Dinsdale wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:19 am
boundless wrote: ↑
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:42 am
Also if "time" is related to change, then "without alteration/change" also means "atemporal/timeless" (i.e. the "unconditioned dhamma" is timeless - or "dhammas" if there is more than one "unconditioned dhamma" as some schools held...)
I agree, and it appears that Nibbana is the only "timeless" or unchanging dhamma. The nidanas are all sankharas, and therefore subject to anicca.
"Sabbe sankhara anicca".
I would still like to see a clear, practical explanation of what "timeless/atemporal" actually means
when applied to DO, and it puzzles me that apparently nobody here is able to provide this.
I assume "timeless/atemporal" doesn't
mean contemporaneous, ie present or occurring at the same
time. That would be the first mode of conditionality in DO, ie "When this is, that is." Actually I think this mode would be better expressed as "While
this is, that is."
Yes, “sankhara” in its broadest term IMO includes all conditioned phenomena, i.e. dependently arisen phenomena subject to “arising-alteration-cessation”. Of course, this applies to “sankhara” when it is used in the “twelve links”. Nibbana which is asankhata is not subject to “arising-alteration-cessation”.
Anyway, I think, that structural DO is indeed “timeless” in the sense of “contemporaneous”. Hence “craving” is dependent on ignorance: e.g. when there is ignorance, there is craving - when ignorance arises, craving arises too (“craving” does not arise “later” than ignorance) in this view.
All the best,
SDC wrote: ↑
Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:40 pm
aflatun wrote: ↑
Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:06 pm
Hello SDC, aflatun,
I have re-read Ven. Nanavira’s writings again trying, this time, to make an objective reading, as far as I was able. My reaction was again mixed. On one hand, my doubts that I mentioned last time are not quenched and on the other hand I think that I appreciate more his thought. I shall start from the “positive” side of my reaction.
According to the structural interpretation of DO, once ignorance is eradicated, then all the links cease. Of course, the Arahant still lives, has feelings, is conscious etc but his mind is structurally different. Alongside of ignorance craving and clinging have ceased. The Arahant is even freed from the “I am” conceit. His/her mind is completely different form the “normal”. Certainly, a mode of consciousness is ceased, the one “tainted” by ignorance, “clinging” (or “holding”, “grasping”) and “craving”. To be sure, there are indeed certain passages that hint that consciousness ceases (in some sense) during “Nibbana during life”, e.g. the already mentioned SN 22:48 or SN 12:65
I followed that path and by doing so I have directly known aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. I have directly known birth … existence … clinging …. craving … feeling … contact … the six sense bases …. name-and-form … consciousness … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation.
Here the Buddha says that “cessation of consciousness” (and contact, feeling) was known at Nibbana during life and hence it seems to imply that even Nibbana during life is “cessation of consciousness”. The most interesting aspect of the structural interpretation of DO is the emphasis on the difference in the experience of the Arahant and the “normal” one. This interpretation avoids an “eternal vinnana” by saying that also the “non-tainted” aggregates cease at “Nibbana without residue”. In this interpretation there are two "set" of aggregates: "tainted" aggregates and "untainted" aggregates*. DO applies to the first.
However, as I said before, I have qualms about this interpretation. First of all, apparently the Arahant still suffers and the aggregates for their impermanent nature are a cause of suffering, e.g. SN 22:85
“If, friend Yamaka, they were to ask you: ‘Friend Yamaka, when a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, what happens to him with the breakup of the body, after death?’—being asked thus, what would you answer?”
“If they were to ask me this, friend, I would answer thus: ‘Friends, form is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away.’ Being asked thus, friend, I would answer in such a way.”
Here, the question clearly refers to the “non-tainted” aggregates of the Arahant. And it is implied that, in fact, the impermanent nature of the aggregates are still a reason for suffering. Also SN 22:122
"Then which things should an arahant attend to in an appropriate way?"
"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness.”
So, here the aggregates are still regarded as “as constant, stressful”. Also Itivuttaka 44
“What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbāna-element with residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the bur-den, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate, and delusion in him that is called the Nibbāna-element with residue left.
