Unconditioned

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Dinsdale
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:"the unconditioned"? I rather doubt that there is a definite article "the" in the Pali in relation to asankhata. One needs to very careful about the slippery slope of reification, particularly since the Buddha's teachings are not about an ontology of being.
Yes, I suspect asankhata is more like an adjective than a noun. As a noun it begins looking rather similar to Atman/Brahman.
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Dinsdale
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:25 am

davidbrainerd wrote:...but there is an unconditioned self, which alone is the true self, because the conditioned 'self' is a delusion in that it is nothing but a house for the self and not a real self it'self'.
This is reminiscent of the way some Mahayanists talk about Buddha nature, as a sort of eternal true self. This is how some interpret the Tathagatagarbha Sutra for example. But how is this different from an Atman?
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dhammacoustic
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:31 am

davidbrainerd wrote:Dhammapada 153 "Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering!"

Now how did "I" wander through many lives when "I" according to you is only the conditioned 'self' with is destroyed at the end of each life. Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.

Dhammapada 154. "O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving."

There will be no more house (body, 5 aggregates) built, but the "I" here continues, just without a house. So the conditioned 'self' that is obliterated with each death is not the only 'self', but there is an unconditioned self, which alone is the true self, because the conditioned 'self' is a delusion in that it is nothing but a house for the self and not a real self it'self'.
If an unconditioned Self actually existed in and of itself, there would be no "becoming". Surely existence exists in and of itself, and this alone proves it is impossible for a "true Self" to exist.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:19 am

dhammacoustic wrote:If an unconditioned Self actually existed in and of itself, there would be no "becoming". Surely existence exists in and of itself, and this alone proves it is impossible for a "true Self" to exist.
Rather, the fact that craving is said to be the cause of conditioned existence is the clue that there has to be an unconditioned and true self, because if there wasn't, then there would have been nothing to start the first round of craving that brought the conditioned into existence to begin with.

Dhammapada 347 "Those who are lust-infatuated fall back into the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This, too, the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all suffering and renounce the world."

If this is how it happens in between one life in samsara and another, why not at the beginning of the cycle? At some point craving first arose, the craving to be something other and alien to one's true nature, and the unconditioned self fell into the trap of samsara.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by chownah » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:55 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Rather, the fact that craving is said to be the cause of conditioned existence is the clue that there has to be an unconditioned and true self, because if there wasn't, then there would have been nothing to start the first round of craving that brought the conditioned into existence to begin with.
Davidbrainerd,
For all I know you are right and I actuallly do have some "true self". Heck, maybe I have two or three "true selves"...I don't know. I think the question to explore is what did the buddha have to say about self. If the buddha wanted to teach that we have "true selves" then he did a very bad job of teaching us that....I think he would have just came out and said it...but he didn't. The buddha claimed to only teach about the end of dukkha....he claimed that if it helped to end dukkha he taught it and if it did not help in the end of dukkha then he did not teach it. So...to me, since the buddha did in fact have alot to say about the idea of self it seems that what the buddha actually said about self is what the buddha figured we needed to know about self to help us end dukkha....and....if there was some idea about self that would not help us to end dukkha then he did not teach that. Since the buddha did not teach about a "true self" then I guess that this means that the concept of "true self" will not help us to end dukkha...or...it is just incorrect. It seems that you are of the view that there is something that "is the clue that there has to be an unconditioned and true self," (these are your words in the quote).....seems that you think that the buddha's ideas on self are hidden and we need to find "clues" to find out about them while in fact there are multiple suttas talking about self and none of them talks about a "true self".....on the contrary, having the idea that there is any kind of a self is very thoroughly discounted in his teachings.....no clues are needed.
So it seems that the idea of self is at least not needed to end dukkha and there is a strong indication in the teachings that holding such a view is counterproductive to the point of being something that actually bars us from reaching the goal.
chownah

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:33 am

So if asankhata isn't some kind of transcendental absolute like Atman/Brahman, is it really just a state of mind free from fabrications? But then aren't states of mind dependently arising? :thinking:
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dhammacoustic
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:35 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:If an unconditioned Self actually existed in and of itself, there would be no "becoming". Surely existence exists in and of itself, and this alone proves it is impossible for a "true Self" to exist.
Rather, the fact that craving is said to be the cause of conditioned existence is the clue that there has to be an unconditioned and true self, because if there wasn't, then there would have been nothing to start the first round of craving that brought the conditioned into existence to begin with.
According to the Buddha's teaching, there is craving, because there is feeling. There is feeling, because there is contact. In other words, there isn't a "true self" who is craving. Just the reality of craving, which is an existential, conditional occurrence, and the self is an imagination.
At some point craving first arose,
How?

