If anicca is anicca?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Pondera
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If anicca is anicca?

Post by Pondera » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:21 am

This was asked by a student in a class I was attending back in 1999. He asked, "if everything is impermanent, then impermanence is also impermanent." .... And, the professor faultered with the question and the class broke into a riot. It was autumn and I was coming down with a cold that would actually affect me more than I would have suspected at the time. I thought it was the sniffles, but it persisted for a few weeks leaving a jarring kind of residual headache in one area of my mind. I think I was too young at the time to really appreciate how that kopf schmeer really didn't go away completely. It didn't make complex analysis class any easier. But I digress. If everything is impermanent, then the impermanence of impermanence implies permanence. And this is a contradiction in the teaching. So, there ya go. A contradiction in the teaching. I expect a riot will now consume the whole forum and many young minds will be faced with absolute uncertainty as to whether anything in this world is sacred. I apologize. But again, I am merely repeating something I heard in a class room 16 years ago.
What is “rupa” Jhāna? Here are four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, rapture and equanimity - peacehttps://drive.google.com/open?id=1sdgpi ... hIz3wgz7ep

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robertk
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by robertk » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:24 am

perhaps the professor hadn't studied the relevant passages in the Visuddhimagga (unlike members of this forum)

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Pondera
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by Pondera » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:46 am

robertk wrote:perhaps the professor hadn't studied the relevant passages in the Visuddhimagga (unlike members of this forum)
This too has been covered! Damn. What if I were to tell you the Buddha's historical birthplace is all wrong?
What is “rupa” Jhāna? Here are four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, rapture and equanimity - peacehttps://drive.google.com/open?id=1sdgpi ... hIz3wgz7ep

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robertk
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by robertk » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:54 am

the characteristic of impermanence applies to dhammas, elements, ayatanas . Nowhere in the scriptures does it suggest that impermanence is a dhamma.

mal4mac
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:16 am

I can see three ways round this. As I'm not a professor, I suspect they may have easy rebutals, so please rebut...

1) Dhammas are experiences, impermanence is not an experience, therefore impermanence is not impermanent.
2) Impermanence is a rare example of a dhamma that's permanent.
3) For pragmatic reasons, assume impermanence isn't impermanent as a hypothesis.

The Visuddhimagga is not "the word of the Buddha". What do the Suttas say about this matter?
- Mal

SarathW
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by SarathW » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:17 am

Re birth is the result of impermanence of the impermanence.
However re-birth is not permanent.
That also impermanent.
What Buddha said was things are changing to some thing else (difference) all the time.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Polar Bear
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:22 am

Classic Category Mistake

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Category_mistake" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Polar Bear
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:26 am

Or perhaps it could be characterized as a problem of self-reference, such as the proposition: This sentence is false

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-reference/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

mal4mac
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:32 am

For the arahant, in reaching a permanent state of Nibbana, impermanence is impermanent.
Last edited by mal4mac on Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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mal4mac
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:37 am

SarathW wrote:Re birth is the result of impermanence of the impermanence.
I'd say exactly the opposite!

Eternal rebirth is the fate of the eternal worldling. He's locked into a state of continual impermanence and suffering. For him, impermanence is permanent.

So "Re birth is the result of permanence of the impermanence".
- Mal

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Bundokji
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by Bundokji » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:12 am

I am not sure if the Buddha taught that "everything" is impermanent! but that all conditioned phenomena are impermanent.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

SarathW
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by SarathW » Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:15 pm

mal4mac wrote:
SarathW wrote:Re birth is the result of impermanence of the impermanence.
I'd say exactly the opposite!

Eternal rebirth is the fate of the eternal worldling. He's locked into a state of continual impermanence and suffering. For him, impermanence is permanent.

So "Re birth is the result of permanence of the impermanence".
Well Samasara is the continuation of the impermanence.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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dhammacoustic
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by dhammacoustic » Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:48 pm

Anicca is an adjective, not a dhamma, saṅkhāra-dhammas are anicca (sabbe saṅkhāra anicca/sabbe saṅkhāra dukkha/sabbe dhammā anattā), and nibbāṇa is the ending of all formations, so it is permanent/nicca.

:anjali:

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seeker242
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by seeker242 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:04 pm

Pondera wrote:If everything is impermanent, then the impermanence of impermanence implies permanence. And this is a contradiction in the teaching.
If anicca is not a thing, but simply the quality of things, then it's not a contradiction. Saying anicca is a thing is like saying "green" is a thing. Plants are green, but the designation of a thing is the plant itself, not the fact that the plant is green. The fact that the plant is green is just a quality of the thing we call a plant, not a thing in and of itself. Every "thing" is impermanent, but their fundamental qualities are unchanging.

Of course a plant is not the best analogy because plants eventually turn brown! :D But, you get the picture I would hope. :)

:anjali:

mal4mac
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Re: If anicca is anicca?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:52 pm

Dhammas are phenomena, objects detected by the sense organs (including mental objects.). Impermanence is not detected by a sense organ. You can detect your inbreath, and you can detect that there is no inbreath, but you cannot detect impermanence in this process.

So impermanence is always an inference.

How then can we "see" impermanence during insight meditation? (The books do ask us to "see" it!) All we can see (or, rather, feel!) is "inbreath" or "no inbreath". So we can't see impermanence, we can only infer it.
- Mal

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