Sentience & Insentience

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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CedarTree
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Sentience & Insentience

Post by CedarTree » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:39 pm

This discussion is open to all Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada, Other Religious Frameworks, and Your Own Unique Perspectives.

This is also a topic that has been arising lately in different forms and so I can imagine this will be a great discussion :anjali:

I had an experience a few days ago that I will most likely bring up with Shoryu Bradley (A Zen Teacher I Respect) and possibly some other authorities on the subject.

I was at the lake and if I remember correctly had been doing some Zazen in the forest in between quiet swimming and just enjoying the solitude and peaceful/restful nature of the area.

I am not sure what was going on at the moment but in a flash the need to hold onto "Awareness" & "Life" in any form kind of dropped off.

I came to understand that Sentience & Insentience kind of drop off in Emptiness.

Feel free to share all your views, sutras, tantras, quotes, whatever.

In general I would love to see how this develops.


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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by BasementBuddhist » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:45 am

I happen to think that the division between sentience and Insentience is largely irrelevant. It is a clear Buddhist teaching that we all inter-are. That the whole point of practice is to get rid of ignorance, including the fundamentally wrong idea that we are a separate self. Once we go beyond the idea of a separate self, we realize that we are all just the universe. What is the difference then?

chownah
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by chownah » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:19 am

Seems that there was a discussion somewhere at dhammawheel about the use of the word "sentient" or "sentience" in the pali canon and that the bottom line was that these ideas seem to be things that people talk about in relation to the suttas but they do not appear there. I can't remember if they don't appear at all or only very very infrequently.

Anyway....I've looked a bit an couldn't find "sentient" in a sutta but I just took a quick look. Can anyone find a reference (or a few) to "sentient" or "sentience"?
chownah

Garrib
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:08 am

From https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/satta:
3) Satta, 2 (cp, Vedic sattva living being, satvan “strong man, warrior, ” fr. sant) 1. (m.) a living being, creature, a sentient & rational beiṅg, a person D. I, 17, 34, 53, 82; II, 68; A. I, 35 sq. , 55 sq.; S. I, 135;
Satta Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The only time I can remember hearing "insentience" in a Dhamma context was from a talk given by Bhante Punnaji. He translated Avijja as "insentience," rather than ignorance - I created a thread here trying to make sense of it. Someone mentioned that his interpretations are strongly influenced by Western psychology, and that his understanding of Avijja might have something in common with Freud's "unconscious" (perhaps in the sense that we are not consciously aware of the Four Noble Truths?)- While that gave me something to consider, I honestly still don't fully understand.

Insentience carries the connotation for me of lacking any and all consciousness, any ability to feel - like plants (somewhat controversial), or rocks (less so?). We always hear about "sentient beings" - well, what about insentient beings? Found this from a Nichiren website (I am not Nichiren):

insentient beings [非情] ( hijō): Those beings or objects that have no emotions or consciousness, such as trees and stones. The term is contrasted with sentient beings, those forms of life that possess senses, emotions, or consciousness. Buddhism classifies all existences into two categories: sentient and insentient. A dispute arose in Chinese Buddhism with regard to whether insentient beings possess a Buddha nature, but the view that Buddhahood exists as a potential in all things and phenomena prevailed in China. This idea also became widespread in Japan. See also enlightenment of plants.

I fail to see the point of becoming enlightened if you are totally and forever insentient anyway. But what do I know? (not much).

http://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/dic/Content/I/36

*Maybe you could consider the Unconscious Devas (asannasatta) as a kind of "insentient being," but only for the time being.

chownah
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by chownah » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:17 am

Garrib,
The sutta you mention does not contain the word "sentient" or "sentience". It is only the person defining the term for "being" in english I think who has used the word "sentient" to apply.

Someone could defind "cow" as a sentient being but that doesn't mean that the mention of a cow in the suttas is a mention of the word "sentient".
chownah

Garrib
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:38 pm

chownah wrote:Garrib,
The sutta you mention does not contain the word "sentient" or "sentience". It is only the person defining the term for "being" in english I think who has used the word "sentient" to apply.

