Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Javi
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by Javi » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:02 am

Back in 2010, Jayarava wrote an interesting critique of the idea that Paṭicca-samuppāda is a "Theory of Everything.
http://www.jayarava.org/writing/paticca ... ything.pdf

In physics, a theory of everything would be "a hypothetical single, all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe" (Wiki). There is definitely this trend in Buddhism to see dependent origination and emptiness as a kind of all encompassing metaphysical theory. The Dalai lama says for example: 'the theory of dependent arising can be applied everywhere'. Bhikkhu Bodhi says “The ontological principle contributed by dependent arising is as the name suggests, the arising of phenomena in dependence on conditions… whatever comes into being originates through conditions, stands with the support of conditions, and ceases when its conditions cease.”

Jayarava holds that this idea is misguided. He begins with an exposition of the Kaccayanagotta sutta and also what the term ''loka'' (world) means. He argues that loka has a more subjective sense in the Buddhist sense, in the sense of "one's world" and is often defined in the Pali suttas (ex. Loka sutta) as only relating to the six sense spheres (basically sense object+sense organ=contact=sensations=desire) and contained in this "arm-span measure of body endowed with perception and cognition" (Rohitassa Sutta). He also quotes Buddhaghosa here which I find quite interesting: Thus he should see: 'I do not, friend, declare these four truths in grass and wood, but I declare them only in this body of the four great elements.'

He also references the Sabba sutta which states that 'the All' is simply the sense spheres and then goes on to say: "Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Jayarava sees these suttas as pointing to an epistemological-pragmatic reading of the Buddhadhamma.
A more pragmatic reading in line with Hamilton's findings on the khandhas would be "all we need to know for the
purposes of ending suffering". The reason for drawing attention to the senses and their objects as the proper domain for enquiry is not to give a complete description of reality (i.e. not directed towards constructing a theory of everything), but to highlight the mechanisms which create disappointment so that it can be overcome – i.e. the Buddha, if he is a philosopher at all, is a pragmatic philosopher. The problem of disappointment can be traced to the cognitive aspects of experience, and this is where the Buddha focuses his efforts. As Hamilton puts it the Buddha‟s project was to direct attention “…to understanding the nature and mechanics of experience, by means of one‟s cognitive process”
...
This reading – this hermeneutic of experience – is useful because it avoids problems associated with more metaphysical approaches – we do not need to discuss for instance the nature of being, nor the problem of what we can know about the world, since these questions do not arise as major problems if we are only dealing with experience. By steering the discussion away from metaphysics we avoid many insoluble problems, and it leads to a more pragmatic reading of the Pāli Canon generally. I think by this time we can already see that the case for paṭicca-samuppāda being a theory of everything is seriously weakened since not everything is included in the scope of the Pāli texts.
He also cites the Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta with regards to views about the Buddha being omniscient and therefore knowing all. Instead, he sees the Buddha as understanding suffering and its end:
The Buddha himself frequently describes his insight as yathābhūta-ñāṇadassana „knowing and seeing things as
they are‟. Here again we see the importance of understanding the Buddha‟s terms of reference, the world or domain in which he was operating, and in which they make most sense. The Buddha never says that he understand everything in the universe, or Reality. What he repeatedly says is that he understands suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the way to make suffering end.
Returning back to the Kaccayanagotta, he writes:
Our world of experience only arises because our sense faculties interact with objects, giving rise to consciousness. This fact of experience is what the Buddha puts forward as refuting the notion that the world doesn‟t exist; that is, the fact of arising denies nonexistence. Similarly when one of the tripod of supports is removed we lose contact and the experience ceases. This refutes the idea of any kind of permanent existence in or of the world...
there is no paradox here, and we do not have to ponder whether or to what extent some 'thing' exists or not because following the Sabba Sutta we define this as outside our range (avisaya). Metaphysical questions then become inexplicable (avyākata) not because the Buddha does not know, or cannot say, but because the very question is posed outside his frame of reference...
Without a clear understanding that the domain under discussion is the world of experience, we have problems interpreting this idea except as a paradox, and in the Buddhism world it generates a series of metaphysical not to say mystical interpretations.
Jayarava mentions how when seen in the proper way, what is being referred to in dependent origination, is the origination and cessation of the world of dukkha. He cites the Vajira sutta as support: 'Only disappointment is produced, disappointment persists, and ceases; Nothing other than disappointment is produced; nothing other than disappointment ceases.'
Right-view is not concerned with the rising and passing away of objects in the physical world, but to the arising and passing away of disappointment. This is not a statement about, let alone a denial of, an objective or physical world, merely a continued pre-occupation with disappointment completely in keeping with the Buddha‟s oft stated goals
This is a apparently a view which is also expoused by Eviatar Shulman, who writes: “There is no reason to believe that dependent-origination originally discussed anything but mental conditioning.”

