Self view and conceit

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4599
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:47 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:22 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:22 am
Similarly, a self is something that has a degree of control. That's another analytic truth, logically true by virtue of the concepts used in the proposition.
An analytic truth is by definition something resulting from analysis. Saying that a triangle has three sides is just an observation.
No, it's an analytic truth in the Kantian and more generally philosophical sense:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic% ... istinction

http://www.glottopedia.org/index.php/Analytic_truth

You'll see from the wiki page that the triangularity issue is exactly the one used to instantiate the Kantian point about analytic truths. An "observation" would be redundant in determining the number of sides of a triangle, although this would be required for the determination of what Kant terms a "synthetic" proof. (For example, how many sides does Farmer Giles' field have....) The same applies to "All batchelors are unmarried", "All bodies are heavy", "All space is extended", etc.

My whole point is that you are looking for a further observational synthetic truth, whereas this is not the type of truth that applies to why any conception of "self" or "sense of me" requires a conception of control. You will perhaps see why this is the case if we stop the meta-analysis and you answer the question, or point me to where you have answered the question, as to what you mean by such a "self" or "sense of me". That way, we can clarify why "lack of control" necessarily involves "lack of self".

So what is it? If, as you say, it doesn't make any difference as to what conception of self we use, just specify one of them that finds favour with you.

chownah
Posts: 7596
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by chownah » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:03 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:25 am
chownah wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:20 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:34 am


OK, same for me. But what about being in control? I have a sense of me and the sense of not being in control - do you see the problem? These are not mutually exclusive.
I accept what you say and have no desire to contradict you....but I am confused. I said I have a sense of control (of this hand), then you say "same for me", which I take to mean you have the same sense of control of "your hand", but then (this is the confusing part) you say you have a sense of NOT being in control. I hope you can see what my point of confusion is as it seems that I am missing something basic which I hope will be fairly easy for you to explain.
chownah
I mean "lack of control" as described in the suttas, the aggregates not always doing what I want them to do, or not being what I want them to be.
I have not been following this topic closely. Can you bring a link to the sutta which describes "lack of control" as you mention...perhaps with respect to the aggregates as you mention? Sorry if you did this before.....I looked back a few pages and could not find it.....I did see you asking for a sutta reference as to why lack of control indicated no self (or something like that, I forget exactly what you said).
chownah

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:48 pm

chownah wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:03 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:25 am
chownah wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:20 pm

I accept what you say and have no desire to contradict you....but I am confused. I said I have a sense of control (of this hand), then you say "same for me", which I take to mean you have the same sense of control of "your hand", but then (this is the confusing part) you say you have a sense of NOT being in control. I hope you can see what my point of confusion is as it seems that I am missing something basic which I hope will be fairly easy for you to explain.
chownah
I mean "lack of control" as described in the suttas, the aggregates not always doing what I want them to do, or not being what I want them to be.
I have not been following this topic closely. Can you bring a link to the sutta which describes "lack of control" as you mention...perhaps with respect to the aggregates as you mention? Sorry if you did this before.....I looked back a few pages and could not find it.....I did see you asking for a sutta reference as to why lack of control indicated no self (or something like that, I forget exactly what you said).
chownah
Look at the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta for example. I wondered if any explanation was offered there for the "control argument", but no, it's just a bland assertion that not-self = lack of control.

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nymo.html
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:05 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:47 am
So what is it? If, as you say, it doesn't make any difference as to what conception of self we use, just specify one of them that finds favour with you.
Let's take "self" to mean an eternal soul, for example. Why would having a soul mean that one has control over the aggregates?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4599
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:05 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:47 am
So what is it? If, as you say, it doesn't make any difference as to what conception of self we use, just specify one of them that finds favour with you.
Let's take "self" to mean an eternal soul, for example. Why would having a soul mean that one has control over the aggregates?
Because if you "have" it - if it is your soul, rather than another object among objects, like an eternal diamond or an eternal bicycle pump - then you would have some degree of control over it. If you doubt that, try saying what it is that makes an eternal soul a soul, rather than just a remarkable thing as an object of consciousness.