Someone could defind "cow" as a sentient being but that doesn't mean that the mention of a cow in the suttas is a mention of the word "sentient".
chownah
Thanks Chownah,

I see your point. Some people think of a "Satta" as a "sentient being" - which is a more general term for something than "cow." A cow is a certain kind of sentient being which would fall under the heading of Satta.

Do you know of a pali word that roughly translates to "sentient"?

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CedarTree
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by CedarTree » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:24 pm

BasementBuddhist wrote:I happen to think that the division between sentience and Insentience is largely irrelevant. It is a clear Buddhist teaching that we all inter-are. That the whole point of practice is to get rid of ignorance, including the fundamentally wrong idea that we are a separate self. Once we go beyond the idea of a separate self, we realize that we are all just the universe. What is the difference then?
Very true,

It was interesting though seeing so much of what I assumed was this special kind of "Awareness" just fall away as just a lone humans craving.


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Dhammanando
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:43 pm

Garrib wrote:Do you know of a pali word that roughly translates to "sentient"?
Sentient and insentient would be saviññāṇaka and aviññāṇaka, or saññī and asaññī, or sacittaka and acittaka. However, none of these is the word being translated when we meet with the term "sentient being". For a discussion of this term see the last page of this thread:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=28124&start=40

binocular
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:59 pm

CedarTree wrote:I was at the lake and if I remember correctly had been doing some Zazen in the forest in between quiet swimming and just enjoying the solitude and peaceful/restful nature of the area.
I am not sure what was going on at the moment but in a flash the need to hold onto "Awareness" & "Life" in any form kind of dropped off.
I came to understand that Sentience & Insentience kind of drop off in Emptiness.
Or maybe you just had a good lunch; or a good swim, as the case may be.
Never underestimate the metaphysical effects of a good lunch. They can be intense. And they tend to dissolve, much like the food in one's intestines.

In contrast, a good insight is one that can last for days and which inspires one to act on it, and one acts on it.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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CedarTree
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by CedarTree » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:10 pm

Image


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Garrib
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:31 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Garrib wrote:Do you know of a pali word that roughly translates to "sentient"?
Sentient and insentient would be saviññāṇaka and aviññāṇaka, or saññī and asaññī, or sacittaka and acittaka. However, none of these is the word being translated when we meet with the term "sentient being". For a discussion of this term see the last page of this thread:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=28124&start=40
Thank you Bhante. :anjali:

whynotme
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by whynotme » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:11 pm

BasementBuddhist wrote:I happen to think that the division between sentience and Insentience is largely irrelevant. It is a clear Buddhist teaching that we all inter-are. That the whole point of practice is to get rid of ignorance, including the fundamentally wrong idea that we are a separate self. Once we go beyond the idea of a separate self, we realize that we are all just the universe. What is the difference then?
Wrong, you don't know what the self is.

This "we are one" theory is from Great Vehicle (Mahanaya), which is actually from outsiders.

If you are the universe, then prove it. Big talk no action, right? If you say you must wait for something then that is yourself of the future, not yourself of this moment.

So if there is a difference of yourself in time frame, e.g. now and future, then that is not yourself anymore. If you don't understand this, then don't talk about yourself. If you say something about yourself, talk about it in this moment. What can you do to the universe that you claim yourself? Twist it, expand it. Or just your claim? Show me your proof, or just your empty words.

If you say you are the universe, then what is yourself? You are the sun, you are the moon? That is against the doctrine of the Buddha, as material is not yourself. If you are the sun, then prove it, move it. Or else, you are not the sun. Using this logic, we can say that all material in the universe are not yourself. Earth is not yourself, sun is not, moon is not, stars are not, galaxies are not, space is not yourself. This is the classical method of Buddhism. You don't have any right on material, how can you call it is yourself? If you said you must achieve Buddha state to move the sun, then your current state is not yourself??

So what is the universe that is yourself? What is in the universe without all material and space? Can anyone can point out something in this universe that is not material and space? Just an illusion of a big claim.

So all I can say is, Mahanaya is wrong. Buddhahood is wrong, common self is wrong, small self is wrong, big self is wrong. Their theories are based on illusion, not fact. They are illogical.

