The 3 marks of what, exactly?

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vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi SarathW,

From the Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka.

ti-lakkhaṇa: the '3 characteristics of existence', or signata, are impermanency (anicca, q.v.), suffering or misery (dukkha, q.v.; s. sacca, dukkhatā), not-self (anattā, q.v.).....

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Of course, ti-lakkhana just means 'three characteristics.'

It seems that Buddhists in the English speaking world have been calling these 'the three characteristics of existence' for at least the last fifty years.
My copy of the Buddhist Dictionary is dated 1980, but it was first published in 1952.

The P.T.S. Dictionary says:

"The three properties of existing things or of the phenomenal world are annica, dukkha, anatta ...." [page 578]

To me, this does not make any sense. How can things themselves be said to be suffering?
If you Google: buddhism three marks, eight out of ten sites speak of 'the three marks of existence.'
A few say: the three marks of conditioned existence.
And a few talk of: the three marks which apply to sentient beings.

Regards, Vincent.
SarathW
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by SarathW »

Thank you Vincent
I am interest to know in which Sutta these are mentioned.
My guess is these coming from Anatta Lakhana Sutta.
So it is better translated as three marks of Anatta.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi SarathW,

SarathW: - "I am interest to know in which Sutta these are mentioned."

I would also like to know that.

But there may not be any sutta. It could be a later development.
An easy way to refer to an earlier teaching by giving it a name.

The earlier teaching is where the Buddha says that form is impermanent, suffering, and not-self, and also feeling and so forth.
The same is said about the six bases, the eye, and so forth. It may also be said of 'the all' and possibly the four elements.

The term 'lakkhana' meaning 'sign' or 'mark' is frequently found in the discourses, but with a wide range of meanings.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by cappuccino »

Monks, whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All processes are inconstant.
Dhamma-niyama Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

It seems that there are variations in the teachings which later came to be called the three marks. See, for example, the Channa Sutta SN 22.90

Rūpaṃ kho āvuso channa, aniccaṃ, vedanā aniccā, saññā aniccā, saṃkhārā aniccā, viññāṇaṃ aniccaṃ, rūpaṃ anantā, vedanā anattā, saññā anattā, saṃkhārā anattā, viññāṇaṃ anattā, sabbe saṃkhārā aniccā, sabbe dhammā anattā

Form, friend Channa, is impermanent. Feeling is impermanent. Perception is impermanent. Mental formations (saṃkhārā) are impermanent. Consciousness is impermanent. Form is not-self. Feeling is not-self. Perception is not-self. Mental formations are not-self. Consciousness is not-self. All (sabbe) conditioned things (saṃkhārā) are impermanent (aniccā). All (sabbe) phenomena (dhammā) are not-self (anattā).

First, each of the five aggregates is said to be impermanent, Then they are said to be not-self.

The final line in this passage says that all sankharas are impermanent, all dhammas are not self.

One possible interpretation is that Channa is a non-returner, so the five clinging aggregates have ceased, suffering has ceased.

The five aggregates remain and these have to be seen with wisdom as impermanent and not-self.

So is there also a 'two marks' teaching?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by Spiny Norman »

vinasp wrote: One possible interpretation is that Channa is a non-returner, so the five clinging aggregates have ceased, suffering has ceased.
The five aggregates remain and these have to be seen with wisdom as impermanent and not-self.
So is there also a 'two marks' teaching?
Yes, and the distinction between clinging aggregates and "plain" aggregates in the Khandha Sutta could well be significant here. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

So dukkha ceases when the clinging aggregates cease, but the "plain" aggregates continue, and those are still marked by anicca and anatta, ie by conditionality.

In any case, talking about the "3 marks of existence" still doesn't make much sense to me, because it implies we would have to be "outside" existence for the 3 marks to cease.
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vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi Spiny,

Spiny: - "Yes, and the distinction between clinging aggregates and "plain" aggregates in the Khandha Sutta could well be significant here...."

Yes, the clinging aggregates are not just clinging to the five aggregates.

"Whatever form — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: That is called the form clinging-aggregate." [part of SN 22.48]

I think that the form clinging aggregate, for example, is an habitual regarding of forms in terms of a self, these regardings (views) are the 'objects' which are clung to, and which cease when the clinging ceases.

The experience of forms is the starting point, the identification with these forms, as 'this I am', are the 'objects' which make up the form aggregate. Regarding forms as related to self constructs more objects, which make up the form clinging aggregate. Both types of objects are about the experienced form, and seem to refer to it.

Spiny: - "So dukkha ceases when the clinging aggregates cease, but the "plain" aggregates continue, and those are still marked by anicca and anatta, ie by conditionality."

