He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

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daveblack
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He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by daveblack »

Does anyone have an edifying explanation of what phrases like those used in MN 1 "He directly knows X as X" even mean?
"The Tathagata — a worthy one, rightly self-awakened — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth.
So does that mean I've always been a Tathagata? Because I don't think that ever looking at dirt I conceived things about dirt, or conceived things as coming from the dirt, or conceived the dirt as 'mine', or delighted in dirt. When I see dirt, I just directly perceived "that's dirt." So am I naturally a Tathagata or what? This is one of the weirdest types of expressions in the suttas to me.
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retrofuturist
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

This has been discussed regularly in the past. It's hard for me to search and find links as I'm on a phone (keeping one eye on my two youngest sons) but try the Google Saffron Theravada Search Engine, put the word dhammawheel in your search bar, along with any other keywords.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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SDC
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by SDC »

daveblack wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:12 pm Does anyone have an edifying explanation of what phrases like those used in MN 1 "He directly knows X as X" even mean?
"The Tathagata — a worthy one, rightly self-awakened — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth.
So does that mean I've always been a Tathagata? Because I don't think that ever looking at dirt I conceived things about dirt, or conceived things as coming from the dirt, or conceived the dirt as 'mine', or delighted in dirt. When I see dirt, I just directly perceived "that's dirt." So am I naturally a Tathagata or what? This is one of the weirdest types of expressions in the suttas to me.
You thought you perceived earth within the percept of earth. Perception is perceived, not matter. When you assume matter is what you've perceived, that is the act of conceiving.
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
SDC wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:40 pm You thought you perceived earth within the percept of earth. Perception is perceived, not matter. When you assume matter is what you've perceived, that is the act of conceiving.
:goodpost:

Succinct, and on point.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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cappuccino
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by cappuccino »

daveblack wrote: does not delight in earth
Last edited by cappuccino on Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
SarathW
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by SarathW »

So does that mean I've always been a Tathagata? Because I don't think that ever looking at dirt I conceived things about dirt
Good to know that Dave.


Tell me where you live.

Do you have a house?
Do you have a wife?
Do you have children?
How much money in your bank account?

I need all of them.
They all just dirt so you can easily depart from them.
:tongue:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
chownah
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by chownah »

daveblack wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:12 pm Does anyone have an edifying explanation of what phrases like those used in MN 1 "He directly knows X as X" even mean?
"The Tathagata — a worthy one, rightly self-awakened — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth.
So does that mean I've always been a Tathagata? Because I don't think that ever looking at dirt I conceived things about dirt, or conceived things as coming from the dirt, or conceived the dirt as 'mine', or delighted in dirt. When I see dirt, I just directly perceived "that's dirt." So am I naturally a Tathagata or what? This is one of the weirdest types of expressions in the suttas to me.
The Buddha taught that clinging to views is one of the four forms of clinging that tie the mind to the processes of suffering. He thus recommended that his followers relinquish their clinging, not only to views in their full-blown form as specific positions, but also in their rudimentary form as the categories & relationships that the mind reads into experience. This is a point he makes in the following discourse, which is apparently his response to a particular school of Brahmanical thought that was developing in his time — the Samkhya, or classification school.

This school had its beginnings in the thought of Uddalaka, a ninth-century B.C. philosopher who posited a "root": an abstract principle out of which all things emanated and which was immanent in all things. Philosophers who carried on this line of thinking offered a variety of theories, based on logic and meditative experience, about the nature of the ultimate root and about the hierarchy of the emanation. Many of their theories were recorded in the Upanishads and eventually developed into the classical Samkhya system around the time of the Buddha.

Although the present discourse says nothing about the background of the monks listening to it, the Commentary states that before their ordination they were brahmans, and that even after their ordination they continued to interpret the Buddha's teachings in light of their previous training, which may well have been proto-Samkhya. If this is so, then the Buddha's opening lines — "I will teach you the sequence of the root of all phenomena" — would have them prepared to hear his contribution to their line of thinking. And, in fact, the list of topics he covers reads like a Buddhist Samkhya. Paralleling the classical Samkhya, it contains 24 items, begins with the physical world (here, the four physical properties), and leads back through ever more refined & inclusive levels of being & experience, culminating with the ultimate Buddhist concept: Unbinding (nibbana). In the pattern of Samkhya thought, Unbinding would thus be the ultimate "root" or ground of being immanent in all things and out of which they all emanate.