Hypothetically speaking, an "unconditioned Self" cannot possibly be affected by anything external to it, since it is already unconditioned.

:anjali:

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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:24 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
katavedi wrote:But I think this sutta could also be referring to the everyday mind of the arahant, who is no longer constructing a subject to whom experience is happening. And with no subject, there can no longer be objects -- just as with no objects, there can be no subject. The two need each other to exist, as the sheaves of reeds simile attests (SN 12.67). It's not that the arahant can't use or recognize what we conventionally call "objects", but s/he is not "thingifying" them in a way that creates an "experiencer".
So like the Bahiya Sutta, "in the seen, just the seen"?
Yes, you're exactly right.
“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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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:47 am

Spiny Norman wrote:So if asankhata isn't some kind of transcendental absolute like Atman/Brahman, is it really just a state of mind free from fabrications? But then aren't states of mind dependently arising? :thinking:
Yes to both. The principle of dependent arising still exists for the arahant. But it doesn't include those nidanas found in typical expositions of DA. In most expositions of the DA principle, the Buddha was using it to explain the arising and cessation of dukkha, since that was his purpose for teaching. But the principle is still at play outside of the creation of dukkha too. As I'm sure you know, Spiny, the general principle is:
AN 10.92 and others wrote:When this exists, that comes to be;
with the arising of this, that arises.
When this does not exist, that does not come to be;
with the cessation of this, that ceases.
So asankhata is simply no constructing, due to ending of ignorance. It doesn't mean that the principle of DA has ceased to function, only that those things conditioned by ignorance have ceased to function.

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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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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Dan74 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:37 pm

Whichever way you look at it, the Buddha taught to relinquish clinging, and holding to any notion of self, higher, transcendent, pure, etc, isn't that clinging?

Anatta is about letting go of clinging, not a doctrine to hold on to, as far as I can make out.
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Nicolas » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:17 pm

Mahānidāna Sutta (DN 15) wrote: "To what extent, Ananda, does one delineate when delineating a self? Either delineating a self possessed of form and finite, one delineates that 'My self is possessed of form and finite.' Or, delineating a self possessed of form and infinite, one delineates that 'My self is possessed of form and infinite.' Or, delineating a self formless and finite, one delineates that 'My self is formless and finite.' Or, delineating a self formless and infinite, one delineates that 'My self is formless and infinite.'

"Now, the one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as possessed of form and finite, either delineates it as possessed of form and finite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become possessed of form and finite [in the future/after death], or he believes that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self possessed of form and finite obsesses him.

"The one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as possessed of form and infinite, either delineates it as possessed of form and infinite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become possessed of form and infinite [in the future/after death], or he believes that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self possessed of form and infinite obsesses him.

"The one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as formless and finite, either delineates it as formless and finite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become formless and finite [in the future/after death], or he believes that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self formless and finite obsesses him.

"The one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as formless and infinite, either delineates it as formless and infinite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become formless and infinite [in the future/after death], or he believes that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self formless and infinite obsesses him.

"To what extent, Ananda, does one not delineate when not delineating a self? Either not delineating a self possessed of form and finite, one does not delineate that 'My self is possessed of form and finite.' Or, not delineating a self possessed of form and infinite, one does not delineate that 'My self is possessed of form and infinite.' Or, not delineating a self formless and finite, one does not delineate that 'My self is formless and finite.' Or, not delineating a self formless and infinite, one does not delineate that 'My self is formless and infinite.'

"Now, the one who, when not delineating a self, does not delineate it as possessed of form and finite, does not delineate it as possessed of form and finite in the present, nor does he delineate it as of such a nature that it will [naturally] become possessed of form and finite [in the future/after death], nor does he believe that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self possessed of form and finite does not obsess him.

"The one who, when not delineating a self, does not delineate it as possessed of form and infinite, does not delineate it as possessed of form and infinite in the present, nor does he delineate it as of such a nature that it will [naturally] become possessed of form and infinite [in the future/after death], nor does he believe that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self possessed of form and infinite does not obsess him.

"The one who, when not delineating a self, does not delineate it as formless and finite, does not delineate it as formless and finite in the present, nor does he delineate it as of such a nature that it will [naturally] become formless and finite [in the future/after death], nor does he believe that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self formless and finite does not obsess him.