Jayarava ends by saying:
Treating paṭicca-samuppāda as a theory of everything creates metaphysical problems because it strays out of the natural realm for its application. Like physicists we ask too much of our theory, we move beyond what it can realistically tell us, and imagine a situation in which we will have full knowledge of the universe – effective omniscience
...
I suggest that Hamilton‟s paradigm should be attractive to Western practitioners since it tends away from seeing bodhi in metaphysical, mystical or magical terms without devaluing or diminishing the achievement or its significance for humanity. Bodhi seen in this way is not only comprehensible, but it is clearly a realistic and rational goal for people to aspire to. It also cedes to science the study and description of the physical universe, and thus avoids one of the main pitfalls for religions in the modern era. But it clearly offers a pivotal role for Buddhist practice in how we relate to the world of the senses, and offers a potential revolution in perception and in well-being.
What do you guys think? Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything? Or, an even broader question, is the Dhamma supposed to explain "everything" as some seem to hold or is it more a limited epistemological theory which remains about the field of one's experience.


Also his main academic sources for this view seem to be:

Hamilton, Sue. 2000. Early Buddhism: a New Approach: the I of the Beholder. Richmond, Surrey:
Curzon
https://books.google.com/books?id=pE9lw ... e&q&f=true
Shulman, Eviatar. 2008. 'Early Meanings of Dependent-Origination,' Journal of Indian Philosophy,
36(2): 297-317.
https://www.academia.edu/8279775/Early_ ... rigination

He also cites bhikkhu Nanavira, though I do not know how close this view is to Nanavira's views.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20121
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:24 am

Greetings,

(Caveat: I have only read the extracts you provided, not the full article).

It appears that Jayarava is much more aligned to the purpose and function of paticcasamuppada, than are the positions he critiques.

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)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:40 am

Thanks for posting this. I think your synopsis of the essay is intriguing enough for me to want to read it. I agree with his ideas in what you posted, particularly about what he said in what I left in place below. For me this is quite congruent with vipassana practice.
Javi wrote:
. . . As Hamilton puts it the Buddha‟s project was to direct attention “…to understanding the nature and mechanics of experience, by means of one‟s cognitive process”
...
Our world of experience only arises because our sense faculties interact with objects, giving rise to consciousness. This fact of experience is what the Buddha puts forward as refuting the notion that the world doesn‟t exist; that is, the fact of arising denies nonexistence. Similarly when one of the tripod of supports is removed we lose contact and the experience ceases. This refutes the idea of any kind of permanent existence in or of the world...
there is no paradox here, and we do not have to ponder whether or to what extent some 'thing' exists or not because following the Sabba Sutta we define this as outside our range (avisaya). Metaphysical questions then become inexplicable (avyākata) not because the Buddha does not know, or cannot say, but because the very question is posed outside his frame of reference...
Without a clear understanding that the domain under discussion is the world of experience, we have problems interpreting this idea except as a paradox, and in the Buddhism world it generates a series of metaphysical not to say mystical interpretations.
Jayarava mentions how when seen in the proper way, what is being referred to in dependent origination, is the origination and cessation of the world of dukkha. He cites the Vajira sutta as support: 'Only disappointment is produced, disappointment persists, and ceases; Nothing other than disappointment is produced; nothing other than disappointment ceases.'
Right-view is not concerned with the rising and passing away of objects in the physical world, but to the arising and passing away of disappointment. This is not a statement about, let alone a denial of, an objective or physical world, merely a continued pre-occupation with disappointment completely in keeping with the Buddha‟s oft stated goals
This is a apparently a view which is also expoused by Eviatar Shulman, who writes: “There is no reason to believe that dependent-origination originally discussed anything but mental conditioning.”