“Now what, bhikkhus, is the Nibbāna-element with no residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant … completely released through final knowledge. For him, here in this very life, all that is experienced, not being delighted in, will be extinguished. That, bhikkhus, is called the Nibbāna-element with no residue left.
And at SN 38:14
“pain” and unpleasant feelings are a part of “dukkha”. Hence, the Arahant though having a structur-ally different mind still has some “dukkha”. Hence we have three possibilities **:
1) Liberation is the cause of the total cessation of the aggregates at “Nibbana without residue” and for Arahants some “links” of DO are ceased and others no. (I think this is the standard view). During life the aggregates are not stopped, but they continue in a “untainted” way. The “experi-ence” of “Nibbana during life” causes the future cessation.
2) Indeed, all aggregates cease at “Nibbana during life”. But “Nibbana during life” is not the same of the “everyday” mind of the Arahant. The aggregates “stop” at Nibbana during life as at the “death” of the Arahant. However, during life, after some time the activity of the aggregates re-start without the “taints” of clinging, craving, ignorance etc..
3) The “everyday” mind of the Arahant is “Nibbana during life” and “pain” is not suffering. The aggregates in the normal experience of the Arahant are always “ceased”. “Nibbana without resi-due” instead is when even these “untainted” aggregates stop.
Anyway, the structural DO interpretation has its merits. The mind of the Arahant is structurally dif-ferent from the “usual” one. It is not subject to defilement. It is “always radiant” since cannot be defiled anymore (AN 1:50). But the equation “Nibbana during life=normal experience of the Ara-hant” is problematic. IMO “1” and “2” are more plausible (considering all things discussed). To be sure, “2” even seems to be “the most natural one" but the “re-start” is problematic.
For example, if I am understanding correctly here Ven Ninoslav Nanamoli Infinity of the Mind
supports “3”, i.e. Nibbana during life is the “luminous mind”, the mind without any defilement. “1” and “2” instead say that this equation is not valid, for different reasons. “2” says that the “cessation” of all links happens at “Nibbana during life” at the same time, but then some of them “restart”. “1” says that the eradication of ignorance leads, ulti-mately, to the cessation of all conditioned phenomena which happens at the “death” of the Arahant.
At AN 10.6
it is said that:
Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
“Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient?”
“He could, Ānanda.”
“But how, Bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?”
“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’ ..."
So, Nibbana is defined as the "cessation" of all activities
. I think that the "everyday" mind of the Arahant is not without "activities".***
If we include also SN 12.2, it is crystal-clear IMO that the “event” death is conditioned by “birth” (even for the Arahant...). This is infact an aspect of “anicca”, i.e. whatever arises dependent on conditions is subject to cessation. A “structural-only” interpretation is IMO unlikely: in fact the Arahant still is subject to some dukkha. Also, the twelve links are described in sequential terms at SN 12.2.
Ven Nagarjuna’s version, for example, as far as I understand appears better. DO here is seen as both “structural” and “se-quential” and can be analysed in terms of two truths: conventionally “physical death” is conditioned by “physical birth”. However, once anatta is realized, “birth” and “death” do not apply anymore. Hence, in a sense, they have “stopped”. How "Structural-only" view of DO can explain "physical events" is beyond my grasp
Considering all, I think that the “structural interpretation” is partially right. But in my opinion DO is also not structural. Therefore, I consider it incomplete.
Regarding this advice from aflatun:
aflatun wrote: ↑
Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:06 pm
You might decide that a timeless model cannot account for this. But if you want to try, my advice would be a start backwards
I think I have tried to explain every aspect of DO found in the suttas using "structural-only" DO. Unfortunately this attempt has not changed much my understanding and how a "structural-only" DO is able to explain the "definitions" found at SN 12:2 and the fact that the Arahant apparently still has some dukkha and constructing activities is beyond
As I said before, IMO "structural" DO is an aspect
of DO, but not the only one. ****
All the best,
*I use "tainted aggregates" rather than "clinging-aggregates" because of SN 22:122
(see the text of the post).
**I am now speaing about the suffering of the Arahant and Nibbana because they are linked to DO. I hope that this is not off-topic.
*** SN 45:11
seems to imply that even the Buddha still has "desire" (chanda) which is an activity.
**** I have written this message in a hurry. I hope that there are not errors. If there are errors, I am sorry.