādins take them to exist, therefore it's useless to think that beings cease to exist after death.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:15 pm

Thanks Piotr, that's really useful. Here's the passage you are talking about:
... As I am not, as I do not proclaim, so have I been baselessly, vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepres ented by some recluses and brahmins thus: ‘The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing being.’

“Bhikkhus, both formerly and now what I teach is suffering and the cessation of suffering. ...
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn22/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And, earlier in the sutta, there is the standard sort of discussion regarding not-self:
“Bhikkhus, there being a self, would there be for me what belongs to a self?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Or, there being what belongs to a self, would there be for me a self?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, since a self and what belongs to a self are not apprehended as true and established, then this standpoint for views, namely, ‘That which is the self is the world; after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity’—would it not be an utterly and completely foolish teaching?”
The self view and the living-being view, are presented as two different misguided views.

So has Ven Nanananda (and many others) mistakenly conflated these two issues? ("a being" and "self").

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by pulga » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:51 pm

mikenz66 wrote: The self view and the living-being view, are presented as two different misguided views.
Satta needn't be a misguided view.
Ven. Ñanavira wrote:Is satta simply pañc'upādānakkhandhā—in which case it is equivalent to sakkāya --, or can it be applied also to pañcakkhandhā, as the sixth line might seem to suggest? If the latter, then (at least as applied to deities and human beings) it is equivalent to puggala, which is certainly used in the Suttas to refer to an arahat (who is the first of the atthapurisapuggalā), and which can be understood in the obvious sense of one set of pañcakkhandhā as distinct from all other sets—an arahat is an 'individual' in the sense that one arahat can be distinguished from another.
and further down in the Note:
Ven. Ñanavira wrote:...since the functional arrangement of the pañcakkhandhā cannot be altered, even in imagination, it asserts an impossibility, that an existing individual can be destroyed.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by piotr » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:38 pm

Hi Mike,

I don't think they made any mistake in this regard. If you look into the Brahmajāla-sutta (DN 1) where ucchedavāda is disscused then you can see how this two issues are connected. For example in case of first view it's said:
  • Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine and view: ‘The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.’ In this way some proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:03 pm

Thanks, that's very helpful.

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Mike

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:16 pm

It seems to me that this is an over-interpretation of the converstation:
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Therefore, 'in the highest sense', there exists no chariot. Similarly, an 'individual' (the word puggala is used) is merely a conventional name given to an assemblage of parts (parts of the body, as well as khandhā), and, 'in the highest sense', there exists no individual. That is all.
[/quote]
Yet the quote from the Questions of King Milinda doesn't seem to use the "highest sense" terminology. It says such things as:
“O king, I am known as Nāgasena but that is only a designation in common use, for no permanent indi­vidual can be found.” ...
It seems that the "highest sense" term is used in the Visuddhimagga (see quote above).
... in the ultimate sense, when each component is examined, there is
no being as a basis for the assumption “I am” or “I”; in the ultimate sense there
is only mentality-materiality.
Perhaps I'm missing something in the Milinda passage.

Another issue, of course, is exactly what the Commentators mean by "highest/ultimate sense".

:anjali:
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by pulga » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:29 am

mikenz66 wrote: Yet the quote from the Questions of King Milinda doesn't seem to use the "highest sense" terminology. It says such things as:
“O king, I am known as Nāgasena but that is only a designation in common use, for no permanent indi­vidual can be found.” ...
It does though:
...‘nāgaseno’ti saṅkhā samaññā paññatti vohāro nāmamattaṃ pavattati, paramatthato panettha puggalo nūpalabbhati.
The translator oddly translates the word as "permanent".

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:47 am

Ah, OK, thanks for that.

Still, the question is whether "highest" or "ultimate" is a good translation...

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by chownah » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:23 am

I''ve developed an idea about the being vs. self conundrum.
There is right view with remainder and right view without remainder and I mention this to illustrate what I will call "conventional truth" and "bare truth" ("bare truth is sometimes called "higher" or "ultimate" but I don't like those designations). Many people live their lives in the world and they really don't have any idea about leaving that world and they benefit from the buddha's teachings of conventional truth. Some people see the world and are aiming to end it and those people benefit from the buddha's teachings on bare truth. So...the buddha presents teachings in a way that both these groups get what they need. But....the conventional truth group can benefit by better understanding the bare side and the bare group can benefit by better understanding the conventional side. The teaching on self are mostly directed at the bare side and the teachings on beings sort of bridge over between the conventional and bare divide. There might be other teachings which could be delineated in this way but I won't go into that. I'm just wanting to show how using the teachings on beings and self can when taken together help the two groups to comprehend the way things really are.
chownah

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