Jayarava ends by saying:
...
I suggest that Hamilton‟s paradigm should be attractive to Western practitioners since it tends away from seeing bodhi in metaphysical, mystical or magical terms without devaluing or diminishing the achievement or its significance for humanity. Bodhi seen in this way is not only comprehensible, but it is clearly a realistic and rational goal for people to aspire to. It also cedes to science the study and description of the physical universe, and thus avoids one of the main pitfalls for religions in the modern era. But it clearly offers a pivotal role for Buddhist practice in how we relate to the world of the senses, and offers a potential revolution in perception and in well-being.
What do you guys think?
>> 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

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:10 am

Thanks for this:
Our world of experience only arises because our sense faculties interact with objects, giving rise to consciousness. This fact of experience is what the Buddha puts forward as refuting the notion that the world doesn‟t exist; that is, the fact of arising denies nonexistence. Similarly when one of the tripod of supports is removed we lose contact and the experience ceases. This refutes the idea of any kind of permanent existence in or of the world...
there is no paradox here, and we do not have to ponder whether or to what extent some 'thing' exists or not because following the Sabba Sutta we define this as outside our range (avisaya). Metaphysical questions then become inexplicable (avyākata) not because the Buddha does not know, or cannot say, but because the very question is posed outside his frame of reference...
Without a clear understanding that the domain under discussion is the world of experience, we have problems interpreting this idea except as a paradox, and in the Buddhism world it generates a series of metaphysical not to say mystical interpretations.
This resonates with my view: The Dhamma isn't about whether or not 'things' (e.g. rocks :)) have an objective existence. That's a matter of philosophy...

:anjali:
Mike

chownah
Posts: 7529
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by chownah » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:37 am

I definitely do not think that the buddha offered DO as a theory of everything....but....as it turns out....when science looks closely at all the things science looks at the thing that seems most obvious is that whatever is seen to exist it exists as the temporary arrangement of conditions.....so....it seems that DO as the bare idea of "things" existing only when the conditions for their existence occurs can be found everywhere and in all things.

The discussion need not stop here however. It could be that conditional existence is an artifact of the human machinery of perception.....that is to say we "see" conditional existence because our own existence puts a filter or mask on sensation which leads us to this assumption.
chownah

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:00 pm

Off-topic posts moved here:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=27985

:anjali:
Mike

SarathW
Posts: 10118
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:39 pm

The way I understand that the theory of every thing assumes that things are exist or non-exist.
One of it's objective is to find how the world is created which Buddha refused to answer.
The objective of Dependent Origination is to find an answer to end suffering through understanding of Four Noble truths.
So I would say that Paticca-samuppada is not a theory of everythig.

Theory of every thing is a fabrication so as the Paticca-samuppada.
Ultimately we have to give up both to realise Nibbana.

Buddha was not interested about the house.
He was only interested about the house builder.
His objective was to destroy the house or not to build it any more.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:17 pm

SarathW wrote:

He was only interested about the house builder.
And who/what is the "house-builder?
Last edited by tiltbillings on Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
>> 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

SarathW
Posts: 10118
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:22 am

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. [13]

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:56 am

SarathW wrote: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. [13]

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
13. (vv. 153-154) According to the commentary, these verses are the Buddha's "Song of Victory," his first utterance after his Enlightenment. The house is individualized existence in samsara, the house-builder craving, the rafters the passions and the ridge-pole ignorance.
I am going to assume that you agree with this; I certainly do.
>> 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

SarathW
Posts: 10118
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:19 am

The house is individualized existence in samsara
Thanks.
I do not remember reading this commentary.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

davidbrainerd
Posts: 1011
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:12 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by davidbrainerd » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:
SarathW wrote: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. [13]

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
13. (vv. 153-154) According to the commentary, these verses are the Buddha's "Song of Victory," his first utterance after his Enlightenment. The house is individualized existence in samsara, the house-builder craving, the rafters the passions and the ridge-pole ignorance.
I am going to assume that you agree with this; I certainly do.
It seems more like craving is what makes the house-builder initiate its work than is the house-builder itself. He says you will not build me a house again because I cut off craving, not you will not build me a house again because I cut off you or craving will not build me a house again because I cut it off.