Your problem with the Anattalakkhana Sutta formulation is that the two conditions of control and lack of dis-ease are already built into the concept of self. Hence, "analytically true".

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:02 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:16 pm
Because if you "have" it - if it is your soul, rather than another object among objects, like an eternal diamond or an eternal bicycle pump - then you would have some degree of control over it.
Not really, since atta/atman refers to "higher self", while the aggregates would be equivalent to the "lower self", and it is the aggregates that the control argument is applied to.

See this Wiki article:
"Atman" in early Buddhism appears as "all dhammas are not-Self (an-atta)", where atta (atman) refers to a metaphysical Self, states Peter Harvey, that is a "permanent, substantial, autonomous self or I".[10] This concept refers to the pre-Buddhist Upanishads of Hinduism, where a person is viewed as having a lower self (impermanent body, personality) and a Higher or Greater Self (real permanent Self, soul, atman, atta)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Buddhism)
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:16 pm
Your problem with the Anattalakkhana Sutta formulation is that the two conditions of control and lack of dis-ease are already built into the concept of self. Hence, "analytically true".
But the sutta doesn't explain why it makes these assertions, hence they are unsubstantiated. The sutta doesn't explain what "self" is, or why it is defined in terms of these two conditions. It's all rather unsatisfactory in my view, particularly when people takes these assertions as articles of faith, rather than theories to be investigated.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

chownah
Posts: 7596
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by chownah » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:16 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:48 pm
chownah wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:03 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:25 am


I mean "lack of control" as described in the suttas, the aggregates not always doing what I want them to do, or not being what I want them to be.
I have not been following this topic closely. Can you bring a link to the sutta which describes "lack of control" as you mention...perhaps with respect to the aggregates as you mention? Sorry if you did this before.....I looked back a few pages and could not find it.....I did see you asking for a sutta reference as to why lack of control indicated no self (or something like that, I forget exactly what you said).
chownah
Look at the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta for example. I wondered if any explanation was offered there for the "control argument", but no, it's just a bland assertion that not-self = lack of control.

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nymo.html
OK. Now I think I get it. I was explaining a point about control but it was an entirely different point from the point that the anatta lakkhana sutta is making.

I think that perhaps the two points can be connected in this way: I was demonstrating (or at least trying to demonstrate) that at least part of what helps us to develop and maintain a sense of self is the idea of control and I used my hand. A baby at some point learns to think about moving its body parts and then sees that the body parts do move.....this is the arising of the self as having some degree of control in the world.....the baby intends to move the hand and the hand moves the sense of self is reinforced.

Now that we are older and have a lifetime of controlling our body (and mind as well in that I can think about what I want to think about at least most of the time) we come to the realization that the body can not credibly be considered to be self through various arguements.....for instance the body decays but we like to think that our self does not and more notably the buddha gives arguements as to how form (which can be taken as being the body) is not controllable.....and also how feelings, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness as well are not controllable.....these five are the things which the buddha says are often mistaken to be self and he is showing a way to see that it is not appropriate....specifically he is showing a way that the sense of control which was instilled in us from infancy.

REcap: we develop a sense of self from infancy largely based on the idea that we can control some things and by he fact that "our" feelings (for instance) are felt by ourselves but not felt by others....the buddha gives an arguement which challenges the basis for that sense of self.

Personally, I think it is a pretty good arguement but I can see how if examined closely it can be seen to not be as conclusive as some people seem to think. For me it is just an encouragement to take the idea of not-self or no-self seriously and not just as a ridiculous suggestion. I think the same can be said for the sutta where the monks and the buddha all agree that they are not able to conceive of a doctrine of self which would not bring woe and suffering.......it is encouraging but not conclusive.