Yes. The constructed objects of clinging cease when clinging ceases, and this is the cessation of suffering.
The constructed objects of identification continue, and are marked by anicca and anatta.

Spiny: - "In any case, talking about the "3 marks of existence" still doesn't make much sense to me, because it implies we would have to be "outside" existence for the 3 marks to cease."

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates 'bhava' as 'existence', I think that 'self-existence' would be better. Nibbana is the cessation of existence (bhava). For the Arahant all three kinds of bhava have ceased. The term 'bhava' means something like: the continuation of the view of self, or the continuation of the clinging aggregates (samsara - the round). So it is connected with suffering.

Sometimes bhava is translated as 'becoming', this is better in some ways because the word is used (I think) only for living things, there is another word for the existence of inanimate things like rocks.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by Spiny Norman »

vinasp wrote: Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates 'bhava' as 'existence', I think that 'self-existence' would be better. Nibbana is the cessation of existence (bhava). For the Arahant all three kinds of bhava have ceased. The term 'bhava' means something like: the continuation of the view of self, or the continuation of the clinging aggregates (samsara - the round). So it is connected with suffering.

Sometimes bhava is translated as 'becoming', this is better in some ways because the word is used (I think) only for living things, there is another word for the existence of inanimate things like rocks.
I'm not sure, Vincent. I think "bhava" is descriptive of personal existence ( experience? ), but isn't Nibbana cessation of the taints rather than cessation of bhava?

I had another look at SN12.2, which describes the nidanas - does this extract help?

"And what is becoming? These three are becomings: sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming. This is called becoming.
"And what is clinging/sustenance? These four are clingings: sensuality clinging, view clinging, precept & practice clinging, and doctrine of self clinging. This is called clinging."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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voitsberg.graz48
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by voitsberg.graz48 »

Life consists of these 3 characteristics. Therefore they are called characteristics of life. Without them, life would be dull or even nonexisting. Why?
First: anicca. People like change. When things stay the same for a long time, they get bored and want change. (see in politics) Second: dukkha. If there were no unsatisfactoriness there would not be any progress. Just take meditation: Why are you meditating? Because you are not satisfied with your actual state of mind.
Third: anatta. That is a good thing that we are not a fixed entity but able to change.
In meditation we dive deep down and take some vacations from our I, we need anyway to function in society.
vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

"Bhikkhus, form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, volitional formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent....." SN 22.12

“Bhikkhus, form is suffering, feeling is suffering, perception is suffering, volitional formations are suffering, consciousness is suffering....." SN 22.13

“Bhikkhus, form is nonself, feeling is nonself, perception is nonself, volitional formations are nonself, consciousness is nonself....." SN 22.14

These may appear to be talking about the five aggregates, but I think that the five clinging aggregates are meant. All three continue in this way:

"Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards form, revulsion towards feeling, revulsion towards perception, revulsion towards volitional formations, revulsion towards consciousness. Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It’s liberated.’ He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”

Clearly, the aggregates mentioned at the start are those of an unliberated individual.

Another possibility is that 'form is suffering', and the rest, are not meant to be understood as ontological statements, but as how these things should be regarded. This explains 'seeing thus' as what leads to liberation.

Actual form is experienced, but the 'form aggregate' may mean a habit of regarding form in the wrong way, as permanent, a source of pleasure, and in relation to a self. If so, then the form aggregate will vanish when seen in the right way.

It seems that the discourses do not always make an explicit distinction between the aggregates and the clinging aggregates.

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, while not entirely rejecting the distinction, follows the Abhidhamma and Commentaries, arguing that the Arahant is still described by clinging aggregates.
Perhaps we should assume that almost all teaching on the aggregates is about the five clinging aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi Spiny,

Spiny: - "I'm not sure, Vincent. I think "bhava" is descriptive of personal existence ( experience? ), but isn't Nibbana cessation of the taints rather than cessation of bhava?

It is both. There is no doubt about nibbana being the cessation of the asava's. This applies to nibbana attained within this life, but the ordinary man probably took this as a temporary state, for him, permanent liberation was after death.

Experience continues after existence (bhava) has ceased, which shows that bhava should be understood in some special narrow sense. It is not objective existence, it is not even subjective experience. It is one specific kind of subjective experience. Ignorance causes bhava to be continuously constructed and added to subjective experience.

In SN 22.68 we read: "I know this, I see this: 'nibbana is the cessation of existence.'"
BB's note 199 explains: "Bhavanirodho nibbanam. Spk: Nibbana is the cessation of the five aggregates."

The ordinary man probably made no distinction between the five aggregates and the five clinging aggregates.

The ordinary man's interpretation is this:
Nibbana without residue is the cessation of the five aggregates.
He understands the form aggregate in a literal way (realism), so this is an after-death state.
Nibbana with residue is the temporary experience of nibbana while still alive.