"The one who, when not delineating a self, does not delineate it as formless and infinite, does not delineate it as formless and infinite in the present, nor does he delineate it as of such a nature that it will [naturally] become formless and infinite [in the future/after death], nor does he believe that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self formless and infinite does not obsess him.

[...]

"As for the person who says, 'Feeling is not the self: My self is oblivious [to feeling],' he should be addressed as follows: 'My friend, where nothing whatsoever is sensed (experienced) at all, would there be the thought, "I am"?'"

"No, lord."


"Thus in this manner, Ananda, one does not see fit to assume that 'Feeling is not my self: My self is oblivious [to feeling].'

"As for the person who says, 'Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious [to feeling], but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling,' he should be addressed as follows: 'My friend, should feelings altogether and every way stop without remainder, then with feeling completely not existing, owing to the cessation of feeling, would there be the thought, "I am"?'"

"No, lord."


"Thus in this manner, Ananda, one does not see fit to assume that 'Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious [to feeling], but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling.'

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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:59 pm

Nicolas wrote:...
:goodpost:


Also:
MN 2 wrote:“This is how he attends unwisely: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I become in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where will it go?’

“When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him. The view ‘self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘no self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive not-self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with not-self’ arises in him as true and established; or else he has some such view as this: ‘It is this self of mine that speaks and feels and experiences here and there the result of good and bad actions; but this self of mine is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and it will endure as long as eternity.’ This speculative view, bhikkhus, is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. Fettered by the fetter of views, the untaught ordinary person is not freed from birth, ageing, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; he is not freed from suffering, I say.
“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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Nicolas
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Nicolas » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:51 pm

davidbrainerd wrote: Rather, the fact that craving is said to be the cause of conditioned existence is the clue that there has to be an unconditioned and true self, because if there wasn't, then there would have been nothing to start the first round of craving that brought the conditioned into existence to begin with.

Dhammapada 347 "Those who are lust-infatuated fall back into the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This, too, the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all suffering and renounce the world."

If this is how it happens in between one life in samsara and another, why not at the beginning of the cycle? At some point craving first arose, the craving to be something other and alien to one's true nature, and the unconditioned self fell into the trap of samsara.
Moḷiyaphagguna Sutta (SN 12.12) wrote: "Lord, who craves?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'craves.' If I were to say 'craves,' then 'Who craves?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes craving?' And the valid answer is, 'From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.'"
Taṇhā Sutta (AN 10.62) wrote: “Bhikkhus, it is said: ‘A first point of craving for existence, bhikkhus, is not seen such that before this there was no craving for existence and afterward it came into being.’ Still, craving for existence is seen to have a specific condition.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:37 pm

chownah wrote: Davidbrainerd,
For all I know you are right and I actuallly do have some "true self". Heck, maybe I have two or three "true selves"...I don't know. I think the question to explore is what did the buddha have to say about self. If the buddha wanted to teach that we have "true selves" then he did a very bad job of teaching us that....I think he would have just came out and said it...but he didn't. The buddha claimed to only teach about the end of dukkha....he claimed that if it helped to end dukkha he taught it and if it did not help in the end of dukkha then he did not teach it. So...to me, since the buddha did in fact have alot to say about the idea of self it seems that what the buddha actually said about self is what the buddha figured we needed to know about self to help us end dukkha....and....if there was some idea about self that would not help us to end dukkha then he did not teach that. Since the buddha did not teach about a "true self" then I guess that this means that the concept of "true self" will not help us to end dukkha...or...it is just incorrect.
If there is no true self there is no dukka. Everything is nothingness then like in Mahayana seems and since nothingness cannot experience suffering there is no suffering to be ended. So Buddha wasted his time teaching how to end a dukka that never was. He should have just said "nothing is real, you are not real, so your suffering is not real, the end."

But instead he says "I wandered through many lives seeking the house-builder...finally I have found you house-builder and you will not build me another house...."

Suffering is being stuck in the cycle of rebirth. The end of suffering is escaping it. If there is nothing to escape from the cycle then there was nothing in the cycle to begin with. In which case, since you're not real anyway, just be a nihilist.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:16 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
If there is no true self there is no dukka. .
Do tell us what this "true self" does. Does it act? Is it aware? Does it feel? Does it know? Does it gain knowledge? Does it change?
>> 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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