the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

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Jikan
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the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Jikan » Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:20 am

hi all,

are there any Theravada traditions that posit the present moment as something that is real, true, substantial, or in any way a suitable object of refuge?

we're all familiar with the teaching of anatta, concerning the perception of the self (there ain't one), and anicca, concerning the perception of permanence (which is anything but). I've encountered in my reading and conversation with peers that some argue, in distinction from Mahayana teachings on the emptiness of self and other, that some Theravadins find that while the self may be a mirage, the world is not, or the present moment is not, or some variation on such themes. I'm simultaneously skeptical and ignorant, so I turn to you all for guidance. Please set me right.

thank you.

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retrofuturist
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Dec 20, 2015 1:08 am

Greetings Jikan,
...some Theravadins find that while the self may be a mirage, the world is not, or the present moment is not, or some variation on such themes
Some do, some don't... it usually depends on what teachings people take as definitive.

Personally, I follow in line with SN 12.15 (here's an extract)...
Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications....
Metta,
Paul. :)
"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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subaru
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by subaru » Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:05 am

Hi..

Allow me to share what little I know..

Look at the Iphone, take it apart..
1) The screen, battery, electronic components, casing, speakers, memory card are all all real
2) in the memory card, there is one file called handsome.mp3 , is also real
3) when you play the mp3 file, a sweet sounding sound come out of the speaker says, "Hello there Handsome "
4) The sound is real
5) The words carries unreal meaning... if I feel happy after hearing the words, I am not very wise.

we can do the same procedure to break down the processes in our mind... what is real, what is not real is very very difficult to differentiate, alot more difficult than iphone.. but many Suttas have consistently list out what is real and what is not real...

after one can differentiate what is real , what is not real, then one can investigate the characteristics of these real phenomena, thus gain beneficial insights.. if one examines the unreal phenomena, one is only chasing one's tail...
:candle:

Bakmoon
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Bakmoon » Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:12 am

I am fairly confident that across the board few Theravadins would say that the present moment is somehow truely established. Although some of the later commentators of the Theravada tradition (i.e. after the time of Buddhaghosa and Dhammapala) developed a rather reified interpretation of the Abhidhamma that sees dhammas as being intrinsically real, they were also heavily influenced by some Sautrantika ideas from mainland India, and correspondingly, they were rather uncomfortable with the idea of time, including the present.

There is often some confusion in terminology when discussing these matters, probably the biggest is the use of the term ultimate real, which doesn't necessarily mean what it means in other schools.

Here is an excellent thread on a related issue that I think could be very helpful: Svabhāva and Theravada
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Crazy cloud
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Crazy cloud » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:29 am


Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2012
Alternate translation: Ireland
Alternate format: [PDF icon]
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]
:candle:
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

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Mr Man
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Mr Man » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:37 am

Jikan wrote:hi all,

are there any Theravada traditions that posit the present moment as something that is real, true, substantial, or in any way a suitable object of refuge?
I don't know about posit as an intellectual position but what could be termed "the present moment" in practical terms can be used as a refuge.

I read this earlier this morning. It is from a Ajahn Sucitto, who is a monk, who has been practicing within the Theravada form for some time:

"Awareness is the centre of what we call ‘mind’, but normally of course, the mind is awareness plus regret, or longing, or analysis, or sidetrack and rumbling trains of thought moving forward, backwards – or anywhere except the simply open present. So it takes training, but with guidance and effort, the meditator centres on awareness as the feature of the mind that is constant, irreducible and needs no comment. Consequently, as awareness releases from these associated activities, it is revealed in its depth and warm beauty. It’s a given treasure."

http://sucitto.blogspot.co.uk/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Jikan
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Jikan » Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:45 pm

Thank you all for the helpful replies. I think I'm getting some clarity on this, but I also have more confusions to clear up. I suppose that's a sign of learning something.

With regard to this passage translated by Thanissaro Bikkhu:
Crazy cloud wrote:

Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2012
Alternate translation: Ireland
Alternate format: [PDF icon]
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]
:candle:
Is the term translated as "unborn" indeed the Pali nibbana? If so, then how to locate 'the unborn" relative to the present moment for ordinary persons, not arhats? that is: is the conventional perception of "the present moment" such as one might find in the writings of, say, E. Tolle necessarily the same as "the unborn"?

Similarly, is the world around us also "the unborn"?