However, instead of following this pattern of thinking, the Buddha attacks it at its very root: the notion of a principle in the abstract, the "in" (immanence) & "out of" (emanation) superimposed on experience. Only an uninstructed, run of the mill person, he says, would read experience in this way. In contrast, a person in training should look for a different kind of "root" — the root of suffering experienced in the present — and find it in the act of delight. Developing dispassion for that delight, the trainee can then comprehend the process of coming-into-being for what it is, drop all participation in it, and thus achieve true Awakening.

If the listeners present at this discourse were indeed interested in fitting Buddhist teachings into a Samkhyan mold, then it's small wonder that they were displeased — one of the few places where we read of a negative reaction to the Buddha's words. They had hoped to hear his contribution to their project, but instead they hear their whole pattern of thinking & theorizing attacked as ignorant & ill-informed. The Commentary tells us, though, they were later able to overcome their displeasure and eventually attain Awakening on listening to the discourse reported in AN 3.123.

Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.

(You probably are thinking "that chownah is one smart cookie"......BUT....everything above is just the intro to the sutta from YOUR link copied and pasted here.......does it provide at least some of what you are wanting to know?)
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by form »

He percieved things without labels, in the primordial form. That is the supramundane consciousness if it has to be labelled
char101
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by char101 »

It is simply a recollection called catudhatuvavatthana or recollection over the four great elements (solidity, cohesiveness, movement, and heat). Some translation use earth for solidity, water for cohesiveness, wind for movement, and fire for heat. But the four elements are abstract and denotes specific characteristic of material, thus a better translation is solidity, cohesiveness, movement, and heat.

As an analogy: a bread is made of flour, sugar, etc. But when one see bread, one sees bread and not flour, sugar, etc. This is called not seeing flour as flour. On the other hand, one who contemplates that bread is made of flour, sugar, etc. sees the flour in bread as flour, etc.

The same with this body, which is made of the four great elements. When one does not recognize the four elements that constitute a body, one is not seeing solidity as solidity, etc. When one contemplates the four elements that constitute the body, one sees solidity as solidity, etc.
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by sunnat »

That's a good answer.

A general note about knowing. : 'directly' is important. To know, see, contemplate, understand, percieve are all best understood as experiential in the way that the biblical 'know' is about relationships. For example Adam knew Eve and thus she became pregnant. Joe knew the truth about X and thus progressed on the path. A direct experiential knowing and not an intellectual one.
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by char101 »

If wonder though, someone who sits meditating with eyes closed, how does the meditator perceive the body (rupa)? Facts are usually perceived via the senses, like color via the eye, sound via ear, etc. Does the mind of a meditator has the ability to perceive the material (rupa) beyond conceptual image?
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by sunnat »

Vedana.

Dependent on the body & tactile sensations...

"Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one does not relish it, welcome it, or remain fastened to it, then one's passion-obsession doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat one's breast or become distraught, then one's resistance obsession doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, & escape from that feeling, then one's ignorance-obsession doesn't get obsessed. That a person — through abandoning passion-obsession with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing resistance-obsession with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing — would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible.
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by DooDoot »

daveblack wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:12 pm Because I don't think that ever... conceived the dirt as 'mine'...
Unlikely. MN 62:
Rāhula, the interior earth element is said to be anything hard, solid, and organic that’s internal, pertaining to an individual. This includes: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, undigested food, feces, or anything else hard, solid and organic that’s internal, pertaining to an individual. This is called the interior earth element. The interior earth element and the exterior earth element are just the earth element. This should be truly seen with right understanding like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ When you truly see with right understanding, you reject the earth element, detaching the mind from the earth element.

https://suttacentral.net/mn62/en/sujato


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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by santa100 »

daveblack wrote:So does that mean I've always been a Tathagata? Because I don't think that ever looking at dirt I conceived things about dirt, or conceived things as coming from the dirt, or conceived the dirt as 'mine', or delighted in dirt. When I see dirt, I just directly perceived "that's dirt." So am I naturally a Tathagata or what? This is one of the weirdest types of expressions in the suttas to me.
Uh uh, I think you've been 'conceiving' dirt and/or 'things' as coming from dirt all the time but just don't know it. Do you simply perceive that hot young voluptuous lady in your office as simply dirt? (for that's her exact nature: the 4 aggregates of earth, water, air, and fire), or all you see is her beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, curvy front and behind, and all sorts of lustful things 'coming from' that 'dirt'?
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Re: He directly knows X as X : what does that mean?

Post by equilibrium »

daveblack wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:12 pm
"The Tathagata — a worthy one, rightly self-awakened — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, .....
An experience which is “unconditioned” and beyond the “ALL”.....which is “directly” experienced.....hence the word knowing.
Knows.....refers the the Thus-one gone.....Tathagata, precisely as it is completely disassociated.
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