For me the effective arguements are 1. the simile of the chariot and 2. personal experience of having an experience which I interpret as being without self.......with number 1. being a strong arguement for me as I am somewhat scientifically (or analytically) inclined and with number 2. being the conclusive arguement.
chownah

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4599
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:27 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:02 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:16 pm
Because if you "have" it - if it is your soul, rather than another object among objects, like an eternal diamond or an eternal bicycle pump - then you would have some degree of control over it.
Not really, since atta/atman refers to "higher self", while the aggregates would be equivalent to the "lower self", and it is the aggregates that the control argument is applied to.
Are you saying that one could conceive of a "higher self" which would not require the notion of control? Or that one could conceive of a lower self which would not require the notion of control?

If the "higher self" does not require the notion of control, is it merely an interesting object among other objects, which is discovered to be a substance, to be completely autonomous, and to be permanent? If so, what makes it your self, as opposed to a mere object of consciousness? A permanent autonomous substance might be a God, or a remarkable thingie, but it's not a self. How would you know it's yours, and so worth bothering with?
But the sutta doesn't explain why it makes these assertions, hence they are unsubstantiated.
The sutta is using an assumption which the listeners would have been very familiar with. They are unsubstantiated for you, because you are not familiar with the assumptions being used. (Gombrich is very good on this: the first few pages of What the Buddha Thought make it quite clear.) In fact, the assumptions are brought out in the Anattalakkhana Sutta quite clearly. There is nothing in experience that has the characteristics of being dis-ease free, and permanent, therefore there is nothing in experience which corresponds to the notion of "self".

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:35 pm

chownah wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:16 pm
1. the simile of the chariot and 2. personal experience of having an experience which I interpret as being without self.......
#1. I don't find the chariot simile very illuminating, I think because I have a background in Systems thinking. This says that you can look at anything as a system, and the basic definition of a system is "a set of components connected for a purpose". It works best for man-made things, though it can also be applied to the natural world, eg human bodies, weather systems, etc.
So for example a "chariot" would be a set of components connected for the purpose of travelling from A to B, or whatever. With this approach you can look at "chariot" as a whole, and as a set of parts. It's a pragmatic approach.

Could you give some practical examples of #2? Do you mean like occasions when the sense of "me" has faded?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

chownah
Posts: 7596
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by chownah » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:02 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:35 pm
chownah wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:16 pm
1. the simile of the chariot and 2. personal experience of having an experience which I interpret as being without self.......
#1. I don't find the chariot simile very illuminating, I think because I have a background in Systems thinking. This says that you can look at anything as a system, and the basic definition of a system is "a set of components connected for a purpose". It works best for man-made things, though it can also be applied to the natural world, eg human bodies, weather systems, etc.
So for example a "chariot" would be a set of components connected for the purpose of travelling from A to B, or whatever. With this approach you can look at "chariot" as a whole, and as a set of parts. It's a pragmatic approach.

Could you give some practical examples of #2? Do you mean like occasions when the sense of "me" has faded?
Practical in what respect?
I am somewhat skeptical about whether me describing an experience is of any value for any purpose except for someone wanting to try to copy it or someone wanting to refute it.....I'm not interested in engaging in either of these.

If you want to know how this experience arose I can only say that it arose after a few years commited practice (committed meaning that it was a major endeavor if not THE major indeavor in my life at that time) and it occurred at a time when my practice included about one hour (as a minimum) twice a day (sometimes three times a day) with each session involving both sitting and moving meditation....and the first time it arose was while doing moving meditation....I was never instructed to look for the arising of this experience and anatta was never mentioned at all in the teachings.....it was subtle....it was a surprise. This practice was from a discipline other than buddhism but in retrospect I saw that it seemed to be strongly influenced by buddhism and by taoism but it was not the temple kind of buddhism or taoism but rather the meditative kind of buddhism and taoism. The goal of this discipline is to reduce stress........this discipline does not have a name and I can not recommend where one might learn it.
chownah

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:19 am

chownah wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:02 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:35 pm
chownah wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:16 pm
1. the simile of the chariot and 2. personal experience of having an experience which I interpret as being without self.......
#1. I don't find the chariot simile very illuminating, I think because I have a background in Systems thinking. This says that you can look at anything as a system, and the basic definition of a system is "a set of components connected for a purpose". It works best for man-made things, though it can also be applied to the natural world, eg human bodies, weather systems, etc.
So for example a "chariot" would be a set of components connected for the purpose of travelling from A to B, or whatever. With this approach you can look at "chariot" as a whole, and as a set of parts. It's a pragmatic approach.