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by Javi » Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:05 am

I also want to quickly note another point that is made in this essay. If Dhamma is seen as a theory of everything, then one might be able to falsify it by proving that there is something that lasts forever. One could for example, posit that mathematical relations are eternal (Platonism), or one could posit that an object that lasts forever might one day be found and proven scientifically, or perhaps, universal physical laws are eternal. Jayarava addresses this:
The very existence of something as stable as a diamond points to a fatal flaw in the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence if it is concerned with an external reality. From the point of view of someone living in Iron Age India, then, the proposition that “everything changes” is actually false. This is the falsifiable conjecture I referred to in my introduction. At this point we might be prepared to invoke modern scientific insights to save the day. And yes through the sensitive instruments of scientists we can demonstrate that atoms are never static. But this does not solve the problem because it would suggest that the Buddha was simply speculating, and happened to get it right by accident; or that he was omniscient or at least hyperscient. Either of these positions is problematic for a number of reasons which I‟ve already explored to some extent. However we need not dwell on this.
Consider that even when a diamond stays stable, the consciousness arising in dependence on it continues to fluctuate because the object is only one part of the equation. Our relationship to the diamond is affected by the physical environment: light, setting, air quality; by our relationship to the diamond: ownership, proximity, personal wealth, social status; by psychological factors: our mood, aesthetic sensibility, attitude to wealth, our needs, and quite importantly where our attention is at any given moment. Attention creates a constantly shifting gestalt. Our „world‟ in this sense is always changing, even when the object of consciousness, the external physical world, is not observably changing. The implication is that the only way for the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence to be self-consistent is if it applies to this world of experience arising out of the interaction between the subject and object, and only this world. As a theory of everything paṭicca-samuppāda fails.
Also I want to quote some material from the essay by Eviatar Shulman which is relevant here:
Whether the 12 links refer to three different lives, as the traditional view holds,19 or whether they relate only to one life20 or even to a single instance of perception,21 whether they were articulated in this same sequence by the Buddha or were later arranged in this way by his disciples, the different views of the 12 links all agree on one major point: They discuss the manner in which the mind conditions sam: sa¯ric experience and existence. The teaching is concerned with an analysis of the workings of the mind, with identifying the different processes of mental conditioning and describing their relations. The 12 links do not deal with how things exist, but with the processes by which the mind operates
....
I am arguing that the abstract formula of dependent-origination deals exclusively with the process encapsulated in the 12 links. When the Buddha says ‘‘When this is, that is, etc.,’’ he is speaking only of mental conditioning, and is saying absolutely nothing about existence per se. The most significant evidence for this fact is that the phrase ‘‘imasmim: sati idam: hoti…’’ never occurs detached from the articulation of the 12 links, save one occurrence...
The Buddha seems not to have said that all things arise dependent on their conditioning. In fact, he may have condemned such a statement an unhealthy speculative view. When the Buddha did describe something as dependently-arisen, he was referring only to phenomenal aspects of sam: sa¯ric experience. Another point worth
noting is that saying that something is pat:iccasamuppanna supplements the fact that it is impermanent and compounded. Phenomenal aspects such as the aggregates arise conditioned by grasping, and are therefore of impure and of a passing nature. Hence they will lead to pain and are not to be regarded as self.