The noble disciples interpretation is this:
Nibbana without residue is the cessation of the five aggregates.
Understood as the non-continuation of the view 'I am'.
Nibbana with residue is the cessation of the clinging aggregates.
Understood as the non-continuation of the view of self.

For the noble disciple the three kinds of existence (bhava) are three modes of the continuation of the view of self.

“Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of existence. What three? Sense-sphere existence, form-sphere existence, formless-sphere existence. These are the three kinds of existence. The Noble Eightfold Path is to be developed for direct knowledge of these three kinds of existence, for the full understanding of them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning.”
[SN 45.164 - Existence.]

For the bhikkhu who was an ordinary man, the noble eightfold path leads to nibbana, an after death state where the five aggregates have ceased, that means no rebirth in any of the three realms, so the three kinds of existence will have ceased.

For the bhikkhu who was a noble disciple, the noble eightfold path leads to nibbana with residue, the cessation of the clinging aggregates [view of self], a state attained within this life.
Possibly, a further path leads to the cessation of the five aggregates, also attained within this life.

Regards, Vincent.
R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw »

of suffering
Spiny Norman
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by Spiny Norman »

vinasp wrote: The noble disciples interpretation is this:

1. Nibbana without residue is the cessation of the five aggregates.
Understood as the non-continuation of the view 'I am'.

2. Nibbana with residue is the cessation of the clinging aggregates.
Understood as the non-continuation of the view of self.
No. 2 makes sense to me Vincent, given that self-view is intimately related to clinging and therefore "produces" the clinging aggregates.

I'm less clear about No. 1, since cessation of the five aggregates sounds like the complete cessation of experience, regardless of whether self-view is involved.

Do you see bhava and the five aggregates as equivalent? Does bhava include both clinging and non-clinging aggregates?
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw »

As i understand it:
Nibbana is the cessation of the Aggregates and so is Parinibbana, the difference is in the extinction of the life force and faculties.
Aggregates are called subject to clinging because they are what is being appropriated.
Nibbana with residue is Cessation of Aggregates yet the life force is not exhausted and faculties are exceptionally sharp.
Nibbana without residue is also Cessation of Aggregates but is called Parinibbana, final because the life force is extinguished and faculties are broken up, there is no more craving for new existence either so therefore it is final.
bhikkhus attain final Nibbana in the Nibbana-element with no residue left
Cessation of Aggregates is not the end of experience, because the Aggregate name "Vinnana"/"Consciousness" is defined thus ~"consciousness of sense bases", specifically, it means Sense-Base-Consciousness.
“And what, bhikkhus, is consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. This is called consciousness. With the arising of name-and-form there is the arising of consciousness. With the cessation of name-and-form there is the cessation of consciousness.
Nibbana is described on several occasions as ~ "Consciousness illuminous all-around and without surface".
Here a translation i compiled from different translators:
‘Where consciousness is signless,
boundless, all-luminous,
And water, earth, fire, & wind find no footing
As long & short, small & large, pleasant & unpleasant -
“name-&-form” are all stopped
With the cessation of sense consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'
vinasp
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Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?

Post by vinasp »

Hi Spiny,

Spiny: - "No. 2 makes sense to me Vincent, given that self-view is intimately related to clinging and therefore "produces" the clinging aggregates."

Yes. A good description of this is SN 22.44 although the words used are slightly different. The twenty ways of regarding (everything) as self, or related to self, leads to the origination of 'identity', which is the five clinging aggregates, and suffering.

Spiny: - "I'm less clear about No. 1, since cessation of the five aggregates sounds like the complete cessation of experience, regardless of whether self-view is involved."

For me, all aggregates are only mind-fabricated, none are real. I think you are taking the five aggregates as being real, this is certainly the majority view. So for me, it is only the cessation of constructed experience. But saying this may be of no help to a worldling since he is adding constructed experience to everything, and cannot distinguish between constructed and non-constructed experience.

I don't know if this matters, does one have to understand the aggregates as they really are in order to see that they are not-self?

Spiny: - "Do you see bhava and the five aggregates as equivalent? Does bhava include both clinging and non-clinging aggregates?"

It seems that bhava must be understood in different ways. If bhava means the continued real existence of a real being in some real world, then for an ordinary man the arahant must be described by bhava.
Since he is understood as a real being existing in a real world.
So existence (bhava) can only cease after death.

For a noble disciple this 'being' is not real, this 'existence' is not real, and this 'world' is not real, all are mind-fabricated. So existence can cease when a being and its world also cease, and this can happen at any time.

This does not mean that there is no real world, and the mind which fabricates must be real in another sense.

Regards, Vincent.
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