Jikan
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Jikan » Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:59 pm

Bakmoon wrote:There is often some confusion in terminology when discussing these matters, probably the biggest is the use of the term ultimate real, which doesn't necessarily mean what it means in other schools.
I think this is part of what I'm up against. I'm trying to get this sorted out in my head in good faith...

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katavedi
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by katavedi » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:53 pm

Hi Jikan,

Regarding this phrase, "ajāta, abhūta, akata, asaṅkhata", to quote Leigh Brasington, from his page "Problematic Pali Translations":
This famous description of nibbana often gets mistranslated. There cannot be any "a", "an" or "the" - Pali doesn't have articles. Furthermore, "unconditioned" for "asaṅkhata" is particularly bad. "Asaṅkhata" is the negative of the past participle of sankhāra (see above), it literally means (a) without (saṅkhata) concocted or fabricated. Nibbana is therefore the opposite of Samsara which has birth, beings, made things and fabricated things. The difference, however, is not ontologically, but perceptive - see verse 874 of Snp 4.11 and the verses at the end of DN 11.
He prefers the translation "without birth, without beings, without made things, without fabrications", which I think fits well with another term for nibbana, sabbasankhara-samatha, the stilling of all formations.

Be well,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”


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mikenz66
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:39 pm

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings Jikan,
...some Theravadins find that while the self may be a mirage, the world is not, or the present moment is not, or some variation on such themes
Some do, some don't... it usually depends on what teachings people take as definitive.

Personally, I follow in line with SN 12.15 (here's an extract)...
See this thread for discussions by a number of ancient and modern interpreters, from Nagarjuna to Nanananda, about what the words commonly translated as "existence" and "non-existence" means.

:anjali:
Mike

Bakmoon
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Bakmoon » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:52 pm

Jikan wrote:I think this is part of what I'm up against. I'm trying to get this sorted out in my head in good faith...
It's very hard, yes. Theravada literature has a tendency to not lay out philosophically rigorous technical definitions. Here's my understanding of the two truths as generally understood by the Theravada school. Conventional reality is equated with anything that is a concept (a paññati) and ultimate reality is equated with the set of direct experiences that these concepts are applied to. Whereas concepts like man or chariot can be broken down further in terms of what they refer to, these direct experiences doesn't refer to anything else, so it is referred to as paramattha sacca, often translated as ultimate reality or ultimate truth. The point being is that the distinction is one of concept versus direct experience, and that in and of itself doesn't imply a metaphysical commitment.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Crazy cloud
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by Crazy cloud » Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:06 pm

Jikan wrote:Thank you all for the helpful replies. I think I'm getting some clarity on this, but I also have more confusions to clear up. I suppose that's a sign of learning something.

With regard to this passage translated by Thanissaro Bikkhu:
Crazy cloud wrote:

Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2012
Alternate translation: Ireland
Alternate format: [PDF icon]
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]
:candle:
Is the term translated as "unborn" indeed the Pali nibbana? If so, then how to locate 'the unborn" relative to the present moment for ordinary persons, not arhats? that is: is the conventional perception of "the present moment" such as one might find in the writings of, say, E. Tolle necessarily the same as "the unborn"?

Similarly, is the world around us also "the unborn"?
"Emptiness" to me, and I recommend Ajahn Sumedho for further investigation! (Unborn)
http://www.amaravati.org/speakers/ajahn ... _year=2008" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Be bright and shiny! :anjali:
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

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katavedi
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by katavedi » Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:39 pm

Is the term translated as "unborn" indeed the Pali nibbana?
No, "unborn" is the translation for ajāta.

I would say that "unborn" is the understanding of anatta via dependent origination -- the state in which one no longer sees oneself as a "being", but only as an interaction of dependently arisen phenomenon constantly changing. When one has even let go of the notion of oneself as a subject to whom experience is happening, then there is no more birth (of the "me"). For one who is not an arahant, there is constant becoming and birth, as the "me" is continually re-created with each sense contact.

The world around us is unborn in the sense that it too lacks inherent existence, but only exists due to causes and conditions interacting. If there is only a play of causes and conditions, and thus no "thing", then there was no "birth" of the thing.
This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality—upon the notion of existence and the notion of nonexistence. But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world. SN 12.15
Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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kirk5a
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Re: the "present moment," dependent origination, impermanence, &c

Post by kirk5a » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:46 pm

"Now these three are unfabricated characteristics of what is unfabricated. Which three? No arising is discernible, no passing away is discernible, no alteration while staying is discernible.
"These are three unfabricated characteristics of what is unfabricated."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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

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