A similar reading of the 12 links in the early suttas, anticipating the major thrust of the discussion conducted so far, has been presented by Collett Cox (1993). Cox traces the path by which Sarva¯stivada Abhidharma philosophers came to understand dependent-origination as an abstract theory of causation. Well aware of the dangers of reading later doctrinal developments into earlier articulations of Buddhist insight, Cox defines the shifts in meaning the doctrine of causality underwent, from the early suttas through the earlier stages of Sarva¯stiva¯da Abhidharma. In the early suttas, she claims, pat:iccasamuppa¯da does not function as an abstract theory of causation. Rather, it focuses on the way human suffering is produced and the manner by which it may be terminated. Later on Buddhist philosophers developed this early insight into a full- fledged model of causality.
The Buddha participated in the move from cosmological metaphysics to subjectivity, but differed from his fellow-seekers by regarding the Self as a painful fantasy. Knowledge of the Self, rather than being the pinnacle of human achievement, is a sure route to sam: sa¯ric suffering. He believed that what the Brahmanic r: s:is viewed as cosmic connections could be better expressed in a description of human psychology. The Buddha was both an integral part of, and a significant break from the Vedic-Upanis:adic spiritual tradition.43 We see in his formulation of pratı¯tya-samutpa¯da an acceptance of the new inclination to define existence in terms of subjectivity, together with a denial of the truth of any subjective essence.
Shulman also points out that the teaching of dependent origination can appear to have ontological implications (mainly, that consciousness conditions objects), however this is not its main thrust or purpose - and in my view, "objects" here, which Shulman says are "real objects" - whatever that means, is better interpreted simply as 'intentional objects' - of thought, in the mind. But that could just reflect my phenomenological bent.

I have also found the Collett Cox text referred to here:
Cox (1993), Derpendent Origination: Its Elaboration in Early Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Texts
http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documen ... %20Cox.pdf

It's a really interesting essay. She makes several good points in her overview of the scholarly and classic Abhidhamma literature. There is also a lot of strong evidence that dependent origination is related with the concepts of karma and rebirth (suttas mention descent into the womb) and cannot be completely separated from these concepts, hence one must take this into account. She also notes on the early Sarvastivada Abhidharma texts that they have 'little if any consideration of causal theories and no explicit linking of causation and dependent origination' It is with the so called 'middle' Sarvastivada Abhidharma works that a full fledged theory of causality of dependent origination emerges.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:29 am

Javi wrote:What do you guys think? Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything? Or, an even broader question, is the Dhamma supposed to explain "everything" as some seem to hold or is it more a limited epistemological theory which remains about the field of one's experience.
I suspect that this was in relation to this, but I don't want to assume to much, nonetheless:
“Whether a Buddha arises in the world, or not, this is the unchangeable nature of dharma, the status of dharma, the element of dharma. The Tathāgata, who has by himself become enlightened of this, who has attained the highest enlightenment, declares it for humankind, teaches it, reveals it, namely: Conditioned by birth, there exist aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering. “All these dharmas are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion. Such conformity to conditioned genesis is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition, namely: Ignorance, activities, consciousness, name-and-form, the six sense-spheres, contact, feeling, craving, attachment, becoming, birth, aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering. This is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition.

“The noble disciple who has learned much attains right wisdom regarding both the dharma of arising by causal condition and the dharmas arisen by causal condition, and truly sees. He will not look backwards into time past, saying: ‘Did I exist in the past, or did I not? Of what caste was I in the past? How was I in the past?’ Nor he will look forwards to the coming time: ‘Shall I exist in the future, or shall I not? Of what caste shall I be? How shall I be?’ Nor does he inwardly hesitate thinking: ‘What is this? Why does it exist? Who was this in the past? What will it become in the end? Where do all these beings come from? What will they become when they die?’

“If in a recluse or a brahmin there has arisen bondage to worldly view, namely bondage to self view, to the view that there are beings, views about long life, views about evil and auspicious omens, then these are completely cut off, completely known. They are cut off at the root, like the cut-off stump of a palm tree, never to arise again in the future.

“This is to say, the noble disciple who has learned much attains right wisdom regarding both the dharma of arising by causal condition and the dharmas arisen by causal condition. He truly sees them, he is truly enlightened, truly cultivated, and has truly penetrated the nature of phenomena as they really are.”

When the Buddha had taught this discourse, the monks, having heard what the Buddha had said, were delighted, and put it into practice.
(SA 296, 因緣法, "Causal Law")

This hold no grounds in Theravada Buddhism, but since many people here have proclivities toward "Early Buddhism" reconstructionism, this āgama has a parallel in SN 12.2, which is similar to this āgama, but not identical to it. One problem I can see classical Theravada having with this āgama is that it considers enlightenment to be the penetration into the nature of phenomena as they really are, which has a more overt metaphysical orientation than its Nikaya-parallel, more outrightly stated.