Could you give some practical examples of #2? Do you mean like occasions when the sense of "me" has faded?
Practical in what respect?
I am somewhat skeptical about whether me describing an experience is of any value for any purpose except for someone wanting to try to copy it or someone wanting to refute it.....I'm not interested in engaging in either of these.
Neither, I was just curious.
chownah wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:02 am
If you want to know how this experience arose I can only say that it arose after a few years commited practice (committed meaning that it was a major endeavor if not THE major indeavor in my life at that time) and it occurred at a time when my practice included about one hour (as a minimum) twice a day (sometimes three times a day) with each session involving both sitting and moving meditation....and the first time it arose was while doing moving meditation....I was never instructed to look for the arising of this experience and anatta was never mentioned at all in the teachings.....it was subtle....it was a surprise. This practice was from a discipline other than buddhism but in retrospect I saw that it seemed to be strongly influenced by buddhism and by taoism but it was not the temple kind of buddhism or taoism but rather the meditative kind of buddhism and taoism. The goal of this discipline is to reduce stress........this discipline does not have a name and I can not recommend where one might learn it.
chownah
When you say "it arose", could you describe what "it" was like?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

chownah
Posts: 7596
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Self view and conceit

Post by chownah » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:09 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:19 am
chownah wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:02 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:35 pm


#1. I don't find the chariot simile very illuminating, I think because I have a background in Systems thinking. This says that you can look at anything as a system, and the basic definition of a system is "a set of components connected for a purpose". It works best for man-made things, though it can also be applied to the natural world, eg human bodies, weather systems, etc.
So for example a "chariot" would be a set of components connected for the purpose of travelling from A to B, or whatever. With this approach you can look at "chariot" as a whole, and as a set of parts. It's a pragmatic approach.

Could you give some practical examples of #2? Do you mean like occasions when the sense of "me" has faded?
Practical in what respect?
I am somewhat skeptical about whether me describing an experience is of any value for any purpose except for someone wanting to try to copy it or someone wanting to refute it.....I'm not interested in engaging in either of these.
Neither, I was just curious.
chownah wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:02 am
If you want to know how this experience arose I can only say that it arose after a few years commited practice (committed meaning that it was a major endeavor if not THE major indeavor in my life at that time) and it occurred at a time when my practice included about one hour (as a minimum) twice a day (sometimes three times a day) with each session involving both sitting and moving meditation....and the first time it arose was while doing moving meditation....I was never instructed to look for the arising of this experience and anatta was never mentioned at all in the teachings.....it was subtle....it was a surprise. This practice was from a discipline other than buddhism but in retrospect I saw that it seemed to be strongly influenced by buddhism and by taoism but it was not the temple kind of buddhism or taoism but rather the meditative kind of buddhism and taoism. The goal of this discipline is to reduce stress........this discipline does not have a name and I can not recommend where one might learn it.
chownah
When you say "it arose", could you describe what "it" was like?
Whenever I am talking about anything coming to mind or to attention or in any way enters experience I use the term "it arose".
I am somewhat skeptical about whether me describing an experience is of any value for any purpose except for someone wanting to try to copy it or someone wanting to refute it.....I'm not interested in engaging in either of these.
Also, I think that one is making a mistake if one is trying to copy the "method" or "way" that things arise.....my view is that it is almost guaranteed that how something happens for one person will not be the way that it happens for another person.
I think I understand about your not being so convinced by the usual arguements....if it were not for experiences and how using not self (or no self if you want) to eliminate anger and aversion I would not be moved too much by those usual arguements either.
chownah

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Abiding and 91 guests