The problem is no one has ever build a theory about self. Since you don't know about the concept of self, you can not logical demonstrate it. You should define what is the self first, before claiming it. And defining the self is extremely hard, try it, because you can not see anyone in history do it. If it exists and you can not define it, then good luck investigate it.

If "we are one", do you know what the self is? Self existence. Something self exists can not be divided, because if it can be divided, it is not self existing anymore.

If we are one, then only one person needs to achieve Buddha state, and everyone will be the same. Do you understand it? If that is not the case, then we are not one. It is simple, but if you close your eyes against logic, then good luck with your thought.

The problem arises because when we exclude everything from being the self, people don't know what is the difference anymore. So they think everyone is just one, because there is no difference. The other case is that in meditation, they see no boundary in consciousness, so they thing we are one. But simple logic prove it false. Stick with logic, not your imagination.
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whynotme
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by whynotme » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:17 pm

CedarTree wrote:This discussion is open to all Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada, Other Religious Frameworks, and Your Own Unique Perspectives.

This is also a topic that has been arising lately in different forms and so I can imagine this will be a great discussion :anjali:

I had an experience a few days ago that I will most likely bring up with Shoryu Bradley (A Zen Teacher I Respect) and possibly some other authorities on the subject.

I was at the lake and if I remember correctly had been doing some Zazen in the forest in between quiet swimming and just enjoying the solitude and peaceful/restful nature of the area.

I am not sure what was going on at the moment but in a flash the need to hold onto "Awareness" & "Life" in any form kind of dropped off.

I came to understand that Sentience & Insentience kind of drop off in Emptiness.

Feel free to share all your views, sutras, tantras, quotes, whatever.

In general I would love to see how this develops.
I have theory about this, but since you are zen practitioner, I don't see the point sharing it with you, because I think you will miss understand it or grasp to wrong concepts.

I only share theory to atheist, scientist, philosopher, or theravadin if I think it can help them understand the world better. I don't share it to Mahanaya to protect their wrong views.
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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Sentience & Insentience

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:16 pm

whynotme wrote:Wrong, you don't know what the self is.
You and I have varied definitions of the meaning of self, I think. I believe that I am a part of nature. When I say *I* I don't mean Anthony Town, age 26, white American male with X interests, X friends, x possessions. Anthony Town does not exist. What does exist is this body. The muscle, the tissue, the blood, the skin, the hair, the nails, the brain cells, the shit and piss. What does exist is this mind. This is all natural. This is all nature. This has nothing to do with Anthony Town. This is something formed by atoms, by compounds, bound together by microscopic forces of attraction. Held on earth by gravity. Fashioned by circumstance in each and every moment that has ever existed. Carrier of the DNA of all its forbears, and as such, of their suffering and of their joy.

The sun is not Anthony Town. The moon is not Anthony Town. The trees are not Anthony Town. The sea is not Anthony Town. Anthony Town is no one, Anthony Town is nothing. Anthony Town is Empty.

The trees are the trees that exist as trees do: Made of cells and chemicals and compounds, bound together by the microscopic forces of attraction. Held on earth by gravity. Fashioned by circumstance and each and every moment that has ever existed. Carrier of the RNA of all its forbears.

The sun is the sun and exists as the sun does; Made of plasma, of chemicals and compounds, bound together by forces of attraction, Held together by gravity, Fashioned by circumstance and each and every moment that has ever existed.

All of nature is like this. All existing in this one moment. All made of the same stuff. All held together by forces of attraction. If this did not apply to humans then we would be OTHER. Outside of nature. THAT would be a self. So you see it has to be this way. Everything is part of the ALL. One interconnected organism. No Other. No Self. No Not-Self. Just ALL.

So when we say, I am the sun, we do not mean the sun is us, we mean there is no separation because we are part of nature. When we say that we are time we do not mean that time is us, we mean that there is no difference because we are a part of nature. When we say we are the universe, we do not mean the universe is us, we mean that there no difference because we are part of nature.

This has nothing to do with Mahayana, with Theravada, with Tibetan Buddhism, with Buddha, with any religion. It has to do with What IS, and what exists, and arising and ceasing. That is the truth. even THIS is not enlightenment, but mere words that teach us in an intellectual way the thing we need to know by experiencing it for ourselves.

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