If you compare this with SN 12.2 and read them both in light of one another we can see that the Buddha is neither a purely metaphysical teacher nor a teacher who shuns metaphysics. Certainly paṭiccasamuppāda in its late classical formation cannot account, and does not wish to account for, say, why this rock formation formed in such a way (ignorance? suffering? sure not), or, how it came to be that Venus orbits the sun closer than Mars. But these aren't really metaphysical questions. Metaphysics is concerned with the first criteria and first principals by which we judge something to be wise and other things to be unwise, and from there, extrapolate as to truth. In Buddhism, this includes both physical "external" reality (if such a thing exists, many Buddhist schools imply or outrightly state that such a thing does not, in truth, exist) and the 'reality' of mental phenomena, which includes contact at the sense organ, the sense object, and sense consciousness. Ignorance, in order for the Buddhadharma to be relevant to us at all, must exist in some capacity, which involves the postulation of metaphysical first principals, such as the principal that all is suffering. Surely, suffering exists. That is a foundational metaphysic of the Buddha. Without the integrity of the basis of the truth of universal suffering, the rest of the teaching falls away as incoherent, doesn't it?

This is assuming, of course, possibly incorrectly, that metaphysical postulations can be considered the seeds for "theories of everything" and that a "theory of everything" necessarily makes metaphysical postulations. In order for paṭiccasamuppāda to be the seeds for a ToE I think it would have to necessarily be a metaphysic or imply a metaphysic.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:44 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Javi wrote:What do you guys think? Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything? Or, an even broader question, is the Dhamma supposed to explain "everything" as some seem to hold or is it more a limited epistemological theory which remains about the field of one's experience.
I suspect that this was in relation to this, but I don't want to assume to much, nonetheless:
“Whether a Buddha arises in the world, or not, this is the unchangeable nature of dharma, the status of dharma, the element of dharma. The Tathāgata, who has by himself become enlightened of this, who has attained the highest enlightenment, declares it for humankind, teaches it, reveals it, namely: Conditioned by birth, there exist aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering. “All these dharmas are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion. Such conformity to conditioned genesis is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition, namely: Ignorance, activities, consciousness, name-and-form, the six sense-spheres, contact, feeling, craving, attachment, becoming, birth, aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering. This is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition.

“The noble disciple who has learned much attains right wisdom regarding both the dharma of arising by causal condition and the dharmas arisen by causal condition, and truly sees. He will not look backwards into time past, saying: ‘Did I exist in the past, or did I not? Of what caste was I in the past? How was I in the past?’ Nor he will look forwards to the coming time: ‘Shall I exist in the future, or shall I not? Of what caste shall I be? How shall I be?’ Nor does he inwardly hesitate thinking: ‘What is this? Why does it exist? Who was this in the past? What will it become in the end? Where do all these beings come from? What will they become when they die?’

“If in a recluse or a brahmin there has arisen bondage to worldly view, namely bondage to self view, to the view that there are beings, views about long life, views about evil and auspicious omens, then these are completely cut off, completely known. They are cut off at the root, like the cut-off stump of a palm tree, never to arise again in the future.

“This is to say, the noble disciple who has learned much attains right wisdom regarding both the dharma of arising by causal condition and the dharmas arisen by causal condition. He truly sees them, he is truly enlightened, truly cultivated, and has truly penetrated the nature of phenomena as they really are.”

When the Buddha had taught this discourse, the monks, having heard what the Buddha had said, were delighted, and put it into practice.
(SA 296, 因緣法, "Causal Law")

This hold no grounds in Theravada Buddhism, but since many people here have proclivities toward "Early Buddhism" reconstructionism, this āgama has a parallel in SN 12.2, which is similar to this āgama, but not identical to it. One problem I can see classical Theravada having with this āgama is that it considers enlightenment to be the penetration into the nature of phenomena as they really are, which has a more overt metaphysical orientation than its Nikaya-parallel, more outrightly stated.
"the nature of phenomena" If by that you mean dhammas/dharmas, then question becomes what do mean by dhammas/dharmas. Dhammas/dharmas I suspect is a term used to refer to one experience, particularly unstood in terms of a meditative mind.
>> 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

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot], zan and 86 guests